Anime

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Series Review: Fan Service, Fantasy, and a Lot of Fun

April was a rough month for me – a lot of things weren’t coming together, and there was a lot of stress involved.  I had read a lot of reviews about this show, and as a destresser I decided to watch it.  I was skeptical, because maid’s in anime are well, always known as fanservice moe fauter, but was it worth watching through this show, and  getting past the fanservice for some genuine entertainment and sweetness?
Yes, yes it was.  I will say that I waited until the series had completely aired – I don’t think it would have held up as well if I were watching this series over 13 weeks.  Watching it over 1 week, in blocks of 4 or 3 episodes at a time was a lot more enjoyable for me, because when I got bored or tired of the show I was able to stop and just go back to it the next day.  It definitely helped me with the destressing as well, because it’s just so darn cute!  The humor was funny, and the show genuinely has a sweet message to share, with an enjoyable cast of characters (mostly).  My main criticisms  with the show is it’s rather one note in its plots.  Like I said, if I were watching this week to week, I probably would have been tired of it.  It’s mindless, adorable slice of life fun and if you need something that will give you a chuckle and warm and fuzzy happy feelings, definitely watch this show.
Now for the things I didn’t like.  Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the show, I really couldn’t stand Toru!  The first episode almost turned me off from the show, because it just was playing up all the weird, pervy tropes I really don’t like that tend to rear their head in certain anime.  Toru’s selfish, possessive and pervy personality traits never quite go away (they do get muted a bit, but still) and it just makes an enjoyable show lose a bit of its charm.  Kana is entirely too cute, which I get people may like but I don’t care for.  But once again, I know that other people may disagree with that, I generally don’t like cute characters that are just there to be cute.

 

The supporting cast is great, minus Lucoa and Shota’s relationship.  I liked their interactions, but the boob jokes got a little old.  She was a late comer, but I think Elma was probably my favorite character.  I love myself a good comedic straight woman who also participates in the goofyness every once and a while.  The gag with her and food is also something I would do, so it was always funny to see XD

 

Criticizing this show for lack of plot is sort of unfair.  As I watched it, I kept on comparing  it’s format to Azumanga Daioh – just a lot of scenes taking place that go over a period of time that are funny, cute, and entertaining.  If you go into the show knowing this, I think it’s a lot easier of a show To get into because all in all it’s just some good fluffy fun.  If anything, just watch for the Christmas play:  hands down, my favorite story from the series.  I wish the entire episode was the whole play, because it was amazing and hilarious.

 

After I finished the show, I wasn’t exactly sure on my feelings about it.  But the day after finishing it, I genuinely missed visiting with the characters, and seeing what wacky adventures they were going to get into.  For all its flaws, it had that many more enjoyable traits, so if you need a great, humorous watch that is going to make you relax and bask in some mindless, sweet fun, then definitely give this anime a watch.  I recommend watching at least the first three episodes to see if you want to give it a chance though, because the first episode does not give a good example of how charming this show truly is.  I watched the English dub, and it does a great job capturing the characters!  That being said though, I only heard a tiny bit of the Japanese version, so some characters may be a bit more hyped up for American audiences (I have a feeling that may have been the case for Toru, correct me if I’m wrong in the comments).

 

Did you watch Miss Kobayashi when it was airing, wait to binge it like me?  Would love to hear how you liked the show in the comments!

Anime

The Facet of Love Tackled in Magic Knight Rayearth? An Analysis of the Themes Addressed in the Anime

Recently, I watched a let’s play of the Sega Saturn Magic Knight Rayearth game.  Isn’t that completely out of the blue, you might ask, and the answer would be somewhat yes:  initially, I was looking for a very specific track of instrumental music that I couldn’t find anywhere on YouTube (I eventually found it, but only as a midi) and in the process of doing so, found a LP of this game.  I love MKR, so decided to watch it.  The game is…problematic, to say the least, and the plot aspects of it barely scratch the surface of the depth that both the anime, and manga had.  After watching the game, I went to rewatching the anime, and this thought crossed my mind.

 

CLAMP’s main corner stone to me has always been, their central themes focus on love.  It’s fairly abundant  in any of their works, but Magic Knight Rayearth being their first one, I never thought that was the case for it.  Rewatching it older however, I realize I was wrong:  because underneath all of the magical girl, epic fantasy adventure, is a very subtle study of one of the many facets of love.  Spoilers for Magic Knight Rayearth beyond this point, you have been warned!

 

As opposed to say, Cardcaptor Sakura, which makes the relationships between characters very obvious, Magic Knight Rayearth takes a far more subtle approach.  And that’s because, the aspect of love they touch upon is very subtle.  At first, I thought that the overarching theme was how your love can affect others, and change them for better, or worse, in the case of Alcione.  That’s what I got after finishing the Sega Saturn game.  Starting to rewatch the anime though, the concept of love touched upon here is a lot more introspective than that.  It’s how loving someone can internally effect you, and your actions, and how it can be the driving force for your actions, for better, or worse.

 

An image of Alcione, one of Zagato's faithful servants

The first, and most prominent, example of this is Alcione.  She loves Zagato, and will do anything to prove herself to him, because she thinks doing so will make him love her back.  Look a little deeper at this, and it’s really a lack of self-esteem and self-worth that drives her:  She trained under Clef so she could serve Princess Emeraude, another chance to prove her self-worth.  We can assume that somewhere between the show starting and Emeraude being kidnapped, that she fell in love with Zagato, and transferred her need to prove herself by protecting the Princess, to being useful to him.  In the end of the anime’s first season, there’s this really heart breaking scene between her and Zagato that just drives this point home, and has always made her this really sympathetic, tragic character for me, honestly one of the best character arcs in any anime for me still to this day.

 

An image of High Priest Zagato

Zagato, on the other hand, takes a far more aggressive approach.  He loves Emeraude, finds it unfair that she’s been given the cards dealt to her, and wants to move heaven and earth to make sure she’s safe, and loved, and protected.  He’s a good example of how internal love can externally drive you to do extraordinary things.  Best example of this?  Making his own freaking Rune God!

 

The only people who had enough willpower to stand up to him were the Magic Knights, and that’s saying something.  Though I will say, rewatching the show, his lack of caring for anyone but Emeraude makes me sympathize with him a bit less.  I found myself yelling at the screen:  “Yeah, the Magic Knights feel bad about what they did later, and he loves Emeraude, but that doesn’t excuse treating every other character like garbage!”.  I suppose having that sort of reaction only proves my point further.  Zagato’s actions are extreme, but can any of us say we wouldn’t do something like that for someone we loved, who was not only doomed to eternal servitude, but their only way out of it was death?

 

An image of the three Magic Knights: Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu and their Rune Gods Rayearth, Celes, and Windam at sunset
The heart which believes, decides the future!

Our main trio, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu, all took a bit longer for me to try and figure out.  Hikaru is definitely the driving force for any of their character development.  Her determination, and love for her friends, is what drives her forward.  I’d say her drive is also a version of wanting to prove herself, but at the same time she genuinely wants to help the people around her, because of her love of life.  Because of that, both Umi and Fuu grow as a result.  Umi, becoming less selfish, and Fuu, becoming less selfless, and being less self-sacrificing than she started out as.  It’s honestly really hard for me to think of these three as individuals, because so much of the story hinges on the fact that they love, support, and care for one another in such a foreign situation, when if they were back in Tokyo, they probably would have never become friends in the first place.  In that respect, what internally drives their affection for one another, is protecting, and eventually caring for one another, and their mission at hand.  But honestly, that’s scratching the surface with these three, I could write a whole essay on the Magic Knights, they’re amazing!

 

CLAMP has always been amazing at writing realistic characters, no doubt about it.  The main reason why is because they touch on deep topics like this, and don’t shy away from amazing plot twists, like in this show.  Magic Knight Rayearth will always hold a special place in my heart as being the first series I watched as a preteen anime fan, and as the show that introduced me to the fact that being a voice actor was actually a profession.  Rewatching it, listening to its music, and just basking in the awesome that is Magic Knight Rayearth always makes me so happy!

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this show in the comments!  Have you seen it before?  What are your thoughts on how love is portrayed in this series?

Anime

Your Lie in April Episode 1 Thoughts

Time to start this rewatch!  I’ve never rewatched an anime before that wasn’t from my childhood, so this will be interesting.  I thought it would be fun to try and think of my initial thoughts of the episode after watching it the first time, then see how I feel about it now knowing what’s coming.

 

For episode 1, I think I mainly was interested, but also skeptical.  The pointless overdone “You pervert!” trope happened and I was like ugh not this again, but the rest of the show was interesting enough for me to stay watching.  I knew going in the anime was about music, so being a musician myself I really wanted to give it a shot no matter how wonky I thought it might become at the time.

 

Upon rewatching, I like Tsubaki a teeny bit more.  I still don’t really like her, but she’s not as annoying as I remember.  Well, not annoying, but I always found her actions pretty selfish throughout the show, but now seeing the amount of foreshadowing put into the first episode in regards to her feelings, it doesn’t bother me so much.  I wish the humor tropes were gone from here, but I  also like them at the same time so no real complaints with that.  Other than that, I enjoyed the episode!  I feel like for this particular show, knowing what’s going to happen detracts a bit from the drama, but it’s still enjoyable to watch to see what things you didn’t notice happening that were going to lead to bigger reveals later on.

 

I was going to try and watch an episode a day, but that really isn’t’ my style haha.  So what I’ll probably do, is catch up with the show on the weekend, watching the next four episodes for this week one day and the next five for the next week on Sunday.  What can I say, I’m just a binge watcher at heart 😀

 

I’m glad to see this show still is enjoyable upon second watching. Music is still fantastic, and loving the journey faster than I did before because I know what will be happening.  So instead of one episode a day posts I’ll just write my general thoughts on the five episodes I watched for the week over here~

 

Anime · Uncategorized

Blog, and Anime Update!

Hi guys!  So as you’ve noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated for the past week.  That’s mainly because I’ve been busy, and the posts I write over here take a lot of time to write. Don’t get me wrong:  I love writing them, but it does take a lot of time to do so that I’ve had to use to do other things the past week.  But in the past week, I’ve also been thinking of smaller posts, and projects I can start over here that would be more like small first impression posts, episode recaps/impressions of anime, or something like that, then in comes Weekend Otaku with his Your Lie in April viewing party, and I was like “That’s perfect!”.
I already was planning another project with anime, where I watch a lot of older anime that I haven’t seen that are really popular.  I was into anime in the late 90s, early 2000s, and due to not having the huge range of availability for shows we do now, I didn’t watch a lot of anime because DVDs were expensive!  Chibi Crystal also was really into one specific genre of anime which was magical girl and fantasy, which in the early 2000s equated to only watching Inuyasha, Sailor Moon, Card Captors and Magic Knight Rayearth.  I know Cowboy Bebop used to come on Adult Swim in that block with Inuyasha, as did Outlaw Star for a time (which I did like, but it got pulled from the block of shows I used to watch before I could finish it) but Cowboy Bebop didn’t have swords and magic and half demons falling in love with high school girls so Chibi Crystal was having none of that.

 

Now that Chibi Crystal is no longer chibi however, and is getting off of her I haven’t watched anime in six years or so and just started watching again in 2016, I want to revisit a lot of old shows.  So things like Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, Evanjelion, Death Note etc etc. Aka, I have a lot of catching up to do!  I have yet to schedule those, and not sure if I’m going to do an episode to episode recap, or a chunk of a few episodes, but if you have any good, iconic anime to throw my way to watch I’ll add it to my list and finally start my watching anime new year’s resolution I’ve been putting off XD

 

But, before that, back to the Your Lie in April watch party!  Weekend Otaku is hosting one, and it seems like tons of fun.  If you’d like to join in, here’s the post for more details!  I’m going to be using this to post more and watch an anime I love, so it’s win-win for me haha.

 

So yeah, be prepared for blog posts to start up again next week, with my first impressions of rewatching Your Lie in April on Monday!

Anime

Does Yuri on Ice Reach Its Full Potential? My Thoughts on the Last Few Episodes

The simudub for Yuri on Ice ended last week, and is the reason why I tend to wait until a series is over to watch the entire thing.  I enjoyed watching the show as it aired with the blogosphere and Twitter, but having to wait two weeks for a dubbed episode to air and be two episodes behind everyone was torture!  That being said, I’m not sure if being pre-exposed to all of the spoilers and commentary on the show effected my viewing of the last three episodes (I waited for all three to be released before finishing the series) but there just seemed to be something…missing from the series for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the series, and think the characters are amazing.  But I do think there were a few missed opportunities  by series end that we could have seen happen instead of some things that did happen.  Spoilers for Yuri on Ice below!

 

My first nit pick is, why did they show us so many characters, when only three of them were important?  Or rather, they only cared to flesh three of them out fully.  I get that it’s a tournament style show, but we saw the main six skaters so many times and didn’t get any more motivations from them than their internal monologues while skating.  I loved the first half of the series, when Yuuri was still unsure of himself, and Victor had to help him overcome his fears and deal with his shortcomings, and when Yuuri was growing more confident in himself with minor lapses I thought it would have been a great time to focus more on the other skaters, off of the ice.  As it stands, the only characters we got a decent amount of focus on were JJ and Yurio, and I felt the Yurio spotlights near the end were a bit under-developed too.  The format of skate, monologue, next opponent skates wore on me in the last two episodes as well, mainly because of one thing:  JJ was getting some character development, and I found it way more interesting than the skating in the finals!
That’s my next point, the way they treated JJ.  First of all, why do we need an “antagonist” character?  Especially when the series was painted more as a compete against yourself to be the best you can be motif  from episode 1.  Plus, JJ was full of himself sure, but far from an antagonist, especially since he didn’t interact with the other characters more than saying he was going to win, which everyone was doing!  When they focused on JJ in the last three episodes, I found him so fascinating.  Those flashbacks were really great, and the fact that he obviously is far more sensitive and caring then he lets on, and uses that confident mask to keep himself a float during competitions, as shown with the flashback with his Mom was really touching to see.  So, why didn’t we get to see more of that development?  Why couldn’t we see him interact with his girlfriend a bit more?  The scene where everyone was still cheering for him after he choked got me all emotional and teary-eyed, more so than anything Yuuri was going through at the moment because let’s be real here:  His character arc was done by the final few episodes.  I would have much preferred to focus more on the side characters, more than just the throw away lines they were given in the end that seemed like the writers wanted to do more with them, but were restricted by the show’s title characters having to be in the spotlight, whether their stories were done or not.

 

I know I’m going to be in the minority with this, but I, uh, really don’t see Yuuri and Victor as a romantic couple.  Like, I saw everyone all over the internet gushing about “The rings!  The dancing on the ice, EEEE!” and that made me think that for once, the subtext of the will they won’t they relationship prominent in sports anime hadn’t happened. But, it pretty much did?  Like the rings lean more on the non-subtext side but still are subtext.  I don’t find saying they’re a good luck charm to be a declaration of love, and Victor saying that they’d be married if Yuuri won seemed like one of Victor’s I’m joking, but secretly serious lines. There was never a straight up conversation between the two that was like “Hey Victor, I think I’m in love with you” or not even something so blunt, but just a conversation about where they stood emotionally would have been a nice touch to throw any subtext out of the way.

 

What was I hoping for, you ask?  An actual conversation about their feelings.  They tip-toed around it the entire series, and in my opinion saying you want your skating coach to stay with you and help you train for next season isn’t really cementing a romantic relationship.  They said far more heartfelt things than that, but for me they didn’t bridge the gap from being close friends and colleagues to something more.  It was a really, really missed opportunity considering all of the build up, and honestly was disappointing for me by the end of episode 12.

 

This last one may be because I was pre-exposed to a ton of spoilers, but the pointless mellow drama in episode 12 was just…there.  Like, we know Victor and Yuuri aren’t going to break their coach-skater relationship, so why make all of this build up happen when it’s not going to?  Was anyone surprised when they didn’t split up at the end?  Instead of providing that senseless conflict, I would have much rather seen Yuuri go through something else.  Maybe instead of wrestling with that weird decision that he found a loophole for (which I really didn’t get because he made the initial decision in the first place) why not have his inner conflict be something else?  Or maybe not even have an inner conflict for Yuuri:  just show how far he’s come, how confident he was all the way instead of the halfway they did in the final episode.

 

I don’t mean to bash Yuri on Ice, by any means:  like I said, I loved the series, and these are all minor nit picks that stopped me from enjoying the show fully in its last few episodes.  My main complaint was the JJ character development that was super interesting to me that they just…dropped and resolved super quickly, and that got me thinking about everything else in the final episodes that made me go hrmmm.  I think Yuri on Ice is a show better to binge watch, because I really enjoyed it a lot more when I watched episodes in chunks.  Having to wait two weeks for an episode made me enjoy it a bit less then I think I would have if I just watched it in one sitting, but that may just be me and my preferences.

 

Now that Yuri on Ice has been over for a few weeks, do you have any different opinions on it than when you were watching?  Do you think it had any shortcomings, or did you love it all the way through.  Would love to hear in the comments!

Anime · Lists

Ten Life Lessons You Can Take Away From Yu-Gi-Oh!

Ever wonder how you could enrich your life through card games? Well, look no further than these top ten tips to get your game on and eventually become King of Games!

 

  • In order to be a productive member of society you must A.) Either go to Duel Academy and become a top duelist or B.) Sell cards to students/Champions/collectors so they can strengthen their decks.
  • Peddy theft is acceptable when you’re stealing Ancient Egyptian magical items.
  • Taking peoples souls is also acceptable when you’re trying to revive your long deceased spouse.
  • Wine is a great drink to have while reading comic books.
  • If you cheat in a game, make friends with your opponent afterwards and all is forgiven.
  • Electro shock and soul theft is common while playing card games, so get a thick skin and duel!
  • Multiple personality disorder is acceptable as long as it helps you win card games
  • You can’t start a sentence without saying “Get your game on!” or “It’s time to d-d-d-deul!”. If you don’t, the sentence makes no sense at all.
  • Instead of getting addicted to gambling, just play with Skull and Graceful Dice in your deck to get your fix. This also helps addicts kick their gambling addiction.
  • It takes 3 million dollars to fix “blindness”. And this blindness is not specified. But money fixes everything, right?

 

Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Anime

RWBY and Coping with a Disability

Disclaimer:  This post has spoilers for RWBY Volumes 3 and 4.  Specifically, Volume 4, Episode 4:  Family.  If you haven’t watched that episode yet, and don’t want spoilers, then go watch and come back to this post.  You have been warned!

 

RWBY as a series is probably the most conflicting show I’ve ever watched.  It seems like it has so much potential, in its story telling, characters and world building, but something with it just doesn’t make me get totally invested in what I’m watching.  I’ll get more into that in another post, because what I want to talk about here is one of the things it’s been doing right.  In fact, it’s been doing it very, very right:  so much so that I think it’s the best portrayal of this certain subject matter in any piece of media I’ve seen.  What am I talking about, you may ask?

 

The cycle of grief, when you’ve first found out you have a disability, and how others around you adapt to the new changes in both their, and your life.

 

In one of the first scenes in RWBY Volume 4, Episode 4, we get this dialogue exchange between Yang and Tai:

 

“I’m scared.  Everyone keeps talking about me getting back to normal, and I appreciate it, but…this is normal now.  It’s just taking me a while to get used to it.”

“Well, normal is what you make of it.”

“What is that supposed to mean?  Do you want me to just pretend like nothing happened?  I lost  a part of me.  A piece of myself is gone and it’s never coming back.”

“You’re right, it’s never coming back.  But it doesn’t have to stop you from becoming who you want to be.”

 

 

This exchange happens after quite some time.  Yang hasn’t had one of her arms for months, and sunk into a deep depression at the end of Volume 3, and the beginning of Volume 4.  Tai had acquired a prosthetic, mechanical arm for her, but she refused to try it on. He had been trying to reach out to her, but she just wasn’t responding, so he gave her space to mourn the loss of her limb.  When Yang finally came out to talk, and opened up about her feelings, she had the above to say and Tai knew she was ready to finally listen to him and was able to finally start processing her loss.

 

A picture of Yang in heroutfit from RWBY volume 4, with one arm in tact and one missing.
“This is normal now”

 

How happy it made me to see that they gave this much time and consideration to this subject matter is something I can’t really express.  In so many shows, they have someone get hurt, and either the disability they now suffer from be magically healed, or they just instantly adapt to the loss by episodes end.  Either that, or we get the magical disability trope, where yeah they’re disabled but they still act exactly the same and like they have nothing they have to adapt to what so ever.  RWBY didn’t do any of those things:  They had Yang get depressed, they have Yang still having PTSD because of how she lost her arm, and she’s finally moving on to her healing stage.  Does that mean she’s completely better?  Not at all, because these are all things she’s going to have to deal with for the rest of her life, but that’s completely ok because she knows it’s now going to be her new normal.  Not only did they show all of this, but they showed it over a series of a few episodes, and are probably going to be continuing to show it all season.
It’s good for a show to display that it takes time.  You have to process, you have to grieve because yes, at first, it’s going to feel like you can’t do anything.  You’re going to have to learn how to do things completely differently, and relearn things all over again.  You’re going to have to realize that “Normal” to you isn’t going to be “Normal” to anyone else.  Will that hinder your way of life at all?  Only if you let it.  At first, Yang was letting it hinder her way of life.  She felt useless, not able to fight with her team, with her friends.  She felt like she was a burden, and honestly, that feeling for her probably is never going to go away.  However, she’s worked through it, and is working toward pushing forward.  Yang wants to adapt first, without a mechanical arm.  She wants to know that if the assistance she will have to rely on for the rest of her life somehow isn’t working, she can stand tall with just one arm, and be 100 percent confident in herself, no matter what.
That’s such a powerful, mature message that mirrors the reality of having a disability, and I applaud Rooster Teeth for putting it in the show.  Not only that, but how Tai deals with it, too.  Because you know in his head he’s going “Oh no my daughter is going to have to deal with this the rest of her life my poor baby” but instead of voicing those concerns, he’s helping her find her way.  He knows how capable she is, how strong and resilient she will continue to be, and went as far as to get her a new arm to replace the one she lost (which, according to the characters, was no easy feat and took a lot of string pulling).

 

This is so true for parents who deal with children with disabilities, also.  I remember when I first was losing my sight, my Mom would always tell me “You can do whatever you want to do, you just have to find an alternative way to do it.  Nothing is stopping you” even when people around me would say the exact opposite, would try to stagnate my progress in school, or with hobbies.  She would always be there to fight for me.

 

It’s moments like this that make me not want to stop watching RWBY.  Because sure it has flaws, sure it’s slow moving, but when it comes down to it, it’s doing a lot of things that tons of other shows aren’t.  When RWBY takes a risk, the show shines, showing what it’s really made of, and what it can be.  When it sticks to the typical shounen/shoujo character tropes and plot clichés, are when I think it starts to fall flat for me.  Going in to watching this episode, I said “If this episode doesn’t grab me, I’m going to wait to binge this whole season” and then this scene happened and got me hooked again!  I’ve found that’s happened to me throughout the series, it has a lot of ups and downs that I really want to dive into later (probably soon).

 

I’m really hoping that we get to see more of Yang’s development and coping throughout the rest of Volume 4.  I know that eventually, she’ll be using the mechanical arm she was given by Tai, but ugh I really want to see her fight with one arm!  How badass would that be?  Either way, I hope Rooster Teeth keeps this awesome representation up, because they’re doing a great job!