Windaria Anime Movie Review

Title: Windaria

Alternative Title: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 1986 (Japan initial release), 1992 (US, (VHS) first US release), 2004 (US re-release (DVD) with title change)

Where to Watch: I don’t support piracy here, but as a heads up, ALL of the “US Releases” of this film are very severely edited. And YES, that includes even the subtitled versions! I highly recommend that you watch the original Japanese version at least once before passing judgement on this beautiful movie. Of course, I grew up with the VHS in the 90s, and I STILL loved even the heavily edited dubbed version of the film way back then. Last year, I finally got the chance to watch the original Japanese version. A lot of content was cut from the English version, including significant amounts of story content. They change the order of certain scenes, remove most of the violence (and drugs and sex) and have completely re-written the script of the original film to better suit an American audience (where cartoons were (and still are) primarily intended for children). Also all of the music is different in both versions, although it’s very good in both versions as well. Still the overall theme and plot and moral of this heart breaking anime remains the same in both versions. That’s why I really recommend you to try to watch the original film – and then still go ahead and buy the English DVD or VHS to support the creators :). I’m not going to tell you where to find the original online, but you can find it if you look. And then you can purchase the Windaria North American DVD here.

Geeky: 3/5 The music is beautiful, but the artwork is very outdated (losing 1 point). Interestingly enough, the Japanese DVD includes 2 versions of the film, 1 being a “pilot film” where the animation and coloring style is different. (I have never seen this version). Despite the outdated artwork, the character designs are cute and memorable, I often think someone working on Pokemon drew inspiration (perhaps even subconsciously) for fan-favorite Eevee from the little pet squirrel/cat like creature in this film. The story is dark and full of action (and sex and drugs and gore in the original Japanese version). Therefore I feel this film would appeal to all geeks regardless of their genders. I’m removing one more point for the heavy handed editing of all of the US versions of this film. It’s been almost 15 years since the film has been brought to American audiences (for a 2nd time) – so perhaps some day we will see a company pick up the license for this film and do it justice with a more faithful English adaptation.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The story is soul crushingly sad. If you like sad anime, this is for you. Both versions of the film, even the mangled US version(s), still show the tender love stories of the central characters, and demonstrate the costs of war and greed. I happen to be a fan of sad love stories, and this particular anime reminds me of almost a Romeo and Juliet type of fairy tale, 2 lovers who can never be together, and 2 other lovers who have everything but still manage to mess everything up in the end. It’s also a story of regret, love, and greed. It imparts morals to the viewer, to value the love you have or else it may slip away. And that even if you are poor, if you have love, you can be happy. Or you can overlook the happiness you have right in front of you and only realize what you have once it has slipped away. The emotionally engaging story is also heightened by a fantastic music score which further draws the audience into the film.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 9/10 – I removed a point again for the poor handling of every commercially available North American release of this film. Otherthan that small complaint, I give the story 10/10. Even the badly edited version. I loved the anime back in the 90s, and I still love it today. It’s a tale that withstands the tests of time. Universally relateable to anyone who has loved and lost.

The story of Windaria intertwines the fates of 2 very different couples. One couple is a princess and prince from neighboring kingdoms. As tensions mount between the kingdoms, and war seems inevitable… Can their love survive? The other couple lives in a small farming village caught between both warring nations. Their village has remained neutral for years, but as war descends around them, can that peace last? The people of the neutral village are poor, but live happy lives not knowing the tragedies of war, and protected by spirits who live in a giant tree. But can people be influenced to take a side when wealth and adventure knock on their door? How will the war change the lives of the people in this tiny village?

Everything is connected, and you cannot escape war. You can’t remain neutral. You must make a decision and take a risk. What will you risk? Will you risk your life? Your love? Your Home? And how will the war change you? Can you return to your old life after the war ends? Will there even be anything left to return to?

Windaria examines all of these heavy hearted deep thinking questions.

The setting of the story is also very intriguing. We have 2 nations at war. The haves and have nots. One kingdom has plenty of water and wealth and prosperity. They control the flow of water to the neighboring nations. The other nation does not feel they have enough water. They are not nearly as wealthy or powerful as their political neighbor. The lands between the two nations are full of magic and mystery. There is a river where people go crazy and see horrors which are merely reflections of their own fears and feelings, there is the giant magic tree which protects the neighboring farming village, and there’s the ghost ship which takes souls to the other side.

Interestingly enough, although the setting and time of this anime appear to be fantasy based, there is no magic or “fantasy”, instead we see a strange blend of technology in a fantasy world. Airplanes, motorbikes, guns, grenades, tanks, etc.

Characters: 7/10 – I’ll be honest here, it is REALLY hard to like the main character of this film. He is a giant D-bag. Not even gonna lie. You’re going to hate him. He rather have drunken sex and spend all day exploiting his power to get more drugs and wealth and concubines, than return to his girlfriend even after the war ends. It’s not until his own life is in danger that he flees and comes back to his village… or what’s left of it anyways. – Maybe at the end, he has a change of heart, but that doesn’t make up for what a huge D he is in the majority of the film.

The first 15-20 minutes of the film, they build this character and his love up to have this idealistic beautiful love. Everyone in the village recognizes the love between this pair. They are utterly adorable together. They have it all. But that’s not enough for our main character.

In stark contrast, his lady love waits patiently for his return, even when the rest of her village leaves and tries to get her to come to safety with them. This made me hate the main character even more. And when she forgives him for everything, that too amplifies my anger at this character.

But I suppose this is the point of the entire movie. It still isn’t easy to watch or to like, sympathize, or side with the supposed main character of the film.

Our other 2 main characters are considerably more likeable. They are victim of circumstance. They never get a choice in the events happening to them. They are bound by duty. They don’t get to choose a peaceful life of love – which puts into perspective even more, the stupidity of the main character for never realizing the happiness he had back in his own village.

The relationship of the prince and princess is doomed from the start, however, they often dare defy the duties and responsibilities forced upon them, and meet in secret anyways to profess their love and promise each other that one day they will be together. I have never really been 100% sure about the end of their relationship. I can’t tell if what she did was intentional or accidental like perhaps she was playfully chasing and playing with his gun / flirting around. Or if perhaps, she felt the weight of her duty, and decided to put her kingdom above her love and pull that trigger to once and for all, end the war. Either way, their relationship ends in spectacular Romeo and Juliet fashion.

 

There are a number of minor characters too with very intricate and detailed back stories, including a “crazy” woman who never talks to anyone as she waits for her love to return. Her love chose to become a captain of a ship taking souls to the other side. The captain cannot leave his ship for a specified number of years. (I believe it was 10 years? I can’t recall right now).

At the end of the film, we see that our main character wishes to become the captain of this ship to follow his lady love to the other side. (This is more clear in the Japanese version of the film). The crazy woman and main character both meet in the end (I think maybe the main character was contemplating jumping off the cliff) and he sees the crazy lady still there, waiting for her husband to return. So he resolves also to wait for his love as well. (although I’m pretty sure she can never come back – although a lot of Asian religions believe in reincarnation and so perhaps it is that which he is waiting for, or for his own life to end so then in the afterlife, they can be reunited.) This shows how much thought went into even the most minor of characters to make them have heavy plot focus.

Art: 2/5 – The artwork is dated, because this anime is from the 80s. On almost every website I’ve visited in the past, this anime has horrible reviews. I feel it’s not judged fairly and people are overlooking the beautiful love stories and tragedies and focusing solely on the artwork and animation quality. The character designs are still cute though, and some of the background environments are very pretty. But overall, I’d tend to agree the animation is not clean enough and the character styles are outdated by today’s standards. That still never detracts from my enjoyment of this film.

Music: 5/5 I love the music in Windaria. Both the Japanese and English tracks fit perfectly with the themes and scenes of the film. The music carries much emotion and helps tell the story, complementing the action scenes, and especially painfully highlighting the sad tragic scenes of the anime. I especially love the vocal tracks.

Voice Acting: 2/5 I really dislike both the original Japanese, and the English voice acting of most of the characters. I guess it’s typical for how old this anime is, but almost all of the performances were cringe-worthy. That’s even more reason why someone should pick this license back up and bring in a fresh English cast. The story is so good, and the performances here just do not do it justice at all.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Windaria Anime Movie Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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This Is US – Season 1 and 2 Review

It’s not often that I choose to write about (or really even choose to watch) American television. That’s because in my opinion, the writing in American drama is often inferior and the characters not as emotionally engaging as Asian dramas. Season 2 had already started when I finally got around to watching Season 1 of This Is Us, the show that would change my opinion of American Dramas. – Don’t get me wrong. I love me some drama regardless of what country it originates from.. but I distinctively recall for example, when “Fault of Our Stars” came out, how much praise it was being given, as being the saddest movie of all time, ever, by radio and TV critics and movie-goers across our nation. I watched the film and was left feeling, mostly, nothing at all. That’s IT?! I thought to myself as I contemplated the movie for the next few hours. Sure it was “sad” – but these people (who praised the film so heavily) have clearly no idea what a “sad” movie even is. Go watch a Kdrama, and then come back and tell me “Fault of Our Stars” is still the saddest thing you’ve ever watched. When it came to American dramas, they seemed to fall into one of 2 categories, smut filled soap operas that never end (versus the concise, beginning, middle, end, 24 episode formula of most Kdrama), or into a predictable, but enjoyable, feel good romantic comedy chick flick (where a happy ending was almost guaranteed). It’s rare to find a “serious” American drama that can evoke the same empathy and sympathy and devastation and heart ache that most Kdramas can cause the audience to feel. “Fault of Our Stars” (as well as “The Notebook” and other similar films) attempt to create a sad love story, but still I’m often left feeling less emotion than I expected (although admittedly, “The Notebook” did have both myself and my best friend running to the restroom to grab tissues as we started sobbing at the ending).

Anyways, this post is not about Kdrama, nor is it about “Fault of Our Stars” or everything that American TV / Cinema does “wrong” when it comes to writing an emotionally moving film…

This post is about “This is Us”, the drama that would change my opinion of everything that American TV / Cinema does “wrong”. I remember for months seeing previews, and being like oh yeah, I want to watch that, but pushing it off on the back burner as my back log of things to watch, games to play, and things to do IRL grew longer and longer. Over the next several months, “This is Us” was often discussed in the office where I work. This increased my curiosity and desire to sit down and binge watch it.

And from the first episode, I was not disappointed. It grabs you in. It had twists and turns and unconventionality. It took place in Pittsburgh (being an hour north of there (and soon to move within minutes of the city, this made it even more relateable to me). It was not the typical white-wash American sitcom family. Here was a family of mixed races, tackling some serious dark and depressing issues. Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Infertility, Adoption, Weight Loss, and a very dysfunctional family. A family with real problems, problems with their marriage, problems with their careers, problems with their kids, problems with their family members.

It was raw, it was personal, it was unlike anything I had ever seen on American TV.

I binged through the first two seasons over Christmas break.

And the series returns tonight 01/09/18 with new episodes.

I won’t reveal much in this review about the story thus far in the first 2 seasons. I think that part of the success of this drama is how it throws some amazing curve balls at you and completely blindsides the heck out of you, which heightens the emotional impact so much more. In fact, the first episode might be quite confusing at first. The entire series is told through jumping here and there from past and present, including different periods in the past, and different families and perspectives and characters and it gets complicated fast. Everything is connected. It’s one of those shows you can only really appreciate and enjoy by watching from the very first episode, and never skipping a single show. The more you watch, the more everything begins to make sense, and the more invested you become in continuing to watch what happens next.

Anyways I’m obviously a fan of this series. It is with love and respect for the amazing writing (and music score, and acting, and pretty much everything) that I write this review.

Title: This is Us

Network: NBC

Length: 43 Minutes per Episode, Currently 2 Seasons with new episodes airing tonight 01/09/18.

Genre: Drama

Where to Watch: This is Us Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Hulu

Geeky: 3/5 This drama is likely to appeal more to girls than guys, due to the fact that it is not an “easy” show to watch. It’s not the type of show you come home to, put on, and mindlessly just enjoy. It requires critical thinking and piecing together the puzzle pieces from episode to episode as complexity grows each week. There are conflicts, but they are matters of the heart, struggles of human kind, and society as a whole. You will not find action and excitement here; however, Pittsburgh locals, and Steelers fans, or anyone dealing with dysfunctional family problems will relate easily to this series.

Sweetie: 5/5

Overall: 72/80 90% A- “Excellent Drama for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 The concept of the story, the way everything is interconnected and woven together, the excellent writing, acting, music, and execution, the loveable but flawed characters, and how relatable it all is makes the concept and overview of this series easily a 10 out of 10.

Story: 8/10 – The story can be confusing if you jump in mid-season, and it can even be confusing for long time fans. There are many questions left unanswered, and to find those answers, the story skips and hops all over in piece meal fashion. One moment, the big 3 have not even been born, you’re watching their parents in their early 20s, the next moment, the big 3 are about 10 years old, then the next moment they are days old, then the next moment, the big 3 are in their 30s. This would be the only complaint I could give as to the story.

Now for what the story does right, it tells us a story about a middle class northeastern family from Pittsburgh PA. They love the Steelers, they love going out to the bars in downtown Pittsburgh, taking their kids camping in the woods, fishing, hiking, celebrating the holidays Christmas, Halloween, Birthdays, and all, and the realities that come with life in Pittsburgh, PA such as shoveling their cars out from 6 feet of snow, the attitudes regarding racism and the roles of gender etc in the workplace back in the 70s and 80s in Pittsburgh’s prime.

But this isn’t just any other American family. This family is different.  A white family raising a black kid, a black kid searching for his birth parents, a community that judges the family from all angles. A family that lost a child, but gained a child. And a family raising 2 remaining white babies along side the black baby. The saying “Love Makes a Family” has never been more true than it is in this drama.

But even parents with the best intentions and pure love for each other and for their children still make mistakes. Some of those mistakes we can never recover from. Some of those mistakes will cost some members of this family their lives. And other mistakes will cause members of this family to spend the rest of their lives searching for answers.

With each surprising plot twist and turn, we learn more about this unconventional American family. What mistakes did they make, what secrets do they hide, what went wrong? And above all, the love the family has for each other, the love that exists despite all of these devastating mistakes, the love that exists even beyond death. Love, self love, self identity, sacrifice, marriage, careers, raising a family, the struggle is real. We feel their struggle, that’s why we keep watching. We want to see how they overcome the pitfalls of life that so many of us face also in our own lives.

Characters: 9/10 Dysfunctional is the word I would use to describe this family, or in fact every single character within this drama. That’s part of what makes this series work so well. It plays on our sympathies, it makes the characters raw, real and relateable.  Addiction is also a central theme. Whether it’s Jack and Kev’s alcoholism, Randall’s Obsessive Compulsion and Anxiety, or Kate’s weight problems. These characters are flawed. Sometimes those flaws can be presented a bit heavy handedly and repetitively, which is the only flaw I could give to the unique cast of characters.

It’s also interesting how the characters cannot “escape the sins of their fathers”. Just as Jack resented his father, he turns out to be the same in many ways, and Kevin realizes he too is exactly like them. And even though Beca hates her mother, thinks she expects too much and is controlling, Beca turns out to have the same expectations and behaviors towards her own daughter.

In this way we are shown, no one is perfect. Parenting is not easy. It’s easy to judge what our parents do wrong. It’s easy to blame them for messing up our own lives. But in the end, we control how our future looks.

The big 3 are at different stages in their lives. Randall is married with 2 beautiful children and a loving wife. A successful career and big house. Kate is slowly climbing out of her past problems, she finds a new man, which brings new challenges, but she also finds confidence in herself and realizes her dream to pursue her career and goals despite her age and appearance. Kevin is perhaps the most flawed of the big 3. He is unable to handle relationships, unable to feel anything, he has burred his emotions for so long concerning tragic events in his past. He has messed up his career, and now has to start over from nothing. He will try desperately to cling to the past, and still not acknowledge his problems. Those problems will grow when addiction enters the picture, and just when things seem to be going well for Kevin they will all fall apart again. Similarly, Kate in season 2 is going to have a huge upswing of luck, prosperity, and achievement, only to lose it all again.

Life is full of ups and downs. It’s this roller coaster ride that keeps us watching each episode. We begin to care more and more about the Pearsons because of how raw and real and flawed the characters are.

There’s much more to it than I have revealed here. Like I said, the best part is to watch and be shocked by each new rise and fall.

Casting: 9/10 – I think the show is well cast. My only small critique, and coming at it from the angle of my blog being for young teen/young adult women, is I would have liked Kate’s love interest to have been more handsome. I feel like in American film/TV it is really common to see a fat male character with a beautiful wife, but it’s far less common to see a fat female character with a fit husband. It’s almost taboo in American society to see this combination. And as a fat girl myself in real life, dating currently a fit guy, it’s a match I would like to see depicted more on American TV. Stop perpetuating the misconceived notion that a girl is only as good as her weight. Stop perpetuating that a fat girl can only ever be worthy of being with a fat guy. This isn’t true. Slender guys, Muscular guys, all different types of guys, like fat girls too.

Yes, being fat is unhealthy, and seeing Kate’s struggles with her weight, infertility, and struggles with her pregnancy, all hit very close to home for me as well, since I also have fertility issues due to PCOS.

Anyways, you can hate on me, and call me out and say by my criticizing Kate’s love interest simply because he’s bald and fat, that I’m a hypocrite, because I’m saying then a Man is only as good as his weight – and that’s not really true. that’s not my point or what I’m trying to say, but I think many readers may view these comments as such attacks. I think the character that Kate’s husband plays is smart, funny, and genuinely sweet and a great person. Kate is lucky to have him. Kate would STILL be lucky to have him even if Kate was a size zero and he remained overweight. The scene in the coffee shop where he gets to announce their pregnancy is maybe my favorite scene in the entire series. His love and devotion for Kate is demonstrated time and time again. They are possibly “America’s Sweethearts”.

People like him are hard to find in ANY shape size color or whatever. And the actor playing him does fantastic so this isn’t about his ability as an actor either.

But in a show that CONSTANTLY pushes the envelope on touchy sensitive issues such as alcoholism, domestic abuse, drug addiction, homosexuality, racism, discrimination, etc, It seems like a missed opportunity to push another issue, by giving Kate a partner that would be unconventionally acceptable by society’s standards for a “fat girl”.

As a fat girl myself, and now recently dating a fit and active guy, I am well aware of society’s view of what is “acceptable” for a “fat girl” when it comes to dating. 9 times out of 10 when we go out, the waitress assumes it’s separate checks, even if we go there often, even if I’m cuddling, rubbing his back, flirting, or etc, obviously we are together and out on a date. I’m well aware too of the looks and stares we get when we go out. And probably of the whispers and other comments made behind our backs. And this is in part shaped by what we see on TV. Society doesn’t hold those same misconceptions for an overweight man with an attractive female.

We laugh it off, because who are they to judge us, our happiness, our relationship, our compatibility. But still, Hollywood could be doing more to break down these stereotypes and barriers. They could pair a fat girl with a hot husband. They could cast a fat girl in a main role, and NOT make it about her eating addiction and weight loss, they could, but they don’t, and This is Us is no exception to this.

What we see in the media, also shapes our realities. Hollywood should have a responsibility to do more to stop sexism, racism, and stop hate against people on their weight, religion, sexual orientation, or any other “less desirable” (as perceived by society “norms”) traits.

Randall and Kevin would both be considered hot or attractive, and what do they get, hot wives/girlfriends (although Kevin’s relationships are a hot hot mess).

And yes, Kate does have a wonderful happy loving awesome relationship. That’s wonderful, but why pair the only fat chick in the sitcom, with an equally fat guy? Also why make Kate’s who character so obsessed with her weight. Calling attention to how it’s such a huge negative thing. Meanwhile in countless other sitcoms we see fat or ugly men with smoking hot wives. Let’s reverse that stereotype just one time. I want to see a serious tv series like this, with a very overweight actress such as Kate, with a happy, healthy relationship, with a man that society would deem to be “above her station” and a character who is confident, happy, and content with her body size/shape and just owns it. Yes, we all know that being fat is not healthy, it affects your life in numerous negative ways, from fertility issues such as what Kate has, to heart disease, diabetes, and just lack of energy/stamina. We don’t need a TV show to remind us of this (because society reminds us of this every day). Instead what we NEED is a TV show to show us some kindness, some hope, some ray of light, in a world with very few “role models for fat girls”.

I am here to tell you, that even though TV will never show you that “ray of light” it exists. It’s real. There are REAL men, fit, athletic, muscular, handsome, sexy men, who love big girls. Who love and RESPECT big girls, who love you for you, for the person you are inside. Your heart, your mind, your unique wonderful qualities that make you you. As well as loving you for your curvy body. Loving, loyal, devoted to you.

Do you know what my boyfriend told me on our very first date? He told me all of the reasons why he liked me / was interested in getting to meet me / know me better. Because I’m different from other girls, because I’m real and genuine, and loving, and kind hearted. Because I’m myself, I’m not fake, I’m not shallow, I never judge others. I accept and love and support him. But also he genuinely likes and is attracted to big girls. I’ve seen photos of his exes, and they were even bigger than me. So it’s not just him saying that to please me. As unbelievable as it may be, there are fit guys who love big girls. And not only because they are big. But for all of the reasons that make them a wonderful person. Relationships shouldn’t be superficial. (so once again you might be calling me out here with my critique of Kate’s boyfriend in This is Us because he DOES treat Kate like the queen she is no matter how big he or she are.) But so could any man, regardless of his weight. Why only show fat actresses with fat men? When will hollywood realize that a woman’s value is more than her dress size. I have a wonderful relationship with a fit muscular guy and I’m a 200 lb girl. We share some things in common, but we also show each other new and interesting things, and take interest in each other’s interests. We have never spent a weekend apart ever since we first met, almost 6 months ago now.

I still think every time I go out with my boyfriend that I have the best looking guy in the room, or even in the world. And I find it unbelievable. Why? Why am I always so surprised and thankful and feel so shocked? Because of society’s norms, society’s expectations, society’s judgements. And what forms and shapes those judgements is the media. Magazines, movies, TV shows. We grow up looking to those. It’s a subconscious thing. You can deny it all you want and say you’re not superficial, but the truth is, you don’t even realize how it is shaping your judgement and notions.

Fat women often cast as sidekicks, comic relief, never taken seriously, never in a lead role, never in a “fairytale” type romance with a “prince charming”. If anything at all, paired with a man who society would equally judge and find fault with (at least their outer appearance).

I guess my bottom line is this… They could have written the character of Kate’s husband the EXACT same way, kept ALL of the scenes exactly the same, showing his silly side, his love for Kate, his willingness to let go of any pride or the lengths he would go to to publicly display his love for Kate, Kept all of that, and just cast someone better looking in the role – he still would have had the same qualities that make us love their relationship so much. While no longer perpetuating the stereotype of a fat girl not being able to have a happy relationship like this with an average or even handsome guy. Cast her with someone like Kev or Randall and then we’d REALLY have a show that pushes the envelope.

Acting: 10/10 – The show is emotionally engaging because not only of the excellent writing but the equally believable and convincing acting.

Music: 10/10 – I love the ending theme as well as many of the other tracks used throughout this drama. Many fans have asked repeatedly for Jack’s theme to be released on itunes store. As of yet it does not appear to be available for purchase. Take a listen below to Jack’s Theme.

Visuals: 8/10 – The nostalgia of the 70s 80s, and 90s are depicted through the different time skips back through the story. Although the show is a drama with no special effects or big budget visuals, the show does an excellent job of depicting life in western Pennsylvania. I would know since it is also my home.

Overall: 72/80 90% A- “Excellent Drama for Girls”

This Is US – Season 1 and 2 Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

My Neighbor Totoro Ghiblifest 2017 Anime Movie Review

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.

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.

Overall: 51/60 85% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

PS: If you enjoyed Totoro also check out Wolf Children and My Summer with Coo

My Neighbor Totoro Ghiblifest 2017 Anime Movie Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Sekai Project Visual Novels Featured in New Humble Bundle

Sekai Project is one of many companies localizing Visual Novels into English. And for the next 2 weeks you can get 17 Sekai Project Visual Novels for $12. That’s less than $1 a game. (or pay less and receive less games) And it supports charity too! Feel good and score some awesome Visual Novels with the new humble bundle.

https://www.humblebundle.com/sekai-project-bundle

Pay just $1 to receive:

Fault Milestone 2
KaraKara
NekoPara Vol 0
Ame no Marginal – Rain Marginal

Beat the average (currently $10.16) to receive:

All of the Above PLUS
NekoPara Vol 1
Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru Part 1
Marcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project, Plus Season PASS DLC
Fault Milestone two side:above
Sound of Drop -fall into poison
Highway Blossoms (a Yuri game (girl x girl game))
Japanese School Life

Pay $12 to receive it all:

All of the Above PLUS
NekoPara Vol 2
Wold End Economica – Complete Edition
Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru Part 2
Memory’s Dogma Code:01
Robot Double – Before Crime After Days Xtend Edition
Sunrider: Liberation Day – Captain’s Edition

That’s a whole lot of visual novels for not a big price! I only had 3 of these currently in my collection (and almost all of them wishlisted). I am super excited about this bundle and can’t wait to start playing.

Robot Double sounds incredibly interesting to me from the brief description. It states that unlike traditional Visual Novels, there are no clear cut choices, but instead you control the story purely through your emotions.

If you’re interested in grabbing this bundle for yourself, check out https://www.humblebundle.com/sekai-project-bundle.

Sekai Project Visual Novels Featured in New Humble Bundle was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Koe no Katachi Anime Review

Title: Koe no Katachi

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

Release Dates:

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).

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

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.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

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.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

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.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

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).

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

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.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

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.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

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.

Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Koe no Katachi Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

The Red Turtle Anime Review

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.

Overall:  42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

The Red Turtle Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review

Overview:

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.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

Review:

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”

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Concept:

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:

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

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:

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.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

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.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

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.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

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

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Characters

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.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review

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.

Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Big Fish Begonia Anime Review
Production Value:

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.

Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Big Fish and Begonia Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things

I just did a guest post over on thenerdmentality.com regarding my thoughts on the PS3 game “Beyond Two Souls“.

Did you know this game has many things in common with the TV Series “Stranger Things”?

For example, both Beyond Two Souls and Stranger things focus on a young girl with strange powers. In both cases, they are raised by a government figure who at first treats the girl as if he was their father, in order to gain the girl’s trust and help her learn to use her powers. In both cases, the government uses the girl to open a portal to the other side which has unintended consequences of letting spirits cross over into this world. Also in both cases, the girl runs away, only to be hunted relentlessly by the government throughout both stories.

As for the actual gameplay, story, graphics, and soundtrack itself, and how it compares to Quantic Dream’s other games such as Heavy Rain, why not head over to thenerdmentality.com and check out my full review of Beyond Two Souls.

Thank you to the nerd mentality for letting me guest post for you guys, and thank all of you readers for looking!

Beyond Two Souls Similarities to Stranger Things was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Are the Relationships in Scum’s Wish Really So Bad?

I recently discovered Scum’s Wish from an article describing the relationship between Mugi and Hanabi as abusive. While the anime begins with Mugi and Hanabi both in love with other people and only using each other to satisfy their physical desires, is there really anything inherently wrong with this? People have casual relationships all the time. Not all relationships are built around love.

Not only that, but, I think that love is a feeling that can grow over time. Hanabi and Mugi may not be in love just yet; but that doesn’t mean they won’t fall in love by the end of the anime or manga. There has been much foreshadowing already hinting at this possibility.

Could Hanabi and Mugi ever fall in love or have a happy ending?

Here are some clues that hint that they may be falling for eachother:

In Episode 1: Hanabi tells Mugi not to fall in love with her. Mugi tells her don’t worry, you’re not my type. And she tells him “Me Either” (you’re not my type either). This just seems to be setting a stage for them to fall in love by the end.

In Episode 2: Mugi tells Hanabi “Not all happy things have a happy ending, but you still wouldn’t want to erase them from your memory, and that how should I say, makes you even more unhappy.” — Perhaps Mugi and Hanabi will not have their happy ending, but they will look back not with hatred for eachother, but fondness instead.

In Episode 3, Hanabi starts crying and says that she wants to try to love Mugi

In Episode 2, she gets very aggressive and possessive of Mugi when Moca tries to get close to him.

In Episode 2, Mugi encourages Hanabi to go make friends and gently strokes her hair. Hanabi thinks this is strange and comments that it’s almost like he’s her boyfriend.

In Episode 3, when being naughty together, she thinks Mugi and the act of pleasing Mugi is cute. Mugi also reluctantly here gives in to Hanabi. He feels guilty for thinking (dreaming in this case) of the other girls. He tries to avoid Hanabi’s advances at first. In the end he laments that he is just “destined to be used as a plaything for adolescents”. He doesn’t sound very happy about this. He is hurting too and wants a more affectionate and loving relationship – Granted at this point he still wants it with Akane. He even says he can’t believe he’s satisfied by Hanabi and wishes Akane would “punish” him for it.

In all of the episodes, Hanabi is concerned not only with her own pleasure, but also worried if she’s good enough for Mugi and concerned with pleasing him as well.

The lyrics to the opening song seem to be more about Hanabi X Mugi than Hanabi X Oniichan.

“If Fate existed, I’d like to say, “You’re the one I’m destined to be with”, But I feel those words will destroy what we have right now… so I can’t say them. Even when you’re near you seem so distant. This feeling goes in and out like the tide. I’ll give up. I’ll never give up. An endless game of flower fortune telling. If I’ve lost the key to my treasure box, I’ll embrace my brightest emotions, Hiding their faintly colored remains behind my sighs. When our eyes meet, don’t look away! See through this lie hidden within them. I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now. I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.”

If we analyze those lyrics…

“I feel those words will destroy what we have right now so I can’t say them.” This could refer to either Mugi or Oniichan. With Oniichan and Hanabi they’ve been such good friends for so long that she’s afraid of ruining their friendship. With Mugi and Hanabi, she’s afraid of losing their relationship, even if it is purely physical.

“Even when you’re near you seem so distant” – Once again this line could apply to either Mugi or Oniichan. But I think it applies more to Mugi. Oniichan still comes over to have dinner and hang out as a friend with Hanabi, and they’re close, perhaps even inappropriately so, having to remind each other that he is now her teacher and she’s his student, so they don’t really seem distant at all. Mugi on the other hand keeps his emotions and thoughts hidden away from Hanabi, and they are close physically, but he always imagines Hanabi to be Mei or Akane. He doesn’t embrace Hanabi as Hanabi. He therefore in my opinion is always distant, even when they’re intimately close.

But the most telling is the line at the end: “When our eyes meet, don’t look away!” (Don’t think about Akane or Mei) See through this lie. (Her lie that she doesn’t love Mugi). “I’m a young playgirl, completely confused, so don’t say anything now” (Don’t tell me you love me, because I don’t know who I love / I love both of them, hence being a “playgirl” or “confused.) (Also “playgirl” would apply directly to how naughty she is with Mugi. With Oniichan she doesn’t have that type of physical relationship).  And “I’m in so much pain. I love you so much it’s frightening.” This could apply to both Mugi or Oniichan, but when you watch the anime, who or what always makes Hanabi cry… It’s Mugi most of the time. Her relationship with Mugi is painful to her… in the beginning, it’s painful to her because she feels like she’s “cheating” on Oniichan… but as time goes on, and at the end of the most recent episode, she’s crying and says she wants to try to love Mugi.

For Hanabi, the chances of ever having a relationship with Oniichan are small because he is her teacher now, and it would create a scandal. For Mugi, although Akane does fool around secretly with her students, this would not be much better already than his relationship with Hanabi or his past with Mei. Akane isn’t ready to be serious about anyone, and yes, she does inappropriate things with the other students, but this is not love either.

At what point (if any) should you give up on someone that you love, knowing that it just can never work out? What if you began seeking comfort from someone else to help fill that loneliness? In the 2nd Episode of Scum’s Wish it’s hinted at what exactly will happen. Hanabi goes out with some girls from her class. One of the girls is dating 2 boys at once. Now she can’t choose because she loves both of them. Hanabi tells her if she doesn’t choose, she will end up alone. This very likely will be in parallel to what will happen to Hanabi. If she can’t give up her crush on Oniichan, but continues to keep dating Mugi, at some point, she will be in love with both of them. She will become stuck and unable to choose either of them, so she will be left alone.

So what do you think? Can Mugi and Hanabi ever fall in love? Will Hanabi or Mugi let go of their crush and find happiness with one another? Is their relationship really that wrong? I don’t feel that they will regret their relationship either way even if they don’t end up together in the end. I think that they will build enough fond memories together that the overall experience of the relationship will have more happy memories than sad ones despite how it may end.

The other article that I read points out that they could find comfort in other things/people. Which may be true, but I still don’t think that comforting each other through their hard time is really that bad. The original article that I read made it sound as if Hanabi and Mugi turn their backs on their friends and family and only turn to each other. This is not true. Mugi has Moca, Hanabi has Oniichan, her mom, and Ecchan. You also see both of them with other classmates, and it’s even stated in the description of the anime that they are both “Popular” and “well liked” at school. So I don’t think that if the relationship were to end that either of them would fall into a hopeless depression.

Are the Relationships in Scum’s Wish Really So Bad? was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Final Fantasy XV Review

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a review around here with the holidays and all. It’s time to fix that. Having just finished FFXV over the weekend, that seems the best candidate for a review this week. I’ve been a fan of Final Fantasy for a long time, ever since “Mystic Quest” on the SNES. Final Fantasy 6 (3 in America) is still my favorite in the series. I’ve played every Final Fantasy Game since the 16 bit era. And I’m “strange” I know, but I don’t really like FF7, not as much as everyone else seems to be in love with that game. But Final Fantasy in general always holds a special place in my heart. If I had to rank my favorite FF games that I’ve played from best to worst, it would look something like this when using the corresponding Japanese numbers for each title… With the newest game, Final Fantasy XV somewhere solidly in the middle. Although I’ve played 11 and 14, I didn’t include them in the list since they are a different genre (mmorpg)

  • FF6
  • FF8
  • FF4
  • FF10
  • FF13
  • FF15
  • FF9
  • FF5
  • FF7
  • FF12

Honestly, my most favorite thing about the new FF game was Prompto’s Photography skills lol. My twitter and facebook looked like a giant marketing website for the game for the past few weeks. Pretty smart move by SquareEnix, getting the public to help promote their game like that on social media. The characters are quite likeable in the game, and although the story starts slow, it eventually builds with a lot of emotion. The first half of the game features an open world environment where you can travel, explore, and quest freely, but the last several chapters are much more linear, and it’s within the later half of the game that the story becomes much darker. The emotions are felt stronger due to the first half focusing on friendship between the main character and his friends and the light hearted feeling of the early chapters.

The story however, is not without flaws, and that is where I have to deduct points. People are killed off much too early in the game to feel any sense of loss or attachment to them. Furthermore, some characters are mysteriously killed off without ever showing exactly what happened to them. The character development between the 4 “bros” is the highlight of the game – and it is beautiful. On the other hand, supporting characters are introduced only to be almost forgotten in later chapters. For example, I really liked Iris in the first half of the game. In the end it’s eluded that she too has become a daemon hunter, but it never shows her again nor does she ever rejoin the bros. Aranea is another forgotten female as well.

The game is supposed to be receiving numerous updates in the coming weeks and months. Among which include new story sequences, special dlc for each of the bros, gameplay enhancements for the later chapters (chapter 13), and the ability to create your own player character. But I shall base my review solely based on the content that was available when I played through the game.

Title: Final Fantasy XV

Platform: PS4 and Xbone (I played the PS4 version, but they are both the same).

Publisher: SquareEnix

Release Date: November 29, 2016

Genre: RPG

Where to buy: Amazon

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Geeky:  5/5 – The new combat system, high production values and cutting edge graphics make this new entry into the Final Fantasy series a new, but amazingly fun experience.

Sweetie:  4/5 – The story and character development sometimes struggles to keep things coherent and cohesive, especially in the later chapters of the game. Many of the side characters, especially female characters, are tossed aside and forgotten in the second half of the game. Some scenes that should have been tear jerkers fell flat due to not enough time spent developing characters before introducing tragic events. However, lots of non-combat activities, such as photography, fishing, cooking, and chocobo racing are sure to delight most girls playing this game. Not to mention ample amounts of glorious man eyecandy.

Overall: 69/80 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Final Fantasy XV is an action RPG with the ability to select Real-time combat or the Active Wait commands which allow you more time to use items and plan your strategy. Early chapters feature an open world with numerous quests, while later chapters shift to a linear narrative focused on building a strong story. Without spoiling it for you, Final Fantasy XV tells a story about a prince trying to rescue his bride to be while avenging his father’s death and reclaiming his kingdom. When the game starts, the prince is a mouthy spoiled brat, who, along with his friends journey to meet the Oracle, who is also the prince’s childhood friend and betrothed. However, shortly after leaving the capital city, their kingdom is attacked which begins a quest to seek the powers of the gods as well as past kings to help defeat evil and bring peace to the lands.

Gameplay: 9/10 – Some people really dislike the new action based combat; however, I find it much more fun, engaging, and fluid than traditional JRPGs (and I love JRPGs don’t get me wrong.). You can chain attacks like crazy, which is really cool, especially later in the game, it’s possible to see triple digits on your chained attacks. You can bring up the menu which in Real-time mode, monsters will still attack, but in Active Wait mode, the monsters will be paused allowing you to select the items you want to use. I had no trouble using items in the Real-time combat modes.  I relied pretty heavily on elixirs and potions, especially in later chapters of the game lol. There are two difficulty settings, and I played on easy and found most of the fights a breeze, even in the dreaded chapter 13 which finds the main character separated from the bros and without any weapons or armor. So I would say the game is of average difficulty probably. I did not need to grind or run into any issues.

Overall the game took me about 55 hours to complete. I spent the first several hours doing side quests, and enjoying the extra content of the game, and about the last 20 hours maybe actually trying to progress through the storyline. FFXV is one of those games that can take you as little as 30 hours or as many as probably 100+ hours depending on what you want to do! I still had plenty of side quests that I could have completed. However, I didn’t feel particularly motivated to do so, too many “fetch quests” – go here, bring back x, or kill x number of monsters, etc. Needed more story based quests. Also money became laughable as a quest reward. I had 99 (the limit it lets you carry) Hi Elixirs, Hi Potions, etc.

Long time fans will be delighted to see the return of chocobo racing (which in my opinion was the best part of FF7 lol). You can also name, customize (with medals and colors), and take your Chocobo on the road with you. Not only that, but as you travel by chocobo, he will level up, gaining more stamina and learning new skills such as being able to help you in combat. In the beginning he may run from a lot of encounters as soon as you dismount, but as he levels up it’s implied he has more affection for you as he will often take initiative to engage in combat and wait for you to mount back up when the fight is finished.

New features in FFXV include Prompto’s photography skills. Prompto will take pics randomly throughout the game. I believe most are randomly generated, but a few are perhaps storyline driven. This is by far my favorite part of FFXV. I filled up all 150 album slots by Chapter 10. You can check out my twitter to see some of my pics. 

The main mini game in Final Fantasy XV is a pachinko game (popular in Japan, these casino games kinda resemble Pinball in a way). You can win trophies and in game items (mostly accessories from what I noticed) by getting high scores in the game. The mini game felt kinda long and tedious in a way to me, too many levels. I made it pretty far, but never did reach the end – if there even is an end to it.

I think there also may be a coliseum fighting tournament thing – I heard NPCs saying “Let’s go out for drinks if we win the tournament” etc. I didn’t fully explore enough to find the arena – so I can’t comment on this feature – if it actually exists.

Fishing is another passtime which you can choose to level up throughout various fishing spots in the game. It is very challenging at first, but if you fish enough your skill increases and you also become accustomed to the controls and it does get easier and more enjoyable as you go on.

There’s also Ignis’ cooking skills. When you make camp you can have Ignis cook a stat-boosting meal for the group. As you travel you will discover new recipes (hint try ordering everything at the taverns you visit, and check shops for recipe books and other key items). Sometimes just foraging for the ingredients out in the wild will be enough to spark Ignis’ inspiration. Characters also have favorite foods that further give an increased boost to their stats when consumed.

Camping can also unlock special scenes between you and the bros. For example, staying at an outpost one night, Prompto approaches the main character to reminisce about their childhood. It’s a very moving scene – one that really does a lot to develop Prompto as a character – and kinda a shame a lot of people may not get to see it.  There’s other scenes too and some include mini games such as cooking with Ignis or racing with Gladiolus.

Traveling in Final Fantasy XV is easier and faster than any other JRPG I’ve ever played. The main mode of transportation is the Regalia, a beautiful black sports car. You can choose to drive yourself, or choose to have Ignis drive automatically for you by selecting quests or map markers kinda mindlessly guiding you through the game. To pass time you can collect and listen to numerous Final Fantasy soundtracks from previous games. You can also shop while driving in your car (or even while it’s parked). At times the radio will have news or other backstory elements you can hear while riding around. Your car will need gas so don’t forget to refill for a measly 10 gil at outposts along the way.

The car is not the only means of transportation though, as mentioned you can take your Chocobo on the road as well. I chose to travel by chocobo throughout much of the game, because I liked the photos Prompto took while on chocoback. Yes, that’s my “fuschia” chocobo in the featured image lol. I later changed him to teal. I named him Cho-Cho. And he was awesome :).

You can also instantly teleport to the last campsite or inn you’ve slept in, or teleport instantly to wherever you parked the car. When traveling by car you can also instantly teleport to any previously visited parking spots. This makes traveling super fast and cuts down on gametime and gameplay that is “boring” in most other JRPG.

With so much to do, Final Fantasy XV gets high marks on gameplay. I only deducted a point for the lackluster nature of most of the side quests which may cause some players such as myself to not want to bother completing them.

Story: 6/10 The bones are in place, but the skeleton needs a little meat on those bones to flesh out the story and characters more. The potential for emotional and gut wrenching scenes is there – and I won’t lie, the end and later chapters did elicit a few tears from me, but I felt a lot more could have been done, especially involving supporting characters who seem to be cast aside in the 2nd half of the game (as mentioned Iris, Aranea, etc). The supposed emotional scenes also would have had more impact had they built more rapport with the characters before killing them off, giving them some more screentime, personality, and showing the bonds between them. I feel they did pretty decently with one of the characters they killed – but I won’t say who so as to not spoil anything. But most of the others it never really explains exactly how they died or why we should even care that they’ve died.

The story starts slow and light hearted, a happy prince on his way to see his bride to be who he has not seen since they were children. Each chapter has setbacks and builds more and more darkness, and misery. Until the final chapters where light no longer exists in the world, very symbolic of the story itself. The final chapters reveal the true nature of the daemons that have been plaguing the lands as well as the role of a wayward god. The middle of the story focuses on seeking favor from the gods and ancient kings to help defeat the evil across the land. The end is left open-ended in a sense that it could be left to interpretation by the players and there is much debate as to what exactly happens. I have my own theories but I won’t spoil anything for anyone here. Make sure you watch through all of the credits, there’s numerous scenes after you may think it has ended. Until you have seen Noctis sleeping on the throne, you haven’t seen the true ending, the logo will also change after you complete the game.

Characters: 8/10 Although as mentioned, I have some serious gripes about how side characters (Iris and Aranea for example) are just forgotten in the later half of the game, I can’t overlook the strong character development of the main character and his friends. He changes from a whiny brat who’s insecure and unsure if he even wants to rule, to someone who is so determined and mature, that he is willing to sacrifice everything for his kingdom. Many sad and many happy things will happen between the bros. The first half of the game will make you love the bros. This is important in making you care about what happens in the later parts of the game. Aided by Prompto’s selfies and group shots, and some solid narratives, the bromance between the group is really the highlight of the game. Each of the bros is very likeable. Ignis is kinda the mother hen of the group, Gladio the rough around the edges strong forceful type who sometimes has to motivate Noctis to stop whining by nearly pummeling some sense into him, and Prompto the carefree high-energy playful sidekick who mostly serves as comic relief Prompto is featured prominently in later chapters of the game, and also as I mentioned you may get lucky and see a special scene with him and Noctis which reveals that he hasn’t always been so outgoing. Prompto has a lot going on under the surface – and for that reason, he may be my favorite character in the game. Although I also really like Ignis who has a tragic event in the later parts of the game which changes not only his character, but his appearance and also his skills and abilities. All of the bros are absolute eyecandy for any girls playing the game, and are often compared to boy bands of the 90s lol. And any guys playing the game will likely relate to the friendship between the group of young guys. Liking the characters goes a long way in motivating me to play through the end of the game and also is instrumental in drawing the desired emotions from the players.

Graphics: 10/10 – Can’t deny that this is one beautiful game. The huge scale monsters create a feeling of awe and terror. The various destinations, from desserts, to large cities, to forests, caves, and the open road give the game a sense of realism and adventure. Your characters can wear different outfits and you can customize the chocobo colors. – Soon you will even be able to create your own playable character as well. The quality of the graphics, especially the hair and the environment are amazing, almost photo realistic.

Music: 8/10 – I actually really liked the ending theme which is Stand by Me by Florence and the Machine. However, I miss days of yore when Final Fantasy had original music, such as Eyes on Me or Suteki Da Ne. That said, the music is still fitting for the game. That song got me at the end, making me cry a little. And it is a great song that fits the theme, because the bros will stand together through all kinds of hardships in this adventure. It’s also super awesome to be able to collect previous Final Fantasy soundtracks to play and listen to in the Regalia. And like most FF games, a large number of the tracks in Final Fantasy XV have been remixed once again (such as the chocobo theme which is a fan favorite).  I deducted a few points for lack of originality in the sound track, but overall, it’s a great soundtrack with a lot of variation and some old throw backs as well :).

Voice Acting: 9/10 – I played the English audio. I will probably do Japanese audio next time I play the game just to see what the original cast is like. But the English voice acting is actually pretty good. There are a few lines that are sometimes either overdramatic or lacking in emotion, but it’s nowhere near as bad as most other dubbed games or anime. The audio goes a long way also in helping the audience to identify with the characters and further creates deeper impact for the emotional scenes throughout the game.

Overall: 69/80 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Replay Value is unknown at this time. As of writing, SquareEnix is reworking Chapter 13. Most notably this will be gameplay “fixes” such as powering up the ring of lucis. However, they have stated plans to introduce new story elements as well which require localization and voice acting and are further down the road. There are multiplayer aspects and the game does present at times choices to the player, but those choices have little bearing on the story which remains largely linear. Replay Value ultimately will be determined by the nature of updates and DLC released by SquareEnix.

Final Fantasy XV Review was originally published on