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World of Keiko 2018/02/18

This week’s posts:

It has been a busy week. Of late, I have felt like I’ve been getting more out of my days. There is something to be said for days not being wasted.

ANIME AND MANGA
I managed to get through the backlog of anime and manga reviews as well as watch some more new anime. I’ve made headway with Gamers! and Uto No Prince-sama 1000% Love. Whilst I was hoping to get more episodes in for Wotaku Ni Koi Wa Musukashii but figured that I should try to post reviews for both it and Gamers! at roughly the same time seeing as they are connected by some of the characters being gamers as well. I will try to finish them this week.

WRITING
It has also been a pretty good week as far as writing is concerned. I made more headway on one idea and began to work on another. Some of the ideas have similar themes but I think there are two ideas in particular that I will probably be drafting soon. We’ll see how that pans out. Fingers crossed that I don’t get distracted with more ideas. 

OTHER
I harvested a few more cucumbers from the garden in the front yard and enjoyed some of that bounty in meals. The two vines also have around ten more cucumbers in the early stages growing on them. It is really neat knowing that the plants still have plenty of productivity left.

Anyway, that is it for the update this week. Have an awesome week.

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Anime Review: Aoharu x Kikanjuu

Alternate Names: Aoharu X Machinegun
Year: 2015
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen, Sports, Action, Comedy, Gender Bender

Reviewer’s Note: This series is based on an ongoing manga series that began in 2012.
Warning: This review contains various spoilers.

As mentioned in other posts, I have recently taken to checking out a bunch of unfamiliar anime series. In an effort to mix things up a bit, I decided to see what old shounen action series I hadn’t seen or heard of before. There was a few but the one that grabbed my attention had an image of various gun-wielding figures on the cover. I thought, “Screw it – I’ll give this one a go!” And there you have my very underwhelming origin story of why I decided to watch will likely be a personal favorite series for some time to come.

Student Council President Hotaru Tachibana is often coming to the aid of others However, when she misunderstands why her friend Kanae will be mooching lunch for the next month and confronts a handsome guy named Masamune Matsuoka at an unscale host club. He decides to have an impromptu airsoft match in the establishment and promptly beats her. However, he offers to pay for the damages if she joins his airsoft team Toy Gun Gun. The problem is that they still don’t realise she is a girl and there is a strict no-girl policy that is place. As she pays off her debt by playing, she quickly grows to love the sport but soon realises that there is a lot more to the no-girl policy than cooties. So begins this over-the-top, action-packed sports comedy.

Many of you are likely unaware of what the sport of Airsoft is. Whilst it has been around for years, I recall my husband starting to watch Airsoft matches on YouTube around a year ago. I was fascinated by the sport and decided to look into it. I quickly learned some of the terms and about the equipment. The idea of using compressed air to shoot small pellets seemed like a simple innovation. However, the sport is illegal in Australia because these toy guys might be confused with real guns.
The depiction of airsoft in Aoharu x Kikanjuu uses many of the right terms but isn’t supposed to be a tutorial. It merely creates a setting for the story. We get this from that very first sequence where Masamune and Hotaru are playing airsoft in the host club. This same sequence also tells us a lot about what else to expect from the series.
This series had a weird first episode. However, I am glad that I stuck with it because I ended up watching the entire series in an evening. Repeatedly, my hubby told me to keep it down because I got a tad loud whilst watching it. There were so many hilarious and WTF moments throughout. I also loved the over-the-top drama that pokes fun at numerous anime and manga cliches.
To the characters, there are three members of Toy Gun Gun as well as about four noteworthy characters. The founding members are Masamune and Tooru, but there is obvious friction when Masamune invites Hotaru to join Toy Gun Gun. Masamune and Tooru Yukimura’s peculiar bromance is amusing. Masamune’s arc is the primary focus of the series and Hotaru become the catalyst for him changing his worldview. Over time, we also learn that Tooru is a popular author of sister BDSM hentai manga. Yes, you heard that right, you perverts! 😀 This element is used to comedic effect at several points in the series. As for Hotaru, the gender bender element is actually done well because of her somewhat androgynous appearance and personality. Hotaru’s best friend Kanae Yajima appears on a semi-regular basis but may be seen as more of a plot device, but even this adds to the humor of the series.

“I can feel the bloodlust coming from the other side of the wall!” ~Toshizou Usagi

The other Airsoft team of relevance is Hoshishiro which helmed by Masamune’s former school friend Nagamasa Midori – the “big bad”. Masamune looked up to him so much that he decided to dual-wield pistols. Nagamasa is a doctor that is joined by two work colleagues: Ichi Akabane (sniper) and the minigun-wielding Takatora Fujimoto. Takatora has a bit of a masochistic relationship with Nagamasa but is otherwise a good-natured character. [Sidenote: The second part of the name for this series refers to “machinegun” which makes me think (given a certain how sometimes folks confuse miniguns and machineguns) that Takatora might take a significantly larger part in the manga other than the handful of appearances he makes in this series.]
To the artwork, it was clean and colorful. Whilst the character designs were pretty standard, the backgrounds were pretty detailed. The art makes awesome use of color to enhance action sequences and dramatic dialogue. It really works and sometimes gives the feel of those over-the-top fight scenes of Dragonball Z but without dragging them out for longer than necessary. Based on several panels of the manga that I took a gander at, the art in the anime seems to do a good job of reflecting the core material.

In conclusion, I freaking loved this series and can seriously see myself rewatching it. It is a heck of a lot of fun and well worth checking out if you are looking for an over-the-top action comedy. It is a pity that it didn’t get another season but the series ended on the right note. I also intend to read the manga when I get the chance to see how well it compares to the anime adaptation.


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Manga Review: A Kiss, For Real Vol 1

Alternate Names: Sekirara ni Kiss (Japanese), True Kisses (German)
Year: 2015 (ongoing)
Author/Artist: Fumie Akuta
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, School Life

Reviewer’s Note: Each volume of this series includes four chapters. Most of the conflict in the first four chapters are internal rather than external.

Chitose has been living a lie since she was little. She’s convinced that by trying to please everyone that she will be happy. However, she never really feels at ease with revealing certain interests and talents with several of the people that she calls friends. When she is saved from a pervert on a train by a handsome boy named Itsuka, her savour dares her to live the authentic life. Whilst Chitose initially starts art classes in order to get close to Itsuka, his words force her to rethink her motivation and finally chose to do something for herself rather than somebody else.

The first four chapters of this series are really cute. The character growth of Chitose in a small period of time because somebody dared her to herself is refreshing given how a lot of manga series try to hard-sell specific products such as articles of clothing and cosmetics to their female readers. I could go on with a little philosophical debate about how physical things degrade over time but then I would also have to acknowledge how the mind can also degrade over time, which could create a rather boring diversion from this review. In any case, A Kiss, For Real feels a lot less like a big advertisement than a lot of modern series.
One of the important locales for this series is an art school. It provides a good background for Chitose to make new friends and improve her artistic ability. However, it does take a nudge on the part of Itsuka at the beginning for Chitose to genuinely take a genuine interest in art. The romance element is there but we also see Chitose figuring out a lot of stuff for herself by engaging in art. It quickly becomes both a challenge and an outlet for the teenager. We also see Chitose make meaningful connections with some of her fellow students.
As for Itsuka, he is a bit of an interesting character. Whilst there is an ample amount of male protagonists that give zero f*cks, Itsuka has a level of insight, intelligence, and talent which are demonstrated without laying it on thick. We also see his obvious affection for Chitose even though she has some mental obstacles. His encourages her to be someone to contend with rather than a fangirl. I can dig it.
There were a lot of other characters in this series. These figures give us further insight into how both Chitose and Itsuka think. This provides further opportunities for storytelling.
The artwork for this series has neat linework but the character and background designs aren’t exactly special. There are good enough to make the characters easy to discern, as well as help convey locale, action, and emotion.

In conclusion, I like what I’ve seen of this ongoing series so far. The artwork is clean and I like the focus of the story. It is certainly enjoyable enough so far for me to continue reading this series. I look forward to reading more of this series in the future.


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Manga Review: I’m in Love and It’s the End of the World Vol 1

Alternate Names: Chikyuu no Owari wa Koi no Hajimari
Year: 2015-2017
Author/Artist: Taamo
Genre: Shoujo, Romance

Reviewer’s Note: Volume 1 covers the first four chapters of this manga and an extra feature story. My review also covers the Timeless Scans English translation. It is also a short series, going for five volumes of four chapters each, with supplementary special chapters.

Mahiru Yanase is a strong believer that for anything good that happens, something equally bad will happen. As such, she becomes extremely anxious when Aoi Satomi confesses to her. How will Mahiru deal with this new development?

Whilst it is not unusual to see a pessimist female protagonist, I found Mahiru to be a rather interesting character overall. Her superstition is a bit of a hurdle for her. She wants to be happy but is constantly worried that anything good will be met with something equally bad. As such, she keeps a bunch of charms on her at all times. When she meets Aoi years before, she leaves an impression by defending him against the unjust accusation of shoplifting.
Both of these protagonists are looking for happiness but Aoi has his work cut out for him. I quite like this hangup as it is relatable. I think that most of us have that lingering worry in the back of our minds whenever something good happens. The difference is how we deal with that nagging voice. Do we let it inform our actions positively or negatively? And if we’ve let it affect us negatively in the past, can we change that destructive mental habit?
The artwork in this series is nothing to write home about, pretty much standard character and background designs. However, it is sufficient to convey locale, action, and emotion. In this regard, it works.

In conclusion, whilst this series isn’t overly special, the first four chapters were cute and I liked the characters. So far, this series seems to be a good entry-level shoujo romance series. Yes, I will be continuing this series over the coming weeks.


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Manga Review: Isekai Houtei Rebuttal Barrister Chapters 1-5

Year: 2016-2018
Author and Artist: Homura Kawamoto (story) and Kamon Ohba (art)
Genre: Seinen, Fantasy, Isekai

Reviewers Note: I am reviewing the Waterflame Scanlations English translation version of this series.

A lot of manga creators have been trying their hands at Isekai over the last couple of years. We’ve seen cooking Isekai, farming Isekai, and a host of other twists on the idea of a character taken to another world. Whilst a lot fall flat because the creators don’t quite pull it off, Kawamoto and Ohba’s series about a wannabe lawyer bringing Tokyo law to a fantasy world managed to provide an unexpected level of charm.

Twenty-nine year-old Yuuto Shiba has been trying to become a barrister for years but continues to fail the exam. In lieu of mockery from some of his peers, he gets drunk and manages to get killed. A loli goddess from another world takes advantage of his passing to bring the Japanese legal system to a kingdom full of corruption, racism, and classism. It won’t be easy for Shiba. He soon has to deal with uppity nobles and a conspiracy involving a member of the royal family.

Isekai Houtei: Rebuttal Barrister has your standard setup of a character being brought to another world forcibly. In this case, the excuse is an interesting one and I got the sense that there is more to the Goddess’ choice than simple convenience. Shiba has, after all, been studying for years, showing tenacity and passion for the Japanese legal system. I have at least one theory but I will see how that pans out in further reading of this series.
Anyhoo, our male protagonist’s first job is to defend a female elf after she injures a noble to stop his carriage from riding over a child. This opening “case” gives us a good sense of what the average person in the other world has to deal with. It also sets up several other relevant plotlines.
Whilst the series does a good job of showing worldbuilding elements in a timely fashion, we also see the inclusion of references to Japanese legal jargon. Whilst I am not entirely sure how much of the material covered reflects actual Japanese law, it does appear to be similar to how a lot of state laws are worded. Somewhere in my household, my husband and I have numerous large legal tomes from around a decade ago. I won’t go over why we have them in the first place but I will say that those suckers are damned heavy.
I really like the characters that we’ve been introduced to in the first five chapters. Yuuto is such a good protagonist as well, one that was easy to like. He was kind, hard-working and had a sense of justice. He was also appropriately flawed. We also get a sense of intelligence even though his confidence is a little on the low side. Donatella Bastianelli is such an awesome assistant as well. She’s perceptive, has some magic and has a strong sense of right and wrong that makes her admirable. She comes off as thankful but not an obsessed “fangirl”, which is a refreshing change from a lot of series I’ve read and watched recently.
To art, it is nothing out of the ordinary but it is solid. The characters are easy to differentiate between, the backgrounds are attractive, and scenes do a decent job of conveying action, emotion and get you excited to see what happens next. The art style also doesn’t make me want to gouge my own eyes out from weirdly drawn facial features like a few other series I’ve looked at recently. I will not name names!

In conclusion, this series was a pleasant excursion that merges several interesting ideas to good effect. I really like the balance of a courtroom procedural with several other elements. I like the characters and the world so far and have high hopes for the plot based on the groundwork laid in the first five chapters. I really look forward to reading more of this series.


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Manga Review: Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon Chapters 1-20

Year: 2017 (Ongoing)
Author/Artist: Sosori???
Genre: Seinen, Dark Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Gaming, Webtoons

When I came across Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon, I was fascinated by the premise but was initially skeptical in lieu of how many webtoons I’ve been let down by in the past. I took a chance and started reading. I was happy that I did because the first twenty chapters of this series were a breath of fresh air. This series can be best categorized as dark fantasy.

A loyal skeleton warrior loses his succubus mistress when adventurers enter their dungeon. He awakes years before, to the moment of his creation by a young female necromancer. His intention is to become stronger in order to protect his succubus mistress in the not-so-distant future but things begin to get significantly complicated when his creator is tortured and killed by a secret criminal organisation.

How this series dealt with the gaming element set it apart from a lot of the stuff that I’ve been reading of late. It isn’t another Isekai but about an undead minion that gains that ability to come back to “save” points in the event of a death. He also learns from what he’s experienced before dying, helping him to negotiate it in future attempts. The ability to see available quests also gives him a clue as to how to progress further but he also has the added baggage of loss.
The plot moved along in an appropriately chaotic fashion. The introduction of new characters and other elements felt organic. We are also left with a host of questions which aren’t immediately answered. This is a pretty good move if you want people to continue reading your work as you have material to work with later.
The characters that we are introduced in the first twenty chapters are not what you’d call heroes in the classical sense. However, we get a clear sense of what their motivations are in the moments that see them go about their business. I found myself really rooting for such an unusual protagonist in the form of an intelligent undead minion. He may not be a dashing hero but he has a purpose and you can see definitive changes in how he views the world around him the more he interacts with it. The connections that Skelly makes with the two women that he meets inform a lot of his worldview but we keep seeing how they merge with the image of the Succubus from the beginning.
The artwork for this series is pretty solid even if it isn’t unique. The character and world designs easily conveyed action, emotion, and locale. Having a series that was completely colored was a change as well, which is one of the big differences between the average webtoon and standard manga.

In conclusion, the first twenty chapters of Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon was an enjoyable read. This was a darker story than I usually read but it had a lot of depth due to how well it made good use of the various elements.


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Manga Review: Butterflies, Flowers Chapters 1-10

Alternate Names: Chou yo Hana yo (Japanese name), O Butterfly O Flower
Year: 2005-2009
Author/Artist: Yuki Yoshihara
Genre: Josei, Romance, Slice of Life, Comedy

Reviewers Note: Chapters 1-10 of this manga covers the first two volumes of this series. My review also reflects the Serenus-Dreamers English fan translation version.

Butterflies, Flowers is another random romance series that I decided to start reading recently. Whilst I did read the first chapter of the series a few years ago, I never really took the time to read further. I guess I was distracted with several other series that I was reading at that time.

Years after her clan lost its real estate fortune, Chouka Kuze learns that the task master of a manager at the office that she works at is none other than Masayuki Doumoto, the older servant boy that she befriended as a child.

This is a somewhat innocent josei romance. Whilst I did enjoy it, the lack of conflict made it a little boring. The artwork was a bit dated as well, and there was a tendency for some of the characters to look fairly similar. I’d put this series as above average, but still worthy enough to continue reading because I liked most of the characters in this story.