Tag Archives: Manga

xxxHolic

Type: A lot more lore than you think

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Synopsis: A boy named Watanuki visits a mysterious magic shop to because he attracts spirits. The owner of the shop, Yuko, agrees to help him in-exchange for becoming the shop’s part time cook/butler/errand boy. This sounds like a good deal, except for the fact that Yuko constantly sends him on supernatural-related missions Personally, I think Yuko is swindling the kid, but maybe it’s all just a coincidence…

Pros: The anime functions on a case-of-the-week story structure. Every episode deals the Watanuki and Yuko “helping” someone with a minor problem, like being a compulsive liar, or having an internet addiction. Something these people should really be going to a mental health clinic for, not a magic shop. And while these clients sometimes do have a spirit hanging around them, a lot of times it’s because the spirits were attracted to their negativity. They generally aren’t the cause of it. As such, Yuko often had to deal with the person’s personal issues rather an exorcise any evil spirits. The show had good characters to deal with these stories. Yuko is enigmatic and wise, but also lazy with a witty sense of humor. Watanuki is loud and complains a lot, but he’s generally a kind soul. These characters make the show’s predictable pace interesting to watch, and are the real reason to watch the show. (p.s. I’m not super cray about the lanky character designs, but Yuko’s outfits are always on point).

Cons: As with any case-of-the-week anthology show, things get boring and repetitive fast. Every week, some specifically female customer comes in, goes into self-denial over the problem they came to fix, and then Yuko fixes that problem. I actually found myself skipping through a lot of these episodes. And there were a few times when it even felt like a chore to watch the show. This season also has no real ending. It just ends. The only saving grace from the monotony of these episodes are the spotlight episodes with Watanuki and Domeki. The show has a running joke that Wataniki hates Domeki because he’s madly jealous at his popularity, but Yuko keeps finding ways to put them together because Domeki can repel spirits, and thus protect Watanuki. The two make a good comedic pair, with Domeki’s stoic personality contrasting well with Wataniki’s high-strung reactions. Now, the show does have one weird caveat: xxxHolic is actually part of a larger shared universe created by CLAMP, the all female writing group. This CLAMPaverse also includes Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Card Capture Sakura, and sometimes Blood C. From what I gather, you don’t really need to watch any of these to enjoy xxxHolic, but Tsubasa at least apparently helps.

Watch it?: It’s boring  (2/5)

MVP: Watanuki

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Complain, complain, complain….

Best Episode: Ep.19 “Unreasonable” (a fun episode! snowball fights!)

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My First Girlfriend is a Gal

Type: The nice translation is “fashionable.” Yeah, let’s go with that.

Synopsis: Basically, Junichi Hashiba asks a pretty girl out on a dare from from his loser friends. Plot twist, the girl actually says yes and the two start dating. Being a high school boy, or “pervy virgin” as everyone he cares about calls him, Junichi mainly fantasizes about his girlfriend’s killer body. And while she may dress a certain way that doesn’t mean she acts a certain way, so Junichi better treat that her right, because that Yukana is a nice girl!

Pros: On the surface this show is a fan service innuendo machine. But look deeper and you’ll find a fan service innuendo machine. With class! Did I forget to mention that? Well, maybe not “class,” but with some respect for themes it covers. The obvious theme is “don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” which is typical for a show covering Gals, or “Gyaru” for you nerds. In the beginning, Junichi only judges Yukana by her appearance, thinking that’s probably “loose” because she shows a little skin and talks in slang. Someone he fantasizes about having sex with. But throughout the show, his mentality shifts from “this is a chick with a nice ass” to “I really like spending time with Yukana” (forgive the crassness, but that is how the dialogue is delivered). On the flip side, while Yukana is often the focus of fan service given her design, she’s really just a normal anime girl who happens to like fashion and likes to tease her boyfriend about his wandering eye, but still feels shy and insecure when no one’s looking (i.e. the end credits). And of course, I can’t end this section without talking about the amazing English Dub, which may be the FILTHIEST dub I’ve ever heard. My mouth was agape with what the actors where being allowed to say. It was great!

Cons: This is a T and A show. I’m sorry. I mean Tits and Ass show. Had a brain fart for a minute. The show depicts various sexual acts for at least the first 5 episodes. Most of them are Junichi dreaming about the day Yukana invites him to Pound Town, but two are specifically two other girls trying to hump Jinuchi to their own purposes. I can confidently say that this show is not safe for work, not safe for school, and I’m starting to wonder if I was even old enough to watch this. And while not actual coitus is achieved, if your not a fan of sex comedies, then don’t even bother. I should mention that this show is based on a manga, that I happen to follow, and some things are out of order. The first five episodes basically rearrange things to get the other 3 girls introduced, so it feels rushed. The last five episodes are all the characters doing stuff, which was fun, but felt filler-y. The other characters are fine, but this is the Junichi and Yukana show (except for Minoru, whose a pedophile and his lust for little girls made me uncomfortable). The show is only 10 episodes, but the only one I didn’t like but understood it’s necessity is episode 9. The penultimate episodes addresses Junichi’s insecurities about dating Yukana when her former friend from middle school, who happens to be a cute boy, takes her out for a reunion. Junichi thinks that this qualifies as Yukana cheating on him because he’s A) a teenage boy, B) in his first relationship, and C) and he’s fairly insecure about himself. Of course, the problem is all in his head, Yukana’s not the type of person who would cheat on him, and he learns to trust Yukana and their relationship more. I mean, the show does out the other boy as a creep to sorta justify Junichi, but the emotional growth still has it’s merits. It’s a solid episode, I just don’t like melodrama. Apart from that, it’s never really explained why Yukana likes Junichi, or why she said yes in the first place. But hey, he did ask, and sometimes that’s enough.

Watch it?: For the dub. And for the heart. And I guess for the pervy stuff, for you pervs out there. (4/5)

MVP: Junichi and Yukana

I’m rooting for ’em

Best Episode: Ep.7 “My First Job” (pervy, but strangely honest of sexual harassment in the workplace).

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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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Attack on Titan (Season 2)

Type: Second verse, not as good as the first.

Synopsis: Remember the mystery of the titan in the wall? The fate of Annie? The key to Eren’s basement? Our three main protagonists comprised of a warrior, a tactician, and an avenger? Well shut your mouths because none of that is important! Do you love such popular characters as Reiner!? Bertald!? YMIR!? You f#$%ing better! (P.S. Serious spoilers ahead)

Pros: Attack on Titan season 2 is a sequel to the popular Attack on Titan season 1. Made 4 years later, after 4 manga sequels, an anime spin-off, and 2 crap movies where the main heroine was feed apple slices by some creepy dude. And breath….ok, this season of Attack on Titan takes place immediately after the last season’s stinger. But the mystery of the titan in the wall is more or less sidelined in favor of the struggle of Reiner, Bertald, and Ymir. Because guess what, they’re all Titan Shifters! Reiner and Bertald are the damn Armor and Colossus Titans, the guys that cause this big mess in the first place. So if season 1 was all about the protagonist’s call to action, season 2 is all about the antagonist’s guilt. And a big selling point is the emotional and psychological toll that Reiner and Bertald as portrayed as being under. You don’t understand why they’re doing this, but you see that they are not happy about it. They’re antagonists, not villains (except for all the people they killed, but you get the idea). Ymir is only loosely connected to them, but the exploration of her backstory hints at larger story points and start painting a clearer picture of the world at large. You get two story arcs: The Castle Arc and the Eren Retrieval Arc, which both fall under the manga’s “Clash of the Titans” Arc. Oh, and the end credits are amazing. My official favorite end credits.

Cons: After Attack on Titan season 1, a family member of mine got really, really, really into the series, so I’ve more or less kept up with the series through osmosis. I’m caught up with the manga, I know the lore (because I’m a Lore nerd), so it’s hard for me to judge if someone who just watched the first anime would like the second season. I imagine that any casual fans who get into the first season have most likely moved on. But for those fans who stuck around, this season has HUGE revelations. Not only those stated above, but it foreshadows the larger conflicts of the world. It even reveals what the titans actually are (and maybe even when they come from)! But here’s the thing: I had a more or less apathetic reaction to this season. Maybe cause I read the manga, maybe cause I wasn’t that big a fan to begin with, or maybe because this premiered 4 YEARS after the first season, but I just wasn’t that into it. Don’t get me wrong, the show didn’t really dip in quality. Objectively, it still has over the top acting, it still has unexpectedly funny moments (e.g. The Reiner reveal), and the gore seems to have been ramped up, because it hurt to see people get eating way more this time. The action is a mixed bag. You don’t get amazing Omni-Gear maneuvering, but you do finally get the Attack vs. Armor titan fight. The inclusion of the new Beast Titan doesn’t really add much, except another question. And the show’s stop and start story progression is still very present. And really, that’s the basic summary of this season. It’s good, it’s still Attack on Titan, but it’s not the new hot thing anymore, so it’s hard to say exiting things about it. (P.S. The only glaringly bad thing was the 3D Colossus Titan. That was just a bad decision).

Watch it?: This probably would have been amazing, had it premiered in 2014, not 2017. (4/5)

MVP: The End Credits

I never skipped these (and I always skip end credits!)

Best Episode: Ep.7 “Close Combat” (Brawler vs. Mui Thay)

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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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Comical Psychosomatic Medicine

Type: If you’re reading this article, please visit the Mental Clinic

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Synopsis: A 5 minute anime takes the time to summarize various mental afflictions in bite size and easy to understand explanation.

Pros: Like most 5 minute anime, the show’s biggest strength is that you can view the entire thing in less than an hour. I think this one took about 45 minutes. The show’s gimmick is that is teaches about metal illnesses and conditions in a comical manner. It’s all mostly Psych 101 stuff, like basic anxiety, stalking, sleep disorders, and erectile dysfunction. Oh, that’s the other thing. The show main punch line is innuendo. So a lot of the topics have a sexual bent, like fetishism and exhibitionism. The show also manages to give seemingly mild disorders a sexual bent. Freud would be proud.

Cons: The shows are only about 5 minutes and the gimmick is largely one note. Someone comes in with a disorder, the doctor tries to explain, the nurse or nurses make a sex joke, and scene. The show does give a straightforward explanation for most of the condition it discusses, but don’t expect this be a substitute for good ol’ fashion flashcards.

Watch it?: A fun look at the human mind (4/5)

MVP: Himeru Kangoshi

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Maybe I have complex

Best Episode: 5 minutes each (just pick the condition that most applies to you)

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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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Dance in the Vampire Bund

Type: “Bund” means embankment or causeway

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Synopsis: Vampires! Creatures of the Night! Children of Satan that will feed on you very blood! They exist! They set up a city off the shore of Tokyo! Their queen is a totally legal blond girl who is regularly naked!

Pros: Despite having a highly sexualized child character as it’s poster child (which we will get to later), the anime is actually a pretty good vampire show. It has the right mix of gore, sex, and style that should appeal to any fans of this sub-genre. The plot also does not mess around. The first episode sets up the vampire city, and the rest of the series deals with the aftermath. The show tries its best to depict the social impact that Vampires would have on society,  like True Blood. But not all vampires want to integrate, leading to conflict with the protagonists,  like True Blood. And there are werewolfs and other magical creatures…like True Blood. OK, so this is the closest you may get to anime True Blood, at least in spirit. You even have a “forbidden” love between a vampire and non-vampire. The vampire in question is Mina Tepes, Queen of the Vampires.  Her physical portrayal aside, I found her to be a fun character to watch. She is portrayed as prideful and regal, but also kind and childish, and at times even cutthroat. Her best moment is her reactions to a command she gives for the benefit of her people. While necessary, she didn’t like it, but never said she regretted it, even if it cost her what she personally wanted the most. She’s a good addition to that weird group of immortal loli characters. (P.s. The animation is helmed by SHAFT, giving the show a stylish look that compliments the vampire mystique).

Cons: OK, so the first episode does this interesting thing where it’s all set during a talk show that discusses the existence of vampires. The show proper doesn’t start until episode 2. It was an interesting approach, but maybe not for everyone. In terms on character, the show seems to reserve it’s interesting character designs to vampires. Most everyone else if fairly generic. There’s also the main character, Akira, who’s about as bland as a piece of bread. His only real interesting moment is when he disagrees with one of Mina’s decisions, which was legitimately great, but everything else he does is boring. The plot…is actually worth watching, with a few factors in the show explained, from the establishment of the Vampire Bund to Mina’s appearance. That’s right, the show actually has an interesting rationale for it’s pedophilia! Not everything is explain, however, as the show has a “read the manga” ending. But it does have 12 solid episodes.

Watch it?: Every episode is named after other vampire media (4/5)

MVP: Mina Tepes

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Heavy is the head that wears the crown

Best Episode: Ep5-7 “Shadow of Vampire,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” and “Innocent Blood” (characters actually having a disagreement based on personal beliefs and actions, not misunderstanding!)

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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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