Keiko Online

Blog Home of D.L. Owens

1 Comment

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.)

1 Comment

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.

1 Comment

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.

1 Comment

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!

1 Comment

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.

1 Comment

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.

1 Comment

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!

1 Comment

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!


Anime Review: The Rise of the Shield Hero Season 1

Alternate Names: Tate no Tuusha no Nariagari
Year: 2019
Episodes: 25 (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama

I first came across The Rise of the Shield Hero by chance when Crunchyroll released the first episode. Intrigued, I started delving into the manga as I knew it would be some time before the next episode came out. Over the next day, I binge-read all of the available chapters. The plot, world-building and characterisation got me hook, line and sinker. The following contains my thoughts on the first season that was released earlier this year. I apologise for any spoilers contained within my review.

The story tells of a young man named Naofumi Iwatami whose parents have allowed him to live as a shut-in after he helps get his brother onto the straight and narrow. During a visit to a local library, he comes across a strange book pertaining to The Four Cardinal Heroes and is promptly sucked into it. Awakening from being summoned to another world with a peculiar game interface, Naofumi quickly learns that he is one of the four cardinal heroes known as the shield hero. He is soon wrongly accused of rape by the eldest princess of the realm, leading to numerous revelations about the kingdom of Melromarc. With the help of a Raccoon-girl named Raphtalia and a Filolial girl he raises from a chick, the party quickly uncover both a threat within the kingdom and some clues as to the nature of the various waves that the cardinal heroes are trying to halt.

The artwork for this series is pretty solid, with solid linework and rich colouration of both character and setting which reflects the source material. These provided necessary contrast and differentiation between people and places without feeling out of place. Whilst the artwork wasn’t to the heights of masterpieces such as Violet Evergarden, it doesn’t need to be. Instead, it focuses on telling a story about people in a screwed up situation.
The characterisation was solid, with the especially-interesting protagonist who has a heart of gold beneath that understandably hardened exterior. He has a lot of anger there, and with good reason. Being accused of something that he considers a heinous act, to begin with, also provides him with the motivation to problem-solve through issues that only somebody isolated by society would be forced to contend with. Naofumi still manages to show moments of love and kindness to the likes of Raphtalia, who shares her own traumatic past. This contrasts with the flippant personalities of the three other cardinal heroes who have much of their wants and needs delivered on a silver platter up until >spoilers<. We also see the interesting point about how appearances can be deceiving, such as the case of Princess Malty of Malromarc. To understand the character of a person, we must dig deeper.
The setting where the story predominantly takes place is an awesome one to play in. We see how the religious and political elements of Melromarc inevitably create problems for Naofumi and the demihumans in his party. His first connection to Raphtalia is through a slave trader, just as an example. The royal family is a mess, with an angsty father being manipulated by his eldest daughter whilst his wife is away on a diplomatic mission. Malty and her father are characters that most will hate a lot more than the forces attacking the world in which they reside. The religion of the kingdom has a huge part to play in the situation of Naofumi and his companions. These various elements build upon each other to make for a complex and compelling story.
The plot itself might not be unique by the standards of an Isekai fan such as myself. However, it is how these elements are brought together that makes all of the difference. Whilst being brought to the world is a big deal, it can be argued that the false accusation against Naofumi is the inciting incident that changes the protagonist in a dramatic fashion. His view of the world around him, that feeling that he is fighting for people that need his help, is tipped on its head as he realises that heroes sometimes protect those that see their salvation as trash. There are numerous other realisations as well, but this is a big one. The twists that we see throughout the first season offer lots of room for storytelling as well, which the writer/s took advantage of.

To a comparison between the manga and anime, I would say that this is a rather faithful adaptation of the manga. It follows the chapters nearly blow b blow, whilst at the same time reflecting the art style and vibe of the other aspects of the manga. Unfortunately, the status of the manga will likely create issues with the release of a second season. I suppose that I will just have to read the manga until the next season comes out.

In conclusion, I adore this series. Whilst there are numerous confronting moments throughout the series, they show us what the heroic party of Naofumi and his allies are fighting against. The probing of human nature and what it means to be a hero make for a compelling watch, as do the various twists and turns along the way. So, if this sounds like something you would enjoy, be sure to check out the first season wherever you watch anime. Happy viewing!


Anime Review: The Disastrous Life of Saiki K Season 1

Alternate Names: Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan
Year: 2016
Episodes: 24 (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen, Comedy, Supernatural, School Life

Years ago, I came across an odd manga that left me scratching my head. It wasn’t a case of it being bad, but it was in a format that I was unused to. A few weeks later, I discovered an English dub of the anime. It would take some time before my hubby would agree to watch it with me. As expected, he absolutely loved it as well. (Sadly, the same cannot be said for Gintama. Oh, well.) Anyhoo, the following discusses a series that holds a special place in my heart, the part that enjoys over-the-top gags and general anime shenanigans.

Kusuo Saiki was born with psychic powers, something that he has to control with a strange antennae thing in his head. His psychic powers come with numerous issues, and his efforts to be overlooked is made difficult by the moronic “Yankee” Riki Nendou, a host of annoying classmates, a pathetic father keeps asking for help getting out of self-created messes and the Kusuo must also deal with the bizarre machinations of his jealous super-genius older brother. All the while, he must figure out how to get an ample supply of coffee pudding.

First up, the artwork for this series is strikingly beautiful. The linework is neat and colouration provides a lot of contrast, reminding me of some of Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun at times. The character designs are amazing, adding to the humour of this series. An example is Midori Nendou, Riki’s mother. Along with the dialogue, the artwork brings to life some really good situational humour. However, some folks might not find the butt humour as amusing as yours truly.
Whilst the small sketches that comprise each episode do well on their own, there is still a continuity to the timeline. A situation from a previous episode often affects what happens later as well, showing that there are ramifications for what happens. Each sketch adds to the story as well, instead of feeling like filler. Over time, these happenings result in Kusuo making connections with people, the one thing he has been avoiding.
The plot is backed up by some really good characterisation and character development. It might be over-the-top at times, but it works really well. This is backed up by some good casting for the English dub version, doing justice to a really good collection of characters. It also does a good job of managing a larger cast of characters as well.

How closely does it follow the manga? Like Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun, it ends up being fairly close if not identical to the source material. Both are a good adaptation of their respective manga series. As an anime fan, it is always awesome to see an anime studio do justice to the series it is adapting. J.C. Staff and Egg Firm deserve praise for how well they adapted this series. Can we expect anything less from studios that adapted Toradora!, A Certain Magical Index, Kino no Tabi, and DanMachi2?

In conclusion, this series is in my top five anime. It is also something that I have enjoyed in both an English sub and dub version.