Is It Worth Remembering? – ‘Pastel Memories’ Full Season Review

Is It Worth Remembering? – A Full Season Review of ‘Pastel Memories’

PastelMemoriesFull

What’s the show? Pastel Memories.

And what’s it about? It’s sometime in the future (or an alternate timeline) and the Akihabara we know and love with it’s anime and gaming billboards and otaku stores is but a shell of its former glory. 12 girls working in a manga cafe lead double lives fighting to save people’s favourite manga and anime from being destroyed by “viruses” that rob people of the memories of ever having experienced the particular manga or anime that’s under attack in any given episode.

Basically this, every episode.

…okay… Basically it’s like the movie ‘Inception’ but instead of going into other people’s dreams they’re going into different manga and anime worlds. That “normal” enough of a comparison for you to understand?

I mean I get it but what’s the point of it? This series banks heavily on people’s nostalgia for certain shows but more so the idea of otaku culture in general. The imagery of a ‘blank’ Akihabara devoid of its brightly colored branding and shop names is deliberately meant to evoke a sense of unease in the audience—at least if you’re a shameless Akiba fan like me. Though I’ll admit the whole idea of an Akihabara without the very thing that makes it Akiba—while making for a striking image—isn’t actually tied to the central narrative in any meaningful way but rather serves as a way to bookend to the series.

…okay… What?!

The transportation scenes are the show at its visually best.

I feel like you’re going down a tangent few people will care about, we all know you love Akihabara and take every opportunity to remind us of that fact but could you please reign it in a little and focus on the elements of the show that are important for anyone considering whether or not to watch this show? No one’s going to watch this show…

You seem very certain of that? Every season there’s a show that instantly gets dumped by almost every seasonal reviewer, gets a criminally low score and MAL and basically becomes that season’s anime whipping boy. Last season it was ‘Conception’ and this season it’s ‘Pastel Memories’ and it’s not like I’m going to pretend like this show is worth watching for 95% of the anime viewing audience—but I enjoyed it and I’m glad I watched it.

Yay!

I think the problem is you’re far too easy on ~certain~ anime. “Certain anime”, what do you mean by that?

You said this show had 12 girls on its cast, yeah? Didn’t ‘Conception’ have that many too? Are you saying I have a ~thing~ for the number 12?!

What? No! I’m saying you tend to overlook an anime’s flaws if you’ve got a bunch of good-looking anime girls to look at. Oh. Well yeah, duh. But I’m still not going to watch something if it’s boring or unimaginative. And the fact that over the 12 episodes we get to visit ten different worlds inspired by other anime and manga is a selling point in of itself. And while your mileage may vary depending on how familiar you are with the anime they are referencing in any given episode even the episodes about show’s I didn’t know were still interesting enough to keep me entertained.

That’s not how you basketball!

But it’s not perfect right? The show has flaws. Yes, plenty. The show is frequently unimpressive visually, with off-model characters, stilted animation and derpy facial expressions. The constant battling of the same bad guys each week just in a different locale can feel repetitive and the two part finale feels stretched wafer-thin just to fill the run-time.

Okay then—some balance for a change… so final recommendation and review for ‘Pastel Memories’? Unless your a diehard fan of the different anime and manga that get referenced in this series than there’s probably little reason for the average anime fan to watch Pastel Memories. For the sake of completionism the worlds our characters travel to are from the following series’: ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’, ‘Rozen Maiden’, ‘Ro-Kyu-Bu!’, ‘The Ryuo’s Work Is Never Done!’, ‘Hamtaro’, ‘Dragon Quest (vg)’, ‘Mister Ajikko’, ‘Tokimeki Memorial (vg)’, ‘Yu Yu Hakusho’ or ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’. But you know what, I admired the effort and the enthusiasm if nothing else and there’s too a certain charm to the ‘roughness’ of the whole endeavour. I will remember you: 76 out of 100.

For me, the references peaked in Episode 2 with the ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ world.

“76”?! Not to nitpick but that score seems kinda high… I gave 10 points alone to the ending credits—seriously these are the best ending credits I’ve seen in a long time—if ever!

Okay folks, just go ahead and disregard this entire review… it’s for your own sake, trust me…

I’ll never get tired of this ED.

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Best Checkmates – ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 5 Review

Best Checkmates – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 5

PastelMemories5

What’s the show? Pastel Memories, Episode 5.

So how’s this episode? Okay. There’s officially something fishy going on about this show’s choice of anime/manga/light novels to “enter”–at least if the last two episodes are anything to go by.

And why’s that? Well if you’ll recall last episode the girls had to fight a virus that was threatening a light novel that was a loose approximation of ‘Ro-Kyu-Bu’ about a bunch of elementary school girls being coached in playing basketball by a high-school boy who may or may not be a lolicon and had moments that delved into ‘ecchi’ and ‘harem’ tropes.

Some things don’t make for the best spectator sport.

*sigh* Yes I remember, why’s that relevant? Well because this episode has the girls fight a virus that’s threatening a light novel that is a loose approximation of ‘The Ryuo’s Work Is Never Done!’ about an elementary school girl being coached in playing Shogi by a high-school boy who may or may not be a lolicon and had moments that delved into ‘ecchi’ and ‘harem’ tropes.

‘Shogi King’s Big Job!’ is a better title than ‘The Ryuo’s Work Is Never Done!’ just saying…

Oh I remember you reviewing that show, you almost had an aneurysm about how much you hated the protagonist? Indeed I did. But that’s not really the point, the point is to have two episodes (and in a row, no less) referencing other anime that are strikingly similar and having a character in the show once again make the joke about how “unusual” it was of a subject matter. Makes me wonder if this show is trying to push an anti-lewding-loli agenda.

Yeah… but you’re still in elementary school.

That seems like a bit of a stretch… Does it? I mean just take a look at the end credits, its a bevvy of thicc girls in bikini’s the likes of which I’ve not seen before! Just try and tell me this show isn’t trying to extol the virtues of voluptuous high-school aged anime girls over their pre-teen counterparts!

The power of oppai is strong.

But isn’t this show about saving these works from the viruses? If it was anti-loli they’d be destroying them from people’s memories. Right? Yeah, good point, I don’t know what I was thinking.

So just another random thought exercise you decided to keep in the review rather than editing it out and writing something ~vaguely~ resembling a review. Pretty much…

Giant Robot vs Loli, Shogi edition!

So overall thoughts on this episode? I was again glad this was referencing a show I’d seen (even if it’s a show I have a middling opinion of–though that’s mostly entirely down to its crappy protagonist) and while they more-or-less nailed the character references and the seemingly impenetrable difficulty of Shogi as a game this was probably my least favourite episode so far. The three characters who went into fight the virus are among the weakest on the cast and had very little chemistry together and the episode itself was very ugly to look at–as if they’d want to reduce the budget by having dulled or even featureless backgrounds where possible. It was enjoyable but completely unremarkable.

Explosive Shogi on display in this episode. Literally, she checkmates the villain robot she’s playing against and it explodes.

Previous ‘Pastel Memories’ Reviews:

Attack On Otaku – Episode 1 Review
Happy Ending – Episode 2 Review
Rose Tinted Glasses – Episode 3 Review
She Shoots, They Score – Episode 4 Review


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She Shoots, They Score – ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 4 Review

She Shoots, They Score – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 4

pastelmemories4

What’s the show? Pastel Memories, Episode 4.

How’s this episode? So there’s a lot to unpack here so bear with me for a minute…

Okay… So the show that the characters ‘enter’ in order to fight off the virus that’s threatening to erase it from everyone’s memories is ~kind of~ a controversial one–not just in the West but in Japan too. And, if you’d made me make a list of shows I expected to show up in this show this would not have been on it–and yet… it fits so well all the same.

Right, so to remind the readers this anime is about a bunch of girls who enter the manga/anime of other books/shows and much of the humour comes from the references to whatever particular series they are referencing. Correct. Except this time it’s not a manga but rather a light novel, and I know it’s silly of me but I didn’t expect that of this show. The only thing more unexpected would be if they go into an erotic doujin next episode (PLEASE I HOPE THEY DO THAT!)

STRANGER DANGER!

Ahem… Oh sorry, I got sidetracked by a rogue thought. So, uh yeah the light novel (and by extension anime) they enter this episode is ‘Ro-Kyu-Bu!’ referred to in this show as the extremely generic ‘Mini Basket’ and well if you didn’t immediately widen your eyes at this choice then you’re obviously not acquainted with ‘Ro-Kyu-Bu!’

To be honest I prefer the art style here than in Ro-Kyu-Bu…

Dare I ask, what is ‘Ro-Kyu-Bu!’? It’s a sport anime! And by sports anime I mean it’s primarily about elementary school girls playing basketball! And by elementary school girls playing basketball I mean elementary school girls trying to get ‘up close and personal’ with their high-school aged coach who may or may not be preoccupied with the idea of elementary school girls.

Yay?

Oh boy. Yep. So basically this is peak anime “through the looking glass” shit here. A super popular sports lolicon light novel turned anime that was denied a 3rd season because of irl circumstances being parodied in a borderline ecchi anime adaptation of a mobile game no one in the West has probably ever heard of. God I love how impossibly obtuse and niche this show can be at times…

It’s the question everyone’s thinking but only she is brave enough to ask!

Right so with all that out of the way, what actually happens in the episode? Right, so just like the previous episodes it’s a team of 3 girls (out of our group of 12) go into a fictional world to fight off the “Virus” that threatens the memories of the world. And at this point I’ve stopped attributing them to character names because there’s just too many to keep track of beyond the main three. Anyway there’s a couple of sly jokes about this series being ‘problematic’ but not nearly as scathing enough to act as an indictment of the series (nor should it, the show itself straddled that line between wholesome and creepy so it doesn’t need to be “addressed” as anything other than that). Our three main girls are challenged to a game of basketball by the recurring villain and so they get the lolicon coach (and protagonist of the light novel/anime) to train them up for the ‘big game’. Then it turns out the villain is going to have them play against her team which, rather than consisting of human sized opponents of equal ability, instead is a giant virus type robot playing center and two levitating viruses playing shooter.

I usually use my mouth to dribble but I guess this is why I’m no good at sports. 

So basically ‘Space Jam’? Essentially, yes. And credit where credit is due the basketball game is compelling–if ridiculous–but ends with the enemy team scoring an after buzzer two-pointer. All seems lost until they realise the bad guys swapped out the ball for one of the spherical virus minions and rather than let them win by cheating our heroes just kick their butts the old fashioned way–with their weapons. And they all live happily ever after and the loli basketball light novel is saved!

Well it’d be a bit of a weird choice if they weren’t cute.

Overall thoughts on the episode then? I’m not going to pretend like this is some high-art, in fact some of the time it feels darn-right lazy, but there’s still way more I enjoy about this show then don’t and that’s all I need to keep watching. Also secretly hoping they go into an ecchi manga at some point but until then I’ve still got that wonderful ED to “enjoy” each week.

And I love that their transformation was into similar costumes from ‘Ro-Kyu-Bu!’ lingering fan-service and all.

Previous ‘Pastel Memories’ Reviews:

Attack On Otaku – Episode 1 Review
Happy Ending – Episode 2 Review
Rose Tinted Glasses – Episode 3 Review


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Rose Tinted Glasses – ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 3 Review

Rose Tinted Glasses – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 3

pastelmemories3

What’s the show? Pastel Memories, Episode 3.

How’s this episode? Well the inevitable happened.

Oh and what’s that? It was an episode where they went into an anime world of an anime I’d never even heard of.

Well yeah, that is inevitable. You can’t have watched every anime ever made… I know, but I didn’t think it’d happen so soon and especially after last week being about one of my favourite Slice of Life, CGDCT anime it was kind of a bit of a let down.

Forgotten about it? I’d never even heard of it!

So the episode’s not that good huh? Actually, it was surprisingly good–dare I say even better than last week’s.

Really?! Even though you didn’t understand any of the references? I know, I’m as surprised as you are and that kind of reassures me that even if the rest of the show (heaven forbid) is more references to anime I haven’t seen/don’t know I’ll still be able to get a good level of enjoyment out of the show.

A good course of antibiotics should do the trick!

Right. So what is the anime that they enter in this episode? In the show it’s called ‘The Rose Maiden’ but in real life it’s a manga and anime series called ‘Rozen Maiden’ which somehow managed four seasons without me even hearing of it–so not some kind of one season sleeper. Though I’m guessing it was probably bigger in Japan since it’s all about dolls and magic. And where in the previous episode the virus was turning everything rabbit related (including people) into eels, this episode has the far less dramatic consequence of the outfits of the main doll and antagonist doll become casual wear. And I don’t know there was something low-key hilarious about that being the big issue. Well that and our recurring villain trying to erase the show from people’s memories.

Crisis of the century!

Anything else you wanted to add? I was initially concerned the show might do a ‘1 episode is the set-up in the real world and 1 episode is in the world of the anime/manga’ and while that’d have been understandable from a budgetary reason it would have definitely slowed down the pace and stretched the material thin. So I was glad they wrapped it all up within the space of one episode this time. Also there were some really cool visuals like the world of broken televisions that once the girls remember they all switch on–very eerie and surreal–makes me wonder if that was a reference to the show they were inside of or something original from ‘Pastel Memories’.

Very different visual vibe for the show in these scenes, I liked it a lot.

So still enjoying the show then? Yep, it’s just a fun diversion with a lively cast of characters and decent fan-service and while I’m hoping we’ll get episodes that reference more anime i’m familiar with I’m still enjoying it regardless of my knowledge of the show in question.

Would it be rude to ask her for more milk in my coffee?

Previous ‘Pastel Memories’ Reviews:

Attack On Otaku – Episode 1 Review
Happy Ending – Episode 2 Review


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Happy Ending – ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 2 Review

Happy Ending – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 2

pastelmemories2

What’s the show? Pastel Memories, Episode 2.

So how’s this episode? We’re in a very difficult situation here!

Oh and why’s that? Because this episode managed to impress and disappoint me a lot and in completely different areas than I would have expected! Talk about your roller coaster of emotions!

Uh-huh. So as I recall last week this show was about Akihabara being deprived of all the otaku and a group of cafe girls trying to track down copies of a manga for a customer. Yes, that more or less sums it up and the manga was a thinly veiled reference to popular manga/anime slice of life series ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’.

Gotta love that steampunk aesthetic.

Right, that thing. And then the show went all weird and unexpected in the last minute with the 3 main girls transporting into the manga world to fight off viruses who were threatening to consume the memories of the manga series in the real world. Again, yes more or less. And this episode takes place just after our three main girls have transported to the fictional world of ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ and I must say as fan of the aforementioned series seeing this world again–albeit with a lower budget–was a veritable nerdgasm for this otaku!

I didn’t make this, but here’s a comparison between this ep (left) and the original scenes from ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ (right).

 

And is that all this episode is, shameless pandering to fans of this particular slice of life show? Ouch. No, it’s not just that, I mean sure your overall enjoyment of this episode will be boosted if you’re at all familiar with the aforementioned series as there’s a decent amount of jokes that work without any knowledge of ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ especially in later parts as the girls battle a giant robot-thing guided by a cackling villain in skimpy clothing.

All the townspeople are turned into eel people because of this pun.

I’m hearing a lot of “impress” but not much “disappoint” care to elaborate on the latter. Okay… folks, I hate to say it but man the art was kinda average in this episode. Not the background art, that’s perfectly fine and consistent but faces and designs were off-model quite a bit and it got me worried that this’d be this seasons’ ‘My Sister, My Writer’. Granted it’s not nearly as bad as that show was but there’s more than a couple of occasions throughout this episode where I was having a good “yikes!” at various faces both on extras and on our main and supporting cast (though it’s more noticeable in motion than in stills).

Not terrible faces, but not great either.

Yeah… the last thing we need is another ‘My Sister, My Writer’ on our hands… I’m on the lookout but fingers crossed things don’t come to that.

So I presume they defeat the baddies and all’s well that ends well? Yes. And after being thanked by the ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ girls for their service our protagonists return to the “real” world to find that the missing Volume 1 has been located thanks to online fans remembering the series. And people begin returning to the cafe to bask in the nostalgia of the manga including the little girl who’s comment in their guest book set this whole thing in motion last episode. And it’s a lovely, wholesome ending to the episode… and then the show plays its ED for the first time and I can’t wipe the smile from my dumb face.

Wholesome one minute…

Oh no… it’s not ‘that’ is it? Oh, please tell me what you mean by “that”, I couldn’t possibly understand what you’re referring to…

It’s fan service isn’t it and the ~lewd~ kind too?! One minute and thirty seconds of possibly the most unexpectedly sexualised images I’ve ever seen from an ED! Even freakin’ ‘Senran Kagura: Shinovi Master’ which had 20+ girls nude bathing in a hot springs wasn’t as overtly sexual as the ED for ‘Pastel Memories’ was! Imagine my surprise and delight to see the delightfully thicc girls dancing and gyrating in bikinis several sizes too small for them. I was in hog heaven I tells you! Also might I add, the most consistent the visuals looked all episode, so you know priorities and all that!

Thicc the next!

I… I don’t even know what to say at this point… I do! Why do all the best shows get the lowest budgets?! Given more time and money this show could be absolutely legendary–and I’m not just talking about the ED. There’s a great amount of potential in this promise and it more or less lived up to it, maybe the execution was a bit flimsy but they did the best they could with what they had! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch that ED on repeat for the next few days…


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Attack On Otaku – ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 1 Review

Attack On Otaku – An Anime QandA Review of ‘Pastel Memories’ Episode 1

pastelmemories1

What’s the show? Pastel Memories, Episode 1.

So how’s this episode? It feels good to have my interest pandered to so directly, and that’s exactly what this anime does!

You mean aside from the majority of anime which already does that? Ahem, well sure. But this like some Inception shit we’ve got going on here, you know like “yo dawg, we heard you like anime and manga so we put anime and manga in your anime about manga”.

What’s that like a 2010 meme? Yeah, that felt pretty bad, sorry…

So what’s this show even about? It’s set in a dystopian hellscape where the center of all okatu culture in Japan, Akihabara, has been reduced to looking like the rest of Japan! That is to say it looks like any other generic business district in Tokyo. And the poor otaku girls who are the centre of this story only have six anime/manga stores to get their anime and manga from! It’s truly a depressing look into Akihabara’s darkest timeline!

Akihabara as we know it.

I detect a hint of sarcasm. Don’t you love Akihabara, like isn’t it literally your favourite place on Earth? Yes, that is correct, hence the whole “pandering directly to me” thing at the start of this review. But it’s kind of quaint to think that the Japanese think that having only 6 anime/manga stores left in a single district is somehow a depressing thought. Most countries would be lucky to have that many otaku stores in their entire state. But then again this isn’t about the rest of the world, this is about Akihabara.

And how it is in this show. Depressing as heck.

I’m still not sure what this show is about? Funnily enough neither was I until like the last two minutes of the anime. The majority of the episode is spent looking for missing copies of the manga ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ (it’s not called that in the show but that’s what they were referencing both with the parody title they gave and the very noticeable cover art). The reason they’re looking for it is because they run an otaku cafe and one of their young customers wants to read it, and since otaku culture has taken a dive (for unexplained reasons) they’re doing their best to preserve the culture. After looking all over town and getting all but the first volume, the plot proper of the show starts as a magical gateway of churning gears opens in their cafe and three girls come through, talking about how they managed to “defeat the virus”. The three main girls (Izumi, Ayaka and Irina) who we’ve been following for the majority of the episode notice that a “virus” has started attacking the ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ manga and so main girl Izumi volunteers to go into the manga world to defeat the “virus” that’s trying to eradicate the memories of the manga.

Recognise these two series’? I know I do! I reviewed them both (in anime form) last year!

 

…Okay. Basically this show is going to be travelling into different ‘manga’ worlds each week to deliver ridiculous amounts of otaku fan-service.

And what’s this ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ manga world going to be like? I’m surprised you don’t remember it was one of the first shows I reviewed for this site back in February 2018, it’s one of my favourite CGDCT slice of life shows and it’s also incredibly popular in Japan hence why it was obviously chosen. Though the episode ends before any of the characters get there we see in the preview for next week’s episode that it will indeed be set in that universe, so needless to say I’m excited! I’m just worried that ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ wasn’t as popular in the West so this is going to leave a lot of casual anime fans out of the loop and thus they won’t bother to watch any more.

Y’all should watch ‘Is The Order A Rabbit?’ if you haven’t already…

Right. Anything else you wanted to add? Yes a few things actually first, it was a heck of a lot of fun seeing all the references to other manga in this anime, yes that’s incredibly cheap pandering but I don’t care, gimme more! Also, this show has 12 girls in its main cast, this is going to be a bit of a pain to keep up with names but at least the ones we get introduced to this episode seem distinctive (If tropey) enough.

This show looks weird, by which I mean still images make it look 3D but it looks like 2D when it’s moving.

Great, so your final thoughts on the first episode and who do you recommend it to? I think the tone of this episode was a bit misleading, it made it feel like a slice of life show when in actuality it’s (most likely) going to become a light-action/adventure series. Regardless I thought this episode was a lot of fun, it’s nothing special as it stands but the promise of going into different manga worlds is very intriguing–I just hope they make the most of this premise and don’t settle for the ‘safe’ options each time. If you’re a shameless Akihabara-lover like me then this is a no-brainer, for everyone else it’s worth a watch but I think it’ll take at least another episode to get a feel of this shows proper premise.

Yes this show has a talking stuffed rabbit sidekick, hopefully they won’t end up as annoying as some other talking animal sidekicks…

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