2020 Summer of Anime – My Girlfriend is Shobitch

4 My Girlfriend is Shobitch


Since his first year in high school, Haruka Shinozaki has admired the beautiful, aloof Akiho Kousaka.  She’s smart, athletic, and–now in their second year of high school–she’s the class representative.  Haruka finally works up his courage to confess his feelings, and Akiho actually accepts and becomes his girlfriend.  Both are new to this whole relationship thing, but they’ll figure it how together.  Haruka is worried about holding hands, while Akiho is determined to find out his fetishes.

Y’all know I love romcoms (if you’ve read more than a few posts on here).  And, I’ll be real here, I love ecchi shows.  I’m a simple man.  So, ya know, I thought this would be a fun show to watch.

Man, this is a bad show.

I am pretty forgiving when it comes to reviewing and scoring things, but even taking my kindness into consideration, I can find astonishingly little to praise here.  I did laugh a couple times.  Akiho’s nervouness when it comes to normal romantic actions but being gung-ho about expanding her lewd knowledge can also be somewhat amusing every now and then.  Other than that, though…I got nothing.

Damn near every female character rapid fires adult/pervy jokes, and that can be done well.  It can be done extremely well!  It’s done awfully here.  This is a far worse version of Seitokai Yakuindomo (which is a classic, and everyone should watch it).  Whenever the eyecatch hit to mark the episode being halfway over, I almost always thought, “…How is it only half over?!”  Drags something terrible.

My Girlfriend is Shobitch looks cheap and lacks humor.  You can definitely find better out there.

2020 Summer of Anime – Absolute Duo

3 Absolute Duo

…Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Tooru Kokonoe is a Blazer–a person who can form weapons from their soul.  He’s an Irregular, though.  Instead of materializing a simple, offensive weapon, Tooru brings forth a shield.  Now at a high school specifically for Blazers, Tooru’s goal is to become strong enough to hunt down the man who killed his sister.  What he didn’t plan on was being forced to team up with someone in order for the headmistress to find the Absolute Duo–the optimal, most powerful pairing of Blazers.  His Duo is the petite dual-swordswoman Julie Sigtuna.  She, too, seeks strength for her own quest, and now these two will stand side by side in order to achieve their own dreams and each others’.

Magical battle school anime are my popcorn entertainment in the anime world.  Most are fairly unremarkable light novel trash, but man, I almost always find myself being entertained.  And yeah, Absolute Duo isn’t one of the best.  It’s no Chivalry of a Failed Knight (which I find myself liking more and more, and shares…more than a few similarities with this show), but it’s fine.  Totally and completely fine.

Nothing in Absolute Duo will really blow you away, and a number of the gags have been done better in other series.  Surprisingly, it did get me to legitimately laugh a few times.  Mainly with the side character Tatsu, who doesn’t speak…he communicates through flexing.  And the series actually did use the romantic tension between two characters as a relevant plot point in the final arc–not just jokes.  Gotta give it props for that.

Aside from being pretty unremarkable for the most part, my biggest complaint about Duo is that neither Tooru nor Julie get much in the way of their revenge.  What I mean by that is the people they’re respectively hunting for never show up outside of flashbacks.  I get that this is based on a light novel series and not all plot threads will get nicely tied up, but these are important character-driving forces that are treated almost like background fodder.  Not a great move.

There are worse magical battle school shows, but there are also certainly better.  Like I said earlier, Absolute Duo is just fine.

2020 Summer of Anime – Fate/Grand Order: First Order

2 Fate Grand Order First Order

…Which one is Saber?

The Master candidates at the Chaldea Security Organization are the only ones ensuring humanity has a future.  By rayshifting through various points in history, they’re able to use their magic to partner with Servants and fix whatever goes wrong.  During one such mission, a bomb goes off leaving most of Chaldea’s Masters dead or dying.  The only active Master, Ritsuka Fujimaru, and his new “kouhai” Mash Kyrielight rayshift to the Singularity in Fuyuki in order to fix what went wrong and save humanity–whose future suddenly seems nonexistent.

(Full disclosure, I watched this, like, a week or two ago.  I’m just lazy.)

Based on the massively popular gacha game, Fate/Grand Order: First Order is a TV special that covers the prologue of the aforementioned game.  If you’re gonna adapt FGO, it’s a good place to start.  Now, why they then jumped to the seventh arc with their next project–who knows!  Anyway, yeah, the biggest flaws for this anime is that it is just a TV special.  TV budget, TV effort.  I’m used to my feature length anime being more grand.  I enjoyed it, but I’m also a dirty Fate fan.

It was cool seeing Ritsuka (or “Sawcy” as he’s called in my canonical game), Mash, Roman, and the Singularity F Servants in animated form.  And, I mean, one of them is Archer from FSN, so how can I not love that.

Pretty neat little addition to the Fate franchise.  Honestly, probably my least favorite so far, but I’ve only seen FSNUnlimited Blade WorksZero, and Apocrypha…so, yeah, not that much.

It’s good.

2020 Summer of Anime – Saint Seiya

1 Saint Seiya

Sailor Moon for boys!

Ten young boys were sent around the world to train and earn the right to become Bronze Saints of Athena.  Now, after years of being gone from Japan, they are returning as teenagers to compete in the Galaxian Wars–a tournament for the ten with the prize being the powerful Gold Sagittarius Cloth.  Overseeing the Wars is the reincarnation of Athena and granddaughter of the man who gathered the ten boys together when they were children, Saori Kido.  Seiya, the Pegasus Saint, doesn’t much care for the Gold Cloth, but he agrees to compete in order to find his long lost sister.  And though he never forgets that goal, Seiya soon finds himself as the de facto leader of the Bronze Saints as increasingly powerful enemies come looking to kill Athena in order to rule the world.  Time to burn your Cosmo brighter than it’s ever been!

Saint Seiya–or Knights of the Zodiac to large portions of the world–is a 1980s shonen action/adventure manga starring pretty boys in shiny armor (a subgenre I didn’t realize existed until recently).  I’d been interested in checking this series out in full for a while ever since I caught a few episodes as a kid here in the States.  Yeah, the version with that great cover of “I Ran” by Bowling for Soup.  Anyway, if you’re not familiar with this franchise, I’m here to tell you…it’s kinda massive.  Numerous anime, manga, video games, figures, and all sorts of other merchandise have ensured Saint Seiya‘s place as a pretty prominent Shonen Jump property.  So, of course, I had to check out the original anime.

It’s a little rough.

So, the problems with the original anime mainly have to deal with pacing.  As a child, I didn’t notice the filler in Dragon Ball Z or any other big anime I checked out, and I can only assume I wouldn’t have noticed the filler here either.  But hoo-boy!  Watching it as an adult makes the filler stand out like a sore thumb.  It’s not all bad, though.  I like some of the unranked Saints introduced before the Sanctuary Arc, and the Asgard Arc has some pretty cool antagonists.  But both series of episodes run way too long and are noticeably full of padding.  I tore through the Sanctuary Arc, but when I hit the Asgard Arc…damn.  I had to force myself to watch it all.  I get why a lot of fans love it, but it was rough going for me.  The Asgard Arc also lost me because it has the exact same plot as the Sanctuary Arc (Athena’s in trouble and the Saints have a time limit on defeating ridiculously strong opponents in order to save her) and ignores a lot of the Bronze Saints character development.  Granted, you can accuse the Poseidon Arc of the former, too, but still.

The arcs adapted from the manga are great, though!  Like I said, I flew through the Sanctuary Arc, and I really appreciated how quickly the Poseidon Arc moved along.  Plus, the Gold Saints are cool as hell.  Poseidon’s Mariner’s aren’t bad either, but they’re no Gold Saints.  I also really like the main characters and the mythos of the world.  They’re just full of that ’80s shonen cheese.  I do think the female cast gets the short end of the stick, but that was more the norm back then.  Like, Shaina is the second most important female character in the series (behind Saori/Athena), but even she mainly only shows up to swoon over and save/get saved by Seiya.  She is cool, just underutilized.

Shiryu’s the best, though.  The ol’ blind, bleeding everywhere, dying all the time Dragon boi.

Ya know, I think after taking so much time off from writing anything on here, I’ll refrain from giving it a score.  It’s more easy for me to complain about Saint Seiya than it is to praise it, but I did overall really enjoy it and plan on checking out every other anime related to it (not right now, though…I need to take a break from the Saints).

And hey!  This was my 900th anime!  That’s a lot of cartoons, y’all.

2019 Summer of Anime – Initial D

14 Initial D First Stage

First Stage

The town of Akina is home to a mountain pass claimed by the local street racing team, the Akina Speedstars.  Well, “team” is a strong word.  They’re mostly just a group of friends who love cars and racing on the mountain.  Their pride takes a blow though, when the Akagi Red Suns come to town intending to beat the best racers Akina has to offer and breaking every record on the pass.  The Speedstars know they’re greatly outmatched by the legendary Takahashi brothers and the Red Suns, but they’ve recently heard tell of a Trueno 86–an old car that flies like a ghost down the mountain pass.  The Eight-Six is their only hope.  Problem is it’s driven by the wholly unmotivated Takumi Fujiwara–a high schooler who only drives the Trueno for his family’s tofu business.  Takumi and the Eight-Six are a formidable pair, and if he can be convinced to get behind the wheel of his car and face the Red Suns, then an unmatched legend in the world of street racing may very well be born.

Initial D is probably the biggest sports series I’ve never delved into (Slam Dunk is also a top contender).  I’m not entirely sure how I want to write about the franchise because I watched…a lot of it, and it seems almost wrong to break it down into different entries.  So, I think I’m just gonna ramble about Initial D and why I love it so much.


Without further ado:

15 Initial D Second Stage

Second Stage

Takumi is great.  My absolute favorite thing is he only agrees to race against Keisuke Takahashi when his dad promises to fill the Trueno’s tank, and Takumi has a hot date with Natsuki Mogi coming up.  That is the most teenage boy thing ever, and I love seeing that in a sports series.  I also appreciate there’s never any drama when it comes to his relationship(s) and racing.  Well, one rarely affects the other.  There’s always plenty of drama.  Esepcially when Takumi finds out Natsuki is partaking in compensated dating (basically prostitution for minors) and has been doing so for quite some time.  This leads Takumi to challenging a guy he’s nowhere near ready for, and Takumi gets stomped.  No one counts it as an actual loss, but it’s something that never leaves Takumi.

See, Takumi starts as a lackadaisical teen who doesn’t see why driving is so special, but he gradually becomes a driven (pun intended) competitor and one of the most respected drivers on the mountain passes once he joins the Takahashi brothers.  And when I say gradually, I do mean gradually.  The bug bites him early, but it takes a while for Takumi to finally decide he’s now racing to be the fastest on Japan’s mountains.  He’s a solid lead, and man, I need a toy of the Eight-Six.

But, what’s a sports protagonist without his rivals?

16 Initial D Extra Stage

Extra Stage

Obviously, the Takahashi brothers, Ryousuke and Keisuke, are the most prominent.  They’re the ones who spur Takumi on into the world of street racing, and they’re the ones who keep tabs on him and bring him into Project D later on.  Keisuke is his most prominent rival even though they only race once (think Ippo and Miyata from Hajime no Ippo).  The growth of one motivates the other not only in skill but also as individuals.  Which is what Ryousuke always wanted.  He’s arguably the best driver in the series, but his whole goal is to groom his brother and Takumi into becoming greater than he ever had the chance to be.

The other teams Takumi goes up against like the Night Kids, Emperor, Impact Blue, Purple Shadow, and Sidewinder often make for exciting racers.  I legitimately never knew if Takumi would be able to come out on top.  I mean, there are other teams, but those are the most notable.  And really, Takumi’s greatest rival is his own dad–Bunta Fujiwara.

17 Initial D Third Stage

Third Stage

Bunta and Takumi only have one incredibly short unofficial race, but Takumi gets absolutely dusted by his old man.  See, the reason the Eight-Six is such a beast on the downhills is because Bunta was once a street racer and has kept his baby in top form.  Bunta’s secretly been training his son for years to become a racer, and Takumi never really noticed.  Bunta’s a stoic figure often seen smoking and commenting on his son’s races, but Takumi would love nothing more than to overtake his dad as the true greatest driver of the Trueno 86.

Takumi also has a couple of love interests throughout the series.  Natsuki is the first and–I mean no offense to Mika Uehara–most interesting.  I mentioned the compensated dating earlier.  It’s a pretty big thing since I can’t think of anything else I’ve watched or read where that’s a major plot point in the main romance.  The show does condemn Natsuki’s actions, but it’s mainly because she kept doing it while she was courting Takumi.  In her defense, it was just a way to earn money to her, and she decided to call it off when she realized how much Takumi meant to her.  And the anime clearly portrays Takumi being in the wrong when he flies off the handle and races Kyoichi Sudo–the aforementioned first loss.  I was legitimately sad when they broke up and Natsuki moved to Tokyo to find herself.  As much as I like Mika, my headcanon is Takumi and Natsuki meet back up years down the road and rekindle their relationship.

18 Initial D Fourth Stage

Fourth Stage

Mika’s fine in her own way.  She debuts by slapping Takumi across the face thinking he broke her friend’s heart.  She’s decent enough to realize her mistake and make up for it though.  It’s easy to see how they hit it off.  She’s something of a high school golf prodigy thanks to her dad’s training, and Takumi’s a monster on the downhills thanks to Bunta’s machinations.  The two have clearly defined dreams, and they admire that in each other.

Takumi’s circle of friends–the Speedstars–I can really either take or leave.  I like Iketani and Kenji, but they’re rarely more than “Those Two Guys.”  Granted, Iketani gets a decent amount of screentime thanks to his tragic-ish romance with the driver of Impact Blue Mako Satou, but he never comes off as that great a character.  Itsuki, on the other hand, is a true ride or die brother, and I love that guy.  He has Takumi’s back from day one and always supports his dude.

Lonely Drive for life.

20 Initial D Extra Stage 2

Extra Stage 2

I know I’m mainly focusing on the characters here, but that’s mainly because I don’t think I’d be able to do the races justice.  Despite my love of car-related movies and shows (Fast and Furious is actually my sh*t), I know next to nothing about cars.  Whenever they start talking about the suspension, traction, and all that rigamaroll, I just kinda had to grin and accept it.  I’m sure it’s all quite technical and accurate, but I couldn’t confirm it.  The races are hella fun though.  Like I said earlier, I was taken in by most of them.  There are a few where you never doubt the outcome, but even then, you love seeing Takumi and Project D doing their thing.

And man, dat soundtrack.  Genuinely one of my favorite soundtracks in all of anime.

If you’re looking to get into Initial D, there are a couple of big hurdles.  The first, most evident of these is the look of the show.  First Stage premiered in 1998–just the right time for wonky-ass CG cars to reign supreme.  I’m not one of those who’s immediately put off by something if it doesn’t look great, but man, that late ’90s CG can get rough.  The characters also don’t have appealing designs at the outset, but after one or two episodes in, they grew on me.  I’m a fan of the art style now.  The other massive hurdle is availability.

23 Initial D Fifth Stage

Fifth Stage

Funimation has the rights to the first four “stages” and the first Extra Stage.  You can easily check those out on the awful Funimation app or purchase the DVDs legally in the United States.  That’s all well and good, but there’s still Extra Stage 2Fifth Stage, and Final Stage after that.  And the Battle Stage compilations with some extra Keisuke races, but I didn’t watch those so I don’t really count them.  Still though, that’s a decent chunk of the series that just hasn’t been licensed.  A friend of mine was very generous in getting me those last stages on a jump drive so I could finish the anime.  I am 100% against piracy if it’s legally available, but I was left with no other means.  I really hope Funimation gets on the ball here.

It took 16 years, multiple TV series, movies, and OVAs, but Initial D did wrap up in 2014.  Even after all this, however, I’m not done with the franchise.  There are still the three movies adapting First Stage, the PS3 game Extreme Stage, the live action film starring Jay Chou, the manga, and even the TokyoPop dub for the early stages I still plan on checking out.  Hell, Shuuichi Shigeno–Initial D‘s creator–is even working on a sequel series now.  It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

25 Initial D Final Stage

Final Stage

And that’s gonna do it for the 2019 Summer of Anime…in the middle of fall…just in time for me to dread writing about the current season.

Oh, boy.

  • First Stage–9/10
  • Second Stage–9/10
  • Extra Stage–7/10
  • Third Stage–8/10
  • Fourth Stage–8/10
  • Extra Stage 2–7/10
  • Fifth Stage–8/10
  • Final Stage–9/10



Seasonal Sawce: This 2019 Summer Animain’t no Bummer, Part 2

Super-duper hella late.  Yeah, yeah, I know.

These’re the one-cour shows I watched from the Summer Season of anime from my least favorite to my most favorite.

Here we go.

Magical Sempai

19 Magical Sempai

The true magic is he hasn’t flipped out on her yet.

I wanted to like Magical Sempai more than I actually do.  The gags were mostly very okay, and the fan-service was always fan-service.  That’s about it, though.  I really don’t have much to write home about here.  Other than I wish Madara had gotten to show up more.  She was always a fun addition during her few appearances, and she would’ve added a lot to the show if she’d been around more often.

It’s a 5.5 out of 10 for me.  If you’re looking for something that’ll get you to chuckle every now and then and satisfy your desire to see outlandish fan-service-providing situations, then this’ll scratch that itch.  Plus, it’s pretty short, so you won’t lose much time.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest

27 Arifureta

Here we have an edgelord, his vampire wife(?), his bunny-girl mistress(?), his dragon-girl slave(?), his stalker(?), and his mermaid daughter(?).

This is almost the opposite of the previous entry.  I kind of wanted to hate Arifureta.  I really did.  The CG is genuinely ugly, the majority of the characters are given bare minimum writing, it’s nowhere near as badass as it thinks it is, and the pacing is all over the place.  And yet…I looked forward to it every single week.  I don’t know if it reached so bad it’s good territory, but I was entertained by every episode.

Arifureta is, by no means, the best isekai out there, but you could do a whole helluva lot worse.  I’ll give it a 6.  So many negatives made a positive for me, and Hajime’s found family is such an absurd group to behold.

How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?

26 How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift

That’s it.  That’s the show.

And now for an anime this season I unequivovally love!  How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is one of the most consistently funny anime I’ve watched in a hot minute.  I’ll admit–I started this show because the premise is cute girls working out, and I figured the fan-service would be solid.  And yeah, it is, but the series actually keeps the fan-service on a relatively tight leash, and I wound up genuinely appreciating that.  The show is so funny and the characters are so damn likable that the fan-service sometimes felt like it just got in the way.

Plus, you get detailed exercises in each episode, so you can get those gains while you weeb out.

Gonna give it an 8.  Everything here just clicks extremely well.  I didn’t even mention how great the OP and ED are.  For real, dear reader, check it out.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II

21 DanMachi Season 2

Best girl.

Yeah, no changes on the board this season, although Dumbbells came close to unseating DanMachi II.  Spoiler for the end of this segment: It’s an 8 out of 10.  The whole reason DanMachi edged it out here is simply because I looked more forward to it every week.  It was great getting to come back to this cast and world, and I find myself really invested in Bell’s journey.  I know the stories don’t play out quite as epic as they do in the novels (or so I’ve heard), but I do think the anime’s staff has done a bang-up job of presenting Bell’s efforts to the audience.

I do wish the season ended on a higher note, and I really, really wish Aisha would have joined the main crew, but this second season of the main story is still a supremely solid addition to the franchise.  It’s an 8 out of 10!…but you already know that.

And that’s gonna do it for this Seasonal Sawce.  I know it’s much shorter than usual, but there are a couple of reasons for that.  First, I’m lazy.  Second, I tend to ramble when I don’t have much to say, so I wanted to see how much I could cut down on my writing.

Normally this would wrap up the Summer of Anime, but not this time.  I still have one franchise I want to talk about that I binged a month or so ago.  Still trying to figure out how I want to write those posts (yes, plural).

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

2019 Summer of Anime – Spring 2019 Finishes Up

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

22 Demon Slayer

He’s living his best life.

Tanjirou Kamado–the goodest boy that ever lived–and his adorable demonic sister Nezuko are well on their way to finding Muzan Kibutsuji–the first and most powerful demon–and finally curing Nezuko of her demon affliction.  They’ve made a number of allies along the way, and things seem to be going pretty well.  Fighting evil is rarely so easy, unfortuntately.  The Demon Slayers still have a long road ahead of them, and it will be frought with blood and tears.

Weird opening, I know.  These Summer of Anime posts where I write about something I started, like, half a year ago always trip me up.  But, I’ll try anyway!

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba‘s first season has come to an end, and I eagerly await the second.  After the movie comes out.  This adaptation from ufotable does a lot right.  The comedy is mostly always funny (still on the fence on whether or not I like Zenitsu), the danger is always palpable, and the animation is just…so…good!  The two big detractions are definitely the pacing and the handling of Nezuko.

It felt like Demon Slayer hit a satisfying season finale with the fight against the spider family of demons.  Instead, we’re given a healing/training arc that lasts ’til the full two-cour run is up.  I won’t say the momentum at the end dies as quickly as That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime‘s does, but it’s still a bit lackluster.  And Nezuko is arguably the deuteragonist here, but she’s little more than an adorable mascot most of the time.  Like, her plight drives the plot.  She should be an integral part of every arc.  Instead, she’s relegated to part-time sidekick who grunts.  Her voice actress imbues each noise with a lot of emotion, but it’s just not enough.

Despite those two big complaints, I’m giving Demon Slayer a 9 out of 10.  It’s genuinely good shounen action/adventure stuff that does so much right it’s detractions pale in comparison.

Mix: Meisei Story

24 Mix Meisei Story

There is no fourth wall.

Meisei High School has a second shot at glory after 30 years when the seemingly unstoppable battery of step-brothers Touma and Souichiro Tachibana join the team.  The going is rough, though, since the rest of the team is inexperienced and unreliable.  Should any team find a crack in the Tachibana battery, it’s almost a guaranteed victory.  With their sister Otomi cheering them on, the brothers refuse to fall so easily and will call on every last ounce of inner strength to persevere.  After all, they have to get a second season somehow.

Yeah, I’m throwing these two together since I finished them about the same time and writing is hard.

Mix: Meisei Story is a fun watch.  I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more anime based on Mitsuru Adachi’s manga.  Like I said here, I checked this out because I love the Cross Game manga so much.  I do think Mix is the weaker series, but a lot of things are weaker when compared to Cross Game.  Mix also doesn’t have a sudden character death to make you weep like a child, and that’s a plus.  Hell, they even make a joke referencing Adachi’s tendency to do just that.  There is no fourth wall in an Adachi series.

Similar to the anime I just discussed up top, Mix has some pacing issues.  It’s pretty evident the real story doesn’t start until the brothers are in high school, so the middle school years are blazed through in the early episodes.  And when they get into high school, there are only really two games of note.  The focus in this sports romcom is definitely more on the romcom than the sports.

The cast is immensely likable, and for the most part, they’re a physically varied bunch.  Which is why it’s so odd that the main duo look so identical.  On one hand, it bugs the heck out of me because you can see how vastly different everyone else looks, and yet I sometimes can’t tell Touma and Souichiro apart.  On the other hand, I kinda suspect that’s another joke from Adachi.  Like, “Hahaha, you thought they were twins, but they’re actually step-brothers!  Can’t wait to have new characters confused by that.”

I’m gonna give it a 7.5.  If you like romcoms or sports anime, then you should check it out.

Seasonal Sawce: This 2019 Summer Animain’t no Bummer, Part 1

Running a tad late here, but the five new shows I’m following this season have all hit six episodes each, so it’s time to talk about ’em from my least favorite to my most favorite.  (Editor’s note: Actually ahead of schedule because dumb-dumb forgot his number four had aired five episodes and a recap–not six actual episodes)  Should do some housekeeping before that, though.

This Summer of Anime hasn’t been as big as last year’s because, well…I just haven’t been bitten by the anime bug this summer.  I have a lot of other stuff I’ve been watching, and my reading backlog is genuinely out of control, so I’ve been trying to work on that more.  Also, there are quite a few others this season I plan on watching when they’re through.  I just wanted to keep the numbers small this time around.

A’ight.  Here we go.

5) Magical Sempai

Magical Sempai

Silly rabbit, magic’s for tricks!

On his first day of high school, an antisocial kid’s plans to go home after school every day are ruined because the school requires every student be a member of a club.  He winds up getting roped into the magic club by the hot sempai who runs it.  Now known simply as Assistant, he spends his days with Sempai as she hones her magic skills and tries to conquer her crippling stage fright.  Too bad she sucks at both.

This is another of those half-episode length series, and yet they wind up cramming in four or five seperate segments in each one.  It gives everything a real breakneck feel, and the jokes rarely have time to settle in before the show moves on (and the punchline is often fan-service provided by the titular Sempai).  It’s an amusing show even if most of the characters have garbage personalities.  Do wish Madara-san (the chemistry club member) would show up more.  I feel like she’d be a fun character for the other weirdos to play off of.  Also, Sempai has a single fang, which isn’t uncommon for anime characters, but it’s flesh-colored in the show.  It’s kinda distracting/unnerving.

4) Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest

Arifureta From Commonplace to World's Strongest

AKA “That Time I Got Reincarnated as an Edgelord”

Hajime Nagumo and his entire class are transported to a magical world where they are heralded as its saviors.  Normally, this would be a pretty cool development for an otaku like Hajime, but while his classmites get awesome powers, he gets transmutation…and then he’s betrayed by one of his classmates during a training exercise and left for dead in an extremely dangerous dugeon.  Hajime’s drive to survive kicks in, though, and the meek nerd is reborn as a one-armed badass wielding a magic gun.  He’s soon joined by the ancient vampire queen Yue after releasing her from her prison, and now the two have vowed to return to Hajime’s world no matter what they have to do or who they have to go through.

This is the kind of try-hard isekai trash I would’ve loved years ago.  As it stands now, though, I am simply entertained by its “super cool” edginess.  I started it because I like stories of a character being betrayed and returning much later as a wholly different individual (ex. The Count of Monte Cristo and Arrow).  It’s not a great-looking show, and it’s not as cool as it wants to be.  But, I’m all here for it because of one single scene: Hajime finally goes after the monster that ate his arm, and Hajime eats its arm while staring it in the eyes.  A show that can give me a scene that wonderfully stupid is one that’s earned my attention.

3) How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?

How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift

Do you even lift, sis?

In order to lose weight, high-schooler Hibiki Sakura decides to join a gym.  The young girl finds herself accompanied by the school’s idol Akemi Souryuuin at the newly opened Silverman Gym.  Hibiki is lured in by the handsome trainer Machio, but she’s horrified when she realizes just how buff he is and that he aims to make all his charges as macho as possible.  Akemi is turned on by being surrounded by all that musculature, though, and Hibiki eventually decides to stick around so she can lose weight.  Might be hard to stick with that goal since she seems to be a combat sports and bodybuilding prodigy…and she never stops eating.

So, I started this one because the premise sounded amusing, and I assumed the fan-service would be well-done.  As for the fan-service–it’s there and it’s nice, but it’s more restrained than I expected, and I really appreciate that.  As for the amusing part–this is a genuinely funny show.  I did not expect to laugh anywhere near as much as I have so far.  The characters are all likable, and the art style shifts are always spot-on.  Plus, the show gives us detailed workouts during each episode so you can get those gains along with the characters!  And that OP is catchy as all get-out.  Honestly, I’m enjoying every aspect of this show.  Except for maybe the exercise asides can take a little too much time.  That’s the only drawback, though.

2) Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II

DanMachi 2nd Season


Bell Cranel, Hestia, and their friends are living pretty well nowadays.  That is until Bell overhears members of the Apollo Familia badmouthing Hestia and gets into a barfight with them.  Apollo uses this incident to lure Hestia into a War Game where the losing Familia will be forced to disband and follow the orders of the winning deity.  Apollo’s Familia numbers in the hundreds while Hestia has only Bell by her side, but Bell’s pulled off miracles before, so why would he falter now?

Boy, this second season has taken its sweet time getting here.  DanMachi is one of those anime that actually makes me want to read the original light novels.  The world and its rules are really cool, and it doesn’t have the isekai stink all over it.  The first arc is a fun underdog tale with a satisfying ending.  Show’s only two episodes into the second arc of the season, and it’s introduced the Ishtar Familia–a Familia comprised almost solely of Amazonesses and you bet I’m all here for that.  The cast is just as wonderful as always, so if you liked the first season, check it out.

1) Fire Force

Fire Force

They’re all named Dylan.

Death is almost as old as life.  What’s relatively recent is the phenomenon spontaneous human combustion.  In Year 198 of the Solar Era, squads in the Special Fire Force lay to rest those indivudals who fall victim to the phenomenon and become constantly burning beings called Infernals.  Shinra Kusakabe is a third generation pyrokinetic who joins Special Fire Force Company 8 in order to become a hero and to ensure no one else must face the same trauma he did as a child when a strange Infernal killed his entire family.  Suffering from a nervous tic that forces him to smile when he’s nervous, Shinra’s earned the moniker “Devil,” which makes the whole hero image a little hard to attain.

Ah, good ol’ shounen action-adventure nonsense.  This is my poison.  The world has a cool enough hook that I was there from the word “go,” and there’s been more thought put into the world-building than I expected.  The way it all looks, the way it operates, the institutions and beliefs that have formed…all really neat stuff.  Plus, I thought people having only fire powers would wind up being restrictive, but so far, each person’s powers have been distinctly different from the rest.  And cool.  Honestly, I’m just gonna call everything here neat and cool and awesome.  And there’s enough heart and humor here to make it all even better!

That’ll do it for this time around.  I’m really loving the top three, while the bottom two are entertaining enough to keep me tuning back in.  Also, I’m still watching Demon Slayer and Mix which are delightful as always.

Peace out, and stay bizarre.

2019 Summer of Anime – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind

13 JJBA Golden Wind


The fifth entry in Hirohiko Araki’s long-running epic has finally come to an end.  Well, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ended over 20 years ago, but the anime adaptation finally took its bow.  Gonna say now that it’s not my favorite part.  Diamond Is Unbreakable still holds that honor, but Giorno and the gang(stars) gave a good showing.  Let’s talk about it.

Probably my two biggest problems with Part 5 are the beginning and the end.  In the previous four parts, the JoBros came together through various arcs that felt like they were carrying the story.  Here, almost the entire crew is introduced at the same time, and it felt like each was given an introductory fight.  Yes, those episodes did carry the plot along, but each being two episodes felt more plodding.  After that, the story really picks up.  And then there’s the ending.

One of the criticisms that can sometimes rightfully be thrown at JoJo’s is that it can be quite confusing–especially when it comes to the power(s) of the Big Bad.  In Part 3, DIO could stop time for a bit.  That’s pretty simple.  Then we get to Kira in Part 4 who can initially blow stuff up in various fashions, but then he gets another power which allows him to loop time and blow up people if a certain condition is met.  So, we get an increase in weird and somewhat confusing powers.  Here, Diavolo takes the cake (so far) by being able to erase/skip time while also being able to see what would’ve happened during that time…or being able to see what happens after the erased time.  I’m not sure.  Anyway, Giorno has to get a helluva power upgrade to be able to deal with him, and I can’t really even explain what that upgrade is.  It basically does whatever it needs to at that point.  I love JJBA, but Araki does sometimes write himself into some nasty corners.

There’s also an odd side-story/prequel that happens during the climax of the story, and it is incredibly jarring.  Enough of this negativity, though!

It’s the hypnotoad!

I love literally everything else about Golden Wind.  As far as the JoBros go, this might be the strongest group in terms of believing how ride or die they are.  All of them (except for Fugo) are ready to follow Bruno into hell, and Bruno himself is ready to walk straight into hell in order to save his people.  He is very much a father to his men.  Even Giorno–who begins this journey as arguably Bruno’s equal–starts to see him as his leader.  They are all heavily indebted to him and feel like a genuine family.  It’s legitimately sad when Fugo decides to walk away instead of joining in their turn against Diavolo and Passione.  But I feel that’s another great example of Araki’s willingness to ignore normal storytelling conventions.  How often do you watch a show where one of the heroes just walks away for good?  Granted, you could argue Araki did that and replaced him with Trish because Fugo’s power was too much for him to write, but still.

On the antagonists side of things we get the Assassination Squad, Diavolo loyalists, and Diavolo himself.  Diavolo is a great final antagonist with his time-skipping powers, sheer ruthlessness, and being able to hide in a body that looks nothing like him (he’s, like, two people, but kinda not really…it’s JoJo’s), and those remaining Passione members loyal to Diavolo are truly diabolical–with special dirtbag shout-outs to duo Cioccolata and Secco.  The villains who carry the bulk of the show and make Part 5 really stand out, though, are the Assassination Squad.

What makes the Assassination Squad so great is they didn’t have to fight the JoBros.  In the end, the two groups actually want the same thing.  Before the story begins, Diavolo has a member of the Assassination Squad killed because he caught wind they were trying to find out who he is.  So, with the JoBros being tasked to protect and escort Trish–Diavolo’s daughter–this puts the two groups at odds.  But, both groups want to kill Diavolo!  The two groups never come to an understanding because they never see a reason to even discuss the issue.  The A-Squad is an even more eccentric group of weirdos than the JoBros with an even stranger range of powers.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the two groups could’ve ever gotten along since the A-Squad is pretty amoral, but it’s tragic how they’re played against each other in order to suit Diavolo’s goal of anonymity.  And hey, one of the series best fights is Risotto (leader of the A-Squad) vs Doppio (Diavolo’s other self)–a fight that doesn’t include any of the main heroes.

One of the true hallmarks of JoJo’s anime is the music.  And even though it has some fantastic pieces on the soundtrack, I do think it has the weakest OP of any JoJo’s so far.  Yes, “Traitor’s Requiem” grew on me, but it’s still definitely the weakest of the bunch.  “Fighting Gold” is amazing, though.

I’m giving Golden Wind a 9.  Sure, I went on and on about how slow the beginning is and how baffling the ending is, but, I mean…it’s JoJo’s.  It’s gonna take a lot for me to give a JJBA anime anything lower than great.  I didn’t even get to the cameos and how they really help Part 5 feel like an integral part of the saga.

I love it.


2019 Summer of Anime – A Silent Voice

12 A Silent Voice

Love is deaf.

Shouya Ishida is planning to kill himself.  Not even yet finished with high school, he quits his job and sells off all of his belongings in order to leave some money for his mom.  His journey to this point began in the last year of elementary school when Shouko Nishimiya transferred in.  Shouko is deaf and wanted nothing more than to make friends, but Shouya picked up on the feeling of otherness his classmates felt toward Shouko and he began bullying the poor girl.  The severity of it led Shouko to go to another school while Shouya became a bullying target and lost all of his friends.  Years later, Shouya plans to return Shouko’s notebook to her as a final act of repentance, but the genuine kindness she shows him convinces Shouya there’s always another way.  Choosing to live, Shouya and Shouko join each other as they navigate the struggles of youth and their respective deep-seated insecurities.

Yes, I chose to watch this because of the recent tragedy at Kyoto Animation.  Watching one of their works is the way I chose to sort of…honor them, I suppose.  I’ve rarely talked about KyoAni on this blog, but I got nothing but love for them.  Sure, not all of their shows and movies have hit home for me, but I’ve seen more than a few I’d count as classics: Clannad: After StoryNichijou, HyoukaMiss Kobayashi’s Dragon MaidFull Metal Panic? Fumoffu, etc.  Decided it was finally time to watch my copy of A Silent Voice.  So, here’s to you, KyoAni!  Just wished I’d picked something a little easier to watch.

It’s the good kind of difficult watching, though.  I took so many emotional gut-punches throughout this movie I lost count how many times I had to pause it.  I’ll admit, it’s because some of the stuff with Shouya’s bullying reminded me of my own childhood.  I, too, bullied a girl in my class–I was nowhere near as cruel as Shouya was to Shouko, though–and years later, I found her on MySpace (yeah, I’m old) so I could apologize.  Watching Shouya go down that path was…sickening.  They did a great job of portraying how disgusting bullying is and how quickly it can change targets as Shouya winds up being the only one blamed when most of his class joined in, and even the teacher ignored him.

Which makes his teenage years and redemption so powerful.

Smell no evil.

Shouya’s arc in the movie is extremely well done.  Flashbacks give us excruciating details of the torment he put Shouko through, while then giving us glimpses of literally everyone turning on him to satisfy their own guilty consciences.  This causes Shouya to grow up with pretty bad depression and anxiety issues.  I’m no mental health expert, but the depression is obvious and he seems to experience anxiety attacks once or twice.  So, to see someone like this spend his own time to learn sign language and earn money to pay back his mother for a massive mistake he made as a child (seriously, I love his mom) is very moving.  I actually fist-pumped when he helped out and befreinded Nagatsuka–a guy in his class–when he normally would’ve ignored him.  I also love the images of him closing his ears to cut himself off from the rest of the world, almost condeming himself to and wishing for the deafness he used to mock.  That’s all thanks to Shouko.

As great as Shouya’s arc is, it wouldn’t be much without Shouko.  I felt pity for Shouko from prank one, and I wanted nothing more than to see her make friends and have a wonderful childhood even though I knew heartbreakingly well how terrible that was going to go.  Most of the times I had to pause the movie and not cry was when Shouko was reacting to something someone did to her.  I wish we’d gotten to see more of her own school life as a teenager instead of just her family and eventually Shouya and the crew, but I have a feeling hers wouldn’t be too different from Shouya’s.  It’s hinted at but not shown ’til the end that Shouko herself suffers from pretty severe depression, and it’s only then do you fully realize how much the reconcilliation and blossoming romance between the two leads really did for them.  I’m kinda getting choked up thinking about it.

It’s a Kyoto Animation movie, so you know it looks gorgeous.  I don’t think I even need to go into detail there.  You know the drill.  The supporting cast ranges from great to kinda just there.  I know this movie adapts an entire seven-volume manga, and I have to commend them for how well they pulled it off.  I haven’t read the original, but they did a good job knowing they obviously had to make some cuts.  Some are noticeable–such as Shouko and Yuzuru’s mom suddenly being okay with Shouya and Shouya’s childhood friends seemingly showing up out of the blue during a very important scene, so I wish those parts had been handled better.

I’m thinking this one’s a 9.5 for me.  Almost a perfect 10, but I can’t quite get over how much I think some of the cut stuff would’ve benefited the movie.  Everything else about it is phenomenal, though, and it is one hell of an emotional trip.