Tag Archives: high school

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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Sebagebu

Type: Survival Game Club

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Synopsis: In a world not unlike our own, young women must fight for their lives in the cruel world they were born into. Momoka Sonokawa has little to rely on, other than her shooting skills and sharp instincts, in an school club where she must weigh survival against love. The love of not doing anything, money, and her general self interest.

Pros: The gimmick of this comedy is that the characters each have guns. This leads to every scenario and skit to eventually devolve into a shoot out. It can be something as official as a shooting competition, or something as trivial as who get to sit in the new fancy chair. Why do these high schoolers have guns? Because the premise of the show revolves around a “Survival Game Club,” in which members pretend to kill each other with airguns. The show, however, depicts these battles as bloody because it’s all in their “imaginations.” The show’s great. It’s hilarious. It’s full of references (flippin’ Predator shows up), and has what TV Troupes defines as “comedic sociopathy.” Meaning that the jokes often end with one extra nasty or mean action. For example, a character could jump out for hug and get hit instead. Classic joke. But in shows like Sebagebu!, the character then lands on the edge of a chair and gets their head cracked open, bleeding out on the floor while the other characters continue the conversation. It’s an extra but of spice that sets this show apart. Of course, the medium for best jokes comes from the main character, Momoka, who skirts the protagonist curse of blandness by basically being a selfish sociopath. She’s shot every member of the club in the back at least once. She’s hilarious.

Cons: The opening does not fit the tone of the show. When I first saw it, I thought I was going to have to lug my way through some NRA nut’s wet dream. Then there’s the “transformation sequences” for lack of a better term, then the girl’s each take out their guns. This doesn’t really work for the absurdist tone of the show and always felt our of place when it occurred. I got the feeling that these sequences where added when the show was running low on time. I should also point out the first half of episode 9 is a real snooze fest. Any scene without either the entire group or guns doesn’t work. Momoka’s solo adventures with her Otoku fan boy Lemon (the only consistent male presence, as the club is in an all girl’s school) works because she often resorts to shooting him. But luckily, ep9 was an isolated incident. The rest was gold.

Watch it: I hate guns, but I do love this (4/5)

MVP: Momoka

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There are multiples times when she tries to commit fraud to get rich!

Best Episode: Ep5. “Ascension!? Silent Survival / The Unkillable Twin Tail / Crusade – Raganarok of Angels and Demons” (I also recommend the Yakuza riff in ep6)

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Danganronpa: The Animation

Type: Like Hunger Games, or Battle Royale, or whatever reference you prefer.

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Synopsis: It’s a survival game with high schoolers…hey! Don’t go yet. You didn’t hear that it’s also based on a visual novel….hey! Give it a chance at least. This one has a sadistic teddy bear in it!

Pros: Danganronpa is a visual novel series based around the theme of “despair.” This anime is based on the first game, “Trigger Happy Havoc,” and is a murder mystery. The set up is that 15 students are trapped in an elite high school and forced to kill each other. Its a mystery because the rules state that once a body is found, the students have to figure out who the killer is. If they fail, the killer goes free while the rest die. The last person surviving wins and is rewarded with fame and fortune. The anime follows a set formula: A murder happens, an investigation happens, and then a trial happens. One of the first things you’ll notice is the art style. The colors are vibrant and each of the characters are given unique designs, which helps make their death a bit more meaningful. The trial scenes, which are usually just the characters talking to each other, are spiced up with cool video game style animations and transitions, masterfully blending two mediums together. Ditto for the executions. And at only 13 episodes, the show moves at a very brisk and meaningful pace. Overall, the show has a unique look, an interesting cast of characters, an intriguing mystery, a sense of humor, and a cool set up. Well worth a watch.

Cons: The anime does get a but troupee. Its a survival game anime where a boy and girl form an alliance early one, the characters each betray each other for no real reason, a suicide occurs, and it all ends like you’d think it would. Even some of the mysteries and twists are cliche, though the show does call itself out on a few of these. In term of characters, a lot of the designs, while unique, also come off as overdone.Their meant to give you a quick visual summary of the character’s traits, as the show doesn’t have time to give depth to all 14 students. So some come off as one dimensional. The show is also very back heavy, meaning the the last episodes, particularly the finale, are stuffed with revelations and lore (and a weird lack of budget). My only real gripe that during the trials, when the murder has been accused, the characters tend to break down and admit it, turning into weird caricatures of themselves. Which again, was on purpose from a creative standpoint. Interestingly, I think this show does recognize it’s weaknesses and addresses them, or at least owns up to them. Everything the show does feels intentional and confident, so these are more nitpicks than anything else.

Watch it?: A strong recommend (4/5)

MVP: Kyouko Kirigiri

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Super High School Level Detective

Best Episode: Ep2-3 “Not Normal Arc: Kill and Live” (though I like other arcs better, this one is a good intro to the formula of the show)

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Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto

Type: Anime The Fonze!

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Synopsis: Imagine you went to school with the coolest person on Earth. No matter what happened, they always came out looking even better after the situation. Can’t think of anyone like that? Then I guess that only leaves one possible person…cool guy/gal.

Pros: The central joke in Sakamoto is that the character of Sakamoto is a mary sue. By that I mean that he’s good at everything. Even situations in where he is set up to fail end up making him look even better. He’s stylish and a bit over the top. That’s kinda the whole show. Everyone around Sakamoto is usually touched by his presence, even if they started off resenting him. In fact, the one real chink in Sakamoto’s armor is that he sometimes inspires the resentment of others, usually delinquents. But even they are eventually won over by his charm. (P.s. It was really hard not to write “Sakamoto-Kun” in this. Even I feel for the guy.)

Cons: The anime is basically a one note joke. The episodes are set up as seperate scenarios. But the resolution is always the same. Someone feels better, either because of Sakamoto or because of themselves, and then Sakamoto does something outlandishly stylish to inspire them to move forward. Hit classy music cue and fade to black. The whole anime is probably something you’ll like at the start for how wacky it is, but it’ll be less and less unique the more you watch it. I’d advise watching it in chunks, as a marathon would probably get repetitive.

Watch it?: It’s like a piece of hard candy. Sweet at first, it lessens as time goes on (4/5)

MVP: Sakamoto

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Haven’t you heard? His name is on the title

Best Episode: Ep7. “Is Sakamoto Really A Pervert?” (The other half is good too, but boys trying to get physical skin flicks is somewhat nolstalgic)

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Kill Me Baby

Type: Baby, Please Kill Me

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Synopsis: A comic strip about two girls gets turned into a comedy anime. One of the girls is an assassin. The other is a high school student. Schemeel, schlemazel, Hasenfeff Incorporated.

Pros: In the comedy section of anime, their is a subgenre of shows based on 4-panel comic manga strips. Kinda like newspaper strips, but, you know, with an extra panel. A lot of great shows like, Lucky Star and Hetalia, were originally 4 panel manga, or “Yonkoma.”  Yonkoma shows usually follow similar presentation styles. Short scenes were the characters do a little skit. That’s basically what the show is. Yasuna and Sonya play the comedy duo. Yasuna is the goofy one, and Sonya is the stern one. There’s also a third girl named Agiri whose a “ninja” that offers her services at incredibly low prices! Act now!

Cons: Unlike its counterparts, Kill Me Baby isn’t all too unique. Well, that’s not the best term. It just doesn’t pop as much as Lucky Star or Hetalia, or etc. Yasuna and Sonya have to carry the show almost by themselves, while those other shows have much more characters to play with. This leaves a lot of the episodes feeling a bit stagnant. Kinda like reading a newspaper comic strip. On a less important note, the theme song for the show has been listed as one of the most annoying anime theme songs of all time (but I really liked it).

Watch it?: Watch it in chunks. Don’t marathon it. (3/5)

MPV: Yasuna

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Hola!

Best Episode: Can’t really pick (they all feel that same)

 

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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions

Type: Chunibyo, meaning something like Arrested Development

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Synopsis: Love will save the world. Chunibyo will inherit the Earth. And delusions will make you taller and lose weight. This anime…deals with none of that. It’s just about a girl whose weird and a boy who use to be weird, but grew out of it. Then they start dating. It’s kinda cute.

Pros: The first thing that pops up at you is the art style, which is reminiscent of other Moe-Centric anime like K-ON!, or The Melancholy of Haruji Suzumiya. All the movements looks smooth, and yet soft. The story has your typical mixture of light novel humor and slice-of-life drama. Each of the characters, except for 2, have gone through spurts of living in “delusions,” where they pretend to be something magical like a “Dark Flame Master.” This is either because they actually believed in it, thought it was fun, or simply needed an escape from their lives. To the writings credit, the characters aren’t ridiculed for their beliefs, nor necessarily praised for them. It’s more like the show simply argues that you should let people do what they like and be themselves. The humor in the show is pretty good, as the “delusional” character’s eccentricities play well with the characters trying to put that part of their lives behind them. Interestingly, the show sometimes lets the character’s delusions give birth to pretty cool action scenes, so a lot of genres are played around with. The main conflict of the show comes from figuring out Rikka’s motivation for her “delusions,” and the whole “accepting harsh reality” troupe.

Cons: Admittedly, the plot is predictable. You know something bad happened to make Rikka act the way she does. I kinda wish she was just weird for the sake of being weird, but I suppose that would make her too much of a manic pixie girl. Rikka tends to switch from her act as quiet cool girl to moe-cute girl a bit too much for my taste. Its  indicative of the show’s slight identity problem: is it a slice-of-life dramedy or a moe show? If you think about the show or its characters too hard, its becomes a bit sad and awkward. That’s why most of the “cool” actions scenes are cut with what characters are really doing. But anime is really good at portraying sad and awkward, so I can’t really count that as a negative. And there is an undercurrent of positivity here. My only real complaint is the reveal that Rikka got her gimmick from Yuta, because it makes their whole relationship a bit too convenient.

Watch it?: You know, this would make a good movie (4/5)

MVP: Sanae Dekomori

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I never new pig-tails could be such effective weapons

Best Episode: Ep.7 “Reminiscences… of Paradise Lost” (hard dose of reality, plus the beach!)

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Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun

Type: Right up my alley

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Synopsis: Do you remember what it was like telling the person you liked that you liked them. The amount of courage that took. The Hulk-sized butterflies in your stomach as you approached them? Then, when you finally get the nerved to talk to them face to face you blurt out the wrong thing and end up getting their autograph. No? Well, it happened to Chiyo Sakura. Instead of getting a date with talk, dark, and handsome, she winds up helping him draw his published manga.

Pros: So this is the kind of anime I gravitate towards. It’s a funny romantic comedy with zero melodrama or mush. Chiyo likes Nozaki, Nozaki has no idea, hilarity ensues. Don’t get me wrong, I like melodrama and mush to a point, big ups to My Love Story!, but I also like goofy romance. And this anime is pretty goofy! Basically, Nozaki is a shojo author who takes any opportunity to think up new stories and characters. His friends help him finish his manga. Chiyo is our protagonist, and she becomes Nozaki’s assistant in the first episode in her heroic quest to win his incredibly dense heart. We also have Mikorin, the wanna-be playboy whose actually really shy and helps with the flowery background you see in shojo. Hori, the exhaspurated president of the drama club whose helps with background. Then there’s Seo, Chiyo’s rude best friend, Kashima, the school’s “prince,” despite being a girl and the bane of Hori’s existance. And finally Wakamatsu, who plays basketball. Its a good group. Oh, there also an editor obsessed with tanuki and another editor who Nozaki worships despite the feeling not being mutual.

Cons: I wish it was longer. That could be a con. I found Hori’s design weird. The blue shirt and tie made him look a lot older than the rest of the cast. And with all this talk of a shojo manga, I wish there had been an ova depicted what Let’s Fall in Love was like. There’s also no real ending, but the ending that is is place is adequate. And as you read above, I didn’t find Wakamatsu all that interesting. But overall, a pretty solid series.

Watch it?: Wish I watched it sooner. (4/5)

MVP: Chiyo

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I just love her Minnie-Mouse bows!

Best Episode: Ep. 11 “Let’s Rice” (umbrellas are hard, man)

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Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Type: Apparently “My Monster Secret” in America

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Synopsis: When a boy likes a girl, he usually tries his hardest to show her his affection. This could come in many forms: gifts, small gestures, large gestures, dates, compliments, taking a blood oath to keep her unholy existence a secret. At least, that’s what Asahi “Eromine” Kuromine did when he accidentally found out that his crush is actually a vampire. It was either that, or letting her drop out of school. Blood-sucker or not, a fella can’t let his best gal miss out on an education.

Pros: This anime is based on one of my favorite manga’s. I’ve actually been following Jistu wa Watachi Wa (Actually, I am) for a while now. It has a unique art and humor style that really appeals to me. While it is basically another high school romantic comedy, the gimmick is that all the players are some sort of abnormal person. Shiragami is a vampire. Aizawa is a tiny alien piloting a fake body. Mikan has haunted glasses. Shishido is a gender swapping self proclaimed Pervert. And those are just the one’s in the show! Don’t get me started on the time traveler, angel, and other alien. Each character add a little bit of a twist to the typical rom-com anime recipe. For example, one episode revolves around Aizawa needing help getting back to her human body. And all the episodes with the Principle were awesome and perfectly captured the magic of the manga. It also occasionally uses a song cue for the really romantic scenes, which, while manipulative, works.

Cons: As a fan, I was happy that one of my manga’s got an anime. As an objective observer, I cannot ignore the fact that his is a very generic anime. You can pretty much predict what happens: Boy meets Girl, they bond, more girls are introduced, hijinks, a love triangle develops, misunderstanding, a self-doubt episode, and then the cast goes save the girl. I can’t say for sure that this isn’t how it went down in the manga, but I remember it happening a lot better.  The anime felt rushed, and in the end, nothing was really resolved. For example, a lot of Mikan’s original story is mushed into the anime, and doesn’t really go anywhere. The whole thing just felt a bit off, too mainstream, and failed to capture the real charm of the manga (just look at the intro to see what I mean). It all felt hollow, with inconsistent signs of it’s true greatness, and ultimately a disappointment.

Watch it?: Yes, Shiragami and Asahi eventually get together, and it’s adorable (3/5)

MVP: Akane Komoto

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Always an evil delight

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “Let’s Save the World!” (Now, this is what I’m talking about)

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Shakugan no Shana-tan [Month of Shana]

Type: Chibi Shana

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Synopsis: Reviewing this instead of Shakigan no Shana S, because CHIBI!!!!

Pros: Shana-tan is basically all the criticisms of the Shakigan no Shana series condensed into 5 minute shorts. These little segments make very self-referencial jokes at it’s own expense, noting the flaws of the parent series. The most obvious example is Shana, who is depicted as an immature chibi character. Another is Kazumi, how here is a two-face character whose actually very snarky in private (a major upgrade in my opinion). Comments are also made about the show’s lackluster supporting cast and confusing terminology. While I personally wise this was the main show instead, I know that’s just a pipe dream and enjoy what I got.

Cons: Aside from this not being the main series, it does have one major flaw. In order for you to enjoy Shana-tan, you will have had to have sat through Shakugan no Shana proper. You will not get the majority of the jokes otherwise. They may also be DVD exclusive, but that’s what the internet is for. (P.S. For those curious, Shakugan no Shana S is an OVA series, 4 episodes, one involves body switching, and the last two are a prequel adventure starring Shana).

Watch it!?: Again, I wish this was the main series (4/5)

MVP: Kazumi

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She went from one of my least favorite characters, to my most favorite

Best Episode: The Entire Series (their, like, 5 minutes each)

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Shakugan no Shana Second [Month of Shana]

Type: The struggle is real

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Synopsis: New season, new animation, same boring supporting characters. Yuji gets to become less worthless. Margery gets a bit of backstory. Shana stays, well, she’s still Shana. Burning eyes and all. She should really get that checked out.

Pros: So this season is more or less a continuation of last season. It’s more plot focus this time around. The first season was mainly focused on introducing and developing character relationships, while this season is more focused on introducing story specific revelations. For example, Yuji gets a power up because of the thing inside his chest, which is revealed to have been created by an ancient couple for smooching purposes. He also has “silver flames,” which ties him into Margery’s backstory and finally gives her character an excuse to stick around. Even though the anime still fluffs about with some filler episodes, fans of the show’s world building will like this season. And the anime got a major upgrade.

Cons: I am getting progressively angrier at this series. It’s starting to become a problem. I simply do not care enough about the supporting characters or main villains. How gives a F#$$ about Margery has her boy crew? Because I do not. WHY ARE THEY HERE???? It feel that the show creators just wanted a busty blonde around. Truthfully, if they had their own side series, I’d be fine, but their inclusion in these series really ticks me off. They take time away from Shana and Yuiji, who are all I really care about. Although, turning Yuji from just a random guy into a psudo chosen one is pushing it. And I kind miss Shana’s animosity with Kazumi. In this season, they become friendly rivals and compete over Yuji. It was all very early high school. The first arc is also predictable, and the last arc was unnecessary. It should have finished with the fight with the super assassin.

Watch it?: Slightly more good than bad (3/5)

MVP: Wilhelmina

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She takes on a super assassin by herself, while injured, and protecting someone. Badass.

Best Episode: Ep. 20 “The Scarlet Death Struggle” (uphill battle)

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