After watching the emotional first episode of Inuyashiki recently I was given a brutally realistic reminder of how society doesn’t treat elders well. In our lives, we must look after and care for our loved ones of the older generation as they age — as they took care of us.
In the third episode of Persona 4 Golden The Animation Marie questions her friends on what does it means to be your true, real self. As I’m watching the cast give their answers (taking from being comfortable with your hobbies, living your life the way you want to, etc.), this made me think: What does it mean to be real? I think to be real means doing whatever you please — regardless of what others may think (as long as you’re ethical about it and not on some illegal shit).
Being real also means facing yourself and admitting you may have some weakness and issues to work on. So, what does being real means to you? (also unless you’re a hardcore Persona 4 don’t watch P4GA its typical A1 Pictures garbage. The music, fanservice, Yukiko, and Marie are the only good things about the anime)
You only get one shot. If the first episode of an anime doesn’t impress me, it’s getting dropped. So, did My Girlfriend is a Shob**h impressed me in its first episode?
It’s often said that the best way to court attention is to generate controversy. Companies and brands understand this well. Let me use some examples real quick. During the 2000s, Rockstar Games used the negative press of their Grand Threat Auto series as a positive in order to boost sales. It worked in their favor. Vince Mcmahon, CEO of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), saved the company with the Attitude Era; a controversial period during the late 90s that used politically incorrect and sexual themes aimed at adults. Hell, there’s a certain notorious cosplayer right now gaining attention through controversial lewd cosplays.
So, when I first heard the title My Girlfriend is a Faithful Virgin Bitch, my eyebrows rose a bit. The title alone was enough to grab my attention. “Jeez, Japan. You guys are getting bolder.” I told myself. For real, who goes around calling their girlfriend a “faithful bitch”? I’m not a domestic violence expert, but I’m sure that’s a red flag for an abusive relationship. I mean, congrats on finding a girl who ain’t fucking other dudes behind your back, but did you really have to call her a faithful bitch?
With a controversial title like that, I had to do some research on the anime. I went to My Anime List and some anime pages on Facebook to gain some knowledge on Shobitch. Fans of the original web manga were going around telling others not to panic!
“It’s not like all other trashy, horrible romcom anime out there today! Shobitch is different!” One zit face ridden weeb stated “Shobitch is not bad at all! It’s funny and cute! Don’t take the title at face value.”
For a second, I had faith in this stranger’s words. Maybe he’s telling the truth, and Shobitch isn’t like all the other romcom anime series out there. The title is just something to bait people into watching it. I should give it a chance. Just because the cover art shows the main girls looking at a banana, commonly used as a phallic symbol, doesn’t mean this anime is going to be ecchi trash. Have faith in these weebs, Benjamin!
…And then I remembered why I don’t have faith in most anime fans.
I went to my favorite source for anime, pulled up Shobitch, and played the file. The anime starts with a boy and girl in their teens in some field lookin’ stupid. The girl speaks.
“I, right here and now…will raise my skirt and display myself to you.” Joy. Oh joy. Another romcom opening up with a panty sho- hold up! Did this bitch straight say she ain’t got no panties on? Am I 10 again sneaking into the living room at 2AM to watch that Wax-a-Million music video on B.E.T. Uncut?
But seriously. This anime isn’t opening up with a panty shot. It’s a straight up vag shot. A censored vag shot, but a vag shot regardless. Or maybe not, as the dude was dreaming the whole thing. Doesn’t matter, really. As I’ve stated before in my Hajimete no Gal first impression review, if your anime opens up with panty shot, then you have no confidence in your work. So, if your anime opens with a girl flashing her vagina in the opening scene, then you should never work in the anime industry.
Just quit my man.
Dude wakes up and gets an eyeful of some girl’s ass. Great. I see where this is going now. Next, he spots his crush (the girl in his dream) and talks about her in some inner monologue bullshit that I don’t care for. Kosaka Whatsherface is her name. The guy wants to be her boyfriend. He plans to confess to her later that day. They meet up after school. He confesses and Kosaka accepts. Not only does she accepts, Kosaka tells dude that she’s gonna learn 48 different positions for him so they can have a good time.
“Benjamin. Abandon ship. Why are you torturing yourself by watching trash tier anime? Go play that Fire Emblem 4 romhack with those Touhou characters. Go watch better anime. Don’t do this to yourself.” My gut was trying to tell me to stop but I refused. It’s my duty, obligation, and responsibility to tear apart bad anime – no matter what ill results may come to me and my mental health.
I should have I listened to my gut.
The OP begins. We see Youmu Konpaku, err, Yuki Nagato, wait no, Kosaka Whatsherface (look, all silver hair, blue eyes anime, and video game girls look alike to me. I don’t care; I’m anime racist) half naked and dressing. As she leaves her house, the camera pans up to her skirt for a panty shot. At that point, I stopped watching the OP. I went on my phone to watch some fight compilation on World Star Hip Hop (WSHH) to past the time. As I’m scrolling through WSHH my eyes peep the TV screen to check if the OP finished I was greeted to Kosaka, completely naked, sitting on a cake. Oh, and she was taking a loud of white frosting on her face in a suggestive matter.
The OP ends and the episode resumes. We get some annoying brunette girl screeching, running down the hall and glomping Haru from behind. She’s followed up by another girl wearing some catgirl bullshit trying to take both of them back home with her like she’s Rena off Higurashi or something. Later, Haru daydreams about Kosaka. He debates if he should talk to her about her about asking her hobbies and interests.
To the surprise of nobody, Kosaka appears. Haru gets all giddy inside. He has a chance to ask her what she enjoys face-to-face. And hey! Kosaka has the same idea in mind. She wants to get to know her new boyfriend better as well. You know, it what makes a strong, solid relationship. Communication is key in these things.
You gotta ask your new boyfriend or girlfriend things. Things such as what they’re favorite color, what type of foods they love, who is their favorite music artist, and what do they like to do for fun. Oh! Don’t forget to ask what kinda fetishes do they have in the bedroom. Yeah, Kosaka asks Haru what type of fetishes he’s into for some odd reason.
…at least she’s thoughtful. I guess.
The scene transition to a boob gag to remind us that Kosaka is well endowed (as it wasn’t obvious enough in the OP). As she helps their teacher, she places her breasts on top of the books, and carry then them out. She then asks Haru if he’s a masochist because…I don’t know nor do I care anymore. In less than eight minutes, I could tell that this anime was just going to be terrible. It was at this point I started asking myself questions:
“Do I hate fun?”
“Am I secretly a masochist and is my pain kink is watching terrible anime?”
“Is this what they mean to turn your brain off and enjoy something even though its horrible?”
Besides this anime sucking, what also sucked that I drank all my alcohol from the day before (to relieve work-related stress). That bottle of Peach New Amsterdam vodka sure would have helped get me through this trash. Maybe being under the influence of alcohol would have made this a little bearable. Wait, actually no. It wouldn’t. It would have just me even angrier that I was wasting my time on such bullshit. Then again, in retrospect, Drunk Ben is smart enough to turn off this anime so he wouldn’t have to suffer any longer.
(Goddammit angry Alcoholic Worker Ben! Was getting afternoon drunk worth it?)
The next scene shows Kosaka eavesdropping on two girls talking about their relationship issues. Kosaka butts in. She tells the girls that the best way to get their boyfriend’s attention is to say “Nyan” after each sentence. Ya know, like one of ‘em socially awkward annoying high school weeaboos who wear cat ears all day. Her next advice to the girls was to not wear any panties around their boyfriends to make ‘em happy. Yeah. This is the character of Kosaka: A perverted airhead who think sex and being a catgirl will solve everything in the world. Kosaka is a tad bit off (as her peers states) Maybe she doesn’t know how a relationship work. Maybe she thinks sex should be a priority in it. It’s her first time having a boyfriend, so I should be a little merciful. But I won’t.
At was at this point I got bored with this anime. I simply turned off my TV, went on social media and started ranting about how terrible Shobitch is. After my rant, I dropped the anime.
I’ve concluded that I shouldn’t do these types of shows. Maybe there are good, romcom anime that isn’t utterly perverted (or the perverted jokes are actually funny) but I haven’t discovered them yet. My Girlfriend is a Shobitch isn’t one of them. The jokes doesn’t make me laugh (given I’m way out of pubtery I gues). Both main characters are utter idiots, with Kosaka being an airhead, monotone pervert. Her voice is as boring as the show. The only good things I can say about this show is that the animation is decent and the girl is more sexual forward in a genre where its the male who is sexual forward. Also, I will admit it was (laughably) cute to see Kosaka work hard to be a good girlfriend to Haru.
This show is getting dropped. I have better shows to watch and review.
First Impression score: 2.5/10
+The animation is decent
+Kosaka is a pervert rather than the male lead unlike most romcom shows
+It feels a little different from most romcoms
-Jokes weren’t funny
– Jokes were obvious
– Too overly sexual
-Episode opened with a vag shot
-Obvious harem set-up
-Fanservice transition shots
-Alcohol did not make this show better – only worse
-Kosaka looks like a lame ass version of Yuki Nagato off Haruhi
My Girlfriend is a Faithful Shobitch (c) 2017 Diomedea, Studio Blanc
Not all anime will have the honor being great and watchable all the way through. There are many shows that you will wind up dropping due to the low quality of the show.
At what point do you drop a show? I usually drop an anime on the first episode I can sense and predict it won’t be great beyond that point.
Your father has finally given in! After years of belittling and disowning you for it, he wants to watch those weird, girly “Chinese cartoons” with you. Your football jock buddy has been curious about those anime cons you attend often. He wants to bang him a hot, but depressed/mentality disturbed cosplay girl. But he wants to watch some anime first (so he won’t appear like a total tool). Your African-American youth pastor just heard about this Bible Black anime and wants to know if it’s about Black people going to church (spoilers: it’s not). Your entry level weeb girlfriend has finally grown some taste. She doesn’t want to watch Dragon Ball Z or Sailor Moon anymore. She wants something more deep and artsy.
Suggesting anime to newcomers and casuals alike can be a difficult task. The world of anime is full of diverse shows begging to be watched. The effort to suggest a show to your normie friend might be overwhelming; as there are millions and millions of anime out there in this world. You can’t choose one over another to start them out with. You may be thinking “Well, I can show them the classics! Everyone loves the classics!”. You’re right. You can show them a classic anime series. Good luck with that though. Some people don’t have the time to watch 100+ episodes of a “classic” series (whatever that means). Your friend might not like a classic anime series like Fist of the North Star. The violence and length of the series might them him off.
You could try a short and sweet classic series. Like, let’s say High School of the Dead. It has that 1970s grindhouse movie influence with the violence, gore, and sex appeal. Yeah! That might work. Then again, you don’t want to show your dad an anime full of fanservice and big tiddy animu girls (it’ll give him clues on why you’re such a kissless virgin).
“But Benjamin! I can suggest Cowboy Bebop to my normie dad, right?! It doesn’t have high school girls being sexualized like HSOTD! It’s a modern classic!” Sure! You can do that. But what if they hate space adventure sci-fi series? They’re gonna be bored with Cowboy Bebop and drop it after five minutes.
(And you wonder why you’ll never have a great relationship with your father. No wonder he’s more proud of your sports playing older brother than he is with your Chinese cartoon watching ass!)
Now, do you see why it’s hard to suggest anime to non-anime fans? Many of you assume that they’ll like an anime because it’s a classic. No son, it doesn’t always work like that. But don’t fret! I, Benjamin “The Greatest of All Time” Snow, will use my oh-so-superior, borderline arrogant, and elitist anime wisdom to great use. I myself will help you suggest great anime to your non-anime watching friends. You can trust me; you guys already know my tastes are great (and if you don’t know, now you know). So, how do you go about suggesting new anime? Well, it’s real simple and easy.
Check this out.
The best way to suggest anime to non-anime fans is this: show them anime based genres, TV shows, movies, etc. they already like. That’s it. Seriously. It’s neither complex nor deep. Your dad, he loves the sport of boxing, right? He loves boxing movies such as Rocky and Million Dollar Baby. Get him to watch the classic boxing series Hajimete no Ippo by Studio Madhouse. Simple. Very simple.
Your brother, he’s a kung-fu film fan, no? He spends hours emulating spinning kicks and karate chops in front of the mirror. He idolizes Jackie Chan: the legendary martial arts master and actor. The classic martial arts adventure Dragon Ball is right up his alley! Dragon Ball was inspired by many kung-fu movies that Toriyama (a major movie fan) watched in his spare time during the development of Dragon Ball. Your brother might catch some classic kung-fu movie references in this epic series.
Is your friend a sci-fi nerd who loves long-running, story-driven space epics like Star Trek? Have him check out Legend of the Galactic Heroes; a series with vivid characters of various backgrounds. He might even enjoy the military and political narrative themes of Galactic Heroes.
Now, that wasn’t so hard, right? You just need research anime series that will match non-anime friend’s interests. Don’t suggest shows that you like – your friend may not like them. Remember: one bad experience with a show could turn them off from all anime forever. You don’t want that.
Now, what if your friend or family members are already casual anime fans? They have a few popular series under their belts such as Death Note or Naruto, right? Yet, they want to branch out to other series but don’t know where to start. I gotcha, it’s just as easy as suggesting anime to non-anime fans.
Since you have a general idea of what shows they like, you can suggest new series based around their favorites. If they like Bleach then, they may like Yu Yu Hakusho. If they like fanservice, have them watch Monogatari. Your little sister enjoys Sailor Moon? Have her watch Card Captor Sakura or Madoka next. Over time, you can show your casual friends more artistic, deeper anime such as Paranoid Agent or Ani*Kuri 15. It will take some time for your casual friends to get into series that aren’t considered mainstream. Be patient.
Before I go let me say this: Do not get offended if your non-anime or casual anime fan friend or family member doesn’t like the shows you do. If they like a show you don’t, let them enjoy it. Attacking shows that they like, or getting upset that they do not like the shows you enjoy only makes you an insecure little bitch.
Don’t be a little bitch.
(Note: The Shit Art Online image is for clickbait views only. Never suggest such a trash series to anyone it doesn’t deserve money or more fans.)
You only get one shot. If the first episode of an anime doesn’t impress me, it’s getting dropped.
So, did Just Because! impressed me on its first episode? Boy, it was truly impressive.
Let me ask you older folks a question: Do you remember your final dayss of high school?
Reflect on this period of your young life for a moment. After years of dealing with bullshit from normie peers, popular kids in their cliques, preppy rich kids, obnoxious football jocks, and teachers who never taught you shit, all of that was coming to an end. You were deciding if you should stay in your hometown for college. Perhaps you desired to relocate to a new, unknown city to expand your education and see something different. Maybe you didn’t want to go to college. You were in school for twelve years of your life; adding four or six more years of school through college and university would drive you crazy. The very thought of more schooling right after high school pissed you off, so you just went straight the workforce, military, or whatever.
During these four years, you had a few people in your circle whom you grew close with and you formed a bond. Throughout these four years, you and your friends hung out after class. It’s possible that you might have skipped class to visit your friend. Hell, some of you even skipped an entire day of school to kick it with your friend all day a few times. Your crew were tight. As graduation drew near, you dreaded if bonds you made will soon break forever; as you and your friends aimed to go your own paths in life.
That’s Just Because!: Pine Jam’s original anime about four third year high school students entering the final period of their high school career. Eita (the main character) is one of these students. What makes him unique from the others is that he recently transferred to their high school (rather late, as it’s the end of the second semester). Yeah, he’s yet another typical anime high school student transfer into a new school. That’s nothing new in anime. However, what makes Eita, different from other “mysterious transfer students” in anime is the fact that this guy knows a few people at his new school – including his old friends, Haruto and Mio. With that fact, he isn’t that mysterious.
Ten minutes or so into Just Because!, we’re introduced to the cast, as well as insights to their lives and motives. We have Mio; a studious girl who spends her free-time prepping for her college entrance exams (much to the dismay of her less studious friends). Next, there’s Haruto; the school’s baseball captain. He’s deciding if he should stick with baseball after graduation, or enter the job force. Then there’s Eita (whom I’ve already talked about) Next, Hazuki; a third year band student who spends her time practicing with her fellow band mates. Finally, there’s Ena; a second year student fighting to keep her Photography Club alive (which is doomed to be disband by the school).
With the characters and their goals presented this early, we are given a chance to care and know a few things about about them. That alone hooked me in into Just Because!. I want to see the characters grow and evolve overtime. I must note that it’s highly possible that this anime will have a solid amount of characters. Given that there were at least six through ten main and supporting characters introduced in episode one, I can assume that there will be more as the series progress this season. I for one cannot wait to see these characters interact with one another; especially Eita, Haruto, and Mio (as they were friends back in middle school). Ena seems pretty interested in Haruto and Mio’s baseball game. She spends most of the episode snapping away at their one-on-one game.
This brings me to my next point: the music and amiation.
The animation of Just Because! isn’t horrible. It is fine for what it is. The visuals aren’t on the levels of say Kakegurui or Made in Abyss, but it’s not bad. Some characters’ faces did look weird in shots were they’re not moving or interacting. I do not know if they’re off model, or if the animators purposely made them look weird. It’s isn’t jarring but it’s noticeable (after maybe two or three rewatches like I did for this review).
The animation does however shine during Haruto and Eita’s one-on-one baseball game. From Eita’s building power for his pitch and throwing his body weight into it, to Haruto’s attempts to hitting the ball as his body swings with his bat, the animation feels fluid and even realistic. You can visibly see the momentum in their actions – may it from the speed of Eita’ pitching or Haruto’s foot digging into the ground as he twists his body into his bat’s swing.
I cannot forget the amazing brass and string music that carries this scene. The song is a strong, proud brass fanfare in B-flat Major (with a key change to E-Flat Major). It starts with horns playing the melody with flare and pride as it slowly fades. As the brass backs off, snares and band drums As Eita and Haruto’s game builds up, so does the music with crescendo in sync. The brass section backs off, letting the percussion section carry Eita’s and Haruto’s silent stare down. The brass melody returns after four measures of rest as Eita pitches furious strike after furious strike. This continues on for about twelve measures
The brass sections backs off once again and the strings are introduced during Eita’s and Haruto’s final stare down. Haruto steps and grinds his feet into the ground with confidence. Eita winds up his pitch, matching his opponent’s confidence. As the cellos and violas plays the melody, Haruto hits the ball with great force, sending it over the field. The piano finishes with gentle arpeggios an the strings holding a chord in unison as the cast watch in awe of Haruto’s out-of-the-park come-from-behind home run.
I love how the music helps tell the story of Haruto and Eita’s game. It enhances the scene’s emotion of two good, old friends recently reunited as they go against one another in a friendly batter vs. pitcher one-on-one game. There is much to be praise on how well the music went in sync with the game (such how the music build up as the game grew intense to the strings playing as Haruto landed a home-run). The music played in this scene should serve as a reminder on why it’s important to use music as a story telling tool in anime.
The first episode of Just Because! has me execited for the series throughout the Fall 2017 season. Its hard for me to be sold on most high school anime series in which the main character is a transfer student. However, given this transfer student knows a few people in his school alreay, this kills the cliché “mysterious transfer student” from the get-go. I’m also digging the premise of the main cast being seniors in the last few months of school as they plan their lives after high school. I have yet to see an anime that does this personally. Character motives where clear from this episodes, therefore you start to care for them a little bit. The animation, while a little weird at some points, isn’t bad. If they animators use more expressive, fluid animation for more scenes just like the basegame scene, then I’ll be happy. The music is this anime’s strongest point. It’s well produced, light-heart just like the anime itself, and it has shown its usefulness in carrying a story.
While I’m on the subject of the music, I must say that “In Unison” is the perfect song title for this scene (assuming that’s the name of the track). Haruto gets inspire to resume his baseball practice against Eita after he hears Hazuki and her band play the trumpet parts. There are shots of the school band playing the song, which gives the illusion that they’re playing in unison. Then we have Mio watching the two boy play the game, but more so she’s fixated on Eita (it’s theorized that she has an unrequited crush on him; a crush she held since middle school). Finally, there’s Ena as she snaps the action on her camera.
Truly in unison, especially since this scene connects our five main characters, directly or otherwise.
Overall, the first episode of Just Because! is highly positively impressive. It has everything I look for a first episode that makes me want to stick around for the series run. I really wish Pine Jam dropped the entire series on Netflix or something so I can marathon the show in one sitting to gain the full experience of the story. I can’t wait to see what they will do with their original anime.
First Impression Score: 8.5/10
+Transfer student won’t be totally mysterious
+Great musical score
+Great insight on the cast of characters and their goals
+Fuild animation in the baseball scene
+Has students as seniors, not freshmen
-Minor Animation issues
-Off model characters
Just Because ©2017 Pine Jam
Gave Just Because a second watch recently and it was just as great as my first run through. There is something about it warm, mellow and almost melancholic tone of the first episode that males me appreciate the hard work and love that was put into it.
Plus, for some reason this anime that for real makes me feel pretty nostalgic about my last year of high school nearly ten years ago (given this anime explores the final semester of 3rd year students). How the show explore students and their journey of their final months in high school is its strongest point story wise given its through many different students, not just one. Also I got a give respect to Pine Jam on making the cliche “Mysterious transfer student” gimmick new with the transfer student knowing some of his classmates since they went to the same middle school.
If Pine Jam don’t fuck up, I can see this show being one of the top dogs of the Fall 2017 anime season.
Expect a first impression review soon!
You only get one shot. If the first episode of an anime doesn’t impress me, it’s getting dropped.
So, did Love is Like a Cocktail impressed me on its first episode? As an alcoholic anime fan, yes. Yes it did.
(Warning: I was drunk when I wrote this)
Let me start out by saying that I feel personally attacked by this anime. I swear, this anime was created for somebody like me: a hardworking 9-to-5 employee with an addiction appreciation for liquor and spirits. I can relate to Chisato Mizusawa –the main female lead of this show. When somebody suggests going out to drinks or invites me over to their house for a fine cocktail or some beers, I get excited. Like Chisato, my lips parts as if I am about to sip on some Hennessy on the rocks. Mention alcohol and hanging out and I’m down for whatever. I match you a bottle or a case of beer.
Honestly, which hard working adult doesn’t enjoy an after work drink? May it be at a bar with a few friends, at the homeboy’s crib, or coming home to see your husband or wife treating you to a cocktail that they created themselves? Sora (Chisato’s husband) knows what he’s doing. This dude is a real husband. He treats his wife to a fine cocktail and dinner each time she comes home. Fellow men: this is the type of husband or boyfriend ya need to be, especially if your mate is a hard working woman. Real talk, if I ever get married, I want to be like Sora, man. Helping my wife feel better after a long day of chaos at the office or the gig.
Sora, you’re a real man.
Anyway, remember how I say I feel attacked by this anime? Well, like Chisato, I’m not really good with alcohol myself. Despite my love for booze, my alcohol tolerance is shit. A single cocktail can get me drunk? Yeah. That’s me. I can respect a tasty drink like Chisato. I mean, just look how happy she looks when she drank her husband’s cocktail, the Plum Splet.
Man, I gotta give props to this sho. They even go the extra mile by showing the viewers how to make the drinks so you can make them at home. That’s awesome to me, given I have a hobby for mixology. My only complaint is that they don’t tell you if you need to shake the shit in a cocktail or go into details on how to make it.
I also like how they show Chisato’s true personality show when she drunk with her “I get weird when I drink” line. And like Sora said, there are some people who can’t be themselves unless they’re drunk.
Kinda strange how alcohol work that way.
To conclude, I’m looking forward to this show. Chisato’s a cute female lead character whom I can relate to and I love her interaction with her husband so far. The mixlogy information is a nice ad that I did not expect and personally, its gonna help me out with my hobby with that. If you love a sweet romantic comedy and alcohol, then I recommend you watch this series.
I have high hopes for this show.
September fascinates me as an anime fan. September 2009 was a turning point for my love for anime, as well as the the roots for me analyzing anime, and convention trips. In September 2009, I was introduced to three anime series in college that would mold me as an full pledge otaku: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Elfen Lied, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. While I’ve been an anime fan for years prior, I was watching anime as just an entertainment tool alone – not as a source for learning and understanding how character development and theatrical themes works for story telling.
I still fondly remember back in September 2009 how anime message boards and blogs were abuzz at Haruhi and Higurashi – praising both series for their deep character development, storytelling, and themes. Fans of Haruhi formed their own cult church – “The Church of Haruhi Suzumiya”; Praising their goddess Haruhi – their Lord and Savior.
People couldn’t stop talking how fucked up Higurashi was with the show’s gore, carnage, and “killer lolis” while entry level weebs blindly celebrated Elfen Lied for its combination of violence and tragic narrative (it’s okay I was blinded by its bullshit back then as well.)
I wanted in. The appeal of these three shows were unlike the anime I was used to watching on [adult swim] and Cartoon Network. Haruhi, Higurashi, and Elfen Lied weren’t shows for the mainstream entry level fans who were comfortable watching anime on television. They were too otaku for them. The average American fan wouldn’t expand to what I labeled anime like the three as “Internet Otaku Anime”.
And that was okay.
Haruhi and Higurahi both had their charms that drew me into those series. Haruhi was weird, yet campy. Higurashi was brutal, yet mysterious. Nobody outside the hardcore otaku circles weren’t watching these shows. Nobody who wasn’t an otaku or watched anime online were talking about Haruhi and Higurashi, which made my somewhat elitist ass happy. I finally discovered shows that I could keep to myself and only talk about among the real otaku. No more mainstream anime for me!
Everyday after school I head straight home to Haruhi, Higurashi, and Elfen Lied one after another. I would go online express my love for both shows with fellow fans and applaud how amazing they were. They were special to us. Yea, not everyone understood why we love Haruhi and Higurashi, but we didn’t care. To us, Haruhi and Higurashi were love letters to the otaku community who wanted something better than was was being offered on T.V.
With all of that said I will be dedicating this month to Higurashi, Haruhi, and maybe some Elfen Lied in celebration of September 2009 and the turning point of my otaku lifestyle.
August 10th, 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of the hit visual novel series “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni”. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was adapted into a successful animated series by Studio Deen in 2006 – setting the standard for horror anime which many series have tried and failed to emulate since. In reflection and celebration of the series 15th anniversary, I will be providing my raw, unedited thoughts of the anime throughout the month of August. I hope you’ll enjoy!
It was about ten years ago during my senior year of high school. I was at my computer in business class, browsing Google for anime wallpapers. While aimlessly browsing the images, I came across a wallpaper that stood out to me. The wallpaper featured a young teenager with a baseball bat, blood splatter, and film frames with the young boy the frames At the bottom there was layered text that read “Please uncover the truth. This is my only wish.”
I didn’t think much of who was the character, what anime he was from, or the text in the image. I just saw this wallpaper as a cool and edgy anime background for my computer. Yet, there was something about this it that made me drawn to it. Overtime, I became curious about the character on my screen and the meaning of his words.
“Please uncover the truth. This is my only wish.”
“What does that mean, ‘uncover the truth’?” I questioned. Beyond that, I thought of nothing else. My dumbass wasn’t smart enough to google that line at the time, so that mystery wasn’t going to be solved , at least during high school that is.
Little did I know back then that the image would mark the prelude of one of my most beloved series of all time: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (lit. When The Cicadas Cry). So, when and how did I discovered the series? Well, let’s fast forward to my sophomore year of college in Fall 2009. A friend recommended that I watch Elfen Lied so I could learn the OP “Lilium” on the violin after class. Once I was completed with classes for the day, I hurried home, pull up the YouTube app on my Wii, looked up Elfen Lied, found the first episode and enjoy it. Upon completion of the first episode, another anime appeared on the suggestion playlist.
“Higurashi no Naku Koro ni? What is this?” I asked myself. Curious, I clicked the thumbnail and laid back on my couch.
“This better be as good as that crazy ass Elfen Lied anime.”
The video starts to play. The show opens with a young teen boy violently smashing the bodies of two lifeless, bloodied girls with a metal baseball bat. Immediately, my eyes widen as I continued watching this dude beat these two girls to death. The young boy dropped his bat as the camera focused on his carnage. Finally, the focus was on the kid’s face as he panted, his eyes widened and blood on his face.
“Holy shit. ” I said to my self quietly. “What is this show?”
I’ve never been much of a horror media guy. I find them boring and cheesy (due to American films) and thoughtless gore fest. Most of them are just the bad guy slicing and dicing up their stupid victims, lacking focus on true fear – psychological fear . But the first 30 seconds of Higurashi felt different. This feeling was solidly in the OP animation and music.
The distance, distorted haunting vocals, the fast-paced arpeggio bass-line, the visual contrast of of a bloodied Rena walking on glass barefoot, Satoko alone in a flower fields crying, and Shion surrounded in red with her face twisted in rage. Each character’s expression and the color usage of their introduction told me that this anime was not like any horror media I’ve seen prior. Just off the OP, I could understand their feeling of sadness, confusion, rage, etc. Emotion plays a huge role in the show I assumed; based off the OP.
This sold me to watching Higurashi.
So, I watched. I watched in confusion at Keiichi waking up in the morning and chilling with Rena and Mion – the two girls he had killed earlier. Was that a dream? A vision he had? I did not know but I stay glued to my seat, wanting answers. Yet, the more I watched, the more questions I started asking.
“What’s with this Himizawa muders and are those girls behind it? “ and “Are they pretending to be happy and carefree to lure Keiichi into a trap?”
As I progressed the first few episodes, I started to figure things out about Higurashi , how the time-loop work, how each arc featured a character just one misstep away from snapping and killing everyone or themselves. And it wasn’t just for say edginess like Elfen Lied, these characters legit have psychological reasons behind their actions.
Rena was bullied and almost raped by two male peers. She (justifying) snapped and beat the two boys with a baseball bat. Keep in mind this: she was already emotionally wrecked by her mom cheating on her dad and splitting the family up, so the bullies attacking her was her breaking point. Shion was treated as a black sheep by her family, and was further disowned by them when she fell in love with Satoshi (a boy who is hated by her family). Satoko (Satoshi’s sister) is a completely wreck mentality due to her the murders of her parents, the disappearance of Satoshi, and her uncle physically abusing her. Rika’s parents were murdered as well and suffers from hopelessness from living thorugh 100 of years of timeloops ending in the same result – death.
Hell, even the series final villain Miyo had issues that lead her into becoming the bad guy; She was left orphaned after the death of her parents. She was taken in by a government run orphanage which was abusing and torturing the children in it. She was no exception to the abuse. Thankfully, she was taken in by her dad’s mentor who treated and loved her like his own granddaughter, but the damage done to her by her abusers at the orphanage took it toll. Stack that with her witnessing her “grandfather” being belittled by his peers for his research, fueling her revenge against everyone that did him (and her) wrong and you got Miyo’s desires to become a God – desires that resulted in the massacred of 2,000+ innocent people a couple of years later.
You just feel so sorry for these characters and understood why they’re behave the way they did throughout the series, ya know?
Anyway I’m going to end this raw freewrite thoughts here but don’t fret! To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Higurashi VN, I will be dropping more raw freewrites on my love for the series and possibly an analysis article .
Also sorry for the bad grammar I have to get to my gig ASAP
You only get one shot. If the first episode of an anime doesn’t impress me, it’s getting dropped.
Did In Another Generic Otaku Harem Fantasy World impressed me on its first episode? Well, if I’m making fun of the title and its originality, then no. It did not impress me at all.
In Another World With My Smartphone is disappointing. I’m talking “shut-in, black sheep in the family who watches anime all day, cosplays at anime cons, and doesn’t play sports like your father wanted you to; thus he disowns you” disappointing (kinda like some of you weeaboos out there reading this).
I was optimistic that this’ll be a good show based on its premise: Our hero, Touya Mochizuki, is resurrected and sent to a new fantasy-like world of his choosing by God (who accidently killed him by throwing down lighting towards the Earth, striking him). In this new world, Touya can still use his smartphone as it’s powered by magic. In addition, his phone is still linked to his former world, allowing him to receive information and news from it.
It’s an interesting concept that I haven’t seen in any other form of media. Seeing modern day technology powered by magic as it technology itself adapts to the fantasy world. It’s such a great idea and you think the writers of the show can do some amazing ideas with that, right?
Nah. All they give us is yet another cookie cutter otaku fantasy anime with world harem undertones, with some decent and cool ideas to help keep it little original. Outside of the original ideas however, this anime failed to impress me in reasons which I will go over.
The anime opens with the recently decreased Touya chilling in heaven alongside God (who looks like a regular lookin’ grandfather; with his glasses, normal clothes, and all). God explains to Touya that his death was accidental to His own carelessness, and begs for Touya’s forgiveness. Touya’s rather chill about the whole mishap and forgives God, understanding that people make mistakes and you must forgive them for it. I mean, yeah, he did died at such a young age and he didn’t fully experienced life, but at least he doesn’t have to live on Earth with all its awful people and problems. And God’s seems like a very chill, mellow, and sincere dude.
You gotta think positive sometimes, ya know?
Impressed by Touya’s forgiving heart, God makes up for his (literally) fatal mistake by reviving him into any world of his choosing (a fantasy world as mentioned earlier), as well as making his smartphone operate in this new world and gives him His number.
Following that, the OP animation starts to play. It starts out normally – upbeat music plays, there’s panning of forest landscape, Touya’s face’s appearing in the foreground, and annoying singing by some J-Pop idol girls, and holy hell it’s so annoying. Many red flags are going off in my head like I’m a Commie.
Things went from “this show won’t be bad at all!” to “this is going to be yet another annoying, generic otaku harem fantasy world anime ain’t it?” To start with my disappointment towards this aniem, Touya transforms into Kirito Clone #314 with a white pallet swap of Kirito’s school shooter trench coat. That alone should had made me drop this anime as soon as saw that, but I decided to curb my anger just for this review.
(Seriously, I’m not anime racist but, what’s with these light/web novel characters looking alike?)
Alas, my anger would soon dominate my chill and zen mind as the weeaboo-like OP music increased its awfulness. Like forreal, the music makes me want to choke out its producer. I’m willing to stack up and piss away $3500+ for a trip to Japan, just so I can personally strangle the anime’s music producer in hopes he or she will never make awful trash like this ever again.
That, or just master the song on the violin and make money off tips at anime cons from fans of this show. Hustle off these weeb kids and adults because they pay good money to hear violin covers of their favorite weeb song but I digress.
As for the OP animation, it’s what you expect from a Generic Otaku Harem Fantasy World Anime: The first phase of the OP is character introductions. First, we have two girls roaming the countryside. We can assume that they’re twin sisters due to their similar hair and eyes color, facial structure, and clothing. Any clues of their personalities and how different they are aren’t presented as their introduction but if I can take a guess, one is an introverted shy twin and the other is more extroverted, open, and brash.
Next, we’re introduced to some samurai girl who looks like the love child of that girl with owl off Samurai Showdown and Reimu off Touhou. She appears to be just like any other average and plain samurai girl in anime of this type so let’s move forward.
Following, is the obvious upbeat Himedere princess. I’m basing this sterotype off the fact of her position in this shot, the color coding of her dress, facial expression, and how her arms are up and spread like she’s a decision maker in her country.
She is followed by who I can assume to be another princess, perhaps a rival princess from another country. I can take a wild guess that she somebody close to her is either dead or missing based how she’s staring outside her window and the depressing look on her face. That, or her weedman whom she called two hours ago is on drug dealer time and is wondering why it’s taking him so long to come through.
We move forward with a below average gothic lolita reading in her dark and gloomy room filled with creepy stuffed animals. Then, we have some random minor character introductions. After that, is a quick ascending shot focusing on a floating island which is followed up by shot of a MILF and her daughter, maybe? Her student? Some kid she kidnapped? I dunno the connection between the two other than they have the same weird purple and white hair clips. Speaking of connections, is there a connection to the floating island and these two, given they had their introducing shots back-to-back with the same quick ascending panning.
Next, the OP focus back on that Himdere Princesss and she just look annoying with her overly happy childish Genki anime girl expression and animal mascot sidekick. She looks annoying and I hope her animal sidekick bites into her neck and drags her across the ground violently like Mantecore the White Tiger did Roy Horn. Just snatch all her shit up and maul her to death.
Then, we’re introduced to a secondary male character. He’s totally gonna be Touya’s rival or something with how he is position in the middle, there’s that speed lines pointing directing at him, and there’s a close up of his smug face. He has white hair, so he probably has a tragic past or something that will make the fangirls feel bad for him or something. Or “he” might be a cross-dressing girl with masculine features thus making everyone question their sexuality because it’s a harem show and we need to carter to every type of niche of animu girl archtype here – even reverse traps.
The OP transition to battle showcases and boy, are they boring. Every battle that is shown here lack any sense of direction towards urgency, excitement, or high stakes in terms of life or death. The brawler twin just curb stomps some dragon as she slams her fists into its body while her mage sister cast magic against….invisible enemies? Oh and we don’t know what kinda spell she just cast. I guess an explosion spell maybe? I dunno.
Reimu and Owl Girl’s love child fighting style example is one of the worse of this phase and here’s why: So Samurai Girl runs up on one lizard man) and lizard man puts up his shield to protect himself, right? But it looks like either Samurai Girl slice the shield or stomach of the lizard man but it’s hard to tell based off the camera angle and the awkwardness of the animation. Then she charges into two other lizardmen.
We can tell she’s charging into them based off the animation speed lines, but that animation just fades as she slices the first Lizardman’s shield, runs (with the speedlines re-appearing), the camera moving awkwardly behind her as the speedlines disappear and she attacks two more lizardmen. Just like with the first lizardman, we can’t tell if she hit them or not due to how weird the animation appears.
(Refer to the OP video link above as my GIF creation program wouldn’t work at the time of posting this review)
The scene quickly transition to the second princess firing a magic bow towards a group of some damn dirty apes who were just minding their own business. Not much to go on here, so let’s tear apart Touya’s battle.
Touya fights against some old dude in an empty arena for no reason. The fight choreography is lazy as there is no effort and direction with the sword fighting. The sword swings has no force or power behind them as they side step to the right. There’s small sparks at each clash of their blades but it’s not anything grand. In short, this is the worse battle of this phase due to the animator not caring or pressed for time and completion.
The OP finally ends with Generic Otaku Harem Fantasy MC (I’m not calling him by his real name anymore) and the girls standing in front of an unknown mansion. Will this be his personal penthouse for him and his harem where they all live in harmony? Are they going to do some The Great Gatsby type partying here? Is it some random dude’s house they just rented out the front lawn for this shot alone? Oh well, it doesn’t really matter.
At this point, my gut was telling me “Hey Benjamin, drop this now! It’s not worth your blood pressure rising due to your anger.” I ignored my gut’s warning.
“Nah, let’s see how laughably terrible this anime will get!” I rebuttal as I aggressively tapped my left index finger against the side of my laptop while punching the wall with my right hand in anger from witnessing such a generic show of a OP. I mean, this anime isn’t that utterly horrible. I can see why some folks may like it, but its’ not my cup of tea. And yet, I swear if I kept watching this entry level moe’ harem filth, I’d commit mass murder against all lonely otaku who love to project their harem otaku fantanties on main characters like this Touya..
I need to listen to my gut more often.
Once the awful OP ends, we see Generic Otaku Harem Fantasy MC lying in a field unconscious. He awakens, sees that he’s okay, and heads to town. As he questions how he’ll survive in this new world, Generic MC receives a call from God. After confirming that Generic MC is okay he informs him that he upgraded his phone to help him get through the new town with ease such as installing a map program detailing the area.
Once receiving the map updates, Generic MC heads to town, but is stopped by some weird, overly excited, possibly gay tailor; He begs the MC to sell his “bizarre” school clothes to him in exchange for some gold pieces and clothing to help blend in. The scene cuts away to an eye-catch of a recycled image of the MC checking his phone and annoying MMORPG-like music jingle.
“They’re gonna use this often, aren’t they? I hope not this is annoying.” I asked myself. “Eh, probably not, it’s just a one-time thing, right?”
Oh Ben, you’re so full of hope.
After receiving his new clothes (and being creped out by the tailor sniffing his old outfit), Generic Otaku Harem Fantasy World MC wanders around town, seeking the Silver Moon Inn as mentioned to him by the tailor. He needs a place to lounge in and settle in the new world. While searching for the inn, he encounters the set of twins from the OP being harassed by some thugs in an alley. The girls sold the thugs a damaged glass antler piece and believe they should not pay full price for it. They demand the girls to lower the price, which they refuse.
Touya decides to step in and help the girls. And once again, a red flag pops up in my head.
“Let me guess: Dude’s gonna play hero, somehow overpower the two thugs who’re in better shape than he is, and the two girls will sworn over him and befriend him, despite being ignorant of his origins.”
My theory will be soon proven right.
The thugs try to attack the kid but he takes them out with ease. During the strife, we’re treated to a sample of his powers bestow upon him by God. As the smaller thug charges towards the MC with a knife, he dodges the blade. He notices that he is moving so fast that the world feels like it’s in slow motion. Taking advantage of this, he smashed his elbow into the spine of the attacker, knocking him out cold. The anime doesn’t show what happens to the other thug.
Guess he saw his homeboy getting that ass whoop and was like “Nah bruh, I’m good. I didn’t even want that glass piece anyways.” and dipped off screen.
So Touya, or Generic Otaku Harem Fantasy MC. This kid’s a Gary Sue – blessed by God who enhanced his natural abilities. He managed to whoop one thug’s ass so badly that his homeboy ran off on him like he just ripped off the plug. In under ten minutes we’ve encounter awful OP music, a harem set up, a generic fantasy otaku dream world, and now a Gary Sue MC who’ve just impressed a set of twin girls with his powers.
The cynical me was yearning for the kid to act all cool and cocky against the thugs, only to have his skull caved in by them. Kinda like Subaru (Re:Zero) was put in his place for playing hero by the two thugs harassing Emila. Granted, In Another World With My Smartphone is a campy “stuck-in-a-fantasy-world”anime compared to Re:Zero, and the kid did died at such a young age. He earned the right to live out this fantasy life of being overly powered and have girls fall of him day one. But still, this lazy writing and train wreck anime makes wanna drink. I need to get drunk tolerant this trash.
Touya and the twins (Elze; a headstrong brawler and Linze; the quiet mage) are quickly acquainted. After revealing some information about his background, he tells the girls that he’s searching for the Silver Moon Inn. To the surprise of nobody who understand lazy writing and are knowledgeable in classic RPG troopes/clichés, the twins are staying in that exact inn and agree to let him join their adventure.
There’s another cut away shot with some awful guitar music playing while the voice actresses of the twins are humming along to the melody (off beat mind you). They sound bored; as if they just wanna get their paycheck and forget the fact that they worked on this show. I don’t blame them.
[Skipping several unimportant scenes ahead]
Later that night, we see Touya lying in bed checking his cell phone. The phone is still connected to his old world, so he still receives news updates from it as we see him reading an entertainment article on a popular band from his world breaking up. I personally like this, as it shows that life in his old world has move on after his death. This makes me wish that I wasn’t dropping this anime, because I want to see the writers play with the idea of Touya checking his phone for news updates in his old world.
The next morning, Touya, Elze, and Linze scan a bulletin board searching for quests to earn money. After the twins get Touya hip on how the guild system work, the three apply to hunt down and kill five horned wolves, collecting their horns as proof of killing the beasts. Before heading out, Touya arms himself with a sword – furthering the point home that he’s a generic action-fantasy web/light novel hero
Toyua tears through and flawlessly kill two wolves as expected (because you know, can’t have the Gary Sue MC get torn apart and slaughtered by wild beasts ass in mere seconds), one of the wolves being an extra kill just because. After the battle, he mentions that he wants to learn how to read and write in the language of the world he’s living in, given he lacks the knowledge of knowing how to. Furthermore, he wants to learn magic as he was inspired by Linze’s spell casting.
Let’s break this down: he gets to live in a world that he’s happy in (fair enough due to reasons mentioned earlier), he takes down thugs flawlessly, links up with twins, kills two monsters with ease (one which was an extra kill), and now he wants to learn magic. As a Gary Sue kid with an unprecedented natural learning rate and talent, he’ll master magic with ease of course.
As they’re chilling back at the Inn, the twins tell Touya that in order to learn and master magic, he must have been born with strong aptitudes. Linze (born with strong aptitude) showcases her magic spells to Touya through elemental stones. Linze shows Touya a weak water magic spell, filling a small tea cup up with water. She passes the stone to Touya, who on his first try almost floods the table. The twins are shocked and even impress by this and suggest that they go outside to have him practice with the othert stones before he destories the inn.
Of course, Touya shows impressive display of skills of each stone’s magic. He has no hassle in using their powers a few steps above the average. It’s like he’s of the Master Knight class from the stagery RPG Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War – he can use all magic and weaponry. Expert unlike say Lachesis of Leaf (two Master Knights) who had to work their asses off to get that class, this kid would start off as a Master Knight right from the gate.
After seeing the kid showcasing how much of a Gary Stu he is, I decided to drop the episode right there and then. I had enough of it.
In Another World With My Smartphone isn’t too terrible, but it’s not great either. For what it’s worth, this show works well for its target audience and demographic. It’s a campy, fun show that doesn’t take itself or clichés seriously. I can see it as a show for somebody who just wants to relax on an easy day with a beer (or juice for the younger folks) and chill out after a long day of work or school. As for people like me outside it’s demographic, I can’t recommend it.
I was really hopeful that this anime would have been different with using modern technology in a fantasy world that still work due ot magic. That is an amazing concept that I wanan see more in anime, because it’s something I’ve never seen before. While I did drop the episode, I did manage to peep at the scene where Touya is explaining how to create ice cream with magic thanks in part with his cell phone. I thought that was cool him showing the resident of his new world how the technology of his former world works.
I must also appreciate the RPG like aesthetics of this show. It made me felt like I was watching a campy RPG come to life and I personally wouldn’t mind playing a RPG game like this. The music itself has that classic smartphone RPG vibe with it light orchestral soundtrack playing the scenes. Granted, I will say it got annoying at certain points.
Sadly, the predictable overpowerness of Touya and him learning magic and weaponery with ease is a huge turn off. I get that he was blessed by God to have his natural abiblities increased ten folds, but it comes off as cheap and lazy. However, it seems like Touya will struggle with reading and writing overtime so I guess that’s a fair trade off.
In short, just skip In Another World With MY Smartphone if you dislike OP’d Gary Stu characters and overly capmy RPG troopes. It’s not worth wsting your time watching. If you don’t mind it and just want a warm, upbeat show to watch then I say watch it.
I would give this show a 4.5/10, but it’s that modern day technology in a fantasy world idea is great and I think if done right, it could be sometime exciting to see in future anime series. Plus
I’m tempted to give this show a second chance just based off how relaxing of a show this is. Also I just saw how the other thug was defeated after writing this. Dude was knock out by the brawler twin but I’m too lazy to edit that in lol.
Higurashi in the only power of friendship anime I respect.
In life, we experience pain. Betrayal. Abuse. Hopelessness. Lost. Suffering. Depression. Anxiety. Whatever. The point being is this: life is brutal. However – the support of (true) family and friends can helps ebb our pain. With their help, we can push forward and grow better day-by-day.
07th Expansion and Studio Deen’s Higurashi no Naku Koro ni show us how the power of friendship can pull us up through our darkest Moments. Moments that make us believe we’re hopeless. Movements that makes feel that there’s nobody who can understand what we are going through.
This is where the beauty of Higurashi comes in.
The main cast (Rena, Shion, Mion, Satoko, Rika, and Keiichi) are suffering from various degrees of pain. Rena suffered from trauma of bullying and her mother cheating on her father. Shion is the Sonozaki family’s blacksheep, thus straining her relationship with her love ones. Satoko…poor Satoko. Keiichi suffers from the guilt of his past sins. And Rika with despair and hopelessness. They all believe that nobody understand htier pain and suffering, until they reached out to their friends at one point in the series.
Example: Keiichi reaches out to Rena whom was suffering from paranoia. She believed that nobody understood her pain and took it out on her friends. Keiichi opened his heart to her, allowing her to express her pain to him. Keep in mind that in a different world of Higurashi (long story), Keiichi murdered Rena – whom he believed was trying to kill him. Rena in reality was literally reaching out to him, knowing that he was going through the same paranoia that she experienced years prior.
“The Power of Friendship” of anime is so cheesy and Higurashi is one only anime that I’ve personally experienced the troope executed right with realistic themes such as child abuse and mental health. Higurashi teaches us that we have a support system and that we must never allow ourselves to think that we are suffering alone and that people do not understand what wer’re going through.
With that said, I hope you enjoy this very raw, unedited, poor grammar freewrite. Tell me in the ocmments if you too are a fan of Higurashi and appericate its usage of the power of friendship as a narrative.
In Another World With My Smartphone is disappointing. I’m talking “shut-in otaku, black sheep in the family who watches anime all day, and doesn’t play sports like your father wanted you to, thus he disowns you” disappointing (kinda like some of you weebs out there). I had so much hope for this anime when I first heard about it. The idea of the main character using modern day technology in a fantasy world, and said technology is powered through magic. That’s sound amazing! It’s something I’ve never seen in anime before (or in any type of media), and I was curious on how that will play out in the series.
Sadly, my hopes were crushed when I realized within the first two or three minutes of the episode that this anime was, yet another , cookie cutter otaku fantasy harem series. You know, we’ve seen time-after-time before; Thanks due the popularity of Sword Art Online. Plus, I should had know this show would had been garbage from the jump given it’s a light novel series cratered to lonely otaku who yearn to live out some weird harem fantasy that they know deep down will never happen.
I mean they can’t talk to a single women, let another collect multiple women to add into an harem.
Stay tune in the future for my more in-depth review on episode one of In Another Generic Otaku Harem Fantasy World in the near future.
‘I think it’s time we blow this scene. Get everybody and the stuff together. OK. 3 2 1. Let’s jam.’
I’m going to make this bold ass statement: If series such as Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and Pokemon jump started the Western anime craze of the 1990s, then Cowboy Bebop snatched that craze and carried it to unimaginable heights during the early 2000s – thus shaping how anime is viewed in the eyes of mainstream America today. If Cowboy Bebop never made it to the States or became such an overnight hit, then (maybe) mainstream interest in anime here in would had die out. Don’t get me wrong: those shows did well here in the States, but Cowboy Bebop was a game changer. I (personally) believed that the show helped changed the stereotype that anime is childish in America.
Putting my major (and fact-less) bias aside, Cowboy Bebop is Sunrise Studio’s 1998 legendary anime series produced by the equally legendary team up of director Shinchiro Watanabe, writer Keiko Nobumoto, character designer Toshiro Kawamoto, and composer Yoko Kanno. The series revolves around the adventures of a ragtag crew of bounty hunters attempting to make ends meet day-by-day.
The crew consist of the zen, free-spirited Spike, his best friend; the wise and mature Jet, the provocative opportunist; Faye, and finally, the quirky teenage super-genius; Ed. What’s unique about these characters is their connection to their (tragic) pasts, and how it crafts their present-day lives and personalities.
Spike declares himself “dead”, due to his past with the Red Dragons crime family, as well as feeling guilt towards Julia – the only person he truly cared for. This results in his “Whatever happens, happens” mantra in combination of his carefree spirit. Jet’s struggles with his past is rooted in the betray of his friend; whom ambushed and shot him – resulting the loss of his arm. Faye perhaps has the most unstable, complex connection to the past (next to Spike) of the main cast. She lacks knowledge of her own past due 50+ years of deep cryogenic sleep. Further in the series, she learns about it through an old, homemade Betamax recording of her younger self. It’s revealed that she was an once a hopeful, shy, kindhearted, innocent kid full of wild dreams. Those dreams were ruined after her family were slaughtered by space pirates, leaving her the lone survivor. The injuries she suffered from the attack forced doctors to put her in deep sleep, which resulted in her memory lost and personality change.
Oh well, whatever happens, happens.
What makes Cowboy Bebop my highest rated series is how it was such a game changer for me as a teenager. Prior to my encounter with it, I was used to shows such as Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, and Outlaw Star to name a few. Great shows mind you with good stories, but they weren’t really deep or thought provoking (Outlaw Star and Sailor Moon S did made me think a little bit with their themes, but it wasn’t like Cowboy Bebop level deep). Cowboy Bebop had this more adult branding to it; it made me feel in love with the series. You had jazz music playing in some of the major fights, characters drinking, smoking (both weed and tobacco on screens), poppin’ pills and trippin’ off shrooms. There were beautiful, kickass female characters who were treated not just as eye-candy, but humans. Cow or Bebop showcased characters that had legit issues that you could relate to such as debt, struggling with the past, burdens etc. No longer was I limited to anime that had your typical fuckin’ bullshit “defeat the monster-of-the-day” or “I wanna be the strongest in the world” fantasy shit.
Cowboy Bebop was the real shit because it was real.
‘Once upon a time, in New York City in 1941… at this club open to all comers to play, night after night, at a club named “Minston’s Play House” in Harlem, they play jazz sessions competing with each other. Young jazz men with a new sense are gathering. At last they created a new genre itself.
They are sick and tired of the conventional fixed style jazz.
They’re eager to play jazz more freely as they wish then… in 2071 in the universe… The bounty hunters, who are gathering in the spaceship “BEBOP”, will play freely without fear of risky things. They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called… COWBOY BEBOP’
-Cowboy Bebop’s tagline pitch
29 days down, just one more. Day 30 – Your Favorite Anime.
This…will be fun.
While you’re waiting for that, please check out these amazing video by Digibro on Cowboy Bebop:
With episodes four and five’s plot of Mary and Yumeko teaming up to regain their humanity and lives, I figured that now is a great time to drop a theory I have on two possible narrative theme elements of Kaegurui; The theme of power and freedom. Both episodes (including manga spoilers) and the ED provided me with more than enough evidence and clues to support these claims. Hell, I’ll throw in some theories I have about Yumeko’s personality because why not.
The first phase of the ED opens with separate, close focus shots of Yumeko’s ass and bouncing breasts; branding Kakegurui as a series of near hyper sexuality. Next, we see Yumeko walking in the rain unprotected. She doesn’t appear to mind the rain, or the problems it brings. This tells us that Yumeko is carefree: She loves taking risks and finds comfort in being reckless. In short, she marches to the rhythm of her own beat.
In the background, there is a peony flower – the Japanese symbol of daring bravery and wealth. People with bravery and wealth are powerful. Yumeko is a brave girl; she’s not bothered by high risk stakes or manipulation by outside sources. In fact, she enjoys it. To say she gains pleasure from it is a statement not far from the truth. Hyakkaou itself is rich in wealth, bravery, and power. Seeing the peony flowers in various Kakegurui manga covers and promotional materials is no coincidence in that sense.
The peony cycles through four colors: red, green, yellow-green, and purple.
In color theory, red is use for power. Now, what are the Hyakkaou students gambling for? Status and power above all. But, before you get the power, you must get the money. This leads us to the next color – green.
Green – most associated with money – and greed. Money makes the world go round. Money never sleeps like Wall Street. If gambling is the backbone of the school than money is the lifeblood. The student body is made up of the children of some of the richest and most powerful connected families of Japan.
Power is everything. Money rules all.
‘You gotta get the money first. Then when get the money, you get the power.’
-Tony Monata, Scarface (1983 American film)
‘All my life I want money and power.’
-Kendrick Lamar, Backseat (2012 American hip-hop single)
Next is yellow-green. We already analyze green, so let’s focus on yellow. Yellow represents logic, analysis, and brain stimulation. Gambling itself is a mental game; As you much analyze and read your opponent’s moves. Logic can greatly dictate the flow of a gambling match (if you’re extremely smart and/or know how to play the system that is). Yellow can also represent joy and happiness – something Yumeko tend to indulge herself in a lot through gambling.
Finally the color purple. Purple represents royalty, power, luxury, and nobility – four things in which the upper-class students either have obtained or inherited. The lower-class/livestock yearns for these four things they lack. Purple is also a mysterious, yet beautiful color. This works with Yumeko, as we do not know neither her origins, nor background. She’s also rather beautiful as her male peers were captivated by her beauty at first sight (and it’s implied Ryota has a crush on her based on her beauty).
This phase of the ED continues for a few bars of music, which builds up as the vocalist and instruments are layered in the melody.
There are quick, close focus shots of Yumeko’s chest, skirt, opened shirt, and finally, her lips. The animation of her lips sync with the vocalist singing “tagitte shimau wa!, or, “I’m overflowing!” in English.
Now, we’ve heard Yumeko say this line before in episode 2; as she gets aroused through gambling. Gambling excites Yumeko profoundly. Perhaps a bit too much however.
The ED transitions into phase two. The peony flower has exploded into red pedals. The pedals start to rotate around Yumeko. Now, remember that red means power. Who has the power in Hyakkaou? The student government has the power of course. Now, could that possibly mean that Yumeko will break up the student council’s power game, and have them wrapped around her fingers as the series progress?
These lyrics of the ending theme seem to suggest so:
‘So have your way with their souls.
Make them dance in the palm of your hand!’
Then again, this could also be a reference to how the student council control the lower class; removing their humanity, treating them as livestock, and dictating their lives through the Life Schedule Plan (more on that later).
After that, Yumeko tosses her blazer aside carelessly; her dress shirt open, revealing her cleavage and pink bra. Her arms are spread slightly. She walks with fluidity as she sways her hips back and forth, still soaked by the rain. Liberated from her “restrains” (the blazer and buttoned shirts), she wears a wide smile; As if she’s happy that she can be free. Perhaps this symbolize that in the future, she’ll finally be happy that she can be her true self – a fearless, limitless gambler.
There’s a bar of rest in the music, followed by an upskirt shot from the ground up. The downbeat directs us to the final phase. Yumeko’s arms and hair are raised high above her head. She walks with more confidence in each step. Multiple lights sync with the percussion, alternating between blue and pink at each bar. Five or six peony flowers appear in the background, each rotating like roulette wheels while the pedals of the original peony still dance around Yumeko.
The imagery increases with intensity, working in synergy with the music’s crescendo. The animation transitions to a set of poker chips ascending; This might hint that Yumeko will raise above the ranks of Hyakkou and the student government.
Finally, the ED ends with a focus shot of the Yumeko’s face. It’s blushed, her lips are parted, and her hair a mess. She appears she just been pleasured sexually for some odd reason (sex sells I guess). Also, note how her hair are red – just like the peony pedals. Perhaps she gains power and triumph over the student government overtime. Maybe I’m thinking way too deep into the shot, but whatever.
By analyzing the ED, I’ve theorized two the possible themes of Kakegurui are freedom and power.
Freedom plays a large role in the series. Students yearning to free themselves from their “pet” and “livestock” statues, as well as debts they owe to others. We first see this through Ryota and Mary’s game from the first episode. Of course, Ryota lost to Mary and became her pet as a result.
Later, after her defeat against Yumeko, Mary is force to surrender her life, and live the life that the student council crafted for her: the Life Schedule Plan (getting married to a senator, baring his children, etc.).
She enters a debt forgiveness gambling match with Yumeko (also suffering the same fate as Mary). The two join forces to lower their debt, thus one step closer in retaining their humanity and freedom. During this match, we’re introduced to Nanami, a young girl reduced to livestock status. She’s forced to partner up with minor villain Kiwatari. After realizing that she was coerced (as well as emotionally and mentally abused) into working for Kiwatari, Yumeko convinces Nanami to grow a backbone, fight for herself, and free herself from Kiwatari. Despite losing the match (coming in second place) and still having debt, Nanami gains a sense of freedom and confidence for herself.
As for the theme of power, it’s quite obvious. From episode 1 to the recent episode 5 (and the manga of course), power and status is played heavily in the series. Mary has power over Ryota for a time. Yumeko displays her power through extreme wit and intelligence. Students with status and money have power over the pets. The student government (made up of high ranking gamblers and students with political and financial connections) rule the school through their power. We see the fincinal status and connection with Itsuki (as her dad is the CEO of a toy company) and the political pull and ruling of the current ruthless Kirari Momobami.
Power is everything in Hyakkaou.
‘No one man should have all that power.’
–Kanye West, Power (2010 hip-hop single)
How did you like my analysis and theories? Think I’m spot on or am I’m just overthinking an ED and the music? I’m excited how things will play out in both the manga nad anime, as things are starting to get wild in episode 5. I’ve yet to read the manga but I heard from a friend that it’s nuts. Let me know what you think in the comments!
FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES:
The National Council of Problem Gambling. Just because a fictional character makes having a gambling addiction fun doesn’t mean it is in real life.
English and Japanese lyrics for the ED.
Mother’s Basement analysis of the OP of Kakegurui. Although this further inspired me to do this ED analysis, I wasn’t initially inspired by the video. I was more inspired by Anime Live Reaction analysis of Dragon Ball Super ED 7 to analyze anime lyrics and ED.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t done days 29 and 30 of the “30 Day of Anime Challenge”, it’s because I’ve been too heavily focus on other major projects right now. They will return soon.
I wish Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon never ended.
Now, that’s something I’d say back in 2007. Today, both shows are back on the air: with Dragon Ball with Dragon Ball Super and Sailor Moon with Sailor Moon Crystal.
Go me and reliving my carefree childhood!
To be real with you guys;there aren’t any anime that I wished never ended. Yea I mean, it suck that some shows ended abruptly(say Elfen Lied) or due to studio carelessness and lack of interest (think Studio DEEN with their terrible adaption of Umineko no Naku Koro ni). If an anime ended, it just means that. Just gotta deal with it. Move on and watch new shows to enjoy.
If the finished (or canceled) anime you enjoy has an currently running manga, or other form of media (gaming, visual novel, etc.), then give the different media a try. Join an online forum full with fans of the series you enjoy and talk to them about how much joy it brought you.
To end, are there any shows that I wish never ended? Nah. Not really. Sometimes, some series get rebooted or continued through a new entry. Some might end forever. Others may continue on through other media, or the source material is still active. And finally, you just simply have to move on to other anime.
(…okay so I kinda wish The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya kept going.)