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.
This past week I finally marathoned the anime that everyone’s been talking about. Yuri!!! On Ice won a ton of awards recently in Crunchyroll’s 2016 Anime awards. And not only that, but it’s been gaining unprecedented attention even from people who would not identify as Otaku or Anime fans, including actual real professional Olympic and Competitive Ice Skaters. The series is herald for its beautiful intricate artwork that perfectly captures the movements and expressions of professional ice skaters, as well as a fantastic musical score, and touching love story which stands apart from the rest since it features 2 LGBT males. It handles the relationship in a sweet and innocent and tasteful way, and shows a lot of depth and heart combined with suspense and drama as you watch and learn more about the characters inner most thoughts both on and off the ice.
Title: Yuri!!! On Ice
Release Date: October 2016
Genre: Slice of Life, Sports, Comedy, Romance
Length: Season 1 is 12 episodes. Season 2 has been announced but no date set yet
Geeky: 5/5 – The level of difficulty in animating this show is mind blowing. The characters’ movements on the ice feel so lifelike. The soundtrack is also amazing with very memorable opening and ending themes.
Sweetie: 4/5 – There is a lot of comedy, as well as a very heartwarming love story between the main character and his coach. There’s also a cute doggie ❤ However, at times, especially later in the series the story can move a lttle too slowly.
Overall: 42/45 93% A “Excellent Anime For Girls”
Story: 8/10 Yuri has just returned home to Japan after several years of training abroad as a professional Ice Skater. He finished last place in last year’s “Grand Prix” (although he fails to realize that even placing among these 6 finalists is a feat worthy of being proud of.). He returns to Japan unable to face his fans, friends, or family, until a mysterious guest arrives!! It’s Yuri’s life-long idol, Viktor, a famous Russian Figure Skater whom Yuri has always looked up to. Viktor announces that he has taken time off from his professional skating career in order to become Yuri’s coach. During this time he will live side by side with Yuri and things begin to heat up both on and off the ice. I deducted a few points as there are some pacing issues at times and the large amount of “skater jargon” can distract (although it does add realism which is a big plus!)
Characters: 10/10 There are a number of rival figure skaters from around the world. When they hear news of Viktor’s semi-retirement in order to coach Yuri, they have mixed reactions of anger, jealousy, intrigue, disappointment, or amusement.
Viktor’s former coach takes a new skater on to train in Viktor’s absense, who just also happens to named Yuri. This “other” Yuri had been friends with Viktor and Viktor had promised to choregraph his senior skating debut performance. Viktor is rather forgetful however about promises… leaving Yuri to travel to Japan to confront Japanese Yuri and the forgetful Viktor which sets off a heated rivalry which will last all season.
The story follows both Yuris and several other side characters, along with their coaches, as they travel and perform and perfect their skating, leading up to a face off in yet another Grand Prix.
Not only does it focus on the excitement of watching who will advance to the tournament finale, but also on their life, friends, family, and personal relationships both on and off the ice.
Animation: 5/5 – The animation in this series is insane. It seems as if you’re watching real people, real professional figure skaters.
Music: 5/5 – Each skater’s performances are highlighted with unique music scores, just like a real figure skater. Most of these tracks are super catchy, and watching them skate to each track is almost like some weird “Fantasia on Ice” anime. Not only that, but the opening theme and ending theme are both catchy AF and super memorable, both because of the songs and also the animations. The ending theme uses an instagram or snapchat style photo feed and totally brought back feels of Prompto’s Photography skill in FFXV making it very timely and relevant. Both Yuri on Ice and also FFXV also focus on strong male-centric relationships/friendships. The opening theme of Yuri on Ice is in English which is a rare and nice touch, and the animation is done in a sketch-book style of the anime opening.
Voice Acting: 5/5 The Voice Acting is also nearly flawless. Yuri’s sweet innocent voice, Christopher and Viktor’s more sultry/mature voices, Yurio’s rough and aggressive voice, or JJ’s high energy and confident voice, they each highlight the characters’ emotions and energy levels.
“Shall We Date” is a very popular series of free mobile and browser based Otome Games (Games for Girls) by NTT Solmare. Wizardess Heart is one such game in this series. I recommend this game for anyone who loves Harry Potter (or cute anime games in general). Check out my review of “Shall We Date: Wizardess Heart +” below!
Title: Shall We Date? Wizardess Heart+
Developer: NtT Solmare
Genre: Otome Visual Novel with Dressup Game elements
Geeky: 3/5 There are numerous limited time events and the graphics are quite pretty – however, as is the case with visual novel games, there is not much meat to the gameplay and overall challenge or difficulty levels are low. However, it does earn some “geek” cred for the fact that it is sure to appeal to all Harry Potter fans.
Sweetie: 5/5 This game has everything a girl could ask for, beautiful graphics, tons of romanceable (cute) guys, dressup elements, a great love story, interesting characters, high replay value, freedom of choice, multiple endings, and lots of events
Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
Concept: 9/10 Wizardess Heart is a visual novel. A visual novel is a type of game, often without any combat or action, which allows you to see different parts of an overarching story by making different decisions at certain points which leads you to various different endings. As is common in many free or low budget visual novels, you begin this adventure by choosing which route you want to be on by selecting one from more than a dozen different men. I dislike this approach to visual novel telling. I prefer to not know which route I’m on and let my choices determine that, such as in more high budget premium visual novels such as Clannad or Stein’s Gate for example. I did deduct 1 point from concept for that, but that’s just my personal taste. Getting the route and ending that you want is really the only challenge in playing a visual novel, so removing that, by forcing you to select the route before you even play the game, significantly lowers the “gameplay” value by eliminating any sense of challenge from the game. It’s not just low budget games taking this approach lately either, many Idea Factory titles such as Norn9 Var Commons and Amnesia also take this approach.
Wizardess Heart does spice up the gameplay a bit by having 2 endings per each route, a “normal ending” and a “good ending”, and you must make correct choices to max your love score while playing to reach the good ending.
The game also offers dressup features letting you dress yourself, your guy, and decorate your room. The items in dressup also grant you stat bonuses such as your charm or magic score which will help you progress through the game. Many of the items are limited edition, making you want to login to play to collect the items before they expire. This gives you bragging rights and lets you show off your awesome items to everyone. The dressup features definitely keep you more engaged in the game than if they just had a straight up visual novel without these event items.
Sometimes there are also limited time stories that you can read, and they sometimes even let you vote for who should be the main characters in these stories. Once again, this encourages players to login and continue playing the game.
The sheer number of datable characters, charming cute graphics, and unique “Harry Potter-esque” story all make this mobile game stand-out in a sea of “sameness”.
Story: 9/10 Shall We Date? Wizardess Heart is an Otome Game that puts you in the role of a young female magician. Your magic gives you the ability to speak to animals; however, when it comes to controlling magic for use on non-living objects, you are significantly less skilled. It’s every magician’s dream to get an invite to study magic at the prestigious Gedonelune Royal Magic Academy; but, you never thought you were good enough to get accepted there. One day though your letter of acceptance arrives and you are transported to a strange magical world with talking stuffed animals, unicorns, magic classes, and most of all, really cute guys lol.
Each guy’s route has a different story, and each story has 2 endings. This makes nearly 30 endings just from the main routes. As mentioned under concept, occasionally, special event stories will be added, which if you complete before the end of the event let you see completely new mini-stories about each of the characters.
The average story length is long too, which is both a blessing, and a curse. Long enough that you will either need to spend several days/weeks playing each route, or break down and buy “story tickets” that let you advance the story. It adds to replay and keeps the game more interesting, but does interrupt the “flow” of the story when you want to play for long periods of time.
The translation and editing seem very high quality (I’ve only been playing for about a week so I have only seen one route admittedly). But compared to “Shall We Date? Guard Me Sherlock” which I also began playing recently, I see far fewer typos or “awkward” sounding translation phrases in Wizardess Heart+. I saw quite a few instances of these typos or translation “errors” in Guard Me Sherlock, enough to be jarring and take away from the actual story — However, I have not seen any, to my recollection, while playing Wizardess Heart+.
Characters 10/10: The Characters are all highly likeable and diverse. New Characters get added all the time. There’re tsundere types who rarely show their emotions, “Shota” style boys who act like little kids, Romantic “prince” like types, Aggressive/reckless types, secretive/mysterious types, “bestfriend” types, and anywhere in between.
Not only are there a wide variety of characters, but they do experience significant character growth and development throughout the game. The characters all have weaknesses, secrets, flaws, etc. Not just mary janes. This endears them to the audience, and makes them seem more real. It also adds some mystery and depth to an otherwise fluffy sweet story. Some of these guys have a few skeletons in their closet. Is your love for them strong enough to accept their flaws or will it tear you apart? In this way, it tells a more mature and deeper love story, one that may be closer to Josei as opposed to Shoujo, even despite the “Magic Girl” premise.
Gameplay: 7/10 Gameplay is pretty straight forward, you begin with a short prologue about your character and her magic. Once you are accepted to the academy you will be asked to select a buddy. This determines which route you will be on for this playthrough. You are allowed to view a preview of each character and read some basic information about them to help you decide.
Once you’ve chosen your buddy, you can begin reading his story. You will be awarded several story tickets in the beginning. Every few minutes you’ll end up coming to either a break in the story, or a decision you must make, both of which will consume a story ticket. When you run out of story tickets you can either purchase more for real money, or wait until they refill. I think they refill at a rate of 1 ticket every 2 hours – and you can hold a max of 5 tickets, so ideally, if possible, you want to be logging in and playing at least once every 10 hours so you don’t miss a story ticket from your inventory being full.
As with most mobile games, you can get login bonuses for playing consecutive days. After you login you can go on a “free date” once per day. Dates let you get special items such as dressup items, story tickets, in-game currency, and more. You can also challenge other players to see who has a higher charm score, winning here will not only grant items but also raise your charm, magic, and other in-game stats. Also winning 5 times in a row grants a special bonus.
Don’t forget to check the announcements for special events also! These events are the best way to get nice items without spending real money, such as new limited edition dressup items, or more story tickets to keep playing longer, or in-game currency.
You can also send free gifts to your friends who play, or invite friends who don’t play to come check out the game.
Dressup and decorating plays a huge role in gameplay. Not only is it cute and adds customization to your character, it also grants stat boosts and as mentioned above these stats let you challenge other people playing the game, affect your dates, and even affect the story. You do not have to be wearing an item to get the stat boost, it works just by collecting them and having them in your inventory. This allows you to dress freely as you would like without worrying about the stats.
While gameplay in visual novels is never a strong point, this game loses points in my opinion for the “choose your route at the beginning” format that it takes. However, it makes up and earns points when it comes to special events, dressup, replay value, number of endings, number of choices, and number of characters/routes within the game. It loses a significant amount of points for the “story ticket” system which forces you to wait before seeing more of the game.
It’s also a nice touch that the game will sync and allow you to continue playing on mobile, pc, facebook, facebook gameroom, etc.
Artwork: 9/10: The artwork is very cute and high quality, like that from a real anime. The user interface is simple, but it gets the job done, is user friendly enough, and is not distracting from the game. I deducted 1 point because I would have liked to have seen character portraits to indicate who’s speaking as it can be confusing when multiple sprites are on the screen. Otherwise, both the backgrounds and characters are detailed and beautiful. In the dressup game section the graphics change to chibi super-deformed sprites which are less detailed but instead give off a charming and cute expression which fits the overall cute theme of the game.
Music: 6/10: The music is good and fits well with the theme, this game does lack vocal tracks such as voice acting or theme song though. There also doesn’t appear to be much variety in music or sound effects.
Replay Value: 10/10 The sheer number of characters, each having 2 endings, as well as special events, etc make this game one that is fun to replay.
Geeky: 2/5 – No action here, but a lot of comedy. It’s also pretty heavy on romance though, so if Rom-coms aren’t your thing, I wouldn’t recommend this one.
Sweetie: 3/5 – Kaho’s character is perhaps the worst defined within this series and the most boring, despite being the main character, and a female lead who we witness the story through. Her relationship also never grows nor do the characters experience any significant growth or development. However, this is a cute, innocent, heart warming anime. The characters are likable, and the art style is kawaii. The blend of romance and comedy make this Slice of Life a fun one to watch, but if you’re expecting a serious and strong love story, the plot here falls short of that.
Overall: 42/55 76% C “Good Anime For Girls”
Concept: 8/10 Hatsukoi Monster focuses on a romantic relationship between the female lead, Kaho, whom is 15 years old, and Kanade, who is a fifth grader. Just like with the education system in the United States, fifth graders in Japan are between 10 and 11 years old. Kanade (and many of his friends) look much older, but their actions give way to just how young they truly are. Since both the anime and the manga are currently in production still at time of this review, who knows how it will end. I speculate that they’ll jump time forward at some point. There are some people who are “grossed out” or “weirded out” by the age gap. But it’s only a 5 year age difference. I’ve dated as much as 8 years older or younger than me, but the difference is, I’m in my 30s, not in my teens lol. But the point I’m trying to make is that, by time the couple (Kaho and Kanade) enter college, this is no longer weird or creepy. Plenty of people have relationships in this age range. AND Kaho is just a child still herself even in the current time-line. It’s not THAT creepy. In fact, I applaud it for daring to do something different from most highschool anime romantic comedies. The characters in Hatsukoi Monster are charming, funny, innocent, and pure. And it’s rare to see an anime or manga with an older woman dating a younger guy.
Each episode features conflicts which arise as a result of the age gap between the couple. There’s a lot of tension, misunderstandings, and mistakes made by both Kaho and Kanade. For both of them it is their first love, hence the title of this anime. They both need to mature a lot if their relationship is to survive. Luckily they have help from various people in their apartment complex who try to help them smooth things over, or conversely, provoke them to be more honest about their feelings.
It’s largely a comedy anime while the romance takes a back seat to the childish antics of Kanade and his gang. If you like comedy anime with a hint of romance, and don’t mind drama, cliffhangers, and relationship tension being thrown at you each week then you will really enjoy Hatsukoi Monster. Some of the jokes and humor are pretty low-brow but what do you expect from a cast consisting mostly of 10 year olds? A lot of the jokes and humor get reused each week too, especially the pranks that Kanade and his friends like to play (which in true 10 year old fashion, they find equally hilarious no matter how many times they pull the same stunt).
Story: 7/10 Kaho has lived a sheltered life of privilege and never been exposed to the realities of the outside world. Wanting to experience life for herself, she moves into an apartment complex known as the Kasumi House. On her way to her new home, Kaho almost gets into an accident. Kanade saves her and proceeds to chew her out for not watching where she is going. No one has ever raised their voice or spoken frankly to Kaho. This, plus Kanade’s cool demeanor and good looks cause Kaho to fall in love at first sight. Only later does she discover that the two of them will be living together from now on, and that Kanade is actually the 10 year old son of her apartment manager.
This is a Slice of Life anime, each episode focusing on another day in the Kasumi House. Kanade and his friends play tag, go to school, participate in sports events, culture festivals, or study for exams. While it shows us a lot of sweet, funny, or touching moments with Kanade and his friends, it falls short of showing us much backstory about Kaho, the supposed main character in this whole mess. Everything is told from Kaho’s perspective, so it would’ve been nice to see her school life, and more of her family life. As for friends, she doesn’t have any from being sheltered, but it would’ve been nice to see her grow and mature and make friends on her own (Aside from those at the Kasumi House of course). It’s almost as if Kaho exists in a bubble and her sole purpose is to chase after Kanade.
Since there’s only 1 or 2 episodes left at time of this review, my main complaint is that the story just never really seems to go anywhere. Each week is the same, with breaking up and making up, and similar antics and mischief. The couple never grows or really gets over their misunderstandings or able to handle their emotions.
Characters: 9/10 Almost all of the characters, except for Kaho herself, have really interesting personalities and back stories, though some are way over the top and eccentric. Kanade’s friends each represent some common roles we’ve seen in other anime, but they take it to extremes at times which just highlights the comedic nature of this anime.
For example, Taga is your typical tsundere. (hard on the outside but with a soft spot for certain things). His soft spot is Kanade whom he says reminds him of himself when he was that age. He is excessively rude to Kaho (possibly because he loves her). He calls her Breadcrumb girl and Garbage Girl, he intentionally does things to make Kaho cry in front of Kanade, which provoke’s Kanade’s protective instincts and sometimes helps them repair their relationship as a result of Taga playing badguy to let Kanade come “save the princess”.
Nagasawa is an Otaku, he has an obsession with a crossplaying young idol by the name of Renren who bares a striking resemblence to one of Kanade’s friends. As a result he usually tricks them into playing dressup and fantasizing about his idol. His room is full of dolls, toys, posters, books, CDs, movies, and costumes surrounding his fandom.
Shinohara is a very shy and frail character who also has a crush on Kaho, however, he is unable to overcome his fears or be honest about his feelings.
Kaz, Gin, and Tom make up the 3 main friends of Kanade and are featured prominently in each episode. Gin and Tom are both similar to Kanade, they look much taller and older than their mental state and actual age. Kaz on the other hand looks very small and young even for his age, but despite that, he acts as the voice of reason among the group.
Kaho’s brother makes an appearance later in the series, and is obsessed to the point where he’s almost actually in love with Kaho. Another similar character, but a female version of him, lives in the Kasumi House, and she is equally obsessed with Kanade’s father.
Shugo is Kanade’s father who has been raising Kanade as a single dad since his wife (Kanade’s mother) passed away when Kanade was small.
Artwork: 5/5 – I love all the character designs, they are really super cute and colorful. Each character looks unique and distinctive.
Music: 5/5 The opening and ending themes are very memorable and catchy. The opening theme is more Pop feeling, while the ending theme is definitely more Rock inspired. The background music throughout is also really well done. Most of the music throughout is fast paced which seems to fit the energy and enthusiasm of Kanade and his friends.
Voice Acting: 3/5 – While some of the characters such as Kanade, Kaho, Kaz, Taga, and Shinohara are almost perfectly cast, I have some issues with some of the other actors. Namely Gin and Tom, who both sound much older than Kanade and much too old for 5th graders, even if their voices have already dropped, they just don’t sound even like high schoolers, but instead like much older men. Overall, all of the actors delivered emotional and exciting performances that (for the most part) fit their characters well.
Title: Lovely Complex (Also commonly referred to as Love*Com)
Release Date: 2007
Based on: Manga by Aya Nakahara – There’s also a live action movie but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a die hard fan of this series – definitely read the manga or watch the anime first at least. The movie tries to fit 24 episodes into an hour or 2 hour format. It just doesn’t work. Too much has to be cut. It kinda just felt like watching a recap or highlight reel. There’s also a videogame but to my knowledge it has not been translated. The manga also has a sequel focusing on Risa’s little brother.
Overall: 34 / 40 85% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”
Story: 10/10 The story of Love*Com follows Risa and Otani, two youths who happen to be good friends in the same class. What’s unusual about them is that Risa is taller than even the boys in her class, and Otani is shorter even than the girls! They are teased often, but also both quite popular, and even more so popular when they are together and do “comedy skits” for their classmates. They have a good sense of humor and don’t mind being the running jokes of the classroom. They also have a lot of friends. Otani is exceptionally good at sports despite his tiny size.
This is a slice of life anime which focuses on how feelings of friendship gradually change to love. However, there are many obstacles in front of the new couple, most notably, worrying about further teasing from their classmates, but also worrying about wrecking their friendship.
I think this is one of the only anime to feature mismatched couples based on height and the pacing and balance of both romance and comedy feel right on spot.
Characters: 9/10 Risa is a lot stronger than Otani, emotionally, and probably physically as well given her size compared to him. Otani has a lot of insecurities which make him hold back more throughout the series. At times it is almost painful to watch him reject Risa repeatedly. But Risa is determined and doesn’t give up. It’s also painful at times to see the strain it puts on their friendship and watching them try to pretend the feelings for eachother aren’t there. They put themselves through a lot of pain before coming to accept their feelings. Watching them struggle and fail kinda makes me want to reach through the screen and shake them at times – but that’s also where the majority of the show’s suspense and drama comes into play so it’s a good thing really in the end. As mentioned above, the character dynamics are unique and not your typical pairing.
Art: 3/5 I like the art, but the main female is just not very attractive. Her top knot hairstyle is really not kawaii (not cute). It is unique though. The way it’s parted right down the middle, and her large round forehead without bangs and how thin and “stringy” and “flat to her head” the hair looks – I just find her utterly unattractive. Other than that though, the art is colorful and clean
Music: 4/5 – I really like the opening theme – but it’s a bit weird the song is sung from Otani’s perspective “I won’t tell you I like you” is one of the lyrics – and it’s sung by a male vocalist. — The anime on the other hand focuses more on and seems to be from more of Risa’s perspective. It’s still a really kawaii and catchy song!! The rest of the music throughout the series is less memorable but fits with the theme well.
Overall: 34 / 40 85% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”
Based Upon: “Kodomo no Omocha” manga by Miho Obana
Where to Buy: Amazon.com/Kodocha.. – This is a pretty old and rare / obscure series. At time of writing, there’s only 2 copies of the Kodocha Season 1 DVD box set available – for about $45. I’d encourage you to snap them up now, rather than later, as it will become harder and harder to find as time goes on. The Season 2 Kodocha DVD boxset is even more rare, with only 1 copy for $135 at time of this review.
Overall: 30/35 86% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 10/10 The story in Kodocha is very unique. I can’t think of any other anime that 1.) Deal with child stars or 2.) Focus on a romantic relationship in elementary and middle school (most romantic comedies are set in highschools or universities). The main story centers around an elementary student named Sana who is a child star, she does acting, modeling, and singing for movies, tv series, and commercials. It’s about how she balances her work with her school, family, and personal life. Of course being famous gets you sometimes unwanted attention, such is the case for the main love interest, who comes from a broken home and troubled past. He is jealous of Sana’s “perfect” life and innocent child-like qualities. But it’s also her youth, exuberrance, and innocence that draws him to her. Like most little elementary boys, he doesn’t know what to do about his feelings towards Sana, which leads to him teasing or picking on and bullying her. Because of his actions, Sana of course hates him in the beginning. But over the course of the series, she too begins to have feelings for him as well. The first half of the anime focuses on their time spent together in Elementary school, while the second season continues on through middle school.
Characters: 10/10 In addition to our two young love birds, there’s a slew of really quirky, unique, outlandish characters. For example, Sana’s mother is very eccentric; she is an author and often late with her deadlines sneaking around trying to avoid her publisher who’s pressuring her for her next release. Sana’s mama hires a manager to help her daughter’s young career. Sana is confused by this since she is so young and she tells everyone that her incredibly handsome manager is actually her boyfriend or even her pimp (because she is aware that her parents pay him to spend time with her.) Besides just helping in her career, he often chauffers her to and from school and to and from her modeling and acting appointments. He also cares a lot for Sana and treats her as a good friend. Although all of the characters are eccentric, they are very warm and heart felt and endearing too and a good deal of time is spent focusing on character interaction, back story, and development.
Voice Acting: 2/5 I didn’t really enjoy some of the voices in this anime, I found them to be rather grating on my nerves at times. I understand they were doing their best to sound cute or child like… I just really found some of the voices to be like nails on a chalk board at times Not all of the voices are that bad, but a few definitely stand out as being over dramatic or just their tone of voice put me on edge at times.
Music: 5/5 The music is really as zany/crazy as all the characters in this show. Most is very youthful, energetic, fast paced, featuring a lot of tracks which are more along the lines of JRap and JHiphop (if that’s even a thing) as opposed to “pop” or “ballad” like arrangements. This works well however for this series as it gives it a young feeling to match the setting and energy of the anime – It also differentiated itself in this choice of music which is definitely a departure from other 90s anime themes.
Art: 3/5 As far as 90s anime goes, this artwork is not too bad. I find the character designs to be cute, and even cleaner looking than many of their 90s counterparts in other similar series. Still of course, the animation techniques look dated by today’s standards as the anime is now 20 years old!