Anime

Lost Song Review [Spoiler Free]

I was in the mood to watch a fantasy anime after watching a lot of the heavier shows out there (Evangelion, Angel Beats, stuff like that) and when I was scrolling on Netflix, Lost Song’s description was interesting to me.  A magic system based on song, and a girl who wants to fulfill her dream of singing at the Starsong festival?  Sounded like my type of fun, adventurous, entertainingly tropey kind of fair.  What I got instead was a show that started out that way, and ended up in an entirely different direction all together.  Did this show succeed in trope subversion?  Or did it’s plot twists just make it fall flat.
…It fell flat.  Pretty darn hard too.

 

For more, let’s get into the review!

 

STORY

 

The story in Lost song follows two main characters.  Finis, a songstress who has the power to use songs, which work like casting magic spells in this world, who is being used to make sure one kingdom wins obligatory fantasy war.  Rin, a country girl, who also has the power of song, and wants to work her way to getting to the capital so she can sing at the Starsong festival.  Eventually, these two paths converge, and that’s pretty much the plot without spoiling anything major.  I thought the first six episodes of  the show did a good job of showing us the world Finis and Rin live in, and the problems they both had to face.  The show honestly plays out like an RPG for Rin’s plot:  Find new party member, learn new spell, run from soldiers, rinse repeat.  What I found far more interesting was Finis’ story, and her love story with Henry and I wish we would have seen more of this throughout the first half of the show.

 

It turns out, that there is a reason revealed in the second half of the show, that explains why we didn’t see Rin and Finis meet sooner, and it’s honestly a pretty good plot twist that I wasn’t expecting to happen.  How the show handled this after the fact however, didn’t really land at all, because to figure out why it was a good plot twist, I had to look for final episode discussions to see people explaining what the heck was going on.

 

The second half of the series was a confused mess of the show dropping this plot point, trying to explain it to us, trying to make sure it really really made sense and that it wasn’t a convoluted  mess (spoiler, it was) and the final episode’s epilogue, while sweet to an extent, leaves more questions than answers.  Plus, it leaves a ton of plot holes that I’m still trying to figure out after watching.

 

A good plot twist can’t drive a show.  I think Lost Song was really hoping that it would work, and that making this different than the average fantasy show would make it stand out amongst its peers.  This plot twist does the opposite however, and just makes Lost Song confusing and forgettable.  It wasn’t a bad ride by any means, but the show left no lasting impression on me and as of now the biggest thing I can say about it is “It was fine’.”

 

CHARACTERS

 

The characters were your average fantasy tropes.  The valiant  knight, the sad damsel who can’t lift a finger to protect herself, the country girl with big dreams and a heart of gold…I’m fine with a story either being plot driven or character driven, and this story obviously was going for an impactful plot, but the black and white nature of the characters was a bit heavy handed at times.  The bad guys were 100% evil and got theirs, the good guys won the day, and the main characters fate is…a bit murky?  Honestly I can’t talk enough about how wonky the plot twist made the show.  The ending for a certain set of characters is really unclear, and I highly doubt that we’ll get any content telling us how their fate ended up ending up, for lack of a better term.  If the plot stuck it’s landing and was executed well this wouldn’t bother me too much, but since the second half of the series went off the rails, it just was more obvious that the characters weren’t really fleshed out.

 

ACCESSIBILITY

 

You can pretty much tell what’s going on at any given time in the show.  It’s a very what you see is what you get type of series, so other than there being sections where music is playing only and not knowing what’s happening, and one episode that has narration and visuals (but that whole episode is a confusing mess so I doubt watching it would have really helped), the show is clear to follow beginning to end.  No audio description for this one, but there is an English dub that is probably the best part of the show for me.  That and the music, the music is fantastic.

 

CONCLUSION

 

The best way I can describe this show is Ar Tonelico:  The anime.  It honestly hit a lot of the story beats as that game did, but the game spent more time fleshing out the world and characters so it worked way better.  If Lost Song was a 24 episode anime, or even 18, then maybe it could have done service to the story it was trying to tell.  As it stands at 12 episodes, the second half of the story feels jarring, rushed, and that our characters just had to go with it so the show could end.  I won’t say it was a bad show, but it wasn’t a good one and it could have been if the plot twist wasn’t just thrown in there to make the show more interesting.

 

I’d give Lost Song a solid 6 out of 10, and that extra number is for how epic the music is.  It’s really a 5 out of 10:  I don’t feel annoyed I watched it, but it didn’t leave any lasting impression on me.  If you want a nice show to pass the time with and aren’t expecting too much, then go ahead and give this one a watch.  The plot twist genuinely shocked me and was a really good concept, I just wish it was executed better than it was.

 

Have you watched Lost Song?  Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

 

Anime

Hi Score Girl Review

Netflix has a lot of anime guys.

 

Random statement to start a post off with, I know, but I didn’t realize how much anime there was on Netflix until I just decided to scroll down the page after watching something.  It’s crazy!  Like pretty much anything I’d want to watch is on here, pretty fantastic.  That’s pretty much what got me into watching anime again, if I’m being honest.  I tried getting on Funimation’s site to watch stuff, the site’s interface was too clunky for me to care, and the same goes for Crunchyroll.  I get not realizing blind people would want to watch anime (I don’t really but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt) but at least have your sites comply to the web accessibility it should and have some headings on there so your site isn’t a pain to navigate, geez!
But that’s a digression for another post.  Netflix has a lot of anime, it’s accessible, and that means I’m all over it~

 

So what was the first anime I decided to watch, you say?  Why, the topic of this blog post!  After reading the premise of Hi Score Girl, it instantly made me interested.  A romance that takes place around all of my favorite things, retro gaming and the 90s?  I’m all in!  But how does this show hold up in the end?  Let’s jump into this review and see!

 

I’ve decided to split my anime reviews into sections.  Headings are my brains best friend, and the best way I can write my thoughts down.  The three things I’ll be reviewing anime on is story, characters, and accessibility of the show.  What is that last category?  Well since I can’t review visuals, instead I’ve turned that section into Accessibility.  Things like how easy is the show to follow?  Does it have audio description?  So basically visuals, but from a blind point of view.

 

Now for   real, let’s get into this!

 

STORY

 

The story of Hi Score Girl is pretty simple at it’s base.  Haruo is a gamer, one of those crazily obsessed, kinda jerky gamers and Ono is the rich girl in school that is aloof, but surprise surprise also into gaming!  She escapes her daily struggles by venturing into the arcades, and is like, top tier amazing and Haruo can have none of that so is a jerk to her until they slowly grow a bond throughout the series, that of course leads to love.

 

The story is basic, but the plot beats are not.  This story takes place over a series of years, from their elementary days to high school and seeing the slow burn of their romance is just really sweet and charming.  The pacing never feels out of place, and seeing the story be related through the lens of the gaming boom in the 90s and early 2000s is really relatable if you grew up in that era.  It’s super nostalgic  hearing the characters talking about Final Fantasy IV, VI, and Chrono Trigger being released, being so happy that amazing voice acting is getting into games, and the running joke of the oh-so-many Streetfighter 2 ports.  That basically is the backdrop for the love story, and it works really well because both blend together perfectly, simply because both characters are into gaming, and the writing for both the accurate gamer depiction and the characters themselves just give the show and it’s characters really good chemistry.

 

CHARACTERS

 

The characters are really well written.  As much as I think Haruo at times lends a little too much to the jerky gamer guy trope, it doesn’t detract from his character because we see throughout the story what lies underneath.  Ono is silent the entire show, but she is so expressive with her actions that it really doesn’t feel like it.  Koharu, although I was a tad annoyed a love triangle got into this show, is also a really well realized character and you feel for her also, and the way they do the love triangle trope subverts the trope quite nicely I think.

 

The supporting characters are really great as well.  Haruo’s Mom is the best, we need more single Mom’s in shows!  She’s just so much fun, and anytime she was on screen I enjoyed her being there.  There’s a really fun aspect of the show I don’t want to spoil if you haven’t watched it, that I’d count as supporting characters and adds a lot to the gaming aspect of the show that makes it feel like this is someone’s life we’re looking at, and it isn’t just a show.  Haruo’s school friends, Ono’s supporting cast…all just great additions to the show, and if I talked about them all individually we’d be here all day.  Characters are great, long story short lol.

 

ACCESSIBILITY

 

 

Netflix usually doesn’t have audio description for anime.  It’s one of those mysteries I’ll always wonder, “WHY?”.  But for Hi Score Girl, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had audio description for the episodes, maybe because they’re counting it as a Netflix Original?  Anyway, it helps the show so much.  Like I said earlier, Ono is silent the entire way through other than grunts and expressions, so having the audio description say what she was doing just added so much to the smaller moments in the series.  Having the narrator say what she was doing at any given point in time made her my favorite character, and I don’t think that would have happened if audio description wasn’t there.  I really hope Netflix continues to do this for anime, I think there’s a stigma on it where it would detract from the show but it definitely doesn’t and I mean…you can turn it off if you don’t like it XD


The rest of the show it was nice to have for sure.  It wasn’t intrusive on any of the scenes like it sometimes can be when there’s major action or something, they didn’t duck the audio for the show too much when they had to.  It really just added to the experience and I don’t think the show would have been as fun to watch without it.

 

CONCLUSION

 

If you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed watching this show.  It’s full of sweet moments, humor, and gaming, and all of it meshes together to make a very fun slice of life anime.  I can’t wait to see what happens in season 2!

 

Have you watched Hi Score Girl?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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

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!