Highschool DxD – 20 Question Anime Review (Mild Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for Highschool DxD.

What’s the show? Highschool DxD?

And what’s it about? Broadly, an uneasy three-way truce between Angels, Demons and Fallen Angels and trying to keep that truce lest all hell breaks loose and everyone on Earth is subjected to a war of biblical proportions.

Hey, that sounds kind of cool, a bit like ‘Supernatural’? ‘Supernatural’, oh you mean the one-season anime about two brothers travelling across America killing demons?

No I mean the (as of this writing) 13 season, US live-action TV show, about two brothers travelling across America killing demons. If it’s not anime, I don’t care.

Anyway, so you said that’s what the show is broadly about so what is it really about? Boobs!


Of course it is. Is it a harem anime? Yes, and one of the best ones at that.

So what quantifies a good harem anime over a bad one? A likable male protagonist, female characters who are genuinely good friends with each other and have interests other than the protagonist. Plus having a genuinely interesting and well-developed story as a backdrop to the harem shenanigans is always a big winner.

So it’s a good story too then? Hey, it’s legitimately so good that you could make an edit of the show without any fan service or harem subplots and the show would still stand up on it’s own.

What is the plot then? Just quickly. Hyodo Issei is a bit of a loser and quite a lot of a pervert when one day he is killed by a fallen angel because he secretly possess a great powerful and ancient weapon. He is resurrected by demon, President of the occult research society and all around flawless specimen Rias Gremory who sees in him great potential and decides to train him as a part of her household.


Would you say the harem side of the show is unnecessary? The harem side of the story contributes to the plot; it makes sense in-universe why all these powerful girls would be attracted to him and none of the girls are in love with him just because of what he is but rather non-supernatural things, like his kindness or his braveness or his determination or his compassion.

Cool, and so you mentioned something about boobs before? Oh yeah! Issei is kind of a fiend when it comes to boobs, his story arc for the first season is that he wants to touch Rias Gremory’s boobs – consensually of course.

A-ha… what was that about ‘kindness, braveness, determination and compassion’ before? Hey! You can be all those things and a pervert; they’re not mutually exclusive.

So who’s your best girl? Rias Gremory is the easy pick, just because we get so much more of her back-story than any of the other girls, though that changes as things go on. As of season one Rias is best girl but I reserve the choice to change my mind come future seasons.


Changing best girl? Isn’t there some kind of rule about that? Is there?

I don’t know… I thought I could be cool and pretend like I knew something about anime that you didn’t. You’ll never be as cool as me.

If being ‘cool’ means owning an anime body pillow then I think I’ll pass. Don’t you talk bad about my Rize-chan!

Ahem, so you mentioned other seasons? Three seasons, soon to four come mid-2018.

That’s a lot of boobs! You’re telling me!


Any thing else to say about Highschool DxD? Even if the idea of harem and fanservice heavy anime isn’t all that appealing to you, there are enough interesting plot points, exciting action scenes and well-developed characters to carry the show through. If however you are into fanservice and beautiful girls and the kind of humour that can come from a well-written harem, then Highschool DxD is heartily recommended. 88 out of 100.

Heh, 88 looks like two sets of boobs. Now who’s the pervert?


New Game! – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for New Game!

What’s the show? New Game!

Why are you shouting? I’m not, it’s just how they stylise the show’s title, with an exclamation mark, it’s a Japanese thing, they do it a lot.

Fair enough, what’s it about? It’s another in the informal genre of shows ‘cute girls doing cute things’.

What cute thing are these cute girls they doing then? Designing video games.


Not usually the first thing I think of when ‘cute things’ comes to mind. Do they at least do it cutely? Absolutely! I mean just look at their faces! Kawaii!

And do they design video games in their spare time after school? No, it’s their job; they work for an all female video game company called ‘Eagle Jump’.

Wait, okay. How old are these girls supposed to be? Well, Suzukaze Aoba is the protagonist; she’s a new hire out of high school and is 18 years old. The oldest staff member whose age we know about is Yagimi Ko and she’s 25.


Well I admit that’s a pleasant change from the usual anime trope of everyone being high school age but they certainly don’t look it! She get’s that a lot, poor Aoba.

Fine, that out of the way, what’s the show actually about; it’s not just watching cute girls designing a video game, is it? Well…

It is?! Okay, first of all, it’s a ‘slice of life’ anime; so don’t start judging it by normal narrative standards. It’s kind of like if ‘The Office’ was an anime, and everyone liked each other, and there was no real conflict except overcoming minor misunderstandings. Also did I mention cute girls?


Fine, I’ll concede it’s a ‘slice of life’ so its structure is different to that of other anime. So why should I watch it? And don’t you dare say ‘cute girls’! Er, um… adorable females? Listen, ‘slice of life’ is a hard sell for those uninitiated with the genre. The characters are all splendid and likeable, even the shrill best friend character grows to be endearing by the end. And it goes into the inner workings of the art department on a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game), and those parts seem accurate and well researched. Plus it gives an idea about how much work goes into even the smallest details of large video game projects.

A niche genre anime about making niche genre video games? It’s like a nerd turducken. A nerducken! Come on, you gotta admit that was good, high-five! What is this, the Big Bang Theory? Ugh. [Gives begrudging high five]

Who is ‘best girl’? Takimoto Hifumi, she’s so shy and reserved and she’s got a pet hedgehog and *SQUEE*!


Did you seriously just ‘squee’? I can’t help it; I’ve got a seriously problem. And the only prescription? More cute girls!

Any additional seasons? New Game!!

Why are you shouting again? I’m not, that’s what the second season is called. See, the two exclamation marks differentiate it from the first season’s title.

A show can’t succeed on ‘cuteness’ alone, so say something negative about the show. There’s never the sense that things could go wrong, at least not catastrophically. The issues that crop up from time to time for the characters are very minor, but that is something that’s not unique to this show and runs along many ‘slice of life’ shows. But at the same time it’s not meant to be challenging or overwrought, it’s meant to be light and relaxing, the fact that it can be that and entertaining is a testament to the show’s writing and style. It’s a show about positivity and hard work and friendship and that’s something that this world needs a lot more of if you ask me.

Hmm, I thought you were supposed to say something negative about the show? You just complimented it more and made me kind of want to watch it. That’s the power of ‘slice of life’, that’s the power of ‘New Game!’ and that’s the power of…

Don’t say it! Cute girls!


Final score? Highly recommended for anyone who wants to just relax and enjoy themselves with some thoroughly non-threatening soft comedy and endearingly adorable characters. This is a ‘game’ worth ‘playing’, 86 out of 100.


Yuri!!! On Ice – 20 Question Anime Review

A Yuri!!! on Ice 20 Question Anime Review.

What’s the show? Yuri!!! On Ice (2016).

How am I supposed to say the show title? Do I shout the name and then add the ‘on ice’ bit like a coy whisper? If you want.

And are the three exclamation marks really necessary? It’s Japan, they love exclamation marks. The sooner you come to peace with this fact the quicker we’ll be able to get on with the rest of the questions!

Fine, what’s the show about? It’s about male figure skating and it’s fabulous!


So I’ve heard… But what if I don’t care about figure skating? You will.

No but really, what if I literally couldn’t think about anything more boring than watching an anime about figure skating? You’re wrong.

No but imagine, err, imagine I live in a conservative household and my father already worries that there’s something wrong with me because all I do is watch anime and collect figurines of all my best girls. What do I do then? Make him watch it with you, then kiss him goodnight afterwards.

You’re not helping! I mean… I didn’t want to say it so bluntly but you’re being difficult so I guess I have no choice. Isn’t this show… kind of… gay? Yes. Yes it is.

Okay, so what do I, a straight male do about this? It doesn’t seem relevant to my interests at all. So watch an episode of Yuri on Ice then follow it up with an episode of Keijo if you’re so worried. No anime has the power to magically turn you gay… well maybe JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure.

Fine then, what makes it so good? Everything! The characters are complex and well rounded, the stakes feel real and the tension waiting for the scores is like watching the Olympics only you actually care about these people! The animation is flawless, the music is phenomenal, there are laughs and there are tears. It’s a sports anime done to perfection because it’s not just about sports; it’s about people who are passionate about something they love and try their hardest to be the best!

Hmm, well that does sound good I will admit. Sports anime are supposed to be really good on the whole, yeah? Indeed! Plus Yuri and his new coach Victor make a really cute couple!

Huh? ‘Couple’ as in romantic? They are this generation’s Romeo & Juliet! Except without the feuding families and suicide. So, uh, nothing like Romeo & Juliet now that I think about it.


Romance aside, what is the show about? What’s the central conflict? Our protagonist Yuri is a Japanese figure skater, he’s very good but he always chokes when he’s in big competitions, and at 23 he’s on the verge of being too old to learn new tricks in the sport, so legendary skater Victor shocks the world when he quits skating to coach Yuri full time. This decision doesn’t sit well with the other Yuri, a 15 year old up and coming Russian figure skater that Victor had promised to choreograph a routine for if he won the Junior World Championship, which the young Yuri did. Seeing this bond quickly forming between Japanese Yuri and Victor, Russian Yuri immediately declares him as a rival.

Two Yuri’s? Doesn’t that get confusing? Not really, no. The most confusing thing about it is that the term ‘Yuri’ is associated with lesbian fiction in Japan!

Is that why you ended up watching it? Did you mistake it for something else? I did nothing of the sort; I watched it because it was the most talked about most popular anime of 2016, that kind of hype is inescapable. I knew what I was getting into before I started it.

And did it live up to the hype? It exceeded it.


Well for something so popular what’s next for it? A second season? Unfortunately the level of popularity it attained meant they prioritised a movie instead. While I’m sure it’ll be good, a second season is always preferred, at least in my opinion. A movie’s too short to continue a story in a satisfying way, not to mention it’ll take longer to get made than a series.

Anything else to add? Pork cutlet bowl!

Is that a euphemism? Probably.

Final score? If you think you already know what kind of show this is based on preconceptions about ‘BL’ anime or from out of context gifs and quotes then you’re really only getting a surface level interpretation. ‘Yuri!!! On Ice’ transcends genre, it transcends memes and presumptions and stereotypes, it’s just a fantastic show from beginning to end and really doesn’t do anything wrong. The judges have their scores; it’s mostly tens across the board with a couple of nine’s; 94 out of 100.


Dagashi Kashi – 20 Question Anime Review (Minor Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for Dagashi Kashi.

What’s the show? Dagashi Kashi (2016).

Gesundheit. No, that’s the name of the show. It means ‘cheap sweets candy’, which is also what the show is about.

The show is about candy? And savoury snack treats too, specifically Japanese ones, the kinds you’d find really cheap at a corner store in your youth.

It’s not just about that though, right? Well, if by that you mean does it have human characters to interact with the candy, by talking about it at length and consequently ingesting said candy into their bodies via their mouth holes? Because yes it certainly is about… more… than just…

Hello? Are you still there? You didn’t really answer my question, you just kind of tailed off. Shidare Hotaru; nice oppai.


Wow, okay. That came out of nowhere? Who is she? She’s like that trope that a lot of people get annoyed about, you know the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ except this one isn’t remotely interested in the main character Shikada ‘Coconuts’ Kokonotsu, an aspiring manga author. She only has eyes for Dagashi and is there to convince ‘Coconuts’ to run his father’s Dagashi store so she can take said parental figure to come work for her company. And then there’s the owner of the local café, Endo Saya, Coconuts’ childhood friend who is totally in love with him, but he doesn’t see her as anything other than a good friend. Or does he?

Okay good, so there is a plot. Unrequited love triangles, following your dreams or following tradition. Yeah I can see the appeal. No, sorry, I think you misunderstood; this show is literally… just… about… candy.

But what about all that about running his father’s store and the café owner? I’m sorry, is the show called ‘How To Deal With Parental Expectations and Suddenly Attractive Childhood Friends?’ No, it’s called ‘Dagashi Kashi’ and it’s about candy and Hotaru has NICE OPPAI.


Are you okay? You seem kind of stressed… Oh, I’m stressed…

Talk to me, why are you stressed? After watching twelve, 25 minute episodes of Dagashi Kashi I feel like I know more about Japanese candy and snacks than I should! I feel like it’s pushed out actually important information out of my brain like how to perform CPR and trigonometry and what my grandmother’s face looked like and has replaced it with the history of milk caramels, how to eat kinako-bou and how to tell the different varieties of fugashi apart while blindfolded!


Sounds kind of like a series of commercials made into a TV show? Sometimes, yeah! I mean it’s not that it isn’t entertaining. Hotaru makes for a mesmerising ‘host’ of sorts, without her the food segments of this show would be insufferable but she makes them downright charming. Her enthusiasm about dagashi snacks is infectious!

So it is really all about candy. Huh. Then what about all that character stuff you mentioned before? That’s all window dressing. Which is a shame because that’s when the show is at its best, it’s around about the final three episodes when it starts integrating the shameless candy promotion into the narrative much more effectively, at which point it starts to feel like an actual television show. ‘Coconuts’ and Saya have such history and chemistry together that you want them to be together even if Hotaru is…

Best girl? Oh, totally best girl. Even though she is quite possibly the most mentally unstable person in an otherwise pretty grounded universe.


Any other characters worth mentioning? Wow, it’s almost like this question was planned so I could specifically mention it! Ha ha ha… Yes, Shikada Yo, ‘Coconuts’ father and owner of the Dagashi shop. He is comic relief personified, in all the right ways. There’s seldom a moment where he’s on screen and I’m not at least grinning.

So you recommend the show then? Even with its faults? I may have overstated the so-called ‘stress’ this show caused me. It’s jarring to watch a show and suddenly find yourself in a commercial for candy and snacks, but it’s also within character and within universe, and it’s not nearly as intrusive as it probably sounds. In fact it makes it downright charming, though a part of that is undoubtedly just the Japanese coming off as so sincere and passionate when talking about food. I can’t even imagine this show in English.

It does have an English dub though? I dare you to check it out! Go on, I’ll wait. …Fine.

[Several Minutes Later] How was it? Nope! Never again! Hearing an American talk passionately about food is about as jarring and unnatural as hearing a British person talk about sex or an Australian talk about politics. Just, no!

It’s not as bad as the Food Wars dub though? Ugh, nothing is as bad as that.

So, recommended? Sure! As long as you’re not one of those people who have a conniption over product placement.

Final score? Like a bottle of ramune on a hot summer day, satisfying, not perfect but still pretty damn good. 79 out of 100.


Bakemonogatari – 20 Question Anime Review (Minor Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for Bakemonogatari.

What’s the show? Bakemonogatari (2009).

Bakawakawhat? Don’t worry you’ll get used to it. It translates to ‘Ghost Story’, but nobody calls it that.

So it’s about ghosts? No, not exactly. It’s about a high school boy called Koyomi Aragi and a girl called Hitagi Senjogahara. He used to be a vampire but he’s mostly over that now, and she’s cursed with an illness that makes her weigh nothing. Except it’s not really about that because she gets ‘cured’ pretty quickly, and so then they start dating, but it’s not really about that either.


So what is it about exactly? Well, Aragi seems to run into a lot of girls with problems. One of them can’t find their way home, one of them has a powerful monkey arm, one of them is being strangled by invisible snakes and one turns into a promiscuous cat girl when stressed. And being the gentlemen that he is, he tries to help all of them with their ‘curses’.

Okay… I think I’m following. So what, it’s like a fantasy series? Is it ever as simple as that? It has fantastical elements but it’s set in an approximation of the real world, current day. It has horror elements but it never dwells on them. It has intense action but so sporadically entire episodes could pass without so much as a punch thrown.

Well that’s interesting. What else can you tell me about it? Stylistically it’s probably the most unique anime I’ve ever seen, it varies animation style on a whim, cuts in live action components and flashes walls of text on the screen that are impossible to read.

Why? That’s a question you could end up asking a lot with this show, it’s better to just sit back and revel in the weirdness than try and understand its intent.

So is it ‘weird for the sake of weird’? Maybe, I suppose the individual mileage for this kind of stuff might vary. But everything feels intended, even if it doesn’t make sense. It’s a very deliberately paced show too; some episodes are just back and forth conversations between two or three characters. Like literally, there’s one episode that takes place entirely in a park as the two main characters talk to each other.


Just talking? Doesn’t that get boring? Ah! But herein is perhaps Bakemonogatari’s true strength, it’s dialogue is so good. The characters jibe at each other with the kind of wit and wordplay you’d expect from an episode of the Gilmore Girls.

Wait, you watched Gilmore Girls? No but I’ve heard good things.

But if it’s in Japanese doesn’t that make it hard to pick up on things like puns? Well, yeah, mostly, the subtitles do a pretty good job at explaining references when it’s something that can’t come across through translation alone. Like jokes about how some kanji looks or sounds like other ones will have helpful explanations in brackets within the dialogue.

So is this an anime you have to be smart to watch? It couldn’t hurt.

Wait, does that mean you’re smart?! Why do you sound so surprised?!

I don’t know, I just never pegged you for a smart person. So is it a difficult show to watch then? You will need to concentrate; perhaps more than a normal subbed anime, you certainly can’t be snapchatting or tinder banging or whatever it is you young people do these days while watching TV.

Me? Young? I always got the impression you were the young one and I was the old one, the way you have to answer all my questions about anime. I don’t think either of us is old or young, I think… and I don’t want you to panic, but I think we’re just text on a page!

Oh my god! I’m having an existential crisis? Who am I? What is life? The show can get kind of ‘meta’ too, so if you’re not into that kind of thing you might get annoyed.

Oh I see what you were doing, trying to make me think I didn’t exist so you could make the point about meta-fiction? Very bold of you sir. No I think you’ll find that you are in fact the bold one!


But is the show good? You’ve talked a lot about its individual components but I’m not really getting a sense of it as a whole? This is probably where this fails as a review; I’ll be the first to admit it, because I will praise this show fervently as it is key to my aesthetic, not just as a fan of media but as a person. I love everything about it, I love the characters, I love the wordplay, I love the pacing, I love its unexpectedness, I love its weirdness. But…

But? But there will be people, who can’t stand it. And then there will be people who get hung up on one of the things that make it unique for me and for them it will make it insufferable.

So final recommendation and score? If you want something different, a little out of the mainstream then take the chance, but don’t go expecting an easy viewing experience. For me though, it is one of my favourite anime shows and I give it a lofty 97 out of 100.


Amagi Brilliant Park – 20 Question Anime Review (Moderate Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review For Amagi Brilliant Park

*Warning: Moderate Plot Spoilers within*

What’s the show? Amagi Brilliant Park (2014).

What’s it about? It’s about a high school student, Seiya Kanie, running an ailing amusement park whose employees are all actually magical fantasy creatures who rely on the happiness of the park guests to sustain their magical life force.

Wait, how’s a high school student end up running a amusement park, let alone one inhabited by magical fantasy creatures? A beautiful girl called Isuzu Sento threatens him at point blank range with a magical rifle. It’s literally the opening scene of the anime.

Right. So why him? Why not? If that’s your most pressing question then maybe anime isn’t for you!


Fine then. What kind of show is it? Well, it kind of defies categorization. Yes it’s about cute fantasy characters living in an amusement park. But it’s also a semi-detailed look at the behind the scenes running of a park and the minutiae of business and advertising. While also being an irreverent workplace comedy where half the cutesy fantasy characters are jaded alcoholic perverts! While also containing a genuinely touching storyline about friendship, perseverance and commitment.

Okay, didn’t expect that. So what drives the plot? Is there an antagonist? The park will be shut down in three months if the park can’t reach its goal of 250,000 guests. If this happens the Princess will die!

Wait, what Princess? Since when is there a Princess? There’s always a Princess…


Fair enough, so why’s the Princess going to die if the park can’t get 250,000 guests? Because, unlike the other fantasy creatures who can just go and get jobs elsewhere if the park closes. Beautiful Princess Latifah Fleuranza of Maple Land has been cursed by an evil wizard to remain in the grounds of her home, so if the park closes, she will no longer have a home and will die.

‘Evil Wizard’? This is starting to sound kind of silly. Oh, so it’s ‘evil wizard’ where you draw the line, huh? It’s an anime; of course it sounds silly on paper.

So it’s not silly then? Yes. It is, very silly at times. But that’s part of the charm, and the story isn’t what makes the show great, it’s the characters, from the three main ones mentioned previously to all the side characters. They all have flaws, but they try to overcome their hang-ups and the reticence towards change in order to reach their goals!

What about these side characters? Any notable favourites? Too many to mention really, especially as they start hiring outsiders towards the end of the season. Moffle, the park’s mascot, is great. Not just for his temper and violent outbursts but because he acts as a somewhat down to earth, father figure to the mostly young cast of characters. He’s also the Princess’ uncle, go figure! The magical girls of Elementario may seem like they’re just their for eye candy but they have great moments too. They even have an episode that fleshes out their relationship to one another which is really nice.


And who is ‘best girl’? Sento is best girl. Best girl forever, best girl one million years!

So the protagonist is a guy and the two other main characters are ‘beautiful girls’, does the show try to make them love interests for him? Not exactly. With the Princess it’s entirely platonic and genuinely sweet (there’s a twist to her story that’s not worth spoiling) which makes it why he wouldn’t see her as a love interest. But Kanie and Sento eventually warm to each other; they’re very stubborn and resolute characters and so by the end the promise of ‘something more’ between them is not only noteworthy, but also rather affecting.

Can my kids watch the show? Or is there anime tiddies. You have kids?! Also please don’t say ‘anime tiddies’ ever again only I may say ‘anime tiddies’.

I don’t have kids I was just trying to ask if there’s fanservice? Well…


But that’s about as risqué as it gets visually. Tiramie, the cute pink dog creature is a massive pervert though and does some questionable things throughout, always good for a laugh though.


Does the story wrap up nicely or does it end on a cliffhanger? The plot for the first season is satisfyingly resolved; I dare say it even brought a tear to my eye. The romantic subplot however is left on a ‘will they/won’t they’ note which is… well it is what it is. But on the whole there’s no reason not to watch it if what you’re worried about is an incomplete story.

No second season then? Not yet, and it’s unlikely unfortunately though the light novel it’s adapted from is still on-going, but is only published in Japanese at this stage.

Well I’m almost sold; sum up the show in a sentence, like a quote for the back of the box. They still do that right? ‘A light romantic comedy with an emphasis on the comedy. A satisfying story, fun side characters, wacky hijinks and some genuinely touching moments’.

That’s way too long. In fact that’s two sentences! Do you want to try again? Not really, it’s a hard show to just nail down like that. It’s a compliment to the changing nature of the show.

Final score? It’s hard to fault something so entertaining and watchable; I score it a well-deserved 92 out of 100.