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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: Butterflies, Flowers Chapters 1-10

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

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

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

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

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


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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 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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Manga Reread: Hapi Mari [Chapters 1-10]

Other Names: Happy Marriage?!
Year: 2009-2012 (for completed series, not just the chapters reviewed in this post)
Author/Artist: Maki Enjoji
Version: Aerandia Scans (English translation)
Genre: Josei, Romance, Comedy, Drama

I remember reading this series many years ago over at Mangafox. As one of my first introductions to josei romance manga, it led to me searching for more series in the same vein over the preceding years. Since then, I have enjoyed a host of other manga, ranging from romance to horror. Yet, this series remains a personal favorite.

Chiwa Takanashi has spent most of her life in a constant state of work. She works multiple jobs in order to cover her father’s debt. It leaves no time for a social life and she doubts that she will ever have enough time to do regular stuff like dating.
When she is fired unjustly from a night position as a hostess, she soon learns that her boss at her day job needs to marry her in order to inherit the company. He is none other than the guy that had her fired, an arrogant man with little regard for those around him. She initially refuses, but when debt collectors come to the home that she occupies with her dad, Hokuto comes to the rescue. So begins the reluctant marriage of Chiwa to Hokuto Mamiya.

To begin with, the setup is a standard cliche for romance over the past few decades. However, I love the two main characters a lot more than several other series that I’ve read in recent years because their mindsets are relatable. We also see a good supporting character in the form of Taeko.

  • Chiwa is rather tolerant but inexperienced when it comes to relationships. She makes assumptions about Hokuto which create a lot of the drama in the first ten chapters. She also desires more control over her life for various reasons. She thinks that Hokuto desires a marriage in name alone in order to secure his inheritance down the track. She also thinks that Hokuto looks down on her.
  • Hokuto is also tight-lipped because of not only his family background but also out of necessity due to work. This unwillingness to reveal certain parts of his life also means that Chiwa often resorts to asking other people about him, such as Taeko. Learning to be more open with Chiwa is a big hurdle for somebody just as independent as she is.
  • Taeko Souma is Hokuto’s childhood friend and secretary. She is also an occasional cross-dresser. She is a standout because of how she helps Chiwa and Hokuto to get to know each other. She also has a bit of playful mischief to her.

To the artwork, whilst it was similar to a lot of josei that came out around the same time, the character designs are solid. Whilst it wasn’t special, the artwork did its job well. I could easily tell characters apart, the backgrounds had sufficient detail to convey locale and mood and it didn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out. This latter point is important if you want a person to continue reading your series.
To the plot, we saw a few things happening in the first ten chapters. However, the drama wasn’t drawn out for too long. This gave the story a feeling of progression rather than stagnation. The most important factor is how these elements allowed Chiwa and Hokuto to start trusting each other. Whilst the pair still have a long way to go in the story, they are beginning to see each other as a partner to lean on.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed returning back to Hapi Mari. Whilst I am some way from finishing this reread, I can see why I took a liking to it in the first place. I really look forward to rereading the rest of the series over the coming weeks.


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Manga Review: Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun Chapters 1-5

Year: 2011 (ongoing) [English translation]
Author/Artist: Izumi Tsubaki
Genre: Shounen, Comedy, Romance, School Life, Slice of Life

When Chiyo Sakura screws up whilst trying to confess to Nozaki, she learns that he is a famous shoujo manga artist. Enlisted to help out with the beta elements of his ongoing stories, Chiyo gets to learn more about Nozaki and the two introduce each other to a host of weirdos and idiots. With all of these distractions, will Chiyo finally muster up the nerve to confess? Nope. It is the first five chapters after all. 😀

In lieu of rewatching the anime adaptation of this series, I decided to give the manga a run. The first five chapters of the manga cover the first two and a half episodes. These chapters also include scenes and characters absent in the anime, whilst the anime fills in some gaps in the manga itself. It is somewhat curious but it does show the benefit of consuming both the manga and the anime of a series. Whilst I admit a certain level of bias going into reading this series, I have to say that it even surpassed my high expectations.
The artwork was pretty close to the anime version as well, avoiding a frequent annoyance with manga and anime adaptations being different from each other in style and vibe. This is certainly not always a bad thing, hence I enjoyed the One Punch Man anime adaptation. However, when it is as atrocious as the depiction of the Dark Young at the end of Overlord season 3, then it is a slap in the face to fans of a franchise.
Back to the subject of the characters, whilst I didn’t get to see much of the extended cast members, those short sequences contributed meaningfully to the story. This is an aspect that drew me to reading the manga in the first place. I was aware from a bit of online research that there was a large cast and was really curious. We get a glimpse of the world outside of the characters that were restricted to the anime.

In conclusion, I really like the manga version of Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun and can easily see myself reading more of it in the not-so-distant future. Umetarou Nozaki is “best boy”. That is all! 😀


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Anime Review: Infinite Stratos Season 1

Year: 2011
Episodes: 12 episodes (English-subbed version)
Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, Harem, Romance, Science Fiction, Mecha, Sports, School Life

Years ago, I heard chatter on the interwebs about a mecha series called Infinite Stratos. It looked like it could be a good fighting anime. My interested was perked but I have only just got around to watching the series. It turned it to quite a bit different than I imagined.

In the future, a machine originally meant for war becomes subject for the world’s most popular sport. These exoskeletons bond to their athlete and can then be summoned through an object worn on the individual. They can also only be used by female pilots. Or at least, that is what everyone thought…
[Off-Screen: After getting lost whilst trying to find a room for a test, Ichika Okimura finds a room with an IS unit in it and his curious enough to touch it. It activates and he is given the ability to take an entrance exam to the prestigious Infinite Stratos training academy.]
When Ichika arrives at the academy, he is surrounded by a bunch of females, including his childhood friend Houki (her sister also invented the machines and makes the cores). He is also taught by his taskmaster older sister, a woman that went from world-class athlete to teaching students how to use the units after he was kidnapped during an international meet. As he is surrounded by more and more female admirers, will he survive the first year at Infinite Stratos?

This series is not terrible, but it isn’t great either. The promotional pictures suggest a mecha action series but this really doesn’t reflect the content. Instead, it is an at-times confusing ecchi comedy masquerading as a mecha sports and romance series. And yet, it was somehow entertaining. Entertaining garbage, certainly, but entertaining nonetheless.
The character designs are good even if the faces were a bit pointy, with each character being notably different from the rest. The exoskeletons were visually interesting as well, even if a bit weird “scientifically”. The story was, however, oddly absent of cats. Why do I mention cats? Well, felines are a staple in anime and manga. They are cute, get up to mischief and are often the tool by which we can see other things that are happening in the background. Come to think of it, I think the only animals that we did see are birds… Perhaps the artist didn’t like the idea of putting animals in harm’s way.
The voice acting was hilariously bad, with deliberately bad stereotypes. It was not meant to be taken seriously in any regard but might be deemed “racist” or “sexist” in today’s political environment. The anime cliches were out in the open for all to see. Back to the voice cast, there is a bunch of familiar faces, such as Monica Rial as Houki, Shannon Emerick as Charlotte, and Josh Grelle as Ichika.
The conflicts in this story are a bit contrived as a whole. It rarely makes sense but it is predominantly used as a delivery tool for fan service. It is a weird series that should in no way be taken seriously. It also feels at times like the author was mocking numerous genres. I might, however, be wrong about that. Whilst I will unlikely be watching the second season, I can say that watching the first season wasn’t a complete waste of time.

If you are looking for a series featuring lots of fan service, then Infinite Stratos might be an option. Just note that the story is not the best and the faces are a bit pointy.