Assassination Classroom Anime Review

Title: Assassination Classroom
Genre: Comedy, Action, Slice of Life
Studio: Lerche
Original Release Date: 2015
Based On: Assassination Classroom Manga by Yūsei Matsui
Length: Season 1 is 22 episodes, Season 2 has 25 episodes, for a total of 47 episodes. There is also a spin off series called Koro-Sensei Q and several animated and live action films and OVAs. There’s even a game (only in Japanese) by Bandai.

Where to watch: Crunchyroll has season 1. But they do not have season 2 Funimation has seasons 1 and 2. You can subscribe to both Crunchyroll and Funimation – and some other anime/scifi networks for $9.99 a month in a new service called VRV at https://vrv.co/. They both also have Koro-Sensei Quest. From what I can tell neither of them have the movies or OVAs available.

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Geeky: 5/5 The comedy and action in Assassination Classroom will appeal to fans of any gender. The animation and character designs are unique, and there are a number of pop culture references and jokes that will appeal to fans of geek or super hero culture.

Sweetie: 5/5 Surprisingly, this may not seem like a “sweet” anime at first glance, but Koro-Sensei is adorable, and also a very good, thoughtful, kind teacher who loves his students. This anime is full of just as many heartfelt moments as it is full of comedy and action.

Overview: 10/10 Assassination Classroom is first and foremost a slice of life anime. Each episode focuses on a different student or faculty member and how Koro-Sensei helps them with whatever turmoil they are experiencing while at school. Assassination Classroom is also very much a comedy anime, as if you can’t tell by just looking at the design for Kore-Sensei. He is a murderous demon lord with a sweet tooth, love for super hero movies, and kind heart, but that still doesn’t mean he won’t destroy the earth. Although Koro-Sensei may be a villain that the other students must defeat, it is hard to not fall in love with Koro and his classroom. Each episode does have action, with the students trying to defeat their teacher, but each episode also is full of tender sweet moments, and lots of very wtf moments and comedy as well.

Story: 8/10   Koro-Sensei destroyed 75% of the earth’s moon, and his next target is to destroy the earth. Koro has made a deal with the government, he proposes that he be allowed to teach a classroom of students and that the students be given special weapons and special training in order to kill Koro-Sensei. If the students fail to kill Koro-Sensei before graduation he will destroy the earth.

Koro-Sensei is not such a bad guy though. He earnestly wants his students to succeed in defeating him. He also takes interest in each of his students, wanting to ensure they have a happy school life. The students he is teaching are part of Class-E referred to as the “Garbage Class”. The lowest scoring students, as well as delinquents and trouble makers of their school.

No one believes these students will amount to anything, and the principal even believes these students must not be encouraged to succeed because it is imperative to make an example out of them to motivate the other students to perform better or else they too may end up like the students of Class-E.

This is where Koro-Sensei disagrees. He absolutely believes that his students are smart, talented, capable, and just as deserving as the other students in the school. While many other students and faculty members seek to make life harder for the students in Class-E, Koro-Sensei seeks to make their lives better.

Koro is joined by additional faculty members, appointed by the school or by the government, to further train the students to kill Koro before the deadline. New students also come to the classroom as well. They all begin to get along and begin to experience a happy school life under Koro’s guidance.

Koro could best be described as a squid like creature. He makes (ridiculously cute) squishing sounds when he walks, has a sweet tooth, and unique super powers. He can travel at mach 20 speeds, regenerate his tentacles, clone himself, change forms, shed his skin, and other unique abilities that make him nearly impossible for his students to kill.

Little else is known about Koro-Sensei. As the story goes on, more is revealed about his past, his connections to the school, and the real reason why the students must defeat him before graduation. Note: I haven’t finished watching this anime yet, but that’s basically what the synopsis from wikipedia explains as the story. I’m up to episode 16 out of 47, so there’s still a lot to learn.

Wanting to learn the real reasons behind Koro-Sensei’s request to teach at that school, and learn more about Koro Sensei himself keeps the story moving, and keeps the viewer interested with morbid curiosity.

However, the story does at times move a little slow, like most slice of life anime. There are a lot of filler episodes, and after awhile, it becomes a bit predictable. My friend also likes to point out how unrealistic the story is, because if the moon was destroyed it would have a major impact on the Earth, and thus make Koro’s threats to destroy the Earth a moot point. This in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the show, but in trying to be objective, I would say those are the flaws of the show.

Characters: 10/10 One really unique thing about this anime is how each episode highlights a different character. You come to know the back stories of all 27 of the students, faculty members, and Koro-Sensei. There clearly are 2 or 3 students that are more “important” than others, but overall, each of the characters are given a chance to shine, and each of them are fleshed out in detail with their own troubles and school-life struggles which Koro guides them to overcome.  Each character is so unique that they even (very slightly) alter every single opening theme song animation to include the new students. You get a sense that the classroom is like a close family. Koro begins doing exceptionally nice things for his students, taking them on trips, planting a garden, building a swimming pool, and of course encouraging them to stand up to the other students who bully them in the school. Character development is one of the key things that keeps this anime moving, watching the students in Class E begin to believe in themselves, and come together with a common goal (to kill their teacher.).

Art: 6/10 – Some of the character designs seem kinda wonky… but they are actually done in a style similar to the manga. Koro is super cute, and most of the students look distinctive. The animation style is clean, but simple, and not overly detailed. There’s nothing mind blowing about the animation, but it is still modern, clean, and fresh.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – Koro Sensei alone has one of the best voice actors, with a very distinctive evil laugh, that is more cute than it is terrifying. The other cast members are also very talented, but less memorable than Koro.

Music: 6/10 – The music is a bit hit or miss. The first opening and ending themes are really catchy. I’m not as much a fan of the 2nd themes. Background music is good, but not overly remarkable.

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Assassination Classroom Anime Review 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

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

I’ve Always Liked You – Feature Length Slice of Life Shoujo Anime Movie Review

Just finished watching “I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee” on Crunchyroll and had to immediately type up a review because that’s how much I enjoyed this anime. Everything about it was so relateable and the cute artwork and numerous vocal songs throughout made this just an amazingly memorable movie to watch.

I’ve been going through numerous tough times in my own relationships or lack there of, this year, breaking up with someone, trying to date other people, liking people that will never like me back, feeling awkward, nervous, excited, scared, sad, happy, overwhelmed at times even, or at times, just the reverse, dating people who liked me way more than I felt towards them.. So in that regard, I could relate to every single character and the overall theme of this anime in so many ways.

 

I think part of the reason we all love slice of life or romantic comedies is because it lets us escape into the lives of the characters, and have a happy ending, even if it’s not real, or not our own. We become attached to the characters, we care about what happens to them, and we want to see them be happy, because ultimately we feel that if they can achieve their dreams, then maybe there is hope for the rest of us after all.

Title: I’ve Always Liked You – Confess Your Love Committee

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Length: 64 minutes – 1 movie so far, reportedly with a sequel in the works for release later this year.

Genre: Shoujo Slice of Life Romance Drama

Studio: Honeyworks

Release Date: October 4th 2016

Geeky: 0/5 – Nothing geeky here. Very predictable, basic slice of life, with typical anime tropes, complete fluff, no action, adventure, or scifi, and no complex plot, or themes, so unless you’re into over-the-top “cuteness” and/or “relationship drama” this is a show you’ll want to pass.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The theme really hit home. Unrequited love is something we all experience.  The cute artwork and pop music also make this anime very “sweet”.

Concept: 9/10 – This anime can jump around a bit, it tries to do a lot in a 64 minute timeframe. It would have worked better as a series. There’s really not a clear main character, with all of the characters getting pretty equal screentime and having equally complex relationship dilemmas. It is interesting how many vocal music tracks were used, more than I have ever seen in an anime feature length film before. This gave it a very “Disney” kind of feeling – you know how characters just burst into song. The songs help tell the story – and they’re good songs too. The lyrics to the songs hit home just as much as the character dialogue and story. Presentation values were very high, with excellent music, voice acting, and artwork. The writing, while extremely predictable, also felt extremely raw and real. All of the characters were likeable and relateable to anyone that’s ever struggled with their feelings.

Story: 8/10 – I love this anime because of the story, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. You know early on how this story will go, and what will happen. (Which I won’t reveal here). This doesn’t make it a bad anime by any means. Slice of life don’t really need mystery or suspense. What they need are characters that show significant growth and development. characters that draw you in, make you like them, care about them, and a central plot that draws from perhaps the author’s own experiences, or experiences that are very common to almost anyone from any walk of life – and this anime has all of those things.  The story does jump around quite a bit though and that can be distracting at times. The basic premise is there are 3 couples, the first are childhood friends who are both too afraid to confess their feelings. The next is a pair of relatively new friends/acquaintances who aren’t really sure of their feelings yet and are in limbo somewhere between friends and dating, and the final pair consist of a guy with unrequited feelings for a girl for many years, and the girl being inexperienced and never really thinking much about love. There’s also a few love rivals and other outlying characters and issues throughout the film.

Characters: 8/10 – The characters are likeable, relateable, and they gradually begin to experience growth and mature to where many of them eventually overcome the obstacles facing their relationships. Watching them awkwardly work through their feelings, struggle, and fail, or struggle, and overcome their hardships, these things endear them to us. The artwork for the characters is also quite nice and drawn in a very cute style. The voice acting is also cute. The characters exude a lot of charm and work well in a shoujo setting. However, I feel like more could have been done given more time. I think the series does a good job of making all of the characters “main characters”, but for example, some of the truly minor characters, such as Nacchan’s brother and Setoguchi’s sister, their relationship is not fully explored – although there is a scene at the end of the credits with Setoguchi’s sister holding a love letter – but I kinda wonder if that letter is perhaps for Yukki who ends up being the only “odd man out” — if that’s the case though then Nacchan’s bro would become the “odd man out”– and the blonde pigtailed girl gets barely any screentime – do we even get to know her name? — Perhaps all of these things will be revealed if there is a sequel later this year as rumored.

Artwork: 5/5 – Nacchan reminds a lot of Lovely Complex – which I reviewed here. There, I criticized the female lead’s physical appearance for not being very kawaii (although some of my readers in the comments section clearly disagree). — However, although Nacchan has the same hairstyle and haircolor, Nacchan’s hair is more “fluffy” and flattering. Her bun is actually really kawaii! Later in the movie you also get to see her with her hair down as well. — Her fashion sense though is very boyish and strange — but you also get to see her dressup and be feminine later on too. Showing how multifaceted she is, makes her seem more real, more relatable, and ultimately more kawaii. — The other characters are also equally kawaii – my favorite for “Kawaii”factor is definitely Akari. I also really like Yukki. I think he was equally cute with his long hair and more modest appearance (which is shown only briefly as a flashback). The way everyone’s eyes are drawn is super beautiful too.

Music: 5/5 – Really would like to give it more than 5 points, but to keep it a bit consistant with my other reviews, we’ll go with this. – Music plays a huge vital role in this anime. Reading the lyrics is really important, It helps convey the characters’ feelings and emotions. I’ve never ever seen an anime feature length film with so many vocal tracks. There’s at least 5 or 6 music tracks. The ending music also when the credits roll continues to tell a story and seems to forshadow even college or adult life with some clips and brief animations as well. (in these illustrations the characters seem more mature, their hair is much longer, one of them is wearing a suit, etc. ) It’s definitely worth watching the ending credits. Plus there is a very brief scene after the credits as well. Like I mentioned, the vast amount of vocal tracks in this anime really give it an almost Disney-esque feeling. It’s definitely a memorable experience and makes me want to buy the soundtrack!

Voice Acting 5/5 – I loved all the character’s voices, Nacchan’s voice sounds more tomboyish, while Akari has a very kawaii voice, and the other girl very soft spoken, all 3 of them are very distinct and instantly recognizable.

Overall: 45/55 82% “Very Good Anime for Girls”

I’ve Always Liked You – Feature Length Slice of Life Shoujo Anime Movie Review was originally published on

CrunchyRoll Announces New Anime Violet Ever Garden Details and Trailer

Check out the new trailer for Violet Ever Garden.

I am so excited for this! (and isn’t the opening theme awesome too? And look how cute she is – and just OMG. Geeking out right now so bad lol.) I had never heard of it, until I saw the trailer on CrunchyRoll’s Facebook page. From the comments on the facebook wall and the official website at http://www.kyotoanimation.co.jp/books/violet/ this anime is about Artificial Intelligence / AI / Robots / Robotics – Similar to Chobits, Time of Eve, Metropolis, HAL, and Plastic Memories. – All favorites of mine – I am fascinated by the concept of humanoid AI creatures – especially those who have feelings, or what we would classify as feelings – and how they would fit into society. It might also be quite similar to Tegami Bachi as it looks like she has the power to convey emotions within letters just like Lag Seeing – Tegami Bachi is another favorite of mine as well – so this is shaping up to be a must watch for me.

Violet Ever Garden is a Japanese light novel, written by Kana Akatsuki and illustrated by Akiko Takase.

I also found the below trailer and story synopsis from http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2016-05-27/kyoani-award-winning-novel-violet-evergarden-gets-anime-project/.102551 

Kyoto Animation describes the story:

Auto Memories Doll.It’s been quite a while since that name caused a fuss. Originally invented by Professor Orland solely for his beloved wife, Auto Memories Dolls eventually spread out into the world, and a machine that allows people to rent out the dolls was also created.

“I will run as fast as I can to wherever my customer desires. I am the Auto Memories Doll, Violet Evergarden.”

A girl who almost appears to have popped out of a fairy tale with her blonde hair and blue eyes said this with her inorganic beauty and sweet voice.

CrunchyRoll Announces New Anime Violet Ever Garden Details and Trailer was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Tsukihime Visual Novel Review and Details about the Remake

Tsukihime was my very first visual novel, and still one of my favorites. While looking up images to use in this post, I also came across news that there’s a remake in the works. This is old news I guess as it was first announced clear back in 2012. However, a post from Siliconera indicates that yes, it’s still in development as of July 2015, so that’s a good sign. You can see more updates about this remake over on Siliconera here.

I’m not going to cover those details here, because this review is actually for the original Tsukihime visual novel from 2001. Also, I’ve never watched the anime, I’ve been told by many people that the Tsukihime anime sucked. Please don’t ignore this visual novel, even if you really hated the anime. This is a must play for any visual novel fan.

PS: You can grab the fan translation here.  I couldn’t find a link for you guys to buy the game as it is now out of print, but Yahoo Japan Auctions or Ebay may be a good place to look. This game has never officially been released in English; but maybe now with the remake, we’ll finally see a commercial release.

P.P.S: This game is set in the same universe as Fate/Extra which is available in English. Instead of being a visual novel though, it’s an RPG that plays EXTREMELY similar to the Persona series. It’s a great game, and it’s getting older, and may become harder to find. If you like persona, or like Tsukihime, then you need to get this game. You can get Fate/Extra on Amazon for $44.95 here.

Also, Please Note: This is a Hentai Game, which means that it has adult scenes. — However, those scenes are very few in nature. This game is very long with an excellent story, and the hentai is near the end of each route. For example, I estimate it’ll take you at least 60 hours to complete all the routes in this game. The amount of hentai scenes in the game accounts for less than 2 hours from that total. You can always skip past those scenes if it makes you uncomfortable. Also one of the routes is with the main character’s sister, so if that makes you uncomfortable, you may either not want to play that route, or skip this game entirely. This is an adult game, and should not be played by children. Not only does it have a few sex scenes, but it has a TON of gore. It’s a very violent game.

Title: Tsukihime – Blue, Blue Glass Moon, Under the Crimson Sky

Platform: PC

Release Date: 2001 (Japan only)

Developer: Type-Moon

Genre: Visual Novel

Geeky: 2/5 

Sweetie: 2/5 

Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Tsukihime is a visual novel with a dark, sad, and super natural story. It’s a very violent game. It’s also a hentai game. The writing in Tsukihime is exceptional. The characters are really unique and detailed. The writing is almost TOO detailed at times. I was really cringing in some of the scenes with Ciel near the end. It still makes my finger nails hurt just thinking about it haha. Overall it’s a great game. It has kinda amateurish artwork. It’s actually a Doujin game – which I guess is the equivalent to what we western folk call “Indie Games” – that is, Type-Moon began as a group of fans working on a game together, and not a big corporation. Given that – I think the artwork is acceptable since they didn’t necessarily have the budget or skill and experience as more established studios.

Gameplay: 3/10 Like most visual novels, there’s nothing to do except read, and click, and read, and click ad nauseam. The choices presented to you are also pretty dang spread out and few in number. The choices do matter and determine which route you get on. If you’re stuck, also there’s a tips section that’s set up in a really unique and humorous way. There’s also of course the option to skip previously read text. But it’s pretty basic visual novel style gameplay here. You don’t really play this game for gameplay, you play it for story, but I’m scoring story separately below. so Gameplay wise, it’s about a 3.

Story: 10/10 The reason I love this visual novel so much is because of the story. It’s a long tale with some surprising twists especially regarding Shiki (the player character) and the two maid twins. It’s been a few years since I played, but I think one of the maid’s routes only unlocks after completing all other good and true endings – and her route really will close the loop nicely on all the questions from the previous routes, bringing the game a good sense of closure.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but the bare bones is as follows (may spoil the first hour or so of the game for you): You play as Shiki; he has been hospitalized and sick for a long time. Shiki has a memory of a girl who disappeared from his life who was very kind to him and encouraged him greatly. The other girls throughout the game will remind him of his mystery girl in his memories. Somewhere along the way while hospitalized, he discovered he could see the “life line” in all things – living or even inanimate objects. Because he was bored and stuck in a hospital bed, he discovered one day that just by idly tracing his finger over this “life line” he could erase whatever that object was from existence. Not just “killing” whatever it was, but making it so it never “was” to begin with. Finally now he’s going home from the hospital. He gets notice that his father died and that he is being requested to move back to his childhood home. He has not been home in many years. Shiki becomes reacquainted with his sister and the maids of the mansion where he used to play as a child. He also begins going back to school. On his way to school one day he passes by a beautiful woman. He doesn’t know why, but he feels compelled to follow her. He waits until she enters her apartment, and he can’t resist the urge to murder her. Shiki is not a violent person; he’s never hurt anyone before, but he feels disgusted by this woman. He cannot control himself and completely destroys her, chopping her to bits with a knife and brutally attacking her. Much to Shiki’s surprise, as he’s leaving school the next day, the woman is there again in the same place where they met the day before. It turns out that she is a vampire, and that’s why Shiki could not kill her. It’s also explained why he felt so compelled to kill her (and about his strange power to see life lines) later on in the story – but I won’t spoil that for you just now. Needless to say, the vampire is pissed, and she also has a mission she’s on, so she forces Shiki to basically become her slave and help her by using his power of being able to see life lines to obliterate anyone or anything from existence.

Characters: 10/10 Each of the characters has a different super natural secret. Also all characters have a “good” ending and a “true” ending which is much sadder. The character interaction is really high. The characters are unique, and as the mystery plays out you do see them evolve and change. You also are drawn to the characters and begin to feel their pain and saddness. Most of their pasts are very sad.

Graphics: 3/10 Sorry to say, but these graphics are bad. They’re ugly, the proportions are weird, and they just look very amateurish. The picture I’ve attached is from the 2001 visual novel. You can see how her head almost seems to be detached from her neck and at a funny angle – and this one of the more “pretty” pictures that I could find. (Not counting the anime or fanart or etc) Luckily, in the new remake the artwork is much higher quality, while still having the same character designs and appearance, just being redrawn and recolored in a more modern style.  These graphics are no where nearly as bad as the original Higurashi – but still bad lol. By that, if Higurashi is like a 1 on a 10 scale, Tsukihime is maybe a 3. A slight improvement, but still not even “average” looking.

Music: 7/10 I like the music and sound effects used in Tsukihime. It fits the mood perfectly and gives it a nice dark and mysterious feeling. However, ultimately, none of the tracks really stand out in a memorable way.

Replay Value: 10/10 The game is long in and of itself. Each route will probably take 6-10 hours to complete. When you factor in the multiple endings for each character, that extends that time to 12-20 hours per character with 4 dateable characters – you’re looking around 60-80 hours of gameplay time. And it’s well worth it. The story and each of the routes are really interesting. The stories do start a bit slow, but you learn more and more about Shiki, his powers, his past, and just why he was sent away from his childhood home in the first place. Really great story, worth playing all routes to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. The new remake is adding more characters and routes, so I’m really looking forward to it. I just hope they don’t change the story too much as it’s so good already as it is!

Overall: 57/80 71% C- “Good Game for Girls”

Tsukihime Visual Novel Review and Details about the Remake was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Ever17 The Out of Infinity Visual Novel PC Game Review

Ever17 is probably my all time favorite visual novel. It was one of the first that I had played, and the story is so good. It’s not your typical “dating” or “romance” novel. It’s a very thrilling and suspenseful tale about a group of young people trapped in an underwater theme park. They are running out of oxygen, and worse yet, the computer systems are failing which is causing the pressure inside the ship to build, causing leaks. They’re also running out of fresh food and water. Strange things also begin happening aboard the ship. Some characters resign themselves to their doomed fates, while others will do whatever it takes to survive.

I’ve referenced this game in many of my other reviews, most notably, my review of Stein’s Gate (which you can check out here.) The reason for that is because after Kid, the developers of Ever17 and the rest of the series which includes Never7 and Remember 11 (both have been fan-translated) and 12Riven and Code_18,  which to my knowledge have not been translated closed down, many of the staff members joined 5PB (developers of Stein’s Gate).

There are numerous similarities between the two games – both games deal with time travel, both games have the same interface (more or less, Stein’s Gate has the cellphone thing, but other than that, the menu design and especially the Tips section is really similar). But the biggest impression both games leave is a strong scifi mystery regarding time travel which uses true life events, people, theories, and science to create a great sense of immersion. Schrodinger’s Cat, John Titor, Black Holes, etc. I doubt I’m the only person who googled some of these things while playing and became interested in them because of these games.

The same author of Ever17 (and etc.) also wrote the script for 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors, and Zero Escape, Virtue’s Last Reward (and the sequels).

So if you like any of those “newer” games – please play Ever17 – in my opinion it’s STILL the best out of all of those – in terms especially of story, mystery, and suspense.

If You’re wondering what order to play these games in. This is the proper order: Never7 –> Ever17 –> Remember11 –> 12Riven –> Code18 // Stein’s Gate –> Stein’s Gate 2 (still in development) // 999 9 Persons, 9 Hours, 9 Doors –> Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward –> Zero Time Dilemma (still in development).

Stein’s Gate and 999 are not directly related to Ever17, but they do have spoilers that might deter your enjoyment of Ever17 – especially 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which are very similar to Ever17. They’re great games, but Ever17 is still better :).

Title: Ever17 The Out of Infinity

Developer: Kid

Publisher: Hirameki International (who are now sadly out of business)

Genre: Visual Novel

Release Date: 2005

Platform: PC (There are numerous other versions, including a 3D version on the Xbox360 – however, none of these ports or remakes have ever made it to North America, despite the surprising success of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward which you think would cause them to consider bringing this title over. It could perhaps have to do with licensing issues now that Kid and Hirameki are both dissolved. )

Where to Buy: MY GOD!! It’s going for almost $1,000 on Amazon LOL. Or for about $400-600 from other resellers. Now I’m really tempted to sell my copy. But I worry I will want to play it again some day. — Anyways, needless to say, with both KID and Hirameki being out of business, this game is EXTREMELY rare and highly sought after (because it’s awesome). You can keep an eye on this amazon page and see if there are any new listings. http://www.amazon.com/EVER-17 Ebay might also be a good option, it looks like a few recent auctions have gone for around $100-200 (Example from last month: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ever-17)

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Like most visual novels, you progress through the game by reading an interactive story, choosing how to respond at different points which in turn determine what parts of the story you see or which endings you receive. After completing each character ending, a new option will open up when you next start a new game at the title screen which will let you see the true ending – which is a huge mind fuck in this case – in a good way, but it’s very well worth the effort in doing all the endings and being rewarded by finally being told wtf is going on here – and it’s definitely NOT what you think it is. Really surprising / twist ending – I enjoyed it very much. It ties up every single question you have and is just so satisfying. Unlike the next game in the series, Remember11, which up until the true ending, I was liking it even more than Ever17, and then it just kinda ends with an open ending and you feel ripped off lol. Ever17’s routes are all really well fleshed out and tinged with sadness and mystery. But they resolve all of that mystery with the true ending. It’s awesome.

Gameplay: 6/10 The nature of visual novel games makes gameplay always a bit dull. The gameplay here is spiced up a little bit as you will switch between two different characters (which is a concept they also use in Remember11). And like any good visual novel (but sadly not all visual novels) there is a skip function to bypass previously read text to make multiple playthroughs much easier. There’s no minigames or anything of that nature to break up the “monotonous” gameplay of clicking and reading large blocks of text. However, compared to most novels, Ever17 has a ton of choices, and those choices carry a lot of meaning. As mentioned above, the true ending is also really satisfying, making all of that reading well worth it in the end.

Story: 9/10 I deducted one point because of the notoriously bad translation. It’s not really THAT bad where it detracts from the story or my enjoyment of the game – but it really needed another set of eyes to proofread this thing before it went commercial. There’s fan translations that are higher quality than this (I dunno, there might even be a fan patch for this game, I never looked, because like I said, the translation didn’t bother me that much.)

More importantly, this game’s story is amazing. I’ve mentioned a few times, but it uses real world theories and scientific principles which really helps build immersion and buy-in from the audience. The main theme is time travel – although that’s not readily apparent at first. And I won’t comment on how that comes into play, because that’d be a huge spoiler. All I can say is, if you like time travel games like Stein’s Gate – check this game out.

But at the heart of the story, is humanity struggling against their fate, people’s will to survive, and people’s determination to save their friends, family, and loved ones.

It also has an interesting juxtaposition of a childlike setting (a huge themepark), and the impending doom and oppressive feeling and urgency throughout the game.

Of course, the true ending is really satisfying, you’re left without any burning questions or confusion. It ties everything up into a neat little package with a bow on top for you to unwrap.

Characters: 10/10 The characters begin their “vacation” with such innocence and enthusiasm until they realize their sad fates. The characters slowly begin to change (which is a key sign of character development). Some who were anti-social before and independent, become weak and fearful, others who were innocent and bright become reclusive, almost all of the characters become neurotic, and a few become desperate enough to do anything to survive. It’s interesting to watch their struggle, their cooperation, how they begin to organize and band together to ration their food, lift eachother’s spirits, and search for a way to contact the outside to send help.

There’s also numerous mysteries within the main mystery, ghosts, artificial intelligence, children searching for their parents, amnesia, and more.

Graphics: 8/10 For the time, the graphics are quite beautiful. Keep in mind, this game is now 14 years old (the original Japanese version debuted in 2002). For that, the character style, the backgrounds, and even the 3d animation  (in the opening video) are all very well done. Of course, by today’s standards, with technology like Live 2D and fully fluid moving character sprites (such as those in Ensemble Stars or NekoPara), the artwork, especially of the sprites, is stiff and dated. It’s still quite lovely though. — Interestingly enough, the Xbox360 remake features 3D character art – however, fans have often criticized the new art and prefer the original art of the PC version.

Music: 8/10 I loved the soundtrack in this game – it really helped add to the mystery and suspense, and even desperation that the characters were experiencing.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The voice acting is also another highlight of the game. I hear that they re-recorded all of the voice acting for the 360 version – rather this was to improve it, or due to licensing fees I’m not sure. – But in my opinion, the voice acting within the original PC version was excellent.

Replay Value: 10/10 The true ending is worth all of the work – and each of the routes are really well done. Many times a visual novel will have some routes that are not fleshed out well. But that’s not the case here. I tremendously enjoyed each route, making it almost impossible to pick a favorite. Also even though I’ve beaten it to completion and completed the true ending – I’d still play this game again – because it’s so good. Seriously, just go play this game if you’ve never experienced it.

Overall: 81 / 90 90% A- “Excellent Game For Girls”

Ever17 The Out of Infinity Visual Novel PC Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review

Xenogears is easily in my top 10 favorite games of all time. I also enjoy Xenosaga and Xenoblade as well which are spinoffs of this series (and involved most of the same staff). Xenogears was revolutionary for its time because of the extremely dark storyline and incredibly strong religious overtones which were considered to be almost “too mature” for a video game, especially in North America.

It had both scifi and fantasy elements; by that I mean, it really went into depth in some areas explaining the scientific theories and concepts behind certain things – but then other things have a more “magical” feeling that require suspension of belief. It also blended high tech (mecha, A.I., and space travel) with primitive “fantasy” style settings and characters.

Xenogears had some stellar production values and featured beautiful cutscenes, along with possibly the best soundtrack on Playstation One. Not only that, but it had 65+ hours of gameplay. Its storyline was not cookie cutter – it was very different from most other JRPG – and even its combat system was different from the traditional menu-based systems used by most other RPGs of the 90s.

To this day, Xenogears remains quite possibly one of the best JRPGs of all time. It has aged extremely well and is a game that really any JRPG fan should consider a must-play.

Title: Xenogears

Platform: Playstation One

Genre: JRPG

Publisher: SquareSoft

Release Date: 1998

Where to Buy: Your best choice if you have a PSP, PSVita, PS3, or PS4, is to pick it up on the PSN store. At time of writing it is priced at $9.99 – which is such an incredible buy for such an incredible game. https://store.playstation.com/… – However, if like some gamers out there, you are a Retro Game Collector, you may want the physical edition. At time of this review, Amazon has quite a few copies in stock ranging from $29.99 to $115 depending on the condition of the game disc, case, manuals, etc. You can see what they have available right here: http://www.amazon.com/Xenogears…

Geeky: 5/5 geekygeekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Gameplay: 10/10 The game world is huge and rich in lore and history for those who love to explore and talk to NPCs or search through books and hidden objects. But even if completionism and immersion aren’t your thing – fear not – this little RPG actually has a pretty fun combat system. The combat system is two fold – in some battles you will be controlling human characters, and using martial arts like abilities as well as items to aid you in battle. This part of the combat relies on a slightly modified version of the “ATB” “Active Time Battle” system used in Chrono Trigger. – The second aspect of combat is with the introduction of large mechs known as Gears. While piloting a gear, you have much more powerful attacks and secret abilities for each character. Either way, when battling, things are sped up a great deal over other primarily menu-driven 90s JRPG – In Xenogears, you have various different levels of attacks, strong, moderate, weak, etc, and each are accessed via a simple button press. The trick is learning which orders of these presses will activate new special abilities and combo attacks. This made the large amount of random encounters (too many in my opinion lol) more enjoyable since combat felt more fluid.

Story: 9/10 I’m not going to really go into too much detail on what the story is about, because I feel, the main point in playing the game is to enjoy the story. As a brief overview, the story initially takes place aboard a spaceship but quickly jumps to present day in a tiny village where a child has lived with no memories of his past. Circumstances happen which drive the child (now a man) out of the village. He seems to go berserk when in the presence of mechanical weapons known as “gears” – As more is revealed we learn how the seemingly unconnected spaceship from the prologue has lead to the events in the present day. But that’s all I will say because to say anything more would definitely spoil the surprise.

So instead I will critique the technical writing and setting of the story. To achieve a more mature “scifi” story, they use a lot of technical details in how the mechs or vehicles, or space technologies or artificial intelligence, etc all work. They borrow from real world theories and terminology which if you look into these theories, you will find more details which helps create the impression that the world/story is very real and quite fascinating.

There really are very few games which rival the “scifi” nature of this title – keeping in mind the difference between scifi and fantasy – scifi is something which could in theory at some point become a reality – and in fact many things that authors have written about in the mid 1900s’ have come to pass as reality today – it’s something that although it seems “unbelievable” could in theory work (example Star Trek goes into explicit detail about the way their ships work – to the point where NASA has even tried to borrow ideas from this series) – Where as with fantasy – it’s more of a magical element, where you’re just expected to take it as “faith” that this is how something works (example, Harry Potter, etc.).

There are few games therefore, with very realistic (all be it, futuristic) technology (such as that found in Star Trek, or in this case, such as that found in Xenogears). – However, Xenogears also blends that Scifi with it’s own sense of Fantasy and Charm found in your typical JRPG. Not everything is “Scientific” but compared to just about any other JRPG – Xenogears does a pretty good job staying “Scifi” as opposed to dripping into Fantasy when it comes to describing the tech found within the world – Of course, the exception to this is the glaring point that Xenogears deals with Religion as the MAIN focus of the game – the technical stuff is just a backdrop to the story. It creates a believable lore and setting for the game, but ultimately, in the end, due to the focus being on Religion which is in direct “conflict” with science, it creates an interesting dynamic and blend of these two very opposing viewpoints.

Some similarly written games (which rely on real world theories and science to tell their stories) include Stein’s Gate, Ever 17, 999, Never 7, and Remember 11. If you’ve played any of those, that gives you a clue as to the level of detail that really went into creating the story of Xenogears.

However, much like the similar in concept, Evangelion (an anime about mechs and religion), the concepts of Xenogears are sometimes hard to understand. I don’t think Xenogears is quite as philosophical and heavy as Evangelion which can be really “out there” at times – but the subject matter and technical and religious topics dealt with in the story definitely require some critical thinking to fully understand and appreciate.

Also, we never got to see the entire story the way the developers had intended. Xenogears was supposed to be part of a nine part game series however, the studio largely responsible for developing this game (Monolith), broke away from their parent company (Squaresoft) which left fans without a sequel for many years. It’s widely believed that Xenoblade is a “prequel” to Xenogears, however the developers prefer to think of it as taking place in the same universe, but ultimately, an unrelated and separate entry. Of course there’s also a multitude of Xenosaga games as well which also deal with the same themes of space, mechas, war, and artificial intelligence.

Characters: 8/10 – For me, I didn’t find the characters as likable as in Xenosaga. Out of Gears, Blade, or Saga, in my opinion, Saga had the best and most memorable characters. That said, the characters in Xenogears are far from bad – in fact, they are very unique and unlike most other JRPG characters of the 90s. The story begins with a crew aboard a spaceship, which then transcends to a small village and meeting our “hero” Fei Wong. Fei is an orphan with no memories of his past. Things quickly escalate as the village is under attack. Fei goes into some kind of rage which leads to him accidentally destroying most of the village and being banished. He is joined by a village doctor who has extensive knowledge of technology and history. Together they begin to search for clues to Fei’s past. They meet up many other memorable characters including a desert pirate, a prisoner, a religious zealot, and even a cute, fat pink rodent, and of course, a lady love for our hero.

Character Development is really high in this game. The story is told primarily through character interactions and the characters themselves evolve and shift motives and change deeply as the story progresses.

What I really enjoyed was all the mystery in this game. Things, and people, are not at all what they seem at first. From our hero, to the doctor, to the king, to even god, – what you think of the characters and their roles initially will be turned completely on it’s head by the final quarter of the game. It’s a long game (65+ hours for a single play through) – and the way the story slowly unfolds and learning the true pasts and identities of our “heroes” is very interesting. In fact, I’d say that solving these mysteries is what makes Xenogears such a well-written and fun, and memorable video game.

Graphics: 8/10 – I love the blend of hand-drawn anime cut scenes as well as stunning 3D cut-scenes to help tell the story. However, I feel some of the graphics outside of these cutscenes don’t use the PS1 to it’s fullest capabilities. The textures have a distinctively grainy feel to them – even for a ps1 game, and the battle animations were not as flashy as I had hoped. Overall though, it is a very detailed game with a high variety in both enemy design as well as environments.

Music: 10/10 – This was the first Squaresoft game to use vocal tracks (something that is super common now among their titles) – and it is a freaking FANTASTIC vocal track too: “Small Two of Pieces”. The piano pieces throughout the game are also just simply beautiful. Small Two of Pieces is maybe my favorite single song from videogame history. Of course there are numerous more up-tempo tracks for battles and when the suspense and action of a scene calls for it.  But what I really enjoyed were the serene and melodic tracks that made up a majority of the album. The music also stands out from any other game with a distinctive Celtic influence.

Replay Value: 5/10 – This is a super long linear game. It is interesting to replay however, as you go into it with a different perspective and knowledge that you didn’t know on your first play through. There may be things that make more sense now, or new things that you notice in the story now that you have all parts of the puzzle. However the 65+ hour long time and huge number of random battles can make multiple replays a bit of a chore.

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Game For Girls”

Xenogears – Retro JRPG Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lovely Complex | LoveCom | Love*Com | Anime Review

Title: Lovely Complex (Also commonly referred to as Love*Com)

Release Date: 2007

Episodes: 24

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.

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Slice of Life, Drama

Where to Buy: Amazon has it for $32 for the Complete Series on DVD http://www.amazon.com/Lovely…

Geeky: 3/5 geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 5/5 

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”

Lovely Complex | LoveCom | Love*Com | Anime Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie