Posted in Anime

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Second Season 1-4

Ex-convict turned Rakugo apprentice Yotarou has finally taken the name of Yurakutei Sukeroku III, and with his master Yakumo’s permission has attained the lofty rank of shin’uchi. He assumes the name at a critical time for Rakugo, with audiences fewer than ever. At the same time he has started acting as a husband to Konatsu, who is now a single mother. Yotarou thus begins the struggle to fill the role of Sukeroku, both as the future of Rakugo and as a part of Yakumo’s and Konatsu’s lives.

If you haven’t watched the first season, my review probably wouldn’t make any sense. Better do that first.

It’s got to be one of the rarest anime to have a successful second season as the first. Shouwa Genroku manages to maintain its style of storytelling and an equally interesting story as the first. What had originally attracted to me its predecessor was its use of Rakugo- a craft I had no idea about- and how they portrayed what was so special about it.  I fell in love with the characters along the way.

Shouwa Genroku is a story told through the ages.  The first generations’ pain and mistakes mingling with the second and the consequences. It looks as if they are going down the same path, committing the same mistakes and yet, their lives are so different.

Yotaro gives us hope that maybe, just maybe this time they would all have the closure they deserve. On the other hand, the presence of Yakumo and his ideals, his constant conflict between the Rakugo he wants to take away with him and the Rakugo he wants to save is a special story on its own.

Yotaro and Yakumo’s relationship is one of the biggest plus points of the anime. On the surface, it appears as it Yakumo really couldn’t care less, but if you look close enough, all he is ever doing is asking for help. From the start, Yataro was Yakumo’s salvation, his one chance at righting the wrong, and so he took it and left it all in Yotaro’s hand, and hopefully, Yataro will save him. Yotaro’s characterization is a clever choice.  An ex convict who probably has more reason to be a jaded man than Kikuhiko or  Konatsu, and yet, he is the sunshine of the family.

I love the female characters in this anime. Konatsu and her mother, Miyokichi or the mistress, they are all unconventional characters. It’s unusually to see females in anime who aren’t heroine or villain, instead they are simply human.  Konatsu’s worries of turning out to be like her mother, and the realization that she wasn’t her mother, they are all as real as they could get.

We now have the addition of a child, who has all the charm of his father and mother. He is adorable, smart and refreshingly free from  the dark past that has plagued his family.

The pacing of the show is another thing I love about it. It isn’t some story where characters end up doing all sorts of stupid stuff in the span of one year. It is a story of action and consequences, their accumulation over the years.

The opening song is certainly dark and feels you with a sense of foreboding. I can only hope another tragedy isn’t waiting for us.

There isn’t any doubt in my mind  second season is going to be great just like the first one.

 

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Posted in Anime

Poco’s Udon World is No Barakamon

 

Souta Tawara is a web designer working in Tokyo. When he visits his family’s Udon place in his hometown Kagawa Prefecture, he discovers a young boy. Upon confronting the boy, Souta soon learns his secret and decides to quit his job in order to take care of the boy, Poko. The daily adventures of the two slowly enfold as Poco energetically navigates his way through Kagawa, the “Udon Kingdom,” along with Souta.- Copied from Myanimelist

 

 

I picked up Poco’s Udon World without reading the synopsis or any prior knowledge about the anime. When I started watching, the premise felt remarkably similar to an Anime I have loved, and craved  a season two of while simultaneously being afraid of it losing it’s magic if it did ever manage to secure another season- Barakamon.

Poco’s Udo World is no Barakamon, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. The character design and animation are cool, sleek but nothing impressive. It is safe. Though there are some stunning visuals in the first two episodes, as they try to introduce Kagawa and its charm. I loved the ending theme.

The short supernatural element regarding Poco was a surprise- he is a tanuki, but it wasn’t actually relevant to the overall plot- which is none.  At first I thought this anime was about Souta’s journey back to the dream he once gave up- a Udon restaurant owner. Udon does show its presence throughout the series, but it doesn’t have any overall effect on the series, nor is it the ultimate goal. What the ultimate goal is? What is this anime about?

Well, it is about Souta and Poco’s relationship and it is listed under the slice of life genre, and it does have slice of life all over it. In all honesty, it’s just a series with a child being ridiculously cute, maybe a reminiscent of who you used to be, but it’s fun to watch. On the enjoyment front, comedy combined with the worry’s and joy’s of parenthood, it’s a total ten.

The relationship between Poco and Souta is endearing to say the least, maybe a little too smooth and easy going, but it’s impossible to not love them and Poco when you look at it through Souta’s eyes.

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Souta is every other country boy turned into a man. He left for the city to find himself and somehow back again in Kagawa, he found his roots. The thing about Souta was, as he stated himself several times, he was lonely. He was the everyday ten to five worker and that chipped away at him. Then there was the rocky relationship with his father who h e would never get the chance to mend. Poco, simply put, was his saviour. Poco appealed to the “mom” in him, the caring side of him that never found a outlet. A way to right the wrong he did with his father, until Poco became much more important to him than he anticipated.

Poco and Souta are mirror images of each other. If Souta is the lonely city boy, Poco is the lonely tanuki who finally found someone wiling to look past what he is and love him for what he is. Poco had his reasons for seeking Souta  and while the anime was sweet until the very end, it did manage to take a piece of my heart and trample all over it.

Every character in the series had their shining moments, and there were certainly a lot of character development. It isn’t something deep or philosophical, it’s more of a mindless watch for when you are bored or maybe in a really bad mood. It does this amazing job of cheering you up.

I repeat, It’s no Barakmon- a masterpiece in the slice of life genre from my perspective- but it is something.

 

 

 

 

 

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ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka -Episode 1 to 3

The kingdom of Dowa, which is subdivided into 13 states, is celebrating its monarch’s 99th birthday. These 13 states have many agencies that are controlled by the giant organization known as ACCA. Within ACCA, Jean Otus is the second-in-command of the inspection agency. His agency has ten people placed in each of the 13 states, with a central office in the capital city. They keep track of all the activities of ACCA across the kingdom, and keep data on each state’s ACCA office flowing toward the central office. Jean also often has business trips from the capital to the other districts to check on the situation and personnel there.

ACCA took me by surprise in a way few anime did. It certainly pulls you in.  At first it’s quite unclear what’s really happening- especially for me since I started watching without checking the summary- and then it gets good, really good.

From the outside, it just looks like a lot of character being cool, with their vague conversations. It always feels as if they are alluding to  something while they are showing something else. A style that really works in a series like this.

Episode three is where it gets really good, when new faces are revealed and expected but exciting twists are introduced.

The most important question here is- Is Jean Otus a conspirator to a coup d’eat or not? And the best part, just like the characters, we don’t know the truth either. If this series continues at the pace it is going, and manages to keep it’s exciting approach, it can become a hit, a really famous hit.

Posted in Anime

No Game No life Review

Honestly, I don’t think I have enough words to express how much this anime disappointed me. I have only watched about six episodes and I don’t think I can sit through another 120 min of torture.

I have no complain on the art front. The colour scheme and visuals are certainly amazing, and Madhouse is certainly good with this stuff. On that note, I’m amazed Madhouse would undertake something this frilly. This was the studio that produced Death Note or Mouryou No Hako for Gods’ sake.

Sora- eighteen year old, and Shiro- eleven year old, are  two NEET siblings and online gamer duo who are  summoned by God name Tet of another world into his world of games. A magical place where everything is decided by playing games.

This kind of story isn’t new, where fantasy game world become reality, except in this case Sora and Shiro come here of their own will. The world building itself is pretty thorough which is one of the few redeeming qualities of this series.

No Game No life failed where it needed to succeed, character building and development. For a series that’s dependent on it’s character, and it has to be character because if there was any proper plot there-I definitely missed it-, it does an extremely poor job of creating any impact with them.

Sora and Shiro are supposedly two geniuses when it comes to games. And that’s it, that what I really gathered about them. The siblings are dependent on each other, Sora is basically a pervert, and Shiro is a white haired loli who despite claims by other characters otherwise, is used as fan service.  The main characters have no proper personality, or whatever they do is as cliche as it can be, and have no qualms about using others or shaming them- even though they are portrayed as hero. I don’t mind overpowered MC’s, infact I would take them over protagonist who almost die every other day, but an Anime that’s basically about mind games, needs an antagonist intelligent enough to give them some trouble, or else where is the battle of intellect in the first place?

As Jim Moriarty said in BBC Sherlock, “Every fairy tale needs a good old-fashioned villain.”

Besides this, it is said over and over again, Sora and Shiro hated their world, and becaome NEET’s because of it but what made them hate it in the first place? Why did they despise the world so? There doesn’t need to be flashbacks but there should at least be a little backstory and explanation for the way they are.

Another recurring character is Stephanie Dola- the kings granddaughter with a degree from university and political smartness but is still apparently a bimbo at the end of the day. Stephanie is as boring as a character could be and is used for nothing more than an mere tool for comic relief-which isn’t funny at all- and  fan service . Which brings me to another point, No Game No Life might be targeted at male teenage audience(I certainly can’t imagine an adult watching and enjoying it) but does Stephanie need to be degraded to the point she is?

Spoilers: At one point after wining a game, Sora and Shiro makes her become their pet dog for a day. So, she is stripped of all her consent, harassed in anyway Sora and Shiro pleases and made fun of.

I couldn’t get myself to enjoy the anime at all, and while it might be made exactly suited to a teenage male’s taste, I wouldn’t even recommend it for them because I certainly don’t want people learning to degrade others the way Sora and Shiro does.

 

 

 

Posted in Anime

Mob Psycho 100

Kageyama Shigeo (a.k.a. “Mob”) is a 8th grader with psychic abilities. He could bend spoons and lift objects with his mind from a young age, but he slowly began to withhold from using his abilities in public due to the negative attention he kept receiving. Now, the only thing he wants is to become friends with a girl in his class, Tsubomi. With his psychic “mentor” (who has no psychic powers), he continues his daily life, attempting to realize his purpose in life.- Copied directly from MAL.

 

I would have started with Mob Psycho way earlier if I had paid attention to the summary more properly. “Psychic abilities”- that’s like my number one condition while searching for anime.  While admittedly, my love for supernatural follows more along the lines of Ghost Hunt or Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, or even Natsume Yuujinchou, Mob Psycho 100 was one cool ride.

Considering it’s from Studio Bones, the visuals and art were as good as they could be, and that’s a given. Bones never really emerges into the market without their best work at hand(If it isn’t clear, I love works from Bones).

I think the best way to explain Mob Psycho 100 would be delightfully whimsical. It’s got a wide range of characters, villains who are sort of cliche(though it is laughed upon) but entertaining nonetheless,  and tremendous character development in twelve episodes.

Mob, or Kageyama Shigeo is such an endearing character. You sort of want to wrap him up in a blanket and watch him kick others ass at the same time. Despite being how strong he is psychically, he is beyond average in almost everything else. Combined with that the power to destroy others when he reaches his 100%, and having no control over it at that time, scares him to no end.(He is also really cool when he gets mad.) I liked Mob, more  because he reminded him of myself. I am not a psychic, of course, but I no what’s it like to bottle up your feelings until one day a dam sort of bursts, and you end up taking it out on everyone around you.

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This is where Mob’s master, Reigen Arataka comes in, and while he might be a fake, and he is basically using Mob, he is also Mob’s greatest support system, and despite everything, is extremely protective of Mob. He is pretty much the person who manages to get Mob’s outburst level into 0%. He is also the voice of reason, the philosopher. An adult for all his mistakes, still very much an adult.

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And in this mix, we have Kageyama Ritsu, Mob’s brother, whose relationship with Mob, unlike simple hate or love relationship in other anime’s, is quite complex. Ritsu is also the character who grows through the most character development.

All the other characters have their own special moments, and while some fit into the cliche, they are still entertaining.

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If we come to the villains,  they appear cliche at best, and I got the feeling they were never supposed to be anything other than that. As Reigen pointed out, they might be adults in age, but they were in reality children who never grew up.

From the first episode, I had originally assumed it to be a character driven anime, and while it is so, it’s got a pretty strong plot too. It’s comedic moments and no nonsense attitude is another thing to love about it.

The anime, at it’s heart, is about Mob and surprisingly, showing there is nothing wrong with being different, and how that difference can be for the good of others.

Mob Psycho 100 might not be perfect, but it is in fact a very good blend of comedy, supernatural and action.

 

 

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Kuzu no Honkai Episode 2 review

We are introduced to two new characters, Ebato Sanae or Ecchan and Kamomebota Noriko or Como, each of whom are respectively in love with with Hanabi and Mugi.

Kuzu no Honkai, it seems, is a story about unrequited love. It’s also the story about the ideal love of your dreams and the harsh reality of who they might really be.screenshot_20170120-144233

When I watched the first episode, I thought maturity seemed to be a big part of the characters, but are they really? Sure, they act and talk, and maybe feel too seriously for high school student, but are there actions aren’t of adults. This are lost people who keep on making the wrong decision  that would probably eventually lead to their own downward spiral.

The most refreshing thing about Kuzu no Honkai, however, is the male and female lead. For once, there are two characters who are absolutely aware of how horrible they really are and don’t try to make any excuses for it, or their weakness aren’t glorified in a way that makes they seem like the perfect human being. Hanabi’s attitude towards Como, and her refusal to let Como bully her in anyway, is a treat in it’s own. Hanabi isn’t a blubbering mess of a heroine, or simply on the offensive, she appears to be the offender instead.

Hanabi’s voice actor did a great job showing the nuances in her voice, the way they soften when it comes to her crush or the friendly relation with Mugi.

As of now, Kuzu no Honkai is definitely upto a great start.

 

 

Posted in Anime

Kuzu No Honkai Episode 1 review

Seventeen-year-old Mugi Awaya and Hanabi Yasuraoka appear to be the ideal couple. They are both pretty popular, and they seem to suit each other well. However, outsiders don’t know of the secret they share. Both Mugi and Hanabi have hopeless crushes on someone else, and they are only dating each other to soothe their loneliness. Mugi is in love with Akane Minagawa, a young teacher who used to be his home tutor. Hanabi is also in love with a teacher, a young man who has been a family friend since she was little. In each other, they find a place where they can grieve for the ones they cannot have, and they share physical intimacy driven by loneliness. Will things stay like this for them forever? –Summary copied directly from MAL.

Based on Yokoyori Mengo’s  of the same name, Kuzu No Honkai or as the English title suggests. Scum’s wish is the story of unrequited love and bad choices.

About half an year ago, I recall picking up the manga and being fascinated by the first two chapters-  the only chapters released then. The premise itself wasn’t anything great, and yet somehow it managed to leave a strong impression, enough to make me wonder what happened to that manga but never enough to actually go and search for it in between m hectic schedule.

The anime from the first episode does justice to that very manga. With a beautiful opening and ending, it certainly sets the mood for the show.

Told from Hanabi’s perspective, her loneliness and pain of losing her first love is evident in every action she takes. At one point, she rejects a random character and her words, more than anything reflect her own predicament, her own helpless unrequited love. It makes sense that when she finds someone who understands her pain, she uses  him and lets him use her.

There is nothing more annoying than the affection of someone you’re not interested in, is there?-  Hanabi Yasuraoka

The characters operate with a sort of maturity rarely seen in Anime set in high school, which in itself is a treat. Hanabi and Mugi seem wise beyond their years and yet, seemingly childish at the same time. Since, the first episode was from Hanabi’s perspective, I couldn’t get much about Mugi as a character, except he is a perceptive person and quite aware of his  own good looks.

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The other two character, that is the sensei’s are quite forgettable as of now.

Kuzu no Honkai is a feel ride, the kind that leaves you with a sense of melancholy and I’m certainly looking forward to another episode of it.

Posted in Anime

Yuri!!! On Ice(The Anime we were all waiting for)

 

I know I am late. I am way late for an anime that rocked the anime world and basically made everyone who watched it  go crazy or hate it.

This isn’t a review. This is me gushing about this gem that is Yuri!!! On Ice. There are spoilers below.

Reeling from his crushing defeat at the Grand Prix Finale, Yuuri Katsuki, once Japan’s most promising figure skater, returns to his family home to assess his options for the future. At age 23, Yuuri’s window for success in skating is closing rapidly, and his love of pork cutlets and aptitude for gaining weight are not helping either.

However, Yuuri finds himself in the spotlight when a video of him performing a routine previously executed by five-time world champion, Victor Nikiforov, suddenly goes viral. In fact, Victor himself abruptly appears at Yuuri’s house and offers to be his mentor. As one of his biggest fans, Yuuri eagerly accepts, kicking off his journey to make it back onto the world stage. But the competition is fierce, as the rising star from Russia, Yuri Plisetsky, is relentlessly determined to defeat Yuuri and win back Victor’s tutelage.- Taken directly from MAL.
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However, Yuuri finds himself in the spotlight when a video of him performing a routine previously executed by five-time world champion, Victor Nikiforov, suddenly goes viral. In fact, Victor himself abruptly appears at Yuuri’s house and offers to be his mentor. As one of his biggest fans, Yuuri eagerly accepts, kicking off his journey to make it back onto the world stage. But the competition is fierce, as the rising star from Russia, Yuri Plisetsky, is relentlessly determined to defeat Yuuri and win back Victor’s tutelage.

When I first sat down to watch it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was listed as a sports anime but the general consensus seems to be it it gayer than any gay anime has ever been. And it was, delightfully so, but it was also as much a sport anime it promised to be.

I went to watch this anime with the mindset I would be disappointed, and ended up finishing as a huge fan. I have never watched an anime with proper LGBT representment before. I mean I remember coming across an Yaoi manga once which I thought was real cute, and then few chapters later, the main guy was stealing kisses from his love interest in his sleep. I can’t even remember what the name of the manga was, but after some quick search, it seemed most Yaoi was a big on the non consent arena.

Yuri!!! on ice on that regard alone is such a huge development. Victor and Yuuri’s relationship was super cute, and most importantly healthy. Yes, they never voiced any proper tag for their relationship but you would have to be blind not to see it.

There were so many moments my heart literally went doki doki.

Especially episode 10, where we finally get a clear idea of why Victor behaved the way he did, why he was so hell bent on flirting with Yuuri and why he couldn’t keep his hands off Yuuri.

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Oh, Victor.

To lose your heart to a drunk guy in the banquet who doesn’t even remember asking to be your coach.

But their cute love story aside, the huge character development Yuuri went through is a accomplishment in itself. He is still  anxiety riddled(I doubt anyone with anxiety ever really stops feeling it),  but he is so much more confident in himself, so much more caring and perceptive than he ever let himself be. And it’s all because of Victor.

As for Victor, you never really see him develop onscreen, but as the series progresses, you get the idea of where he came from and who he has become after he meets Yuri. Honestly, Victor is the hardest character to get a proper read on, and it felt like he was created just to complement Yuuri and yet even then, he has become a silent force on his own. I have so much I want to say about Victor, but that’s for another time.

Almost every character has their own motivations and wants for being on the ice and it’s a delight to watch most of them. What I loved was none of  them really conferred to a stereotype.  Even the most used siblings complex trope is subverted and saves itself from being a cliche.

I would say Yuri!!! on ice’s another success goes to its focus on social media. Anime always seems to operate on a bubble, and none of the character are usually effected by the outside world- namely always ignoring the social media aspect when it’s pretty much has become a necessity for most people in our world. And then we have Phichit-kun who can’t seems to keep his hands off Instagram. Victor and Yuri whose locations are immediately known after they can’t resist making posts and of course, there is the ending with everyone’s Instagram account. Actually, it was a viral video which led Victor to Yuuri in the first place.

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Now, the animation was good though there were times when it went seriously weird, closely resembling all the mistakes you find in Attack On Titan. Nevertheless, the figure skating scenes are absolutely breathtaking.

If I had to choose my favourite moment of Yuri!!! on ice it has to be when Phichit congratulates Victor and Yuuri on their marriage and announces to everyone on the restaurant and no one so much as blinks an eye and everyone’s just so happy for them. This is so important. The best reaction I have seen so far in any medium. None of them questions it, none of them dare suggest it might be wrong and while there is a long way to go before it happens in our world, that scene right there is the ideal scene we could hope to achieve.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Anime

Death Parade Review

An anime that’s been recommended to me over and over again, with the most prominent compliment being it’s dabble in the human psyche, I was excited to watch the supposedly mind games they brought on.

Let me start of with saying that the opening and ending theme is definitely good, something Madhouse has rarely failed to do.

As for the animation, I’ve never quite liked Madhouse’s animation style, though I must commend them for trying out different art forms and Death Parade in my opinion, was a huge improvement than it’s previous works. The only other time I remember being impressed by their animation was probably Mouryou No Hako -another venture in the supernatural and psychological genre by Madhouse.

Now as for the anime itself, Death Parade certainly managed to pique my curiousity. Created in an episodic format, Death parade deals with what happens after death at the time of one’s judgement. To decide a human’s fate, Arbiters are appointed to judge their conduct both in their lifetime and at a present game, in which it is implied they would die. A foolish idea, considering they are already dead, but most humans don’t have any recollection of their fate.

Death parade was every bit as fascinating as it promised to be, though it came with it’s own sets of fault and mistakes. The people who are there to be judged go through different emotions, fighting for a life already taken away from them. It makes you to know what happened to them, what made them this way, and as their memories come back, and some part of their personality changes for good.

If Death Parade stuck to it’s episodic stand alone format, it would probably have been one of the best shows and that’s where it went wrong. It tried to focus on the arbiter and the female main character- Kurokami no Onna- stuck in the Quindecim for reasons explained later in the series. Focusing on characters who are mainly explained as puppets  with no emotions doesn’t do any favour for a show in the psychological genre. However, the last episode does manage to make up for it a bit, though it does leave some loosed ends.

On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Death Parade. It wasn’t what I had been made to believe but the whole ambiance and some great moments really do make up for its’ cracks. On the same note, creating an Anime based on an independent script can’t be that easy, so it deserves some kudos for that too. Though I do wish I could change the ending- it broke my damn heart. Oh well, that’s what fan fictions are for.

I would think Death Parade deserves a watch.