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.
Titles Include (but not limited to) 5 Centimeters per Second, Your Lie in April, Hiiro no Kakera, Emma, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun, Nisekoi, Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Playful Kiss, Boys over Flowers, and many other great romance titles.
The original is one of my all time favorite games. I love all the songs, the heart warming, touching story, the cute characters, adorable graphics, simple grid based turn-based Strategy JRPG gameplay, and use of the puppets in battle.
I greatly prefer the version by Atlus on the PS1, much more than the version by NIS on the DS, because Atlus dubbed all of the songs in English, while NIS only left them in Japanese. If I remember correctly, the version by Atlus let you choose to play them in the original Japanese as well. If it’s a musical, it’s more fun in English, so we can sing along, am I right? 🙂 I still can remember the words/melody to a lot of the songs even though it has been years since my first or subsequent play throughs. NIS also changed the gameplay from a grid based system to a straight forward turn-based traditional JRPG style of combat.
For the purpose of this review, since I prefer the original, and the two games are significantly different in terms of gameplay, this review only covers the PS1 game by Atlus. Now onto the review…
Title: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
Alternate Titles (Also Known As): Marl Kingdom, Little Princess Marl, or Marl Okoku no Ningyo Hime in Japan. Also referred to as The Adventure of Puppet Princess.
Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Geeky: 3/5 – Dated as this game may be, its bright colorful graphics are still quite pretty. The combat is nothing spectacular and it is linear and simple. The big “geek” points go to the fact that the game is literally a musical. The characters break out into song and dance and the soundtrack very much tells us the story. There are well over a dozen or more vocal tracks and all of the characters are fully voiced. Interestingly enough, wikipedia tells me that it was almost entirely a one girl show, what a talented voice actress! She gave voice/song to all except for 3 or 4 of the characters.
Sweetie: 5/5 – the graphic style is so cute and colorful, the characters are very full of emotion and there is a ton of humor, as well as romance, and a message about the meaning of family, and morals, and just… everything. Also strong female leads, which was pretty rare “back in the day”. This game is a must play for all girls.
Overview: 10/10 – There is simply nothing else in the world like this game. It’s an anime musical JRPG. It has adorable graphics, touching, amusing, and likable characters, and is brimming with “feels and emotions”. From a technical standpoint, there’s really nothing ground breaking here. It is very typical of gameplay in most other Strategy JRPGs of its time. But the music and characters set this game apart and make it an extremely unique experience.
Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay isn’t bad, but it’s not the reason you play this game. This game is very easy and simple. The main character takes a back seat, supporting her army of puppets who move around a grid and use various items, attacks, and abilities to thwart their foes. It’s a linear game that takes you from point A to point B, pretty monotonously and mindlessly. This game is carried by the music, voice acting, memorable characters, and touching story. There are different costumes you can find and different puppets you can add to your team, but other than that, it’s a pretty straight forward experience if you’ve ever played any other Strategy JRPGs before.
Story: 10/10 – Cornet is a kindhearted girl who has a magical gift in that she is able to communicate with dolls and puppets. One such doll is Cornet’s faithful sidekick, Kururu. Kururu has guided the young Cornet all her life. Cornet is often lonely as her mother passed away at an early age. However, despite her loneliness, Cornet remains cheerful, kind, and helpful to all of the villagers in part thanks to her puppet friends. She is regarded as a simple and sweet girl, and many of the villagers take pity on her for not having a mother.
Although she is just a common girl, Cornet has fallen in love with the Prince. Unrealistic as her love may be, Cornet has always believed in “dreaming big” and her innocent outlook on life leads her to hope that anything is possible.
Cornet isn’t the only one with eyes for the prince however. A beautiful witch appears in the kingdom one day with her sights set on the prince. When the prince refuses her advances, the witch casts a spell on him turning him to stone.
Thus begins Cornet’s series of quests to reverse the witch’s curse. The witch has many henchmen and lackeys who try to interfere in Cornet’s plans.
As she travels, Cornet will make new friends and enemies, both human and puppet alike. Also she will learn more about herself, her mother, and her unique gifts and talents.
Characters: 10/10 Cornet is the star of our show, a simple, pure hearted girl who can talk to puppets. She lost her mother when she was very young and has mostly been raised by a strange talking puppet named Kururu.
Prince Ferdinand is the prince who early in our story is turned to stone. Cornet and Marjolly are both in love with the Prince.
Marjolly is a wicked but beautiful witch who vengefully curses the prince when he refuses her romantically. Marjolly is also not very skilled at magic, and somewhat of a “bumbling idiot”. Her spells often have very unintended consequences and/or back fire. She is often less “evil” feeling and more of a “comedic relief” despite being the main villain in the game.
Kururu is a “living doll” who has always watched out for and guided Cornet. The two are extremely close. And there is a secret that Cornet does not know about her puppet friend.
Etoile is a wealthy and beautiful, but ill tempered and spoiled girl who is close to Cornet’s age. Although she is “better than” Cornet in almost every way, she still feels jealous and inferior and threatened by Cornet. The two have an interesting love/hate relationship, frenemies if you will.
There are many other delightful and wonderful characters as well.
Graphics: 7/10 – Although dated severely, the graphics remain bright and colorful and still attractive, even 17 years after its initial US release. Also in a time when retro gaming is very popular, and pixel art is “in” – what was once old, is now hot again. An interesting thing to note, although there are many, many cutscenes, these are done with the same sprites and pixel graphics as the rest of the game, unlike other anime games of that time such as Persona and Lunar which use a more hand-drawn or anime style for their cutscenes. This in one way helps keep things cohesive and flowing well from one moment to the next, however, it does result in less detailed cutscenes. The sprites are still adorable and animated and capable of conveying a lot of emotion despite the simple sprites. I would love to see a new release with anime cutscenes (like Lunar and Persona) and/or celshading used throughout the game and cutscenes (such as with Catherine).
Music: 10/10 – Easily 10/10 – one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time because of the huge number of vocal tracks and how they tie in so closely to the story – in fact, they ARE the story. Many of them are insanely, like seriously insanely catchy!!! I love the songs in this game!!
Voice Acting – 10/10 – They sing and act, and as I mentioned, one girl gives voice to about 6 of the main characters – very talented! If you hate dubs (which trust me, I usually do too!) you can also play with the Japanese audio. 🙂 But then you can’t sing along, or as easily get the song stuck in your head the next day lol.
Replay Value: 3/10 – It’s linear, and simple, and the only reason you will want to replay is to re-read the heartwarming story, and hear that awesome soundtrack again. I’ve replayed this at least 3 or 4 times now and love it every single time – but objectively, yeah there’s really nothing here story or gameplay wise for increased replay value.
Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Other Titles: A Silent Voice, The Shape of a Voice
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Slice of Life, Drama
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Based on: A Silent Voice manga by Yoshitoki Ōima
Length: 2 hours 9 minutes
Theatrical Japanese release: September 2016
Theatrical world-wide release: June 2017
DVD Blu Ray Japanese Release: May 17, 2017.
(no date announced at time of this blog post for an English DVD / Blu Ray Release).
Geeky: 4/5 Gorgeously animated and very true to the original story within the manga. It does lack action and move at a sometimes slow pace and deals with heavy and unpleasant themes at times.
Sweetie: 5/5 The transformation of the characters and values of friendship, love, redemption, and need for connection, are all highlighted in a tale that shows the coming of age of a group of adolescents.
Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 9/10 Koe no Katachi is a coming of age story wherein we witness the growth and life changes which shape and change the nature of relationships between a group of friends, enemies, and lovers. The story centers heavily around 2 youths, Ishida Shoya and Nashimiya Shoko, and their classmates. When the film starts, they are in elementary school, and by time the film ends they are seniors in high school.
Shoko is a deaf student who transfers in to the class. Shoko is the only student with a disability, and none of the staff, students, or teachers are prepared or equipped to deal with her. As a result, Shoko becomes the victim of bullying, with Shoya largely being the ring leader behind her tormenting.
When it is discovered that Shoko has been bullied by her classmates, the other students and staff all blame Shoya which results in then his being bullied. The bullying continues throughout highschool as well, leaving Shoya with zero friends, and afraid to get close to anyone. Shoya even considers committing suicide to escape the bullying.
He runs into Shoko in his senior year of high school and immediately begins a plan to befriend her, having felt guilty for bullying her when they were younger. Shoya has been studying sign language and is now able to easily communicate with Shoko. He asks if they could be friends, the same thing she asked of him when they were little.
Shoko has grown stronger and has many friends already, but she blames herself for breaking up Shoya’s group of friends and for Shoya’s years of being a victim of bullying. The two forge an unlikely friendship, both hating and blaming themselves for their past interactions.
Shoya has grown and matured, and not just out of his feelings of guilt towards Shoko. Early in the film he befriends a male classmate who is also being bullied. This leads to Shoya’s first friend since elementary school.
Even Shoko’s sister who is very over protective of her, comes to accept Shoya when she realizes how much he has changed, and encourages him to date Shoko.
Shoko wants to help repair the friendships of Shoya’s childhood friends so she begins gathering the other students, some of which still resent Shoko and Shoya. There’s even a bit of a love triangle when Shoya runs into an old classmate, Ueno, working at a cat cafe.
However, everyone is still haunted by their pasts. Shoko and Shoya both struggle with thoughts of suicide and guilt throughout the entire film. Eventually though, the two begin to develop feelings of love for one another as a result of their newly formed friendship, but even that love may not be enough to save them. (You should watch it for yourself if you want to know! 🙂 )
It is a touching and moving story. School bullying is a huge problem in both Japan, as well as North America, and it does often lead to an increase in child and teen suicide. Therefore, these themes and characters feel real, raw, relateable, and brimming with emotions.
The manga goes a little bit further than the anime by showing what happens after high school to most of the friends in this story. However, the movie is a faithful adaptation of the manga given the time constraints of the format (taking several volumes of manga and condensing down into a 2 hour film).
Characters: 7/10: It can be difficult to watch a show as “heavy” as this at times. Almost of the characters are bullies and/or the victim of bullying. The main character and his friends are not “nice”. Even after they mature, many of the characters remain self-interested and shallow.
However, seeing Shoya’s transformation, and character development throughout the film from a bully to being bullied, and then to finding love and friendship is really the highlight of the film. Well that, and just how cute and unique of a character Shoko is.
It does a good job of showing both the home life, school life, and recreational life of the group of friends. Even the minor characters, such as Shoko’s sister and grandmother are well fleshed out.
Art: 10/10 – the anime is gorgeous to look at, especially some of the lovely backgrounds such as the koi pond, fireworks festival, or starlit skies. The character designs are cute and distinctive, from Shoko’s utter adorableness, to Shoya’s unkempt “I don’t care” attitude (messy hair, tag always sticking out of his collar, etc). Even the supporting cast has unique well defined designs, from their height, weight, hair, or fashion, all making them more memorable.
But perhaps the most interesting thing here is that they have actually animated some sign language scenes between the characters. Unfortunately I don’t sign, so I can’t comment how accurate the animations were, but it was still an interesting touch none the less.
Music: 4/10: I felt the music was very hit or miss for me. The opening theme song is an old (70s or 80s I think) American rock n roll song, which isn’t to my taste and didn’t seem to fit the theme or characters. The other music was not very memorable.
Voice Acting: 9/10: I dunno if Shoko’s voice actress is actually deaf or suffering from hearing loss, but the actress definitely has a speech impediment – whether that is real, or fake, I can’t tell. Other films and TV series, such as Switched at Birth have used deaf actors and actresses before. If she is not deaf, then that’s even a higher testament to her acting ability since she is able to keep the speech impediment consistently throughout the film.
This does make her hard to understand at times. The version I watched was likely fan subbed and not the official translation. The writers tried to characterize Shoko’s speech impediment even in the subtitles, and at times, I found myself feeling as frustrated and confused as the other characters trying to understand what she was saying lol. She still sounds cute, and her speech impediment plays an important part in the story.
The other characters are equally as well cast and really bring the characters from the manga to life on the big screen.
I just purchased and watched “The Red Turtle” last night. The silent animated feature length film was done, in part, by Studio Ghibli, famous animators of feature length family favorite anime films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and The Cat’s Return, just to name a few.
I have to admit, I didn’t really do my research on this title (and didn’t realize it was a silent film until I began watching it), but every time I saw a preview, I just wanted to see it oh so badly. When I realized I could buy it for only $10 more than the “rental” price ($15 vs $5) I immediately purchased it.
For about the first 20 – 40 minutes of the film, I felt disappointed and disinterested; that quickly changed as the plot began to advance, and by the end I was so emotionally invested that I was crying.
Read on for the full review below.
Title: The Red Turtle
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Release Date (theatrical limited release) : January 20, 2017 (dvd / bluray) : May 2nd, 2017
Length: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Geeky: 3/5 – The beautiful artwork has a story book like quality while the musical score helps covey the feelings of the wordless cast of characters.
Sweetie: 5/5 – Without any voice, this movie still manages to tell an uplifting, wholesome, sad, touching, and romantic tale. This film reminded me of the Song of the Sea (which I also HIGHLY recommend and will eventually get around to reviewing). It also reminded me of a silent “Little Mermaid”. Or a little of the Tom Hanks “Castaway” film or Swiss Family Robinson.
Overall: 42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 8/10 If you’ve watched any of those films, you can guess some of the themes present in the Red Turtle, a story about a man shipwrecked on an island trying first to leave the island, then coming to accept his new life and live off the land.
There’s really several stories within the story here if you’re paying attention. At first, it is just the man and the sea and land and creatures there of. But a miracle occurs one day, turning a lonely devastated man, into a protector, caregiver, lover, and eventually father.
It’s a very circle of life tale. You watch all of the characters as they age, grow up, grow old, while witnessing their triumphs and struggles as they evolve and grow.
Although there are no words, and it takes some getting used to (at least for me; the only other silent film I’ve ever liked is Wall-e.), if you keep watching, you will eventually fall in love with the characters, and by the end it will leave you in tears, as it did for me.
It does start slow. I think the first 30ish minutes of the man being alone on the island could have been cut down to about 10-15 minutes and still conveyed the same point, that he is unable to leave the island, that he is angry, cold, bitter, and vengeful, etc. — Still after the appearance of other humans, we witness how their love for him changes the man into a much different and better person.
Characters: 8/10 : The characters have no names, and no real back stories. It’s never explained exactly how or why things happened the way they did; whether that was intentional to allow you to insert yourself into their shoes, or just the nature of the silent story telling format, it doesn’t matter because the characters are still incredibly real, raw, and full of emotion and personality even without back stories and without voices. I felt an immediate connection to the characters and felt myself emotionally invested and caring about what fates and circumstances fell upon them.
Animation: 8/10 – Although it’s not done in any kind of “traditional” anime style (big eyes, fantasy hair colors, etc), it still has charm. The sea, the starlit sky, the forests, the land, and even the characters. This film had to rely 50 / 50 on music as well as animation to tell the story. The characters’ movements had to convey their emotion. This is no easy task, yet it is one that this film excels at. Whether it’s capturing the curiosity of a small child, the desperation and isolation of a lonely man, the love and tenderness of a woman, or the animals who share the island with the small family, there is no shortage to emotion and charm in the animation.
Music: 10/10 – Think of this as basically Fantasia meets the Little Mermaid. The music score, when music is present, is vital in telling the story. Many times throughout the film there will be little to no music and only ambient noises and sound effects. This makes the power of the instrumental musical pieces even more powerful when it is used to convey the emotions of the cast or even the power of nature itself.
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.
OK…. I just watched one of the weirdest anime of my life… Well two of the weirdest anime of my life…. And I didn’t really hate it?..
The first anime I came across is a relatively new anime called OneRoom. In OneRoom, everything is supposed to be in first person… except… only… it’s not??? Because why then can I keep seeing almost up the backs of the girls’ skirts?! Do I have hidden cameras in my apartment? Do I have super powers? Am I having an out of body experience? The answer is NO, they just wanted to cram as much fan service as humanly possible into each 4 minute episode…
Not only that…. But it is the first anime I’ve ever watched which puts YOU in the anime…. or tries to… but fails miserably at this… They make it so you never see, hear, or know anything about the main character… sort of… only except… you do know/assume what he is saying based on the things the girls are saying to you… And unless you’re a total pervert, chances are whatever the anime thinks the main character is feeling/thinking/saying doesn’t line up with what you’re actually feeling/thinking/saying while watching it… so it’s still almost impossible to immerse yourself into this supposed “blank slate”.
While watching it, I felt like I was playing Love+ (a dating sim game), except I wasn’t playing anything at all. It was like a waifu simulator, with all the gamification and simulation parts taken out.
Still… because the artwork was cute… and the music was catchy… and most of all because the episodes were only 4 minutes long, I kept watching….
While reading reviews after watching, just to laugh at peoples “WTF” comments…. I discovered there’s a version of this “anime experiment” designed for women as well….
Enter Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys! An anime by the same studio as OneRoom, Makura no Danshi, or Pillow Boys, features a different Pillow Boy each week.
This anime was blatantly created for one sole purpose… to sell such pillow cases…. and this anime is effective at doing that… Before watching this anime, I knew about the Pillow Boyfriend / Pillow Girlfriend trend in Japan…. and I’d looked at such pillow cases before… I didn’t have a large pillow at the time though; About 3 weeks ago I got a really big expensive memory foam body pillow…. It’s currently dressed in a not very feminine or kawaii dark color…. Watching Pillow Boys reminded me that I could get something more Kawaii that would fit my image, my room, my decor, my life. I already cuddle my pillow every night so why not cuddle it and look at cute anime boys too lol. So I will probably buy one of these pillow slips, as soon as I decide which one I want… there are literally hundreds of styles, some from popular games and anime, and others completely original characters.
So now that you know what a Pillow Boy is… let’s move on to the actual review…
Title: Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys!
Episode Length: 4 minutes
Release Date: 2015
Genre: Slice of Life, Shoujo, Romance, “Pillow Boy Simulator?” lol.
Geeky: 1/5? lol… Not sure… I mean it does have pretty art, and actually I really like the opening theme song, and it IS geeky, because I mean, who else buys these pillows except for geeks. But I can’t in good faith give it a higher score here, because aside from the opening theme, there’s almost no other music, each episode is 4 minutes long, and there’s literally no plot, and it’s just weird as heck lol.
Sweetie: 5/5 – at the opposite end of the rating spectrum, this is an incredibly cute, kinda awkward, and at times highly inappropriate, funny, fun, anime…
Concept: 6/10 — Fanservice for Women. Blatant money-grab anime whose sole purpose is to sell merchandise… but yet… oddly… interesting… and entertaining… Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced… and they’re all pretty cute and likeable….
I want to make a comment here… but it may be a spoiler… not that the story is important or even coherent in this series… but just in case, using my spoiler tags… you can click to read… it’s about the ending of the final episode…
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this anime is, I believe that the characters actually ARE pillows throughout the anime, not just cute guys who the main character (You) spend your time with… My reasons for believing this include, in the final episode the Pillow Boy says “Hey!! Don’t Fluff me! That’s so mean!” Now why on earth or even how on earth would you fluff a person? You could fluff their HAIR maybe, but that’s not what the character says… Also there’s the fact that You are always tired and/or sleeping in every episode… And… the fact that all of these guys know where you live, sleep in your bed, and seem overly familiar with you, and that’s odd especially for Japanese cultures even more so than American culture, and it STILL seemed weird to me too as an American. My first thought was WHY do I have so many different boyfriends, and how do they know where I live, and why are we sleeping together all the time? — All of these things led me to the conclusion that not only are they ACTUALLY PILLOWS; but that YOU as the viewer are well aware of this fact, and that YOU as the viewer and main character, are actually talking to and fantasizing about your pillows… making you perhaps one of the saddest, most desperate, lonely main characters that I have ever seen… On the other hand, you could just be dreaming in each episode, which would be less creepy, and also less funny, than someone talking to their pillows and pretending to be in a relationship with them lol.
And when you realize THAT, it kinda completely changes the entire tone of the anime lol.
Story: 3/10 – Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced, each episode is self contained and stand-alone. Each episode consists of the Pillow Boy talking to you about his day, and asking you questions, which you’re encouraged as an audience member to talk back to the TV (k we go from talking to pillows to talking to the TV now lol). They don’t give you much time for response, and ultimately, it suffers the same problem as OneRoom, in that it’s still difficult to immerse, because you can still get a vague idea of the “conversation” that is supposedly going on.
Characters: 9/10 – Ok so the characters themselves though are actually strangely cute, and charming. I honestly liked just about all of them. My favorite was probably the cuddly one or the shy astronomy geek, or maybe the naughty twins lol. “Let’s play find the flower” lol. But even the little boy was cute, in a strictly platonic way. But that didn’t stop the anime from making highly inappropriate sexual innuendos and jokes even in that episode such as the title of that episode: “Innocent Danshi, a highly energetic, hot, 5 year old” WHAT THE F??? That is the creepiest weirdest title for an episode I’ve ever seen. PS, the episode is COMPLETELY G rated – thank god. It’s NOT some weird creepy perverted pedophile anime lol. — You know most anime with a “young looking” “Loli” or “Shota” character, they merely LOOK young but are actually of age of consent, and not an ACTUAL 5 year old… but in this anime, he really is a 5 year old, and you’re baby sitting him… I won’t give too much away, but you’re playing power rangers and he tells you to be the pink ranger, and he wants to be the super “rare” black ranger, whose super power is “Fatty Beef Bomber” — Really? lol… Innuendo much there? Given the character’s age, that is just messed up…. But then… when you take into account what I mentioned in the spoiler tag above, about the ending of the final episode, then you can look past this part. Each character is unique and has a charm of their own.
Artwork: 3/5 – The character designs are super cute, but the animation itself is very low quality and cheap. One scene, with your coworker, in particular, keeps one still image on for 1-2 minutes… in a 4 minute episode… that’s…. pretty cheap lol. The character designs are also not consistent — the final episode brings back the pillow boy from Episode 1… and he looks like a junior high school or even elementary school student now (which to be honest, fits his personality better) Except then, near the end, he goes back to looking about college student aged again (as he appeared in the first episode) for a few seconds. I don’t think this was done for any reason other than they were lazy. It wasn’t like he was done in a “chibi” style to be more cute, It was more like, they forgot what they went with, or couldn’t decide on and stick to one style, or they were outsourcing or using different artists – which would be pretty sad given its a 4 minute per episode kind of show, which shouldn’t be overly complex or have that much detail etc.
Music: 3/5 – The opening theme honestly, would be like a 5/5 — I really like it. It’s catchy as heck. But the rest of the anime has almost no music at all… Even an episode where the Pillow Boy is a violinist, which was the weirdest episode to watch without music.
Voice Acting: 5/5 — I thought the voices were cute, as well as the artwork, those two factors played a big role in my liking of the characters and overall enjoyment of the anime.
This 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.
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
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
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.
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.