Fated For Grander Things – ‘Fate/Stay Night’ 20 Question Anime Review

Fated For Grander Things – A 20 Question Anime Review for Fate/Stay Night (2006)

This review contains mild spoilers for Fate/Stay Night (2006).

What’s the show? Fate/Stay Night (2006).

Oh~ an older show, huh? Yes, I know it’s rare for me to dabble in series’ that aren’t either from a current—or close to it—anime season or of a ‘certain genre’ but here we are!

Fair enough. So what’s it about? It’s about the Holy Grail War, a grand battle that takes place every 10 years in Fuyuki City, Japan. Every time this happens people with magic bloodlines called ‘Magus’ are chosen to be ‘Masters’ while historical figures from throughout all of history (both real and fictional) are summoned to be their ‘Servants’. They fight each other until only one Servant and one Master remains at which point the titular ‘Holy Grail’ appears—a powerful magical item that grants the champion any wish they desire!

Saber and her invisible sword. Not sure if way to cut down on animation costs or if it was present in the Visual Novel…

Wow, okay, so that’s pretty interesting! What got you interested in this series then? Well it’s only one of the biggest multimedia franchises in Japan, spanning multiple visual novels, anime adaptions of all the games’ main story routes as well as a plethora of spin-offs, prequels which run the gamut of genres—and surprisingly which are of all (apparently) very high quality.

So it’s the hype of the series that got you interested? What? No, not at all. I don’t care about what’s popular, I care about what has lots of merchandise and as you can imagine with a series this long-running and pervasive throughout Otaku culture in Japan it has a lot of merch! And I loves me some merch!

That’s… kind of an odd reason to watch an anime isn’t it? You must really love capitalism if that’s the case… Truth be told, I just really wanted to watch one of the more visually interesting spin-off’s called ‘Fate/kaledid liner Prisma Illya’ but wanted to get the full experience of the series and figured I’d watch everything else first before getting to that series.

Illya knows what she wants, like all the best loli’s.

Again—kind of a weird reason to commit yourself to watching a series, but whatever you’re a weird guy so I don’t know why I’m even questioning it… I take that as a compliment!

Of course you do. So tell me a little about the characters, these “servants” and “masters”? Right, so our protagonist is Shiro Emiya and he’s kind of unique as far as anime protagonists go, in that he starts off the series almost like the ultimate push-over, willing to do anything for anyone just so he can feel useful to other people—even if it means people use him. In some respects his utter selflessness is hard to relate to—I mean everyone has hopes and dreams and desires and everyone is at least a ~little~ selfish, but not Shiro! The only thing he wants is to be able to save at least one person before he dies, because when he was a child his life was saved by a man who came to be his adoptive father.

He’s pretty useless tbh.

Well that’s certainly noble of him… Yeah… maybe…

What? Isn’t it? Let me introduce some of the other characters and I’ll get to my ‘problems’ with Shiro.

Okay, sure, so I take it he becomes a ‘Master’, whose his ‘Servant’? Indeed he does, despite being ill equipped for the task (he has no real latent magical abilities, all he’s learned has come from his Magus father Kiritsugu who was kind of a purposefully bad teacher). Anyone, despite his lack of real magical abilities he summons Saber—the most powerful swordswoman of all the ‘Servants’ and the personification of King Arthur from history.

Saber needs more rice, give Saber more rice pls.

Wait, King Arthur’s a “she”? How does that work? What?! Are you saying King Arthur, can’t be a woman?! That’s so sexist, I can’t believe you sometimes!

This is just one of those anime things I have to go along with and not question, right? Damn straight. So Saber is a no-nonsense sort of gal, she thinks of herself as a King first and a woman second, she’s loyal, she’s powerful and she know what needs to be done and won’t rest until her goal is achieved—even if it costs her her life. You’d think that’d make her the perfect match for Shiro, except Shiro’s kind of a dick to Saber—unintentionally of course. He thinks that protecting her from combat and putting himself in harms way to ‘defend’ her is the right way to go about things. Except he’s completely negating her worth as a powerful fighter just because she’s a ~woman~ and he’s so committed to his self-destructive desire to “fight for what’s right” even if he’s grossly outmatched—as evidenced by the many times he dies.

Ying and Yang.

Excuse me? “Dies”? Well he doesn’t really die, not fully anyway, because of reasons I won’t go into because they’re complicated and are kind of fun to uncover on your own Shiro has powerful healing abilities. So even if he does suffer life-threatening damage he manages to shake it off with a bit of sleep. I’d say it’s a bit of a cop-out but it’s absolutely a necessary plot element considering how much Shiro throws himself into the face of danger to protect ‘innocent’ people without any regard for his own well-being.

So is Shiro a good protagonist? His journey is something that anchors the series, yes he starts off as unrelatable and even condescending, but the series never fully sides with him—Saber puts him in his place regarding his reckless actions and selfish words on more than a dozen occasions and the series is all the better for it. It allows a sort of gradual and organic development into a more rounded character—one that sees the strength in others, one that is willing to admit his inadequacies and recognise his place and one who is worthy of Saber’s eventual respect, friendship and dare I say, love.

She’s a lion. Rawr!

Love? Is this a love story? Well, yeah. The series is based on an erotic visual novel after all.

Excuse me?! Umm… I think you forgot to mention that! Did I? Oh well, it’s not really relevant to the anime adaptation—this series, despite having some romantic elements (and a wiff of harem) is pretty chaste especially given its apparently sexual source material. And while personally I would have liked it to have been a bit sexier (because, you know, pervert and all that) I think it would have been a bit awkward to see Shiro like that.

Right… Well we’re quickly running out of questions and we’ve spent most the time talking about the protagonist’s character flaws, what about the other characters? There’s a bunch, like seriously enough for a whole additional 20 Question review, but let’s face it, know one’s going to read that. The most important characters are Rin Tosaka a bit of a tsun, and powerful Magus who also happens to attend Shiro’s school. She serves as almost an endless font of exposition for all the information Shiro needs to know about the Holy Grail War, his burgeoning powers and the Master/Servant relationship. She’s also a part of the War with a ‘Servant’ of her own called Archer. There’s also his childhood friend, the timid and obliging Sakura whose importance in the story ebs and flows, but obviously will have a lot more to do in the various spin-offs. There’s also a bunch of antagonists, most interesting of all (at least in this reviewers opinion) is Illya—a sadistic little loli who is the star of the spin-off series I mentioned earlier in this review.

Rin is ~probably~ best girl, if only because she’s the most approachable, which is certainly saying something…

Ah… a ‘loli’ say no more… So first of all, I haven’t really gotten the sense of what you think of this show—like a concrete opinion on it overall. It’s really good—but and this is a big but… this series feels like it’s constantly battling a lot of constraints; run-time, budgetary, focus. Perhaps my opinion is a bit clouded by the constant bashings this series got online from ~hardcore~ Fate-series fans who seem to regard this as something of a ‘lesser’ product. And as someone who hasn’t read the Visual Novel it’s sourced from (and never will, so don’t even ask) I can only defer to their judgment that this is a truncated and perhaps even rushed effort from Studio Deen. But despite the issues, both apparent to the uninitiated and expounded by those ‘in the know’ this series still is very much worth watching as a starting point. It’s a bit clumsy and ugly at times but the overall story shines through and the characters are dynamic and compelling!

Final score and recommendation? Go to nearly every site out there and they’ll tell you “don’t bother with the original Fate/Stay Night anime series, play the visual novel instead!” Well you know what? Some of us don’t have 30+ hours to spend sitting in front of a computer screen clicking through text boxes. I say, if you’re interested in the premise of this series and want to start somewhere relatively easy seek out this series, just temper your expectations. The Fate-series (apparently) only gets better after this so treat this like an amuse-bouche and take what you can from the series, only to be spoiled rotten later on by better adaptations of other VN routes. Simply put, this show is occasionally compelling and contains some great characters that understandably have stood the test of the time in the Otaku zeitgeist. I’ll Stay another Night—80 out of 100.

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6 Shades of Gay – ‘Tachibanakan To Lie Angle’ 20 Question Review

6 Shades of Gay – A 20 Question Anime QandA Review of Tachibanakan To Lie Angle.

This review contains some NSFW images and mild spoilers.

What’s the show? Tachibanakan To Lie Angle (2018).

And wh— Or Tachibanakan Triangle… or maybe Love to Lie Angle. It’s kind of got a few different names depending on who you ask, or where you’re watching it.

Right… and what’s it about? Before we get into the review proper, a little backstory, if you don’t mind?

Whatever man, it’s your site. So way back in the lead-up to the Spring 2018 anime series I was looking through all the show’s that’d be airing in the upcoming Spring season and one series in particular piqued my interest! It was a yuri (girls love) and an ecchi (for perverts) and a harem (more or less) and it had an aesthetic that’s very much one of my favourites! So naturally it became one of my most anticipated titles—that was until I found out it was to be a 3 minute long anime…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So I guess that’s why you didn’t bother with week-to-week reviews. Watching a 3-minute anime isn’t the end of the world, but watching it one episode at a time with a week’s gap in between? No way I was going to do that, so I bided my time and now here we are!

Quite the journey… so uh, did it live up to your expectations? Well~ yes and no. It’s hard to be truly disappointed by something that amounts to 36 minutes in total over the 12 episodes (minus the 30 second end credits for each one). And yet at the same time, there’s actually a lot of potential in this series that feels squandered by the limited run-time and rushed pace.

Glad to be here!

What kind of potential are we talking? Well other than the fact that I wanted to spend a lot more time in this setting and some of the characters are genuinely interesting—the most wasted potential comes in the form of the unexpectedly warm romance that forms between our protagonist Hanabi, her childhood friend Konomi and the low-key pervert new girl Iori. I was actually invested in each character’s happiness, a rare feat especially given the brief time we’re given to get to know them and I just wish this was a full length anime, I really do!

Well wishing about it isn’t going to get you anywhere… That’s true…

Exactly, half the cast are high school students, doesn’t matter if they look like middle-schoolers…

So I’m not really getting a sense what this show is about, the setting, etcetera. Care to elaborate? With pleasure! So Hanabi moves back to her hometown to study for high school and moves into a dorm—except everyone in the dorm is various shades of gay. From the combative and blushing Konomi, too the totally aloof and just loving for the sake of love Iori. Then there’s the side characters who are—by the way—not high schoolers like the main three but actually drinking age adults which makes for an interesting change! There’s the dorm matron Yoriko who is the least developed character in terms of narrative but most developed in chest size. Then there’s Sonoa, a late addition to the dorm who is pretty much bisexual without it being explicitly said so. And last but not least is Yuu and she’s pretty special if I do say so myself.

And the consenting adults do get up to some ‘adult’ activities behind closed doors.

What makes her so special? Well Yuu, in addition to being the most outspoken and high-spirited of the residents is also sexually active with multiple sexual partners (Sonoa is the only one that’s confirmed, others are implied) she also frequently uses sex toys and kudos to this show for not shying away from female sexuality and lesbian sexuality at that!

So sweet.

Allow me to play devil’s advocate as seems to be among my many functions here, but is such a short form, comedic anime series really deserving of congratulation in this area when what you see as representation could just as easily be seen as fetishisation and comedic effect? I mean every instance of a sex-toy being show on screen is censored with ‘pixilation’ is it not? Way to be a buzz kill (pun intended), yes in the TV-version they were censored but that’s more to do with Japanese regulations than this show’s stance on the matter—in the blu-ray version they’re fully uncensored (among other things). And as for the comedy, well… sex-toys are inherently funny things to wave around, and she’s a funny character of course they’re going to be used as an occasional comedic punch line, doesn’t change the fact that Yuu uses them off-screen to pleasure herself and her lovers. Boom! Representation!


Hmm, well I guess I’ll take your word for it— Still don’t believe me? What if I told you the mangaka (manga author) is a woman! Aha! Can’t dispute that now can you!

…Well I probably could, but I think we’ve discussed this enough, we should probably move on. Pfft, you just can’t admit you were wrong and I was right!

Sure, whatever. So what can you recommend about this show, why should other people watch it? What kind of question is that?!

Childhood friends grow up too.

This is a review isn’t it? That’s what reviews usually do, they inform the reader on the qualities of a product to allow them to make the judgment if said product is right for them? Uh~ I guess, if you like cute anime girls fooling around in a safe environment then this is the show for you! Just be prepared for a lot of fan-service—a lot of ecchi/harem genre tropes too like breast groping and wind blowing up skirts and bath shenanigans and tripping over and landing on someone’s breasts.

Standard all-womens dorm welcome.

But it’s more than just that? Absolutely. The level of characterisation in proportion to the limited run-time is astoundingly high and while it could have easily been one of my favourite ever-series’ if it had been a full 22-minute per episode production—the truncated run-time does have its benefits.

Such as? In a comparable (albeit more chaste) show like Comic Girls the comedy is sporadic but impactful and the pacing is almost glacial but deliberate. Here the comedy is direct and almost belligerent and the pace is like watching a show on fast-forward, you get the gist of the scenario without the nuance. But there’s a pleasure in being able to watch a show that’d ordinarily take it’s time in such a hastened pace, it gets you to the climax a lot quicker than expected and here the climax is very much a part of the appeal.

G–glad to be–h–here…

Eww… Oh grow up!

Whatever. So what score do you give Tachibana—whatever this show is called? Ordinarily I’d say there’s a specific audience for this kind of show and that much is still true but I did watch this series through (and uncensored) with the @irlwaifu and she seemed to enjoy it. Especially the several jokes/references to self-pleasure and sex-toys. Indeed what we have here is seemingly two different shows co-existing harmoniously alongside one-another, a fan-service laden ecchi romance about three high-school girls competing for each-other’s affections as they discover more about their own sexuality. And a show about three 20-something girls in various stages of their lives, eating, drinking, having fun and making the most out of the promiscuity their gender and sexual orientation affords them. It’s a nostalgic reflection on the past (a past perhaps imagined and exaggerated) and a comfortable look at the present (assumedly, I can only presume one or more of these characters are facets of the mangaka’s real life personality. Tachibanakan To Lie Angle, is a show that means more the more you infer and as a reviewer inferring is practically all I do. Nothing obtuse about this (a)cute angle; 83 out of 100.

Triangle puns? Really? Shuddup!

So close. 2nd season please!

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Forbidden Fruit Is Always The Sweetest – ‘The Fruit of Grisaia’ & ‘The Eden of Grisaia’ 20 Question Anime Review

Forbidden Fruit Is Always The Sweetest – ‘The Fruit of Grisaia’ & ‘The Eden of Grisaia’ 20 Question Anime Review

~Contains mild spoilers for The Fruit of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia series~

What’s the show? The Fruit Of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia.

And what’s it about? What’s it about… what’s it about… man, never before has that question really stumped me like it has with this show.

And why is that exactly? Because the Grisaia series on the whole is more or less the distillation of everything I love about anime! The 13 episode Fruit of Grisaia series and its 10-episode sequel season The Eden of Grisaia are among the pinnacle of anime experiences—at least in this reviewer’s humble opinion!

That’s certainly a bold claim! Is it though? I’m not saying this is the best anime ever made (though if you pushed me hard enough I would make a case for it) I’m simply saying that the disparate parts of this show culminate in an overall experience both alike and unlike anything and everything I’ve ever experienced in anime—thus making this a rich and singular treat!

Geez, popping out with the thesaurus early I see, just how much of an erection did these anime girls give you? I, uh… err! Well, I never, ah… how dare you speak to me with such crude impunity!

Listen… I know you pretty damn well by now and the only thing that gets you so worked up as to be pulling out the pretentious review style is that this show got you all hot and bothered—and I mean that in the most respectful way possible of course… Tch! Listen here; I’m not going to take that kind of slander from the likes of you! Bakemonogatari is one of my favourite anime series and that show is a deep, complex masterpiece and the same goes for The Fruit of Grisaia and I won’t hear another dissenting words said against it!

Says here in my research notes that this is based on an Erotic Visual Novel… that’s interesting, wouldn’t you say?! Don’t source material shame!

Pardon? You heard me, don’t presume something is somehow lesser a property just because it’s original source material is erotica—truly and I say this expecting a thousand eye-rolls in my direction but the male protagonist—Kazami Yuji is perhaps the sole time I’ve found myself not just actively rooting for a harem protagonist but wholly invested in his journey. Not only is his journey from child soldier of a terrorist agency to top hit-man of the Japanese government a compelling tale but his seemingly effortless ability to charm every woman around him with nary a look and a word is akin to James Bond levels of womanising. The difference being is that not only is Kazumi willing to burden and even break himself for a deserving woman (and there’s more than a handful that cross his path) but he does so in such an effortless fashion that you wonder at times if he’s even human!

So an ‘overpowered protagonist’ whose super power is that women can’t resist him? Pretty much, and while for some that might strain credulity or even grow tiresome the fact that he can not only adjust to the individual personalities of his many female pursuers but also retain the same sense of cool and composure throughout means he is a narrative force to be reckoned with!

Sounds, eh, sounds like you got a bit of a ‘man crush’ on ol’ Kazumi? What’s that James Bond tagline again? “Women want him and men want to be him”? I think that about sums it up…

Well not really I don’t even have the slightest idea what this series is about and we’re already half way through the damn review! My bad! So, Kazami Yuji—despite being you know a super government assassin with an absurd intellect wants to experience a ‘typical high school life’—having lived his childhood and early teenage years in violent service of others. So he’s enrolled in Mihama Academy, a prison like school that has only five other students, five gorgeous girls each with a story of their own for having ended up at this most private of academies…

And therein lies the twist! I know you’re trying to poke fun, but these girls… my god, their individual backstories are among the most brutal and traumatic I’ve seen in anime… you know without going overboard (I haven’t watched that many super-serious anime so feel free to disagree with this point). And you know what’s even more impressive? That we’re not only privy to the darkest thoughts of these girls but it somehow makes them more alluring—at least for me…

Why do I have a feeling this ties into that ‘monster girl’ fetish of yours… you’re going to explain that me in depth one day… Anyway where were we? It’s hard to know which girl is my favourite because each of them embodies something emblematic and truly noteworthy. The easy pick is Suou—I mean she’s practically inserting herself into Yuji’s life from the first day they meet. If we’re going broadly and outside of the established ‘harem’ it’s absolutely Asako, Yuji’s sexually promiscuous master who takes his virginity at age 13—yeah yeah I know I know, but you really have to see the scene for itself it’s honestly kind of touching as much as it is eye-opening.

Anyone else? Well… it wouldn’t be a ‘forbidden fruit’ without bringing up the I-word. Kazuki Kazumi is Yuji’s older sister and well… let’s just say she has a thing for little boys, actually that’s not fair, she’s got a thing for one little boy, her younger brother Yuji. She’s given something of a 4 episode long ‘eulogy’ at the end of Season 1 when we get a flashback to her and Suou’s intense ‘survival story’ when their middle school basketball trip was cut-short by their bus plunging off a cliff’s edge—the ensuing story involves death, disease, insanity, murder and cannibalism and while occasionally overwrought is nonetheless packed with the kind of gritty realism I never expected from a show/series like this! Seriously, whoever wrote this is a madman and a genius!

I, err, well I can’t say I expected that. Oh I’m not even scratching the surface of this series. Season 2, ‘The Eden of Grisaia’ somehow ups the ante in all the right ways. Dealing with such lofty subject matter as domestic and international terrorism, cloning, human integrated AI systems and nuclear weaponry while still maintaining an enviable amount of levity, character development and charm to all those involved. How it managed this deft juggling act is anyone’s guess but it’s all on display for everyone to see!

But this is a harem anime—at its core, right? What about ~those~ elements of the show, do they negatively affect the what sounds like ‘dense’ plotting? Somehow it just works here, it’s entirely complimentary. Admittedly the first season suffers from a bit of tonal whiplash as things go from wildly light-hearted comedic fare to such dark subject matter such as the death of a pet and suicide attempts within the same episode. But it’s never so over-bearing in one way or another as if to feel cheap or exploitative.

So anything else you wanted to add about the series? If it’s not abundantly obvious by now I love this series—I love everything about this show, every single character feels like a well-rounded person with depth and hopes and dreams and fears. The show, while adhering to a lot of anime stereotypes not only subverts them occasionally to feel fresh and interesting but contains so many disparate ones from different genres that the series revels in unpredictability from a place of familiarity. However it does take a while to get there—the three episode rule isn’t going to give you a true snapshot of this show and requires a commitment of 5 episodes at least and even then it’s not even close to a complete picture as the second season changes gears from a harem genre/school setting to a action and espionage heavy/globe trotting adventure series. But even with that seemingly drastic shift in narrative focus it never feels like the show is floundering or overextending itself, it’s a series that’s always firmly in control of its own direction and what it wants to be and that’s something to be in awe of.

Final score and recommendation for The Fruit of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia? If you have an open mind and want a unique anime experience than I whole-heartedly recommend this series, it’s subversive and borderline insane—but that’s just how I like it! The Fruit of Grisaia scores: 93 out of 100, while The Eden of Grisaia scores: 96 out of 100.

Wait! What’s this I see about a movie too? ‘The Labyrinth of Grisaia’? It’s not really a movie, more like a double-length episode that aired between the first and second season—it concerns Kazami and Kazuki’s childhood and I don’t have time to talk about it! This review is already long as it is and I’ll need more than two, now one question to talk about it in any meaningful way!

Right. Sorry, kind of ruined the flow of your review with that question after the score… That’s fine, I was two questions short of 20 anyway. Also gives me the chance to ask the readers (those who’ve stuck it through to the end) if they haven any recommendations for other anime based on Eroge Visual Novels, I kinda wanna watch them all! Leave a comment below with your suggestions!

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Men Love Their Cockpits – A 20 Question Review of Space Battleship Tiramisu

Men Love Their Cockpits – A 20 Question Review of Space Battleship Tiramisu

What’s the show? Space Battleship Tiramisu (2018).

And what’s it about? I don’t know if you know this about me but I’m a bit of a clean freak. But only about some things, and only once I’ve noticed that they’re untidy… but once I do notice you bet I’m going to obsess about it until I’m able to clean it or put it back the way it’s supposed to be!

Uh… okay, what’s that got to do with this show? Everything! Space Battleship Tiramisu is about one man’s unending efforts to keep his cockpit clean—it’s his sanctuary, his home—and if anything gets in the way of his ~ideal~ he loses his damn mind!

Right. And who is this obsessive man? Subaru Ichinose, a top mech pilot who on more than one occasion strips down to his birthday suit in pursuit of zen in his cockpit.

Don’t piss him off!

Wait, why is he naked?! I think the more important question is, why aren’t we all naked…

No but seriously. Well in the first episode it’s because his shirt was on inside out and back-to-front and it was causing him such distress that he ripped the clothes from his body so as not to feel like he was suffocating!

Okay then… sounds like Subaru has some issues…I wouldn’t go that far, I find his unique brand of obsessiveness and reactionary behaviour kind of relatable. Like in the final episode of the first season where he’s applying a clear protective cover to his brand new helmet and is trying his hardest to get it on the curved surface perfectly only to lose his shit when he gets distracted and ends up with three air bubbles under the protective coating! I feel his pain!

Wait, isn’t this a series about mech’s in space? It’s a series with mech’s set in space but no this show’s just about Subaru dealing with everyday struggles—some relatable, some completely and utterly ludicrous like when he starts having a conversation with a rogue pubic-hair that’s floating ‘round his cockpit.

And what language did you expect it to speak? Pubeish?

That sounds… kinda stupid. Some of it is, yeah. And some of it’s pretty clever, it’s pretty much a lucky dip of what kind of comedy you’re going to get on any given episode—but since the episodes are only ten minutes each it never feels like you’re wasting your time by watching a ‘lesser’ episode.

And are there many “lesser” episodes? I’d say it’s about 70/30 in favour of ‘good and funny’ episodes, though even the least of the lesser ones still manage a chuckle or two.

Is there any plot to speak of? Not so much as plot as there is character development, either to do with his estranged brother who shows up round the midway point—and who turns out is just as ‘obsessive’ about things as Subaru. Also I know this’ll be controversial because a few fellow reviewers were annoyed by this but I loved the fact that the show ~almost~ had a semblance of a serious plot going on in the middle episodes only for it to be thrown away for the sake of a bunch of silly jokes. I wouldn’t expect anything less from this show!

The eyepatch is just for looks.

And what about the other characters? There’s the other inhabitants of the Tiramisu like the brash and appropriately named ‘Vulgar’, the buxom beauty ‘Ligier’, matronly and interfering ‘Shigeruko’ and of course the evil robot who tries to frame Subaru for stealing it’s wallet only for Subaru to switch the robot’s settings from ‘evil’ to ‘motorbike’ and then mount its head in his cockpit to act as a sort of GPS navigation system.

…What? You heard me…

Not to disparage this clearly perfectly sane anime, but it does kind of seem like its approach to comedy is a bit “throw everything at it and see what sticks.”Absolutely—and while that’s invariably going to turn off a lot of people I was fine with it. Though I’m not going to pretend like it’s some sort of comedic masterpiece, there’s a few key things they could have tweaked to make it better.

Oh yeah, mister smarty writer guy? Like what? In my opinion the best episodes were the first episode and the thirteenth episode (season finale). They were much more focused on the minutiae of everyday life and the stress that can be caused by seemingly insignificant things going wrong—and the comedy that results for the viewer. If they’d focused solely on that style of comedy we could have had the anime equivalent of Seinfeld in space!

There’s always a line when you’re busting for the toilet!

‘A show about nothing—in space’? Pretty much!

But now? Nada. (editors note: that’s a deep cut Seinfeld reference right there!)

Wait a minute… you don’t have an editor! Shhh~

So is there anything else you wanted to talk about regarding this show? For a short anime it sure does have a great OP and ED song! Both were under a minute so they were ineligible for my Top 10 list’s for the season but they both were worthy of a sport, very catchy songs and both of them sung by the voice actor for Subaru! “BREAK THROUGH!”

Surprisingly not a scene from a yaoi anime.

Right, so final score and recommendation for Space Battleship Tiramisu? The best thing to do when approaching this show is don’t expect anything because week-to-week the comedy can be so varied both in quality and quantity—that aside the short run-time at least makes it so that even the weakest episode passes before you have the time to dwell on it too much. Subaru makes for an endearing, charismatic and appropriately bonkers lead character and not only does the season end on a interesting cliff-hanger, a second season is scheduled for Fall 2018 so the wait won’t even be that long! By no means perfect, but still perfectly good fun; 75 out of 100.

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Bad Romance Does Not Equal Bad Anime – A 20 Question Review of Citrus

Bad Romance Does Not Equal Bad Anime – A 20 Question Review of Citrus

What’s the show? Citrus (2018).

And I take it from that combative, clickbait-y title that you’ve got a score to settle too? I’ve got things I need to say is all, nothing wrong with putting the slant of this review right up in the title, is there?

Mm-hmm, so for those who are unaware; what is Citrus about? It’s about Yuzu, a flashy girl who after her mother remarries has to move to a new city and attend a prestigious all girl’s school. With this remarriage comes a new step-sister, Mei—a cold, no-nonsense kind of girl who also happens to be student council president and granddaughter to the school’s chairman. For Yuzu it’s love or maybe lust… it’s certainly something… at first sight, which is only compounded when Mei plants a kiss on Yuzu seemingly out of nowhere!


So it’s a lesbian relationship between two step-sisters? Alright, let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat, them being step-sister’s is precisely ~zero~ percent of the reason anyone should condemn this show—they’re step-sisters for literally only hours at the time they first kiss—it’s not like they’ve been living together and growing up together!

So then what’s the point of them even being step-sister’s in the context of the narrative? Isn’t that just to make the manga/anime seem more salacious to the reader perusing it on a bookshelf/streaming service? Maybe that’s what a shrewd publisher thought, maybe the mangaka savvily thought it’d earn him some extra sales by being “controversial” at a glance, but it does serve a huge narrative purpose. In Japan, same-sex relationships are still unfortunately deemed (by a lot of people) as “phases” and at worst “perversions”. Thankfully the country is getting slightly better at accepting it. So by writing Mei and Yuzu as step-sisters it works to further complicate their already messy feelings by throwing any kind of future (i.e. living together, being a couple, getting married) they have together as an almost insurmountable obstacle.


Fair enough, so what kind of relationship do they have? I take it it’s not a conventional one considering the differences in their personalities? That’s an understatement. After the first kiss, Mei acts even colder towards Yuzu, which really hurts her considering that was not only her first kiss with Mei but her first kiss with anyone. From the get-go Yuzu is pretty open and honest about her feelings—or at the very least her ~desires~ which understandably, for a girl going through puberty and a girl who’s just discovered she’s probably gay, is a big damn deal. But Mei only seems to be intimate with Yuzu when it suits her, or when she needs to take control of a situation she doesn’t understand.

So Mei ‘uses’ her sexuality as a weapon over Yuzu? Ehh~ I guess there’s some instances where it could be seen that way, Mei is a complete and utter control freak—she needs it in every facet of her life otherwise she falls apart. Yuzu is free-spirited and kind and on paper she’s completely wrong for Mei—or she would be if she was weak-willed or undetermined. But Yuzu has such conviction and strength of character that not only can she see past Mei’s many many walls she’s built around her heart, but she wants to enter them and set free the broken little girl who’s been left at the centre.


So you’re defending this toxic relationship they have? No. Defending the anime’s existence and defending the representation of a toxic, same-sex relationship are not the same. Which brings me to the title of this review, just because the show represents a potentially toxic, unhealthy and abusive relationship between two girls doesn’t mean it’s a bad anime. Every “romance” anime doesn’t have to be the perfect template, or ‘how-to guide’ on how to conduct a relationship—applying that leap in logic is like saying video games cause real life violence—and we all know how bullshit that argument is.

I think the issue I see is that representations of same-sex relationships are out of the mainstream already which means when one does get the kind of zeitgeist impact that Citrus apparently had it means the scrutiny on how it presents same-sex relationships is a lot higher. If this is an ~average~ person’s first exposure to a story about a same-sex relationships they’re more likely to believe that this is representative of all same-sex relationships. Yeah, and those people are the kind of idiots who sue McDonalds for coffee being too hot!

Easy now. No, I’m sick of something’s popularity being used as an excuse to criticise it because it’s not “representative” of the reality of something. The author wanted to write a messy, potentially problematic story about two step-sisters falling in love and it have all the soap opera style dramatics that they foresaw in such a relationship developing. Citrus shouldn’t be held accountable for being problematic just because it got very popular in the West.


But people are free to commit to discourse about media, people are free to dislike and criticise and “be triggered”, you can’t tell people how to ‘think’ and ‘feel’ about things because you disagree with them. The thing that I have the most issue with is why is Citrus being scapegoated. There’s a bunch other gay manga and anime out there all with different representations of same-sex relationships, if you don’t like the way Citrus is telling it’s story move on and find something new, it existing isn’t harming anyone. Problematic media exists in every genre and what “triggers” someone may be perfectly fine for another. You can criticise Citrus ’til you’re blue in the face but it still has a right to exist as the author’s freedom of expression.

Careful now, you’re starting to sound like one of those people on the internet who use ‘freedom of expression’ as an excuse to be an asshole. Don’t you dare, I hate those people.


Then say what you’re trying to say without being a dick about it. People like Mei exist in real life, I’ve met them, I’ve been friends with them, heck I’ve probably even dated them! She is a deeply flawed individual—some may even say she’s a bit of a c-word, but erasing a person like her from a narrative because it makes it a more palatable experience is just plain dishonest and a bit problematic in it’s own way. I’m glad this show is so messy and confrontational and raw—it makes it more interesting. Yes, I realise there’s damaging stereotypes out there about how same-sex relationships are fetishistic and abusive and unnatural but you can’t put the blame all on one show for the perceptions of ignorant people. And besides, this show has actual positive representations of queer people in it, you just have to wait a while to actually see one.

Care to elaborate? Episode 10 let us get up close and personal with the ‘too pure for this world’ bisexual cutie Sara Tachibana who, despite her appearances is far too wise for her own good and schools Yuzu on what it means to like someone—regardless of their gender. I talked about this terrific episode in greater detail in the single episode review I did for it in Winter 2018. But what this shows, at least to my neanderthal brain, is that not only is the writer capable of a more nuanced and forward-thinking queer character representations but they knew the need for one in Yuzu and Mei’s lives to forge them into better people in general.


And how’s that work out for Sara in the long run? Well, uh… she kinda ends up getting jerked around because Mei and Yuzu are so wrapped up together in their own business… but she’s fine! I mean she seems fine… okay the more I think on it the more I worry about their relationship steamrolling everything good and pure in it’s way…

Wait, you’re not having a sudden change of heart, are you? No, no, no, not at all! I still stand behind this show (and manga’s) narrative decisions. Besides, I never got the sense that the show was ~actively~ condoning Mei’s behaviour, all you have to do is listen to the vaguely sinister music queue’s and dark lighting in these early season scenes to know that Mei’s predatory actions are seen just as that. Romance seldom comes into it—at least not on Mei’s end—Yuzu is another matter entirely.

But it’s different by the end of the season? I’m not going to pretend like this season is close to perfect, there’s the rushed almost conclusion the show pushes in its final minutes that’s both meant to offer a promise of a happy ending ‘one day’ while also functioning as a satisfying way to end an anime should it never get a sequel season. It’s not unearned it just feels a bit too tidy, but such is the way when adapting something that’s not close to finishing.


We’ve talked a lot about the external opinions on the show but not a lot on the show itself (some review this turned out to be) did you want to have a say on it since we’re nearly out of questions? I’ve defended this show fervently but here’s the thing, it’s not even among my favourite shows of the Winter 2018 anime season—it’s not even my favourite Yuri series! It was thoroughly entertaining throughout though, it was cheesy and funny and occasionally dramatic and aesthetically satisfying but I never got the sense it was pandering or fetishistic or fan-servicey or even the least bit arousing—and I’m usually all for girl-on-girl anime shenanigans! It told a sorta complicated relationship drama, sorta well but it did it with enough style and intrigue and personality that I can’t help but appreciate it.

So what’s your final score and recommendation for Citrus? Citrus is the kind of show I think of fondly now and again—the manga perhaps less so, but that’s a discussion for another day. It’s clear what it wants to be and despite commanding more attention than it probably ever intended to I think it succeeded in telling a story fraught with messy emotions and complicated people. It’s far from perfect, in fact it’s damn near silly at times—but the connection between Yuzu and Mei is something tangible and I can’t help but be drawn in by their story. It’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s Citrus; 84 out of 100.


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Consenting to Objectification – A 20 Question Review of Anime de Training! EX

Consenting to Objectification – A 20 Question Review of Anime de Training! EX

What’s the show? Anime de Training! EX (2015).

Okay… and what’s it about? It’s about cute girls exercising!

You do this a lot where you pretend a show is just about one facile thing for the sake of making a comedic point. This show’s about more than ~just~ that, yeah? Nope, it’s 12—four-minute episodes showing five different cute anime girls doing exercises in their respective bedrooms (and occasionally elsewhere) and the audience observes as they stretch and moan and sweat.

That…sounds…creepy… Here’s the thing about this show, it’s simultaneously the most and least creepy fan-service I’ve ever seen.

H-how can that be? That’s like saying something is the most funny and least funny—that’s impossible! You want to give me a minute to explain?

Right, sorry, go ahead. Well here’s the deal, 90% of this show is watching girls (between the age of 14 and 17) exercising and there’s no denying there’s something seedy about how the camera lingers on the girls as they count out their routine. The viewer always has the most sexualised angle on these girls and it makes no mistake that this is the content it’s choosing to focus on, fetishizing girls who are working out and getting sweaty.

Uh-huh that does sound quite creepy, so go on try and convince me how it’s simultaneously the “least creepy fan-service” as well… (This’ll be good). In my opinion the show finds a way around the creep factor—or at least rationalises it—because all of the fan-service is consensual. Which is to say as much as fictional character can consent to being objectified.

“Consensual” huh? Explain. Each of the girls directly address the audience frequently, not just breaking the fourth wall but talking to the camera as if it’s the viewing public watching from home. All of these girls have invited “the audience” into their homes to watch them train and to help the audience train too, and it’s kind of endearing and even—dare I say—cute.

Why do I have a feeling that your opinion is probably not going to be in line with the masses—especially your female readers? Your enjoyment of this kind of thing is probably dependent on a many number of factors. And you probably already know if you’ll enjoy this show from the synopsis alone…

And did you enjoy it? I enjoyed exercising along with the show more than I enjoyed the show itself.

E-excuse me? I’m almost afraid to ask what part of your body you were “exercising”…. Come on now, don’t be crude. I used the show’s short run-time to exercise on my stepper at home. Three episodes was just enough workout time to get a sweat up and feel the burn!—especially during the high energy theme song! It was a really fun experience!

Right, but we’re not reviewing this show based on how “fun” it is to “exercise” too, is the show worth watching? I don’t like those inverted commas around the word “exercise” it was innocent I swear!

Sure sure… The show is—minimalistic, that’s a polite way to put it. There’s the pretence of a story, the girls are training to become idols—that’s it, that’s the story. Like a lot of these shows (and I’m not even sure what I mean by “these shows” this is the first show like this I’ve ever watched) the focus is on characters. And there are some really good characters here—honestly!

And by “good characters” I hope you don’t just mean superficially. Well yes they are ~aesthetically pleasing~ I really enjoyed the wannabe goth Shion Tachibana who fancies herself as a “fallen angel from a dark fantasy world”—the way her ‘dark speak’ kept slipping whenever she got too focused on exercising was absolutely adorable. Yu Hiraoka is a shy cutie-pie with glasses, total ‘childhood friend’ trope in all the best ways. But my best girl is Shizuno Saotome…

What’s she got going for her? Well, uh—nice oppai?

Man… sometimes I swear you’re a lost cause… She’s really nice and has a good personality too! I swear I’m not that shallow…

So… this show (and I use the term lightly) would you recommend watching it. No not really… I mean I personally don’t regret the decision but there’s nothing to be gained from watching this show, nothing to be learned, nothing to ~feel~, it’s light junk food… no that’s not right, it’s like a glass of sparkling mineral water, it’s bubbly but insubstantial… Oh except…

Except for what? The last episode is so damn fun and silly it makes the whole thing worth watching, it’s kind of hard to explain but it definitely gave off a distinctive Tim and Eric vibe—if you’re familiar with that style of comedy. Definitely unexpected, but I’ve watched the last episode like 4 times it’s so good. I could even go as far as say just watch Episode 12 of Season 1 by itself and just enjoy 4 minutes of musical related nonsense, it’s very enjoyable!

Wait “season 1” as in there’s more of this nonsense?! Of course, it had a 2nd season a year later, I’ll probably watch it when I feel like exercising again…

Uh-huh… So final score and recommendation for Anime de Training! EX? Taken as something to motivate you while exercising it’s a great tool as it’s got both slow moments and high energy moments too, plus if you’re like me, being spurned on by moaning and sweating cute girls is great encouragement (did I just say that out loud?!) But, taken on its own merits, there’s not much to recommend, some of the characters are well-written and voice acted, the creepiness of the fan-service—while rationalised in-universe and ~technically~ consented to, could still be considered creepy to some. Ultimately there’s just no real reason to bother to watch this show other than the thoroughly amusing and off-kilter 12th episode. This series needs a work-out, 55 out of 100.

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Darling in the FranXX Episode 21 – Anime QandA Review

Darling in the FranXX Episode 21 Anime QandA Review

What’s the show? Darling in the FranXX, Episode 21.

Ah, doing episodic reviews of this show now are we? As much as it pains me to admit it, I just can’t stop thinking about this show! Specifically how I’ve seemingly 180’d on the whole damn series–like this never happens–I’m notoriously stubborn and for a show I initially disliked to be now among my most anticipated each week is nothing short of sorcery! Sorcery I tell you!

It’s something all right… so what happens this episode? Well as you may recall aliens exist–also they want to blow up the world, also this is still very much a love story above all else, come fight me if you disagree!

Settle down there big fella, let’s start with the ‘aliens wanting to blow up the world’-thing and go from there. The Klaxo-sapiens were an ancient but highly advanced civilization that lived some 60 million years ago (take that, creationists!) one day while minding their own business some alien jerks who’d evolved beyond physical bodies “invited” them to join their ascended order. The Klaxo’s declined and war broke out, it lasted a long time ’til what remained of the race either assimilated into magma energy or evolved into battle creatures.

Sure… and then? Present day–Last remaining Klaxo-sapien (the Princess) is dying, strangled by the bad aliens’ failsafe on the ancient mega weapon Star Entity. Meanwhile, Hiro and Zero Two still exist–don’t forget about them! This is a coming of age drama/romance after all… all this silly alien robot stuff is just the garnish.

Are you being sarcastic? Quite the contrary actually. With the help of the rest of Plantation 13’s rambunctious robots and their BFF pilots, Zero Two makes it to Hiro’s side amidst the corrupted interior of Strelitzia. But she’s too late! Hiro is dead! Or is he?

Is he?! Of course not, through the power of love (and the Klaxosaur princess giving up the rest of her life force) Hiro is awakened! The alien’s evil fail safe–and world ending capabilities–are neutralized! Strelitzia evolves into the uber powerful Strelitzia Apath which blows the alien fleet out of the sky and sends the remnants of Papa scurrying off like some Saturday morning cartoon villain–swearing vengeance upon their inevitable return!

This… this really doesn’t read like a positive review at all. It sounds like you’re making fun of the show. Listen, I’m not going to sit here and pretend this wasn’t an exceptionally goofy, over-the-top, melodramatic and conveniently concluded episode of an anime. But you know what it was? It was ~exactly~ the kind of wacky, gorgeous, emotion driven, character filled nonsense that I’ve come to expect from this series–except against the most ludicrous of backdrops thus far. And judging it by that criteria, I have nothing else to say.

Previous Darling in the FranXX Reviews:

Episode 1-15 Review
Episode 16-20 Review

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It’s All About Love… & Robots – A 20 Question Review of Darling in the FranXX (Episode 16-20)

It’s All About Love… & Robots: A 20 Question Anime Review of Darling in the FranXX Episodes 16-20

If you haven’t already please read my post: Puberty & Robots – A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX Episodes 1-15 for context to this post.

I can’t say I expected this review so soon after your other one, clearly you have a lot to say about this show, huh? I kind of hate that I was initially so combative towards this show because the more I think about this show (and I think about it a lot) the more I really respect its creative decisions!

I feel like you’re pretty alone with that opinion… at least in the ani-blogging community. ~Maybe~ but isn’t that the point of blogging to convince others to a different frame of thinking, shouting outside the echo chamber.

Yeah… good luck with that. Tch.

So what did you want to talk about now? Presumably this is about the subsequent lot of episodes after the self described “first part” of the anime? Yes, episodes 16 to 20. Or what I’m calling ‘It’s all about love’ arc.

That’s a terrible name… Shuddup!

It started with a kiss.

So what plot beats comprise this ark? (presume for a second that whoever is reading this at least passingly familiar with the events up to this episode.) It’s a big ol’ love fest up in Plantation 13. Zero Two loves Hiro, Ichigo loves Hiro, Goro loves Ichigo, Ikuno loves Ichigo, Kokoro loves Mitsuru, Futoshi loves Kokoro and Doctor Franks loves all of them! It’s just a big clustertruck of love and feelings and messiness and it’s like the best worst soap opera I’ve ever seen just put against the backdrop of a a generational spanning dystopian sci-fi extravaganza.

That’s a lot of love! Oh and did I mention that not only does Doctor Franks love his Plantation 13 labrats, he also loves the Princess of the Klaxosaurs, a.k.a the long running enemy of the entire series, but the Princess loves ‘Star Entity’ a weapon recently acquired by PAPA—the all-knowing, all seeing overseers in space!

Klaxosaur Princess is as terrifying as she is cute.

My head hurts… And so it should! Either Darling in the FranXX doubles down on the relationship drama or it doubles down on the sci-fi weirdness, these 5 episodes prove that it’s capable of both and neither simultaneously!

How do you mean? Well it all comes so hard and fast (no pun intended) that you just kind of have to let it wash over you, lest you drown in the madness of it all. With the exception of the partial flash-back episode that helps explain some of how the world ended up as a series of dome worlds in an apocalyptic wasteland, the new sci-fi beats such as klaxosaur princess and ‘star entity’ and secret space aliens who’ve been partially in control of the government this whole damn time!

She’s not piloting this thing bent over.

“Secret space aliens”? Huh?! Yeah, episode 20 closes out with probably one of the hastiest out-of-nowhere space battles in a show that’s up to that point never even mentioned aliens. And you know what? I’m a-okay with that!

You really seem to be bending over backwards to defend this show’s sloppy narrative decisions? You mean bending over backwards like the Pistil’s do in the FranXX cockpits?!


Sure, whatever, why not… So back to the ‘love’ aspect of this post as I’m sure that’s what you’re wanting to focus on. What’s the big deal about it anyway? Not in general obviously, just in the context of this show. Love, sex, procreation are all things that have been rendered obsolete by this ‘new world’. As the previously mentioned flash back episode explains, Dr Franks discovered a way to make humans immortal but at the cost of their reproductive capabilities. So not only are these concepts of “love” and “relationships” and “sex” and “procreation” completely unheard of ideas to the young cast of characters they’re also actively downtrodden by the powers at be—which serves as a central conflict for these episodes.

The overarching theme of love lost is foreboding.

How so? Well way back in Episode 7, in the infamous ‘beach episode’ while exploring the ruins of an ancient city Kokoro found a book about human reproduction, something that’s never taught to the Parasites (children) of any of the plantations. Ever since then Kokoro’s been slowly getting more and more enamoured with the idea of having children and so when she finally grows closer to Mitsuru they kiss, they have sex(!) and they decide they want to get married.

It was a very sweet wedding episode, of course to be completely ruined by meddlesome adults!

Well that escalated quickly! On paper, yes. But in the show it’s very organic and gradual I really appreciated what they did with this plot line—even the wedding episode—which are usually obnoxious affairs (if American sitcoms are anything to go by) is genuinely sweet and heart-warming. Until of course it’s broken up by PAPA’s armed forces and torn asunder by evil brain washing.

And what about the love between Ichigo and Ikuno, they’re both girls aren’t they? Doesn’t that clash with this show’s “heteronormative agenda”—your words, not mine! Ugh, I’m going to regret those words for a long time it seems. Yes, this show has been staggeringly heteronormative to this point, but they address it here too! Ikuno, who’s been not-so-secretly closeted gay since early on finally confesses her feelings to Ichigo and it’s equally sweet as it is heart-breaking! Here’s a girl, whose whole life is surrounded by ‘boy x girl’ partnerships and burgeoning relationships and feelings between hormonal boys and girls, but she feels nothing for the boys, she “only has eyes” for Ichigo.

She couldn’t be any more gay.

I’m guessing those feelings aren’t returned? Not as such. But Ichigo is at least sensitive enough to Ikuno’s feelings to not recoil or pull away or even say a negative word against her love confession instead is content to listen and sympathise with her “complicated” feelings.

Hmm, fair enough. So are you happy about that plot line? I’m happy Ikuno’s sexuality was addressed and not either swept under the rug or made to feel invalid, I just hope the shows gives her some decent closure by the end of it and not leave her as some smiling bystander as all the other happy couples get their chance to live their lives as they walk into the sunset…

Ikuno deserves love too.

Speaking of the “other happy couples”, what about our star duo? Hiro and Zero Two. It might be obnoxious to say because they are the ‘main attraction’ as it were, but I really do love watching these two… well be ‘in love’, more than anything Zero Two deserves love and the love Hiro gives her is just so tangible and connected and intimate and special I just can’t even.

“Can’t even” what? I can’t even!

Right, this is one of those ‘millennial’ memes, yeah? So, wrapping this review up what do you foresee going forward and what do you want to happen? There’s going to be sex and betrayal and drama and a SURPRISE PREGNANCY and ~feels~ and everything else you’d expect from a soap opera starring a bunch of horny teens! What I want to happen is for them all to go off and live ‘Happily Ever After’ on a cliffside town overlooking a nice beach somewhere… whether we’ll get that is another matter entirely.

♪ “Will your lips taste the kiss of death?” ♪

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Puberty & Robots – A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX (Episode 1-15)

Puberty & Robots: A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX (Episodes 1-15)

Well well well… I never thought I’d see the day you reviewed Darling in the FranXX again! What with all the bluster and hand-wringing and harsh words you threw at it in your previous two reviews? Yes it’s true, I had some ~negative~ comments about the show when I first watched it in the week-to-week format when it first came out.

Uh-huh, that’s the understatement of the century. You were frothing at the mouth you had so much vitriol toward the show. Why are we back reviewing it again? Well I took a two month break from the show after Episode 8, and I’ve been keeping tabs on it on social media and through various blogger’s reviews and I noticed the mood turning on the show, some of the people who were quick to sing its praises were growing cold on the show and I thought this was interesting.

How so? Well I observed a pattern, people were turning off the show because they felt it was focusing too much on the relationships between the characters and not enough on the world-building and sci-fi plot that was the hook for so many people—myself included.

So initially you watched the show because you thought it was going to be a compelling sci-fi/dystopian tale with mild teen-angst & robots. That’s correct.

But what is the show actually about? It’s a compelling coming-of-age story/romance/drama set against a back-drop of dystopian sci-fi & robots.

♪ “Tonight is the night… when two become one…” ♪

Sorry, did you just call this show “compelling”? What happened to the guy who ranted on for over 1000 words using buzz-words like “the patriarchy” and “heteronormative”? Oh I’m still here, I just realised something along the way while reading the messages of all those people who were getting disappointed about what the show was choosing to focus on.

And what’s that? That this show was never meant to be taken seriously, the show was never meant to be viewed as some sort of genre-spanning masterpiece or some sci-fi action extravaganza, it’s just a story about a bunch of kids who live an unusual life trying to navigate the perils of puberty and love and relationships without the help of external influences like parents or teachers or guardians or older siblings to guide them.

Why did you underline that part? What did you think you came up with something revolutionary there? I, uh… well no. I just thought I’d highlight what my mindset was when I decided to re-watch the first 8 episodes—and the subsequent 7 after—that make up for the “first part” of the story.

Okay, fair enough. So this isn’t a review is it, at least not in the traditional sense? No, this is, as the title suggests a ‘reassessment’ I don’t want to get bogged down in covering episode-by-episode plot points, this is purely addressing the criticism I had for this show in my previous reviews and explaining where my opinions are now.

Right… so it’s a retcon of those previous two reviews? If you want to put it like that, sure. But those reviews are still up there to see me in all my hyperbolic rage, I’m not deleting a word of those, just setting the record straight.

Fine. So the ‘rampant sexism’ that you claimed was among the worst you’d seen in an anime. Yup that’d be the hyperbole… you know how when you get worked up about something and you just kind of over-exaggerate your rage and your indignation to prove a point? Well, guilty of that here! When I re-watched the episodes, I felt a very minimal amount of ‘rage’, ‘distaste’ or ‘discomfort’, so minimal that I’d wonder if I’d suffered a brain injury of some kind that made me view the show so differently. In fact, after episode 8 (i.e. the one that made me rage-quit the show in the first-place) the “objectionable content” was almost completely gone.

Okay, sure. But what about the idea that by containing these “immature” and “harmful” elements—your words—that the show was undoing its very own reason for existing. That was when I thought the show was aiming to be high-art, like the first episode of the show is very pretentious in all the ways I like so as you can imagine I was expecting a lot of lofty things from the show and so when it didn’t deliver and instead seemed to regress into this adolescent, almost childish show you can perhaps understand why I was taken off guard.

So the fact the show is actually a coming-of-age romance/drama with emotionally ill-prepared teens excuses the shows short-comings? In a way yeah, it kind of does! Like let’s forget that this show is written by a bunch of 40+ year old men and is financed by a large company and all that ~external~ stuff and look at it as it’s being told. It’s told from the perspective of these kids, they have the majority if not entirety of the ‘voice over’, it’s their story—it just happens to be set against the high-concept back-drop of a dystopian future with moving dome cities and transforming monsters and giant mechs.

This is just window dressing…

I’m still not sure I get your point… Let me put it another way, your life, yes you the reader I’m talking to you directly right now—your life it may be school-based or work-based, it may be in a poor country or a city with a high-crime rate or street or a town with bad infrastructure but that’s not what your story is about, your story is about you and the feelings you feel and the relationships you build—that’s your story and that’s the story of Darling in the FranXX!

There he goes again, underlining his own text like he’s being all profound and shit. Hey! It’s my site, I can do what I want!

That’s true enough. So you’ve done a complete 180 on Darling in the FranXX then and all it took was changing your preconceived notions of the seriesSee I can underline you too, in those rare moments you say something concisely accurate. Feels good doesn’t it?

Feels good man.

Hmpf, it doesn’t feel bad, if that’s what you’re getting at… Geez, you’re such a tsun…

Don’t call me that! Ahem… so anything else you want to add before we end this reappraisal? Well if we’re going to go into specifics for a second I personally think Episodes 11-15 are of such a high-quality emotional story-telling that I could scarcely believe I was watching the same show. Before that point it was still a well-animated, deeply character driven but nonetheless entertaining show (post reassessment opinion) but those episodes were ~exactly~ the kind of thing I was expecting and wanting from this show!

The feels!

If you’ll allow me to interject for just a second. You did complain in your initial reviews that you wished the show would focus on story and world-building instead of character. Now I know since you decided to approach the show from a different perspective your ‘needs’ for the show have changed, but do you still want for the show to explore the deeper “secrets” and lore behind the dystopian world it’s built. I do, and I believe it will, it’s just all that stuff is taking a back-seat to the coming-of-age romance it’s wanting to tell instead. And while I understand how that can be frustrating for people who just want that aspect of the show, I’m perfectly content for it to be the garnish to this delicious character-driven buffet.

So uh… how do we wrap this up? Umm… okay, what would you say to the disillusioned people who have dropped the show, or are barely hanging on, or who find themselves frustrated with the various ‘decisions’ this show has made. By all means do as I did and drop the show, take a month or more even to distance yourself from it, but come back and watch it with all I’ve said in mind… I’m not saying that having this point-of-view when watching Darling in the FranXX fixes inherent problems in the show itself, however I absolutely think it helps in understanding what this show wants to be! And taking all that into account can help one truly appreciate this show for what it is; a show about Puberty & Robots.

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