Recently, my friend the TV Guru and I went to see Toei Animation’s blockbuster hit movie Dragon Ball Super: Broly at the theaters and man, it was an experience as both an Dragon Ball and anime fan that I will never forget. The experience of watching such an critically acclaimed film based on an iconic and influential anime series with many other anime and Dragon Ball fans touched us so much that we had to give our unbiased (drunken) thoughts on the movie. Trust me, if you’re a Dragon Ball fan and did not saw this movie at the theaters, you did yourself a disservice.
Also in this podcast we chop up good game and mock CrunchyRoll’s infamously hilariously and terrible nomination for their annual trash tier entry level anime awards.
And if you’re a weirdo who likes to burn their battery life and data plan by keeping the YouTube app open, here’s a link to our review on YouTube
I have a podcast now so if you’re a long-time follower who have been wondering where the fuck I’ve been, now you know. Don’t worry; I’m still gonna write blogs. This is a side project I’m working on with a friend.
These are the mere free-flowing, raw, and unedited thoughts of mines on the first three or four episodes of the Fall 2018 anime “Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai” and my first impressions on it. There is no structure nor order on how I talk about this show.
A boy wakes up next to a girl around his age sleeping peacefully in his bed. He looks at her as she awakens and treats her with a “good morning”, in which she returns the greeting back. As they slowly wake up and indulge in playful teasing and banter of their lack of sleep, I am taken by surprise at the fact that the first episode has opened with our lead male and female characters in bed; suggesting that they are in an intimate relationship.
Additionally, the male lead looks and acts like an alpha; a rarity in anime today, as most male teenage leads are doormat simps (just like 90% of male anime fans globally). Finally! A young male anime hero with balls! This is great! Too great. Too great to be true.
No, really, it was. I accidentally downloaded the third episode, not the first.
Because I decided to get stoned out of my mind before watching this anime, I unwitty download episode 3; thinking it was episode 1. Sure, I spoiled myself by seeing Mai and Sakuta together in bed. However, it was a spoiler that I welcomed. I assumed that they got together by the end of episode 2 at the least.
I went back to KissAnime to download episodes 1 and 2. Episode 1 starts to play and its opening shot was the same opener from episode 3, except with different dialogue. Mai asks Sakuta if he is going to kiss her, in which Mai disappears and Sakuta awakens from his dream. Said dream foreshadowing future events.
I shouldn’t be surprised by this at how bold of a move that was. After all, Rascal Does not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai was written by light novelist Haijime Kamoshida (notable for his works The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and the beautifully written original coming-of-age high school drama anime Just Because! from Fall 2017).
While I’ve never read The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, I’m a huge fan of Just Because! due to Kamoshida’s approach towards clichéd high school anime archetypes. Example: Rather than to write main character Eita as a new mysterious transfer student who enters a new school during the middle of his first year (like almost every other high school anime), Eita is a senior who transfers back to his hometown’s school district during the second semester (Eita moved away from his hometown during middle school). Eita’s “new” classmates at his “new” school district are actually a few of his friends from childhood. Komoshida effetely kills the “mysterious transfer student” idea off and replaces it with a character that’s already established and known by his peers in his city.
Komoshida is a clever writer in that sense, and Bunny Girl Senpai is no exception.
Before discovering that Kamoshida wrote Bunny Girl Senpai, I had no intention of watching it. Even hearing the show’s name alone made me (foolishly) believe that it was going to be, yet another, fanservicery, run-of-the-mill, below-average light novel anime adaption with a disposable trash waifu. A trash waifu wearing a skimpy bunny girl outfit that Cleverworks will produce figurines of her in said outfit for the fanboys of her to jerk off to and nut on.
These untrue, biased, stupid assumptions were slaughtered once I ran across Mother’s Basement video analysis on the show, explain that Kamoshida wrote the original novel, and discussing the themes of the show (such as bullying, facing rejection, social norms, etc.) So I figure I would give this show a watch.
Glad I did.
The first episode truly proved my earlier assumptions wrong. I was an idiot to think that this show was going to be garbage! Why did I allow myself to judge a book by its cover? In my defense, this current era of light novel anime adaptions is stale and bland. This is not the mid-2000s anymore when we had hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and creative light novel anime adaption coming out left and right.
Remember when the iconic juggernaut The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya came along and kick everyone’s asses in 2006? That was a light novel anime adaption that not only define light novels and light novel anime – but it was the start of a generation of otaku culture. The success and global cultural impact of Haruhi Suzumiya laid the groundwork for other light novels to be adaptive into TV anime.
I miss those days.
(Of course, that Haruhi laying the groundwork for light novel anime statement is up to debate)
Currently, light novel anime adaptions are a mess. The Goblin Slayer anime spat in the face of its light novel ancestor with its ugly CGI, lack of character development that was found in the original, removing important story plots from the light novel, and a controversial brutal violent scene that was not necessary for a first episode.
Every year, we’re “treated” to another boring, uninspiring isekai (another world) light novel adaption that just has a different gimmick that doesn’t change anything or do anything groundbreaking.
Sword Art Online needs to be taken to the backyard and get shot in the back of its head so it can be taken out of its misery already like the dying, useless dog it is.
Oh, how the era of the great light novel anime adaption has ended
…or so I thought. Bunny Girl Senpai’s first episode changed my mind.
Off the jump, we see the heroine parading herself around in a public library in nothing but a skimpy bunny girl outfit. Such a daring, lewd, and perverted act performed by any woman would certainly create attention for her.
But for Mai, – a well-known and beloved actress – there’s no way anybody could ignore her. Questions and comments such as “is she doing this for clout?”, “is this for a movie?”, “is that actress secretly an exhibitionist?”, and “she has fallen so low…” are gonna be said and asked. Everyone is glued to their phones. Everyone is addicted to social media. Indisputably, people seeking likes, views, and money for viral moments are going to document such an event on their smartphones.
Alas, she goes unnoticed. No. For real. They don’t notice her. She even bends herself forward towards a salaryman in a way that her breasts are in his face. But since the salaryman doesn’t have the time or the love for these hos, he doesn’t give her an ounce of attention. You know, maybe they’re just playing pretend. Mai has done this so often at this library that everyone decided to act like she doesn’t exist because they don’t wanna give her any attention.
Except they’re not playing pretend.
Mai doesn’t exist – both figuratively and literally.
She isn’t doing this for cheap thrills; it’s a legit cry for help.
Her existence is at risk and unless people notice her, she will die.
Moments later, Sakuta uses his main character powers to spot her walking about and confronts her. Mai, in return, copies Hitagi Senjougahara’s mannerism that she got from the Monogatari playbook and threatens him; demanding that he forgets what he saw and to never associate with her. And because the Monogatari playbook is public domain, Sakuta decides to steal moves from the Koyomi Araragi section and explains to Mai that he knows about her condition (due to personal experience) and that he can help her.
The condition? Puberty Syndrome: a rumored illness that causes sensitivity and instability among youths infected by it.
Mai believes him and accepts his help; thus starting the latest installment of the Monogatari series!
Kidding, of course. (That joke is getting old).
As mentioned (and me making fun of it) earlier, Bunny Girl Senpai (audaciously) borrows ideas from its influences (such as Monogatari) and other classic anime/light novel tropes, stereotypes, archetypes; using them to its advantage to add layers to each character personality. Therefore, the characters are more third dimensional compared to most others in anime that follow said archetypes and stereotypes.
Sakuta is your typical brash, blunt, and bold protagonist who doesn’t give a shit about following the rules, values, and order of society and freely operates outside of them (think Yusuke from Yuu Yuu Hakusho or Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes). Because Sakuta is an outlier, he is outcast by his peers – even to the degree that his homeboy’s girlfriend tells the man to stop being friends with him; because it would ruin his and her’s high social standing in school (granted, Sakuta tells the girlfriend to fuck off).
This could be seen as social commentary, as Japan is a nation of conformity and holds value in being non-confrontational. Standing out and being a person who enjoys confrontation in Japan will get you mocked, ridicule, and disowned: three things I’m sure Sakuta has experienced in his young life due to his mannerism, but I doubt he cares.
“To be quiet, and do as you’re told…that’s the cowardly choice.” -Gearless Joe, Megalo Box
His sister, Kaede, plays the annoying imouto, or little kid sister role. Kaede affectingly hugs her big brother often, loves getting him out of bed or get in his bed (even if he’s trying to sleep), and she is almost always at his side. She’s soft-spoken when around strangers but truly shines and becomes herself when Sakuta is around.
Pretty annoying, right?
Well, Kaede is a victim of (cyber) bullying at her school. She received death threats from her former friends and cruel messages from her classmates telling her that she needs to kill herself. The relentless bullying and vicious messages caused Kaede to withdraw from society to the degree that she became a shut-in. She hates social media and modern technology; as we see her freezing up out of fear when she hears Mai’s phone rings in one episode. Because of her trauma, Kaede sees Sakuta as a protector of sorts which results in her being close to him.
She finds comfort in her brother.
Mai, as we saw in the first episode, is clear fanservice bait. Even in the anime promotional art, she’s wearing her bunny girl outfit in public. For this, I can’t blame anyone for thinking Mai does this for attention or thinking that she was designed to be trashy waifu bait. The fanservice and waifu material bits are turned on their heads once you understand the grave reasoning behind Mai’s acts (and character design).
Mai must do everything and anything within her power to court attention at all costs. Initially, the actress loved the peace and quiet that came with not being in the public’s limelight: something she had been under since childhood. Like any aspiring child actress, she was in “everlasting” bliss that people knew who she was thanks to her TV and movie roles. But, over time, the toll and stress of childhood stardom got to Mai and she wanted out of showbiz.
Her breaking point came about at the hands her manipulative manager and agent – her own mother.
During a commercial shoot for cereal (correct me if I’m wrong I don’t remember the full details), Mai’s mother and the video producer suggested that Mai should wear a revealing bikini. Mai refused: as she was in middle school at the time and was understandably disturbed by the idea. Her mom snapped on her; calling her own daughter a disappointment. It was at that point where Mai decided to retire from show business and stray away from the limelight.
She got her one true wish – at the cost of her existence.
“The limelight. The actor who steps into this brilliant light attains a heightened presence. All eyes are on him. There is room for only one actor at a time in the limelight’s narrow beam; do whatever it takes to make yourself its focus. Make your gestures so large, amusing, and scandalous that the light stays on you while the other actors are left in the shadows.”
–Robert Greene, “The 48 Laws of Power”
(It’s ironic to think how Mai desperately worked hard to avoid any form of publicity and attention after her semi-retirement from the entertainment industry and yet, she was hunting it down once she realized that she could die if nobody acknowledges her. Maybe I’ll do an analysis essay on that one day.)
Watching the first episode (and parts of the second), I’m reminded of the golden era of the light (and visual) novel to anime boom. Text-based tales coming to life through animation. Stories crafted by otaku who dare to explore deep themes and issues about society, cultural norms, and life. There weren’t just mindless cartoons that otakus would simply watch and enjoy. They were shows with layers, messages, themes, and meaning.
It’s refreshing to see Bunny Girl Senpai bring such classic writing back into otaku marketed TV anime.
At the time of this writing, I am currently on episode 3. Sakuta is desperate to keep Mai’s existence alive. He has even gone as far as sacrificing his health by not sleeping (since anyone who’ve sleep after seeing Mai in her “invisible” state will have traces of her existence erased). Mai slips a sleeping pill in one of his caffeine drinks (probably deadly, but okay). She knows that this will erase her existence for him, but she doesn’t want him to put his health at risk – because of the fact she loves him. In tears, she thanks him for all he has done for her, and fades out of existence.
She’ll come back of course; thanks to Sakuta’s no-fucks-given attitude, however.
Bunny Girl Senpai has been an interesting anime to watch so far. The mystery of Puberty Syndrome keeps me wondering about how it impacts people and how it shapes society . The cast has wonderful chemistry with each other, as Mai and Sakuta have amazing banter with one another that helps keep fans interested in their relationship. Komoshida blending real-world issues such as bullying and blending in with sci-fi and supernatural elements is genius and I can’t wait to see how the writers of the show take his writing style to the next level.
I do hope this anime becomes a hit because I want to see more like it that is otaku driven and uses themes from anime to build layers for its characters. With people praising it online I sure my hopes will come to life.
…even if it does borrows from Monogatari.
-Yuki The Snowman.
I’m actually caught up with the show and currently waiting for episode 8. I have a theory that the main narrative theme of Futaba’s arc is accepting yourself (as Futaba has to deal with the fact that the second Futaba is the personification of her repressed but true self and she needs to understand it’s a part of her personality). I’m lazy as hell so I didn’t feel like rewriting the bit about episode 3 or whatnot.
The most real shit I’ve seen in anime in a while love how Sakuta speaks excellent game on standing out and being your own person:
Content Warning: Animated Rape/sexual assault mentioned/shown. Go readsome ofmy other shit if you’re not comfortable with that shit.
You know, there isn’t any reason why I should write a first impression review on an anime that going in, I knew sucked. When you share common opinions and viewpoints on anime with fellow otakus (with way more knowledge on anime than yourself) that you can trust (and mostly agree with because they’re jaded as hell thanks to horrible mainstream anime out today), you should take their word that the anime they hate on sucks.
It sucks and you should leave it alone – never to waste your time on it.
I could have spent that time on better things. Things such as shopping for food for the week, upgrading my Fall/Winter wardrobe (so I won’t look like the sloppy weeaboos and nigga nerds you love bashing, cleaning my messy room, and finishing up that Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA) adventure series that I’ll never complete because I should have done it as soon as I got home from the convention while I still was high off the AWA hype.
Instead, I decided – against all of the suggestions of my like-minded peers – to watch Goblin Slayer: the latest edgelord gore fest anime that entry-level weebs are capping for. I am sure that I don’t have to tell you folks that Goblin Slayer is complete trash that you must avoid it. Avoid it as if it was your crazy ex-boyfriend or girlfriend who loves playing with knives and use those knives to cut themselves for fun.
We know its trash. I know its trash. But, it’s my duty to play pretend Chinese Cartoons Analysis and break down why this show is trash and why only edgelords and entry-level weeaboos love it.
…I’m fucking lying! I’m not wasting 24 minutes of my life analyzing an episode of from an anime that I knew it was going to be trash since Day 1! So instead, let’s talk about the scene that sold the entry-level weebs, offended the SJWeeaboos, and made us veterans otaku avoid Goblin Slayer.
The “fucked up” shit starts around the 5:52 mark. After our heroes see an obvious warning to not enter the goblin cave (not once, but twice), they are ambushed by the goblins. Inside their nest. Where they know the nooks and crannies of their cave. And know where are the best places to attack any intruders.
Our heroes aren’t fucking smart.
And so, they get their asses beat – mercilessly. The Mage Girl gets stabbed to death by a poisoned knife (more so she gets mercy killed by Goblin Slayer because the Healer Bitch never learned an Antidote spell), Fighter gets chopped up into pieces after being assaulted by hideous, CGI-rendered goblins (by hideous I mean that in a bad way the CGI animated goblins look ugly as hell. Oh and they cut away from the Goblin chopping dude’s body in pieces), and Kung-Fu Girl gets command grabbed by the Goblin boss, slammed against a wall, and gets gang-raped by the rest of the goblin nest.
This is the “fucked up” shit we waited for after two minutes of the generic baby’s first fantasy anime story explanation. This is the fucked up shit that people have been either of support or offended over for the past three weeks. It’s honestly nothing special.
Let’s compare Goblin Slayer’s intro to a legacy edgy anime’s intro: Elfen Lied.
In Elfen Lied, we’re immediately dropped into the carnage after the end of the OP. Viewers are treated with a twitching, severed arm on the ground cover in blood, a man being beheaded by Lucy, a pen piercing through another man’s skull, a young girl’s body gets used as a human shield riddled by bullets, (but not before Lucy’s rips her head off) , and bodies being shredded into pieces.
Right off the back Elfen Lied doesn’t play around with how gory it can get.
Goblin Slayer? Nah. It decided to show us its horrible crap after wasting two minutes of our time. Sure, we got a black and white scene of Healer Bitch weeping on the ground crying in fear while Goblin Slayer is walking towards here. But, there are no clues telling us what’s happening. We are unaware if Goblin Slayer was the one who attacked her or not.
The intro gave us no reason on why we should care about what is going to happen to Healer Bitch or why we should care about her and her character overall. That’s another problem I have with Goblin Slayer: the characters (sans the Goblin Slayer himself), are unmemorable.
They’re literally nameless. They are only named by their class names – nothing more. No clues on what these guys were doing before their demise, why they wanted to become adventures, their ultimate motivates, nothing.
The only character I gave a slight fuck about is the Black Mage Girl; that’s only because I like dorky girls who wear glasses and read books. But there are other anime female dorky, bookworm characters who are way better because they have personalities (Ami from Sailor Moon, Yuki Nagato from Haruhi, and Tsubasa from Monogatari to name a few)
(Btw, any dorky glasses-wearing woman between the ages of 21-30 out there reading this hit me up The Yuki The Snowman Facebook page DMs been dry lately)
None of the characters are remotely interesting (sans, again, Goblin Slayer). They all have generic, uninspiring character designs that you could find in any average, bland JRPG mobile game or an old-school Nintendo/Famicom JRPG. The Fighter looks like your average, cocky hero thinking he can smash any female in his party. Karate Girl looks like any other girl from anime that loves action (ponytail and acts a bit masculine). Black Mage Chick looks like a player 2 palette swap of Yuki Nagato in her Witch outfit.
I give no fucks about them.
You know how to make people give a fuck about characters? Give them a little bit of a personality that could help us connect to them. If we spent a little time getting to know these characters throughout a few episodes, maybe whatever terrible thing that happened to them in that cave would have been way impactful (beyond knee-jerk reactions from SJWeeaboos and entry-level weebs)
Better yet, if Goblin Slayer started by dropping us in the middle of the action/carnage at the very start of the episode, I would have given a care. Show us that this is a suspenseful world in conflict. Show us that these goblins have completely dominated the human population, in the beginning, to give us the impression that living in this type of society is horrifying for the average human.
Know what? Let’s compare the introduction of Goblin Slayer to the introduction of another dark fantasy media: Final Fantasy 2 (FF2). Bear with me; I know FF2 is a video game, but trust me on this one.
After reading the intro text and naming your characters, you’re immediately forced into a hopeless battle. Your party is surrounded by four dark knights from the demonic empire who are leagues beyond your party in combat experience.
One-by-one, the Dark Knights take your team out. By the way, your party was running away from these guys earlier; after their village was slaughtered by the empire’s forces. In less than two minutes you knew that the story of Final Fantasy 2 wasn’t going to be a happy one. You knew that it was going to be a story of war, despair, hopelessness, tragedy, and death.
And it didn’t wait until halfway into the game to tell you that.
If Goblin Slayer started out with the four heroes being ambushed and mercilessly assaulted by a few high ranking goblin soldiers (along with some other goblins wreaking havoc on their town) I would have cared. Elfen Lied dropped us right into the action. Higurashi starts out with Keiichi killing Mion and Rena (thus making us curious on why he did kill those two). Final Fantasy 2 started the action by showing the heroes getting their ass beat.
Why Goblin Slayer couldn’t do the same?
Let’s go back the boring ass “slaughter” scene of the Goblin Slayer party. First off, how did this party get slaughtered by a group of goblins? As in the entry level, easy to defeat enemies? That are usually fucking tutorial enemies to fight in most JRPGS?
In fact, let me show you the first battle in Final Fantasy 3:
See how easy it is to take out a few goblins. I was pressing “Fight” with one button while checking my emails on my phone with the other. That’s simple.
Another thing that annoyed the fuck out of me was the “fear” faces each hero had before they met their demise. These faces don’t convey the message that these characters are in fear of their lives. They looked like they were being in minor pain at best and annoyed at worse.
You wanna see faces that convey the emotion of fear?
This is fear:
This is fear:
This is fear:
This is retarded:
Black Mage Girl is about to get stabbed to death and that’s the face she’s making? It looks like she pulled a muscle. It doesn’t look like she’s about to have her life taken away from her by some monsters.
Sigh…no fuckin excuses for this shit.
After the scene where Healer Bitch starts pissing on herself and Goblin Slayer came to save her, I gave up on this anime. A shame. Mostly because I wasted two glasses of wine and a blunt of loud in hopes that I was able to completely tear this show apart (being intoxicated helps with writing bad reviews). The show was so disappointing that I couldn’t get past the fifteen-minute mark. It kinda makes me sad because I enjoy media that’s fucked up and dark…as long as it’s good.
I’ve seen Goblin Slayer being compared to Berserk and Elfen Lied in terms of edgelordness and darkness. Berserk is dark, yes. But Kentaro Miura went out of his way to make sure readers of Berserk gave a fuck about characters like Guts by giving Guts a personality and a reason for Guts to better himself despite all the horrific things that happened to him in his life.
We gave a fuck about Lucy/Kaede in Elfen Lied because we understand that she was tortured, bullied, and treated like shit because of her race. Despite how much of an overrated and horrible show Elfen Lied is, at least we could understand Lucy’s trauma and why she was so angry with humanity. We wanted Lucy to have at least a little bit of happiness (or at the least, therapy).
Goblin Slayer? Well, at least he’s a badass mother fucker that we can compare to Doomguy from the Doom video game series. Goblin Slayer (the anime) would have worked better as a dark, edgy, violent hack-and-slash game. You don’t need to have a decent story. An excellent, exciting gameplay and great graphics emulating the feel of the manga would do. But real shit, the characters of Goblin Slayer are boring, unoriginal, and lack heavily in the personality department.
It’s clear that I, and many other anime fans with common sense and superior taste in anime (compared to the rest of you weeaboos), don’t like Goblin Slayer. However, I do understand why some anime fans might love it. We are dealing with a new generation of anime fans who are watching their first edgy, bloody, and gory anime thanks to Goblin Slayer.
Like us older folks, they were once used to the light-hearted, cheerful, happy-go-lucky Shounen bullshit. Sure, Shounen anime tend to have blood, violence, and cussing, but that’s about it. A show like Goblin Slayer? It’s like these kids went from smoking reggie weed to Californian dispensary kush.
(Little do they know Goblin Slayer is just high-quality reggie weed)
Look, I remember being a naive weeaboo getting into gory anime such as Elfen Lied orHigurashi no Naku Koro ni for the first time. I thought I was the shit! No more watching boring, kiddie anime like Inuyasha or Dragon Ball for me: I’m where the big boys play now! I found anime that was bloody, gory, and ultra-violent. Anime that [adult swim] wouldn’t even dare to show on national T.V. late at night. And I’m sure some of you older folks once knew this feeling of joy as well when you saw your first gory anime like Violence Jack orNinja Scroll.
So I can understand why the current generation of young anime fans is eating up Goblin Slayer. It’s a new experience that they wouldn’t otherwise get from watching anime on T.V.. Or Netflix. Crunchyroll. I dunno what you folks watch your anime on now anymore; I’m a fucking old man.
But still! It’s that experience that is going to stay with their otaku journey forever.
Trust me on that.
Regardless, just like with me understanding that Elfen Lied was edgy trash a few years later after watching it, Goblin Slayer is edgy trash. The only people who should watch the show are folks who want to watch something utterly violent and degrading, but lacks substance to justify it (So mostly children and wannabe edgelords). Sure, it’s dark and fucked up, but as previously mentioned, there are other anime that does the dark and edgy gorefest much better (like Berserk).
To conclude this first impression review, what are my final thoughts on Goblin Slayer?
AFTERWORD: I heard the manga is lightyears better than the anime and much gorier so I may check the manga instead of the anime. Also I should had known this anime would suck given most anime that have its roots in a light novel are garbage.
I’ll be honest with you: I’d be happy if Hi-Score Girl ended with Akira moving to America and never returning to Japan (not saying there should have been only three episodes, of course). Harou would have to move on, deal with his feelings, and handle his first heartbreak as the series finale or something. A realistic, relatable ending to viewers who experienced such pain in their youth.
They had feelings for somebody they cared about, spent endless hours with them, realized that person touched their heart and wanted to be with them until they were separated by uncontrollable forces.
That’s probably why I enjoy the third episode of Hi-Score Girl: because it hits close to home.
Years ago, there was a girl I had a crush on. We were in the same class and hung out with each other often. I don’t remember much about her besides that her family was poor. So poor that she only brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
I couldn’t care if she was poor or anything, she was a good friend and somebody I had feelings for. One day, she told me that her dad got a better paying job. As a result, her family was moving out of the city (for the job). I was happy that her family finally got money, but I was sad that she was moving away and that I would never see her again.
(My first childhood crush is probably hooked on heroin now because it’s the Midwest)
Even if the series didn’t end with Akira moving, it would have been impactful if Akira never returned, Harou moved on with his life and got in another relationship with a girl (which he does). In episode 4, we’re introduced to the new female protagonist, Koharu. She’s a bit of an introvert and goody-two-shoe who’s a little curious about video games (thanks to her dad running a small arcade outside their house).
Koharu, despite being a normie girl, has uncanny natural skills in fighting games, which catches Harou’s attention. Later, the two start to hang out after school. Harou gets her into gaming and helps her hones her gaming skills; therefore triggering the start of their relationship.
I’d be fine with Koharu replacing Akira as the female lead. Her character devolvement from a quiet normie girl who cares about nothing than to study to a sadistic, jealous, straight-forward gamer girl is the best in the series. However, this is a bit overshadowed by Akira’s return.
Not to knock on it, but it cheapened the emotion events of episode 3 (and could have ruined it if there weren’t other factors that will save it later down the road). Granted, it was foreshadowed that she was going to return to Japan (with Guile telling Harou that his fight with her isn’t over yet), but I do feel some type of way by it.
It’s a shame because like Akira’s relationship with Harou previously, Koharu interest and relationship with Harou is rooted in realism.
As stated earlier, Koharu is curious about arcades, video games, and why Harou likes them. Despite being the model student, Koharu hates studying. She wants to know what it is like to have fun and freedom; which is why she’s drawn to Harou (since he has those two things). After school, Koharu is caught in a snowstorm while attempting to return home. Harou spots her and gets her to come inside a candy shop until the snowstorm dies. Harou convinces Koharu to play Street Fighter II (as she explained to him she never played a game before).
Despite being new to games, she was able to pull off advanced moves such as anti-air attacks, punishing on blocking the opponents, and 360-degree joystick motion special moves with ease. Mind you, this is with Zangief: a character who is not at all newbie-friendly.
They continue to hang out with each other, strengthen their bond and Koharu’s interest in gaming. This would lead to Koharu’s strong crush on Harou, which in turn lead her to convince her parents to buy her a Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) to not only get into gaming on a hardcore level but to make Harou jealous of her.
On the topic of jealousy, Koharu and Akira are jealous of each other, and they are not shy to showcase their mutual dislike. After a session in the arcade, Akira spots Harou and Koharu hanging out with each other. She gives them a death glance (from the safety of her car). The next day, Harou tries to speak with Akira (after finding out she was at the arcade), who simply ignores him. She refuses to speak with him until he comes clean with his relationship with Kaharu (which he states the two are only friends and he has no romantic feeling for the blonde girl).
When it comes to Koharu’s jealousy, it’s more severe than Akira’s. When she hears about Akira initially, she’s not concerned; as she was happy that Akira’s a fellow gamer girl with supreme skills (and even admires her for it). That changes when she finds out that Harou and Akira had a relationship in the past, which sparks her envy. This envy drives her to get better at fighting games: Darkstalkers mainly.
This drive isn’t out just mere self-improvement, but to beat Akira in order to win Harou’s love.
In Chapter 24 of the manga (after the second time skip), Koharu confronts Akira; bluntly asking her rival if she and Harou once had a thing. Akira is silent, making Koharu push the question further. Upon not getting a response from her rival Kaharu flat out tells Akira that if she doesn’t make a move on Harou, she will. On the surface, Akira doesn’t seem bothered by Koharu’s plans but later on in the chapter, we see that she’s afraid that Koharu will deliver on her promise (but more on that in a future post).
At the end of Chapter 26, Koharu challenges Harou in a best of three wagers with a selfish ultimatum: If she wins, Harou will have to end his relationship with Akira and date Koharu instead. If she loses, she’ll let him be. To say that she might be a sucker for love is an understatement but its young love.
Young love that is fueled by jealousy, but young love regardless.
I do not know the mindset of women when they’re in love, but I’m sure jealously and the fear of being replaced by somebody else plays a huge role in crushes. Koharu was in fear that Akira’s skills and friendship would cause her to be replaced. On the other hand, Akira feared that Harou replaced her after she had moved.
I can’t blame Harou for being close with Koharu (even if it was on friendly terms). He assumed that Akira would never return and moved on. Of course, she was on his mind for the two and a half years that she was away (as we saw with Harou admitting to Akira that he was longing to see her again) His sole purpose was to improve himself so if Akira did return, he’ll be ready for her.
It’s funny how Akira was the centerpiece for both Harou and Koharou’s quests for self-improvement although while one reasoning is innocent, the other is in malicious intent. Harou wants to get better for his rival. Koharo wants to separate Akira from Harou and keep him to herself.
It’s a bizarre love triangle: two girls fighting over a guy because of video games.
Continued in Part 4
Me personally, if I was Harou, I would do some playa shit between the two girls and date both of them behind their backs)
Scenario: Let’s say you and another person are deeply in love with each other. You both have unprecedented chemistry. Every little thing that person does never fail to charm you. You can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy around each other.
You guys are inseparable.
One day, however, you’re forced to leave that person – forever. Your family is moving far away. You got a new job in a new state. That college you wanted to get into accepted you. You murdered somebody and now you have to leave your country for another one where your homeland can’t legally remove you from that new country before the police catch you. How would you tell that person and would you do anything within your power to stay with them – just for one more day?
This is the situation for Akira in episode 3 of Hi Score Girl.
Episode 3 starts with Akira losing to an A.I. controlled M. Bison (Vega in Japan and Dictator in the competitive Street Fighter scene). Normally, the gaming genius Akira shouldn’t have any problems fighting against M. Bison (as he took him out with only two buttons from a damaged arcade cabinet), but she’s losing her edge. Even if she’s only commutates through body language, Akira is being eerily quiet.
Harou sees this and assumes that she’s upset because summer break is ending; therefore she won’t have time to spend at the arcades. However, he’s ignorant of the fact that her situation is far worse than a mere end to summer vacation.
In a few days, Akira’s family is moving to Los Angeles, California.
The next day, the duo is invited to hang out with their classmates at a local theme park, which both of them take up on the offer. As the day progress, Akira and Harou decide to ditch them and hang out with each other in the arcade instead. Akira is more than happy to do so, as she wants to spend time with Harou alone.
There’s a part during the arcade scene where Akira spots the light-gun game Space Gun. Harou takes it that she wants to play with her simply nodding yes. He starts to tease her; telling her that she might piss herself because it’s a scary game (given she hates horror-driven media) but she goes with it regardless.
As they play, Harou tries to get Akira to advance the game by having her move her foot off the pedal (as holding down the pedal makes the characters retreat from the enemies). She refuses. Her leg starts to shake. If she moves her feet off the pedal it’ll only lead her closer to their unavoidable separation.
Akira is desperate for time. Harou doesn’t know it, but Akira has feelings for him. Remember: Akira spent her young life as the heir to a rich but brutally strict family. Akira was never allowed to enjoy life as opposed to the average girl who could go out and play with friends. It was only recently when Akira decides to defy her family’s wishes and escape to the arcades to get away from her miserable home life.
Flashing, colorful lights blinding the eyes. Furious adults screaming vicious profane words at each other after defeat. Chocking tobacco smoke poisoning the air. Such a vile place wouldn’t seem right as a safe haven for Akira. But she needed a safe haven to escape the unwanted responsibilities place upon her.
The safe haven where she met Harou: the boy that brought joy to her life.
Akira and Harou continue their journey through the park; traveling through a magic mirror house, riding a roller coaster and a scary ride. At one point, Harou asks Akira if her parents ever took her to a theme park, to which she shook her head no in response.
To say that Akira is a sheltered child is an understatement. To Harou, the trip to the theme park was normal. Every (normal) child has gone to a theme park at least once in their life. But, to Akira, a girl who never experienced the joy of having a normal childhood; this was a new, life-changing event for her.
I’m sure some of you out there may have been sheltered by your parents and can relate to Akira. They forbid you to play outside after a certain time. They didn’t allow peculiar forms of media in the house like anime or rap music. Anime was a tool of Satan so they banned it from your house. Maybe one day, you had enough of their bullshit and decided to go out into the world and do your own thing, just like Akira.
(Akira’s gonna wind up doing hard drugs and drink straight from vodka bottles later in life. That what usually happens to sheltered kids once they get out in the world.)
The more time she gets to spend with Harou means the more time she can live normally. She doesn’t have to worry about her high status, school work and the pain those things brought her. The pain she never asked for. Pain that was mended by Harou’s company, understanding, friendliness. They spent the reminding hours of the day playing until sunset, eventually heading home on a bus with Akira falling asleep and resting her head on Harou’s shoulder.
The sunsets on their summer vacation – and their relationship.
The next day brings in the new school year – and the horrible news. Harou hears about Akira’s family moving away. He’s shocked. It hits him – hard. Rumors start to fly such as “her parents got a divorce” or “they got a new job in America.” Harou refuses to believe he’s hurt about Akira’s sudden move. He tries to play it off by acting happy that his rival is gone. Finally! He can rule his castle (the arcade) in peace; he shouldn’t fear Akira invading it. She’s gone forever!
Deep down, he knows he’s full of shit.
Akira wasn’t any girl that played video games casually. She was a gifted monster who dominated them. Any game she touched she mastered it. Only he was able to come “close” to her skill level – but it simply wasn’t enough. Akira forced yet inspired Harou to improve in Street Fighter II. She never judged him for his gaming passion but encouraged him to get better at it.
They started out as rivals. He was disgusted at the fact that Akira bested him time and time again. He couldn’t stand the fact she was around. However, as time went on, they grew as friends. He respected her. Harou was happy that she was her equal. In his time of reflection (and holding back tears) he became honest with himself:
Harou had feelings for Akira. She touched his heart.
With newfound determination, he runs after her; rushing to the airport to see her one more time. He arrives in time and tries to convince her to stay (as she’ll miss all these new games coming out such as Fatal Fury by SNK). Then, he gives her a good-bye present: The toy ring from the first day they hung out together as friends – not rivals. She rushes to him, breaking down crying. She’ll never see her first friend again.
Her first love.
Continued in Part 3 (because fuck SEO suggestions I’m not making this a 1600 word post also my bad for making this a summary than a reason why this series work)
This is The Yuki Half-Time Report, sponsored by Crunchyroll!* We’re halfway through Cells At Work with only seven episodes reminding. How does Cells At Work! stand right now?
Cells at Work is still going strong despite some minor issues I have with its progression. While I do like the show, it’s clear that the show is following a formulated plot guideline: Introduce the monster-of-the-week (bacteria, infection, virus, etc.), break down how they attack the body, let them do their business, good guys defeat them. Done. Next.
I am not a fan of this: it’s boring and a bit played out in my eyes. With episode 6 being set up as a two-parter or story arc where our heroes are facing off against a cancerous cell it seems that the formula is taking a break (for now).
I’m disappointed that the Type A Influenza enemy problem from episode 3 wasn’t resolved in episode 4. This left me wondering what happened and why this was skipped. The writers went to another storyline and I’m not too happy with that – especially since it was set up as if it was going to be a two-parter episode. If you’re going to set something up, resolve it, It looks goofy when you don’t and you got people wondering what happened.
.Cells At Work retains its cute charm which continues to work in synergy with the educational and action sides of the show The art and animation remain consistent (although I admit that I’m not trained in spotting animation errors) and there haven’t been any major changes to the art.
Storywise, there hasn’t been any changes to its simple manner. Again, bad guys show up, good guys win. There are some slice-of-life scenes here and there but nothing to write home about. Episode 6 featured a flashback story for the first half with how Red Blood Cell-Chan came to life, got assigned to her job, and meeting White Blood Cell-Kun. She was a clumsy, goofy, and cheerful in her childhood as she is now as an adult.
With the cancerous cell making its appearance in episode 6 going into episode 7 it appears that the show will be taking a serious, drama-driven approach. My predictions going into the future of the show? There will be a few character deaths on and off screens from the cancer cells. Things will be dark and painful but I can’t wait for it.
With that said I hope you enjoy this halftime report. I’ll catch you guys in the next one.
*Legal disclaimer: I am not sponsored by Crunchyroll lmfao I pirate most of their shows. (And there goes any chances of me being sponsored by them ever)
I hate romantic comedy in any form of media – especially in anime; as most romcom anime are unrealistic and littered with cheap, perverted jokes. From my reviews on My Girlfriend is a Shobitch and Hajimate no Gal, it’s clear I detest this genre. These shows were clearly written by otaku virgins who never had a relationship with the opposite sex and are living out their weird, lonely otaku fantasies through anime. So, when I discovered that J.C. Staff’s latest project, Hi Score Girl, was not only a (loose) history piece of the second arcade boom in Japan, but a romantic comedy as well, I was I amazed by how they show a realistic portray of a relationship blooming and evolving over time.
May I dare say that this romcom anime has even charmed me by how pure the relationship between main characters Akira and Harou is? You take two characters who’re seemly “opposite” of each other but somehow, they click. Akira’s the popular, high-class rich girl who excels in every subject – performance arts included. She’s the type of girl that every boy in school wants to date and every girl wish to be. Harou, however, is “hopeless”. His scholarly performance is a joke. Artistic skills? None. He gets teased often by his peers for his bad grades. He rather wastes his day ruling over at his castle: the local arcade, installing fear in peasants with his mastery in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (SF2).
Harou believes that Akira is out of his league. Can’t blame him for his wrong line of thinking.
Akira, despite her academic achievements and financial background, loves playing video games. In reality, she’s socially awkward, can’t make friends, doesn’t express herself verbally, and hates that her family controls her life. She visits the arcades often to escape her rigid lifestyle, blow off steam, and be her true self. Funny enough, like Harou, Akira is an SF2 player – except she’s the top player in their scene – as Harou will learn the hard way.
After witnessing Akira’s 30 win-streak performance against other players in SF2 Harou challenges her. He loses to her Zangief – badly. To save his pride, Harou defeats Akira by using Guile’s defensive “Turtle” style and “cheap” throws tactics. Akira gets pissed and starts attacking him; it’s the start of their rivalry that will bloom into friendship and eventually, the two having feelings for one another. During their summer vacation, the two hang out at various arcades, testing their skills against each other and thus deepening their bond.
For Harou, he’s happy he has an equal. For Akira, she’s happy that she finally made a friend.
Right from the start, Hi Score Girl destroys the bullshit idea that opposite attracts we see in romance-based media by having our main characters falling for each other over a mutual interest: competitive video gaming. Let me ask you people who have a mate a question: How did you guys fall for each other? Surely it wasn’t the fact you guys were opposite of each other. It was because you and your mate had things that click with each other and that turned you on towards them. Sure, there are some differences, but overall, you were drawn to them through your similarities (and other factors of course).
Social and scholar level wise, Harou and Akira can’t even compare. Akira shouldn’t be hanging around with a “stupid” kid like Harou. Harou shouldn’t have the chance to be with Akira. Still, they were able to overcome those minor differences. They grew close through their powerful love for competitive gaming, relentless desire to win, and mending their after-school loneliness. Who cares for social status differences when you and your friend vibe over a powerful passion? What’s good are having excellent grades, popularity, and cash flow when you’re lonely and your parents dictate your life?
Those superficial ideas don’t matter when they’re outweighed by shared attractiveness on a deeper level beyond mere opposites.
You’re a science teacher in Japan. You’re passionate about teaching children about cells and how they work. Yet, your students don’t give a damn about that shit. They’re some stupid ass, Bebe Kids ass, hopeless ass children who don’t wanna learn anything in life. No matter how hard you try to make learning interesting, they refuse (to learn).
You decide to fail them all – you have no hope for their future.
You head home after a stressful day of dealing with those dumb ass kids. You kick back with a can of beer in one hand while having a blunt in another as you watch TV. Bill Nye The Science Guy – an American educational classic showing kids how much science rules – comes on. A smile appears on your drunken, stoned face as you remember how much Bill Nye inspired you to become a science teacher with his down-to-earth, caring, and loving approach to science education.
Bill Nye ends and it’s followed by a classic cult movie: Osmosis Jones – a comedy movie about Ozzy, a disgraced white blood cell cop who, with the help of his partner Drix, defends the sickly body of some depressed zookeeper with unhealthy grief coping skills. After watching both the movie and Bill Nye you get inspired to come up with your own manga series to entertain children while also valuing their education by teaching them about cells and the human body. You down another beer, roll up another blunt, and relentlessly get to work on this new project for the next few months.
You retain the White Blood Cell character from Osmosis Jones; making him a stoic killer of germs instead of a street-smart cop. Drix? You replaced him with a cute yet clumsy girl, giving her the role of a red blood cell. As you brainstorm ideas for different cells, you come up with cool designs that will appeal to both children and adults. The children of Japan need this. It may be too late for your slow ass students to learn anything but future children will appreciate your efforts. Once you finish the first draft you pitch it to Kodansha.
They love it.
Over time, this manga becomes a sleeper hit – mostly because you made the Red Blood Cell a waifu character that everyone will look up ero doujins of her getting a train ran on her by the Killer T cells troops along with Macrophage-Chan – but because of how innovating your manga was in terms of teaching people about how cells work. And that’s how Cells At Work became to be.
Trust me: My father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate used to be drinking buddies with Akane Shimzu and he told me this on the phone last night.
Bullshit aside, I’m impressed by Cells At Work. It’s secretly adorable and I admire how the creative forces behind it use Shounen style action to sell its educational value to fans. Furthermore, the roles of the cells and how they interact with each other are explained in a down-to-earth manner. If you’re a complete idiot like when it comes to science, you won’t be lost, confused, or feeling even dumber than you already are.
(And trust me: You’re probably just as dumb as I am thanks to the American education system.)
Cells At Work is a simple anime (which is good because it doesn’t need to be complex or deep for the show to share its message). Each episode, there’s a situation with the human’s body is attacked by a variety of ailments such as basic germs attacking the city in episode one, an invading army of infections in episode two, and the world battling against invasive bacteria in episode 3. They win of course, but in that classic rule of three (episodes) style, they get fucked up and ROFLstomp by the series’ first major enemy. In this case, it’s Type A Influenza.
Granted, the heroes will win through some asspull bullshit by episode four.
Main character Red Blood Cell-chan (RBC-Chan) is a clumsy girl trying her best on her first day at her new delivery job. During a delivery run, she (along with the citizens of the “world” of the human body) are attacked by monsters – germs attacking the body. They’re about to be killed when supporting hero White Blood Cell comes to save them by mercilessly butchering and slaughtering the germs with combat knives.
As with any Shounen series, Cells At Work uses violent action to keep fans engaged. We are first hinted at this fact during the OP; which features a squad of White Blood Cells, armed with knives, hunting down a germ. This is followed up by an elegant maid walking around gracefully in a flower field…and she’s carrying a giant ax while her hands and face are covered in blood.
What makes Cells At Work works (besides the violence) is the usage of implanting classic anime tropes and personality with each cell. The Killer T Cells are personified as merciless, battle harden combat vets, the Helper T cell becomes a military commander, Macrophage cells are portrayed as elegant, classy maids who like to chop up their victims with their giant axes and blades.
Do you remember those educational “entertaining” science films back in school? You know what I mean – they’re cheesy, boring, trying too hard to have style but it’s so dry. Cells At Work throws that shit away while still retaining the knowledge. Knowledge at a simple level but still knowledge regardless. That’s why famous personalities – may they be fictional or not, such as Bill Nye, Carl Sagen, Miss Frizzle, and Ozzy (Ozzy and Drix) are beloved. They taught us the knowledge of science through their unique personalities. Of course, I’m not saying you’re going to get layered, in-depth personalities for each character compared to story-driven anime series such as Durarara or Monogatari but when you’re selling an anime centered around science and the human body you better make it entertaining.
As of this writing, I’m caught up to episode four (somehow that Influenza enemy thing didn’t get resolved) of the anime and from my positive reaction, I’m going to stick around with the anime until either the series end or something utter bullshit makes me turn away from it. While I do believe it’s going to be one of the best shows of the seasons, I can’t confidently say it’s anime of the year material but we will see once the series end.
If you’re looking for a different anime series that still share the familiar style of your shounen shows while also learning why you should take care of your body and the cells in it, then Cells At Work is right for you. If not, you’re the reason why the education system is such a failure today.
(Before I go, Let me go on record that Red Blod Cell-Chan and White Blood Cell are those two co-workers that you know have a thing for each other and they’re gonna get caught fucking in the employee bathroom by the janitor when they thought everyone left the office building that night)
FLCL: Progressive is weird. I don’t mean that it matches the original FLCL weirdness that fans celebrate and praise it for. It’s awkwardly weird. It doesn’t have the fluid, bold experimental animation, the zany characters, and the upbeat music as its predecessor. The story’s a bit of a rehash (with the main character not seeing anything exciting about life until Haruko comes along) but with new elements. There are only two episodes left of Progressive and it’s unfair to judge and compare, but it’s hard to wait – especially with the internet buzzing on how Progressive isn’t as glamorous as the first series.
Why is this? Surely Production I.G. and Studio TRIGGER could have delivered the same excitement from the classic with Progressive (as the original team members are all on board). The thing is, FLCL classic was an experiment for Gainax to test new animation software at the time. The team was allowed to go off the rails with the software, art, and story writing to push the limits of their new toy and their artistic talents. That’s it.
That’s why FLCL classic was charming…well that’s my theory.
With FLCL: Progressive, the production team isn’t using new technology (to my knowledge). They already proved themselves to the industry (serval times mind you). There’s no need to reproduce the charm from FLCL Classic with fancy new software. From the four episodes I’ve watched, I’m assuming that Production I.G. and Studio TRIGGER are focused on delivering a solid story than just being silly with animation software. There’s FLCL: Alternate coming out in later this year. Perhaps it’ll recapture the outlandish feeling that the original gave us so we can only wait and see.
Editor’s Note: This is NOT about the new upcoming Higurashi: When They Cry 2020s anime that is being produced by Studio Passione (1/6/2020)
When I had first received word of a new Higurashi anime coming out, I was thinking to myself ‘This has to be a troll’. The Higurashi series is over. There is no casual anime fan that fucked with Higurashi since Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kira (if even that). The visual novel side of the fandom is niche as hell. You ask some norime anime fan they heard of Higurashi and they’re either going to look at you silly or think you’re a sick fuck that gets off to lolis killing each other. Higurashi is not and will never come back.
Or so I thought.
Right before I was going to take a power nap, my YouTube notification alert went off on my phone. Subconsciously, I grabbed my phone to see what lame video some lame YouTuber has uploaded. As I scrolled down to unveil my shameful clutter of news in my notification bar, I was greeted with something that made my usual pathetic day better:
The haunting cries of the cicadas. Rika doing her classic “Nippah!” catchphrase. The yandere Shion in her Angel Mort uniform. Mion…with a butcher’s knife. Okay. She’s finally snapped or whatever but she’s back. Our favorite characters are back…alongside some new characters that I don’t give a shit about. One of them looks like series creator Ryukishi07. Okay, it may not be him and I’m probably just being prejudice towards Asians.
As I’m watching the trailer I couldn’t help but notice the text in the upper right-hand corner: Last Period. ‘Did Ryukishi finally tell Studio Deen to fuck off and got with a new animation studio!?’ I thought to myself. I went ahead to do some research on this “Last Period” and things became clear on why Higurashi was coming back.
Last Period is a smartphone RPG game. Joy. Fuckin’ joy. I mean, it’s awesome Higurashi is coming back in animation form. However, it’s being pimped to sell a fuckin’ RPG. Ryukishi, did something happen? I know BT’s death fucked your head up and everything but damn man, you broke too? Were those Umineko pachinko games secretly a front by the Yakuza for money and now you got too deep with them? You owe them some cash? You good bruh?
Jokes aside, I am happy Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is coming back. It’s one of those series that has a life-long impact on me as an otaku, consumer of art, a creator, and as a person. Even if Higurashi is crossing over with a smartphone JRPG series, I’m still going to watch anything Higurashi related. Expect Kira. That was a fuckin’ mess. But really, I hope this collab project is a success because I want more Higurashi. Hell, that might mean we might get a faithful adaption of Umineko no Naku Koro ni
…you know what, let me not get my hopes up.
Maybe not all weeaboos on the internet aren’t all trolls trying to raise my hopes up. Maybe there is a God who actually loves me and wants me to be happy with my life.
Maybe Studio Deen won’t fuck this up. Regardless, there’s a new Higurashi anime coming out and I’m happy.