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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: Domestic Girlfriend Chapters 1-100

Year: 2014 (ongoing)
Author/Artist: Kei Sasuga
Genre: Shounen, Drama, Romance, School Life 

Reviewers Note: Chapters 1-100 include part of the way through the eleventh volume of this ongoing character-driven series. The first episode of the anime adaptation also went live this current anime season.

A few weeks ago, I spent a bit of time checking out some English translations of various manga series over at MangaRock. There was a lot of franchises that I was unfamiliar with across the wide spectrum of genres but I ended up with my usual focus on romance titles. One of the manga that I ended up giving a run was the curious series of Domestic Girlfriend. I won’t bother writing a quick synopsis of this series as MyAnimeList did a pretty good job of explaining the premise of this series. You can find it here.
What I will say is that this series was oddly compelling and managed to quickly turn into a drama rather than my initial expectation that it would simply be another ecchi harem comedy. In many regards, it reminded me of Scum’s Wish but with significantly less bitchiness. Sure, the love triangle of Natsuo and the Tachibana sisters is frustrating, but it quickly becomes an exercise in voyeurism at the bizarre love life of three rather troubled human beings.
The art in this series is decent enough, pretty similar to Kei Sasuga’s GE: Good Ending, which I read years ago. I do, however, have issues with the periodic fanservice panels included in between scenes as they feel out of place. Sure, the story deals with adult themes such as sex, but the sequences that are included in this manga are tasteful. Perhaps it is some attempt at further convincing the reader that the series is Shounen.
To the elephant in the room, what is up with the cafe that most of the characters frequent? Many of the cast confide in the gay former-Yazuka and occasional crossdresser Misaki Kobayashi well within the earshot of other customers. All a character would need to acquire all of the neighborhood drama and gossip is to either leave a listening device in the cafe or simply hang out there. With all of the secrets floating around the place, how on earth do they remain secret? Just sayin…

Anyway, I would best describe Domestic Girlfriend as entertaining trash. The drama is compelling even if a bit drawn-out at times. I also didn’t hate the cast of characters because we can understand the motives of the people that inhabit the world of Domestic Girlfriend. As such, I will be continuing to read this series. I look forward to reviewing more of this series in the coming weeks.


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Anime Review: 3D Konojo Real Girl Season 1

Year: 2018
Episodes: 12 (English-subbed version)
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, School Life, Slice of Life, Drama

In stake contrast to the Isekai and ecchi series I have recently reviewed, I decided to give an unfamiliar series a watch. A quick series showed up a few shows with the romance listing that wasn’t another rom-com. In this case, I went for the first season of 3D Konojo: Real Girl. It turned out to be freaking adorable and appealed to some of my own nerdy interests. Be aware of several spoilers below.

When socially-isolated anime and game nerd Hikari Tsutsui defends the attractive but blunt Iroha Igarashi from a pushy ex-boyfriend, he gains her full attention. Their relationship will affect the lives of not two but eight people.

Based on internet chatter about this series, the franchise seems to elicit strong emotions on either side of the spectrum. Simply put, people either love it or hate it. In my case, I loved it. It is a coming-of-age school romance with a ticking clock. It was one of those series that also manages to place importance on individuality rather than collectivism.
I found the characters to be sufficiently complex. They are flawed but deep down none of the six teenagers that are the main focus of this series feel out of the scope of what is possible. Teenagers are brash, weird, and often don’t think of the consequences of their actions. They are also capable of kindness even if their ability to convey how they feel is sometimes a mess.
In the case of Tsutsui, he is in completely unknown waters and it is easy to feel for him when his girlfriend isn’t open with him. It also goes to the idea that Igarashi is somewhat clueless about relationships herself. Whilst their relationship is the central focus of the series, we also three two (legitimate) love triangles (Ayado to Hikari and Yuuto to Ayado) and the relationship of Tsutsui’s younger brother and the younger sister of Mitsuya Takanashi. I won’t even count Mitsuya’s crush on Iroha as a love triangle as this is more of a way for him to meet the rather troublesome Arisa Ishino.
Arisa’s own love life is a complete mess. Her friendship with Hikari and Iroha helps her gain a bit more perspective of what a more-functional relationship should look like. (Notice that I didn’t say that HikIro’s relationship was perfect because they are still figuring things out.) Then she starts harassing Mitsuya to date her. This results in some amusing dialogue between Arisa and Mitsuya. It worked really well overall.
Over time, we see growing friendships for the various cast members, as well as several love triangles. This plays out tastefully, with the case of Mitsuya Takanashi being especially interesting. Whilst he initially comes off as a bit of a douche, we also see pride being a big obstacle for him becoming friends with Tsutsui.
Of all of the characters, my personal favourite is Hikari’s best friend Yuuto Itou. Yuuto is a sensitive young man that shares Hikari’s love of games and anime. His trademark Neko beany reflects his child-like naivety. He is such a treasure and cute as a button. YuuAya FTW!!!
The art design wasn’t anything out of the ordinary but it was easy to discern each character, with appropriate backgrounds. The use of color and visual effect was done well, helping evoke certain emotions.

In conclusion, the first season of this series was a pure joy to watch. It was freaking adorable. However, it did draw things out a bit too much at times. It wasn’t to Dragonball Z levels, mind you, but it was still noticeable. This seemed to lessen my enjoyability of the series itself. That being said, I still enjoyed this series a lot and look forward to binge-watching the second season when it is complete.


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Anime Review: How Not to Summon a Demon Lord Season 1

Year: 2018
Episodes: 12
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Harem, NSFW

When I first saw the manga version of this series listed online, my first thought was that it would be an Overlord. Well, it turns out that I was wrong. DEAD WRONG!!! After watching it, I do believe that it should be renamed, “How to Summon a Hot Dude with Horns” or perhaps, “How to be Summoned to Another World and Suffer from Blue Balls until the end of Time.” It all depends on your sexual preferences, I suppose.
After waking up one morning, I discovered that my husband had watched four episodes of the series and seemed to really like it. He managed to convince me to watch it and I was initially amused. By episode three, I was totally hooked. Hubby, of course, spent most of the time debating whether he preferred catgirls over elfy boobs. Important questions… The answer is 42.

Anyhoo, beware of some spoilers below.

A certain player named Takuma Sakomoto chose to solo as a “Demon Lord” called Diablo in the MMORPG Cross Reverie for years. When he is summoned to a world suspiciously similar to the game as his avatar, our sexy male protagonist learns that his magic reflection ring affected the two women that managed to summon him. Staying in character as much as he can, our socially awkward and sexually inexperienced protagonist travels with Rem and Shera in search of a way to free them from the chains of summoning and hopefully also manage to find a way to return to his own world. The player now known as Diablo quickly learns that he is one of the most powerful beings in the world.

So, where to start? Well, this series is an Isekai fantasy. The standard setup for the first few episodes is for our protagonist to learn about the world. Whilst this is true, we did manage to see the best villain in anime history beginning in the first episode. Yes, he dies a few episodes later, but our resident mage shows a gift for intimidating dialogue and evil planning that shall go down in the annals of history. May he rest in pieces…
A lot of the humor in this series is at the expense of our budding protagonist he is bombarded by attractive women. Yep, most of it is boob and butt related, with a large sprinkling of innuendo and obvious lewdness. And you know what? I do not care because I freaking loved this series.
Whilst the arc relating to Rem having the demon lord Glebsklem bound inside of her felt like it was going to be the central arc of the series altogether, we are quickly introduced to a bunch of other characters that make life difficult for our main character and his female companions. The rivalry between Rem and Shera is adorable but they quickly learn to work together now that they are both technically Diablo’s slaves.
There was also a short arc involving Shera’s brother which is pretty f’ed up. This was, however, strongly hinted at around the fourth episode. The continuation of this side arc towards the end of the season also helped form a stronger bond between Diablo and his summoners whilst also helping him deal with his trust issues.
The harem elements of this series are a little odd because Diablo doesn’t really have a romantic interest in the first season. Whilst Rem and Shera might be seen as front-runners, he is constantly restraining himself for various reasons. We don’t really see the jealousy commonly seen in harem series either. It is one of the strangest harem series I have come across so far because some of the common elements of a harem are completely absent in the first season.
I liked the art design in this series. Whilst there are slight differences from the manga, these are quite small overall. The character designs are solid even if they do reflect some common archetypes in anime.
As far as Diablo’s design was concerned, he reminded me of Gintoki from Gintama but with horns, a few markings, and fantasy garb. You also get idealized physique, a trait of many MMORPGs. This is a slight contrast from a lot of harem series where the protagonist has an average or close to an average physique. Three thumbs up for attending to the bishounen enthusiasts in the audience. I don’t know where I will get the extra thumbs but I will find one somewhere. Maybe a dumpster or something…  

My only issue with this series is in the last episode where most of the females in the cast attempt to give him magical energy. Sure, this is an ecchi series but it seemed out of character. There is no feeling of gratification in this sequence, just a weird sexless orgy thing. It was a real head-scratcher.

In conclusion, I found this series highly entertaining. Whilst it isn’t perfect, the comedic elements and drool-worthy appearance of Diablo more than made up for it. I highly recommend this series for anyone that enjoys an ample amount of comedic filth.


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Anime Review: Goblin Slayer Season 1

Year: 2018
Episodes: 12 episodes (English-dubbed version)
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama

Going into Goblin Slayer, I had read and heard a bunch of chatter online. Some people were upset whilst others provided some good rebuttals for why tragedy and bad things should be allowed to stand in a darker fantasy story. Two anime commentators convinced me that I needed to watch this series: YouTuber Gigguk (his video on Goblin Slayer) and fellow blogger Karandi from 100WordAnime. I’m glad that I decided to watch the series because it turned out to be really good.

Onna Shinkan is a fifteen-year-old cleric with high hopes of helping others by doing contracts at the Adventurer’s Guild. On her first job, two of her party are killed and another is violently raped by Goblins. She is saved by a mysterious silver-ranked adventurer known only as Goblin Slayer. He is a loner that only takes work killing goblins. The two start working together leading to an epic battle to protect the town alongside numerous other adventurers.

To begin with, you quickly get a sense that the story is written by somebody that is familiar with the Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper roleplaying game. This includes some of the systems used, such as Onna having a small number of prayers she can make each day. Another is a reference to alignment systems, as seen in how one of the adventurers is mentioned as being Chaotic Evil. The intro and outros also include dice, referencing not only everyday chance but as a continuation of that fantasy roleplaying feel.
Another interesting trait of the worldbuilding is how many of the characters are simply named after their either their class or race, sometimes even both. The elven archer is known as “Elf” and the Dwarven Shaman is known as exactly that. And yet, this frequently seen naming regime still manages to work. These characters are still allowed to have personalities beyond their race and skillset. This is in contradiction to modern identity politics wherein biological traits, rather than individual personality, as seen as the be-all and end-all of who a person is.
The plot did an awesome job of bringing numerous elements together and avoids the dreaded info-dump so prevalent in a lot of fantasy and science fiction settings. We become more and more familiar with the world over time. We also see some of the other events occurring in the world, such as periodic glimpses at a platinum-level party currently dealing with a demon lord causing issues with the kingdom. Whilst Goblin Slayer is dealing with the goblins with his companions, there are other problems that the world is dealing with. It helps establish a living, breathing world whilst also helping move the main story along. 
Goblin Slayer received a lot of flack in the beginning for depicting a rape scene in the first episode. However, this sequence shows the cost of adventurers and the government not dealing with the problem. And this is exactly what drives our main hero Goblin Slayer, a young man that is one of many within the series that has lost a lot to goblins. He shows no mercy as he understands the price of being merciful to goblins. Whilst he might lack in social skills, he has a noble purpose which drives him forward. Onna’s influence helps Goblin Slayer grow as a character whilst al
At his side is Onna, a young woman that manages to help him gain a glimpse of a world beyond goblin-slaying. She is a partner that quickly begins to learn more about our male protagonist than most other people in the series. The only two people that come even close to this is the Sword-Maiden Tsurugi no Otome and Goblin Slayer’s childhood friend Ushikai Musume.
The artwork for Goblin Slayer was pretty awesome. The character and world designs were spot on. Sometimes there is a deliberate divide between how a person is and how they want others to perceive them. Each character seems to fit into the world that they inhabit, both good and bad. The voice acting was also pretty good, with some familiar voice actors and actresses, which includes Brad Hawkins as Goblin Slayer from Black Clover and Mirai Nikki.
Lastly, I have to mention that I really love the choice of music for this series. Rightfully by Mili (intro) and Giri no Kisei by Soraru do such a great job of evoking the flicker of light in the darkness. These tracks also suggest drama and action within the parameters of a fantasy setting. Awesome stuff overall. Both seasons of KonoSuba also did quite well in this regard.

In conclusion, this series is one of the best-written Fantasy action series I have seen in recent years. (Please note that I still haven’t seen the likes of Guin Saga, a series that I have been meaning to watch for ages.) Whilst I haven’t read the light novels for Goblin Slayer as yet, I will likely dive into some fan translations to give me a Goblin Slayer fix whilst I am waiting for a second season to come out. Man, I really hope that a second season gets made because it is one of the rare anime series that hubby liked as well. Fingers crossed…


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Anime Rewatch: Mayo Chiki

Year: 2011
Episodes: 13
Genre: Seinen, Comedy, Harem, Ecchi, School Life, Gender Bender

Back in 2016, I first watched and reviewed this series. Given that my tastes have changed a bit since then, I decided to rewatch to see if I enjoyed it as much as I did back then. Surprisingly, it held up quite well.

For those unaware, it is the story of a young man (Kinjirou Sachimachi) with gynophobia who discovers that the “prince” butler of the school (Suburu Konoe) is actually a girl. The contrived reason for disguising herself as a boy is amusing but it also means that only herself and a handful of other people know her situation. Her mistress, ridiculously rich Lady Kanade Suzutsuki, decides to mix things up a little by messing with the duo after discovering Kojiro’s condition.

Just like then, the rom-com tag seems a little bit of a stretch. However, the over-the-top, silly humor still managed to keep me entertained through the rewatch. Part of this is due to how stereotypes were amplified, as well as pointing out obvious cliches in anime and manga. We see the obsessed fan-girls of Suburu, the Rotten Girl enthusiasts shipping Suburu and Kojiro, ultra-violent girls that overreact over the slightest thing, the ultra-violent and over-protective father, host/hostess cafe culture, etcetera…
Another point of interest that I missed during the first watch of this series, was how Kojiro’s male friend effectively gets kicked to the curb as soon as Kanade gets involved in Kojiro’s life. I also overlooked the treatment of Kinjirou at the hands of the females in his life. He is a heavily mistreated figure. Instead of standing up for himself, he is nice to his tormentors due to a deathbed promise he made to his father many years before. This is a pretty standard cliche for male protagonists in harem rom-coms.
Could this series be better? Certainly. However, Mayo Chiki still manages to be highly entertaining in spite of its numerous flaws. A second viewing also didn’t hurt either. But this is, as always, my own opinion on the matter.
I know at least a few of my blogging buddies heavily disliked the series when they watched it. And this is perfectly okay because they could at least communicate why they disliked it. Knowing why you like or dislike something can help with picking new series in the future.

In conclusion, whilst it is certainly not the best series, I still like this series years after I first watched it. Feel free to go over my previous review of this series linked above for more information on the series. Anyway, I highly encourage you guys to watch an old series and let me know how or if your impressions have changed over time.


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Anime Review: Overlord Seasons 2 and 3

Year: 2018
Episodes: 2 seasons of 13 episodes (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Dark Fantasy, Action

If you’ve been paying attention to anime and manga in recent years, you’ve no doubt heard of Overlord. Back when the first season came out, a friend of hubby and I recommended that we watch it. Whilst the first episode was a bit weird, we stuck with the show and ended up really liking it. Recently, we both decided to binge-watch the second and third seasons. Whilst I could have posted a separate review for each, I decided to consolidate as it seemed that it would provide a good comparison.

After the mind-control of Sheltear in the first season, Ainz continues to try to learn about the world he is trapped in and hopefully find other player characters. He runs numerous experiments, all the while his primary advisor Demiurge works towards Momonga/Ainz Ooal Gown’s “goal” of taking over the world. As time progresses, we see the expansion of Carne Village and the introduction of a host of new characters. More factions are introduced and Ainz’s world becomes more and more involved in political maneuvering, until a large-scale massacre in which Ainz establishes his own nation.

These two seasons did a good job of showing the audience of the world. However, just like many viewers, I found myself heavily disliking the use of CG in the third season. It looked terrible, showing a lack of care on the part of the producers of this anime adaptation. It was a shame as well because many of these sequences could have been significantly more impactful if a bit more care had been taken.
As for the voice acting and characterization, it was solid. I did, however, feel a lot more depressed as many of the characters I grew attached to were soon killed off in horrific fashion. The problem with doing this on a regular basis is that you soon learn to simply not care about any of the characters because what is the point? This is in stark contrast to the way in which the book series The Sword, The Ring and The Chalice by Deborah Chester. Deborah Chester shows the reader from the beginning that the world is screwed and doesn’t try to pretty it up like Overlord does and we can accept when bad things happen because that is a part of the world. There are no false promises made by the writer, unlike Overlord with the ecchi elements and humor seen in that first episode.
Consistency and holding true to initial promises is very important to readers and viewers. We also want an adaptation to reflect the core material. This is why movies such as Dragonball Evolution and Dead or Alive did so poorly. Legends of the Dark King (a spin-off from Fist of the North Star) did so well because it reflected the core material and kept those promises made in the first episode.

In conclusion, whilst I didn’t mind Overlord, I felt like numerous promises weren’t kept and I felt decreasing emotional investment in any of the characters over time. A story can be quite smart but if you ignore those two aspects, and screw up the aesthetics, it is a waste of time and energy. This is a real shame overall. However, feel free to watch it for yourself and come to your own conclusion if you like dark fantasy and Isekai.