With the second season of Kaguya-sama being back on air, the popularity of the show has once again shown itself, with various anime communities having consistent conversations about the show. Kaguya has gotten an immense amount of popularity, even in the western fandom, with over 250,000 users listing the first season on MAL, and the second season currently holding an incredibly high score of 8.75. It’s not common for a Rom-Com Slice of Life anime to be ranked so high, so what makes Kaguya-sama stand so far above other Rom-Coms?
Well for the most part, it’s basically two things. Comedy and Cute Girls. But it’s the great execution that the show carries out with these two elements that allow for such simple things to help the show achieve such great acclaim.
The premise of the show is pretty simple, two very noble, prestigious students are in love with each other, but they want the other to confess first. Sounds somewhat like a commonplace relationship, but here, these two are characters of high intellect, so we are often treated with “high-level conversations” where the others try to evaluate any small hint that they come across through small talk, and they try and make the other slip up into a confession.
This of course is simply ridiculous, but it’s this absurdness of the show that makes it so funny. Many of the best parts of this show(and the source material manga) is the frankly stupid situations that the main two find themselves in.
Combine this comedy with the somewhat large cast of genuinely interesting and mostly likeable side cast, and you have an excellent recipe for a success.
I finally took the time and caught up with most of the anime from last season. And there were quite a lot that I had fun with. So here are my top five favorite shows of last season. If a show isn’t on this list, I probably 1) didn’t watch the show yet (the jewel show, Dorohedoro) ,2) did not like it as much (Plunder, Somali, or Magia Record) or 3) dropped it after one episode (literally everything else.)
Number 5: Hanako-kun
Aesthetics, aesthetics, aesthetics. Hanako-Kun was easily the most aesthetically pleasing show this season. This is for everything in the show from character designs to background art. There is something about the use of thick outlines along with the color palette that they used that uniquely makes the show feel comfy yet eerie to look at. I don’t think many would disagree when I say Hanako-kun is a delight for the eye. That being said, that was all that the show had really going for it. The whole show seemed to drag a lot in certain spots with dialogue that weren’t too interesting enough to captivate me. They also handled a lot of the exposition in a manga panel style. Although this wasn’t bad, it did feel a little sudden and slowed down the aesthetic experience of the show. Regardless, the fact that the show was pretty enough to watch to completion makes it, to me, a similar experience to violet evergarden – another show that I thought didn’t do well writing wise.
Final score: 67/100
Number 4: ID: Invaded
I still have a couple of episodes left of ID: Invaded, but I decided to include it because I am enjoying what I watched until now. Immediately from the first episode, I was intrigued with the system of IDO. The concept is extremely interesting, and the visuals that accompanied the different worlds were all different, unique, and fascinating. I would’ve even liked an omnibus style crime show where the main character just goes on researching different types of IDO worlds of criminals (which is similar to the earlier bit of the show.) The beginning of each entrance to the IDO is really exciting. Because the main character does not remember anything when going into the IDO, he always starts off with “I don’t remember anything. All I know is that I’m a master detective.” which for some reason gets me hyped everytime. However, I thought that everything outside of the IDO world was less enjoyable. First of all, the Koharu girl is extremely annoying. I hated the “justice-first” mind that she carried everywhere. The officers commentating on what’s happening in a sci-fi room also felt like it was interrupting the exciting. Regardless, the show’s concept makes the show interesting enough to complete.
Final score: 72/100
Number 3: Kyokou Suiri
Like Hanako-kun, this is another show where one aspect of the show just carried the rest of the show. Or more specifically in this case, one character. Kotoko is an amazing character. She is extremely cute, her design with the curly hair and elegant outfit is great, her backstory and concept is interesting, and the way she speaks is witty and fun to listen to. Kyokou Suiri really seems to understand this fact (probably accidently) as most of the show is exposition and dialogue from the viewpoint of Kotoko. The two characters, Kuro and Kotoko, were perfect personalities that Kotoko bounces off of. And the interaction between them were the highlights of this show. The exposition did eventually get a little boring later in the show when it became more case focused and less character focused, yet Kotoko always made me come for more.
Final score: 75/100
Number 2: Bofuri
I initially thought that this show was another unoriginal game show without much substance. Well, that’s not wrong. But strangely, I ended up enjoying this show. A lot of the things about the show are not very good. And for a while a lot of things in this show bothered me. Maple is way too broken, the game mechanics don’t make sense, the characters yelling the same skills becomes really annoying, and every other character except maple all seems extremely useless and replaceable. The only reason why I continued this show was because I wanted to see how long they could contain the overpowered concept for. But at a certain point, I stopped thinking of this show as a serious game show different to the likes of Darwin’s Game or SAO, and started taking it similar to cute girls shows and Arifureta. The ridiculousness of it along with the cute characters really allowed me to just take in the show as a cute girls show. In the end, I ended up enjoying this show as a good pastime.
Final score: 75/100
Number 1: Eizouken
Yuasa Masaaki saved anime. I watched the first episode when it came out, and immediately stopped watching. I knew that I had to watch this show from start to finish without stop because this show felt like it was something else. And it definitely was. Everything about this show is great. The characters, who represent different parts of anime staff roles, are extremely fun and they all have really good dynamics together. The visuals, especially during the imagination sketch-like aesthetics, are really great to look at. The story and setting is one that any anime fan would love. Throughout the show, Masaaki’s passion for the industry is so visible. This show is a must watch, and it alone probably will make this season the best this year.
Now you may be wondering. Why is an anime blogger posting about a vegan documentary? My answer to you:
With the CoronaVirus, I’ve been watching random stuff on Netflix. The other day, I watched the documentary, “The Game Changers”, a relatively popular documentary on netflix which discusses the ‘plant eating diet’.
It is definitely not because I had a quick school assignment, and did not want to write a blog post this week. Definitely not. No way
——– warning: this post is filled with 5 minute research, and you probably shouldn’t trust it. i am an idiot with no degree, no prior knowledge in this area, and my opinion should not be taken seriously ——-
This documentary is actually pretty funny if you consider the ways in which it’s just outright wrong, which you’ll find from just a bit of research on the web. For example, they say that a peanut butter sandwich has just as much protein as a 3oz beef, but that would require literally ¼ cup of peanut butter.
If that doesn’t convince you to watch this, I would like you to know that there is a section in this movie where they discuss how eating plants make your erection better.
But for now, I’d just like to talk about the documentary and its problems.
The documentary pushes the idea that plant eating diets are much more effective in helping people for exercise, and strongly suggests that it is the superior diet to a meat based diet. It attempts to debunk many ideas within society of the benefits of meat diets and negatives of plant eating diets.
One of the things that is deeply covered within this documentary is the poor knowledge that many people have about meat eating diets. There are undoubtedly many benefits to eating plants over meat, and eating sufficient amounts of plants and not overwhelming your system with meat is definitely a good idea, however, as this documentary mentions, many professional teams eat many steaks a day and treat themselves to junk food right before real matches
The film pushes the importance of diet on human’s physical performance. However, this film puts too much importance on the diet, and has a lack of focus on anything else.
There is a section in the documentary in which various athletes are given a meat burrito first and have their blood tested, then have a bean burrito the next day and have their blood tested again. In this test, they put the blood in a centrifuge to see the plasma within the blood easily. The point of this test was to demonstrate that one meat meal can impair blood flow, and that endothelium functions less well after a meat meal. Of course, the results of the test in the documentary show that the bean burrito was much more helpful.
However, the documentary does not even mention other variables whatsoever, such as sleep, medical history, training, muscle fatigue, mental clarity, emotional state and genetic predispositions.
Furthermore, this documentary often has lots of sections where it is arguable that the problems being mentioned are not necessarily due to the people consuming meat instead of plants, but because they are consuming poor quality meat.
There is massive misinformation and misrepresentation of facts, and man it’s hilarious if you know the context. There are many instances in the documentary where there are so many elements that are not properly shown to the audience, and only the diet is shown as the main cause of everything. One of the highlights of the film is where the fighter Conner McGregor goes against Nate Diaz. It shows McGregor constantly eating meat, and saying that he overeats meat, and strongly implies that the outcome of the fight in which Conner McGregor loses and that causes a major upset in the fighting community, is solely because of the diet.
This is an extremely poor representation of the facts, because of many factors in this fight that were not mentioned. For example, many believe that in the first place, McGregor was a poor match to Diaz due to their conflicting fighting styles. Furthermore, Diaz was known to do much more cardio while McGregor would focus more on strength training. In addition to that, in this fight, McGregor had to go up two weight classes for this fight, meaning that there was likely a 20 to 30 pound difference between the two during the time of the fight. This is not mentioning the 11 losses that Diaz has, as well as the fact that McGregor emerged victorious in the rematch. The claim that the diet was the difference in this match is simply ridiculous, as it does not take other sources into consideration.
Another one of the points that this documentary makes is that although people believe that we need to get protein from animals, that is actually false, and we can actually get all of the required protein from plants, and perhaps even better quality from protein. The film makes a fucking hilarious claim that ultimately the protein we get from animals and plants is the same, because the animals eat those same plants. However, there is much scientific evidence that suggests that plant protein is inferior to meat protein.
There’s various reasons, and these are just a couple of ones I found from biolayne.com.
most plant proteins are far less bioavailable than animals proteins
most plant proteins are limiting in various essential amino acids.
most plant proteins are low in leucine
anyway, thanks for reading. see you next week where i will actually post anime things.
So many times, in long running TV shows and occasionally Anime, come a time in the show where either some character(s) join the main cast. There’s many reasons that can apply to this situation, such as some of the main cast leaving because their actors are too expensive, or even the writers running out of ideas with the current character dynamics. But whatever the reason, you often find that characters are coming in and out of shows. And the ones that come in are almost never just as good as the original cast.
Obviously there’s the sentimental value that you’ve come to bear for the original cast. But there’s indefinitely something beyond that. Good writers can obviously come up with characters that would have interesting chemistry with the pre-existing cast, and with the main cast already having been deeply explored, it may end up being easier to write a character with a personality and background that compliments the others than it would have been in the beginning. But more often than not, show writers are not that well skilled.
Hidamari Sketch is an example of a show where there was a more than solid cast, but the team(or rather, mangaka) decided to add an additional two characters who simply did not live up to the main cast. Nori and Nazuna are not dislikable, but they’re simply nowhere near the level of Miyako, Hiro, etc. Even the side characters like Natsume or Sae’s little sister are much, much more cuter, interesting and likable.
Still, there are some fun occasions with the two new main characters where they have some really enjoyable chemistry with the original main cast that stems from the upperclassmen and lower classmen.
Also, Nazuna’s voice is just a little too high pitched for me, which just makes it worse- but that’s probably just me…
Bofuri fails to be what many would consider a good show. In fact, it does have a lot of elements that I, myself, along with many others criticize in other fantasy (game) shows like this for being. The unexplainable game mechanics that make the game broken like any of Maple’s skill, replaceable, boring and boring side characters that have no place in the overpowered main character, and static characters without much motives are just some to point out.
But for me Bofuri was one of the most enjoyable shows of this season. It was also one of the more popular shows this season.
So what makes Bofuri more enjoyable than the likes of Darwin’s Game — another game centered show that aired this season?
The biggest difference between the two shows is how seriously it takes itself. Bofuri, from the start, establishes itself as a light hearted game. Something less significant than a test score from school. The main character, Kaede (Maple) receives the game from her friend Lisa (Sally) and plays the game with her pajamas on. We see a couple of times, throughout the show, that they log off from the game and even continue their daily lives. We see scenes of them at school or calling before and after playing their game. The game for both of the characters is like what games are for (most of) the audience: a fun, time passing activity.
However, unlike Bofuri, Darwin’s game establishes itself as a SAO-like death game. Immediately, we see characters die with gruesome visuals of blood, with our main character running away for his life. The show constantly invites the viewers to feel tension at the chance of death being apparent at any time. It tries to create an intense mood to get the audience to get engaged in the show through its music, colors, and sound that accompanies this premise.
The problem is, this doesn’t work.
I’m not saying that tension is bad. Tension is needed for any psychological or action shows like Darwin’s game to be great. I mean, how many times did Death Note or Fate Zero make you get on the edge of your seat at its most exciting moments? But Darwin’s game, although it tries it’s best to be an exciting, tense show, it utterly fails to be one. And the worst part is that the show itself fails to recognize this.
There are a few ways that the show fails to stay exciting. First, the game constantly adds new rules to the game. This strays the audience from a set mark they can base the stakes off of. Because the rules are constantly changing, the audience can just think that any problem or former stakes will be changed in the future so there is no need to get invested. Second, the characters are established as undefeatable from very early on. Although this isn’t too big of a problem if done well, the show fails to capitalize on the “die at any moment’ concept. Even if anyone were to die, because they don’t take time to make anyone other than Kaname, Shuka or Rein even remotely interesting, it really doesn’t matter at this point. The game itself strays too far from reality. The show doesn’t explain how the city is cleared out when cities are being destroyed and people are being killed and yet no one seems to question it because everyone was napping. These are just a few problems.
But the thing is, these aspects that fail to make Darwin’s game exciting are also mostly in Bofuri as well. For example, the admins constantly are nerfing Maple’s skills or making specific rules for each event. Like Kaname’s group, Maple’s group (or just maple) are also overpowered beyond belief. Both to a point where it gets ridiculous.
But this brings us back to my point about how seriously these two shows take themselves. Darwin’s game is using these aspects to create a tense atmosphere. Obviously, these elements stop it from being so. However, because Bofuri recognizes how ridiculous the show is, it plays off these overpowered skills as a joke. We see other characters constantly commenting on how ridiculous. This is to the point where the opponent kind of gives up after seeing Maple’s skills. Because of this, the show isn’t about how Maple uses her skills to defeat everyone (well slightly) but more of a character focused story on how Maple isn’t normal. From the start, the show shows clearly that her actions are not normal with her maxing out vitality points only. You can even see this from the title itself which directly translates to “I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.” A hilarious title that reflects the hilarity of the show.
Of course, this light hearted-ness of Maple’s skills are matched perfectly with the cute character design. From the whole colors, characters, and the feel of the episodes, you can tell that unlike these serious death games, Bofuri is a cute girls show at its core. Being a “cute girls doing cute things” show, it succeeds in doing so in everyways. All the characters are adorable and fun to watch.
So in conclusion, what I’m trying to say is, Maple is cute.
Consuming anime feels a little different when you have to watch and discuss them.
In the past, I’ve always watched anime by myself, binge watching every show I can find. And throughout my life, I’ve never been a person who enjoys watching anime weekly. From a young age, anime — or any type of medium — was something I did by myself. While most of my friends at school would always play games together, I would usually be watching shows at home. Because of the abundance of shows that were available to me, I’ve never even thought about watching shows weekly. And even if I did, the 2~3 series I completed between weekly episodes made me forget all about what happened. So in the end I rewatched the whole thing when it ended.
But a huge reason why I was able to binge shows like this was because I didn’t participate in discussions.
I think the only reason why one would be watching seasonal anime is to discuss the shows. Unlike older shows that are kinda everywhere, airing shows gives everyone a focus. Something that everyone is watching. I mean, no one is talking about shows like Nichijou or the Monogatari series in blog posts or discussion threads; it’s all Bofuri or Eizouken.
This is a huge reason why I think I was able to watch a huge amount of older shows. Because I didn’t understand the concept of different seasons or air dates and cared (known) about discussion threads and such, I just went off on my own way, watching anything and everything.
However, in the last two years or so, I find myself watching seasonal anime. And I feel like I have to watch them.
One of the reasons why I’m more inclined to do so now is that I just don’t have that many shows (or at least good shows) I can watch left. The rate that I used to consume shows outpaced the rate in which shows came out greatly. Recently, the only binge watching that I do is watching really bizzare old shows that aren’t very fun or rewatching my favorite shows. The latter is of course fun, but there’s a limit to how many times you can watch a show over and over again. So the only option left for me became watching seasonally.
And to fill in the time between episodes, I started discussing shows.
At the start it was just reading through reddit threads, joining and ghosting on discord servers, or talking to friends that actually watch seasonal anime. But little by little, I started participating more and more. Eventually creating this blog (although I don’t post very often.)
But a new problem came up from this. Now that I participate so deeply — whether it’s discord servers, forums, or this blog — I can’t help but feel that I have to watch anime to avoid missing out. It’s not like I am active enough on my blog nor have been blogging for a long time to say that the blog is a restriction for me, but with people pinging me or texting me about shows, I feel like I have to watch these shows.
It’s a weird feeling. It’s not like I can’t decline them and say I’m gonna watch till the show is over. But once you taste that conversation with others, it’s like a trap you can’t escape. Every show must be talked about or else seasonal anime feels empty.
But as I am watching shows weekly, it became very hard to find shows that I thought were mindblowing. Of course, there’s the fact that watching weekly makes you forget stuff or the excitement for shows die down after a few weeks and all, but the discussions I had with others may have swayed me to think negatively about shows. Because I was watching these shows weekly solely for discussion purposes, I found myself stretching out the 20 minutes that I had for that week, and nitpicking every single detail that otherwise would not have bothered me at all. So ultimately, shows never became perfect like before.
It wasn’t until this season, when I watched Eizouken, that I felt another 10/10 show would ever appear. That’s a huge reason why, after 3 episodes or so, I stopped watching Eizouken and actively avoided any sort of discussion on it. I’m probably taking this a little bit too extremely, but I’ve been avoiding reading blog posts or chatting to avoid this completely. I’m so weekly minded that any sort of temptation can and will tip me over to watch the show.
This does make me feel really left out though. Everyone I know are talking about how good the show is and I’m just here kinda frustrated that I’m not watching the show. But as much as I want to watch the show, I want avoid anything that might ruin the experience even slightly.
Although I do think that watching these shows weekly and discussing the shows with others may drain the fun a little, I think that these discussions will add fun to any show that I otherwise wouldn’t have cared too much about.
Take Arifureta for example. Arifureta, on the season that it aired, was like the show that I talked the most about. I’d watch every single episode the day it came out, and use the following week to just talk about that episode and speculation. And I must say, making fun of the show is extremely enjoyable. Like I love talking about how bad Arifureta is. Of course, laughing at Arifureta myself was also fun, just because of how horrible the show is itself, but laughing at the show together with others made it so much more fun. The nitpicking that I said was a problem before was like what made Arifureta Good.
To me, this discussion changed my viewing habits slightly from enjoying the show itself to enjoying all the context and discussion around it as well. I think that this may be the reason why I don’t really find show mindblowing nowadays, but find every show, on average, generally better thanks to the discussion I have on the more mediocre shows.
I’m not saying that me having to watch anime because of the discussion I am a part of is a bad thing. They both have their goods and bads. But I sometimes do wish I could go back to the crazy days when there were so many shows left for me to watch that I just consumed everything in front of me.
I’m curious if anyone else had discussions impact viewing experiences. Do you like nitpicking shows or watching for the purpose of reviewing? Do you feel forced to watch shows when running a blog?
Music affects our viewer experience, often much more than we end up realizing. When reading media reviews, especially ones concerning anime, I often see a lack of focus on the sound section. Now, of course I definitely think that part of this is on the fault of the anime industry, due to many series having lackluster soundtracks. But I think that the anime community in general has a lack of awareness for how important music is to a medium.
Animations consist of three different key elements, art, sound, and story. Now, I’d indefinitely mark sound in the last of the three, and music is only one of the three elements of sound, sound effects, voice acting, and music. But just because it’s not as vital as the story or art, you shouldn’t underestimate the massive effects that it can have on your experience with a show.
In this post, I’ll mainly be talking about the effect music has on slice of life shows, but the influence it has on viewers is universal to all genres. An excellent example would be Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Yoko Kanno is a serious legend, with masterful control of music. So much of her compositions in Stand Alone Complex are catchy and get me so hyped up whenever I hear them, enough for me to go back and download the soundtrack after completing the series. Of course, there are instances in which you can overuse your music, which I’d argue is somewhat of a case in the TV series Suits, where the same 10 songs are probably used the entire time. That said, the music in that show is also crazy good, which helps me not get tired of the soundtrack.
If you’re a slice of life fan, you may have heard of Hidamari Sketch. It wasn’t too successful, and that goes especially for the western community, where there’s only a little over 25,000 members listing it as completed in Myanimelist. The show is a bit of an oddball, where it implements many usage of Shaft’s signature material despite being an Iyashikei show. It’s directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, which was what dragged me into the show in the first place. There’s lots of creative imagery and clever usage of real life images to make up for small budget but also to establish character. There’s lots of other things to like about Hidamari Sketch, like the charming cast and excellent voice acting. But to me, what elevates this show from a good one to an excellent one, and what truly allows me to relax when watching it is the soundtrack.
The soundtrack of Hidamari Sketch is incredible, there’s so many songs that just ease up my shoulders as soon as I hear the music start. The best is probably “Shinmiri” , a song which whenever I hear it come on, I just begin sinking into my couch helplessly. The songs in Hidamari Sketch aren’t just catchy, they’re healing. Hypnotic, almost. As I said earlier, music influenes viewer experience in any genre. But in my personal opinion, I think the music of an iyashikei show is what truly helps it to become a real gentle, relaxing experience.
If you want another excellent example, I’d give you Aria, which I already made a post about why the setting of the show makes it kick even more ass. But Aria’s soundtrack is what allows the show to do what it does best, make you comfy and relaxed. The series’ opening, which plays in the beginning of the show allows it to reestablish its calming tone every episode. That opening song, “Undine”, played by Makino Yui, is one of the most relaxing vocal songs that I’ve heard in my life. Not only does it perfectly match the magical, mysterious yet inviting tone of Aria, but it’s just so god damn soothing.
I think I’ve said enough about why music is so important to anime, and the slice of life genre in particular. Do you have any opinions on genres that music is vital to, or want to share an excellent soundtrack of a show you love? Leave a comment!