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World of Keiko 2020/01/14

I managed to post a lot this past week, enjoying myself in the process. I hope that you guys enjoyed the content.

Last week’s posts:

GENERAL
The sunbirds have been nesting again. The nest under the house also seems to be getting used as well. I am so happy! ❤ As well as the other birds nesting in the area, several trees in the neighbourhood are in bloom again.
We got a bit of rain towards the end of last week. It was a pleasant change but we still have a long way to go before level three water restrictions are lifted from our township. In any case, it appears that we will be going into a weekly mowing schedule in the next week or so.

On Monday night, I was woken up by my hubby who told me that there was a weird critter in the yard next door. Reluctantly, I got up and looked through the toilet window to see what appeared to be a rat about the size of a medium-sized cat. The weird thing is that this rodent-looking creature had a furry tail like a marsupial but didn’t hop. It hopped away soon after, leading to us not getting any photos of it. I doubt that the mystery will ever be solved, but it was pretty cute to look at.

GAMING
This past week, the developer of Microtown added EA Update #4: The Pig Update. This update focuses on animal units. It adds sheep and cows to pens (the buildings already existed in-game) with these units also being interactable by carriers including the existing pig units. It also adds in a few more buildings to go with the addition of cow and sheep products. On top of this, it deals with a bunch of bugs, improves on some existing units+ buildings, It might not seem like a big deal to some, but it reinforces the difference between a lot of indie developers and the likes of Bethesda.

MUSIC
I’ve been listening to a lot of the albums of alternative rock group Studebaker’s Baker Shop this past week. Every three to four months, I find myself returning to their tunes. When I came across their music on Jamendo years ago, I never knew that they would become a regular listen whilst walking along the esplanade when I was living in Hervey Bay. I also listened to K-Pop boyband Superjunior and Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night during that period as well, with the latter being a good addition for running around the circuit.
I’ve also been listening to classic rock bands such as Rush, Styx, Foreigner, Asia, and Europe, with the occasional listen to a greatest hits compilation of Blues Rock legend Steve Winwood. Sure, some of his newer tracks (the ones from the mid to late ’80s) moved to a more adult contemporary sound, but those tracks are what led to me liking his music in the first place. The earlier stuff was just the “icing on the cake”.

ANIME
Hubby and I finished watching Kemono Nichi: Rise Up! this past week after waiting on the English dubs. It lived up to my quirky inclinations but is certainly not for everyone.

Hubby tried rewatching Assassin’s Pride again this week. Last time around, the first episode was enough for him to stop. This week, he forced himself to watch around six episodes before he gave up.

MANGA & WEBTOONS
I read a lot of manga and webtoons this past week. Unfortunately, my return to reading Mission of Love has proven to be less than ideal, with me seeing some flaws that are the trademark of the era in which the series was published. On a good note, I still have a lot of other series to fall back on should I decide to discontinue this title.

LIGHT NOVELS & WEBNOVELS
I continued reading some recently-started titles this week, as well as the series Armoured Girl Monette. Whilst I have been reading more series with a major romantic plot, it is nice to read something the deviates from the norm, which I’ve found with this series so far. Whether it holds up until chapter fifty-seven… I have no clue, but I am willing to see how this light novel pans out. Akuyaku Reijou wa Danna-sama wo Yasesasetai is also panning out to be a fun read. There are also six chapters. So, I will also be able to enjoy this odd story for a few months before it concludes.

Of all of the new series that I’ve come across during the past week, one has me most excited. I first came across the webtoon adaptation of Remarried Empress a few weeks ago and highly enjoyed it. Well, it turns out there is a light novel version that is currently being translated into English. Yes, I will start reviewing it soon because it is a great premise so far and I am guessing that light novel will cover some things not touched on in the webtoon. The light novel is also further along as well, which means that it will take me longer to reach that stage known as “stare at a calendar as I wait for a new instalment”.

CONCLUSION
A big thank you to readers who’ve been following this blog for an extended period of time, and to new followers. Whichever category you happen to fall into, here’s wishing you an enjoyable and productive week filled with good company and some fun stories to engage with. I also welcome you to post about what you’ve been reading about of late in the comments section.
I leave you guys with the following track by talented composer Tom Day. If you enjoy the track, check out the links in the video description.


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Anime Review: Kemono Michi: Rise Up

Alternate Names: Hataage! Kemono Michi
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen, Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Comedy, Ecchi

>queue dramatic music< Just when you thought that Isekai was becoming stale comes a story about a wrestler and his dog trying to start their own pet shop in another world. Also… panties…

Ahead of his last match, Professional wrestler Genzou Shibata (aka Animal Mask), is looking forward to a retirement where he and his canine manager Hiroyuki run their own petshop. However, in the middle of the match the duo are summoned to a fantasy world to deal with its current Demon Lord problem. However, he would much rather petting and cuddling monsters than beat them up, leading to him unceremoniously doing a wrestling maneuver on Princess Altena who summoned him. He heads off in search of a way to make enough money to start his own petshop for beasts, He is soon joined on his quest to open his very own petshop by a bizarre cast of non-humans. It will be a never-ending quest to keep their funds in the black.

When I first heard about this series ahead of the first episode being released, I was intrigued. Being Isekai Trash, I was looking for another spin on the concept and this series also promised lots of comedic shenanigans. Then I watched the first episode… Holy crap, it was freaking hilarious and unapologetic in its low-brow silliness. It was an easy choice to continue this series given the strength of that first episode.

The series revolves around a summoned hero whose desire to open a pet shop to provide furr-ever homes for cute animals seemingly comes into conflict with the goal for summoning him in the first place. He will soon be joined in his quest by three female characters, but this series avoids the harem tag expertly whilst at the same time pokes fun at the concept. Let’s face it, he is more attracted to the female unicorn and married kobold woman up the road, than the wolf-girl Shigure, low-rank large-breasted idiotic vampire Carmilla (my favourite character) and voracious dragon loli Hanako.
Whilst Genzou’s “preferences” are a running joke, each of the characters is mocked heavily, ranging from the bishie hero that keeps “losing” his new swords to the monetarily-focused Shigure who keeps “finding” and reselling his swords. No character is safe from mockery, which makes for a fun ride. Various running gags and jokes are sprinkled in just enough to avoid becoming repetitive. Whilst it straddles the line between funny and stupid on many occasions, it is consistent and holds to the promise made in the first episode.

I bet that Genzou would want to keep Yoda at his pet shop…

Time and time again, we see Genzou being the catalyst for change in those around him, whether they are male or female. Most of these changes involve them either taking up wrestling or signing onto his quest to start a pet shop. He is the perfect impact character, placing him in good company.

The end of this series felt satisfying and also leaves things open to a second season. I would love to see the continuation of the show but it might be a tall order given the niche nature of the series. It would also have to step things up a notch by introducing the real demon lord as well, someone that hasn’t been introduced as yet. Sure, Joanna has some magical power, but it would be interesting to see a wrestling match (complete with fake rivalry) between Genzou and a new character, preferably one that isn’t as moronic as Joanna. Maybe give our summoned hero a chance to engage in a cage match with Mao (aka Macadamian Ogre) against the Demon Lord. There are plenty of possibilities. ❤

Whilst I loved this show, this series is not for anyone. Some folks might not enjoy the childish silliness of this series and the wrestling themes might also be annoying to others. However, it is not meant to be for everyone and that is okay as the variety of different types of Isekai available these days provides more than enough choices.

If you don’t mind a series that pokes fun at each character, enjoy wrestling culture, and/or is unapologetically “childish” then I recommend that you check out this series. (Yes, I do fall into each of these categories.)


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Anime Review: Cautious Hero

Alternate Names: Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious, Shinchou Yuusha, Shinchou Yuusha: Kono Yuusha ga Ore Tueee Kuse ni Shinchou Sugiru
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Comedy, Ecchi

I had a little bit of fun with this parody of series where a hero must defeat a Demon Lord. I also recommend that you guys check out the 100 Word Anime blog for Karandi’s episode by episode take on the series.

When a certain low-level Goddess Ristarte is given the job of helping an S-class world Gaeabrande defeat the resident Demon Lord, she is in over her head. So, she does what every self-respecting Goddess in her situation does and searches for hero candidates from Japan. Little does she know that the hero that she choses is insanely cautious, nor of their past connection.

Given the massive amount of series pitting a hero against Demon Lords in recent years, there has been a lot of people trying to do something unique with the premise. KonoSuba challenged people to parody the idea. Cautious Hero is a series that has managed to do something unique with this, by making the male lead not only overpowered but also insanely cautious.
The series itself tells in an entire story arc of a hero saving a world. There is plenty of epic battles, lots of foreshadowing and some interesting twists. The gut-punch in the last few episodes also puts into perspective what can happen when heroes do not have sufficient caution as well. Whilst this might be called a tonal shift by some, I found it quite appropriate given the foes that Seiya had fought up until that point. With monstrosities that like to turn people into “fireworks” and those that are willing to sacrifice their own family to summon powerful demons, it does a great job of pointing out stakes.
As for the characterisation, this series does really well in messing with archetypes. The world-building and backstories also do an excellent job of making these characters make sense within the fantasy setting. I found myself laughing at the dialogue and situations more often than not as well.
Whilst my own particular tastes mean that I could easily rewatch this series, I know that it probably won’t have much replay value for others. For some, the visual gags and jokes are only good for the first watch, which is perfectly fine. The stakes were high in the series as well, with the conclusion feeling very much like it was parodying the tendency for series to try to escalate things.

Whilst I love this series, it is not for everyone. However, if you are after a series that unapologetically pokes fun at the oversaturated “hero summoned to another world to defeat a demon lord” premise, then I highly recommend this series.


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World of Keiko 2020/01/07

Last week’s posts:

GENERAL
It actually rained a bit over the past few days. Whilst it will take some time for the plants to perk up, and there will likely be numerous nights where we will deal with flying ants, but the local critters need the plants to make their existence a bit more bearable. There are also farmers in the area that need the extra rainfall for a bountiful next harvest. On top of that, there is still a heightened fire risk due to the unseasonably dry summer we’ve had so far. In any case, we still need more rain all of the ways along the coast and inland.

It has been a very productive week. I have a few resolutions for 2020. As mentioned in last week’s post, goals should be intentional and actionable. In any case, below is the basic list of the things I intend to improve upon this year. I will try to think of ways to make these goals actionable:

  • Be more organised
    • Yes, I know that this should be a given but I have been really slack in this department. This needs to change and requires me to settle on a regular cleaning and tidying schedule.
  • Read more
    • text novels (inc. Light novels): I have been working on ramping this up in the past month, with a focus on light novels. So far, so good.
    • manga and webtoons: See section above.
  • Write more (fiction and non-fiction):
    • I want to create meaningful words rather than Lorem Ipsum placeholder equivalent nonsense. It doesn’t matter if it is fiction or non-fiction because there is a creative aspect to any form of verbal/written communication.
  • Improve fitness and health:
    • Exercise: Whether engaging in lifestyle exercise or by using equipment such as the treadmill, I need to get fitter. It has to be sustainable as well.
    • Diet: One of the big obstacles to improving my health is with portion size. I’ve started reducing caloric intake via intermittent fasting as well as in using smaller receptacles for food and drink.

This week, I set about the long-needed task of cleaning and reorganisation of rooms around the house. When you visit certain rooms and feel depressed at how untidy and disorganised they are, it is probably a sign that you need to deal with it. Being in a messy house also makes it easier to lose important stuff. An example of this is in my recovery of four screwdrivers that had gone missing and had fallen down between boxes in a spare room. So far, so good. However, I will need to keep up on a schedule for keeping the house in good order. First things first, I need to have each room in the house cleaned at the same time at least once because that should give me a good idea of a starting point. It isn’t completed yet as I tend to clean around hubby’s work schedule.

GAMING
I haven’t spent much time playing computer games this past week due to binge-reading a LOT of manga, webtoons and light novels. That being said, I did manage to pick up Microtown on the last day of the Steam Winter Sale. The game is still in early access but the developer seems to be putting a lot of work into improving the game by dealing with bugs and adding new features. The pixel style is actually a selling point to me as is the colour scheme.

ANIME
I finally got around to reviewing Arifureta. I’ve been dreading it for weeks because I have this aversion to writing bad reviews. It is a case of “if you cannot say anything nice…” but I know that the point of giving a review of something is to go over the pros and cons. In any case, I am glad that I finally got that very annoying, turd-flinging monkey off of my back.

Whilst hubby was about to give up on One Piece, he soldiered through and saw a change to the scriptwriters that had damaged the series a few seasons in. The addition of new characters and some fun arcs brought back his joy of the series. This is a good thing as there aren’t a lot of series that he enjoys. If he was a manga reader, it would be a different matter as there is a wealth of ridiculous OP shounen series to meet his particular preferences.
As for me, I didn’t really watch any anime. The last show that I watched was Cautious Hero. I should, however, catch up on Rise Up! Animal Road. I haven’t watched any of this series for several weeks, providing some more English dub versions to get stuck into. I also should see how many English dub episodes of Demon Hunter there is as I am not up to date with that series either. I may very well have to go over some older anime such as Heroic Age in order to get my fix, but I find myself preoccupied reading a lot of manga and webtoons of late.

MANGA & WEBTOONS
I read a lot of manga and webtoons this past week. Whilst I still have a backlog of completed series that I still haven’t finished reading (something I hope to address in the next month or so), I got around to reading and reviewing a few other series that I started reading in the past month or so. Doctor Elise is still one of the better series around, but I hope to review chapters of odd series such as A Capable Maid and Beatrice in the next few weeks. It is a never-ending fight to keep up with my backlog of manga and webtoons. Not a bad “first world problem” to have, to be sure.

The already-completed series that I hope to finish reading and rereading are as follows:

  • Happy Marriage (reread): I’ve been dragging my feet on this one for months.
  • Mission of Love: I kept getting distracted with other titles after I started reading this one earlier this year.

There are a few new (at least to me) webtoon series that have caught my eye.

  • Strongest Abandoned Son: A transmigration cultivator story. Whilst there are a lot of series in the same vein, this one managed to make me laugh a bit more with its use of cliches. In spite of my suspicions in the first few chapters, it hasn’t turned into a harem so far. Whilst it isn’t an original idea, especially with series such as I Was Trash around, this series is still an enjoyable read.
  • Legend of the Tyrant Empress: An off-the-hook Wuxia comedy that makes use of a more serious beginning to create contrast for the insanely silly stuff to follow. I laughed a lot as I read this series, which made a mockery of drama wuxia stories whilst also delivering flashy, over-the-top fight sequences featuring an overpowered, crazy-*ss female lead who is the product of a self-fulfilling prophecy on the part of those that were assigned to raise her. Holy crap, I ❤ the crap out of this series.
  • What Kind of Empress Is This?: A comedic Isekai romance about a customer service lady who becomes an accidental Empress after trying to placate in person a difficult customer who repeatedly contacts her call centre. It also has some of the best-looking hands that I have seen in webtoons so far.
  • I Am Behemoth Of The S Rank Monster But I Am Mistaken As A Cat And I Live As A Pet Of Elf Girl: Whilst there are some ecchi elements to this dungeon adventure comedy, it has some really cute moments between the male lead (knight reincarnated as the S-grade monster, the kitty behemoth) and his elven adventure ward.
  • The Tyrant’s First Love: I am not usually a fan of a vampire romance because they both suck and blow, but this story is actually a compelling read. Two other series that I highly recommend is the tackily-named Blood Type Love (Urban Fantasy) and The Vampire & the Maid (Fantasy Isekai).
  • Scorching Romance: Imagine a fantasy-tinged version of Lovely Complex if the male and female leads had supernatural body temperature issues.

LIGHT NOVELS
I have been keeping up with Return of the Female Knight. However, I haven’t spent time reading Endo and Kobayashi’s Live Commentary on the Villainess of late. I also came across a few new light novel series over the past few weeks that I find promising:

  • The Villainess Wants to Slim Down Her Husband: It is not an original idea, but this light novel version of a manga series has some amusing dialogue by the villainess in question. I have to admit that I kind of adore her chubby hubby Alois as well. He is an interesting character that seems comfortable in his own skin even if he has issues with his health.
  • Did You Know the Playboy can Change His Role to Sage?: Another long-winded title for the light novel version of a manga series but it is a fun read so far due to the first person POV. If you like ecchi boobs then the accompanying art might be of interest as well. I just find the artwork (with gravity-defying over-sized breasts) hilarious. The main character is intelligent and his confidence is backed up by skill. He also doesn’t apologise for having a sex drive.

WRITING
I’ve been playing with an idea of late that I have been obsessing over. I am still trying to deal with some of the foundational components of the story and setting, but I am liking the idea so far.

CONCLUSION
It has been a really busy yet fun week. I’ve been more motivated as well, which has led to me being a lot more productive. However, I still have a long way to go before the level of output will be considered standard. I hope that you’ve all been keeping well over the past week and that the time has been productive.
I leave you with the following music clip by Delta Heavy. The storyboarding for the clip is pretty neat and the song includes the awesome vocals of Jem Cooke, a singer that I’ve been seeing featured in a few indie song collaborations of late. Bes sure to check out the video description for more information on Delta Heavy and Ram Records.


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Anime Review: Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou

Alternate Names: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Adventure, Harem, Ecchi

Yep, I am finally dealing with reviewing the atrocity that is Arifureta. I’ve been putting off doing so for over a month because I was pained by the whole experience. I never got the chance to read the manga that this series is adapted from, but I hope that the anime is not a good representation of the quality because it was a bit of a letdown given the hype ahead of the series being released.

When an entire class is summoned to a fantasy world, they are given the typical spiel about fighting a demon lord and monsters in an effort to save it. Hajime Nagumo is your typical otaku. However, he is friends with Kaoru Shirasaki, the most popular girls in his class, which results in jealousy from Daisuke Hiyama, one of their classmates. Little does Hajime know that it will soon result in attempted murder.
During one of their early outings in dungeons, the class is accidentally teleported to a dangerous level of the dungeon, they have to face off against a raid boss. Hajime does his best to use synergy powers on a bridge to give them a chance of escaping. However, he is targeted by a schoolmate using magic and subsequently falls into an even more dangerous level.
As he tries to navigate the level, Hajime loses his arm to one of the monsters and manages to barely get out by using his synergy powers to burrow. As he is bleeding out, he is saved by drinking some healing water. When he comes to, Hajime manages to defeat one of the monsters and eats some of its flesh. This will inevitably lead to him gaining tons of experience, increase some stats and gain some racial abilities of that creature.
As he uses this  “shortcut” for gaining abilities, he saves an imprisoned vampire girl named Yue who he develops a romantic relationship with. As they explore the dungeon, they soon learn the real purpose of its creation, one that may very well put he and Yue in conflict with the divine powers. Also, he manages to get a prosphetic arm and stuff…

The main reason why I left reviewing this series for so long is that it caused me a lot of pain thinking about it. In the beginning episode, we are promised a darker tone for the series, but it ends up turning into a harem comedy around the halfway point. There was no foreshadowing, just
The occasional CG is also bad, the producers obviously trying to outdo the crappy 3D gen from the third season Overlord. Whoever signed off on the CG must have been trying to tank the show because it took deliberate effort to allow something that bad to be included in this series. This series seems to go for a digital aesthetic but ends up feeling cheap.

In spite of these things, there were some good points for this series. Yue and Hajime’s relationship works really well. In the last few episodes, we see how secure she is in their relationship. When Kaoru and Hajime are reunited, she meets Kaoru’s attempt at gaining Hajime’s attention with the equivalent of, “Bring it, b*tch!” Hajime is also quite secure in their relationship, rebuffing anyone that tries to interfere with his relationship with Yue.
The harem elements for this series offer a plethora of weird waifus vying for Hajime’s attention. This ranges from the sledgehammer-wielding over-sexed Bunny-girl Shea to dragon-girl pervert Tio. If only the series promised this over-the-top harem silliness from the beginning instead of a darker series.
I also like characters such as the teacher. In most series like this, a teacher is often left behind. Aiko Hatayama genuinely cares for the welfare of her students and continually worries about them being put into harm’s way. She becomes more proactive over time, working towards helping out farmers affected by the various conflicts. She is also accepting of Hajime after she meets him during an expedition.

Best characters of the series: Hajime, Yue and Aiko. I really like how Hajime and Yue’s relationship plays out. I also like Aiko’s nature and adaptability to the situation.
Worst character of the series: Daisuke. He is a weak character that tries to kill Hajime to get closer to Kaoru but doesn’t even put effort to become closer to her after that. He is also freaking annoying beyond that.

In conclusion, this series had a lot of potential but was inevitably let down by broken promises and crappy artwork. This could have been easily avoided as well, by the producers being more attentive and actually care about making a good show. If the studio producing the series don’t care enough to do quality control on the script and artwork, then the end result is will more likely end up as a complete mess. So, it pains me to say that I cannot recommend this series at all. I really wanted this series to be good but the cons heavily outweigh the pros.


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Anime Review: Maou-sama, Retry! Season 1

Alternate Names: Demon Lord, Retry!
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Adventure, Harem, Ecchi

Earlier this year, I happened across this odd series. I admit that I wasn’t impressed during the first watching. However, hubby and I binged the entire series this past weekend and I found myself wondering why I didn’t give it a chance that first time. Maybe it was due to what I had been watching at the same time. Perhaps it was the fact that it focused more on a comedic take on an OP Isekai lead that most series. In any case, I now know what I was missing out on and I am kicking myself for it.

Akira Oono has been managing the science fiction MMORPG Infinity Game for just on fifteen years. As the game servers shut down for the last time, Akira finds himself in another place and dressed as a mullet-haired player character called Hakuto Kunai. He saves a young girl called Aku, who is a poop-removal slave at a local village and subsequently ends up taking a liking to her. After some shenanigans, he is declared to be the Demon Lord, which leads to all sorts of misunderstandings such as having a huge bounty on his head and gaining the angst of a Satanic cult for not living up to their expectations as an evil overlord. In the midst of tracking down information of how he can return to his own world, he begins to make sense of how many of the systems from Infinity Game he can utilise, such as switching between player characters and being able to summon minions. It will be a long road but Akira is determined to make the most out of a bad situation.

I am sure that many of you can already see a few similarities in the beginning premise of this series. Some of you will likely shout out the name OVERLORD at the top of your lungs, and with good reason. However, this series managed to do some things that a lot of other series have not. First up is giving the male lead some perks that would otherwise be unavailable to normal players. He is, after all, both a moderator and partial creator of the game itself.
Another notable element is the systems used. Being able to switch between two characters and summon minions is somewhat unique to this series. This creates an odd dynamic between Akira, his minions and the world around him. For example, various ladies and a certain transvestite are enamoured with the persona of Hakuto whilst two of the ladies have taken an interest with his other persona, the dragon fist Zero Kirisame. The first minion he summons also falls head over heels for him, lessening the sadistic tendencies that were a part of her personality back when she was a part of Infinity Game. Akira also tries to act in-character, which adds another interesting layer to the story. In this regard, it shares some familiar ground with Overlord and How Not to Summon a Demon Lord.
The artwork for this series has clean linework and tight colouration, which does justice to the character designs and setting. Whilst the character designs and setting aren’t anything special, they do a good job of telling the story, conveying action and humour. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but instead embraces the elements of an Isekai and harem series that work.
Coupled with good casting, it makes for a genuinely enjoyable show that in no way takes itself seriously. First and foremost, the series tries to be silly fun, which it does well. It delivers what it promises in the first episode, and then some.
However, some people may not appreciate the harem and ecchi elements. Or the use of cliche to elicit humour. Some viewers might be offended by the young transvestite Yukikaze who is one of the several characters that wants Hakuto’s D. I won’t claim that this series is for everyone because it isn’t. It doesn’t try to be either.

My only annoyance is Hakuto’s mullet. Throughout the entire show, it kept crying out for a barber. Seriously, I do NOT like mullets. They remind me too much of Billy Ray Cyrus and Rod Stewart.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this series. It builds on a good base to deliver a fun watch. If you are looking for a comedic Isekai fantasy that plays around with systems, seriously consider giving this series a watch. If you do, be sure to watch up to least the third episode when Zero is introduced. We also learn a bit more about the politics and the religion of the world as well, laying the foundation for a lot of the events that follow. Have fun!


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Anime Review: Araburu Kisetsu No Otome-dome yo

Alternate Names: O Maidens of the Savage Season
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen (according to MAL), (Sex) Comedy (according to Gigguk), Drama, Romance, School

Earlier this year, a scene from a certain series named O Maidens of the Savage Season became a viral meme. Various anime reviewers and viewers chimed in with their commentary on the series as well. When it came time for me to watch this series, I had my hopes up for the show. Sadly, the promises made in the first few episodes were dashed as the rest of the series evolved into a melodramatic and at times nonsensical mess. Whilst I don’t usually like posting reviews for series that I dislike, I think that I will make an exception to the rule due to how much potential the series had going in.

O Maidens of the Savage Season is a coming of age story about a group of girls in the school literature club whose only experience in love and intimacy is through the softcore pornography of romance novels. When one of their members talks about her desire to copulate (‘fo reals), it results in a domino effect as the rest of the girls are confronted with the idea that they will eventually have to move from text-based “romance” into something more hands-on. Each has their own issues to contend with, such as inappropriate attractions and lack of confidence with the opposite sex, but they will sure as hell try to get over that hump. >insert more innuendo here<

This series begins with an interesting setup. It hooks the viewer with the very unique problems that each of the female students faces. I wanted to like the characters, but I was perpetually frustrated and annoyed at their idiotic choices. And the adult characters? Well, they ended up sucking as well.
The questionable obsessions that two of the underage characters have for two adult men make it a little confronting at times, but this could have been dealt with in a more mature fashion that would have also made for good storytelling. Alas, it just ends up being completely messed up, along with the rest of the relationships of all but the prudish character who turns out to be in the more stable, mature relationship of the lot of them. It was disappointing seeing so many opportunities for good storytelling squandered in an effort to rush the series. If I didn’t know better, I might have thought it was a Studio Trigger production.
The characters end up feeling like cookie cut-outs with no substance to them. Whilst the dialogue wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t good either. The art and the voice-acting ended up being the only things that I enjoyed about the show by the last episode. It was a big let-down.

In conclusion, I thought that this series sucked. Feel free to watch it for yourself, however. Just don’t complain to me when the show results in the need to take a bath in bleach in an effort to cleanse yourself of the horrific experience of watching this series.


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Anime Review: How Not to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Season 1

Alternate Names: Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata; Saekano; Saekano: How Not to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
Year: 2015
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, Harem, Romance, School, Drama

When long-time otaku Tomoya Aki sees a beautiful girl named Megumi lose her hat one day, he is inspired to create a dating sim. However, he must first bring together a team to work on the project. It is easier said than done when two of them hate each other (Eriri Spencer Sawamura the artist and Utaha Kasumigaoka the writer), one is clueless (Megumi Katou the trainee) and another is an exhibitionist (his cousin, Michiru Hyodo the musician). To finish the project before their deadline, Tomoya and his quartet of team members must find a way to work together whilst navigating their own share of issues, such as jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, other projects and threats from other groups.

This series is an odd one, but I was glad that I decided to check out the show as it was worth the time that I spent binging the entire series. I ended up finishing the show in a day, with some brief interludes to watch the first episodes of several other series. However, I kept finding myself wanting to return to this series.
Tomoya is such an awesome protagonist due to how well he inspires those around him. Whilst he is certainly not a perfect character, his passion is infectious. He might be a bit clueless when it comes to interpersonal relationships, but his experience consuming various media gives him some insight into what works and what doesn’t. He’s also “patient zero” for several of the characters becoming otakus themselves. In Utaha Kasumigaoka’s case, his blog helped her stagnating writing career take off. The Tomoya Effect also results in a certain amount of jealousy between Enriri and Utaha.
The plot of the first season plays out with sufficient chaos to create conflict without dragging it out longer than it should. Whilst we do inevitably see the two larger arcs pertaining to the love triangle and getting the game out on time, the series focuses on the comedic elements instead of drama. The series is at its heart a comedy and that really shows throughout the dialogue, situations faced by the characters and in the numerous references to otaku sub-culture. Whilst the first season ends part of the way through the project, we see some foreshadowing for issues that will no doubt be relevant in the second season, otherwise known as “Saekano: How Not to Raise a Boring Girlfriend.flat”. And based on what I have seen of the series so far, I am really looking forward to seeing the shenanigans that the cast members get up to.

Favourite character: Megumi Katou. Whilst she might be a bit clueless, her willingness to learn about making a computer game and in understanding relationships is admirable. Whilst she might not be a master of anything in particular, we can see that willingness to learn pay dividends in a short period of time.

Shipping?: Whilst I like the idea of Tomoya and Megumi becoming a couple, Utaha has this wonderful habit of unbalancing Tomoya to the point where we see some really cute and funny moments between them in the first season. I know of a lot of folks that share this, but I am not a fangirl to the point of burning down the interwebs because somebody disagreed with my “ship”.

Anyway, be sure sure to watch this series if you like your comedy sprinkled with ecchi moments and lots of references to otaku sub-culture. Also, feel free to let me know what you think of the first season.


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Anime Review: Amagi Brilliant Park

Alternate Names: Amaburi
Year: 2014
Episodes: 12 + 1 bonus story (English dub version)
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy. Magic, Drama, Romance

For some time, I kept seeing references to a series called Amagi Brilliant Park in various anime recommendation lists. Whilst in some cases the reviews were low-energy, I found a couple that suggested that the series might include comedy that I would be entertained by. With that in mind, I roped my husband into watching it with me. And holy crap, I am glad that I did!

When Seiya Kanie is forced at muzzle point to go on a date with new girl Isuzu Sento, he discovers that the dilapidated theme park that she takes him on the date is home to a bunch of magical creatures that live off of the joy of visitors. Asked to take over as park manager, the former child star (and resident narcissist) is reluctant at first but decides to help in order to save the theme park. However, it is better said than done when the employees cause more problems than they fix. Seiya has to contend with deviant mascots, useless fairies and a host of other annoyances.

The artwork is solid, with neat linework and colouration. The character designs don’t try to reinvent the wheel but still do a good job of looking visually interesting and attractive. This is coupled with good set design that provides a sizable playground for shenanigans to occur. Whether it is a dragon hanging out in a faux-dungeon or Moffle’s mousy battleground, Amagi feels like a magical theme park. Ridiculous and silly at times, sure, but magical nonetheless. We also see the magical nature of the offworlders come through in various other ways, such as some of the staff using illusory trinkets to pretend they are human when they are off work.
As mentioned above, this series is a comedy. Whilst it is set in a theme park that is inhabited by magical entities, the situations and adult references are geared for an older audience. The plushie characters turn the idea of a cute and innocent furry on the head with the three primary mascots being middle-aged perverts prone to either acts of violence or over-the-top pranks. Yes, they are still plushies, just perverts with either womanising (re: Macaron the sheep and Tiramy the pink dog) or sis-con tendencies (re: Moffle the primary mascot). A lot of the humour comes about because of the antics of Macaron and Tiramy in particular, with the violent Moffle being tame in comparison. This makes for some entertaining scenes that integrate well into the primary story arcs.
The characterisation is awesome, with each character being given a chance to shine (or fanny about) over the span of those thirteen episodes. Each character managed to feel unique as well, without seeming like filler. For the magical characters, the over-the-top lunacy shows just how weird magical creatures are. That being said, outsourcing human astronauts for the customer and retail service sector does seem like an odd choice. But hey, I’m not Seiya.
The story itself relies on a ticking clock, wherein the theme park must bring in 500k customers before mid-year otherwise it will be shut down. This is also aggravated by the circumstances of Princess Latifah. Throughout the several months in which the series takes place, we see a host of shenanigans wherein Seiya and his employees must deal with economic problems, supply chain issues, marketing and otherworldly pirate attacks. It comes together in a charming manner that still makes me grin like an idiot at the recollection. Unlike Bethesda products, this series does work.

In conclusion, this is one of the better comedy anime series out there if you want something targetted for an older audience. It hasn’t knocked Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun off of the podium but is pretty damn close. I can also see myself rewatching it again soon. With that in mind, hurry up and watch the first episode already!


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Anime Review: Hunter x Hunter (1999-2001) Vs Hunter x Hunter (2011-2014)

Alternate Names: Tate no Tuusha no Nariagari
Year: 1999-2001 Vs 2011-2014
Episodes: A LOT (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen, Science Fiction, Martial Arts, Action, Adventure, Drama

I don’t usually do comparative reviews, but I decided to make an exception for the two series of Hunter X Hunter. Both series showed how simple changes can alter how you see a situation. That being said, I adored both series because of how solid the plot, characterisation, drama and world-building played out over the span of more than 200 episodes. Whilst I will try to avoid specifics, I apologise for any spoilers over the span of this comparative review.

Hunter X Hunter follows Gon Freecss as he navigates the world of Hunters in the hopes of connecting with his long-lost father, Ging Freecss. A hunter license gives qualified individuals a bunch of perks, including access to a hunter-only job board. However, it isn’t all fun and adventure. Gon soon comes face to face with numerous perils, including several that will irrevocably affect the known world.

The newer version of this series is a retelling that changes his background. the starting point of the series, adds a bit more detail to certain scenes as well as including two more story arcs. The new series begins with Gon about to do the qualification test for the Hunter license instead of the starter point where a chance meeting with a hunter named Kite sends him down a rabbit hole of sorts in order to find his father. His father’s cousin, who Gon refers to as Aunt Mito, has raised him. Whilst in the original version she runs an inn alongside her mother, we see her working on the docks of their small fishing community in the newer of the two series. A few scenes are provided with further context ahead of the Greed Island, Chimera Ant and 13th Hunter Chairman Election arcs that were absent in the original series which got abruptly cut off in 2001 at the conclusion of the Yorknew City arc. On top of these changes, the newer series also updates some aspects to be in line with modern technology. At the end of the newer series, the scale of their world is revealed in dramatic fashion, almost reminding me of the scene at the end of the film Men in Black.

Now that the differences are out of the way, below is a list of what you can expect from both series:

The artwork is a mixture of different styles, ranging from the Astroboy-like and Pokemon-esque appearance of Gon to the bishounen appearance of Kirapika. This includes some Dragonball Z inspiration for some of the character designs in the Chimera Ant arc. The linework is crisp and the colouration provides good contrast. Along with this, the settings are a mix of cityscapes and lush wilderness that provides a stark contrast to some of the darker aspects of this series.
Hunter X Hunter is a series that dares to show the darker side of humanity, with Gon being confronted with harsh reality. Unfortunately for Gon, there is rarely black and white. Whilst he wants people to care about each other equally, humans form into groups and we tend to favour groups that we associate with. This simplistic view is both charming and foolish. On top of this, we see the huge power disparity between Gon and many of the foes that the twelve-year-old and his allies deal with during the span of both series. An example is the Phantom Troupe, an organisation that killed and took the eyes of Kirapika’s entire family. Each one of the members could easily kill him and child assassin Killua. That being said, Gon brings his heightened senses and stealth to bear on numerous occasions.
The world-building for this series is somewhat unique, in that we cannot rely on our modern forms of fairness because the various nations don’t provide safety nets. Organised crime is a big deal, and a lot of people have to rely on their wits and luck to survive in a lot of regions. Even the Hunter Association is questionable at best, survivability being favoured over morality and ethics. This further demonstrates the nature of the world in which Gon and his friends live, where looking out for number one is a strategy for staying alive. That being said, there are glimpses of kindness and joy that act as a candle in the dark.
The power set provided by the chi-like martial arts system allows more room for escalation of threats on top of basic martial arts techniques. This gives a lot of room for weird and wonderful powers that the characters contend with. Whether it is poetry power words, chains of imprisonment or puppet-mastery of assassination, we see a world filled with the many tools that can be used to harm as well as protect.
As eluded to earlier, the characters are heavily shaped by the world around them. This provides a level of complexity to a lot of the characters that often shown through subtext. In the case of the enigmatic psychopath Hisoka, we also see that many of the characters think dozens of steps down the line in order to create the desired result. And our heroes are allowed to fail on a regular basis, showing the ramifications of not dealing with a threat. People do die on occasion, such as several during the Hunter License test. Whilst the Chimera Ant arc wavered a bit in this regard, we see how good writing can create a logical solution to deal with foes that would otherwise win.

In conclusion, both series are worth watching. That being said, I recommend that you watch the newer series instead which also includes three extra story arcs and drops you into the thick of it with the Hunter Test arc. This places an appropriate focus instead on life outside of the safe haven that is the small island in which he was raised by his Aunt Mito. So, if you are a shounen fan that hasn’t already checked out either series, it is time to do so!