Time For Change – An Anime QandA Review for ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ Episode 2
What’s the show? YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World, Episode 2.
And how’s this episode? As you may recall from my last episode review I was intrigued by the premise and execution of the show. I was, however, less than impressed with the perverted antics of our protagonist who himself felt like a relic from an earlier age of anime where these kinds of antics were excused as “boys will be boys” rather than being called out in such behaviour as he would in a modern anime.
Uh-huh, I recall… so what about it? Well the opening minutes of this episode has our protagonist discovering the function of the device his father left for him. It can manipulate timelines, allowing him to make an action then go back and make a different action resulting in a divergent timeline. And immediately I was worried about what kind of shenanigans he would get involved in considering he had a blank check for (further) sexually related consequence free mischief.
Oh no. Indeed, but turns out those fears were (for now) unjustified as he only uses it to attempt the rescue of his step-mother from the hands of thugs who are trying to get their hands on her father’s research papers. He first tries a diplomatic approach–fails. Changes timelines and tries a violent approach–fails. Changes timelines again with a borderline suicidal approach–and fails at which point one of his step mother’s colleagues shows up to “save the day” and the episode kind of ends on a weird tonally ambiguous cliffhanger.
Right. And is that all that happens in the episode? No, there’s some stuff early on that’s ~probably~ important but is more just half filler/half laying groundwork for future stuff. Compared to the first episode this one was kind of dull but likewise a bit more subdued and less ‘throwing everything at the screen to try and grab people’s attention’ which helps establish a more consistent tone and narrative pace–though at the pace we’re currently going I’m glad this is a 26 episode series as it’s going to need the time to get to what it wants to do (whatever that may be).
I see. Anything else you want to add? A lot of time in science-fiction, especially when discussing things as complicated as alternate universes’ and branching actions causing new realities–things can get bogged down in a lot of techno-babble. That’s why I appreciated this show’s straightforward visual approach to explaining and then demonstrating the specifics of this show’s alternate reality theories. It’s nothing particularly unique but it was easy to grasp the basics of after a single viewing.
And how’s your recommendation stand from last week? If you were put off by how ‘ecchi-adjacent’ some of the scenes were and the actions of the protagonist this episode tones things down considerably–that’s not to say it won’t return to last week’s ~shenanigans~ but for the time being the focus seems to be on the story and the characters.
Previous ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ Reviews:
Caught Between A Sister And A Hot Sensei – A Full Season Review for ‘Domestic Girlfriend’
What’s the show? Domestic Girlfriend.
And what’s it about? It rapidly becomes a very convoluted series so I’ll try and surmise the essential points. Natsuo is at a mixer, when a quietly spoken but assertive girl named Rui offers herself to him sexually. He agrees (because he’s a guy and she’s cute) but his heart lies with his teacher Hina whom he has an unrequited love for. Natsuo’s widowed father announces that he has met someone and they’re getting married. Turns out he’s marrying a woman who is mother to both Rui and Hina. They’re sisters, they’re about to become his step-sisters and they’re all going to live under the same roof!
Well that’s certainly a lot of coincidences for sake of dramatic potential, isn’t it? And that’s only the first episode! The number of plot convolutions that this show throws at its audience is tantamount to long-running soap opera! But it never (at least for me) wades into the cheesy, trashy depths of pure soap opera because of the level of restraint this show has with regards to its overall execution. Yes it has a few comedic moments that elicit an eye roll or two, but these feel like real human characters going through an unreal situation.
And about the characters? They’re mostly very good, despite the questionable things they do to one another and get caught up in you can never hate them for it and in some instances they’re even more relatable for their flaws and poor relationship decisions. Rui is best girl though—there’s no denying that!
And what’s something that you didn’t like about the show? As I mentioned both in my first and second episode reviews there’s a noticeable difference in emotional maturity between the episodes that could initially turn some viewers off as I almost was with episode one. Also, as with any show where the protagonist is making relationship choices that most people would view as counter-intuitive it can get a bit frustrating sometimes but never enough to make it unpleasant to watch.
Anything else to add? Yes, actually. This series actually has a lot of fan-service–it’s just none of it really made it into the series–sure there’s the requisite cleavage shots, beach bikini shots and bath shots that make it into almost every anime. But the manga has nudity, likewise there’s ‘deleted scenes’ that have found their way onto the internet which are ~extremely~ steamy and show in detail Rui and Natsuo’s first time together.
I don’t really know why you felt the need to mention that– So I can show pictures of course!
Nope! Not gonna happen! There’s no way you can justify putting images that aren’t even from the actual season. If you want to post pictures of that put it in a separate post on the subject! Fine, maybe I’ll do just that!
Ugh, you’re the worst, you know that? Anyway, final recommendation and score for ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ please… Know what you’re getting into before watching this, having a certain frame of mind can help overcome what i’ll label as ~problematic~ elements of the show. Also don’t expect Shakespeare from what is clearly just soap-inspired frivolity with an emphasis on character drama. Just watch it and enjoy it for what it is, I know I did! 86 out of 100.
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Blast From The Past – An Anime QandA Review for ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ Episode 1
What’s the show? YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World, Episode 1.
Ah, first new show of the Spring 2019 anime season, huh? How was the first episode? It was good.
…Oh…kay then? Going to elaborate a little more on that 3-word review are we? I don’t know, I’m usually pretty sure about whether I’ll like something or not from the get-go but this is an odd one… I’m going to definitely need more episodes to even get an idea what kind of show it is.
Well what can you tell me about the series? It’s a bit ‘Steins;Gate’-ish, only with a more adolescent edge to it–our protagonist Takuya shares more than a few similarities with a ‘typical harem lead’ but I don’t think this show is trying to be that. It will be about relationships at some point but I hasten a guess that they’ll be peripheral fodder for light-hearted shenanigans where the focus will be on the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his father as well as the time travel and alternate universe gubbins that serves as this shows ‘hook’.
So it’s science fiction, mystery, comedy and romance? More or less, and in that order so far.
And what’s your biggest concern about the series? So a little background information, this series is based on a visual novel from 1996–that’s probably from before most of my readers were even born! And while I won’t say this anime in anyway feels dated, it does feel ~different~ to some modern anime in a way I can only attribute to the age of the source material. It’s not even something tangible or expressible just a feeling I had while watching this first episode. So it makes me wonder whether certain mid 90’s sensibilities are going to find their way into the script or whether it’s been ‘updated’ for modern audiences.
I’m not sure what you mean by “mid 90’s sensibilities”? I’m worried the show is going to have outdated gender stereotypes–you know the kind of casual sexism that you used to see all the time in 90’s media. And I’m mostly worried about that coming from our protagonist because as he is at the moment is walking a fine-line for me.
Oh? What’s he done wrong already in the space of a single episode? He makes sexual advances towards his teacher, he asks whether a grumpy classmate is experiencing “that time of the month” to explain her attitude, he’s implied to have had some sort of “relationship” with an ex-tutor and as a ‘joke’ he jumps out in his underwear at the new female transfer student. Not exactly a compelling case for a character I want to support for a longer running series.
But what’s so different about him compared to other harem or harem-adjacent anime? Compared to modern anime? Quite a bit, the ‘pervert’ archetype isn’t as common as it once was and is usually relegated to side characters. But even in the rare cases where a pervert character is the main protagonist (like in Maken-Ki) they are almost immediately verbally or physically rebuked for the conduct. Whereas here it’s shrugged off as ‘adolescent folly’ and ‘boys will be boys’–a mentality that may have been easy to get away with in 1996 but not in 2019!
Sounds like you’ve worked yourself up quite a bit from where we started with the “it was good” remark? This is what happens when you write off the top of your head right after finishing the episode (and don’t bother to edit because that would negate the conversational style of my reviews). But I still stand by the “it was good” remark because it was, all the characters are interesting if a little blandly designed, the soundtrack suited the action and the intrigue was thick throughout.
So who would you recommend ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ for? Fans of time-travel and parallel world anime like ‘Steins;Gate’ or even things like last year’s ‘ISLAND’ seem like logical comparisons. It is more immediately sexual that either of those two but likewise I don’t think this is going into ecchi territory if that’s what you’re worried about. There’s enough interesting going-ons and unanswered questions (like what’s going on with the cute, naked blonde girl!) to keep me watching even despite my reservations about the protagonist. If any of this has sounded interesting then I’d recommend giving it a watch!
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To Catch A Cheater – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ Episode 4
What’s the show? Domestic Girlfriend, Episode 4.
So how’s this episode? So last episode Natuso and Rui ‘teamed up’ to try and break-up Hina and the married man she’s having an affair with and through a series of awkward (but failed) meddlings they come up short but by some measure of a coincidence Hina and her boyfriend Shuu show up at the cafe they happen to be at (it’s not really that outlandish that they’d appear as it’s known information that they frequent the cafe) and so a showdown ensues!
A showdown? Well, I mean Natsuo gets angry at the dude for having a family and sleeping around, he’s a bit of smooth talker and explains the situation but it’s Rui who ends up silencing the dude by throwing a glass of water in his face and running away. Natsuo gives chase and comforts her, meanwhile Hina has to make the decision of her family or her lover.
And which decision does she make? Well she tells Hina and Natsuo that she chooses them over him but let’s face it, ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ so I’m not convinced that she isn’t lying to them for the sake of the family harmony. But then again I’m not approaching this like a conventional shonen manga–which it mostly is–and this being the end of the arc it could very well never come up again and this ‘affair’ could ~actually~ be over for good for all I know!
Anything else you wanted to add? I don’t like the way Natuso and Rui went about their whole “plan” especially the stealing of Hina’s phone and having Rui ‘pretend’ to be her sister in an attempt to break them up (it didn’t work because of Rui’s “social awkwardness). I mean I know these are teenagers and their ideas can’t exactly be expected to be stellar, but this was like something a 10 year-old would come up with! But I am at least glad the final decision for the break-up came from Hina and not any kind of forced ultimatum.
Overall thoughts on the episode? It was probably the weakest one so far for me but at this point I’m pretty heavily invested in the series and its characters so I doubt anything it could do would make me jump ship at this point. Overall though this episode does more good than bad and that’s always a plus.
A Family Affair – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ Episode 3
What’s the show? Domestic Girlfriend, Episode 3.
How’s this episode? This episode worried me a little as it veered headlong into soap territory with one of its plot developments but deftly managed to correct itself by delivering a compelling and emotionally charged series of dramatic set pieces infused with substantial character development.
Wow. Okay then, that’s certainly substantial praise. I made a tweet after watching this episode saying something along the lines of “if you’d told me last year that this show would have been in my Top 3 anime of the season (so far) I wouldn’t have believed you.” Which is as much a comment on the quality of the show as it is the unexpectedness of it considering the zero interest I had in it and the fact it’s continued high quality outshines it’s initial impression.
Okay, so what happens in this episode then? Well through a roundabout way (Natsuo’s friend overhears it while working at the cafe) we discover that the relationship troubles his teacher and new sister Hina has been having is that she’s in a relationship with a married man. He confronts her about it and is again rebuffed with the similar phrase “these are adult problems that don’t concern children”. Then in what can only be described as ‘a very bad idea’ he kisses her. She doesn’t pull away at first, but ~eventually~ does, giving him a slap for his actions—only to be pushed onto the bed where she kisses him.
Oh boy. And he’s taken off-guard by this action on her part, to the point where she’s perched above him and the only thing he can do is look on, shellshocked. She again remarks about him being a “child” and he returns to his room to think on what exactly happened. The next morning his father finds a note saying he’s going to stay with a friend for a while as he needs space and the parents naturally assume it’s because of their hasty remarriage and go into damage control meanwhile Hina knows the truth and the look of guilt on her face clues Rui into the situation too. Rui goes after Natsuo and eventually (and conveniently) finds him, the two are both unhappy with Hina’s actions (the dating a married man thing, not the kissing a minor) and so resolve to get her to change her ways. They return home to the sight of their parents sitting in the dark, contemplating divorce for the sake of their children which they are quick to clarify isn’t the reason for them running away from home. Hina comes downstairs and collapses to her knees in tears.
Sounds very dramatic. It is, and it’s told in a way that doesn’t pander to the audience, there’s no excessive rumination via internal monologues, no amateurish handling of feelings and no dodging difficult questions. I respect this show for its restraint on what could be mishandled into trashy drama but more so I respect the show for just being so compelling on an entertainment level too.
Facing Your Fears – An Anime QandA Review of ‘The Rising Of The Shield Hero’ Episode 2
What’s the show? Rising of the Shield Hero, Episode 2.
No, no no no, no, NO! What…?
I’ve never seen you so ‘ranty’ as when I saw you reviewing the first episode of this show WHY on Earth, are you reviewing episode 2?! Because I got curious and because I got drunk, I tells ya’ that’s a scary combination!
Oof~ so uhhh, dare I ask what did you think of the second episode? It’s ‘Skyrim’ and Stockholm Syndrome two great tastes that taste great together!
Oh boy, here we go… You know, the biggest defense in favour of ‘The Rising Of The Shield Hero’ that I saw out there on the wild wild internets was? And it’s a doozy, so strap on in…
Ugh, what’s that then? That this light novel series was written by a ~woman~ and that somehow makes it exempt from criticism that its misogynistic and problematic!
And that means? Okay, let’s just put a pin at that criticism right off the bat! Women can be just as sexist and problematic as men… remember Ayn Rand, the female author that thought women existed only to be subservient to men and emboldened a whole wave of men’s rights activists to think their opinion mattered more than any other? And while we’re on the subject of bad decisions let’s not forget that 47% of white women voted for Trump in the 2016 US Presidential Elections and if that’s not voting out of a vested disinterest in your own gender and further perpetuating outdated ideals of the patriarchy then I don’t know what is!
No. Stop. Talk about the actual episode and not what nonsense you’ve associated to it by comparison? Fine. Sure, so Noafumi buys himself the cheapest and most “obedient” slave he can find at the slave market, a cute cat girl with mental issues because you know, ~fetishes~.
Oof~! Don’t you “oof~” me! So Noafumi basically uses her as his sword in lieu of his own “sword” because you know this is a matriarchy (apparently) and the best he can do is be a damage sponge while she cleans up the kills! And…
And…? Okay but Raphtalia (that’s her name) is really fucking cute. Like, “I’d sell my kidney just to see her smile”-cute. And, oh… oh no… am I a part of the problem?
Probably… No, stop! I won’t be a part of this system! So uh… a bunch of Skyrim/RPG shenanigans and now I’m more or less committed to this series because it’s bothered to appeal to my nerdy leanings while being simultaneously absolutely obnoxious about the whole thing. Yay for feeling like a douche bag for liking what you like! Is this what white privilege feels like?!
Dare I mention ‘Goblin Slayer’? Oh come on, why would you stoop so low!
Hey! You were the one to tar it with the paintbrush of absolute misogyny before realizing it wasn’t nearly as bad as you were painting it out to be! Tch! I mean sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that this show is appealing to its core demographic in such a painfully pandering way that I can’t help but be in awe of its execution.
But wait? What about all that stuff you said about the author being an “unpopular, otaku-ish virgin”? I presumed the gender of the author, but the knowledge of the author being female (allegedly) only works better for my comparison. I mean why else would the main “villain” of this story be a sexy woman who’s popular with the boys and uses her sexuality as a weapon, unless the author was a woman (undoubtedly “otaku-ish” herself) who’d been downtrodden by society and perhaps even by the more ~conventionally ‘attractive’ women~ who maybe scorned her for not conforming to expected standards of femininity. That’s a narrative that–while no less sexist–at least comes from a place that feels different enough from the tired male power fantasies that the isekai genre sometimes employs.
You’re presuming a lot about the author from the text, whatever happened to “death of the author” as a concept? I know it’s something you believe in. True, but when so many people are trudging out the author’s gender as a defense and when there’s the palpable sense that the author themselves is a character in the story it’s hard not to get caught up in it.
So you still think Noafumi is an avatar for the author? Okay, while I think there are parts of his personality that reflect the author (the impotent rage and ‘fuck the world’ attitude) I think it’s just as likely that the author sees themself in Raphtalia too. A caged animal, a victim of circumstance just because of her ‘appearance’ despite being not too dissimilar from the women who rule it. Imagining yourself as a “demi-human” or monster because you’re different from others has been a popular idea not just in Japanese fiction but in fiction the world over. So while Noafumi’s “struggles” aren’t really struggles as he’s just having to deal with the inconvenience of people hating him while still retaining all the freedom afforded of an able-bodies man in this society (it’s not a Matriarchy just because the author says it is, especially when it looks and acts no different to any other fantasy setting–i’ll believe it when I see it!) Raphtalia is downtrodden from birth just because of how she was born, there’s even signs outside of taverns and inns saying they don’t serve ‘demi-humans’. The racism allegory is obvious and surface level but the comparison to an author who’s persecuted by women despite being a woman (just not looking or acting the same as the norm) is too strong to ignore.
Okay fine, you’ve theorised on the intentions of the author to help you justify their narrative, character and world-building choices. But that’s not a review of the show, that’s a review of literally ~everything else~. What about the show and this episode in particular? I watched it twice, once by myself while drunk and once with the irlwaifu while sober and both times I enjoyed it. It felt less artificial and bloated than the first episode and because it was more or less focused on just two characters the episode devoted requisite attention to endearing the audience with Raphitalia and solidifying the ‘relationship’ between her and Naofumi. I don’t particularly ~like~ Naofumi, I think he’s a callous idiot who could saved Raphitalia a lot of anxiety by you know, telling her that he wasn’t going to be like her old owner who tortured her. You know showing some compassion for another person outcast by this society, rather than pulling her around and grumbling at her for the first half of the episode–but that’s a small gripe as its mostly rectified by the end. Also as much as it’s a trope of the isekai genre to have video game style levelling I did enjoy that here, as well as having to sell things they find and make to earn money–it reminded me a lot of Oblivion and Skyrim two games I’ve got thousands of hours of play in.
So you’re going to watch this show–even after all of the hoopla you made about it in the previous review? I thought ‘Darling In The FranXX’ was sexist trash when I first watched it and now it’s one of my favourite shows. ‘Goblin Slayer’ started off as appalling rape fan service and quickly tapered off into an above average adventure show. There’s no telling where this show will go but right now I’m going to stick with it–mostly though to make sure that Noafumi takes good care of Raphtalia!
Bathed In Secrets – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ Episode 2
What’s the show? Domestic Girlfriend, Episode 2.
So how’s this episode? There’s a line any given trashy drama can cross where it becomes more than just the surface level exploration of its topic and dives deeper. I call it, ‘When A Soap Drama Becomes A Real Drama’.
You speak with such authority but truth is you don’t really know anything, right? I mean if you’re going to be like that sure, but let’s just pretend I do for a minute for the sake of getting this review out, aight?
Sure okay. So what did this show do that was so good? I don’t know…
Wow, so much for pretending like you knew what you were talking about? I think this is a ‘Goblin Slayer’ situation (yep, there’s a show I bet you didn’t think I’d be bringing up in these reviews) where the first episode had to entice with the ~big messy angsty stuff~ and then it’s left for the rest of the episodes to calm things down and put things in context and flesh out the characters. So while the first episode of ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ sought to entice through soap opera stylings to grab the audience, the subsequent episode brings things down to earth and as a result feels more realistic and humanistic as a result.
Okay that I understood. Why didn’t you just say that from the start? You mean why did I go for a messy opening instead of just getting to the point right away? Almost like I did it on purpose…
You didn’t though, did you. No, it was a happy accident, but here we are!
So what happens in the episode anyway? So in true anime style Rui transfers into Natsuo’s school and immediately fails the whole ‘making friends’ thing by speaking her mind rather than being polite. Natsuo schools her in the ways of being “sociable” only for that to escalate into a full blown quip-fest between Rui and Natsuo right in the middle of class which ends up doing double duty and endearing her classmates to Rui anyway. I really liked this scene, it showed strong writing and voice acting and managed to show a different side to both of these characters. More of this please!
And the rest of the episode? There’s an intimate scene where Natsuo walks in on Rui having a bath, but rather than admonish him she invites him in and the two have a talk with the bit of information being dropped that Hina is having relationship troubles with her boyfriend. The next day Akihito and Tokiko (their parents, in case I didn’t mention their names) decide to get married at city hall and have dinner at a restaurant afterwards, meaning that it falls to eldest sibling Hina to cook. Or rather that’s what Natsuo presumes, given that she’s the oldest–turns out Hina can’t cook at all and Rui ended up dishing out the delicious meal. More points in Rui’s favour it would seem–not that Natsuo seems to notice, he’s too concerned with wanting to be the shoulder for her to cry on. But Hina’s too committed to playing the sensei/big sister role to offload her “adult” problems onto him. She gets a call on her phone, its her boyfriend, he’s outside and wants to talk to her. An hour later she comes back in on the verge of tears, clearly something happened but before he can get any information out of her their parents return from dinner.
And that’s it? More or less. And this is probably what I meant when I said this show has gone from a ‘soap drama’ to a ‘real drama’–it’s not that anything presented here is suddenly more drama-filled or high-stakes–rather it’s that there’s a restraint and added sense of maturity to the proceedings that the first episode was lacking. And if the series can keep this balancing act up, being ~occasionally~ salacious while telling a compelling story with interesting and well-rounded characters, then I’m all for it!
Putting The F In Family – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ Episode 1
What’s the show? Domestic Girlfriend, Episode 1.
So how’s this episode? So this show wasn’t on my initial Winter 2019 Watch List because of stupid reasons (I only saw the Japanese title and confused it with another show) so when some murmurings around this show started to surface under its English title I was like “oh yeah, I’ve heard of that manga! I should watch the show!” Thus ends the exciting tale of why I’m watching this even though it wasn’t on my watch list.
Nobody cares, get to the review already! Okay fine! So diluted to its simplest this is a show about a guy who sleeps with a girl he has no feelings for (and vice versa) all the while crushing on his young and attractive teacher. Next minute his father announces he is getting remarried to a woman with two daughters and guess what his soon-to-be stepsisters are the girl he had sex with and the teacher he has a crush on! What are the odds?!
That seems… Unlikely? Contrived? Ridiculous? Fanciful? Juvenile? Yes it is, all of the above! But since when has that stopped anime from indulging in the realm of the ~never gonna happen~.
So you’re okay with the premise? The premise is something out of a soap opera but whatever I’m not going to disparage a show for being ridiculous with its general conceit. What I can and will disparage is its execution! Despite framing itself as something of a ~serious~ romantic drama (what with the somewhat dull colour palette, minimalist design and emphasis on full face closeups) this is handled with all the subtlety and restraint and pace as a toddler eating spaghetti with a mallet. The entire episode felt like it was in such a rush to get to the place in the story where everyone was living together that it became almost comical to behold. And as such I couldn’t take any of it seriously because the show itself was so impatient.
Maybe that was intentional though? Regardless of intent it came off as flimsy. But for me the worst thing about the show was that it felt like it was pandering to a very juvenile teenage boy fantasy, the idea of your sexy teacher and the girl you slept with once suddenly living in the same house as yours. And as I said the idea itself isn’t essentially flawed but framing it in such a try hard serious way came across as obnoxious.
Excuse me? Is Mr. Harem Anime trying to shame a series for pandering to teenage boys? I’m not shonen shaming, some of my favourite anime are shonens! The difference is 99% of the shows that I watch that “pander” are either self-aware enough to know that harems are ridiculous and unrealistic and play up to the idea with comic-relief or other kind of shenanigans to offset the “relationship” aspect of the series. Like if there was a bonafide, ‘multiple girls going after the same guy’ harem anime that took itself as serious as this show does I’d have the ~exact~ same complaints as I do with this show.
Okay… I think I see what you’re getting at, you don’t like the show because it tries to hard to be serious when its not serious. Did I say I didn’t like it?
Oh, uh, well I just assumed given all the– No, I mean for whatever reason as much as this show has its problems, I still enjoyed the experience. That might seem unexpected but I legitimately did. Well, right up until the end…
What happened at the end? Well his teacher is sleeping opposite him on the couch and she’s passed out drunk and lookin’ real sexy with her short little shorts and cleavage spiling top. And Mr protagonist has decided now that the family situation is the way it is, he’s never going to get a short at any kind of romantic relationship with her so he leans in, intent to steal a kiss–one first and final kiss from her unconscious lips… and then other girl walks in catching him mere moments from the deed. END CREDITS!
Oof~ the problematic rears its head again I see! Did you just “oof”? Anyway yes, problematic is one word for it, so is attempted sexual assault. Here’s a lesson for you kids, don’t try and kiss and unconscious person! Even if they don’t know it happened, it’s still assault! And yes, it’s no doubt going to be the catalyst for juicy messy ~drama~ but boy do I hate a male protagonist who only thinks of himself and not the women around him.
So you dislike the show now? I’m confused… No, as it is now the show itself hasn’t glorified, endorsed or even pardoned his actions–we won’t know the show’s stance on what ~almost~ happened until next episode. That said I’m not at all in a place where I could say I even like the main character now so that’s going to be a steep hill (among many) this show has to climb.
…Okay. So overall thoughts on the first episode and a recommendation? Messy, messy, messy in every respect. It’s messily paced, messily handled, with messy characterisation and a very messy protagonist. Also, did you see I went the whole review without actually naming any of the characters? I think that goes a way to telling you exactly how I felt about most of the characters on the show–thoroughly disconnect. Just about the only character I did gravitate towards was the dad and that’s only because he’s shown to be the most endearing out of all of them! As for who I recommend it too… I don’t know, I suppose anyone with messy tastes in anime…
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What’s the important information? Happy Sugar Life is a Summer 2018 psychological horror anime that ran 12 episodes from July to September. It is based on a manga series written by Tomiyaki Kagisora.
What’s it about? On the outside Sato is a bright, beautiful and very popular girl but inside she is deeply troubled and scarred—the only thing in life that brings her joy is her ‘relationship’ with a little girl named Shio who she’s kidnapped and keeps in her apartment. The two live a blissful life together that Sato would do anything to maintain, even if it means committing murder.
Why did you watch it? Believe it or not I actually like ‘dark’ things, despite my preoccupation with CGDCT and slice of life shows seemingly dictating my choices in anime watching. So when there’s a series that combines both—at the least the latter of which aesthetically if not literally—then you better believe I’m going to watch it!
Did you enjoy the show? As of the writing of this rundown ‘Happy Sugar Life’ is my second favourite anime of all time. Does that answer that question? I adored pretty much everything about this series to the point where I struggle to find fault with anything.
What was your favourite episode? Episode 9 “Dissolving Rain” had the single most dramatic moment I’ve seen in an anime in a very long time—the fact the build up to it was so masterfully and artfully done is just a small factor in why it was such a sublime episode. Plus the way it turns from honestly loving and beautiful to knuckle clenching tension to absolute horror within the space of minutes is something to behold.
What were your most favourite things about the show? While this probably won’t be the same for most people, the fact that I could sympathise and even gravitate and dare I say sit in awed wonder of a character is morally ambiguous and downright sadistic as Sato says a lot about the quality of her characterisation and the writing. Not since the ‘Hannibal’ TV series have I been so enraptured and captivated and even siding with the actions of “the bad guy”. Artistically too, this shows pastel aesthetics are absolutely gorgeous and work as a visual contrast to the dark themes throughout.
What were your least favourite things about the show? For a show to have made its way to Number 2 on my favourites list you’ll be hard-pressed to find me saying anything negative about it. Truly the only thing this show is weaker for is the fact that it’s only 12 episodes. I could have easily spent twice as long with these characters.
Who was your favourite character? Sato commands presence whenever she’s on-screen and even when she’s not on-screen the reverberations of her very existence permeate every characters respective lives, she is the burning sun at the centre of this universe, the tyrant at which all obey, all fear and many seek to bring down.
Thoughts on the OP (opening) and ED (ending) and the soundtrack in general? As if it’s any surprise but both the OP, “One Room Sugar Life” by Nanawo Akari and the ED “Sweet Hurt” by Reona are both absolutely gorgeous. The OP is a tense but still exciting and catchy prelude to each episode and sets the mood perfectly, while the ED serves as a sweet and reflective palette cleanser from the darkness that came before.
What’s something unique about this show? Rather than mention something specific about the series as I find everything about this show uniquely brilliant. A fact that still staggers me is the fact that something as beautiful and artistic as this was made by a first-time anime studio. There’s not much information about it that I could find but kudos to ‘Ezo’la’ for coming out this strong and confident with a series like this. I await any of their future series with interest and anticipation!
What other anime are most like it for the sake of comparison? The contrast of cute to dark content is of course reminiscent of such classic series’ as ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’ and more recently ‘Magical Girl Raising Project’ but as I discussed in my episodic reviews the US series ‘Hannibal’ feels like the most accurate and appropriate comparison as the darkness in this show comes from nothing more than human desires and there’s nothing ~magical~ about what transpires between these characters.
Who would you recommend it to? I think there’s a certain level of arrogance that comes in recommending a series you love so much to everyone just because it is your favourite. But in that arrogance is an enthusiasm and hope that ~someone~ out there will find as much joy in it that you found in it. I don’t doubt there will be—even among my readers—people who can’t stand this show, but if I can even convince one person to like this show and they find even an ~ounce~ of enjoyment out of this show than that makes me happy.
Sum up the season in one sentence: ‘With the ‘Happy’ comes tragedy, with the ‘Sugar’ comes the sour and with ‘Life’ come death.’