Category Archives: Slice-of-Life

Akiba’s Trip: The Animation

Type: Gonzo’s 25th Anniversary special!

Synopsis: Akihabara, the city of Otoku dreams! Well, really its a small area in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo that mainly sells electronic goods. But really really, its a place where Japanese nerds can hang out. Which is cool, until bugged out aliens try to ruin it by introducing things like employment and girlfriends. Screw that! I got figurines to buy!!

Pros: Here’s a fun fact. Apperantly, Akiba’s Trip was one of the first anime that Funimation tried to silmudub with the Japanese release. When you think about it, it’s not that surprising. The anime is a fairly straightforward comedy show. While it is based on a video game, the show’s main focus is showcasing the various hobbies that Otoku tend to obsess over. Things like guns, idols, fighting games, card games, and even audio equipment for some reason. A lot of the episodes are really just fun stand alone stories where our male protagonist Tomatsu falls deep into a different Otoku hole while his friends sorta watch (his life’s dream is to live off “unearned income). What ties all the stories together is the sub plot where our heroes, dubbed “Electric Mayonnaise” have to protect Akiba by stripping their enemies of clothing (the actual goal of the original game). So you get some nerd lessons and some fan service, what’s not to love!

Cons: This anime was released in 2017, but it feels a lot older. We haven’t really seen this level of silly story telling in a while. At least, not one set outside of a high school. The show could even be described as cartoonish at times. Shades of Excel Saga even, though nowhere near as irreverent. Not that I’m complaining. I loved the humor, right down to watching an entire episode revolve around getting good at Street Fighter. Knowing that this anime was meant to celebrate Gonzo’s 25th anniversary, you can really understand why so many Otoku references and Easter eggs are crammed in here. I’m guessing it’s the studio’s way of thanking the very fan base that allowed them to survive all this time. I mean, the last episode is basically a commercial for why Akiba and Otoku are so great. Not that the show is perfect mind you. The enemies are all forgettable, and Matome largely becomes a side character after her introduction, despite being the female lead. But overall, it’s a fun show that you can watch or put on as background music.

Watch it?: Honestly, it’s a lot of fun (4/5)

MVP: Tomatsu

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For some reason, I really resonated with this character…

Best Episode: Ep.9 “Whoa, I battled with Game Cards!” (all the episodes are great, but as a old fan of Yugioh, this one hit home)

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Dagashi Kashi

Type: A show about nothing, nothing but Penny Candy!

Synopsis: Candy shop. Check. Manic Pixie girl, check. Manic Pixie girl with big boobs. Check.

Pros: Maybe not that simple, but come on! The opening sets the tone for the entire series. How is Hotaru, the resident pixie girl introduced? First doing a backwards bow, second by hugging her breasts. That’s kinda how the show treats Hotaru, as a sexy weirdo. She’s not a bad character. In fact, she’s a super fun character. All manic pixies are. She’s an over the top candy fiend and her English voice actress plays her to perfection. I just wanted to point out what were dealing with here, because the anime is also super fun. It’s a slice of life anime that’s really light hearted and silly. Every episode explores a scenario set up by Hotaru using candy as a catalyst. I’m not sure if the penny candy is real or not, but if it is, it really reminds me of Mexican penny candy, down to the wrappers! But Hotaru’s antics only work if she has someone to play off of. Enter Kokonotsu, the male protagonist who Hotaru is trying to convince to take over his father’s dagashi shop. What I liked about Kokonotsu is that he’s very much a teenage boy. While he can play the typical “nice guy” protagonist, he’s still very well aware of Hotaru’s beauty, and would love to be more popular with girls, and goofs off with his best friends about pervy stuff from time to time. Both Kokonotsu and Hotaru make a good comedic pair, which all you need in a comedic anime.

Cons: On the surface, this show seems like a funny show with candy as a gimmick. But it’s actually a little pervy. Some of the jokes are definitely NSFW. Hotaru’s physique aside, they throw some dirty jokes at ya. Kokonotsu staring at Hotaru see through shirt I can understand. Hotaru being covered in “yogurt” is something else. A lot of verbal and visual innuendo going on here. So if your not into that type of humor, maybe look elsewhere. There are some sweet moments though, like when Kokonotsu’s dad complimented To, implying that maybe To’s dad isn’t round? Because you don’t really see alot of characters outside of the main cast. The only other thing to look out for is the fact that the anime doesn’t really “End.” It finishes. Whether or not Kokonotsu stays at the shop or leaves is not resolved, nor does he become a couple with Hotaru or childhood friend Saya. It’s a “read the manga” ending.

Watch it?: Almost as good as actual dagashi (4/5)

MVP: Hotaru

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How is candy so arousing?

Best Episode: Ep.4 “Fugashi, Fugashi, and… / Glico, Glico, and…” (the essesnce of Hotaru)

 

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Type: It was cute, I guess

Synopsis: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is about Miss Kobayashi who one day gets a maid that happens to be a dragon. Later on more dragons come to live in her general area, each attaching themselves to a local human. Sometimes it explores the themes of social discrimination and the existentialist crisis of immortality, but its mostly about a lesbian couple raising a little girl, with one of them acting like a maid. 

Pros: Dragon Maid hits everything I would want from an anime. It’s a cute comedy about silly people doing silly things. The three main draw are Kobayashi, her maid Tohru, and the little dragon Kanna. Kobayashi plays the straight-man to Tohru’s enthusiastic personality, while Tohru is there mainly to be a cute little girl. What the show does really well is portray the effects each characters have on each other. Kobayashi starts off an an emotionally distant office worker, nice but not affectionate, but Tohru helps her make a connection that allows her explore her feelings more, even to herself. Tohru starts off a drifter with trust issues, but after meeting Kobayashi you see that all she really wants out of life is to belong to something and to someone. And Kanna…well Kanna just needed a Mom to look after her. This relationship theme is explored in each of the dragon/human pairing, and is the real core of the series as a whole.

Cons: “It was cute, I guess” is kinda the sentiment I have after watching the show. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it not revolutionary. It’s a slice of life show where sometimes the characters feel a little down, but then get cheered up by their significant other. Had I watched this a lot earlier in my anime career, I probably would be gushing all over it. Because it is funny. Tohru’s jumps from enthusiastic maid to human hating hell beast is hilarious. And it is really cute. Kanna’s desire to go to school to her obliviousness over her friend Riku’s crush on her is adorable. I do feel that the show maybe has one too many characters, but I enjoy their interactions when they get to be in a scene together. Reviewer bias aside, the one real negative the show has is the last episode. The sudden appearance of Tohru’s father and her kidnapping, then return, then giant dragon fight all felt out of place and way too generic. In fact, I’d say skip the last episode all together.

Watch it?: Maids never go out of style (4/5)

MVP: Kanna

I just found her very cute

Best Episode: Ep.10 “Troupe Dragon, On Stage! (They Had A Troupe Name, Huh)” [a funny ensemble episode]

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Interviews with Monster Girls

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Type: Surprisingly realistic

Synopsis: High School is rough. Well, I assume. I was near 6 ft tall at 13 and pretty smart, so I had a pretty chill time. Then again, all I did was play video games and watch TV.  Too poor and shy to date. Never did get to go to prom either….ah, but were veering of course again. This anime is about three monster girls (demi-humans) who befriend their biology teacher. Wanting to help the girls out with their respective situations, the bio teacher becomes they’re unofficial school counselor. He helps create a parent network, allows them to use his office as a safe space, and even tries to use his scientific knowledge to help them out with any physical issues they might have. Sure, he is kind of using them as for xenological/sociological research, but what’s a few research papers among friends?

Pros: Is it me, or are “monster girls” becoming anime short hand for minorities? It’s like with mutants with comics. It’s not a terribly bad thing, as most social messages in fiction work better through metaphor (prevents your story from sounding too preachy), but it’s something I thought I’d bring up. But while were on the subject, the show’s strongest aspect is the very believable way that the monsters girls and the humans around them interact. Basically, three demi-human girls end up going to school together. Thanks in part to their teacher, the form a friendship, though they probably would have naturally gravitated towards each other eventually. It’s not that they don’t have any friends, it’s just that sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone going through what your going through. Their teacher, Mr. Takahashi, proves himself to be a very adept educator who takes a special interest in making sure that these students with, I don’t wanna say disabilities, maybe unique physical conditions?, have an easier time in school. What surprised me about the show it that it didn’t go for the easy plot point of having the girls be openly discriminated against. No one is yelling “blood-suckers!” or anything. What the girls have to face is more of a subtle awkwardness and feeling of discomfort. They get stared at a lot, sometimes their friends try to be nice by ignoring their physical condition, and people ask them a lot of questions about what they are. And the girls, in a realistic fashion, simply give a polite smile and laugh and basically soldier on. This is especially well handled in Ms. Sato, the only adult demi-human and new math teacher. Ms. Sato is given two episodes from her point of view, allowing her to narrate what it’s like to have to be overly conscious about your image and actions in almost all aspects of life. I guess what I’m saying is that I really liked the characterization and themes that were explored, and am really happy that I got to experience this story.

Cons: Even though what Mr. Takahashi did for a group students who needed extra help and guidance was sweet and his actions are a great example for any individual that wants to work with young people, this is still anime. So of course, most of the monster girls have a crush on him. To be fair, he is packing major GUNS underneath his lab coat. And it’s not uncommon for a student to develop a crush on a teacher, but can we not? Having each of the girls ask for hugs and stuff just weirds me out. Luckily, Takahashi explicitly states that he would never reciprocate their feeling on ethical and moral grounds, so he’s not a perv. Just the author. I KID, I kid. Kinda. The only romance I really invested in was between Takahashi and Sato because A) Their both adults and B) They seem to share a level of intellectual comradery. Outside of characters stuff, the show is a slice of life, so it doesn’t really have a deep narrative and sorta just ends after a bikini episode. (P.s. I also found Sato’s status as a succubus with zero romantic skills very cute).

Watch it: I’m glad this exists (4/5)

MVP: Sakie Satō

Yes, she’s obviously designed to be Best Girl. And your point is?

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Succubus-san is a Real Adult” (I’m guessing succubuses aren’t the only type of women who have to worry about how they look and dress around their male co-workers.)

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Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

Type: Gaaaaaaaaaaaaay!! Horaay!

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Synopsis: A cat person who acts like a dog and a dog person who acts like a cat meet, fall in love, and I assume rent a small, but affordable, loft together after graduation.

Pros: The anime is obviously based on a short gag manga. The comedy mainly comes from Inugami’s high energy and Nekoyama’s bashful nature. The most common set up is Inugami saying or doing something to imply her love for Nekoyama, and Nekoyama being embarrassed about it. There is another character, Aki, who usually plays the straight man between Nekoyama and Inugami when called upon. The comedy usually lands, and I liked the interplay between the characters.

Cons: As usual with 5 minutes series, it goes by fast. There is no real story to speak of beside the relationship between Inugami and Nekoyama. Some other characters are introduced, but Inugami, Nekoyama, and Aki are the only real interesting ones. Aside form Nekoyama’s bashfulness, a lot of the jokes are innuedo. The only time I would argue that the show goes a bit too far is when Nekoyama gets drunk and starts to fufill some of Inugami’s masochistic dreams. But overall, a fun little watch.

Watch it?: As usually, I recommend this short series (4/5)

MVP: Nekoyama-san

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I’m a cat person.

Best Episode: All of them? (again, short series are only 30-40 minutes tops).

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Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan

Type: Girl Talk

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Synopsis: A nice girl who happens to dress a certain way and another nice girl who happens to dress a certain way are best friends, because screw you society!!

Pros: Galko-Chan is a typical 8-minute anime series about high school girls talking about nothing for 12 episodes. The gimmick here is that the group of girls is comprised of a “Lady” character, a female “Otoku,” and “Gyaru,” which is roughly just a girl who likes make up and fashion (a flashy girl). The interesting thing about the show is that Galko, the titular character, is often judged due to her physical and cosmetic appearance. She has a big breasts and likes to dress nice, so everyone thinks she’s promiscuous, or at least hopes she is. The entire anime’s moral is “just because someones dresses a certain way, doesn’t mean they are a certain way.” Because, in truth, Galko is super nice and gets flustered easily. She’s more like that really good looking person you knew in high school that was nice to everyone, but you were always too intimated to talk to [and you can’t think of anyone, guess who you were ;)]. Most of the show’s comedy comes from the talks between Galko and her friends, particularly Otako, who likes to tease Galko with inappropriate topics, like nipple size and the like. Now, not having been privy to much girl talk in my time (I’m just not a “girl’s” girl, ya know?), I don’t know how much this appeals to women, but the show does feel like it’s more centered for a female audience than male (Galko’s design aside).

Cons: Like most anime with short episodes, the jokes can get very one-note and repetitive. There are only so many times you make make fun of Galko’s presumably big nipples. There are boys characters in this anime, but they’re mostly around to fantasize about Galko. Like most things in life, this could have used less males around. And from a personal stand point, I found Galko’s design ludicrous. I get that it’s the joke/moral, but come on! I’ve seen—I mean, I’ve heard of hentai with mose subtle designs. And I also think the “lady” character, Ojou, isn’t that important, despite being a “main character.”

Watch it?: As always, short anime are always recommended (4/5)

MVP: Otako

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Teasing friends is always fun

Best Episode: As always, too short to chose (all 8 minutes)

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Seitokai Yakuindomo (Second Season)

Type: OVA/Second Season/Dirty Joke Deliver Service

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Synopsis: A student council at a private school makes dirty jokes at one another while trying to uphold strict public morals. Like all people in powers, they’re obviously big fat hypocrites.

Pros: The “second season” of Seitokai Yakiundomo, or the OVA series if you’d like, is one of a seemingly increasing list of sequel seasons that I have gotten to extraordinarily late. To be fair, I didn’t actually know it had a second season. When I saw the number of episodes for this season in my research in the past, I thought it was still in progress. I wasn’t aware of the OVA system at the time. But I did go and eventually read the manga. All in all, the show still holds up. The skits are still funny. I still like the franchise. It has remained a steady show.

Cons: Another word for steady could be stagnant. After having read the manga, I have become aware of the repetitive nature of Seitokai Yakiundomo. The punch line for every joke is a something sexual. You fell in a puddle? Ha! I looks like you ejaculated! The joke does wear thin. I don’t know if I would have felt like this if I had watched this season right after the first one, but people with higher standards than mine will probably get tired of it. The show does hint that some romance between the main characters, but they’re only hints. The show has a formula and it sticks to it, but it made me smile more than feel bored.

Watch it?: A lot more of the same. Take that as you will. (4/5)

MVP: Suzu

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I’ve actually grown fond of her height complex

Best Episode: Not an episode, but the “Dried Squid” side story was hilarious (it was the squid!)

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The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

Type: Typical Light Novel

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Synopsis: An art prep school, which I’m sure is sure hard to get into and requires a lot of effort, has a special dorm designated for trouble making students…for some reason. And by “trouble making” I of course mean weirdos. Even by art student standards. One of them has cats. FREAK. That same cat dude, Sorata, has given up on his dreams because he doesn’t really feel good enough to try, but that all changes when a beautiful art genius moves in and becomes the subject of his awe and resentment because she’s a natural born art genius. She also clearly lives with Savant Syndrome, given her explicitly stated inability to take care of herself, but the show glosses this over and calls her “eccentric.” Because hey! Anime!

Pros: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is a melodramatic slice of life story with comedic elements. The comedy comes from a group of eccentrics all living under one roof. You have the energetic one, the playboy, the computer snob, the lazy dorm teacher, the emotionless genius, and the straight man in Sorata and Nanami. One of the trade make gags of the show are the skits between Sorata and one of the other characters, usually involving quick quips between Sorata and one of his dorm mates over an embarrassing or frustrating situation. Like trying to teach the art genius Shina how to cook. Or trying to convince Nanami that it isn’t what it looks like. These are great, and I highly encourage you to look for these short scenes on online even if you don’t watch the show. The melodrama comes from Sorata and Nanami, the two characters how have a dream and must deal with the trials and tribulations that comes with following a dream. The show does a really great job at depicting the emotional struggles one faces with trying to achieve a dream or goal, especially in the arts. Particularly when faced with multiple failures and false starts even after working yourself to your physical, mental, and emotional limit. This is especially true with Sorata, who is introduced as someone who would rather not even try due to fear of failure. The character of Shina is particularly interesting in this respect, as she’s often the subject of resentment and jealousy due to her natural ability and easy successes. She is used to represent the darker and often unwarranted feelings one gets towards other people’s professional or personal success, even though your often not angry at a particular person, but at yourself and the situation. The rest of the show just involves love triangles and the power of friendship of whatever.

Cons: The show’s story beats are very predictable. After the first two episodes, you can pretty much tell how the rest of the episodes are going to go. For those wondering, it goes: silly, sad, angry/resentful, sad again, uplifting, and finally happy. If this doesn’t happen within one episode, it will happen over two or three episodes. But the show doesn’t really break this cycle. It makes a lot of episodes easy to skip or gloss over. And ironically, much like the other characters of the show, my feelings towards Shina are mixed. One the one hand, I liked her emotional growth (even if it was because of “love”), and she was a good comedic foil for Sorata. On the other hand, her inability to do even the most basic personal tasks does not really balance out her Mary Sue like abilities. I get that her not being able to take care of herself is suppose to make her endearing, but it really just made her kinda annoying to watch. Even I found it hard to sympathize with given her amazing art skills. I think that if the show had played her condition as more serious than comedic, it would have been easier to like her. I also found myself not really caring for Misaki and Jin’s love story. They were alright characters, but their plots don’t really impact the plot in any significant way. Maybe it works better in the books? And lastly, I felt that the whole “chasing your dreams is hard” would have worked better with a slightly older cast, like between 18-21. My biggest dream in high school was beating Kingdom Hearts 2 to get the secret ending, not preparing myself for career setbacks.

Watch it?: Good, and maybe even great to some people. (4/5)

MVP: Sorata

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One of the realist depictions of emotional in all of anime.

Best Episode: Ep.5-6 “The Serious Girl of Sakura Dormitory” and “The Blue After the Rain” (funny, sad, dramatically over the top, love triangle, a good showcase of the show in general)

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Osomatsu-San

Type: Hustle-Hustle, Muscle-Muscle

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Synopsis: There are no bigger a@#holes than family. Especially when that family happens to be your brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother.

Pros: Osomatsu-San is a revamp of a very old gag comedy based on the misadventures of 6 identical brother, or sextoplets. The original 60’s manga and anime focused on the brother’s antics as elementary schoolers. The new 10’s version focuses on their antics as jobless 20-somethings. In typical Japanese 2010’s fashion, the brothers are all loser NEETs, and a lot of the episodes focuses on their failed attempts to get jobs, girls, any semblance of a respectable life, etc. They’re each horrible to each other, but in that special way that only brothers can be. The other episodes are mostly random parodies. In fact, the first episode was banned from re-airing because it overdid it with the parodies and crossed over to copyright infringement in Japan. I have to say, this is one of the most unique comedies I’ve come across in all my years of watching anime. Maybe because it ran 25 episodes and focused on adults, not high schoolers, but I can’t really think of another anime comedy like this one. The main characters are all greedy, selfish, and immature, but dammit, that’s what make me laugh at them!

Cons: The comedy can get a little mean at times. Like, Western comedy mean. There are many skits where the punchline is that someone gets killed. Or gets a pole up their butt. Or accepts their fate as dateless wonders. You’re suppose to laugh at the characters. Which is why the brothers always have to lose at the end. Because it’s suppose to be funny to mock them. Which it is, but this is different from most anime comedies, which asks to you laugh at the situation, not the characters themselves. It’s “oh, this guy walked into this girl getting undressed, what a silly turn of events!” not “oh, this guy walked into this girl getting undressed, how stupid of the girl to not lock the door!” And, from a purely American perspective, and I could be alone on this, but the characters of Iyami and Hatabo felt outdated and just didn’t click for me.

Watch it?: You know, it gets a bump just for being so damn unique (5/5)

MVP: Chibita

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I now understand why he briefly became the main character in the 80’s

Best Episode: ep.1 “Osomatsu-kun Returns” (banned or not, it’s a really good intro)

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The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub

Type: or “Orechi no Furo Jiro”

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Synopsis: A young man invites a merman to live in his bathtub, and hilarity ensues.

Pros: This anime is very short. It’s one of those 3-minute episode deals. The appeal is having very cute boys be cute to one another in comedic fashion. Wakasa, the merman, is the source of comedy, being the child like blonde one in the show. His ignorance of the surface world will lead to things like using too much hot water, or learning not to eat too much expensive food, etc. He also has a myriad of equally cute male friends who are also various aquatic life forms that come over from time to time. Though, I also find it funny that Tatsumi, the human, is vaguely designed like a cat and brought a bunch of fish home. It has the save vibe as shows like Hetalia, only located entirely in a washroom.

Cons: There’s a little sister character that is in romatic love with her brother. Not a fan. The intro does not match the tone of the show at all, suffering from the same thing the Free intro did. Apart from that, its a great little anime.

Watch it?: It’s so short, why not? (4/5)

MVP: Wakasa

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Ariel eat your heart out

Best Episode: Short anime rule (so all of them)

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