BanG Dream Is Better Than Love Live! – A 20 Question BanG Dream Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for BanG Dream! And why it’s better than Love Live! School Idol Project

What’s the show? BanG Dream!

“BanG Dream!” huh? Is… is this a porn? I wish. It’s a music anime, as in cute high-school girls forming a band and writing music and trying to get successful, etcetera.

Okay, fair enough. I’m just so used to you reviewing perverted things, it’s a reflex so sue me. Tch.

So what got you watching a music anime, last time I checked you weren’t the biggest fan of Love Live! School Idol Project? Okay, first of all Love Live is fine, it’s good even, don’t pretend like I don’t like it. It’s just kind of forgettable and repetitive and predictable, but it’s still cute and fun and why are we talking about Love Live in a BanG Dream review?

Sorry, I was just trying to ascertain your state of mind when going into this show. Okay fine, so I already mentioned this in my Love Live season 1 review I was in Japan—specifically Akihabara—and Love Live merch was EVERYWHERE, like literally there were trucks blaring Love Live songs rolling through the streets it was so damn ubiquitous. And as I was perusing the shelves of various anime stores, wading through the plethora of Love Live merch there was by the side the ~occasional~ piece of merch for a show called BanG Dream, a show with much cuter girls who actually play instruments!

Oh no you didn’t! Yeah yeah I know it’s lame to like a musical act over another one (especially a fictional, animated band) because they actually play instruments but I’m an old man and I still inherently respect anyone that bothers to learn play music.

So wait, what does there being a lot of Love Live merch in Akihabara got to do with you starting to watch BanG Dream? I just wanted to see what this other show was like. It’s like going to a store and seeing a whole bunch of Coca Cola on the shelf with big displays and promotions. And then seeing a can of Tab Cola or RC Cola relegated to the side, sometimes you just want to see what the less popular alternative is like.

Right. So all that out of the way, all the external stuff, how is the show? Yeah it’s good.

Just… “good”? So here’s the thing, I really really like the characters here and I actually love that these characters spend this whole series going from mediocre amateurs to kind-of-okay amateurs, rather than going from the bottom to the top with little to no interference. I love that they have performance anxiety and self doubt and family troubles and history with other bands, it’s all a rich tapestry but…

But? But it’s still kinda boring, actually no that’s not fair… it’s kind of ~minimalistic~, if there’s generally a plot point that an episode wants to cover it does so and does little else. It’s very laid back with regard to narrative progression and not in a ‘Laid Back Camp’ way. But… it’s still better than Love Live…

You keep bringing it up. Why don’t you make this a comparison piece? Like ‘BanG Dream is better than Love Live’. Isn’t it a bit late for that we’re halfway through the review—though I guess I have spent a lot of it mentioning Love Live already so it’s not entirely out of the blue… okay, I’ll do it!

So what about BanG Dream is similar to Love Live that it deserves to be compared to it? They’re both about high-school girls who want to enter a super competitive musical field, both shows are about them training to be better and both shows centre around a school/hobby balance, also both shows put an emphasis on friendship.

Right and so it doesn’t seem like you’re just bashing the show what does Love Live do better than BanG Dream? It’s characterisation is more immediate and distinctive and it’s arguably more easy to binge-watch. I had trouble watching more than 2 episodes of BanG Dream on any one week.

And what does BanG Dream do better than Love Live? There’s more of a sense of how hard it is to become even semi-professional, these girls work so hard and by their final audition (after 2 failed ones) they still kind of sound pretty average and the show isn’t afraid to make them sound like this, their singing is raw and unpolished and their instrumentation is amateurish. And they get upset when they fail, they cry and get angry with themselves, there’s a real sense of passion in their craft. Plus I feel like this show is a lot more realistic, it could be argued of course that Love Live isn’t trying to be realistic but I appreciated the more low-key approach to this kind of story. It might be a small thing but the fact that their outfits for their first ‘big performance’ look hand-made and kind of cheap looking was very endearing, especially compared to the other bands.

Other bands? Mmhmm, the plot of the first season is the girls of Poppin’ Party (that’s the name of their band) want to perform at an all female music venue called ‘Space’, except they have to impress the Owner before that’s going to happen. But throughout the series we get to see a bunch of different girl bands and they’re all unique and interesting and it’s just another thing that helps set this show aside from Love Live, these other bands offer variety to the music and aesthetics.

But there’s obviously a pacing problem if you can’t watch more than 2 episodes in a row without getting restless. Undoubtedly, the whole ‘it’s hard work, there’s lots of training involved’ shtick isn’t relegated to brief montages, it’s whole episodes, it’s the whole damn series and so the fact that there is little improvement from where they start to where the season ends is a double edged sword—It’s realistic, it’s honest, it’s surprising but it’s not exactly the most riveting thing in the world.

Kind of like this review… kind of like this revi—hey!

If the point of these music anime is to sell singles and albums but they aren’t especially good. Isn’t that a bit of a problem? They are good though, the OP and ED song by the band is polished, professional and catchy as heck, but i think the way we’re supposed to look at that is that those songs are of the band when they make their professional debut some years from now. This first season is but a small part of a planned franchise. (Seasons 2 and 3) were recently announced for a 2019 air date.

Fair enough. Anything else you wanted to add before we wrap this review up? Rimi is best girl! Oh and I never want to hear “twinkle twinkle little star” ever again…

Right. So final score and recommendation for BanG Dream!? The aesthetic differences between this and Love Live are all a matter of opinion, whether you prefer one show’s characters or songs to the others is entirely down to the individual. Critically speaking however, I found myself more invested in the story and character development in BanG Dream as it wasn’t nearly as predictable as the aforementioned idol show. Both shows are far from perfect, but I found just the entire experience of watching BanG Dream more pleasant, fulfilling and rewarding—even if it suffers from serious pacing problems. This is one dream I look forward to having again, 79 out of 100.


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Re:Zero -Starting Life In Another World- 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Re:Zero -Starting Life In Another World-

What’s the show? Re:Zero -Starting Life In Another World- (2016).

And what’s the show about? It’s about the best girl in the whole damn (anime) world, her name is Rem, she’s a maid and also a twin and also a demon and Subaru is an idiot for picking Emilia instead of Rem and I’ve had it with this world. End of review!

Wh-what? No, you can’t end the review this suddenly! You’ve got a job to do! Let’s start again shall we? What’s the show about? Erm, right… it’s about Subaru, an ordinary high-schooler who gets sucked into a fantasy world for ~reasons~ and contrary to the manga and games he’s used to he doesn’t have any powers in this world… well except for the power to break poor Rem’s heart! Subaru you son of a bitch! End of review!—

Oh dear, not again. Let’s try this again… What’s the show about? Huh… huh! What’s going on, I swear you’ve already asked me that question twice before?!

Have I? I don’t recall… so the protagonist is powerless in a fantasy world, that’s somewhat interesting, care to elaborate? Uhh, yeah. So Subaru does have one advantage—his wits, he’s got a cunning intellect and a way at looking at scenarios that’s almost like he’s observing things as if playing a video-game, almost detached from reality. That is until he uncovers his true power, “return by death” which basically functions as a checkpoint system. If ever he dies he returns to a previous moment in time as if nothing happened, except with all the memories—and thus all the emotional pain and trauma that came with his previous death. I appreciate that this series doesn’t gloss over the harrowing experience of death and how much it mentally affects Subaru.

That is an interesting idea, but I suppose the success of a plot device like that is how well it’s executed? Correct, and for the most part it’s smartly executed, it’s never over-used or exploited, it seldom feels cheap and each death has its own narrative purpose and emotional weight… like the emotional weight of seeing poor Rem falling in love with Subaru only to have her feelings shattered on the floor like glass! Damn you, Subaru! Damn you! End of review!—

*sigh* we got a little bit closer that time but still not close enough… one more time (hopefully) What’s the show about? *gasp* I’ve been here before, I’ve answered this question before! What the heck is going on here? Why do I keep ending up at the start of the review?!

Because you keep ending the review prematurely and I can’t allow you to do that, you’ve started this and you have to carry it through to its conclusion. No matter how much it hurts you. Ugh, fine… I’ll try and get through this review without rage-quitting about how much of an idiot Subaru is…

Good. So we’re acquainted with the protagonist. Who are the other characters? There’s Emilia of course, classic princess archetype, vaguely magical, animal sidekick, exceedingly nice—you know the drill. And of course there’s Rem and Ram twin demon maids who are adorable and badass, and Rem is totally best girl—

I’ll stop you there before you go down a rabbit-hole and we have to start this over again. So what kind of stories does this show present, is it about the protagonist trying to return home? Is it an over-arching plot-line or is it more episodic? Little bit of everything, although I don’t think Subaru’s particularly interested in returning home, I mean sure his life is constantly in danger but who could pass up the chance to interact with all these sweet waifus. The 25 episode first (and so far only) season is made up of several different intersecting story-arcs, that depending on where and when Subaru last ‘reset’ can vary wildly in outcome and tone.

And what do these story arcs contain? Well there’s political storylines to do with a royal election that are filled with intrigue and back-stabbing, there’s action-heavy set-pieces with massive battles against magical people/creatures and or both. There’s sinister cult related plot-lines with ridiculous villains and there’s even… romance plots… and, uh, nope, can’t do it! It’s too raw! WHY DIDN’T YOU PICK REM?! End of review!—

Damn it… I thought we might have had a chance of getting through more that time. Oh but it looks like we don’t have to start right from the beginning this time. That’s a small comfort. I’ll just try and word it differently this time… ahem. What’s going on? Ugh, my head hurts, what were we talking about again?

Umm, so what story arc is your favourite? Hmm, that’s a tough one, I think it’s hard to separate them because there’s so much overlap, and that’s one of the things I love about this series. Is that everything feels deeply connected not only to Subaru but to the mysterious ~evil~ force that’s controlling his fate and his power/curse.

And at the risk of triggering you, what don’t you like about the show? Oh plenty, but I’m alway hyper-critical of shows that I really respect and/or shows that are more ~intelligent~ than the standard Isekai genre or even more broadly just fantasy in general.

And those issues are? The series feels overlong, not in that I wanted it to be over quicker than it was, but in more than one occasion it felt like the events of this season could have been tightened up, you know more plot and less filler. Some of the very early “resets” feel needlessly drawn out, like Subaru gets so far only to die and it’s so frustrating to watch—which may well have been the point but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Also, I think the show takes a bit too long to get around to introducing best girl Rem but that’s just a personal choice.

Well I guess we’ve gotten this far, you seem to be ~stable~ enough to talk about the thing that’s obviously been playing on your mind enough to prematurely end this review four times already. Talk to me about Rem. Rem is precious and sweet and beautiful and also tortured and deep and damaged. She’s also a badass fighter and has a smile that gives me life. And she falls in love with Subaru and wants to run away with him and have a life together with him and her love is so true and pure and honest and of course Subaru being the idiot protagonist that he is only wants the princess, Emilia, whom he’s known for all of a minute before falling in love with her.

You really don’t like Emilia do you? Actually, surprisingly, I like her a lot. She’s got more depth than you’d expect from the ‘princess’ cliche, she’s a strong character and she’s kind and sweet and kinda cute, but~ she’s not Rem. It’s like Emilia’s a tasty slice of pizza but Rem is prime rib with all the trimmings.

And perhaps an analogy for your vegetarian readers? Umm… Rem is an eggplant parmigiana and Emilia is a celery stick with cream cheese on top.

Oh! And what about Rem’s twin-sister? Ram was it, how is the twin sister of a top tier best girl? Eh, she’s fine.

Right… Okay then. Congratulations, you made it to the end of the review and we kind of covered the main points? So final score and recommendation? Hailed by many reviewers and fans alike as the best the Isekai genre has to offer it’s not an inaccurate descriptor but that’s more in a generalist kind of way. It is an exceptional series, that’s subversive and smart in just enough ways to make it easy to overlook its flaws on the whole. Personally though I think there are shows in the genre I prefer for various reasons but still it’s hard not to be impressed by the scope of this show and the characters are mostly great, even down to the supporting cast. And for as much as I raged against Subaru picking Emilia over Rem, by the final episode I was okay with his decision because they do make a cute couple and he had been through so much at that point that he deserved his own happiness as too did Emilia. Far from zero; 90 out of 100.


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Lostorage Incited WIXOSS – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Lostorage Incited WIXOSS.

What’s the show? Lostorage Incited WIXOSS (2016).

I know what one of those words means? Are the other words Japanese? That’s racist.

What?! I don’t know what Lostorage means, nobody does…

Google says it’s a “portmanteau of ‘lost’ and ‘storage’ to in relation to losing memories”. Oh… well yeah, I guess that makes sense…

And WIXOSS… is a card game? Stop Googling things, I’m the one who’s supposed to know everything! But yes, it’s a trading card game, kind of like Magic the Gathering except with cute and sexy anime girls on them.

And so this show is a flashy, fan-service filled harem anime then? Nope, it’s a pretty serious, psychological character drama about a group of characters who are forced into playing a high-stakes card game, if they refuse to play they loose their memories one at a time, and if they completely loose the game they’ll disappear from the world entirely.

Oh… okay. That’s more serious than I expected! Me too…

You sound… disappointed? No, not at all. It’s just I figured an anime that was presumably created with the purpose to sell these trading cards would have been more… light-hearted? I didn’t expect any depth from this show and instead I got a whole heck of a lot.

You mention that it was made with the purpose to sell cards? Does that mean there’s awkward product placement throughout? The first couple of episodes are a bit obvious, but unless you’re the kind of person who ~really~ gets upset about product placement it shouldn’t really be an issue. I mean it’s not like it’s trying to hide it, the show’s plot is more or less linked to the card came for whatever reason.

You don’t know why? Well, here’s the thing. This is technically the 3rd season of the show, there’s a 1st season—Selector Infected WIXOSS and a 2nd season—Selector Spread WIXOSS. Both of which I haven’t watched!

Uh… that seems like a silly thing to do? Thing is I was informed by a couple of people that I could watch this season without watching the first two, also at the time the first two seasons weren’t on any streaming service. Of course, as soon as I finished watching this season Crunchyroll decided to make the first two available to stream so more fool me for not waiting.

Right, and did you have any issues following the plot? Well since this season has mostly new characters and deals with a new version of the game it’s pretty easy to jump on board here, but the further the season goes along the more callbacks there are to the first two Selector titled seasons. And yes, I would definitely understand them better if I’d watched those seasons but the show does a decently good job at imparting the necessary information for new viewers.

That’s good then! So who are the characters? Our protagonist is Suzuko Homura a sweet but lonely girl—her father is always working late—and she’s estranged from her childhood friend Chinatsu. They do an excellent job of immediately having the audience sympathise with Suzuko, her isolation is palpable. Then she gets caught up in the potentially devastating Selector battles, and naturally the cast expands. There’s smug asshole Takeshi, who tricks novice Selector’s into battles in order to get easy wins. Then there’s best girl Hanna, a game reviewer who has the most adorable way of talking and a tragic backstory. Actually…

What? All the characters have tragic backstory’s of varying severity, evidently what led these people to be ‘chosen’ to become Selectors is that they all have memories that they want to alter or remember. It’s a smart writing choice that makes even the most minor of side character relatable and is something that makes nearly every Selector battle feel even more high-stakes.

And what’s an LRIG? I thought I told you to stop Googling the show!

Fine, I’ll stop. But what is it? I was getting to that! LRIG’s are like avatars that battle on behalf of the Selector, becoming the physical action to the attacking and defending abilities associated with the various cards that are played. They also happen to be cute magical girls who also have tragic back stories…

How can a card have a tragic backstory? Because they weren’t always just cards…

*shocked emoji* Whatever do you mean? Well, it’s probably better explained by someone who’s seen the previous two seasons but it turns out LRIG’s used to be real girls who competed in the “first battles” vying for the grand prize of ‘one wish to come true’ only to be screwed over by the girl responsible for the game’s creation—or something like that.

Well I don’t know if you’ve convinced me it was a good idea to watch this show without having seen the previous two seasons, but it does sound interesting at the very least. Was that what I was supposed to be doing? Convincing you to watch this show?

I don’t know, I figured that’s what these reviews always were. Anyway, final score and recommendation? If you looked up the synopsis and saw ‘card game’ and ‘battles’ and eyes immediately glossed over with visions of prolonged Shonen battles flashing through your mind, think again! This isn’t some repetitive Saturday morning cartoon, this is a surprisingly dark and moody character driven experience with impeccable production quality and interesting—if admittedly dense backstory. The elements of the game never really make 100% sense but it’s never really about the mechanics of the game as it is more about the devastating outcome of losing one’s memories, or just as bad—having to be the one that sends a player into the void of non-existence. 80 out of 100, turn end.


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Kill La Kill – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Kill La Kill.

What’s the show? Kill La Kill (2013).

Is it French? No, don’t be stupid.

Okay, so what’s it about? People don’t kill people, clothes kill people.

And what’s that supposed to mean? This show’s about magical clothing that makes people drastically more powerful…

Oh, I see. So who’s our main character? It’s about Ryuko Matoi who’s on a search for vengeance for whoever’s responsible for killing her father, her journey leads her to Honnouji Academy, which is run by the totalitarian student council headed up by the dictator-esque student president Satsuki Kiryuin. The powerful Goku Uniforms that the students wear do have a weakness, Ryuko has a powerful scissor blade that can cut these ‘life fiber’ infused uniforms. But when she’s swiftly defeated by one of the president’s henchman, she goes back to the burnt husk of her family home to lick her wounds, where—in the basement—she discovers a talking sailor uniform that clings to her body and imbues her with the strength to defeat her newfound enemies at the school!

Sailor uniform? Like Donald Duck? No, like Japanese-high-school girl style, also it’s ~transformation~ is a little bit revealing. Just a little bit…

Oh no… and here was me thinking for just a moment this wasn’t going to be a pervy show… I know you won’t believe me but I honestly don’t think it is, like, okay sure, if you’re new to anime and this is among your first exposures to the genre I could understand being a little, um… wide-eyed at the outfits that Ryuko and Satsuki end up wearing while fighting each other. But this “fan-service” is portrayed completely different to that of something like High School DxD or even something milder like Fairy Tail.

How so? Well it’s drawn differently.

Huh? This is hard to explain without seeing the show in motion (gifs can only do so much). Having a loose art-style and a certain visual tone and a fast-paced comedic edge let’s the show get away with something that perhaps in another show might seem exploitative.

But doesn’t it still have those kinds of close-up perv shots that those other shows you mentioned have? Why’s it matter if the art style and tone is ‘looser’? The way it frames these shots within the context of the narrative creates a different visual tone. There’s not the ‘soft focus’ slow zoom or suggestive moans or shots that linger too long. Yes, Ryuko is in a sexy outfit and yes she is a sexy girl but the show isn’t going out of its way to present these elements as anything other than just scenes that are happening.

I’m still not sure I understand. If the intent was to solely arouse people with the fan-service here it would look different and be presented differently. I’m not saying the fan-service doesn’t arouse people, of course it does, for some people a fully clothed woman is titillating, for some people a can of beans is titillating. I just think the execution of the fan-service is in such a way that makes it different from other shows that have similar amounts of fan-service.

But what about the transformation scene? If anything that’s a parody of ‘Magical Girl’ transformation scenes, and again it’s not filmed with the ‘soft core pornography’ vision some of those scenes end up looking like. It’s matter-of-fact about how this outfit ~clings~ to Ryuko and it’s all the more “realistic” for it.

You’re not going to try and claim this show is “realistic” now are you? Realistic in-universe, this show is a wild ride from beginning to end. The only wholly realistic thing in this show are the relationships formed. Especially between Ryuko and her new best friend Mako Mankanshoku, who—I must say—is an absolute delight to witness.

Best girl then? No. She’s too ‘comic relief’ for that, at least in my opinion. She’s perfect comic relief and as mentioned before the relationship that builds between her and Ryuko is beautiful and joyous to watch, but no, best girl easily is Ryuko.

The main character is your best girl, huh? That’s rare for you. A true testament to the strength of the writing here, not to mention the voice actress’ performance. I love how strong and loud and outspoken she is, but she is also has insecurities and vulnerabilities, she’s just a very well-rounded character.

And who are the other characters? Oh boy, heaps of ’em. There’s the ‘Elite Four’ who are Satsuki’s strongest goons and wearer’s of the ultra powerful 3 star Goku Uniforms all of them are fun characters, and even have a bit of character development thrown in too. There’s also Mako’s family (Mother, father, little brother, smol doggo) who while underdeveloped as characters, are at least loveable and supportive of Ryuko, who ends up moving in with them.

Anyone else worth mentioning? There’s the paramilitary group ‘Nudist Beach’ who as their name suggests are opposed to not only clothes containing ‘life fibers’ but most clothes in general. Their leader, the handsome Aikuro Mikisugi, is hilarious, some of his subtle animations’ as he’s talking to Ryuko made me laugh so hard.

And what about the school president herself, Satuski? Her arc is an especially well-written and interesting one throughout the show. I was very surprised and happily so, with the way they went with her character. I’ll leave it at that to not spoil too much for those who haven’t seen the show.

So what do you say to people who haven’t watched this show because they’re concerned about the fan-service? I think, even if fan-service is something you ~dislike~ the way it’s presented here could allow you to still enjoy the show. However, i’m not going to pretend like it doesn’t exist and for some people—even with it’s framing considered—will still be too much for them to tolerate.

So final score and recommendation? Kill La Kill strikes the perfect balance of so many things that make for a memorable and entertaining experience. It has easy-to-follow but still kinetic and exciting action scenes, it has a rich universe that’s never too complex to follow, it has an interesting and well-developed story that unfolds with each new episode and it has a colourful cast of characters that are all fun to watch. But most unexpectedly, and the thing that has me remembering the show so fondly even after how long it’s been since I first watched it, is it’s heart. What could have ended up as just a flashy and entertaining experience is imbued with a sense of friendship, family, love and loss that makes it among my favourite anime of all time. 93 out of 100.


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Sakura Trick – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Sakura Trick.

What’s the show? Sakura Trick (2014).

And what’s it about? Well depending on who ask it’s either the pinnacle of Yuri anime and an utterly sublime romantic experience or an obnoxious unrealistic exploitative exercise in mediocrity that reduces these kinds of relationships to a fetish.

Yuri… yuri… OH! That’s girl on girl action, right? *sigh* Yes, if you want to be that reductive about it…

What? That’s what it is! This is love, it’s pure, it’s wholesome, it’s idealistic, it’s… it’s…

It’s for perverts. Excuse me?!

I mean that’s WHY you’re watching it, isn’t it? You’ve said in the past you don’t care for romance anime, so why does this show get a sudden glowing seal of approval other than the fact it’s two ‘cute girls’ making out. Which let’s face it, is totally your aesthetic (by the way I’m using the term ‘aesthetic’ under protest). I… I… well, uh…

I’m waiting… Okay, fine. I admit the initial reason I bought this show on blu-ray (yes I bought it on blu-ray, I need girls kissing in HD!) was because I was down for some sweet sapphic action between a couple of frisky anime high-school girls, but you know what, the fact of the matter is not only did I become completely and utterly engrossed in the intricacies of their relationship that I found myself clutching at my chest and crying on no less than 5 occasions but also… also I just want more women to be lesbians…

Ah… err… wait, what?! Bare with me a second, I’m going to go on a tangent.

Always with the tangents… but do go on… So here’s the thing, I kinda hate heterosexual relationships in media, be it live-action TV shows or movies or anime or books, whatever I just find it boring. And before anybody mentions heterosexual harem anime/manga that’s different because a) it’s already something so different from reality and b) I don’t think most harem scenarios are attempting to convey a realistic relationship—

—Focus! Right so, it’s also why whenever there’s two women in an anime who show affection towards each other I inherently ‘ship’ them because I want more depictions of same-sex relationships in my anime! All women should be lesbians! It’s the ideal!

But it’s not ideal, because men do exist whether you like it or not. Ugh, don’t remind me.

Please don’t mention the P-word. B-but the fucking patriarchy!

Oh god, this review is as good as a write-off. Hey, if you’re for some reason still reading this, Hi Irina, also I’m sorry. I don’t even know what he’s doing anymore. Don’t you talk to Irina you shitlord. Also, just because you don’t agree with my opinion doesn’t mean it’s not worth being heard!

Who are you talking to right now? I don’t even know…

Great, perfect! So, uhh… can we get a cohesive opinion on Sakura Trick the show that doesn’t devolve into wanting all women to be lesbians and breaking the fourth wall? Fine. Uh, so Sakura Trick it is… I, ah… I don’t know what it is! See, here’s the thing, I know how I feel about it, but because I belong to the straight male demographic, my opinion will ever be skewed toward a voyeuristic opinion as opposed to someone who’s either lived or is trying to live that life.

Fine, then don’t talk about that, talk about how it made you feel? You mentioned something earlier about ‘crying’? I love Haruka and how honest she is with her feelings towards Yuu, she’s so direct with her intentions. I’m less keen on Yuu though, her personality is too childish, but their relationship is so intimate and fraught with little anxieties that I overlook her character flaws and focus on them as two halves completing each other and fulfilling emotional and physical needs.

And their relationship is at the centre of the anime? More or less, but and I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but by the end of the anime I was wanting Yuu’s older sister Mitsuki to be the protagonist, because the character arc she goes on from when she first appears to the end of episode 12 was terrific. I know it’s a cliche, but I actually put my hand over my mouth and gasped at what she did at the half-way point of episode 12. I won’t spoil anymore but I think it was an incredibly ballsy choice for the show, even if it didn’t really affect anything afterward, which I guess is expected in this kind of show.

And all the other characters in the show? They’re all paired up from the start and there’s not much to their relationships, some get more developed than others. I think Shizuku and Kotone were my favourite pairing, but I think any kind of noteworthy development to their storyline is probably stymied by the fact that they’re side characters. I’d love to know if they end up getting to be together after they finish school, considering Kotone is already arranged to be married to someone else, guess I’ll have to find the manga!

Sounds like a lot of drama could be mined from such a plot line? So here’s the main problem with the show, most of the side characters have more dramatic or complex relationships or situations than Haruka and Yuu. That’s not to say the central relationship isn’t interesting it’s just I wished the show gave as much time to the side characters as it did to the main, but then again I guess that’s kind of an unrealistic expectation.

Well we got there in the end, didn’t think we would for a minute… final score and recommendation? I can absolutely understand why some people don’t like this show or think it’s pandering to perverts who just want to fetishise cute girl’s kissing each other. And I went in expecting that and what I got out of it was so much more, yes I enjoyed watching the girls kiss, but I enjoyed the moment after it more, seeing how much this physical connection meant to each of these girls was heartwarming and genuinely touching, it moved me to tears after all! Feel the love, 89 out of 100.


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KonoSuba – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! Season 1.

What’s the show? KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! (2016).

Right, and what’s it about? Just like the best goddamn breast physics I’ve ever seen in an anime, like seriously this shit is mesmerising.

…Can you go like five fucking seconds without being a complete and utter pervert, and what do you mean ‘physics’ this is an anime, not a video game. Right, so jiggle animations, I don’t know what you call it in an anime but seriously I am obsessed with how the breasts look in this anime.

You’re talking like you’ve never seen boobs before, what gives?! Listen, I’ve seen a lot of fan-service in my time on this earth from the gravity defying to the laws of physics defying, to the reality defying, but never have I seen breasts like these.

…We’re still talking about breasts, oh my god, if you’re reading this I am so sorry, I literally can’t stop him even if I tried… Like, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m into boobs in a big way and that’s not a pun or euphemism, I don’t care what size they are I’m just totally into boobs! And there’s just something about the boob animations in KonoSuba that makes me so unbelievably contented! It’s like watching a lava lamp, it’s mesmerising and relaxing and I just can’t get enough of it!

Please stop. It’s like braless and free and really loose, which I never really realised was a fetish, but I think this is a new fetish?! At least for me…

*incoherent mumbling* A-And what about the actual show? I mean… I… err, can we please talk about the fucking show for a moment? Oh…err, right, the show? Well, it’s amazing, probably one of the most carefully produced, artfully written parodies of the whole Isekai genre while simultaneously feeling completely connected to it in a way that beggars belief. Like, it pokes fun at the tropes but it still fully commits to them and by extension becomes better than both the most adept of deconstructions and the most faithful of the genre.

Okay, good, an actual review, let’s keep this going, uh… so what’s the show about? I don’t know what ‘Isekai’ means so please explain it to my poor normie brain. Right, so gamer, otaku, NEET Kazuma dies in the real world trying to save a girl from a tragic accident and finds himself before Aqua, a smarmy goddess who offers him the chance to be reborn in another world, a fantasy world where he has the advantage of keeping his memories of his previous life and taking one thing with him. Annoyed by the goddess’ callous disregard for his sacrifice and general ambivalence to the situation, he picks her to accompany him in his new life and so begins Kazuma and Aqua’s journey to defeat the Devil King in the hopes of returning to their ordinary lives some day.

Okay, cool. But you still didn’t explain what ‘Isekai’ means… It just means ‘In Another World’, its the name of a popular narrative trope that has a protagonist ‘waking up’ in another world than the one they were originally born into.

Fair enough, so this other world… It’s basically a video game, or an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) just without the video game interface and the more present threat of death, be it from being overworked, or killed by giant toads or frozen to death by Winter’s cruel embrace.

So the stakes are high? I mean high enough, it’s no Re:Zero, but at the same time it at least feels like death is a genuinely bad option rather than just a respawn point.

Why do I feel like I’ve inadvertently stumbled over a new can of worms? I have things to say about Re:Zero that will wait for another day, we’re talking about KonoSuba now!

So who are the characters, aside from the one’s mentioned. Well, aside from our smug protagonist Kazuma and our equally smug, if somewhat insecure goddess Aqua, there’s the incessantly dramatic explosion obsessed loli Megumin and the delightfully delusional masochistic crusader Darkness who just wants to be ~punished~.

Yikes, this show is starting to sound more perverted than you! Oh, you have no idea!

*gulp* But here’s the thing, I never feel like this show is taking cheap shots or being lazy about anything. It fully commits, whether it be about the story which has a wonderful sense of continuity throughout all the episodes without being convoluted or the characters who all act uniquely and amusingly but never against their own internal logic.

How do you mean? Like the show gets wild, especially in later episodes (I’m looking at you episode 9 with your Succubus dream brothel) but it never feels outside the realm of possibility for this show, even when Kazuma calls out things for being too much like video games in his own world it never feels cheap or too obnoxiously fourth wall breaking.

Like? Like, Kazuma is aware he’s in an MMORPG inspired fantasy world but he’s never aware that he’s in a show about an MMORPG inspired fantasy world. It offers a kind of restraint while being loose enough to not take itself too seriously.

So it’s comedic? Sublimely so! This show has the best comedic timing of any anime I’ve ever seen. Specifically, Kazuma who has the kind of droll and cunning delivery of a line that is so otherwise sorely missing in most anime. It’s an utter joy to watch!

So final score and recommendation? I want this show to go forever, I know it won’t but it’s the kind of sublime experience that I never want to end. It’s just so much fun that I can barely find the adequate words to describe the experience, and… and those boobs—

NO! Just… stop! We’ve gotten this far without further sullying this review— I don’t care! If I could give a seperate score for ‘boobs in an anime’, Konosuba would get 100/100 but I know this isn’t Anime boob reviews (spin off blog maybe?!). So, season 1 of ‘Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World’ get’s a well earned, 94 out of 100, I never wanted it to end! Maybe I’ll sober up and make a half-way decent review, or maybe I’ll just let this slide as passable entertainment! Either way, KonoSuba comes heavily recommended for all and sundry! You don’t need to be a pervert to enjoy this show, but, well… it probably helps!


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Kokkoku – 20 Question Anime Review (Moderate Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for Kokkoku.

What’s the show? Kokkoku (2018).

Kokomo? Stop with your old man references, I don’t know what Beach Boys song your referencing…

Ah-ha! Shit… I guess I’m old as well…

Heh, so what’s this show about? A four generation, lower middle-class family living in the same house somewhere in Japan, our protagonist, Juri is an unemployed woman who’s trying her best to stay positive for her family of slackers and NEET’s despite being downtrodden by her lot in life. Her grandfather however has a magical stone that can stop time, which after Juri’s brother and nephew are kidnapped by thugs, he reveals its power to Juri and her lazy father Takafumi in order to rescue their family.

Telemarketers are the worst…

Stopping time, huh? So it’s sci-fi? Well… it’s about as least sci-fi as stopping time gets if I’m honest, it’s all very mystical and the stopping time phenomena isn’t really explained until the last episode and even then it’s kinda wishy washy, but it’s also kind of what I love about the show! It doesn’t hammer you over the head with exposition or techno-babble, it’s just content to tell a story about a family stuck in a terrible situation.

Me either, dude.

And this terrible situation is? Aside from the kidnapping of course. Juri, her father and her grandfather quickly discover they aren’t the only ones able to move around ‘Stasis’ (that’s the name given to their time stopped world). There’s Junji, the leader of a religious cult called ‘The Genuine Love Society’ who are not only single-minded and obsessive but also violent and dangerous. They want to kidnap Juri’s grandfather and kill the rest of the family and obtain the powerful stone which is central to their “religion”.

Yup, that’s a cult.

Oh wow, okay, sounds dramatic, anything else? There’s also giant and powerful creature’s that roam the ‘Stasis’ called “Heralds” or “Handlers” depending on which faction you ask, who make sure that the people able to move around this time-stopped world can’t do any harm to “The Stalled” which is what they call everyone else for whom time has stopped.

Nice afro.

Sounds kinda complicated if I’m honest… Maybe, but I mean as long as you’re paying attention and aren’t on your phone while watching it it’s pretty standard stuff. Not to say that it’s not original or interesting, just that it’s not all that complicated.

Uh-huh. So I take it that’s a weird show, then? I didn’t think so, but apparently a lot of people felt it went ‘that’ way. Personally I thought it was very consistent, up until an ending which is admittedly a ‘deus ex machina’ but one that didn’t feel unearned.

This is what happens if you spend all day inside playing video games!

So, Googling the show, the Wikipedia page says its a ‘Horror/Drama/Mystery’? Yeah… I don’t know what about it is horror or mystery. Maybe that’s more the manga than the anime because it felt distinctly sci-fi/supernatural to me.

*shrugs* Indeed!

So what else did you want to say about this show? Juri is such a great protagonist, like she pretty much carries the show herself, I’m kind of in love with how strong and determined she is. And all the men in her family know she’s the strongest character and all (for the most part) respect her decision making abilities.

BAMF.

Yeah? Yup, it’s great not having fragile male egos competing for the role of protagonist and just letting the most capable person lead the show!

Well this seems to have been a mostly positive review, anything negative to say? Well yeah, of course, it’s not perfect! The pacing can be atrocious at points, like other anime could have done what this show did in half as many episodes, but even then I kind of like that this show took its time… plus it benefits from being binge watched.

Ethereal jellyfish make time freeze, it’s pretty obvious guys!

We’re doing negatives here, stop complimenting the show for a second, will ya? Right, ahem, um… some of the various plot ‘twists’ that come along are either far too obvious or so far out of left field that it’s a bit jarring, also ‘the ladder’ oh my god that made me laugh more than it probably should have, it’s just you don’t usually expect a portable ladder to be used to defeat the ‘big bad’ but here we are!

Anything else before we wrap up? The opening song is the most fun I had with an OP in the Winter ’18 season, and the ending (ED) song is pretty great too!

There’s a lot of weird imagery in this show and I love it.

Great. So final score and recommendation? I don’t know the target audience for this kind of anime, I don’t even know if my opinion is a relatable one because this show was that kind of unexpected treat that I looked forward to each episode despite the content being spread thinly across more episodes than it maybe needed to be. The time stop elements are handled consistently well and the characters are likeable and lively even if the story ends in a predictably safe way. 87 out of 100…

W-what’s this? Since when do we continue after the score has been given? The review is over isn’t it? I just wanted to add something, because I wrote this review like two weeks ago, and something’s been bothering me…

Oh? It’s just that as much as I raved about how unique and interesting this show was, as soon it was done I kind of immediately forgot about it, like to the point where I don’t even know if I watched it!

That’s bad… I know right! Like I still like the show a whole bunch but ultimately, I guess what I’m saying is the show is kinda forgettable, like kinda really forgettable. But my positive compliments still stand, just bare in mind what you’re getting isn’t really some kind of classic, frozen in time to appreciate, ’tis but a momentary highlight across the breadth of existence, destined to be swept away by the unceasing current of time’s passing.


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High School DxD BorN – 20 Question Anime Review (Moderate Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for High School DxD BorN.

What’s the show? High School DxD BorN (2015).

Oh yeah, the demon boob show, you reviewed season 1 a while ago, so why are we reviewing this one now? Oh no reason…

It’s because there’s a new season airing soon isn’t it, and you thought might drive more readers to the site? Maaaybeee—

Right, so obviously you have something to say otherwise this would just be a rehash of the first season’s review? Indeed I do, because this, the third season of High School DxD, is actually quite disappointing.

Don’t cry, it’s not all bad!

Wait, 3rd season? What about the 2nd season? You haven’t done a review for that yet?! You want a review High School DxD Season 2 (a.k.a High School DxD New)? Okay, it’s pretty much the same as the first, it’s fun and entertaining and full of fan-service and interesting characters and good action and world-building. 89 out of 100.

Okay… thanks I guess? Well you asked for it!

This was hilarious btw.

I did, I did. Wait, season 2 was called ‘New’ wby is season 3 called ‘BorN’? No idea…

Well what do you know? I know that whoever was responsible for this season really dropped the ball. Like it’s kind of maddening, how that all the pieces were in place and yet there’s oh so many flaws with the execution.

Such as? Well first and most glaringly is the show just keeps adding more and more characters which might be fine if you’re reading the light novel version and you have chapters and chapters and even whole books to get to know about them, but in the show they are thrown in so quickly and in later episodes we’re even introduced to characters who are like seriously important and influential figures who’ve been secret masterminds behind things from as early back as season one only for them to be killed off in a single scene!

And to be fair this was one of the rare action scenes that was actually impressive.

Yikes, that does sound pretty bad. And I can’t speak for the source material because I haven’t read it, but I have to assume that so many of these big battle scenes had to at least go on longer in the books because otherwise I have to wonder what the point of them even is! Because in the show it doesn’t feel like they’re truncated because that’s how they’re supposed to be it feels like they’re abbreviated for budgetary reasons. And I get it, animating massive battles with a dozen main characters all with different powers and transformations fighting towering fantasy creatures would be expensive but if that’s the case then don’t put so much content into the season in the first place!

Oh noes the main character is dead in episode 3 of the series, I totally believe this…

How do you mean? This season feels so rushed, like I appreciate they probably wanted to have some pretty key dramatic moments in but they’re put in at the expense of making a well-paced story. Say what you will about seasons 1 and 2 but they never felt like they were skipping over things or cutting corners but here it just feels so lazy! Which is a shame because…

Because? The harem-y stuff is as good as it’s ever been, like the episodes that are at school or at home are genuinely fun to watch, even the irl waifu—who yes is still watching the show with me even after all the gratuitous fan-service and harem nonsense—was relieved when the show stopped being the confusing, rushed mess it was during the action and story oriented episodes and went back to the light-hearted, comedic toned harem episodes.

She’s just the best.

So it’s still got its head in the game as it were? I’ll take it that that’s some sort of crude innuendo.

Ahem, what I mean is that the show is still doing the whole harem thing right then? For the most part, just…

More of her please.

Just what? They kinda ruined Koneko.

Oh? How? Well she was always the one who was the most resistant to Issei, constantly calling him out on his pervertedness. While never full tsundere, the fact that she didn’t really want anything to do with him was a part of her charm. And that goes out the window here. Also they made her a cat girl, because of course they did. (And yes, I know it was foreshadowed because of her name, but it’s still kinda dumb).

Ugh.

So the harem grows ever further. I wouldn’t mind if it’d had taken the whole season for Koneko to warm to Issei, but it’s like a single episode from her being cold and critical to her sitting on his lap and purring. Like guys, you can have her be attracted to him and not make it upend her character, just do it gradually!

Sounds like you don’t have much positive to say for the show. Not true! The rest of the characters are great, there’s enough growth to make it feel like they’re not stagnating while enough humour to alleviate whatever inherent creep factor comes from the idea of a harem. There’s glimmers of the show it used to be and it’s almost worth it for that alone.

She’s still cool! Sometimes… rarely…

So with season 4 on the horizon are you hopeful? I just hope they have enough restraint to not rush the action and increasingly convoluted plot and focus on what made the show so great in the first place. But yes, I am hopeful.

Final score and recommendation? It’s hard to do a recommendation for a third season of something because let’s face it, if you’re reading this you’ve either already watched it and have your own opinion on it or never will watch it. So basically this is just my verdict on the season and an arbitrary numerical score attached to it. The problems of the show only compound when it comes to the plot and are alleviated by the light-hearted harem parts. But ultimately it’s the characters and their interactions and growth that has me coming back. 72 out of 100.

Ahem.

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LOVE STAGE!! – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review of LOVE STAGE!!

What’s the show? LOVE STAGE!! (2014).

Love Stage!? Let me guess, another anime about cute girls doing cute things and being thespians? Um, not quite. 

Well then, what’s it about? It’s the age old tale of boy meets girl! Izumi Sena is the child of a showbiz power couple. At the age of 8, Izumi’s parents shoot a commercial for Happy Weddings magazine. On set a child actress did not show up so lil Izumi was thrust into the spotlight with a staring role as a super kawaii flower girl. This is when Izumi first meets Ryouma Ichijou, who plays a page boy in the commercial. 10 years later, and Ryouma is a super star and the Happy Weddings crew want him back to be the groom this time! He has one condition, that Izumi returns to be the bride.

Look at the happy couple!

Sounds kinda boring… Oh I forgot to say, Izumi is actually a boy.

Wait what?! Izumi is a boy!

Izumi is a boy? Yup! Izumi is a boy, and when transformed into a flower girl he leaves a lasting impression on young Ryouma. 10 years later, Izumi is a magical girl loving otaku who does not want to enter the family show-business and would prefer to be a manga artist. Problem is, his skills are not quite there. A bribe with a limited edition body pillow later, and Izumi is playing the bride in the reunion commercial and Ryouma is smitten all over again.

Don’t worry they’re brothers…

You watched a cross dressing love focused anime? Izumi is revealed to be a boy pretty early on.

And Ryouma was upset, and the relationship ended and then the series became something about cute girls doing cute things? Why does it need to be a series about cute girls doing cute things? This is a love story and sexual awakening of two boys that had not considered they may love boys.

Worse ways to go.

Did you just say sexual awakening? Careful sweetie, spoilers.

River? What?

Sorry I thought you just quoted mainstream pop culture again. My bad. So… is there a ‘best girl’? Not at all. Female characters are side characters in this series, and only there to serve as vehicles for the best boys to move forward (Izumi’s mother) or highlighting personality (Izumi’s magical girl crush Lala-Lulu).

Better than Sailor Moon, don’t @ me.

I’m really confused. This is not something you normally watch. WHERE ARE THE CUTE GIRLS DOING CUTE THINGS? I can vary up my watching habits! Boy’s Love is a large genre in anime, and doesn’t get the recognition and appreciation it deserves. Like most anime genres, there are some winners and some losers, and this is certainly a winner. The characters are well thought out and not one-dimensional beings and this includes the other leading men Rei Sagara, the Sena family manager, and Shougo Sena, Izumi’s rockstar older brother.

I cannot believe I am going to ask you this… best boy? Izumi! He’s the ‘not really that black’ black sheep of the family, who is loved insanely regardless (including by his older brother Shougo who may actually love him a little too much). Watching him try his best to chase his dream, then struggle with his non predicated first crush is all to relatable. Plus, he is a nerdy little otaku. We need to appreciate our otaku brethren!

Still a better artist then Chinatsu Yoshikawa.

Your best boy is the main boy? I cannot help it! I fell for him just as hard as Ryouma did! But all the guys are great, and I have a massive soft spot for the family manager Rei. Rei is Izumi’s advisor of the heart, and the compassion and reassurance he provides for Izumi is perfection.

So you are recommending a ‘boy’s love’ anime… it’s like I’ve woken up in bizzaro world… Absolutely! ‘LOVE STAGE!!’ does boy’s love right. ‘LOVE STAGE!!’ beautifully explores the story of two boys falling in love with heart and humour and without falling into negative tropes about homosexuality, which are all too often present in anime. It delivers an amazingly real conversation about the worries of having sex for the first time with sincerity, compassion and a dash of humour that anyone can relate no matter their sexual orientation.

Hurts so good.

Right then… Final Score? Oh no, I don’t like to score things.

Wait what? That’s all you ever do. No, I don’t and it’s something that drives Cactus Matt up the wall. Him and his bloody lists!

Wait. You’re not Cactus Matt? Then who the hell have I been talking to this whole time? His “irl waifu” as he likes to describe me on here.

He’s not the only one who’s wet…

Ah… And suddenly the world has meaning again! Although… I thought I was a construct of his mind? But if you’re not him then who am I a construct of, THIS IS TOO MUCH TO PROCESS! Try not to think about it too much. He’s gonna be annoyed if I do not return you in one piece.

Well today has been a mindtrip. Anything more to say Cactus Matt’s “waifu”? Happy April Fool’s Day! But don’t worry Cactus Matt will return tomorrow for your regularly scheduled doses of mindless cute girl adoration and general pervertedness.