Akiba’s Trip: The Animation – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Akiba’s Trip: The Animation.

What’s the show? Akiba’s Trip: The Animation (2017).

Gee, thanks I couldn’t tell it was an animation seeing as this is an anime review… Listen, adding ‘The Animation’ to a title is just something they do when an anime is based on a video game, to differentiate it I suppose.

Oh I see, well who’s Akiba and what’s his trip about? Ahahaha, I sometimes forget how much of a ‘normie’ you are…

What? What’d I say that’s so damn funny? Akiba’s a place, it’s short for otaku nirvana Akihabara.

I miss Akihabara…

Oh…okay. So how can a place have a trip? Listen, it’s a pun title with a double meaning. It’s supposed to be read as AKIBASTRIP. So it can be read as Akiba Strip.

Because…? Because the game and by extension the show is about monsters taken host in human bodies that can only be defeated by exposing as much skin as possible on the host’s body, so by stripping them.

He’s the hero, lol.

—I’d feign surprise but by this point I’m just glad you haven’t brought up lolicons or siscons, you’re not going to bring up lolicons or siscons are you??? Relax, relax, believe it or not this kind of an innocent show, all things considered.

I think you and I have a different opinion on what qualifies as ‘innocent’. No really, it’s very goofy and light-hearted, it feels like a Saturday morning cartoon from the West except for the fact that it’s set in Akihabara… the fan-service is pretty moderate – by anime standards that is. I mean yes, there’s lots of people being stripped down to their undergarments but it doesn’t linger or put outrageous detail into it, it’s handled surprisingly tastefully and to be honest after the first few episodes isn’t really what the show chooses to focus on.

Well what happens during an average episode? Take your pick! I mean this show is wildly varied, each episode has its own standalone plot and standalone villain and usually parodies some aspect of Akihabara culture or anime or video game, but not in a way that’s alienating or oblique, it somehow makes Akihabara accessible and even quaint compared to how it is in reality.

Careful! You might damage the anime figurines!

Isn’t that kind of dishonest? Pfft, I mean maybe, but this is a comedy, it’s not trying to faithfully depict Akihabara, episodes go from subjects as low key as arcade tournaments, competitive eating and building computers to real life kung fu battles, brainwashing maid/butler cafes and dropping a nuclear bomb on Akihabara!

Yeah that does sound kind of silly. And that’s this show’s strongest point, when it gives in to its silliness its an absolute blast, but unfortunately it falls into the trap of thinking its deeper than it is one too many times. Even for an Akiba devotee such as myself some of the later episodes are way more complicated or backstory heavy than they need to be.

Getting Ms Koizumi flashbacks!

So who are the characters? We should probably talk about them for a hot second, yeah? Mmm, there’s our Akiba obsessed otaku protagonist Tamotsu, who depending on the episode is into pretty much anything. He’s a good guy, he sacrifices his life to save a cute girl named Matome, who he only just met! Except this cute girl turns out to be a ‘bugged one’, the ‘bugged one’s’ are the bad monsters that infect people, but she’s a good one, who’s devoted her life to fighting them! In order to save his life from his fatal wounds, she kisses him, turning him into a ‘bugged one’ like her. Together, and with the help of a busty, blonde Finnish otaku named Arisa, and Tamotsu’s kid sister Niwaka they form the vigilante group ‘Electric Mayonnaise’ and commit to protecting Akihabara from whatever evil decides to beset it!

I—I have so many questions… Go ahead!

Okay, wait, ‘Electric Mayonnaise’? The main girl’s full name is Matome Mayonaka, so her friends call her ‘Mayo’ for short. I guess the electric part is because it sounds cool. *sunglasses emoji*

The action is pretty damn cool tbh.

Right, and what’s this about a busty blonde Finnish otaku? Sounds like someone’s fan-fic leaked onto your anime… Yeah, her character’s kind of like the comic relief, which in a show that’s basically all comedy (+ random bursts of sci-fi/supernatural action) is certainly saying something! She’s a cosplayer too, so expect her to be in a different outfit every episode, some provocative, some ridiculous.

What do they teach in Finnish schools?!

Fair enough… you seem lost.

I’m just trying to wrap my head around what kind of show this is, that’s all. It’s unique, that’s not to say it’s something you need to rush out and watch, its got pacing issues, some episodes will appeal to some subsets of the otaku community more than others, and sometimes it’s just plain dumb. But it’s certainly worth a watch if you are into anime and the surrounding culture.

Wise advice, wait what?

And if I’m not? I know you’re not, so just sit in the corner and be quiet, this review’s almost over.

Anything else? Oh probably important, full disclosure and all that, but I did watch this show in the English dub. Don’t know if that makes a difference to this review, don’t think it should, the references were all distinctly Japanese, it’s not like certain other dubs that felt the need to throw in American references wherever they possibly could! But that may have contributed to the Saturday morning cartoon ~vibe~ I felt.

Ahem… final score and recommendation? It’s flawed, but still ultimately a fun and funny show. If for some reason you’ve avoided it because you think it’s going to be some perverted, ecchi heavy show it’s really not despite the conceit. If I had kids I’d have no problem letting them watch this right along every other Saturday morning cartoon. Though that’s probably a good reason I’ll never be a parent… 78 out of 100.

I always picked Chun-Li too.

Yokai Girls Volume 1 – 20 Question Manga Review

A 20 Question Manga Review for Yokai Girls Volume 1.

***WARNING – the following review contains sexual images and references that may offend***

What’s the manga? Yokai Girls Volume 1.

Why does that sound familiar? –It’s not Yokai Watch, it’s got nothing to do with Yokai Watch, this isn’t a kids series, it’s very much adult.

I wouldn’t expect anything less from you at this point… Well, I’ll take that as a compliment then.

It really wasn’t one. Grrr—

—So what’s it about? Yatsuki (or Yukki), is a “normal” guy, 20 year old, lives with his younger sister, has a part time job, has never had a girlfriend, etc. Oh and also he can see Yokai spirits walking amongst the living. Generally he ignores them until one day he meets a young woman called Rokka, who gets him mixed up in all sort of supernatural and sexy shenanigans, whether he likes it or not!

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Gives a new meaning to ‘getting head’.

What genre are we going for here? A bit of everything really! I mean the thing I love about this manga is just how unshackled by conventions it is, yes it shares tropes with various dependable genres, but it always plays to the beat of its own unique drum. It’s greatest strength is how funny it is, but it isn’t afraid to bring up serious topics and delve into complex character backstories or reference a lot of Japanese mythology, not to mention be subversive as fuck.

So is this going to be another one that’s difficult to recommend? Like Murcielago? No, they’re not really similar, yes they are both mature manga, but Yokai Girls is firmly comedic and nowhere near as dark or violent or gory as Murcielago.

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It’s the question every big brother fears…

So where’s this “subversive as fuck” element come into it? Well aside from the usual ecchi tropes, there’s one certain side character who’s mere presence probably pushed it from an ‘Older Teen 16+’ rating to a ‘Mature 18+’ rating.

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He must work out a lot.

Oh, and who is that?! Well he’s a yokai who hails from Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture and well as the legend goes, if you leave a ripe persimmon on a tree too long, a red faced man will appear request that you plunge a skewer up his ass and then tell you taste, upon which you will find that it tastes sweet.

WHAT?! I don’t know, like a lot of folk tales from Japan there’s some pretty strange ones out there, but hey, who am I to judge?

And so here he takes the form of a? A BDSM loving yokai pervert, yes, of course. Not to kink shame of course, that’s just this particular character.

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He’s enjoying this in the next panel.

O…kay then, can we talk about the other characters? Like you’ve mentioned the protagonist, what about the little sister and the female yokai, who I assume takes the role of a love interest? Well we’ll be going into volume 1 spoilers here, so skip to the end if you don’t want any spoilers, but it’s more character spoilers than plot.

Fair enough, spoilers from here on out! So his sister, Nanao is a bright, bubbly and excitable girl, who for the most part is ignored by her older brother. As we find out, it’s because she’s a ‘ghost’ though not in the traditional sense, see Nanao went into a coma when she was 8 years old and has stayed that way for the past 6 years, her soul has separated from her body and pesters Yatsuki at some very personal moments. And so getting her soul back into her body becomes one of Yatsuki’s goal after he meets…

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Having a ghost for a sister can be difficult for growing boys.

Female protagonist? Yes, Rokka! She’s a yokai with the power to stretch her neck to incredible lengths, she basically uses to tangle enemies or hold people in place. Also she likes to scare Yatsuki and eat his ‘shock energy’ that manifests out of his body in phallic shapes.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any lewder… It can always get lewder. But back to Rokka, she falls in love with Yatsuki pretty quickly, but it’s not without a decent reason, he helps her out of a tricky situation, buys her a nice dinner with the last of his money for the month and then when she collapses in the street from postprandial hypertension (yes I had to look that up), he determinedly carries her home.

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So he’s a typical ‘nice guy harem protagonist’? Where’d you learn these words!? Oh right from me, but yes, also add otaku and pervert in there too. Though not the ‘creeping on girls/spying on them’ kind of pervert, just the ‘gets into sexually provocative situations for comedic effect reason’ and is totally into it kind of pervert.

Important distinction, huh? It is, nobody likes the creepy dude who hides in lockers or orchestrates elaborate plans for peeping. But if he’s chasing after a bad guy and suddenly runs into a friend of his who works at a maid café and ends with his nose pushed against her panties, then that’s just a case of bad(good) luck!

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I do wonder if that caption actually does say ‘muff dive’. Also, NSFW?

Uh-huh… and what’s this about maid cafes now? Oh did I forget to mention, the manga’s set in my favourite place on Earth, Akihabara! I loved being able to spot locations I’d been to while reading it, even small side streets are lovingly recreated! And because I’m such an Akiba nerd I do enjoy that they got permission to use actual store names for a lot of the anime shops!

*yawn* Yeah, yeah… I know this is very niche, but I just really love this silly manga! It’s probably my favourite first volume of a manga series I’ve ever read!

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I like the fact they actually addressed this! So many shows or books never go into the nitty gritty when it comes to people being ‘out cold for days after a battle’.

Final recommendation and score, then? With an emphasis squarely on comedy, and some pretty adult comedy at that, it’s hard not to recommend for people who their funny served with a heaping side of ecchi. The harem elements seem light so far and all the characters are interesting and surprisingly well developed, even the usually ‘bland for the sake of being able to easily relate to’ protagonist has an interesting back-story that’s hinted at and a bit of world weariness that is refreshing for this genre. 93 out of 100.

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Oh and the S&M yokai guy ends up working at the Maid Cafe our protagonist frequents, did I forgot to mention that?

5 Things I Learned or Want to Learn From Anime – Untold Questions

An Untold Questions blog about Things I Learned or Want to Learn From Anime.

And this is? I straight up stole this blog idea from RemyFool, but basically it’s just a list of 5 things that, like the title says, I learned or wanted to learn because of Anime. It’s like a thought exercise or something…

Okay… so this is just a blog post and not an awards thing or review. Yeah! Pretty much, I mean when I want to talk I’m gonna’ talk!

Should I be worried? Well if things get a little R-rated, a little risqué, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Fair enough, so what’s the first thing?

#5        (I want to learn to…) Write a light novel.

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This quote applies to SO many things in life.

This one seems obvious, at least to me. I’ve written a novel, but a western novel, and as much as I love it for what it is, a part of me just desperately wants to write a light novel for Japanese audiences (and of course Western otakus). I’ve got a few ideas that are itching to get out, but of course the hardest part is actually getting started and sticking with it. (Anime that evoked this reaction: A Sister’s All You Need, Eromanga-sensei)

Light novel, huh? I bet it’s something perverse knowing you… Shhhhh.

#4        (I Learned…) How to cook Japanese food.

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Rice cooker is king.

I’ve always been a bit of a gourmet, I do all the cooking at home and that’s no exaggeration; the kitchen is mine and will always be mine! Watching anime though taught me a lot more discipline in the kitchen than I was used to and my cuisine has improved all the more for it. Also my love of rice has increased a hundred fold because of anime! (Anime that evoked this reaction: Food Wars, Toradora, Himouto! Umaru-chan!)

Okay there rice boy, what’s next?

#3        (I want to learn to…) BE MYSELF! 

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Yes, that’s me, admiring the oppai that adorns the streets of Akihabara.

When I was last in Japan and specifically Akihabara I felt so at ease with who I was that it was like a revelation. But then returning to the west I became introverted again, afraid of admitting who I was to the outside world. Yes I still wear anime shirts to the grocery store, sporting best girls on my phone case, but I’m still super aware of people around judging me for it. I just need to learn to be myself and not care that someone is looking at me weird for it. (Anime that evoked this reaction: A Sister’s All You Need, No Game No Life, OreImo, Yuru Yuri, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid)

I’m judging you, but not because you’re an anime fan, but because you’re a pervert. There’s a difference. You ain’t seen nothing yet!

 

#2        (I learned…) that nipples are really sensitive!

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Yes. Yes I do.

Okay this one is kinda dumb, I just wanted to say something rude… but you know what, anime seems really obsessed with the power of stimulating a woman’s nipple! Maybe it’s just because they’re allowed to show a nipple being “entertained” but not the other spot of a woman that is sensitive to touch. But yeah, the nipple can produce a pretty strong reaction, that much I’ve learned for sure. #TMI (Anime that evoked this reaction: Valkyrie Drive, High School DxD)

Good to see I wasn’t off base with that pervert comment before… It’s just the human body, man! There’s nothing perverse about it, man!

Quiet, hippy! And what’s number one, dare I ask?

#1        (I want to learn to…) Live a life that’s not dependent on corporations. 

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The simple life, with not a Paris or Nicole to be seen!

This one is perhaps the most unrealistic, and the most vague, and the most not me. I mean, who am I kidding, I love being able to buy anything online at the touch of a button, or have the convenience of fast food chains to feed me or something as easily forgotten as the worlds entire knowledge on a phone. But a part of me wants to live the simple life, a life not ruled by schedule and not assisted by powerful corporations that offer the world at the expense of something personal. (Anime that evoked this reaction: No-Rin, Dagashi Kashi)

I kind of feel like you cheated with this list. What do you mean?

Well, there’s certainly a lot of abstract concepts here. I expected things like ‘I want to learn how to play Shogi’. Oh but I do want to learn to play ‘Shogi’! Except, well I know I won’t because I haven’t learnt actual Chess, so Japanese Chess is just as unlikely.

And it wasn’t particularly R-rated, either… Well it’s not like I can learn how to be in a monster girl harem. That’s a precious gift that few are afforded!

Well that’s enough of this for today! If you got this far, congratulations! And feel free to steal this format of questions like I stole it from RemyFool! Thanks for reading!

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles Episode 9 – 20 Question Anime Review (Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles Episode 9.

What’s the show? Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles Episode 9.

Another one? Didn’t expect another single episode review on this show so soon. Nor did I to be honest.

So did the show manage to subvert your expectations the way the previous episode did with the introduction of ‘hot boys’ into the fray? Umm, yes and no.

Do go on. Well there were no more scenes with ‘hot boys’ alas, so the shipping is put on hold, but I’m still holding out that it will become a romance anime at some point. I mean aside from the one-sided ‘romance’ between Koizumi-san and Yu.

So what subverted your expectations this time? Comedy!

Damn ramen zombies.

Oh? I thought it was always a comedy? Well on paper maybe, don’t get me wrong every episode had at least a few humorous moments but this is the first time the show has actually tried to be funny and pretty much succeeded throughout.

I half expected the Yuru Camp ‘narrator’ to appear at this point.

Interesting. Some examples? Well unexpectedly the episode starts in the mountains, and considering I watched Yuru Camp just before I almost thought we were about to have a crossover episode, but no, instead Koizumi is mountain climbing and we’re treated to a famous quote by mountaineer George Mallory, when asked “why do you climb mountains” he replied “because it’s there.” It’s an obvious joke when it comes to Koizumi but it’s well placed and having the screen fill up with the reply like it’s some deep sentiment is very amusing. What’s more it’s a beautifully animated segment, that contrasts with the heavily city based scenes the show is usually set in.

2 deep 4 me.

Seems like a lot of work just for a one-note payoff. Maybe, but the segment is still entertaining, plus there’s fun little moments like when Koizumi sets up a portable stove and begins cooking up ramen on a trail and the people passing her by begin muttering “ramen” like possessed drones at the apparently intoxicating sight and smells. Plus it’s just nice seeing Koizumi interact with other people like the elderly couple who asks her to take their photo.

Damn you Crunchyroll watermark!

Character building? That’s it! It’s character, not so much the characters themselves but the character of the show!

But dat art tho.

What do you mean? Okay so in the second segment, we’re introduced to a middle school boy named Kenta, who enters a ramen shop in order to get “revenge” on a bowl of ramen that defeated him previously and shamed him in front of his school friends. (Basically he couldn’t finish it because the serving is so large and he felt emasculated). Koizumi enters soon after, taking a seat beside him and orders a mega size potion of Buta Yarou ramen. After seeing the petite girl easily defeat her own super sized dish and order a soft serve desert he is motivated and finishes his bowl.

“Oh my god Becky look at her ramen, it’s… so… BIG”

So? Ugh, it’s hard to put into words, it’s a cute scene, besides if you’ve ever been to Japan you know not only the difficulty in finishing ramen but the shame in leaving anything in the bowl.

Synchronised slurping, new Olympic sport?

I guess that makes sense. Also the boy is the younger brother of the beauty-obsessed girl Misa, who is one of Yu’s good friends. So now there’s two brothers who’ve been taken in by Koizumi-san’s ‘unique’ charms, albeit in different ways.

That’s what she said.

Reverse harem? Where’d you learn such dirty words! Also, no I doubt it, but it is slowly expanding the universe of the show, which is fun and interesting even if it will probably amount to little, but I can dream…

Also the second segment takes place in Akihabara, I literally leapt out of my seat in excitement as I stayed on this very street last year!

And what else? Well in the episode’s third segment we see Misa exercising because she’s getting jealous about all the attention Koizumi has been getting from the boys at school. She sets out to “spy” on Koizumi to find out her beauty tricks and by “spy” she just blatantly confronts her and asks what new things she’s been doing? And it being Ms Koizimi the answer can only be one thing.

M. Bison: “OF COURSE!”

Ramen? Back fat!

Baby got back fat? No I already made a Sir Mix-a-Lot joke this blog…

Excuse me?! Well yes, ramen but back fat ramen, and the segment is introduced in such a hilarious fashion like I’d accidentally put in some sort of erotica! See this is the character of the show I was talking about, the sort of personality to the show itself that had been so lacking up to this point!

50 Shades of Ramen.

I think I get what you’re saying. It’s about the way it’s presented as opposed to the content therein? Well the content is important of course, but essentially yes, the show is experimenting with styles and presentation and feeling all the more loose and fun for it!

So how’s this segment. It’s probably the weakest of the three because it is a return to the normal format of ‘Koizumi and one of the other female side characters eating ramen’ but it too has a tad more comedy, in the form of a montage of all things as Misa gets seduced into eating more back fat ramen over the course of a week just so she gets the same “glowing” complexion Koizumi has had recently. Spoiler alert it’s because her face is greasy from eating ramen that’s covered in lard!

You say it like it’s a bad thing?

Ew, not sure how I feel about that. I admit, it’s not at the top of my list of ramen to try from this show but it is at least interesting!

Me at Melon Books in Akihabara.

So wrap this up, will ya? Right, so the first few episodes had the score hovering ‘round the mid 70’s out of 100, peaking in the high 70’s at some more interesting moments. Episode 8 had the score touching the low 80’s, and now, well if things continue this way, it could be a show worthy of mid 80’s by the time the season is done. This is not a weather report FYI. Hopefully the show continues to grow and change in these subtle but important ways, because I’m enjoying it all the more as it goes along.

Steins;Gate – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review of Steins;Gate.

What’s the show? Steins;Gate (2011).

And what’s with the semi;colon? I don’t know; ask the author(s) 5pb and NitroPlus, all of their science-y shows use that to separate the two-word titles.

Science, eh? So not lolicon or siscon or whatever strange perversion you’re usually inundating me with these question suggestions? For the record, those aren’t my perversions, they just happen to be a recurring theme in the anime I enjoy… but yes this is a sci-fi, with an emphasis on the science.

So what’s it all about? Well. It’s pretty complicated, but our protagonist Rintaro Okabe is a kind of DIY mad scientist and he inadvertently discovers time travel! And so SERN (thinly veiled CERN analogue) gets involved and people close to him die, except they don’t because time travel and it’s all very dramatic and tense and emotional and genuinely one of the most unique, thought provoking and all round exciting anime experiences out there. To go into any more plot details would be a disservice to this thrilling ride!

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Wow, I’m actually interested in this for once. I’m waiting for the ‘but’ to ruin it all for me though, so please continue. No but’s, no coconuts, with the exception that the anime takes place in otaku central, Akihabara and one of the characters works at a maid cafe, it’s about as ‘casual friendly’ as anime comes, provided you’re into science fiction and the associated plot convolutions.

Well, this seems like it’s going to be a truncated blog, this is only question six and I’m already wondering what we’re going to talk about for the next fourteen questions?! It’s not flawless.

What? Well, it’s excellent, it’s a show I’d recommend above almost every other show out there, but it’s not perfect.

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So what’s wrong with it, in your estimation? The pacing of the first dozen episodes is all over the place, to the point where the show feels like it isn’t really going anywhere. It’s a doozy of a first obstacle, but once it’s cleared its pretty much smooth sailing from there on out. And…

And there’s more isn’t there? No, I mean, actually never mind… there’s nothing else wrong with it… just watch it, okay?

Hey, what’s wrong? You’re suddenly so down? It’s nothing, don’t worry yourself about it…

No, something is obviously wrong, just tell me? It’s just, I… I saw your death.

I’m sorry, what? I’ve seen the future, and I’ve seen your death, I’m sorry to tell it to you like this, but I’ve seen you die and it happens soon and there’s nothing I can do to stop it!

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Wait? What? No, you have to help me? I can’t die; I have so much more anime to experience second hand through you. I can’t help you, I’ve tried… so many times, I’ve replayed the same events over and over and every time you die and every time I’m too late to stop it! It’s useless… I’m so sorry.

No… it can’t end like this… okay, tell me when at least? So maybe I’ve got a chance to stop it myself. I can’t.

Why not?! Time fluctuations. Or paradoxes? Wibbly wobbly timey wimey…

Ugh, then at least tell me how? How do I die so I can avoid a situation like it? Well… you’re walking down a street; I don’t know what street, when monkeys appear… bloody thousands of them, and then…

And then? And then they start to throw their… excrement at you, it just keeps coming and coming and their aim is just so on point that they never don’t miss your mouth until you’re just so full of shit that you just die!

I die… because I’m full… of shit? Yeah… *slowly dabs handkerchief at eye* It’s truly tragic.

Screw you! I was actually worried about myself for a second. So you should be! It’s not normal for a human being to be that full of shit!

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Yeah, yeah, I get it. Up yours, final score or whatever, I’m out of here. Time travel is a powerfully problematic plot device, science fiction shows, movies and books of the past have made no stranger about this fact, what Steins;Gate does is find a flawless balance between the science and technology and the human element that’s oh so important in these kinds of stories. Hold my beer because I’m going back in time so I can experience this excellent anime again for the first time, 95 out of 100.

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