Monthly Archives: December 2019

Mob Psycho 100 (Season 2) [Anime of the Year]

Type: From the creators of Mob Psycho 100 (season 1)!

Synopsis: Still trying to become better at social interactions, in case he accidentally walks into a dinner party, our main character Shigeo Kageyama continues to try to lead a normal life. And happily, he’s gotten a little better at it. He’s may not be running 10k marathons every week, but he’s a gotten more confident, made a few new friends, and has started to realize what kind of person he is. Dare I say it, but I think our little walking embodiment of unknowable power is starting to grow up.

Pros: Season 2 of Mob Psycho 100 is a much a continuation of season one as it is an organic evolution of that season. The season is slit into two main story arcs. The first arc deals with Mob’s everyday life at school and work. While this half may seem a little show at first, it’s actually a great way to showcase Mob’s personal growth. These episodes show that Mob is not a timid as he use to me, as his experiences allow him to become his own person. This is showcased the most in his relationship with Regan, his mentor, which is explored in Episodes 6 and 7, the best episodes in terms of character work. But don’t worry action fans! This season is still chock full of gloriously directed and animated actions scenes. There’s an amazing scene in Episode 5, or you can just go to Episodes 8-13, the second half of the show. This part of the show has Mob confront the mastermind behind the villainous CLAW organization. The second half of the show is where you want to go to if you want to see over the top psychic battles created by masters of the genre.

Cons: There are no cons. Instead, I’d like to use this section to talk more about Mob. What I realized throughout watching this show is that Mob may be one of the best anime protagonists in modern times. The character of Mob works because the ONE the author and the anime writers were able to convey Mob’s inner strength very effectively. It’s a slow burn, as we see Mob go from a shy and quiet boy to an empathetic and self-confident young man. In a great twist, Mob grows as a person in spite of his powers. In a lot of anime, we see some sort of “hidden power” be the avenue through which a character gains self-confidence. But Mob does not rest on the laurels of innate talent, and instead choose to develop in areas the he considers important. In fact, the show actively portrays those that rely solely on their natural talent as the villains. What sets Mob apart is that he put in a lot of effort to become physically stronger, he puts in a lot of effort to understand people, and this effort pays off in the form of personal growth and social recognition. Notice that in this season, Mob defeats two of the most powerful espers in the series not by overwhelming them with power, but by touching their spirits. His inner strength is is greatest asset. Mob joins the pantheon of great heroes not because he’s an all powerful warrior, but because he’s a good man.

Watch it: One of the best anime of the decade (5/5)

MVP: Shigeo Kageyama

98, 99, 100,…??????

Best Episode: Ep.6-7 The Reagan Arc (maybe not a flashy, but damn effective)

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Kaguya-sama: Love is War

Type: Love, lover never changes….

Synopsis: I mean, it doesn’t really, does it? Fundamentally, men and women have been doing the same routine since Adam and Eve played chicken with their first love confession. Remember that time when Eve arranged it so that Adam would “accidentally” see an ad for a new movie, then secretly reveal that she had an extra ticket? Or that time Adam tried to find clever ways to exchange phone numbers with Eve? No? Then what kind of Sunday School did you go to!?

Pros: Love is War was one of the hot comedy anime of 2019. The premise is that two very smart high schoolers are trying to get the other person to confess their love to them. Apparently, the first person to confess automatically becomes the other person’s submissive slave. And while that does sound like fun, it’s a no go for our proud protagonists. What follows is a series of high jinks where the titular Kaguya and love interest Shirogane try to trick the other into making the first move. Of course, this being a comedy, they each fail miserable due to a mixture of overthinking, inexperience, and just plain dumb luck. They are just kids after all. The best scenes and set-ups are very straight forward. Kaguya and Shirogane are typically in the student council office, someone or something introduced a mundane activity or topic, and then Kaguya and/or Shirogane turn it into a game of blind mental chess against one another. It’s like if Light and L were actually trying to make-out with each other (just like in my fan fiction). I would love to see these two fight about famous romantic questions: Were Ross and Rachel really on a break? Who should have moved that suitcase, Reymond or Deborah? Should we visit your parents, or should I go on my girl’s trip that I’ve been planning for 6 months, KEVIN!? To my surprise, a lot of scenes also involve Kaguya learning or reacting to something. The writers really got a lot of mileage from having this refined girl get flustered over things like nail polish, twitter, and swears. The shows does have other supporting characters, but none more important than Chika, the resident cheery girl, school body secretary, talented volley ball coach, and the Internet’s girlfriend for a few weeks. She adds a bit of relaxed energy to the intense Shirogane/Kaguya dynamic, and also plays as the comedic wildcard for most scenarios.

Cons: Like most comedies, especially those with segments, some of the jokes are hit or miss. The “How Cute” joke ran it’s course early. It depends on your tastes. While I personally liked the school council office scenes, the scenes outside the school weren’t that great. They added variety, but I didn’t think they were super funny. The show really is strongest when it sticks to one room at the school. Kinda like a better Student Council’s Discretion. I also don’t think the character of Yu is as strong as the other characters. His character of the socially anxious introvert wasn’t bad, but he does give off incel vibes with some of his dialogue. In a show where each of the characters have two sides to them, he stands out as one dimensional (though I suppose the story could reveal a hidden side to him later). Speaking of characters, it’s also pretty obvious that the author and writers prefer Kaguya’s side of the story, as we experience more about her perspective and backstory than Shirogane’s. I know, I know, semi-Tsundere acting cute, but I would have liked to have learned more about Shirogane so I can like him too.

Watch it?: But overall, it is a well made show, and one worth your time. (4/5)

MVP: The Chika dance

From the end of Ep. 03. Because of course.

Best Episode: Ep. 5″Kaguya Wants to Handle It/Miyuki Shirogane Wants to Show Off/Kaguya Wants to Be Covered” (A good showcase of everything, though I also Ep. 7 where Kaguya can’t stop laughing at a dirty word).

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How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?

Type: About 25 Lb.

Synopsis: I go for endurance, not strength. I flirted with 40LB for a while, but then messed my back up real bad after a prolonged combination of inconsistent workouts and bad form. Let that be a lesson, it’s important to do only what your body is able to do. If something is too heavy, then go lighter. Personal fitness is a journey, not a race. And remember, true strength comes from within!

Pros: How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is a great show for people who want to get into exercise, or like me, trying to rework their workout routine. Every episode explores two different types of workout, from using gym equipment to isometrics to hiking. It’s a great show that lets you explore all the different ways there are to stay physically active. I would categorize this show as “Edutaiment.” It uses anime jokes and mild fan service to teach you about basic exercise. Who knew that the best way to get weebs to the gym is by making it 2D!? But seriously, I actually did use this show when I was trying to reestablish my daily workout routine. It helped me stay consistent while also giving me ideas for different exercises to try out. The show is fairly positive about exercise, and it’s approach really makes staying active look realistic (and even fun!).

Cons: I mean, you could argue that the main character’s desire to go to be gym because she thinks she’s fat is sexist. And it is. But let’s be real, 85% of most people’s desire to start exercising is due to vanity. Sure, sure, society has given men and women, especially women, unrealistic ideals for beauty that no normal person should have to strive for. Yet, I can’t help but be a little proud when I see a little bicep pop out when I bend my arms. The fact that I can lift my garbage bags without losing my breath is also nice. Aside from that, the fan service will probably be the most common barrier of interest. This is, after all, cute anime girls bending and squeezing until fatigue. So expect some tired yet sexy breathing. The show also likes to end it’s “Machio Muscle Lessons of the Day” skits with one of the girls posing in bed, beckoning you to join her in bed. Ya know, like you do. Finally, the show was not designed to be watched in one go. The way it explores the exercise world works better in increments rather than a marathon.

Watch it?: With clever editing, this would make an awesome exercise YouTube playlist. (4/5)

MVP: Mr. Machio

The personal trainer we all need.

Best Episode: “Sensei’s on a Diet, Too?” (I just like using dumbells. But all the episodes are great)

 

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Isekai Quartet

Type: The most ambitious crossover since…

Synopsis:…ya know, Endgame and Marvel did not invent the crossover. These things happen in media all the time. Comics had them since the 40’s. Movies had the Wolfman hanging out with Frankenstein and Abbot/Constello since before we landed on the moon. Hell, all of Smash Brothers is built on crossovers. I understand people want to have fun, but let’s not give more credit to the multibillion dollar company that it’s owed, yeah?

Pros: So Isekai Quartet is a show where the cast of 4 Isekai series crossover. Hence the title. This one has the folks from Konosuba, Overlord, Rezero, and Tanya the Evil. They all get transported into another world, again, only this time the setting is a Japanese style high school. Unsurprisingly, the best parts are having different characters from different shows interact with one another. I personally liked Albetto and Rem’s relationship, along with Ainz and Tanya. Because of course the two most evil characters in the show would get along. The show’s pretty short, and each episode is only about 15 minutes. So it was a pretty good refresher on certain shows, and a pretty good introduction to others. I personally have never seen Rezero, but the cast seem fun to watch. And at the end of the day, it’s that what it’s all about.

Cons: Since the show doesn’t have all the character I want, it’s a piece of ##$%. Ha! Got ya. Don’t get me wrong, I wish the the people from Reincarnated as a Slime and Log Horizon where here. I’m sure everyone has their favorites. That’s the problem with crossovers: everyone has a stake in the game. The only real issue is that because the show has such a big cast, a lot of characters get shortchanged. So if you have a favorite supporting character, they may not get the same spotlight the would get in their own show.

Watch it?: Yes. It’s short, funny, and full of reference. (4/5)

MVP: Tanya

I’m surprised, but Tanya has some of the best interactions with characters.

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Tension! Introductions” (The Useless Goddess vs. the Lord of Nazaric!)

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The Rising of the Shield Hero

Type: *Happy racoon noises*

Synopsis: A boy gets isekai’d into a magical fantasy land. That’s good. He gets stuck with the shield weapon, which is supposedly low tier. That’s bad. But he gets to form a party with a beautiful princess. That’s good. Then the princess falsely accuses him of rape and he gets shunned by the kingdom. That’s bad. And problematic. And inductive of a larger social issue that interprets sexual assault way too much from a male perspective.

Pros: He also gets a cute racoon girl to fight for him. That’s good. But she’s a slave….that’s bad. Anyway, The Rising of the Shield Hero is a 25 episode anime about Naofumi Iwatani, a early 20-something that gets stuck in another world. What sets this anime apart, at least briefly, from other isekai stories is that Naofumi is treated very badly throughout the series, forcing him to face more adversity than other protagonists. When Naofumi is shunned by the kingdom, he and the story develop a cynical personality, allowing the darker side of this fantasy world to be explored. The show deals with the imperfection of this world through the plight of the demi-humans, human/animal hybrids that are marginalized and even enslaved by the humans. Naofumi himself even participates, buying the young female demi-human Raphtalia so he can mold her into his personal weapon. Of course, this being anime, Naofumi is never cruel to his ward, and she soon develops a strong devotion/affection for him. Raphtalia actually provides Naofumi with his first genuine relationship, possibly ever, which teaches him to trust people again. Their scenes together during the duel with the Spear Hero is possibly the best scene in the entire series. Ironically, Naofumi’s exile actually benefits his reputation and that of the Shield Hero’s. Freed from royal edicts, Naofumi and his party are allowed to roam the country side, learning different skills out of necessity, building connections, and helping others. Throughout his journey, Naofumi questions his own bonds with others, but it is precisely these bonds that allow his legend to grow. He becomes what he was always meant to be, a shield to protect others.

Cons: The series has a very decisive first episode. It’s length and subject matter are you main barrier for entry. In the west, the show’s main controversies are in its use of a false rape accusation, and the use of slavery. In a world were claims of sexual assault are severely undermined in every culture, having a female characters use rape as a means to discredit a man does not help. At all. Some of the hate Myne got from the fandom was a bit telling is you look at it from a distance. The show also contradicts itself in it’s use of slavery. The character Raphtalia was sold into slavery and tortured, and the show even dedicates an episode to her horrible experience as a slave. But Raphtalia never speaks out against the system of slavery. She doesn’t seem to have an issue with the slave trader character, nor does anyone in the kingdom. If the Queen knows about it, she lets it slide, as do the other Cardinal Heroes. Aside from this, the show has your basic iseakai issues. Even though Naofumi is shunned in the series, he is always portrayed as being right. He knows exactly what to do in every situation, and if only people listened to him, everything would go right. This portrayal makes some scenes read like a passive aggressive passage from some teenager’s journal. Being an iseaki protagonists, Naofumi is also a natural chick magnet, forming a party of cute young girls. Like really young. Except for Raphtalia, who may have the mind of a 10 year old. but has the body of a woman. Big difference. It was also a bit disjointing that after the main story arc’s natural conclusion in episode 21, the story continues for 4 more episode. It almost felt like the studio was simply ordered to make 25 episodes.

Watch it?: It can be generic, but also enthralling (4/5)

MVP: Naofumi the Shield Hero

Yeah, he’s an avatar for wish fulfillment. But you gatta love that coat.

Best Episode: “The Raphtalia Arc” Ep. 1-4 (if you don’t want to watch all of it, these episodes are the best showcase for the entire show).

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The Helpful Fox Senko-San

Type: “All anyone wants is a personal assistant that also holds them at night” -ancient proverb on Twitter.

Synopsis: A sweet story about talking care of your partner, or a creepy loli fantasy. In anime, a series can be both! That’s why the medium is magical! In this, an overworked salary man is graced by the gods with a fox spirit to pamper the daily stress out of him.

Pros: This show really does straddle the line between sweet and creepy. Most of it comes down to the fact that Senko, the fox spirit, is drawn like a little girl. But she’s really 800 year old, so it totally legal. I know the show addresses this, but that don’t make it any better. Where the show really excels, however, is in the scenes where Senko takes care of the protagonists, Nakano. Senko’s mission is to help Nakano relax, so she does things like make him dinner, message his shoulders, etc. But most importantly, she speaks softly and emphatically to him, and when Nakano relaxes, it strangely makes you relax too. This transference of feel speaks to these scenes quality. I would actually recommend imitating some of the things Senko does with  your partner (as an anime review online, I am a of course a qualified couples expert). Not necessarily the housecleaning stuff, as that’s a team effort, or the constant meal prep, as you really should be switching cooking nights, or just go on a dinner date. And I’d moderate exactly how much you let them touch your floofy tail, or else they’ll take advantage of the situation. Look, what I’m saying is-maybe one of these days, if the mood is right, take your partner head and gently put it on your lap or chest, maybe stroke their hair, and just hold them. Make them feel safe and loved. Plus, it’s easier than cooking tofu.

Cons: You know, there are some people that really don’t like being criticized about their love of loli characters. Some feel its a censorship issue, or culture insensitivity, or kink-shaming, or whatever. And while I respect all arguments, BROTHER, STOP PERVING ON LITTLE GIRLS. About 50% of this anime is a sweet and calming story about taking care of someone you love. The other 50% is a full grown man having an underage girl baby him. We all know what “floof you tail” means ya weirdos. And the orgasm ears weren’t subtle either. There’s also a bathing scene I wasn’t a fan of. The show does just enough to sexualize Senko and her equally underage friend Shiro to take me out of a lot of scenes.

Watch it?: It’s calming, but skip the loli-bait scenes (3/5)

MVP: Senko

I can’t talk to my cat without calling her a floof ball now.

Best Episode: “I’m Going to Pamper Him to His Heart’s Content!” (a great episode. I wish the entire series was only this).

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200 Followers: Personally Important Anime

It finally happened. It only took about, oh, a decade, but this badly edited and amateur blog about anime is finally hitting the big time! Man, it’s so crazy to remember what I was like back when I started this thing. Single, jobless, watching anime all day. Now everything’s so different, now I have a cat! Anyway, were here, so lets talk anime!! Continue reading

Zombie Land Saga

Type: And they say comedy is dead!

Synopsis: Thank you, I’ll show myself out.

Pros: The anime is about a group of zombie girls from different times brought back to life to become Idols for a small Japanese prefecture. Saga is apparently a real place, though I don’t know how hard up they are for tourists. I hear their chicken is pretty good. Anyway, this show is known for being one of the best comedies of 2018. The comedy comes from three sources: The clashes of personalities between the girls, the brash nature of their manager (Kotaro), and the shows love for abrupt jokes. I mean, when the opening joke of a girl getting hit my a truck becomes a meme, I think you know what kind of show your getting into. The show has a strong cast, and I especially liked Sakura’s anxiety, Saki’s rudeness, and Yugiri’s slapping ability. If you want just pure comedy, I would say focus on episodes 1-5, which show the girls getting into idol-related situations as a group. From doing a silly commercial to trying to land a promotion deal, Franchouchou’s hijinks do a lot to sell the ensemble nature of the show. And the show does get very silly. The animators were clearly having fun at some moments. Tae bursting into a room will never be not great.

Cons: First off, this is an idol show. Zombie gimmick aside, a lot of the stories revolved around being an idol. So if you aren’t digging the rise of idol shows in anime, this probably won’t change your mind. This is because two of the show’s main characters, Ai and Junko, have story arcs the specifically revolved around being idols. Being only actual girls with idol experience, the show explores Ai and Junko’s hesitation to join another group. The show actually does a lot of character work, despite having a reputation as a irreverent comedy. Episodes 6-12 gives each of the characters (except Yugiri and Tae) spotlights episodes exploring their pasts in some way. Ai and Junko have a philosophical disagreement over idol-fan interactions. We learn how Lily and Saki died, and the people they left behind. We also get a three-episode exploration of Sakura’s character as the season finale. While all this is great, is does take away from the comedy of the earlier episodes. So from a comedy scale of Adam Sandler to Adam Sandler, I’d give this a Adam Sandler in Click (2006). Solid, but some of the emotional beats don’t quite mesh well with the comedic nature of the story. (p.s. Those 3D performances were also not great!)

Watch it: Better than dying, resurrecting, then becoming a singer (4/5)

MVP: The Rap Battle in Ep. 2

With one season out, will I live to see season 2? The way the anime industry is going, I don’t know….

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Go Go Neverland SAGA” (Apparently there was some controversy over Lily being trans, but honestly? It’s a very sweet and funny story. Father-daughter stories get me ever time).

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Dagashi Kashi (Season 2)

Type: An anime about nothing!

Synopsis: Nothing but the slow decline of an outdated business and melancholy over the loss of a potential lover.

Pros: Dagashi Kashi season 2 isn’t the off the wall comedy that the first season was. It’s actually a bit more dower. Early in the season, the show’s resident manic pixie dream girl, Hotaru, leaves without warning. This leaves the show to depict what happens with the manic pixie dream girl disappears. Turn out, it results in bouts of depression. That being said, the show fills Hotaru’s vacancy with a new character, Hajime. Hajime is an older woman (21, what a geezer!). Hajime gets to play the irresponsible older sister type to Kokonostu’s straight man. It was a fun new dynamic to contrast the first season’s more usual wacky cute girl vs. protagonist jokes we got last season. (p.s. I once again realized that the artists of this show are really good at inserting fan service without actually showing any skin).

Cons: This isn’t really a knock, but you do feel Hotaru’s absence. Like, when Hotaru isn’t in a scene, part of you asks “Where’s Hotaru?” I also don’t think that the show did enough with the owner of the new convenience store, Beni. His store is a serious threat to Kokonostu’s candy shop, but nothing ever really comes of it. The crew even go to the store every now and then! The biggest thing about this season, however, is that it’s less silly than the first season. With Hotaru gone, the show focuses on Kokonotsu’s motivations, which characters like Hajime help nurture. It’s fine, just not as funny.

Watch it?: Still worth a watch (4/5)

MVP: Hajime Owari

Sometimes you just need an older sister in your life.

Best Episode: Ep. 7 “Hajime Owari, Chocoball, and…” (Nee-san to the rescue!…I’m so sorry).

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