Progressive Plots: Sakura Trick Analysis

Hello, this is AniMo and you’re reading Animated Monologues! Today I finally start my first leg of my New Year’s Resolution. I wanted to start with something that people were more familiar with, so I decided to watch a series I’d seen already to be safe.

Anime fans enjoy their yuri, but unfortunately not all anime that feature yuri actually do anything with yuri romance. This means that the vast majority of yuri that we see is simply baiting the viewer, which is a good way to arouse excitement temporarily, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression which can be detrimental to our view of an anime when we look back on it. Luckily, this anime isn’t like that. It’s an anime that actually features yuri romance, and does stuff with it. Normally this alone wouldn’t be a positive point, but sometimes yuribaiting gets hard to watch and people want to see what fully realized yuri can be.

Sakura Trick is a high school slice of life comedy anime from 2014. It features Haruka and Yuu, and how their friendship turned into a special relationship when they entered high school. We see their lives throughout the anime, with a high school life and their many friends. The series has 12 episodes, each split up into smaller mini plots for every episodes. Usually each miniplot acts as it’s own storyline, effectively giving us 24 mini-stories which mostly stand alone.

In terms of actual story, or an overarching plot, there is very little. The high school that they are at is shutting down after Haruka and Yuu graduate, but it is seemingly not treated as an important fact. It’s not the they don’t state it or talk about it (as they try and plan festivals and events around the school only having 3 years left), but it’s more about the show never using it. There was one episode where they were playing in the snow, since they were unsure if they’d ever see snow in the next few years. That is the only time where they used to depth of the situation to really do something interesting with the story. Sakura Trick is a slice of life series, of course, so it’s forgivable because that’s the point.

So instead of analyzing Sakura Trick as an overall story, it’s much better to see what it does with the elements of life. The show can still tell a story without a plot, even if the story is “the story of the simple life of a few lesbian girls”. Luckily the stories/miniplots themselves can be a lot of fun, and seeing these characters do that is also fun. The way I see plots like these is it should develop something if it isn’t a story (though I’d prefer story of course). The thing is that this series doesn’t really develop. There is no change in character, pace, or situational anything until the last 3 half episodes. When stuff like this happens in anime that are mostly episodic or unmoving, what it comes down to on a viewers perspective is “did you enjoy everything else before?”. It’s important to ask yourself that when this happens. For me I was kind of bored of Sakura Trick by this point, so seeing some of the drama at the ending didn’t mean anything to me. Specifically, Haruka and Yuu get discovered by Yuu’s older sister, and then she later confesses that she’s in love with Haruka. I came out of those episodes not caring enough because the series showed it had dramatic potential and reached it once.

To contrast, a show like Panty and Stocking (which is a very different show, but it helps illustrate my point on enjoyment) was entertaining for me from episode 1 to episode 12, so when the finale did something kind of dramatic and crazy I was thrilled, and it heightened my already positive feelings about the show. Sakura Trick had none of that for me because nothing about the show really drew me in. As the show progressed, I couldn’t find anything either that really intrigued me so the finale just kind of happened and I got nothing out of it.

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Maybe I should find an excuse to talk about it one day

The animation of Sakura Trick is actually worth mentioning about, oddly enough. It has a standard art style for a High School SoL series, with no use or need for beautifully moving character animation. Because of that, the art style and animation are usually unnoteworthy.

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I legitimately think I’ve seen this school in a different anime

However, it has this habit of doing things visually that I otherwise don’t think I’ve seen much of. From small transition screens

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Which are only ever a gimmick

To random dots/circles that they only ever use for a shot at a time.

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The circles in there hair disappears next cut, never to be seen again

Don’t get me wrong, it looks nice but it doesn’t do anything for it. It’s just there, and it feels like an unnecessary gimmick. While it is interesting to see a Slice of Life try and change things up with these little touches, they don’t add a lot to the visual aspect. Other than these little flairs, the animation style and movement are very standard for Slice of Life series. Because of this, the flairs get distracting at worst. I’ll be watching it and seeing all this normal animation quality and then BAM…flair

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Hey, here’s a distraction from the otherwise boring animation!

It’s not that I necessarily dislike that or the animation in general. It’s traditional average quality animation that likes to spice it up, which is more than many other series that only have the average animation. I guess I wish that it meant something more than just a flair of color. If it served some kind of meaning I could really get into the art style and have an interesting conversation about it, but that’s not what happened.

When it comes to most of these comedy slice of life shows, the single biggest difference in them is characters. Most shows have a similar storyline and similar quality in animation, so I then turn to the characters to help distinguish these anime. Before I go into it, I am going to bluntly say that I barely remember any of there names. For the most part, they are kind of flat. I’m entertained by their shenanigans, but I struggle to really get into them because they don’t feel rounded. They all have traits and quirks, but it doesn’t feel like a characteristic attached to a human. Their character designs don’t really help.

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What are the first 6 characters you notice? Chances are they’re a main character, because no one else in the class really matters

Haruka’s defining trait is her obsession with Yuu, and it’s played up quite a lot. Besides her fanatic love for Yuu, she doesn’t have much else going for her personality. She’s nice and cheerful, and is very caring for her friends. Yuu is playful with Haruka’s obsession, but still has obvious compassion as well. She’s nice and friendly as well. As with Haruka, she doesn’t have a hell of a lot going on for her otherwise. Finding unique things to say about her is harder than I thought it’d be.

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Also the “embarrassment” trope is real between them

Even tougher is finding things to analyze about the other characters, whose names I forgot between my first viewing of this show about a year ago and the viewing I had for this review. Shizuku and Kotone also have a relationship, and there was a half episode dedicating to securing that when they revealed Kotone had some engagement to someone else but left it and her rich life behind to live with Shizuku. They showed very little details on that, and never fully explored it (which would have been great). As more side characters they got little spotlight and less development. I barely remember anything about Kaede and Yuzu, who round out the main group. They’re all generically generally nice people that enjoy their friends and school. I would be wrong though to not fully explain Yuu’s older sister Mitsuki, because of her impact on the ending. She’s obsessed with Haruka, and is sometimes overbearing with her disapproval of Yuu and Haruka’s relationship. Her obsession also doesn’t feel grounded, again played up because something something yuri heaven or whatever Sakura Trick is trying to do. Hence, the drama in the ending coming from Mitsuki oping with her feelings towards Haruka. It’s interesting dramatic potential and it happened right as the series ended, and never anything like this before.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the show overall. I’m critical of it because it’s in my nature to do so. I’m critical of it because of what I said before about not being engaged with series for really any reason, even if I had times where I did like what I was seeeing. I’m still mostly entertained by Sakura Trick despite my issues because the show manages to be fun despite not sticking to great screenwriting, and slice of life is the only genre that can genuinely pull that off in terms of entertainment. Sakura Trick is a show made for people inherently obsessed with yuri that gains status just for going somewhere, but on every other standard, it’s just standard quality. I can’t help but think Sakura Trick is known only because they do something with it, and that cannot be a shows only draw conceptually. That means to me that maybe more yuri should try it, though I’d be a happy camper if it was also a really great show. You won’t get that out of Sakura Trick, and that may be enough for some people.

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It is cute after all!

This has been Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day.

 

What’s Working!! with Wagnaria (Spoiler Free)

How it feels to finally finish another post
How it feels to finally finish another post

Honestly, my feelings Working!! go multiple ways. I love so much of the show, but I will point out its flaws if I need to. It’s a show that’s fairly shallow, but hugely entertaining. For every issue I have with the show, I have something else that makes me remember why I enjoy it so much. I relate in the sense that I’ve spent time working in foodservice, but I also can’t relate to their experience because Working!! does not accurately represent working in a restaurant. Granted, I work in an American restaurant, and an anime adaptation about a Japanese family restaurant may be a different monster in general.

In this essay, I want to write about this series and meditate on my feelings for it. As a way to figure out what this show means to me, and if its effects can be seen elsewhere. It’s a series that really shouldn’t hit me like it does, but I love it and am using this post as an excuse to learn why.

How to Focus a Slice of Life show:

what-me-and-my-friends-do-all-the-time-when-we-go-to-a-restaurant_o_883905
Though seeing the crew complain about shit like this would make me laugh

What’s your favorite part of eating in a restaurant? I can guarantee you it’s not the practice of ordering the food/talking to the servers or other employees. Honestly, being on the other side isn’t much better. Taking orders, organizing the floor, or other aspects of running a restaurant aren’t entertaining. Sure it can be enjoyable depending on the person, but it can’t be fun to watch. So, if you are going to make a series about working in a restaurant, you have to make it entertaining (because it’s an anime in this case). There are 3 season’s worth of content, I’d like to be entertained if I decide to watch it all. In the case of most slice of life series, the entertainment comes from the balance between being normal, and being unusual.

One word a lot of modern anime criticism deals with is “escapism”, and it’s widely acknowledged that a lot of fans admit to escapism. Not that anime is the only medium per se, since live action films or even western/indie animation can do this too. Some people think escapism is a bad thing, which I can understand and disagree with. However that’s (whether escapism is good or not) not what I want to discuss. One way escapism is captured is taking usual/normal circumstances and glorifying it. The moe subculture/subgenre has been doing this ever since it became popular. It’s takes any situation (inherently fun or not) and turns it into a “fun” scenario, at least for the viewer. That seems to be the point of moe, and a lot of people have rightly criticized it. That unrealism and escapism as a practice can be harmful to our overall world view. I can see that, but I also think there should be a place for shows that are just…fun. While I don’t always want that in my entertainment, it is a niche I want to visit at times. In the context of Working!!, I could go to my restaurant job, get stressed, finish up, and go home. When I go home, I want something fun to end my busy day. These escapist “fun things are fun” scenarios are important to reduce my stress, and it works best if I enjoy the show.

One of the most important things for a slice of life show, in terms of being entertaining, is usually one thing. Characters.

What it means to be Human:

The thing is, none of these characters are….human. All of the characters in Working!! are normal people with one serious quirk. Inami is a normal shy-like girl, who is also scared of men and punches them a lot. Taneshima is a normal girl with a noticable complex about her short height. Takanashi is a normal dude, who really likes small cute things. It provides the most entertainment in the show, because we see how characters react to situations or plotlines. Not only do we see crazy characters do things, but we also have endless ways they can play of each other. That’s how a lot of moe shows do it too, or maybe it’s the other way around (that the cozy environment defines the characters and dynamics). Some shows employ a fun lighthearted atmosphere, and that impacts viewers love of characters. For Working!!, I think it is absolutely the characters developing the environment. A normal restaurant environment suddenly becomes this controlled mess of weird characters, and then it makes a crazy working environment.

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Weirdly, I stand by that this is the best part of Working!! but also the biggest criticism. As much as I love seeing these characters be weird, they’re portrayed and executed in ways that aren’t realistic. Even if it’s okay that they aren’t realistic, the more important thing is that they are flat, unrounded characters. While it works on a comedic level, it doesn’t work on a realism. In terms of relating and accessibility to characters, it becomes much tougher to recognize. I find myself enjoying, and sometimes laughing, to Takanashi’s wierd family and odd relationships, but it can’t directly reach or appeal to me because it’s not played very naturally. The same goes with each singular character, even if we can relate to their quirks or personalities, we can’t relate to their humanity. If any viewer of the show magically had an exaggerated character quirk to relate with, it still falls on the fact that these characters are still flat, and that does effect the show in a way. This is what keeps Working!! as a fun comedy show as opposed to a masterpiece show, which it probably could be. I think there is value in the characters as comedy, but that on its own unfortunately stumps their value as characters as people. I love their antics, I love their quirks, and sometimes that allows me to be okay with their lack of character depth, but it forces the characters to just be characters and I can’t feel anything else for them. A story like Time of Eve shows the other side very well. It’s mostly shown in a restaurant/cafe scenario, and because everyone is portrayed humanly (despite it being about androids) it level the show from a calm slice of life show into an atmospheric masterpiece.

It feels like a paradox, that Working!!’s best qualities is the worst quality, but that’s why I am meditating here on it. This dynamic between them isn’t something I feel as strongly with other shows. While I’ve seen slice of life’s that do this, Working!! is the one that most exemplified this issue.

How Working!! represents my views on criticism

I don’t think my reflection on Working!! so far is me ignoring the flaws to watch the show, nor is it me enjoying a show even thought “I think it’s bad”. It’s not really a mixture, instead it’s a critical view of it.

Everyone criticizes differently
Everyone criticizes differently

Sometimes people hear critics or criticism and assume all they’re doing is pointing out flaws in a piece of work. I’ve never believed this, and I want to establish this because a show like Working!! actually serves as a good basis for this. Specifically that it’s a show I love, but have issues with from an analytical perspective. My opinions on shows come from a blend of critical analysis, and personal feelings/enjoyment. This is a show where I can balance and show them off, even if it’s just a personal thing.

Working!! is one of the most fun shows, that isn’t super deepShows don’t always need depth to be entertaining, but that can’t be an excuse for a show to be only shallow and dumb, because that can make for terrible entertainment. A show like Wolf Girl and Black Prince, with it’s slice of life elements didn’t necessarily need deep characters to pull off an entertaining show, but since every character sucked, the show drastically suffered because of it. When this Working!! strikes that balance, it takes the best sides of it, but also forcefully carrying the worst parts of it to get an overall positive effect.

What this means:

Overall, Working!! is a show that isn’t offensively bad or bland. It’s a show with flaws, that is endlessly fun. I can understand people hating this show, or even loving it a lot (in ways I can’t), and I only wanted to explain my views on and around this show.

One of the reasons I instantly got attached to the currently running spin-off WWW.Working!! is because I trusted that the show would do exactly what I loved in the original series. Have weird characters make a hectic, unrealistic, but very entertaining environment. They are new characters, but they’re going to have some singular quirk or gimmick that’s going to make me want to watch them. Of course, I was right to expect that because I believe that’s what I have got with the new show. Granted it will be mostly determined by the different characters, but as long as they’re executed like the original series, I now I’ll love it. Adjusting from the 3 seasons of the original cast to a new cast will be difficult, but it won’t matter if the new cast is awesome.

Maybe me getting used to the environment and expecting this very specific feel from Working!! is why I keep coming back. The instant I hear more exists, I have to watch it. I promised myself I’d finish a wider variety of sequel seasons, but then I ditched all of them to marathon Working!! because of my feelings on the show.

I hope I’m some kind of correct in my analysis, because it is Working!! pretty well for me.

This has been Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every word. Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

Devil’s Advocate: The Anime Man on Hentai

We discussed a viewpoint against hentai, so let’s see what other people are saying. What would an experienced anime viewer, (or someone with other Japanese culture) say? Who would this be?

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Joey “The Anime Man”

The Anime Man is a very big channel about all things anime, and this video came to my attention very quickly after it was uploaded even though I am not subscribed. I have nothing against Joey (The Anime Man’s real name), and I want to make this very clear. This post is exclusively going to cover the arguments presented in his video. I plan on playing Devil’s Advocate with them and seeing what these arguments turn into during the process. Since I covered the other side before, this post will be taking a standpoint against hentai.

Unfortunately, there aren’t highlighted points edited in text in the video so I’ll instead write them out. If you’re worried about taking it out of context then I urge you to watch it for context (and because you should actively seek out both sides of the argument in general) before you read further.

Point 1: Banning Abuse Hentai wouldn’t solve anything

I never like these arguments because they seem to imply a very closed minded view. “It’s not gonna work so don’t even try”. I disagree with this one specifically because I think banning hentai could be a starting point. Of course getting rid of abusive media isn’t going to solve worldwide abuse problems (ever), but I think it’s a way to start. I think it’s much better to make an actual effort to stop it, then give up immediately. In Joey’s context, the argument really is shed in a bad light. He gave a disclaimer that he is not okay with violent abusive acts, and I believe that. I also believe that getting rid of this stuff would help the situation, which I argue is far better than not trying at all. He even said that “it’s already happening/happened” which is an example of the same toxic idea. You can relate this logic anywhere and it will probably be flawed. “We shouldn’t try to stop murder because people will murder anyway” is an argument I doubt anyone would make. While his argument doesn’t directly say it, I think this same logical implication is used, and I do not believe that it is a good argument.

Point 2: He makes a point about men being abused

It’s brought up as a side point, to be fair. Which actually makes sense because the hentai ban in question was concerned with banning media that showed women abuse. Usually when people bring up points like these, it seems to strive away from arguments. People will say “Why don’t we include men in the picture because they can get abused”,  but use it as justification to keep women-abusing media alive. People use it in a fallacious way, and it makes for one-sided arguments that don’t make a good case. Joey narrowly avoids this, and since it isn’t a huge point in his video I won’t harp on him. If women abusive media is an issue, and people say “men are abused too”, then maybe we should ban that too.

But I did think it was important to say that I’ve seen too many people do this wrong.

Point 3: It’s the UN doing this

The first point under this umbrella is that hentai/eroge helps run the Japanese economy. Remember of course that drug markets and other drug rings also help run economies everywhere. Okay, so the comparison isn’t very good, but it illustrates a point that I think he should have considered. Just because something is making money in a big economic scale, does not necessarily mean it is a good thing. It’s a far off shoot of ‘popularity = good’ ideology which doesn’t usually fit in discussions involving any form of art.

The other point involves cultural destruction and censorship. He says that “It’s a part of Japanese culture, and trying to censor this is bad because it makes one culture conform to a big conglomerate of ideologies”. I have trouble siding with this one because the context he puts it in sounds like the “violent hentai is okay because it’s not real and it’s a form of art” argument. While I think culture is a positive thing, and censorship usually isn’t, there has to be a line where the human race collectively says this is too much, we have gone too far, let’s change this. Even violent media runs rampant, culture and censorship can only go so far before it no longer supports the media in question.

From the last point, he even says that “The UN needs to deal with other issues”. Which is true, and they are. Being such a giant organization of countries (not corporation like he said), they are dealing with a lot of different things. They always are, they have to deal with problems around the world. This, at the time, was one of them that they wanted to do something about, as a way to reduce violence and abuse against women.

One of the last points is him saying “we should know the difference between reality and fiction”, which was a rhetorical question I asked in the other post. Do we know the difference? We may know that this character is ficticious in this eroge, but does it justify what is happening, but more importantly can we register the actions in a positive way that won’t harm us and others. I have no idea if enough (or any) studies have been done on it. I have no idea if there is a proven link between what people see in hentai/eroge/porn and how people treat others in real relationships, or how it effects our views on violence and abuse.

And with this, Joey’s video ends. Again, I am more concerned with addressing his points and not attack him personally. I still have nothing against him even though I had issues with this video. I am making this more clear because he is a big figure in the Youtube anime community and I’d rather not get attacked by drones of fans rushing to defend him.

With all this said and done, then the question to ask is what do I think? Is hentai good or bad? Does one side outweigh the other as an argument? I plan on doing a separate reflection on this topic that should come out very soon.

This has been Animated Monologues, thanks for reading and have an animated day!

 

Devil’s Advocate: 3 Reasons Hentai is Bad

When I hear people talk about issues in animation and entertainment I find myself questioning the other side of the spectrum. Sometimes, the discussion is interesting enough that I want to talk about this other side, in an effort to analyze both sides of discussion. It’s called playing the Devil’s Advocate, and the idea is attractive to me. So I want to start doing it on issues that divide people or otherwise get discussed a lot.

So let’s start off cleanly and simply with….

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Oh. Hentai….. this could get ugly. I guess I should clarify first so this discussion can be civil.

First of all, I am not concerned with who this guy is or the party he works for. We are here only to analyze and reflect on the arguments he puts out. I will provide screencaps of the headlines of the message, and explain it further. Since it’s a short video, he doesn’t elaborate as much as he could. I imagine he has more that he could say, but saves it for some other time (which is fine by me). Of course, in the video he details his points more but I don’t have a way to play just clips of what he says. In an effort to make sure I haven’t obscured his message at all, I urge you to watch the video first so you know the full context. Then you should be the most prepared to read my responses.

Point #0:

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It’s not an official point, but it’s highlighted before he gets into them. He brings it up against the argument that “if hentai is better than live-action porn, it must be okay”. It’s a very valid point in the grand scheme of art and entertainment discussion, and very much applies here. Even if hentai isn’t as bad as live-action porn, it doesn’t excuse it if it still is bad. Of course, the next points are the one’s that directly deal with the debate.

Point #1:

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Every issue he has with porn also exists in hentai. Objectifying women for the purpose of stimulating men as his main example. I don’t know if gay or lesbian porn have similar effects on viewers, but it’s safe to say that yuri or yaoi hentai have those same effects as their live-action counterparts? Of course, this can be explained by the fact that our only difference is the medium. Porn may have differences between animated and live-action, but in the end, it’s still porn. If an issue exists in porn, hentai probably has it too.

We also should remember that because most porn is designed to sell, and rarely tries living up to it’s full artistic potential, it’s difficult to buy that hentai even sends a message in the first place. No matter what kind of fantasy porn fulfills for us, we don’t take it too literally (for the vast majority of cases). It’s more of a mental trip we don’t take as a representation of life. It seems that no matter how realistic porn portrays sex, or no matter how much they try to include the viewer (as part of the fantasy), there is the knowledge it isn’t real. Film and TV is the same.

Point #2:

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He details a few points on porn addiction, and tells us that hentai is in the same boat. Stating that porn addiction, as a behavioral addiction, trains your brain to feel stimulated by porn while reducing your sex drive outside of the time you watch it. Depending on how bad you think porn addiction is, you’ll probably reflect on this point differently. Even though I don’t feel porn addiction is as bad as this guy says, I think it’s also a valid point. It obviously isn’t unique just to hentai, but I don’t think it needs to be (in a similar manner to his first point).

When people watch animation, we have to remember that Suspension of Disbelief is greatly in effect. We do know that they aren’t real, but we also believe that it is as we watch. We believe that characters move, when they don’t. So if we see hentai, we do realize that this isn’t actually happening subconsciously. But this doesn’t make it okay, but it makes it unique. Maybe because we know it’s not real, we don’t suffer the same effects. We may not have the same negative real life relationship effects that porn can cause if we still get stimulated, but we know nothing is actually happening. I think the point this guy was trying to make is that they are one in the same, and his point may encompass mine. But I do wonder if we can make this kind of distinction and reflect upon it in a different way (that can be positive). Can we distinguish reality and fiction, and if we can, can we positively act upon it?

I would need to search deeper into it, but we’re still not done with the video.

Point #3:

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He explains that the unique harm to hentai is the fact that the medium of animation gives way to worse forms of abuse, but also explores/exploits more fetishes because no one has to worry about a real person possibly being abused. The idea is hentai is fine because the children involved aren’t real, or that the women on screen aren’t actually being ganged up on by animals. This is easily the most true point he has. I don’t think it’s provable otherwise. But then we should ask ourselves, how do we reflect on this? Do people watch loli sex scenes in hentai and then think it’s okay to try on a real child (for example)? As far as I know, no studies have been done on this, but I also wouldn’t think that this happens. If we think about how both live-action and animation are used as mediums, then this difference becomes explained (I am hoping to analyze this idea one day).

I mentioned before that this video is short and isn’t meant to be some huge analytical discussion. A lot of the video also rides on the ideology that porn is bad, which is understandable. There is a fairly big discussion amongst people about whether porn/hentai is a bad thing or not. All forms of art can be used to express sexual feelings, and animation is no different. However I have no desire to use the “hentai is fine because artistic expression” argument because I have trouble believing that hentai (or even ecchi) creators traditionally think this way. When it comes to this side of the hentai discussion, I mainly wonder to myself “does the animation have a different effect that can be safe?”. This guy says no, but I think there is a bit more to it than just having the same effects as live-action porn. But, I also could be wrong. His point may be that there isn’t a deeper point like I would imagine, and the surface that he encompasses is everything. Who knows? But if there is more to the story, I’d be curious to find out.

Of course, there is a totally different side to the debate and I really want to tackle it as well.

This has been Animated Monologues, thanks for reading and have an animated day!

Haruhi Suzumiya: Over-the-Top Subtlety!

Bow down to your new god
Bow down to your new god

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is one of my biggest obsessions in the world of anime. There are many reasons for it. Part of it is because I love the atmosphere, part of it is because I like the detail put into the anime, but one of the biggest reasons is Haruhi herself. There are few characters in animation that I love more than Haruhi Suzumiya. This post is going to analyze that, using a concept that few animated creations can really tap into. It’s not over the top, but it’s not subtle. 

It’s both

She is a very eccentric and excitable character, but her drive is unquestionably human. This kind of characteristic fuels everything she does. From the creation of her club, to her relationships with the club members (especially Kyon), to the way she unknowingly exercises her god-like powers.

Spoilers ahead for the whole Melancholy series, so stay away from this post if you haven’t finished it.

Let’s start with Haruhi’s single most important monologue throughout the whole series, from the episode Melancholy Part 5. The “Have you ever realized just how insignificant your existence on this planet really is?” speech. In this speech, she describes how she found out she wasn’t the center of the world, and that there are a lot of people on the planet. Her problem is that she believes now that she isn’t really very important, and that shocked a young immature Haruhi. This over-turned her entire ideology about the world, because it’s not longer her world.

Yes the universe is large, and whoever is in charge made lots of things, (but only one of you)
Yes the universe is large, and whoever is in charge made lots of things, (but only one of you)

To someone as selfish and crazy as Haruhi, it has a deeper impact than she was accustomed to. She can’t deal with it like her usual eccentric way, (assuming that her 10th grade eccentricities exist in her younger self). This is also were her idea that the normal world is boring most likely came from. So, someone headstrong like her would need to change that somehow. She joins every club to find something exciting, none of them can cut it for her. She accepts every chance to have a boyfriend, but they don’t cut it because they aren’t any kind of unusual. Then, she forms the idea to do something for herself.

So she forms the SOS Brigade. The fact that she did proves my point. Subtly, she has trouble believing the world doesn’t revolve her. The most showy and prominent way she can think to do that is make a club. A club dictated by the fact that she wants to find out the worlds mysteries and oddities, but she also needs to find personal control in this big crazy world. She creates a setting where she is in the center of that world, because that’s the only world she thinks she can control. Depending on your personal take on Haruhi’s character, you can say it’s because of her selfishness or because of inferiority complex (the fact that she needs control of a world where she thinks she doesn’t mean anything). Most of the actions also solidify this, but she isn’t the only character in the SOS Brigade.

Human nature dictates that people get along easiest with people like them. So a snarky guy, crazy girl, silent girl, cutesy shy girl, and a easygoing guy have little chance of getting along in real life. The only reason that Kyon, Haruhi, Nagato, Asahina, and Koizumi get along is because Haruhi wants to surround herself with “different” people. This means more than just aliens, time travelers, and espers. It means different kinds of people, and she purposely brings them together because of it. Not just any will do, she needs someone super cutesy, or super silent, and that’s why Mikuru and Nagato make sense in character. It may also serve as an extent to Haruhi’s wish to have control, if she has it over different kinds of people. She has this overpowering kind of control, but she can be checked. This is very important, because she likely never had plans for this.

I'd still ship them if this actually happened
I’d still ship them if this actually happened

Now, maybe Kyon provides a check in power because he gave her the idea for the club. It could be that it’s because he’s the only human person. It doesn’t seem like Haruhi knows that Nagato, Asahina, and Koizumi are an alien, time traveler, and esper respectively, but Kyon very well could be the most human to her. Some people go along with every wierd thing she’ll throw at them, but Kyon doesn’t. Koizumi provides a lot about detail for this throughout the series, and overall tells us that Kyon and Haruhi’s relationship is one of a kind in this world, (Haruhi’s world). She may want control over aliens, time travelers, and espers, but she would also need a way to remember she is human and isn’t in full power.

If you’re still with me, I believe there is proof to my words. It’s all demonstrated in the second season, specifically The Sigh of Suzumiya arc.

In this arc, they shoot the “Adventures of Mikuru Asahina” movie. Her 3 main film starts are Asahina, Nagato, and Koizumi. When she created the club, she wanted an alien, a time traveler, and an esper, so she gathered all 3. It is the roles she wanted them to play in real life. When she created the club, she wished she could be associated with them but never thought she could. So in the film she has them literally play that role because that’s what she wants in her life, to direct and use these 3 kinds of people. The film is the most over-the-top way to how she subtly needs to be the center of the world, and to be around different kinds of people.

 Notice, though, what Kyon’s role is.

 

All the background shit
All the background shit

She trusts Kyon to be a huge help to making her dreams come true, trusts him to literally bring her ambitions to life while the others are her pawns/toys (that’s my theory on why the film finished even though Kyon fell asleep, because Haruhi believed he could do it). She may not be able to fully control him, but she can always use his help. Kyon can’t act in her fantasies because he helped bring them to life. This of course is when he accidentally gave her the idea for making a club. He is also a huge help to her, for support and execution. She may not know how much she cares and even depends on Kyon (she would have kept playing the baseball tournament in the Boredom episode if it wasn’t for Kyon’s convincing).

That’s what makes it especially dramatic when Kyon flips his shit in the 4th episode of the Sigh arc.

After 3.5 episodes of Haruhi’s perfect way to exercise control over people and her inferiority complex, it all boiled up. She was ruthless in her treatment of Asahina, because she thought of her as a pawn in her game. One of the pawns of Haruhi’s world. Her filming and production schedule was sort of wreckless, and unplanned. Kyon complained, as usual, and Haruhi would brush it off because she is on the ultimate power trip. Nothing could have stopped her at this rate, except for Kyon. Haruhi spikes Asahina’s drink so she can perform the way Haruhi wants, and Kyon couldn’t take it.

Becomes more intense the more I watch
Becomes more intense the more I watch

He yells at Haruhi for abusing her power and mistreating the people in her world, and nearly beats the shit out of her. Koizumi, to no one’s surprise, stops him. Koizumi’s usual smile and cheery nature is frozen, for the only time, we see Koizumi’s serious side. We also get a close up of Kyon’s fist, so he (and the audience) realize exactly how bad it’s gotten. After Haruhi responds with her “I can use Mikuru however I want” rant, Kyon tries to wrestle out of Koizumi’s hold and tells him “let me go, so I can beat her to a pulp“. After this Haruhi is really distraught, of course, but she must have realized she went to far. Chronologically, after this episode her harassment of Asahina calms way way down. (In Someday in the Rain, she sends Kyon away so he doesn’t see her use Asahina to take pictures around the school. It’s not a matter of not wanting Kyon to smack her, it’s a matter of keeping her relationship with Kyon secure).

Haruhi Suzumiya is not the most complex character in anime, and in no way has the most sad backstory. However, the ways that they subtly sneak in the effects of her backstory (as someone with an inferiority complex) are ways that not everyone will notice. Even if you don’t like Haruhi Suzumiya, you have to acknowledge that everything she does is for a sensible reason no matter how selfish it is, or no matter how much she doesn’t realize she’s hurting others. She is a character that embodies over the top eccentricity. She also has a big heart, and she may not even realize it (her reasoning for breaking the Endless Eight is among the best examples). Her story and her adventures only ever make me happier over time. I fall in love with the franchise the more I learn and realize. Even after 3 full rewatches, I learn something new. Even rewatching Melancholy Part 6 and Live Alive more than any other single episode of any existing TV show, I find new ways to appreciate the series.

Maybe one day I will get tired of it, but for now, I doubt it.

This has been Animated Monologues, thanks for reading. Have an animated day!

Ecchi’s Should Make Sex More Artistic

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“Isn’t anime just cartoon porn?”, my best friend once asked me when I first started getting into anime. I wasn’t offended then, nor would I probably be offended now if he asked, (after all he doesn’t know to much about animation). However, it’s definitely a testament to the reputation of anime and it’s depiction of sex and sexual activity. I have heard a lot of people say that we need less ecchi anime, that ecchi anime is always done wrong, or even that it has a negative impact on anime. I recently found a different perspective that I haven’t seen enough people fight for. I would argue that we can have less sexual stuff in anime, but the stuff we have should be artistic.

Sex Sells. I doubt this will ever not be the case. We as human beings are driven by a carnal

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After The Ball, (1897) credited as the first adult film ever made

desire to spread our genes to future generations, and we have to have sex to do this. This is why art has been portraying sex since forever, because art is an expressive medium and sex is an expressive act (for the most part). Popular music has had sexual themes in it for decades now, old paintings have always featured naked people, and camera’s have been used to portray risqué actions ever since their invention. When anime became as big as it did, it would make sense that it would one day be sexualized. Of course we have hentai, (anime porn) but what about the anime that doesn’t go all the way?

In modern anime, we see a lot of inherently sexual stuff everywhere. Any and every fetish has an anime or two that cater to it, and this will continue as anime grows. When it comes to most niché fetishes, there comes a very negative stigma. Even in anime communities, we see negative stigma run rampant. Ecchi in general has a fairly negative stigma on it’s own that is very detrimental. The problem is people don’t really take it seriously.

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Because no one wants entertainment or storytelling media in their anime, right?

Consumers typically think of ecchi’s as simple fetish-pandering media consumed to “make cheap quick bucks off of suckers who will eat this trash up”. When people treat it this way, and then it makes good money, creators have little reason to take it seriously. If creators get in the mindset that they don’t have to work to get people simply aroused, then they won’t try to mentally stimulate you. This is to say that media will be created specifically to turn you on, as opposed to make art. The weird thing is that porn and hentai are still art. But people don’t really treat it that way because hentai is more concerned with immediate arousal as opposed to treating it like art, in a way that anime outside of hentai (usually) is trying to make art. To phrase it even more specifically, people treat porn and hentai as a business as opposed to art. If no one treats it seriously, people are going to love creative respect. This isn’t to say that we should necessarily watch hentai for story. It’s to say that it’s problematic when ecchi gets the same lower-tier treatment as porn because, it destroys the reputation of ecchi (best case scenario), and even all of anime (worst case scenario).

Either creators need to train audiences to take sexual anime more seriously, or audiences need to make this change. If both parties don’t make any changes, the cycle repeats and we won’t see any change or innovation. We may not be able to change the stereotype of erotic art, but we can at least allow artistic mediums and genres to be taken more seriously. If by chance you still aren’t sure what I mean, allow me to provide examples.

When we think of negatively stigmatized sexual anime, the easiest place to look is harems. Whether it be battle action school shows like Absolute Duo, or a more niché audience with Monster Musume. The problem I think with these kinds of shows has nothing to do with subjective quality. I think the issue is how they treat sexual activities and even relationships. Ecchi/Harem’s are plagued by so much sexual tension being built up, but never doing anything with it. This sort of arousal becomes treated like a joke. Like if the

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This scene didn’t develop these two as a couple, because the scene had to do a bed joke

girl crawls (possibly naked) into the main character’s bed. He’ll overreact uncomfortably and we are supposed to laugh at his over-the-top reaction. They don’t address any romantic or emotional undertones, which can lead to great story developement. Admittedly, I don’t usually hate these, or other ecchi clichés. I do like some ecchi, (Monster Musume, Rescue Me!) but it’s never because I take them seriously as art, because sometimes the over-the-top craziness actually makes me smile. The problem is an over-reliance on craziness, and not the human emotions or connections that create the sexual side of human nature. But, I think sexual comedy can work. I love Golden Boy’s perverted humor, but it doesn’t place a heavy focus on erotic romance that they never do anything with. On the other side, I enjoy Okusama ga Seitokaichou because it’s ecchi is an extension of romance as opposed to just slapping on superfluous sexual jokes. Shimoneta is such a

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Her exact reaction to said first sighting of erection

weird show to talk about in this regard. It’s sexual humor has a good place in the story, (as it is the narrative focus, so the jokes don’t come out of nowhere) and is usually funny. Yet, they try discussing the politics behind sex and censorship, while never actually addressing emotions behind sex itself, (which I think hinders the whole of the show). Like how they play off Anna (very much) trying to rape Okuma as comedy. Blue Snow is an erotic terrorist and a very dirty minded person, yet when she sees an erection in person she is shell-shocked and becomes kind of oddly uncomfortable. It was never resolved, or even addressed throughout the next 2/3’s of the anime. Sex is usually a product of romance. I think if arousing moments happened more to develop and/or help a romance, (as opposed to worthless comedy) then people would take it more seriously. Ecchi for the sake of ecchi is the problem. But giving it a good reason to exist could be the answer to the issue.

If you’ve been disagreeing with me throughout this writing, you may be wondering if I have positive examples of the kind of ecchi I am looking for. The closest I can get to that is Nozoki Ana.

When I first watched the OVA of Nozoki Ana, I was saddened by how much more they could have done. I found out later that it was adapted in a manner exclusively designed to

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I would pay just to see this scene animated

interest people in the manga. Because of this, they left out plot points and rushed parts of the story. With just the OVA, I felt that there was so much lost potential because the story was perverted, and erotic, but unfinished. However, the emotional and expressive critic in me was even more stimulated than I was aroused. I was interested in the dynamics and relationships between the characters more than I was with the sexual acts and the perfect bodies of the whole cast. To ease my curiosity, I started the manga (which I don’t do since I’ve never been a very active reader) from the beginning to truly experience the story. To put it bluntly, it is one of the best romance stories I have ever consumed, and (it must be obvious that it) became the basis for this post. I was in love with the way Nozoki Ana treated sex. The sex scenes didn’t just serve as fap-fodder, but instead as ways characters expressed emotion and dramatic changes in dynamics. For the first time ever, I was in tears because I was so happy with the way the story progressed, (I usually cry just because of sadness and feels). I feel that Nozoki Ana was more concerned with telling a story, than selling its sex. One thing that has put me off from ecchi’s before is that it feels like shows try and slap a gimmicky story on top to make it seem like it has more going for it, hell some series or OVA’s skip that and just try to arouse you without any deeper reason. I am saying that ecchi does not always equal hentai, and that there is a fine line. I believe that hentai could do something like what Nozoki Ana did for me, but I think ecchi, (as a sort-of style of storytelling) is in a better position to do that. It is also the position I am trying to fight for.

I don’t feel it’s just a matter of “doing ecchi right versus wrong”, and more of a “using ecchi as an extension of romance, and telling more serious stories with it”. I don’t think adding a visible story cuts it if we still treat the sex and arousing actions the same as one’s

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Battle High School plots are a prime example of slapping on “story”

without it that do it without regards to how people actually react to sex emotionally. Even though I have no issues with hentai, I feel grouping the negative stigma of both of them together drags down anime into a lower level of respect that it does not need. Ecchi for the sake of ecchi may have it’s place in anime (and I think that’s fine), but for the most part it has a negative impact on anime. Poorly handled stories slapped on top of over-the-top does not help, and usually causes more problems. I think if erotica was used more as to be artistic than comedic or simply arousing, than it could help make anime look better.

Or at least make ecchi look better, unless too much damage has been done at this point, in which case we might as well keep animating more Monster Musume.

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This has been Animated Monologues, slicing into animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day.

Number One: Most Overrated Anime

Don't worry, I like Lucky Star (the few episodes I've seen)
Don’t worry, I like Lucky Star (the few episodes I’ve seen)

Judging by the title of the article, everyone should know that this will be inherently controversial. That is not my intention, and I am sorry if I end up seriously offending anyone. This is a topic that I want to approach as respectively as possible. Unfortunately, I know I’m bound to get this question a lot in the future as I put myself out there so I wanted to get this discussion out of the way and have this as a fallback for all the times I will hear this question. I traditionally try not write about or talk about stuff I dislike for many different reasons. I know that this is an incredibly subjective topic, and that inherently no animated property is universally loved. The most beloved films and series will have someone out there that isn’t a fan. I’m sure there are people out there that don’t like Cowboy Bebop or Spirited Away, no matter how many people I talk to about the love we share for these beloved properties. So it is with great reluctance that I reveal this opinion myself.

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Since I’m almost always opposed when I say I don’t like The Boxtrolls or the Despicable Minions franchise, I cannot imagine how angry people will be when they find out the overrated anime I place at…

Number One:

When shows get so popular and exposed, it allows leeway to backlash. Fairly popular shows like Clannad or Haruhi get their fair share of hatred, and don’t get me started on the Attack On Titan and Sword Art Online backlash. I wanted to consider popularity in any form it takes in the anime community, versus the amount of distaste the community has towards it. A show like One Punch Man, or Steins;Gate fit really well. Actually, they would have fit better if I actually disliked those shows at all. I also considered shows that are widely panned like School Days or Mars of Destruction as a way to see if they’re really that bad. I decided against it, because I could make a different post about that, (and I haven’t seen them yet, but am considering viewing them out of curiosity).

I've also heard this show this extremely terrible
Related note: I’ve also heard Glasslip extremely terrible

So when I found a show that no one speaks negatively about, and realized it was one of the most hyped and beloved anime ever created I became curious. When I saw it, I realized it was destined for this post. Today, we tackle Cory In The House.

So let’s analyze the show.

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Actually, Cory would have easily been the most overpowered Smash character ever.

Story:

Cory Baxter gets to move into the White House. It’s an interesting set-up for a slice of life comedy. I actually do enjoy slice of life shows more often than not, and there is a very good reason for that. You see, I believe that you don’t need a plot to tell a story. The reason is is that sometimes all you need are characters and a setting, and all we do is watch life unfold naturally. It absolutely is beauty in simplicity. A show or film that presents a small set up, but ultimately just lets their life happen. A great example is Wolf Children, the kids are part wolf and the dad isn’t around. Most of the movie just reflects on that idea, not telling a story through plot, but through honest-to-Haruhi family/relationship/world development. It’s a great genre to relax with. Stories don’t need huge dramatic moments or “the fate of the universe is at stake” tensions to keep us interested. Sometimes all they need is something simple or relatable. We can escape from our crazy lives by watching someone else just live their own out, no matter how calm or simple.

My problem with Cory in the House is I feel it doesn’t take it’s premise simply enough. Shows with sitcom-like episodes aren’t typically my kind of thing, (you know, presenting some sizable crazy conflict/objective only to solved in 18 minutes of jokes and screen time, and usually is returned to the status quo in time for closing credits and the next episode). The exceptions to this idea traditionally occur because I’m more interested in the setup and characters. I gladly watch and re-watch a ton and a half of Ah! My Goddess because I like the concept of their goddesses and all the main 4 characters. I have a hard time saying that there is anything about the world or characters that really interest me enough to pull off sitcom episodes.

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Even if it’s not the most interesting, it is still…good right? Well, they do function like a family, and I respect that, but there is nothing really special about them. Like most family or SoL/Sitcom casts, most characters have one defining trait. I think it’s much better to have characters feel like different people than different archetypes. In the romantic drama anime Say, “I Love You” the 2 leads don’t feel like the popular guy and the shy introvert girl, they are more rounded than just that. Mei is a distrustful girl who is closed off from everyone because she doesn’t believe in the importance of community, who slowly grows because Yamato proves her wrong at least like 4 times every episode. For Cory in the House they all feel like archetypes at best, but straight-up unsubstantial at worst. Admittedly, I did like Cory himself. Unfortunately, with such a large cast and genre barriers, he cannot carry a show by himself. At this rate the only thing that could really save it would be some sort of unique presentation.

Animation/Visual Design:

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Hey man, everything is anime!

What is interesting about the visual design is it’s good at capturing an at-home feel. The layout of the house is equal parts homey, and official (as a sitcom government can provide). The character designs are fine, but could’ve used a little more polish. The fluidity and the character animation may be the best part of the show. You know how some animation uses CGI to move traditionally designed characters and just adds the design on afterwards with Cel-Shading, or even the increased use of motion-capture like in VFX-heavy live-action blockbusters? Cory in the House looks better than all of that. I have not seen characters in an animated property move so life like and may never see it again. Still, with average design in the characters themselves it devalues the character animation. Overall it’s absolutely watchable, but not enough extraordinary visuals behind or beyond it.

Voice Acting/Sound Design:

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Anime back then was not perfect at all, I mean Shrek is only okay

The dub is watchable, but nothing crazy. Which language you should watch in depends on which you prefer listening to, it’s that kind of dub. Though to be fair, that’s far better than some dubs. To me, this is how I view dubs versus subs in every language I watch animation in. I think Cory in the House’s dub is on the level of something like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Future Diary, or even Your Lie In April. Which is the level I mentioned before that means it’s good, but you could go either language. It’s not a good enough dub that I need to recommend over subs everytime, like Cowboy Bebop, Panty and Stocking, Baccano!, or Hellsing Ultimate (which I feel comfortably saying even though I haven’t finished it). The dub actors emote fine, but the voice quality itself is pretty good.

The musical score isn’t very special, but doesn’t suck. In terms of the rest of sound, it also falls flat. They never use sound effects to really add the emotional punch that sound engineering exists to do. At no point do they use their crescendo’s, sound cues, echoes, or even soundbite motif’s to their advantage. Anime that pays attention to detail like that have a much more immersive experience, and therefore are better anime because of it. Even western shows like The Legend of Korra are amazing at building up expectations and intensity because the music not only explodes at the right time, but is quiet at the right time.

Conclusion:

With passable animation and sound accompanying an average story and average execution, it’s impossible for me to recommend this anime very well. The fact that it is so popular and beloved on sites makes me really fucking angr….

Okay okay fine fine you got me. This was posted on April Fool’s Day 2016. I have never seen Cory in the House at all. I don’t consider it a real anime, but I will gladly make Cory in the House anime jokes just because it’s fun for some reason. Actually, some things I said about the nature of anime is true. My statements on dubs vs subs, sound design, character tropes and development, and even SoL series are statements I truly believe. Slight modifications may be made because me presenting everything as build up to an eventual punchline may have buried the truth in trying to relate animation concepts to a Disney spinoff show.

I hope you didn’t take it too seriously and was able to understand that everything aside from my animation/art philosophy was pulled out of my ass. I know about the Cory in the House memes/jokes and wrote this post as a way to add something kind of new to the perpetuation of this meme.

If you’re curious about my true opinion on my “Most Overrated Anime”, you’ll be disappointed to know I don’t have one. I find it hard to crown a title like that because most shows I dislike either don’t have enough of a following or I don’t dislike them that much. Maybe I could say Wolf Girl and Black Prince, but I would consider it overrated if I actually met a sizable amount of people that cared about that show. Even though I rate Akira and Ghost in the Shell lower than most people seem to on MAL, it’s because I haven’t rewatched them recently enough, and I don’t think they’re bad at all. I also haven’t seen any shows that people rate so low, so I couldn’t even take that route.

There is also the fact that I don’t care about ‘what is overrated’ discussions and would much rather search for underrated shows and films. Then I could talk about shows like Rumbling Hearts, or Mysterious Girlfriend X. Better yet, I could bring up films like When The Wind Blows, and Steamboy.

This has been Animated Monologues, showcasing my slice of animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day!

 

Wolf Girl and Black Prince Episode 4 OverReview

When I first started drafting this review, I actually had more positive things to say. I was thinking about giving this show a fair turn while also detailing the many problems I have with the show. Unfortunately, my feelings changed when I rewatched this episode for the purpose of this review. The few positive emotions I felt towards this show got so incredibly surpassed by the hatred that reignited from rewatching one episode. Some may be surprised or confused that I’m already on my way to angry over the show Wolf Girl and Black Prince. Allow me to clarify/justify this. I love romantic comedy anime, and I frequently watch it in between more serious shows and mention them in the context of some of my favorite animation ever made. When I sat down to watch this show during my first rom com marathon I found myself in, I never could have expected this outcome. I expected this show just to be a satisfying but not extraordinary romcom. There is no way I could have expected my negative reaction produced by this show. Everything I say here is extremely opinion driven. So if you read this and think you may enjoy this show, keep in mind I can’t and won’t stop you from watching it on your own. This post exists because I needed a place to organize all of my hateful feelings towards this show. Proceed with caution, because I get angry. Also spoilers of course, but it’s not a big deal to me because I don’t think the show is sacred enough to enforce heavier spoiler warnings.

Series Concept, and Pre-Episode Context:

Erika wants to have a good high school experience and make friends. She lands some friends who exclusively talk about their boyfriends, and she wants to relate to them. She does this by pretending to have a boyfriend. Afraid they’ll discover she’s a fraud, she takes a picture of a guy she sees walking around the street and passes him off as the boyfriend. It gets weird after she shows her friends and soon finds out he attends the same school. She begs the guy, named Kyoya, to pretend they’re dating. He does, but at a cost. Being that he’s gonna give her a hard time for it.

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This is where I should have realized I was in for a bad time

Let’s stop right here for a second, shed some light before I dive into what really rubs me the wrong way. This is a very interesting concept. I’ve come to accept that a lot of romance shows decide to build up romantic drama for most of the series before finally hooking the characters up, as opposed to hooking them up and developing a traditionally set-in-stone relationship. So when a show does something like this, it strikes a very interesting balance between them. It gives a lot of room for character conflict and misunderstandings while giving writers and animators a lot of room for jokes, if they so desire. It also gives a near perfect scenario for to steadily build up a romance before pairing them together. With such a nice concept, the show didn’t need outstanding execution just to be entertaining. As long as the voice cast pulls off the roles and the animators put effort into the drawing, the show should have been a simply good show. It also could have become something special like Golden Time, Lovely Complex, or Say “I Love You”. The show proves it has a nice looking art style with a friendly color palette, nice character designs, and a fitting soundtrack. I never realized what little the show needed to do to make me immediately rethink this excitement.

The first 3 episodes play out fairly simply. The first sets everything up, more or less. The second gives Kyoya romantic rival for Erika to fall in love with, before it’s revealed that the new guy did it purely to spite him. The third episode shows Kyoya trying to reject Erika’s hospitality and desire to care for him while he’s sick. Before the fourth episode I already had some major issues. Luckily they also infect the episode I’m reviewing, so I’ll reveal them as I review the episode I’m actually here for.

Episode 4: Daily Anguish- Love Attack

At the end of the previous episode/beginning of this one, Erika pays Kyoya a visit. As she knocks, a girl walks out of his apartment and asks if she’s ‘here for him too’. We are left to assume they were fooling around. When Kyoya comes out to see Erika in distress, he basically says they aren’t dating so she shouldn’t give a shit. She confesses her love to him, and he says that she isn’t serious and is imagining things based on their predicament. Cue opening theme.

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I do love the opening theme, and this shot always makes me laugh for some reason.

Then the theme is over and the episode starts. The excitement from the opening is gone, and I start to get angry because of the shows biggest flaw. First off, it’s important to know I fucking hate Kyoya. Through his first interaction in the episode and many prior he proves that he is a cold-hearted asshole who does not care about Erika or her feelings. To me this is a big deal because so much plot, character, and relationship development is placed on him. I realized this when I started to first despise him because it taints my enjoyment. The intro further proves these ideals to me, and provides further setback to my enjoyment of Kyoya as a character and my overall opinion of the show.

prince dick move 1
Whether you’re trying to be ‘playful’ or not, intentionally screwing with someone’s feelings is wrong

When the episode progresses, we see Erika walk away from Kyoya’s place. She runs into the girl who left the apartment, who lets on the fact the Kyoya is “done playing with girls because he got a dog”. Erika, with slight amounts of hope, goes back to confront Kyoya about it. When confronted, Kyoya is still stand-offish. He insults her quickly diminishing the hope she slowly got back. As I watched this, I realized that Kyoya doesn’t just not care about Erika’s feelings, but is willing to maliciously toy with them (see picture). Also, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was just a failed male tsundere. Forget the tsundere clichés he doesn’t have, because I actually like tsundere characters and Kyoya’s just an asshole. I can’t enjoy characters that put up cold fronts like this if the show doesn’t balance out their mean tendencies. The show does not give Kyoya enough good characteristics or deeds to justify all of the bullshit he puts Erika through. Please remember this idea because it will come back.

The next day we have a little scene at school where she talks to the only other likable introduced character, her friend San-chan. They have a brief interaction that boils down to this.

good point bitch

cant name stockholm syndrome

The fact that I have the same question without a satisfying answer is bad. I have been wondering for 4 fucking episodes why the hell Erika is with a guy whose best quality is that he played along with her desperate lovegame, and has been literally taking advantage of her kindness ever since. I like Erika, and I hate Kyoya. Again, the fact that the show has been focusing on a dynamic as broken as this leaves the show in a really bad position. What I hoped for as I watched the show initially was that eventually they would actually give me reason to accept Erika’s feelings towards Kyoya. I asked myself throughout this series why Erika likes him, and I never got a satisfactory answer. When they started dating he was still a distant asshole. The fact that this interaction flies by quickly and virtually lays out all the problems I have with this series pretty much secures my displeasure for it. Oh wait, the episode isn’t halfway finished.

Erika tries finding things she can do to help her situation and meets Haru from My Little Mon… I mean Takeru, a good friend of Kyoya’s. Luckily for me, he turns out to be a good character, (and one of 3 in the whole show that I didn’t hate).

takeru
Tall, with long dark hair
haru
And a jokester personality

She talks to him after school about her horribly disfigured relationship with Kyoya. Here is his first reaction.

good point takeru, prince sucks
And planned to beat him up

Unfortunately, Erika stops him. I’m pretty sure that this is the part of the episode where she actually says this…

That can be taken wrong
Do I have to explain the red flags this statement could/should raise?

After this, the writers decide that they’ve justified the Kyoya and Erika dynamic and can move on with the plot without Kyoya getting the shit beat out of him. Takeru decides to help Erika on her quest to be in the worst relationship she could possibly be in. After developing their friend relationship, they come up with the perfect idea, a comedic montage.

It starts with Takeru finds out various things that Kyoya likes. He reports back to Erika later in secret. Erika follows every bit of information to the fucking dot, and it’s humorous.

trying to attract me
This only works to attract me

 

super desperate
How could this not attract a guy who thinks of you as a time-killing dog?

The visual style works, and the timing/execution in writing fits the show. Honestly, the reason I can’t praise this more is because I just hate the relationship this montage is trying to build. Of course, throughout the whole montage Kyoya just keeps pushing her away. At least this one highlight came out of it right after the glasses picture above.

play with her heart
This could only work to attract me, if I liked guys

Takeru and Erika reflect briefly on their failure while giving the writers time to develop their friendship. There is a scene where Takeru gets Erika and Kyoya to go to a maid cafe in a school festival Takeru is taking place in. They make a quick joke with it, and the scene ends anti-climatically as we find Takeru and Erika again pondering their failure. During some conversation, we see Takeru’s idea of love.

not love

And I think it’s completely wrong. No one falls in love out of duty or obligation. People fall in love when they find themselves attracted to someone because of who they are. Whether it’s personality, interaction or other specific personal qualitites, finding the good and accepting that as romantic feelings results in attraction before eventually falling in love. I’d rather Kyoya fall for Erika because he likes spending time, being with, or otherwise enjoying Erika for who she is to him instead of duty or obligation. At no point in the series does it remotely seem like he fell for her, and they dated for the last 4 episodes.

I’m surprised I didn’t catch on to the fact that this episode has served so far to introduce Takeru. Little plot progression has happened otherwise, since every advance has failed. There is nothing wrong with a show introducing a new character in episode 4, and less wrong with developing him, (because he’s better than most other characters in the show). The problem is there has been no good Kyoya and Erika moments and less relationship progression. It’s the main drive of the show, they need something. Good jokes don’t do the trick, and there weren’t enough for me to be okay with it. I want to feel more for Kyoya and Erika. Luckily, this lack of development was going to end.

During the night, Takeru calls out Erika and Kyoya to talk. Takeru ‘confesses his love’ for Erika and asks Kyoya’s permission to pursue her. Takeru says some bad things about Kyoya and Erika’s relationship and uses it as evidence to convince him that their relationship sucks and Takeru would be the better boyfriend. Kyoya gives him permission with his signature asshole style and stone cold heartlessness and Erika’s runs off as her heart breaks…again.

As Kyoya lists off all of the bullshit Kyoya has put Erika through, I couldn’t help but agree completely. In fact, I really REALLY sided with Takeru. The fact that I bought his arguments so well is so bad, because I should be rooting for Kyoya and Erika’s relationship and this episode hasn’t even slightly made me feel that. Then Kyoya adds fuel to my already hot and burning fire with his second rejection of Erika. She even calls him an asshole and briefly decides she’s done with this bullshit.

Takeru really starts saying shit about Kyoya as she runs off.

the show does
Not as much as this show pisses me off

Kyoya admits that he knew the charade was happening all along, and reveals the reason he was being a dickhead.

not enough
The moment that secured this becoming my most hated romance/comedy anime

People don’t choose when they fall in love, because it happens naturally. That aside, fuck you Kyoya. Fuck your personality. Fuck your treatment of Erika. Fuck your friends for trying to be nice to you. Fuck the idiots who wrote you. Fuck the guys who animated your shit. Fuck your voice actor for perfectly executing the most horribly written character in a romance show. (No I have not yet seen School Days)

Yes, I have harped so much that the episode didn’t develop enough. Yes, I have harped on the show not giving Kyoya enough nice moments. But that is the problem with this moment at the end of the episode. This one vague, unclear, fucking hint is the only line in the entire episode that supports what is supposed the shows central relationship. All plot, character, and relationship development is centered around this asshole, and the 4th episode has one shining moment of romance. 10 minutes of jokes without progress, with good animation and fitting music, executing the meanest written character I’ve seen in an anime and there is one line in a 23 minute episode that supports the main story.

When I write it this way, of course I’m going to be furious.

Even though I did enjoy parts of this episode, the fact that this is framed as an integral piece of character and relationship development in this episode makes me mad. This shallow writing practice plagues this show. A lot of on-screen bullshit, for little actual development or romance building. The fact that this is the standard for the show is exactly the reason I hate it. With that said, by this point they’d already dipped below moral standards at this point. 2 episodes prior they introduced a better, nicer guy whose chemistry with Erika was leagues better. The only reason he didn’t stick around was because it turned out he pursued her just to spitefully revenge Kyoya. Introducing a shittier character just to make the main character look better isn’t actual development. It resorts to such low petty standards of writing, using complete horseshit in wake of actually trying to fucking develop the main characters in your terrible ass show. One episode after this, they reached a new low. Kyoya answers her newest confession by saying he loves her too. After about 10 seconds, he asks how long he has to keep up this, “monkey business”. Purposefully playing games with a fragile girls emotions because he wants to kill time, (he uses the time-killing quote himself a couple times in the series). This show asks me to get on board with a relationship were the guy actively breaks the girls heart, maliciously messes with her emotions (which causes all sorts of internal emotion turmoil), and is nice to her traditionally for 30 seconds in every 23 minute long episode. They also ask me to be okay with the fact that this is okay because almost every other male character that actually appears in the show is actively and purposefully written to be worse than Kyoya for the sake of glorifying him instead of actually making him likable.

No Wolf Girl and Black Prince, I am not on board. At the end of the next episode, I dropped this show. I continued because I wanted to be fair to this show when I really decided to review it. By the end of it, I was willing to let it slide with a 3/10. I rewatched this episode so I could take notes, and I changed it to a 2/10. Though if I’m going to be scale it on percentage, I’d give it a 22% out of a possible hundred. It has nice visuals and animation, a good opening and a passable soundtrack. It’s character cast, relationship focus, and development is so incredibly wrong that I no longer enjoy the show. Terrible romance show, and below average in comedy.

If you’re looking for more comedic romance anime, watch Lovely Complex. If you’re looking for a show that builds up a relationship and hooks them up before the last episode, watch Golden Time or Say “I Love You”. If you want a romance show with drama and tension, watch Rumbling Hearts. If you’ve seen all 4 of these shows, watch them again or research other related shows.

This has been Animation Monologues, selecting my slice of animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day!

 

Who should Bell Cranel’s Bae be? (DanMachi Anime Monologue)

imgres-2
With so many girls that want Bell, it’s scary to ponder just how many lemon fanfics probably exist. *Shudders

Is It Wrong To Try And Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?

It’s not wrong, it’s just stupid. Jokes aside, I started watching the show because the title allured me too much. It’s exactly like clickbait articles you find on social media sites that you regretfully become drawn too. Luckily for me, when I started watching this show, (also called DanMachi for short, which I’ll be referring to for the rest of the article) I became very fond of it. I hadn’t read the light novels, (not that I have for other series). I liked the storytelling and dungeon setting. The system and world set-up, while not the easiest to understand, is still very interesting. When I finished the last aired episode, I had 2 thoughts running through my head. First was CAN THIS SHOW PLEASE CONTINUE? The second concerned the woman Bell should end up with. This article actually is going to address this specifically. I am going to go over the contenders for the Bell’s girlfriend position, and my opinions on it. I may pbring up likelihood, but that’s not important. Most of what I say can be taken as speculation. My opinions on all these possible relationships are the main focus, and what the point of this article is. So where do we start?

Aiz_Wallenstein_Anime
Aiz of The Faint Smile

Aiz Wallenwhatsit: The kickstarter for the series. Without her, Bell wouldn’t have become the driving force he is. He became powerful for her. It’s the classic, ‘girl saves boy from minotaur, boy becomes swol and manly for her and wants to get in her underpants’ story. She is arguably the strongest of all the girls in question in terms of physical strength. This makes her a strong character with human traits and great storytelling reasons to exist, (thankfully she is no trophy or other character designed just to be a love interest). DanMachi seems to imply that, because Bell is essentially doing this for her, she will be the woman Bell ends up with. We know that Bell feels strongly for her, but since there are more characters I’m discussing, you can guess where I am going. Aiz doesn’t visually show too much of it back yet. That’s not the issue, since this is a discussion based on shipping, plus this will be flip-flopped for later characters. With her, she doesn’t have as much of a spark. We know that she has someone she is chasing after like Bell. Whether that’s a love interest for her or not is yet to be seen. This may be the reason I’m not as giddy to see them end up together. I respect Aiz a lot, and I think she is a great character, but my preferences lie elsewhere.

Liliruca_Arde_Anime_9
Foxey Ladey, comin to steal yo treasure.

Lili: The supporter of Bell herself. She starts out with giant trust issues, and tries sabotaging Bell because she has never had good experiences with travelers. She becomes part of Hestia’s familia, (at least for now). After Bell sticking with her through her lies and deceit, she has a change of heart and turns from a shady supporter to another girl that’s trying to get in Bell’s underpants. Before she became a good person, I honestly hated her and never would have considered her for this article. Luckily she changed, and I quite like her now. She may not be my favorite character, (we’ll get there later) but I still love her nonetheless. It was once she moved into the Hestia familia that she became an actual contender for Bell’s banger, (get it?). Lili’s spark came form this and made her much more fun to watch. She still isn’t very high for me because of her past, but also just because I don’t know if she is in the best position. I guess having a relationship would make their exploration better if they’re close, and Welf may be able to work with it, but I still think that the spark Lili and Cranel have fits my taste. If they ended up together, I’d still be happy though. I hope to keep seeing Lili, but would gladly entertain the possibility of her ending up with some other cool guy.

Eina_Tulle_Anime
Sexy cashier fantasies fulfilled in 3..2..

Eina, (Insert Hobbit Joke Here): You’d have to feel bad for whomever got the job of dealing with Bell’s shenanigans. Thankfully, Eina is here to help. She is the dungeon manager looking over Bell, and on the side helps him with various other dungeon stuff. She equips him with armor and gets to learn almost first hand what goes on with him in the dungeon, though she never joins him. Though, (I think) she likes Bell like every other girl probably does, she is the calmest about it. The other girls are much more obvious, (depending on Aiz’s true feelings for him) which gives her a bit of a separation from the other’s, her niche if you will. She does care for him, not just because she is obligated to deal with him, but because Bell’s rise to power gives their resulting friendship more meaning. They have a very safe, very non-sexualized non-romantic friendship, but it’s a comfortability that could easily translate into a love relationship. I would consider her the dark horse in this wierdass game of becoming Bell’s bae. She is otherwise not the most dynamic or round character, but I love her attitude and think they’d fit well. I think her position as manager is the biggest threat to her possibility of getting in Bell’s underpants. I would still argue it’d be fine for Lili, but I don’t feel like I can say the same for Eina. Shoving that aside, I love her and Bell, but can’t love them as a romantic couple.

Syr_Flova_Anime_4
If only other hostesses I worked with loved me like Syr loves Bell…

Not the waitress, the Syrver, (Syr): If you become a regular at any food establishment, you would probably want a hostess or server like Syr always looking after you. Customer service people are supposed to be nice to you as a job. What this means, (besides tip your servers) is that you have a 50/50 chance of any given server actually being that nice versus being very tired/with this shit. Syr is the former category. This especially shows with Bell, who falls for him very quickly. While she is a genuinely good person to everyone, it matters most with Bell. She may not do very much outside of hostessing and hospitality, but every time she’s on screen she is showing off her glowing personality hoping to be rung by Bell. If my next choice doesn’t end up with Bell, I will gladly watch Syr be the runner up. I would very much enjoy Bell’s adventurousness and curiosity contrast with Syr’s calm and giving personality. They fit, not because they’re opposites, but because they have just enough in common in terms of how they value friendship. They have a good spark, and I think could fit very well together. If it wasn’t for my last contender, I’d probably have to ship these two all the way.

The Most Almighty Hestia:

Is it wrong to try and make a boob joke?
Is it wrong to try and make a boob joke?

I don’t know why I’d ever deny or steer anyone away from the fact that I want Hestia and Bell to be together more than anything else by the end of this anime. Holy fucking shit, where do I begin? First, it became too obvious too quick that she wants Bell’s brass on her…uhh. Second, she is the most eccentric character in the series, and my personal favorite. Her and Bell formed the team because they were essentially both outcasts with nowhere to turn. Hestia took Bell in, and they started to become not a familia, but a family, (not really because they aren’t together yet). Bell adventures and explores like he does to raise the status of their familia, and Hestia works many jobs to pay for a weapon she specially designed for him from the blacksmith goddess herself. If animation has taught us anything, it’s that people go for broke for the most special of people. Bell may think he’s in love with Aiz, but he cares so much for Hestia without question because that is just who he is. I hope that after enough time it becomes more for him because Hestia is just so much fun to watch. They have the greatest spark when they interact with each other. Sometimes her morbid conspiracist jealousy is odd, but it’s part of her personality and adds to the charm I believe she emits. Hestia is my favorite character in this anime, and the character I want to see in a relationship with Bell more than anyone else.

The only reason I have any doubts of Bell ending up with anyone else is because I ship these two so freaking hard. I want to see definite proof that they’re together, in the way I want Ash and Misty to be together forever. I have no problems with the others as characters, I do not mean to portray that if I did. I like all the characters in this show in general, but I like some more than others. I really hope this show continues so we can all enjoy more Hestia, more Bell, more dungeon exploring, more action, and more DanMachi.

Thanks for reading,

I’m the Silver Swordsman, reviewing my slice of animation every article. Have an animated day.