Act-Age Manga Review

If you are in to a more grounded yet funny show about a profession, you will probably enjoy Act-age: a manga centering around a genius method actor, Yonagi Kei, and her growth as an actor. 

Yonagi Kei, is a 16 years old highschooler, who lives with two younger siblings after her father left them and her mother died. Due to her being left alone with multiple old films in her house, she self-learns how to method act. By “remembering” her emotions she has experienced in the past, she is able to completely get emerged into a character on and off the scene. With this unbelievable talent, she is able to get scouted by a director, Sumiji Kuroyama, who helps her grow both as a person and as an actor. 

Act-age is a shounen jump manga. Yes, a shounen jump manga. That’s why it’s so surprising to see a more grounded and realistic manga come up on a magazine which action/fantasy manga seem to dominate in. Although this is a surprising premise for JUMP, it still manages to have that light heartedness of a shounen manga with witty dialogue frequently appearing. But it also manages to maintain the intensity of a Jump manga one would expect in its climax.

Most of the manga is structured around a certain project that Yonagi is working one, whether that is a play, movie, or an independent film. Within those projects, Yonagi meets people related to the industry which helps Yonagi grow as an actor. This setting really puts emphasis on the character dynamics. Because she is consistently meeting actors or directors, those characters need to be unique enough to be enjoyable to the readers. And succeeding, those characters are the best aspects of Act-age.

All of the characters really help Yonagi develop in new ways. In the start of the manga, the director who discovers Yonagi, Sumiji Kuroyama, is the one who helps refine her acting talent. The way he acts around Yonagi really makes them a good pair together. His relaxed personality along with Yonagi’s nervousness/inexperience make up a lot of the comedy in the beginning of the manga through their witty dialogue.

The actors on the other hand, help Yonagi develop her acting skills as she “steals” their techniques. The two big actors that she meets in the course of her journey are Chiyoko Momoshiro and Araya Myoujin, two actors who gained fame through completely different methods of acting. Chiyoko Momoshiro is the top actress of her generation, and she is there for a reason. Her agency, Star, works to portray her as the general public wants, and Chiyoko has the ability and competitiveness to keep her “mask” on at all times. Although she does come off at the start like an evil (?) rival, it is evident throughout the manga, that she is extremely dedicated and cares about her work. By being an “Angel” to the public, she is beloved by everyone. Araya on the other hand, is a play-actor, who is more like a refined version of Yonagi with the experience which Yonagi lacks. Like Yonagi, he is a method actor who dives deep into the character’s emotions and researches the characters to become the character. By meeting these two actors of completely different spectrums, Yonagi is able to develop her own set of skills. 

And they all really help Yonagi grow as a person too. If you look at the first few chapters and compare them to the more recent chapters, it is visible to see how much more Yonagi is enjoying life. With her innocent, bright personality and her willingness to improve and learn from others in the industry makes her fit with almost anyone in the manga, making the interactions between characters really fun to read.  

But out of these characters I found Chiyoko Momoshiro to be the most interesting. She’s a product of the current entertainment industry which favors big name companies and sales rather than quality. That’s not to say that Chiyoko is a bad actor nor that her method is bad. The “mask” that she put on works perfectly and there is no reason for her to transform her method of acting. She is considered the top actress of her generation for a reason. For her to reach the level that she has reached with her style of acting, she works harder than anyone, being more invested in to her craft than anyone to keep her “mask” on. As a person who is deeply interested in the entertainment industry, I was easily invested in to this character who solely acts for the public. 

The best thing about this manga, is the fact that it is centered around acting as a career, not in a highschool nor a club. Even though Yonagi is a 16 years old, everyone treats her as an adult, competing with her to be the better actor. This allows readers to care more about what is happening as everything is more serious. I don’t know about everyone else but to me getting the inside perspective of a profession is so much more interesting than watching highschoolers doing club activities. So this, to me, gave the manga the ability to actually be effective emotionally.

Although not always perfect, the art of the manga is absolutely stunning when it has to be. This is especially important when portraying the character’s emotion as they act. At first, I thought it would be extremely hard for a manga about acting to portray emotions without voice- one of the most crucial parts to understanding the tone of a person. But this manga is able to do that with just visuals and dialogue. Every line and expression gives it the atmosphere that you expect a really good actor to give, whether it’s sadness or joy. In its best moment, it is able to give you chills running down your spine.

I also generally like the art style of the characters and I think all of the main actors are designed fantastically. I don’t know how common it is but Yonagi’s eyes, especially, which has the heavy eyelash with multiple lines is something I thought was pretty and unique. It does feel awkward when it is colored on the covers, but in black and white, it looks great. Another thing I need to mention is the background. Although the background doesn’t get to crazy with its visuals most of the time, when it needs to, it can be extremely beautiful. And when it does, it’s really breathtaking and impactful.

If this manga does get an anime adaptation, I will right away jump head first to watch it. There’s a lot of things that the animation studio can do when adopting this manga. Since Yonagi is method acting, there are probably a lot of ways that they can portray what does in her head. I’d be excited to see how this is directed as this can end up really bad or really good. With the voices added, a good voice actor would be able to push this to another level with the tone added to the emotion (providing that the visuals stay as good as the manga). 

It does have its problems as it does get cheesy a lot of the times, and does as moments where it goes too similarly to how you would expect it to go. But each climax/ending to each arc makes up for that by having such a satisfying ending and, at times, be very touching. So you usually end up forgetting a lot of those negative bits by the end. 

Act-age is one of my favorite manga and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an intense manga to read.

Kyokou Suiri Episode 4: "Talk about a lack of personality…"

In the first episode, what I thought Kyokou Suiri would be was a show which I greatly enjoyed every episode. The characters were unique and amiable while the atmosphere and events were still intense. I had no doubt in my mind that this show would be one that I would love.

That doubt, however, slowly started to appear more and more as I continued on to later episodes. In my previous post, I expressed some of my worries about how the show immediately gets boring as soon as Kotoko leaves the screen. And this episode was no different. Not to my suprise, the new character, Saki-san joined Kurou in the “characters who leech Kotoko for survival” club. 

The characters being boring this way was something to be expected. We already saw how boring the show got when Saki was talking to the other police as their conversation seemed to drag on forever without any interesting ideas, backgrounds, or settings. As for Kurou, we just haven’t seen him alone without Kotoko. But I’m sure everyone noticed his rather boring style of dialogue and appearance (which grankly does bounce off Kotoko fairly well). Sure, it may not be a bad idea to have a rather calmer character in front of a colorful and vibrant character (such as Kotoko) since too much flair in characters can make the show’s cast a little bit messy. But even such, these calmer characters must have an interesting personality to keep the audience entertained. What makes this problem more crucial in Kyokou Suiri is that the youkai cases take on more of an omnibus styled structure that ends in an episode or two, which it is hard to get invested in too quickly. 

She didn’t change her expression once

A perfect example of all these flaws coming together was shown in this episode. After Kotoko left Saki’s house, Saki started investigating the death of Nanase Karen, a former idol who supposedly died of a horrible accident. The show uses this opportunity to give the audience information about the cases though a monologue within Saki’s thought. Although it succeeded in giving the audience information, it failed in giving the audience enjoyment. There were two major problems in this scene: the lack of an interesting setting and the lack of an interesting personality. The former is commonly occurring with many shows nowadays, with exposition scenes happening in locations like cafes or houses for an extended period of time. Saki’s scene fails to be even slightly interesting with her setting since the scene merely shows her sitting down in her room which even Kotoko described as “lacking personality”. What makes shows like the Monogatari series so good is that even in scenes with extended dialogue, it keeps the viewers entertained through extremely unique and good visual presentation. This show fails to do so. The latter comes from Saki herself. Saki literally has no special trait about her. She is literally just “the ex.” Without Kotoko to talk about Kurou with her (which also makes no sense since she broke up with him 2 years about and ran away from him), she is just a cop with no emotions. With her narrating a setting the viewers haven’t had too much time to see or be invested in, the case itself isn’t able to pull through Saki’s lack of character.

Now let’s take the scene that comes prior when Kotoko is researching Nanase Karen. Kotoko looks through a computer, in what seems to be a room in a small computer cafe, searching through the same wikipedia page that Saki saw. This scene was vastly better than the one with Saki because of multiple reasons. First, as she browsed through the wikipedia page, the show switched the shot over to Kotoko while showing multiple facial expressions that were very expressive and fun to look at. Second, Kotoko’s setting was a lot more interesting than Saki’s. The small crowded computer room is one that exists in Japan for many who don’t have homes. As the viewers who haven’t seen Kotoko’s house, it was much more refreshing to see these types of small information on Kotoko life unlike Saki’s house. Finally, unlike Saki, the viewers know that Kotoko is an expert on these Youkais. We see from this scene that she found something out about Nanase Karen as she sees the photo on the wikipedia page. Because much of the information that Saki saids in her scene is repetitive to the police scene or Kotoko’s scene, I think a much better way to have handled this scene would have been to just follow Kotoko leaving Saki’s house to the computer room, have her explain what Saki did, and after realizing something, move on to request for Saki’s help. This would have allowed the viewers to continue to watch Kotoko while keeping Saki’s character more refreshing with the character dynamic with Kotoko.

These two faces easily top any other moment in the episode

Regardless, all the positives stayed positive. The sound track was all fun. Kotoko’s facial expressions are great, and the case was somewhat interesting enough to keep me entertained. The opening of a show that Nanase Karen was in just randomly playing in the middle of the show was so out of nowhere that I just started laughing. I’m hoping the show gets to the level I expected it to be when I watched the first episode. But as it is now, I expect this to be a rather okay show with a very lovable main character.

What makes Arifureta the best show of 2019 (accidentally)

I love Arifureta. It’s dark sometimes, it’s cute sometimes, and it’s action-packed sometimes. But most importantly, it is absolutely hilarious. 

You may avoid this show immediately just the tags. These types of isekai shows have never really be well received. And many may have heard about how bad this show is. Even from the episode list, something beyond belief will appear on your sight: the show has a recap episode after episode five. Five weeks in and they are already behind schedule. The best way to describe Arifureta is that it’s a real life incarnation of Jiggly Jiggly Heaven from Shirobako. Behind schedule, ugly, and deserving of criticism.

But is Arifureta really as shallow as it may seem?

By all means, Arifureta did not leave a good first impression. In any other show, I would have stopped watching after the first 5 minutes. The show had nothing going for it other than the violence which frankly wasn’t very shocking, it had horrible shot composition that made it really confusing to watch, and worse yet, the setting we were introduced to was horrendous: a dark cave that is so dark that you can’t see the surroundings even with full brightness in a dark room. But this show was different to these other isekais.

After a confusing opening sequence of blue rocks and flames, Hajime, the main character, runs to some hole to protect himself from the animals trying to kill him. After going through a torturous experience in the cave, Hajime finally loses it. In the most edgy sequence that I have seen in my life, Hajime goes crazy. Seeing his reflection in the water, he starts yelling “I don’t want to die. DIE!” Witnessing this craziness, I slowly started to understand. 

This beautiful oxymoron being yelled obnoxiously by Hajime is where I finally understood that Arifureta wasn’t an edgy isekai show; Arifureta was a self-aware caricature on these types of isekai show. By self-aware, I mean accidental and it is amazingly hilarious.

There are also other signature yelling moments of Hajime such as: TRANSMUTE TRANSMUTE, Get away, get away, get away, I’ll frickin eat it, and Shut up! I’m pissed off cause I’m so damn hungry.

It doesn’t end there. There is, of course, Arifureta’s most signature moment: the CGI. CGI has always existed in anime; ranging from horrible dance sequences in love live to gaudy pedestrian walking in bad rom-coms to moments (or rather every single moment) of Berserk that makes your eyes go Berserk. But Arifureta manages to one up all of these shows. The CGI monsters in Arifureta are so gaudy in their movements to the point of hilariousness, that you can’t believe that this thing is happening in front of you. That’s right. The monsters in Arifureta moves like actual monsters. The head first dive of the monster head, crashing into the ground on the first episode was a spectacle to behold. In fact, the CGI monsters in the show were so monstrous that they decided to commit a full episode in to fighting one! 

This was only the first episode. From here on out, Arifureta takes similar shape and remains consistently hilarious most of the time. The only significant thing that changes how the show is presented is the addition of new characters.

But at the core remains Yue. Arifureta’s best character.

I know for a fact that Yue was manufactured to be that perfect waifu character -cute, obsessive over the main character, and sexual aggressive. This was the type of character that was meant exactly for the type of people that would willingly watch shows like this. And while I’m not usually one to willingly watch these shows, I will say I fell for that trap. Yue was so loveable that it was the centerpiece of what held the show together from falling especially when the show started getting ever-so-slightly better (in the right way). I even bought the seventh volume of the manga just because it has Yue on it. 

No, I did not open the plastic cover yet. 

How did you feel about Arifureta? If you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend you avoid it and never watch it unless you wish to entertain yourself on the limits of how bad a show can get.

Thanks for reading!

Kyokou Suiri Episode 1~3: Kotoko is this season's best character

Kyokou Suiri turned out very similar to what I had hoped for. From being super natural triller to a fun witty comedy, the show was quite a joy for the first three episodes.

Right off the bat, I can say that my favorite thing about this show is Iwanaga Kotoko. First, her character design is absolutely fantastic. Her whole outfit with the frilly dress and beret hat with the huge ribbon on the back really goes well with her curly hair and general young-ish look. Her eyelashes are also very unique in the way they surround her eyes being colored like her hair. Her expressions are really pretty fun and expressive (the cat face at the end of episode three got me laughing quite a bit. Her personality is also really fun. The way she acts so happily around Kurou and the way she talks to the youkai all come off very playful. I mean she waited two years for Kurou to break up with his girlfriend to get the chance to ask him out. Although it was very dialogue heavy, the first scene where she confesses was really fun because of her personality and the way she spoke. The voice acting is another part that I think fit very well with Kotoko’s character. Her clingy and outgoing personality is portrayed really well by the upbeat yet slightly deep tone of Kitou Akari. I can go as far to say that Kotoko is definitely my favorite character this season. 

The concept of the show is also interesting. Unlike most mystery shows that spend its time on trying to solve the case, Kyokou Suiri’s mystery spends its time making a solution for the case. Kotoko’s only reason for solving these cases are to convince the youkais of what happened so they don’t have to be restless. This means she has no real incentive to find definite proof for the answer, just the most convincing one that fits the given info. Although I felt a little bitter since I hoped to find the real motives of the killer, their conversation in the car about possible solutions afterwards cleared that up for me a little. I don’t know how well this concept will hold up in the future, but from what I’ve seen it’s definitely interesting enough to keep me entertained and I’ll just have to accept that a hard solution in this show will never be given.

I liked how they separated the episodes even though I know that both the ending of episode two and three were both made that way to create that cliffhanger. Although the snake arc ending only around 5 or so minutes in the three episodes was somewhat frustrating, I think this allowed the time skip to fit in a little better. After finishing the second episode, I had fully expected the third episode to start off with a solution to the case that would be given very quickly, (which I was not wrong) then move on to the aftermath of the case with more scenes of witty dialogue between Kotoko Kurou, then end with some foreshadowing of the next event. This would be more typical and would allow the arc to end on a more smooth note along with the episode. But because there is a sudden two year time skip, I think that having an episode start in such fashion may be a bit too sudden and boring to watch, especially with the police scene that happened in the middle of episode three. Do I think that they could have done it better? Yes. But at least as it is now, the viewers are kind of eased into the next episode even with the confusing time skip. 

I think the worst part about the show is that it can get slightly boring. The whole show really relies on dialogue to the point where I’m surprised this isn’t a light novel adaptation. Although the dialogue can be fun with interesting characters like Kotoko, without her, the show seemed to drag a little.  When the cops started talking in the later bits of the third episode, I couldn’t care the slightest. This may be because I didn’t pay enough attention to realize that the cop girl was Kurou’s ex but regardless, hearing a random conversation of characters I didn’t care about, just sitting and eating for 10 minutes, was awfully boring. Again, had I known that the cop girl was Kurou’s ex a little sooner, I may have found her trauma to be a lot more interesting. But it’s hard to remember those details two weeks.

A lot of things are still left unexplained and the way that Kurou and Kotoko kinda continued on after the events of the first episodes left me with questions but having the third episode end the way it did, I can’t wait to see the character dynamics with the new character. To me, Kyokou Suiri looks like a fun show with a few holes that won’t be too bothersome.

ID:Invaded Episode 1 and 2 – the most interesting show of the season

ID: Invaded started off with one of the most interesting scenes I have seen in awhile.

As a person who had absolutely zero information what the show was about, the opening sequence of the show left me completely unknowing of the situation. Regardless of this disadvantage, the show was immediately able to hook me with the visuals.

Just like how the main guy is left without his memories, we are too, left without any notice of what is happening. There were almost no explanation on the surroundings  nor the reason for him being here. For awhile, the viewers and the main characters are stuck without any prior knowledge, causing us to direct all of the attention to exploring the world that has been left with us. I think this was a really exciting way for the show to start off, especially because the presentation of the world visually through the artwork and camera work that really flowed well together. The way that he caught the shoe after kicking it off the wall, or stretching it out to grab another part of the house were cool to see visually. 

Many talked about how the first few minutes were awesome while the rest of the show was left with bore. Although I agree that the first few minutes were definitely the highlights of the show, I don’t necessarily think that the rest of the show was boring or confusing. Many seemed to be complaining about the fact that the show is very dialogue heavy within the police investigation room. While I agree and understand this, because of the confusion from the start of the episode along with how interested I was at the show conceptually, the expositions were something that I welcomed. Granted, this may be because I went in to this show completely blind and had no clue what was happening in the first five minutes other than “this looks hella cool” but I believe that going with the “show don’t tell” would have just left me more confused that I needed to be. Although I do like it when shows don’t treat their viewers as they are stupid, what I like more is when a show knows when to be artful and when to bring it down a little. In fact, in this show, I think they choose the right time to bring in the dialogue. Right as I got used to the world a little and saw the bloody girl lying on the floor (which left me with more confusion as I’m not a genius detective), the show gave the viewers explanation. So I felt it was more like my curiosities were being relieved rather than interrupted. And just finding out that this is a mind of some serial killer just got me really interested.

This worlds that they showed alone in the first 2 episodes were extremely interesting. I would go so far to say that this interesting concept is what makes up the show as a whole. Throughout the episodes, they showed two different worlds with the split up bodies and the drills, both reflecting the state of the criminal that they were chasing. The whole setting over all was just really interesting. The futuristic set-up of the office looked fine. Since it is a world where you can materialize the minds of criminals through advanced scientific advancements I don’t hate how they designed it like a normal sci-fi control room. Though I would have liked it if they made it more closely related to the materialization concept or something. But hey, I can’t think of anything specific so I don’t blame them. 

The way they dealt with the crime flowed very smoothly in and out of the dream world and the outside world. The way how the police room was jargon heavy and tense while the dream world was somewhat tense was a good contrast that got more wanting to be invested in the show a little more 

But it wasn’t as though the show was perfect. Although conceptually and visually it was able to hook me in, I found that how they handled the events and the characters in the show (who were mostly unappealing or boring) were all very bothersome. For example, the actions of the police officers really pissed me off as they were extremely amateurish. Starting from the girl character that seems to be more dumb than brave to the vertern who is leaving a rookie officer alone, vulnerable to attack when he clearly knows that the criminal is near by. He also does something “against the regulation” but he faced no punishment at all nor is it even mentioned later. This may be handled in the next episode as we don’t really get a full look at the aftermath of the event, but I’m highly doubtful that the show is going to. It’s not as though it is too big of a deal, but it gets harder for me to fully invest myself emotionally to an event when I don’t know what consequences are happening to those who are arrested or those who go out of regulations. Anyways, I expect that this show will never really look at the aftermaths or recall past criminals when handling such issues very often. 

I’m also curious as to why the guy is actually doing all of this. From the show we know that he murdered someone, but he isn’t given much of a reason to help out the police. Much of the later bit may focus on his reason for doing so like a possible shortening of his sentence, trying to find someone, trying to look in his own mind or something like that. They also didn’t explain why it was his elbow that was missing in that world even though he seemed to wonder about it. But I guess that was just random.

But more than all that, the far the worst part of the first episode was the rookie police girl. I hated the newby girl character. Characters like this are always seen in shows like this. I really don’t want her to be annoyingly push her idea of “justice” when the show can look into the interesting concepts that it has at hand. But the way she was captured immediately didn’t really made me care whatever happened to her. I’m going to be pissed later on if she starts fighting the main guy because he “was a criminal” or something like that. Although this type of thing is probably inevitable if the righteous girl is one of the central characters of the show. Hopefully they can make her more than just a righteous Mary Sue character before something like this happens.

Although there are such flaws the concept itself is interesting enough to make me continue watching the show. So I suggest those of you who like these sci-fi type of shows and this concept sounds interesting to you, you should check this show out.

Impressions on Every Sequels Next Season

Haikyuu!!: To the Top

Haikyuu has never failed to let their fans down in any of its seasons. It has always been consistently good at keeping the fans excited with its tension created by the story and animation. The fourth season takes place after a hard fought match against Shiratorizawa, where they will be now training for the nationals. Obviously many will be excited to see the continuation of one of the most popular sports anime ever made. However, one thing that worries me is that change in director for this show. With the show getting a new director it’s possible that a show takes a slightly different approach. However, as the new director worked on previous Haikyuu seasons and as the PV shows that the show will have identical animations, the possibility of error seems slim. Because I don’t read the messiness that is the manga, I don’t know what’s going to happen. However, looking at the preview alone, they are in a training camp of some sort where Kageyama has been selected as a national representative. The competition between Kageyama and Hinata was already an interesting aspect in the show, so I’m excited to see how they handle that with Kageyama looking as though he is a few steps ahead. Overall, this show will definitely be a must watch for the fans of the original. 

5-toubun no Hanayome 2nd season

Last year, 5-toubun no Hanayome gather huge attention with its interesting aspect of “guessing the bride” concept. The biggest topic of that season was most definitely, “who is the better quint.” With every chapters of the manga recently gaining extreme amount of popularity, the show definitely seems as though many will be talking about it. However, with art that still doesn’t look good, if the animation failures like last year continues to occur this season, it will most likely be hard to watch the show. With even the fans of the original manga being doubtful of the anime’s capabilities, I advise you to just read the manga if you plan on watching and haven’t already. 

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T

This show is a sequel of the spin off series from the Index franchise. As a person who is not the biggest fan of the Index franchise, I still have not watched this spin off series. However, seeing it being a 2-cour show, it probably has a lot of care put in to it from the studio in charge. 

Magia Record

The spin off of the Madoka series, based on the game Magia Record will surely garner fans of the original hit-series, Madoka. The show has an almost identical character design compared to the original and a stacked cast which shows that shaft is confident in the success of the show. However, there are some worrisome factors with the show. For example, the director is new and Urobuchi Gen is no longer a part of the writing crew. However, it being shaft, there is a possibility that they pull of the show well. To read a more extensive preview of the show click here

Isekai Quartet 2nd Season

With shield hero being added to the crew, Isekai Quartet is going to be more crazier than the first season. As the perfect way to spend a few empty 10 minutes, Isekai Quartet had many funny jokes that highlighted the traits of each show. There were, however, some jokes that many expected that didn’t appear in the first season. For example, the voice actor reference with Takahashi Rie was one that almost everyone expected as Megumin and Emilia are both voice by her. I’m not surprised this show got a new season at all since the first season was popular and the show looks rather cheaper to make. Honestly, with the show being centered around characters and character interactions of already established characters, I don’t see how they show will be any worse or better than the first season unless they run out of ideas to make jokes with (which is probably why they added shield hero.)

Heya Camp△

Heya Camp, the spin off to the comfiest show on Earth, Yuru-Camp, is another show to watch out for this season. Yuru-camp was extremely popular due to its unique chill atmosphere and its fun character interactions with fun characters. If those were some of the factors that you enjoyed in Yuru-camp, you will most likely enjoy this show as well as long as something goes wrong. To clarify, Heya Camp isn’t the second season of the show but the spin off to the show. Based on the title, the show will most likely be a series of shorts that is centered around the activities of the club members within the club room and school. However, the show has completely different directors from the first season, even though the studio that is in charge is the same. Many times shorts that are spin offs usually do not get the amount of care and budget that goes into the main title. With other OVAs of the series being rather satisfactory, I have high hopes that this show will follow as well. As a fan of the original show, I will most definitely watch this show to see the new interactions between the characters I love.

BanG Dream Season 3

I don’t know who still watches this show, but the CG looks really really bad. I doubt anyone would even be watching this show unless they are a huge fan of the game already.