Posted on 26 June 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hinamatsuri

Comedy anime doesn’t always yell out confidence, so imagine our hype when there’s one that been on everyone’s lips since the manga come out, Hinamatsuri. The show starts with simple premise: a girl with supernatural power unexpectedly drops into the house of a yakuza, hilarity ensues. This concept sums up very well the source humors of Hinamatsuri. We have seemingly stock characters at first, put them into some bizarre situations where they are out of their comfort zone, and observe how they react. As such, Hinamatsuri is at its best when it turns these absurd events into unpredictably directions; and when the show uses these absurd elements to flesh out the characters. It’s so succeed in giving hearts to the characters that, for me, it stops being a laugh-out-loud show somewhere in the middle and now in the end, I’m not quite certain if I still consider Hinamatsuri a comedy show.

But stop being an all-out comedy show isn’t a bad thing at all. One of Hinamatsuri’s best assets has always been a strong and memorable cast, especially from the younger ones. Hitomi and Anzu, in particular, make one hell of an impression. They embrace these two qualities I mentioned earlier, not only it’s hilarious to see how these girls behave when they’re thrown out of their elements, but also throughout those bizzare events our girls have matured right before our eyes. We have the always kind-hearted girl Hitomi finds herself making cocktails in an adult bar (and eventually come to love that job); to the bratty Anzu finds the meaning of responsibility and home in homeless group. Some segments just are down right heart-warming that they ring sad and sweet in equal measure. Even a proper drama show can hardly do that right, let’s alone a comedy one like this.

Other characters still manage to make an impact just from the little segments they’re in. The trick is that they all have different voices and add different energy to the show. It’s no coincidence that Hinamatsuri is fond of introducing new characters, even late in the game. Being said that, the central relationship between Nitta and Hina isn’t as well-developed as say, the developments of their side characters. At the end of the journey, when Nitta thinks about their journey so far, it just hits me that we haven’t really invested to them much. If we’re looking for a parental bond we’re set to be disappointed. If we’re seeking for a buddy bond, it was underwhelming too. Their relationship is some kind in the middle, where they can easily ditch each other but there’s still something that bring them back together.

In term of visual execution, feel does a pretty decent job of transferring the essence of the manga to this adaptation. The visual hits its mark whenever it embraces the quirky visual that only Hinamatsuri can do. I’m talking about whenever these girls doing their supernatural power, or when Hina just floating around in the air in the middle of a conversation. That brings me to another complaint. By design, this whole season is about these “gifted” girls accustomed themselves to the new, ordinary world. As a result, there’s simply not enough crazy, wild fights. This lack of truly over-the-top superpower hurts the show’s chance, as Hinamatsuri has a knack of bringing whimsical humor by their visual. Secondly, the lack of these supernatural power means that the show’s more content for traditional slice-of-life shenanigans, which in truth countless number of anime shows doing the same thing.

In term of segments, I noticed that the anime adaptation change the order from the manga, which I think work for the show’s benefit. We have more direct continuation from Anzu and Hitomi, for example, and so far I can see the love from the creators to make this show as memorable as possible. Only one plot thread I feel rather weak and uninteresting in general is the Nitta’s yakuza part, which rank amongst my least favorite segments. Hina has become more active in the second arc, despite my early criticism that she might not hold her own. This series, as entertaining, whimsical and surprisingly heartfelt as it might be, might never seen the day of life for another season. While personally I’m not over-excited about this show, it still remains a solid offering. The show that has its own voice and visual quirks. That alone make it a far better show than your average anime crop.

Posted on 25 June 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

And so it ends, but it feels much more like a beginning chapter for the next arc. feel studio opens up for the possibility of next season here, by bookending Mao’s 3-year-later arc. Although I love little Mao with her kungfu storyline, I still feel it’s devoid from the content of Hinamatsuri has established so far. She appears in only 2 segments, and they can easily fill it up with more content from the present day. The biggest reason to include her, I suppose, is because she will become an important figure in later arc, and despite all my “qualms” earlier, I love her presence and her talking to handmade dolls struck a sweet chord for me. With enough screen time she can become one of the favorite character, but is there a good chance of Hinamatsuri getting second season? Well, from what I gathered, the chance doesn’t look promising despite the critical reaction it has. I guess it’s more because Hinamatsuri doesn’t subject itself within one set-demographic, and it’s frankness regarding homeless people and pre-teen kids attending bars might hurt its chance a little. A total shame since Hinamatsuri deserves another season.

The first segment is a continuation of last week, and I originally thought it’d involve more Nitta and Hina. Turn out Hina is stranded in the middle of snowy wilderness with Hitomi and the two boys, and this segment serves as a character development for Hina as she opens up her secrets to her friends. Well, not at first since she never regards “getting lost in the snowy mountain” as a serious issues until she learns that there’s no food. I especially love how she only has one line, and it’s “feed me” (Mao understands this girl well). The other kids take this shocking news surprisingly well, and they prepare a make-believe sushi to recharge Hina’s energy. The whole sequence is warm (despite cold sushi) but I admit it doesn’t reach the impact I hope for. In fact, it’s often the case I have with Hinamatsuri, it’s unpredictable enough to hold my attention the whole way, but isn’t flat-out hilarious or make a strong impact to me.

After getting themselves rescued, Hina wakes up in a hospital to find Nitta there, and they have a quiet time together to further reflect their journey from the beginning. It’s not a subtle way, but it’s a fitting one for the final episode to have montages about their time together, and about other characters at this precise moment. But where’s Mao in the montage? I asked myself until we leap three years forward to see her not only doing well (being the famous pupil in the now-commercialize martial arts dojo. Not because of the skills she learned there I’m sure), but she still keeps a habit of talking to her Hina and Anzu dolls (despite we all know that she isn’t completely delusional). This fact that after all this time she still talks to them in her native language like a lonely kid talking their puppy got me personally. It may play for laugh but there’s a sad feeling buried underneath.

She meets Rocky, himself wanted to learn the “magic” power of Hina. Upon hearing about Hina, she decides to leave, but of course the dojo doesn’t want to lose their golden goose. I like the final test well enough, mostly because of the spinning machine is just way far-out when you think of the dojo martial arts. Mao easily defeats it, while pretends to use her martial art skills to fool others. While my earlier comment might suggest that I feel the whole Mao’s arc as a filler (it is), in truth I understand the reason for it being there. It’s a crime NOT to see her in anime version, considered this might be the only anime version we’re ever going to get. Overall, I enjoyed Hinamatsuri on a weekly dose. While it’s not the show I find myself thinking back a lot, it proves to be an enjoyable little show with its quirky cast, especially the younger ones and surprisingly heartfelt for a comedy show. Full review will come up soon.

Posted on 19 June 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

The theme of this week is the kind hearts of our cast, and we have 2 parts that take the idea and go into different directions. Remember when I mentioned before how Hinamatsuri would be if Anzu takes Hina’s place? That’s exactly the idea behind the second half. I’m glad that Nitta has some major focus this week. After all, he’s still the poster boy, right? The fun begins when Daisuke, a dedicated journalist decides to make a realistic documentary program about Nitta – the yakuza who becomes some sort of urban legend now. Daisuke prepares everything, even his will, except for one thing: the expectation level. Nitta turns out to be a pretty nice dude, even nicer now that they film his daily activities. The guy finds himself in a bind, so he provokes Nitta and later stages the whole thing. Reality be damn, now he has the ultimate heartless devil yakuza that every love to hate.

This segment works in two deeper level apart from the sheer ridiculousness of the premise (come on, filming a yakuza’s daily activity? It’s like asking the magician to reveal his tricks). First, it serves a commentary to the extent of public manipulation the press/ the media can do to twist the truth for more attention-grabbing exaggerating details. Second lesson, just don’t judge people based on your impression. I particularly enjoy how Nitta’s bosses join in this little fraud. They must have so much fun observing how Nitta reacts.

The second segment plays out like any dad’s wildest dream when Anzu trades in Hina’s place for a few days and effectively reminds Nitta how much of a douchebag Hina is. Anzu is nearly perfect in every ways, helping him with housework, complements him and happily enjoys the time with him. Compared to the first time we know her when she’s basically a brat, it’s amazing to see how much she has grown, and Nitta seems to have the same opinion. So Nitta does what a sensible douchbag does (I swear Nitta and Hina deserve each other), spoils her to bring back her selfish self, except it backfires. I would’ve found this segment more hilarious if Nitta succeeds in his plan, in order to see the other side of Anzu. They have a great time together (especially digging the angel-Anzu and devil Hina metaphor), until he realises it’s time for her to go back her home. Which means ‘back to reality’, where Hina disappears in a school ski trip. With only one episode left for Hinamatsuri, I figure it this final event will have something to do with Mao (otherwise, why’s she there?) and it’s a school trip so my girl Hitomi will be there as well, yay! As a final note, not only Utako but now Hina gone in the final credit. I get the intention, but man somehow it creeps me out.

Posted on 12 June 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

Our favorite girls Hitomi and Anzu drive central plots this week, even at the cost of Hina and Mao (well, the latter doesn’t matter much, but why does she have such limited appearance?). I don’t have much of a complaint though, since stories involving Hitomi or Anzu are usually Hinamatsuri’s strongest. The humor of this first half, for example, is an extended gag of Hitomi is just too nice she can say no to others requests, and manages to be really good at all of them. It’s also a bit of social commentaries about people who hole themselves up with endless cycle of works that at the end of the day, they lose the drive that keep them going. I’m sure it’s an issue that not only relevant to Japan, but to the Western culture too. The moments where she just literally falls into sleep just after getting home with work uniform and the takeaway dinner sounds strangely relevant. In addition, the two skits this week also make fun of irresponsible adults who keep pushing the child into the dangerous path. Utako is especially (hilariously) wicked this week, forcing her underaged worker to sign a brand new apartment contract (with discounted price, but still). It’s hilarious to see the most sensible adults so far is Nitta, who feels taken a bit aback by Utako’s action. And Nitta being the nicest adult around is a pretty sad fact. I enjoy the numerous random jobs she’s taking, chief among them a mascot who gets punched by the Hero of Justice; and work in an office work and gets bullied by the senpai and all that. Poor girl. Consider that she doesn’t even work for money or even aim for anything higher. What is the point of all that?

One of the missed opportunity in that segment, however, is the questionable loli character design of Hitomi’s Mom, whom at first I thought was Hitomi’s sister. I suspect her childish appearance will become a central gag at some points, but the serious gap between her age and appearance just put me completely off. There’s a fight between her and Hitomi which started all this ruckus, and I like the way that she agrees to go along with all that, just to show you how adults’ mind can work in a mysterious way.

Anzu has a more heartwarming part. I’ll be upfront on this, Anzu’s material has always been stronger than any of those character-centric segment, because Hinamatsuri mixes the right balance between sad, grounded emotion with absurdist part (and cute little face). This last part, she learns a hard way of don’t relying on the gambling money, the money in which she doesn’t work to earn it. Having earned her allowance, it’s surprisingly sweet to see that she desires nothing for herself (wait, where’s the game?). She eventually decides to buy the neck massage machine for her foster parents, and Hitomi (wait, does she have some free time to spare now?) fills up the gap. It could’ve been a nice plan, until another irresponsible adult appears, Sabu, whom you might remember for ratting Nitta out last episode (can you read my tone here?). It could’ve been fine, too, if after winning the first bet, she’d just stop. That’s how the gambling work in general, make you win the first few times, let you sip the taste of greed before taken every penny away from you. Anzu learns that necessary lesson, and like Hitomi points out in the end, it’s her heart that matters the most as a gift. And while those coupons would cost almost nothing, I’m sure her foster parents will treasure it more than things that money can buy.

Posted on 4 June 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

It’s a bit late in the game now that Hinamatsuri introduces another set of new characters, and unlike these new additions we’ve seen the last few weeks, Mao looks to be a prominent character, at least on the same level with Anzu and Hitomi. Part of me afraid that she won’t have time to reach her full potential, consider the fact that we only have roughly 3 episodes left. The bigger remaining part of me welcomes her with all my heart, since Hinamatsuri is always at its best when they play around with the new characters. Nao is another excellent addition to this ensemble cast. She’s more composed and mature than both Anzu and Hina, and they way she can mimic their voices perfectly speaks well to her sensitive and her big heart. We’re heading to more tragicomedy territory here, one that isn’t in Anzu’s level, but Hinamatsuri again succeeds in making this segment hilarious and achingly sad at the same times. There’s obviously a reference to Cast Away (although I haven’t seen that movie so I can’t speak for how much relevant), and it’s whimsical in the way she asserts Hina and Anzu’s voices (especially Hina, where she only has one line, appropriately – “feed me”). But her vulnerability alone makes it a sad undertone. No human enjoy being lonely, and I’m quite surprised that she keeps her sane for that long before she snaps out of it. She’s on the quest to get into land now (which according to the map she’ll probably get to Thailand or China), and I guess it’s the time when we get back to the flashforward bit in the first episode.

The second segment focuses on the yakuza part and introduces another character, but this time this new Nitta’s yakuza brother is weak, compare to all the new players we’ve seen so far. In fact, he’s my least favorite character in this universe, and it doesn’t help that I don’t care much about Nitta and this whole new yakuza boss affair. I can, however, point out two of my favorite moments on that segment. The first being Hina’s insensitive comment that leads the old man into (brief) coma. And the second is the striking image of Nitta waking up and finding himself holed up in a concrete box, which reminds me a great deal of Baccano. But the main plot doesn’t carry much weight or have anything specific to say except that Nitta is 100% behind uniting the yakuza group (which in itself doesn’t really mean much). For my take, I believe this story can be more hilarious if Hina involved in rescuing Nitta, or if Nitta just has it enough and make the scene. But nope, it went the most conventional way which also means it falls flat for me.

In the last segment, we shift back the focus on Hina and Nitta as Hina plans to make a “surprise party” for Nitta. Being Hina, the surprise party also means there is no “surprise”, nor “party” at all. While I enjoy most of what happened, this feels like a repeated version of Hina messing up we’ve experienced before. The funniest moments are undoubtedly when Nitta sees the whole “celebration”, which looks more like a mogue; and Hina rising up from the “coffin”, with her lame t-shirt and equally lame greeting. It doesn’t surprise Nitta that much though (more like nothing surprises him anymore), and his stoned-face reaction captures well the awkwardness of this surprise party.

Posted on 28 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

The core dynamic of Nitta and Hina again is put into test this week, this time with more pressing matters. There’s a woman from Hina’s world comes to bring her back home, except – you know – she’s also scared shitless about Hina’s power. That’s the first thing that makes this new addition, named Kei, different from someone in her role. Kei’s more than willing to take shortcuts to her duty, and poor Anzu has to keep her from running away many times. Kei has a checklist to track Hina’s development in which she expects Hina to trip anytime soon. That blue hair girl passes all the test with flying colors and I especially like the way Kei and Anzu tested her by buying the puppy and disguise it as a homeless dog. Hilarious as it always is, but when Hinamatsuri wants to, it can ring the emotion so true. It might be a bit obvious the way the show wants to show us how Hina has grown while living with Nitta, but it mostly gets away with it by framing that change from Kei’s astounded eyes.

When learning about her going back to her world, she not in the least refuses. Grown girl accepts the consequences after all. The more important thing is how to break it to Nitta. Hina tries, and fails, in various methods to get Nitta noticed (most notably her “byebye” T-shirt, and when she’s frustrated she rolls and float freely in the air, creating a nice and weird visual quirk. Nitta takes the news calmly, he takes her to eat her favorite ikura bowl for the last time and says it when it’s time for their separation, that while she’s a pain in the ass, he enjoyed the time they spent together. That might be why the last laugh doesn’t really win me over because it kinda destroys my goodwill towards Nitta. But to be fair, Nitta has always been an ass himself, so they pretty deserve each other’s company.

In between that crisis, we have a side story of a new Hina’s classmate, Mami, who walks the fine line between a complete fool and an adorable fool. What worse than showing your true power to the bad people? It’s showing your true power to the eight-grader syndrome kid who believe they’re the centre of the universe (in fact they’re closely to grade 8th here). Hilarity ensues when Mami decides to confront Hina upfront (and freaked out to the point of lying on the ground). Hinamatsuri is in total control of the tones here, building up her satisfaction and her desire to brag about her “superpower” just about right, while never overplays her humiliation. Having the crowd total in their straight faces works much better than them laughing and ridiculing the poor girl (especially love both Aizawa and Hitomi’s tense expressions there). There’s so much good laugh in this second part and never at once the show belittles Mami’s hijinks. Well, turn out the parts about those middle-schoolers are amongst my favorite parts of the show. With such a diverse cast with strong and funny characters who always found themselves in absurdist situations, Hinamatsuri retains its touch this week.

Posted on 21 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

At this halfway mark, I want point out that the comedy of Hinamatsuri isn’t as sharp as the first few episodes (except for the segment including Hitomi’s classmates). There’s still absurdist sense of humor, sure, but it doesn’t make me laugh out lout or even make me chuckle. That is to say I come to enjoy the show’s drama much greater. This first short segment about Anzu, for example, hits all the right notes that you just can’t help but want to hug her. Anzu’s first day of work is… full of hearts and wonders, for the lack of better world. Here’s a girl who started from the very bottom of the society, now that her living condition is better (her own room, her own bed), she still appreciates what she had learnt from Yassan and the homeless people. The way she’s still used to her old habits (stunned over the cash till, taking a cold shower, cleaning up the used chopsticks) play mostly for gag, but it hides a sense of sadness under it. One thing for sure is that her first day in the restaurant is a whole lotta fun, and her life is going up from now on.

At least I’m glad that Hina becomes much more active this week. In the second segment, triggered by Nitta’s remark “find a way to make it fun”, she nominates herself to run for student council president, which only two things in mind: improve the lunch meal and more time to nap. Then somehow the lawyer of the big yakuza organization involved and what I find the most “genius” is the way he connects Hina’s two dot-points draft into a sensible and logical argument. Of course after a good meal, everyone would want to sleep, right? Hitomi’s reactions speak volume here, so does Hina’s clueless speech that include stage directions to her speech like they’re the most natural things in the world. This segment is where the static Hina works best for me, her stoned face and mono-tone need to contrast with something as bombastic and out of left field as this. Otherwise, our poster girl can only be suited for mascot.

The dynamic between Nitta and Hina come back in full force in the last section, and I actually quite like the way the direction it went this time. Nitta, for the first time, shares something personal to Hina. Hina and Hitomi take that hint and want to talk Utako into having a date with Nitta. Of course, Hina will have to screw it up in front of Utako since she has absolutely no sense to “taking the hint”, but somehow the date still happens with some unexpected twists. First, Hina breaks her ankle because Nitta’s swinging (Hinamatsuri comes close to screwball comedy here), and second, Utako rejects Nitta out right. It should be a punchline here, but for me this one the punch doesn’t land well, because it drags so much with all the montages of their date with an obvious result. It could work much better if the show includes their conversations instead of this. At least now that Nitta truly regards Hina as his family, so Mother or not, hand puppet or otherwise, it’s all good for now.

Posted on 13 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

This week in Anzumatsuri Hinamatsuri, the show proves once again that it does have something up its sleeves. Rarely a show does the drama effectively to the point of winning me some (manly) tears, let alone a comedy show in nature like this, but Hinamatsuri more than earned it with a nice emotional story for Anzu. Keeping up with its tradition, this episode spends the first half on Nitta and Anzu and the second half on one of our golden girls. The expansion of the cast for me steps up to be one of Hinamatsuri’s strong point. Usually, this show introduces the supporting quirky cast that they manage to stand out through their colourful characteristics; and watching them bouncing off with our mains is always a pleasure. This week, Nitta brings Hina home to meet his mother and that quirky little sister (who loves to drink) and we witness how Hina failing miserably with her little act and how Nitta covers up the truth by tall tales upon tall tales. Here’s when I admit the comedy isn’t as sharp as it has always been, mostly because Nitta’s mother and sister believe him almost too quickly. But what it lacks in humor, it makes up by showing us that Hina tries (fails but damn, she tries) and reaffirm the central chemistry between Hina and Nitta. He might lie that Hina is his real daughter, but now he sees her as one, and it’s certainly important.

The real winner, however, comes from the second part of Anzu saying farewell to the homeless gang. It’s not that unexpected, and the old men accept their fate as it comes. But it’s sad (and a bit hurt) that Anzu is the only one who doesn’t take this issue lightly. She was all about to go all out to protect their homeland, to what she feels as her true home and family. It’s compelling since the emotions she gone through are relatable. She sheds her tears when she realizes it’s not worth it (or more, the old geezers don’t think it’s worth it) to keep this base. Moreover, it stings when she knows that they won’t be together ever again. All the people she’s grown fond with, all the people who teach her all these small things. And then, when she has a delicious meal she can’t help but thinks of the others, and wonders if she deserves such nice meal. It’s empathy that she has learned the long way from the people who seemingly has nothing to share, yet it’s the care and the love they share that reach her and will stay inside her. The two new caretakers do a good job of pointing these things out for Anzu. That is, frankly, quite a touching and satisfying message Hinamatsuri manages to pull off here.

It helps that the show nails it in keeping these emotions intact, visually. There are many strong framings that fuse immensely with the emotional weight of the story. I have two scenes that come to mind. First, the image of Anzu in her tent gathering up her items, a hammer, an empty can, a stuff bear and a string, with her back facing towards us. It’s as lonely as it can get. The second, Anzu’s wide awake early morning, and just realizes that she now doesn’t have to pick up cans anymore. It rings hollowly true at depicting a person coping with their new strange environment that – although I suspect we don’t get more of this anymore – I can hardly have any complaints with this segment whatsoever. The past episodes have shown us that Hinamatsuri is great at comedy, this one reminds us that they have a knack at moving us to tears as well.

Posted on 9 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

At this point, I’m done delving on what the main thread of Hinamatsuri is. What appeared at first as the buddy/parental relationship between a yakuza and a psychic girl has evolved into something else, with Hitomi and Anzu slowly taking a central stage. This episode 5 in particular, they follow up on what I feel their weakest sketch (the plot A) with their most hilarious segment I’ve seen this year, bar none. The main reasons why the plot A doesn’t work for me mostly because it confirms many issues that I felt last week: Anzu and Hitomi keep overshadow Hina, there’s little wacky Hinamatsuri-signature sense, and Nitta and Hina relationship rubs me the wrong way for the first time (money can’t buy everything, mate). There are still two main takeaways from this first half, however. First, it has a sad undertone that the main reason Anzu does all this is because she wants to buy a video game to play with Hina and second, Hitomi and Hina help the blonde kid in their own ways, both end up with some mishaps that turn their plans upside down) or in Hina’s case, she makes one up as she goes). That’s the “friendship” that Anzu always looks for but hasn’t realized yet, and the rewards end up being not the money they earned but the efforts they spend to help her.

But my dissatisfaction for the first half is quickly replaced the magnificent of this little investigations from Hitomi’s friends. I suspect the main ingredients for its success are the expanded cast, with each of the new character more than light up the screen and I don’t remember falling for a new character (Aizawa) as quickly as this 10 minutes. She has her manipulating side, and God she’s clearly enjoying messing with Hitomi just to see her “adorable” reactions. The animation does a good job to animate Hitomi’s excessive movements here (is it just me who think that there’s some yuri affection from Aizawa to Hitomi? If so, I’d welcome it). She skeds the fine line between enjoying manipulating her and care for her own good at the same time. Likewise, the two boys walk the fine line between innocent-as-kid (the way they imagine the affair, with the caption: I can’t fantasize anymore or they still behave like kids playing detective) and their affection to Hitomi. Hina plays her role well here is a clueless mascot who most of the time doesn’t get what is going on. This is the situation-based comedy as its most inspiring as the misunderstandings just keep building up slowly and Hitomi behaves just like a wet cat get herself caught in the kitchen’s corner – she’s an adorable kitty, I swear. Look, I don’t even care anymore if this show slowly becomes Hitomimatsuri but I still hope there’s more supernatural wackiness along the way.

Posted on 29 April 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hinamatsuri

Contrary to what I predicted last week, turns out there is a continuation to the “cliff-hanger” last week, and more importantly, it serves as a catalyst for Hinamatsuri this week’s first half. This is a second week in a row that the show involves little-to-no crazy superpower hijinks, which I’m not sure if it works for the show’s benefits. I always consider these ridiculous power Hina and Ainzu possess one of Hinamatsuri’s distinctive personality, thus without those the show feels more like your typical odd-couple slice of life comedy show. I’m quite glad that Hina and Nitta pair gets a main focus in this first half. Hina gets kicked out of the house by Nitta, it’s a kind of natural progression considering how much of a sloth and mindlessness Hina is. Too useless that she immediately spends her amount of money on food, then stays with Anzu but does nothing but eats food and reads manga. Anzu delivers what might be one of the best line of anime this season: “That girl’s not even fit to be homeless”. She learns the rope of surviving though, when she teams up with the street band and performs “tricks”. The band becomes extremely popular much to Nitta’s surprise.

As for Nitta part, unexpectedly receives harsh reaction from his group through his bad choice of phrasing (I love that comedy bit where some strangers stand up against him the most), even being banned from Utako’s bar until he makes up with Hina in one of the episode’s most hilarious sequence where Utako throws salt right after he left – an act of cleansing all the evil’s spirits. I particular love the way Hinamatsuri animates Utako clumsy actions – he finds himself worrying about her despite claiming that he doesn’t care about her well-being one bit. This part is supposed to be a break so that both Nitta and Hina can see the importance of the other in their lives, but I’ll be honest to say that it doesn’t grab me much because it has been done to death before. In the end though, what worries me the most is the way after going through many hardships of being homeless, Hina doesn’t change much except that now she knows for sure that wants to be with Nitta. In terms of character’s development, this blue-hair girl is still pretty much a brat. Consider how her two friends grow right before our eyes through their dire situations, I’m a bit concerned that if Hina doesn’t grow soon she might be the least interesting character out of this pack.

Speaking of Hina’s two friends, the second half spends on Anzu and my girl Hitomi encounter for the first time. What I like the most about them is how despite being very contrasted in terms of personality (one timid, one self-centred, ends up at vastly different outcomes (one has money more than she could imagine, the other only makes few bucks a day), in an essence they have been going through the same thing: that they learn something out of their usual personality and they come to do their jobs with pride. There’s a hint of pride in Anzu’s statement of being homeless, there’s a great montage about Hitomi not only being good at bartender, but also excels on customer’s service – provides the kind of atmosphere that Nitta’s boss, her own homeroom teacher and even Utako herself can be their honest self and not worry about their real life. At heart that’s exactly what Hitomi’s doing here. Hitomi even manages to half-blackmail one staff so that Anzu can have those bags of cans, a glaring example of how she adapts real fast. Anzu goes a long way too, bringing her new “friend” home and offering her install-noodle as a repayment, something she learns by heart through her homeless gang. We shall see how they grow as friends but I suspect that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

CHANGE USERNAME
Vonter
Or are the 50s the new late 30s or early 40s?
Vonter
Are japanese people vampires? https://ultra.fandom.com/wiki/Toru_Furuya
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: If you look at the voice list, that Japanese voice actor for Mario in that anime movie is the same voice actor for Amuro Ray from the original Gundam.
Vonter
Also considering Baby Bowser was raised by Kamek. I suppose those beings could be made by magic.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - My head canon is that Bowser made them himself. Kinda Lord Zedd or Rita from Power Rangers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I still subscribe to the headcanon that Peach is the mother of Bowsers children.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember growing up with the relatively poor American cartoons, none of them featured Wario.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have committed videogame genocide apparently.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Everytime I broke or hit a brick in the Mario games I was probably murdering a toad.
Vonter
The ending it's "interesting" considering the relationship Mario and Peach have isn't something as close, as Link and Zelda.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - It's weird but at the same time it does use elements from the game. Like the music, and story bits from the manual from the original Super Mario Bros. (Where it mentioned Bowser uses magic to turn Toads into the bricks, clouds and other objects of the game).
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never did end up watching the Mario anime movie that came out in the 80s.
Vonter
Also someone is putting the effort of making a Bowsette adventure doujin. This is the type of stuff that could be it's own original thing since it strays far from what's Mario. Despite the occasional mild nudity it's quite fun so far, despite also how weird it is.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - At the very least it'll be interesting to see where it goes. It happens also every time something comes back. Times change and so the way we make stories. Also the original run had a curtain call chapter, so this is more a new story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which is often what happens with episodic stuff for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I essentially read Fraken Fran until I got my fill of it.
AidanAK47
@Vonter, I feel that Franken Fran pretty much ran it's course though. Not sure what a new series could bring.
Vonter
Latest news: Franken Fran will get a new manga series. After it was cut short, it seems this little horror manga will get another chance: https://imgur.com/a/ypjtI4c
Vonter
I also read a bit ahead on Shield Hero. And I like it is character driven, but the cast isn't as big as other Isekai, like in Overlord where there are too many characters to easily keep track of what's happening (ever since it started Overlord feels like the most attached to its light novel origins).
Vonter
The monster town growing and expanding into it's own country reminded me of Digimon World. A game which you allied with Digimon to expand your town, add shops and other services. I've heard Xenoblade X was also like that.
Vonter
I watched during the weekend, the Slime Isekai. It's fine, though it lacked more conflict, the MC feels like its too powerful. Maybe this would have been great as a videogame since the concept of how this Slime evolves reminds me of the SNES game: E.V.O. The Search of Eden. It was about your character evolving through the ages and the player choosing how it adapts to it's environment.
Animosh
Also nice to see some love for LOGH in your personal lists (especially Aidan's). I guess it's too much of a niche series (a political epic in space) to score highly in the overall list, but I loved it. It retained much of what made the OVA so great while providing a much-needed update to its visuals and arguably better pacing.
Animosh
I also hadn't heard of the Kase-san OVA. Not sure whether enough can really happen in a one-hour OVA to make it worthwhile (it gives the impression of being promotional material more than a full-fledged adaptation), but I've been looking for another good yuri series after Bloom into You, so it can't hurt to give it a try.
Animosh
Nice to see Kaze ga made it on the list, even with just one cour out. I've seen most of the stuff that's won positive awards, but I've always avoided Pop Team Epic because of how silly it seemed to me. But given all the positive reviews (here and elsewhere) maybe I should give it a chance after all.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yu-no can go fuck itself.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There's also Yuasa's new thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe the thriller shows will be worthwhile but I'm not really as interested.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yeah spring looks packed for me, there's also that throwback ova to riding Bean and some creature horror ova.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I notice that Index gets an annoying amount of episodes/adaptations, one of those shows that keeps going away for a while then keeps coming back.
Kaiser-Eoghan
We might get dororohedero and Vinliand saga at years end. I would like for pluto to air this year.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Definately looking forward to the josei and shoujo stuff in Spring 2019, nothing of interest for me thats on the summer 2019 list yet.
Vonter
Like you wrote, seems like it's the start for new ways to stream anime. With Crunchyroll making simulcasts and Netflix putting some anime in the spotlight considering the audience it has (and it also helps it has better dubs, at least in spanish). Finally I felt last year the criticism of fanservice got more loud, also summed with how tumblr and facebook politics are putting restrain on sex conten
SuperWooper
@Anon, Netflix is getting Watanabe's new series, Carole & Tuesday, next season. It might not have the mass appeal of Crybaby (violence and sex) or Aggretsuko (cute animals), but it ought to do well for them if they slap "FROM THE DIRECTOR OF COWBOY BEBOP" all over the Internet.
Vonter
Last year I also didn't watched a lot of drama or slice of life, which is a shame since a lot of what's listed reads like it fits those genres.
Vonter
Kind of a lukewarm year 2018 was in terms of anime series. Although I admit I watched a lot of trash as well. Most of the good stuff I watched last year was on Netflix. In terms of bad I already an issue on the list because disappointing, bad and trash are different degrees of badness.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sorry for being so long and overdramatic, I'd normally stay quiet but I had to get my feelings out.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't want to say anymore about this show anymore, I know those who did watch it generally emotionally connected with it or thought it was some kind of epic, if anything I felt it was an epic ruined by being chopped down. I hated it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nothing seems settled on long enough and nothing registers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As Hateable as Jomy is in the beginning, I would at least liked to have seen proper flow of plot structure allowing for some natural progression of character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As an idea and I think if explored with more episodes/more it could be something, this also includes Keith.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The timeskip and general pacing annihilate anything that could be anything approaching reaching close to working with this series, resulting in an un-compelling cast I feel nothing for that ruins and undersells any drama which is far too overdone when it occurs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can't complete this, don't care if I've watched the first half.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I didn't like the couple of episodes of Terra e I watched a some years ago, unfortunately this second attempt, over halfway through the show only illustrates further just how much I utterly despise this show.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As I've said before, I do think re-watches are important, especially years later after watching a show you disliked, if only to see if you'll enjoy it on the second run, lately thats been mostly successful for me, however....
Anonymous3325300
Meanwhile, I do expect that this year will be much stronger in terms of quality. Of course, I had the same assumptions last year based on the winter shows, but I do feel like this could be a stronger year full of great shows, instead of a lot of merely "good" ones.
Anonymous3325300
I predict that Netflix this year probably won't have a Devilman/Aggretsuko-level hit in terms of new anime. Evangelion is probably all they need, even though it's an old series.
Lenlo
If anyone thought that wasn't getting on this list, they either didnt watch it or have really low standards
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Its so catharctic that you listed steins;gate 0 I remember how we essentially lived and watched it together.
Lenlo
I think thats what the most pleasant surprise category is supposed to be. Didnt wanna double up on to many cats
Kaiser-Eoghan
No biggest surprise category?
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can understand including bunny-senpai as a runner up, I'd have trouble picking between it and sorayori.
Lenlo
Episode 7 is so damn good, I don't care that its American.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: How do you think I feel, I'm not far off 35.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Glad you actually made room for a movie category aswell.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Based Lenlo, cheating with American anime cartoon.
Lenlo
Im just happy I got Castlevania on this list at all
Kaiser-Eoghan
Dropped planet with, hinamatsuri and violent evergarden though, didn't see Hisone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I probably would have replaced planet with with happy sugar life or banana fish though or yagate ga kimi.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In any case, I am glad my wife Kanna Hanazawa won an award on your list and that Devilman got featured more than once.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, I though you would be splitting the voice actor category into voice actor and voice actress, though I suppose that's probably cheating a bit.
SuperWooper
You're not alone - of the four of us, I was the only one who watched it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I must have missed ASAGAO TO KASE-SAN. Hadn't heard of it until now, I should have paid more attention.
Anonymous3324478
Oh and the music was pretty good too I guess. Another episode is airing in March.
Anonymous3324478
Masa also recovered from his car accident from a few episodes ago. It was totally unneeded in my opinion.
Anonymous3324478
The last episode of Tsurune was a decent ending to an otherwise formulaic sports show with some great animation on par for the course with KyoAni. Minato overcame his target panic and won it for the team. Twins got owned big time.
Animosh
There's a new episode out of the Gridman voice drama: https://barnnn.blogspot.com/2019/01/ssssgridman-voice-drama-episode-6n.html. It's a pretty good one too.
Animosh
My only worry is if the series will be able to get to its logical stopping point (the end of the Claw arc) in 12 episodes. But I suppose I should trust Bones over my vague memories of how much content there is left to cover.
Animosh
Yeah, I agree a split cour could be good. It would allow the series to maintain its high levels of animation, and given how stacked next season looks to be (anime aside, there's also American Gods and the Game of Thrones madness to keep up with), and with another ONE show airing, a break wouldn't be so bad.
SuperMario
Split cour of Mob Psycho would be awesome. I don't want to watch 2 ONE's adaptation in one season
Lenlo
Not for bloggin
Lenlo
While I love Mob, I am a bit happy its only 1 cour. I couldnt do 3 2 cour series
Animosh
Assuming we do get 12 episodes, a split cour would still make sense ... but I guess we'll just have to wait for the official confirmations
Animosh
As far as I can tell the only source is some guy in Twitter, so not sure how reliable it is
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Devilman Lady is what comes to mind on how to do this type of show better. That one had also a special agency for supernatural incidents, has a simple but compelling main character, uses it's time to build atmosphere and mood and even the action while a bit stilted had better monster design and the violence it's graphic but entertaining like Robocop.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Ok I will check. I'm also curious where it goes in terms of tone. Because it's all over the place.
Vonter
Ok. Last time I tried the login in feature didn't respond. This time it worked.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Keep me posted of magical girl spec ops in case it does turn into the kind of guilty pleasure shlock it should.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Is this vonter? If you register an account you can keep the name.
Anonymous3321080
But I think what gets me the most its how it beats the dead horse of the 80s action hero arc. Van Damme, Arnold and Stallone had more or less these type of lines. Its kind of funny this anime pretends these aren't tropes we don't use anymore because of how corny they come off. It'll definitely work better as an abridged series since it can be very boring when it tries to add the school life moment
Anonymous3321080
Also Mahou Spec Ops... Is interestingly bad. It tries to be exploitative and shocking but feels very sloppy, kinda like that meme of *slow heavy metal music plays* It also wants to play it like a dark shoujo anime, but the cute monsters are just distracting.
Anonymous3321080
Reading your conversations about idols, despite being mediocre Gokudolls and Ore Mahou Shoujo made jabs at that culture. At least painting some aspects that may be true of how exploitative it is. I suppose because those are subpar, over the top and cheap is what they can do that. Can't remember one aside from Perfect Blue which criticizes that industry.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But only if there was more anime noirs.
Amagi
Reminds me of that stalin vs hitler comic. Think it was russian. They're attacking each other with magical super powers there. And yeah, I love noir now that you mention it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: That'd make for a great noir story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Imagine Stalin and Hitler trolling each other on twitter.
Amagi
It's easy to construct superiority when you never have to show your private face and never participate in mundane chat talks or so.
Amagi
I bet a lot of people who had some aura of authority back then due to only ever appearing in books or for very rare (scripted) speeches would probably laughing stocks now if we'd see them commenting on daily stuff and news on twitter or reddit.
Amagi
I personally have given up upon having heroes. I still find a lot of historical people interesting but let's be real the few of them that weren't blatanly bad in some way were different then we imagine them to be (even if they're good). Just look how different people feel now that you see them tweeting on twitter VS policians etc decades ago.
Amagi
I like the idea of a main character longing for a dead friend and role model he had and still idolizes. Then at some point he starts reconstructing his friend's past to cherish his memories about him even more but finds out that the friends wasn't the hero he believed him to be and maybe even the own memories of him were idealized a lot over the years after his death without him even noticing.
Amagi
Yeah we are always searching for some sort of über-ich or perfect being that symbolizes the goal of some personality growth we're trying to achieve.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or the reason why some people need to have so many things or idols they probably don't need.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think there is a genetic/mental inadequacy in humanity that makes us susceptible to following "higher people who we forget are actually human" because of our own desire for an avatar or general inadequacy as human beings.
Amagi
Yeah this. It's probably also why they defend them so eagerly. Because it's actually true that "their" version of that person would never do that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: And that probably creates a much stronger blow to them when the actor is found guilty of a crime.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Very good response.
Amagi
It's kinda weird how almost everything we know about others is actually just interpretation to some degree.
Amagi
The weird thing is that I think that many fans of acrots/celebrities rather create their own versions of them they fall in love with rather than loving the actual person, whom they barely even know. It's fun because the concept of a waifu sounds extremely weird to normal people, but many normal people kinda do this too but with real persons (but imaginary personality).
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think thats where it starts getting obsessive or where it gets too close to the next level, such as what the anon mentioned.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also can't bring myself to get too attached to a celebrity or to a character. I do look at hentai doujins yes but, I've probably had thoughts about certain actors or what not, but I never actually want to sleep with them, again I think that's taking fantasy too far.
Amagi
I never know if these are serious celebrations or rather some fun memes they do to post, I always assumed the latter. Kinda.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think the fans celebrating the idol's birthday thing is taking it to far too, especially if its an anime character.
Amagi
Yeah I was never an idol fan either, and I don't just mean the idol genre in anime but anything similar to idol stuff in general, like being a fanboy/girl of some celebrity or something. Was never able to get into that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its all too superficial.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Don't like the ideas it gives teenage girls either .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Certain topics just set me off =<
Amagi
The third episode of Wake Up girls was pretty good in that regard. I think it was the third one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But yes, thats a pretty bad story what happened to the woman you mentioned.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Might be a good idea to catch some documentaries on that topic .
Kaiser-Eoghan
But that was just a sentence from some guy on a podcast though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Now though I didn't see it, I do recall someone saying some of that Wake up girls idol anime slightly brought up seedier parts of the industry if not much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The hallow shallowness of the idol industry I mean.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also dislike the shallowness of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I love how Perfect blue takes influences from those gialli/giallo style films from the 60s/70s to an extent, while also spitting on the industry.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But you know what sucks? A part of me, both in regards to those women (and probably some of the male idols) whether it be in reality or animation, I can't actually deny finding some of these men/women actually physically attractive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Music industry has its seediness just about everywhere and of course victim blaming going to appear everywhere, not just Japan.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*commodification-consumerist
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I hate capitalism, I hate the idol communication-commercialist industry and the willing self-aware slaves and their masters who perpetuate it, the music is largely awful aswell. I don't watch most of the idol anime, I think the idea of 30 something men throwing cash it is awful.
Anonymous3319279
Wonder if there will be some modern equivalent of Perfect Blue? That was a scathing critique of the idol industry back in the late 90s. Although given how shows that are flat out glorifying the industry are the best-selling shows on BD every year, I doubt it.
Anonymous3319279
In short, she was assaulted by two men at her home who were then arrested. Then she was pressured by her managers into claiming that she was to blame for this, not the men and apologizing to an audience.
Anonymous3319279
Hearing about what happened to some idol named Mahohon seriously makes me wonder if idol culture in Japan seriously needs an overhaul and if media needs to stop glorifying the industry so much.
Anonymous3319260
Ok. No pressure, just asking.
AidanAK47
@Anon, we are working on it. It's nearing completion and should be posted soon.
Anonymous3318799
I don't know if I missed it. But have you put the overview of 2018? Of best show, best character, etc. Did 2018 had a good anime villain?
Masky
Anyhoo, surprisingly Lovecraft's books have some really faithful manga adaptions
Masky
A story set in world post "Cthulhu"(or whatever is setting equivalent) awakening and transcending humans into "savage" inhuman world that he is supposed to bring forth
Masky
Ya know, speaking of lovecraft here is what I really want to see:
Kaiser-Eoghan
Well I guess Die Farbe and whisperer in the darkness count and the cthulu one, the latter two were done by the Lovecraft society.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The closest we got with an actual adaptation was Dreams of the witchhouse , but they left out Nyarlathotep.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Those films were fun, but none of them dated well either.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have to seperate my knowledge of the books from Stuart Gordon and Brian yuznas films that borrow elements and titles from Lovecrafts works, once I accept their takes on him are just body horror a black comedies I can kind of accept it more.
Lenlo
I think Junji Ito's manga works have come the closest to Lovecrafts brand of horror, and we all saw how that adaptation went.
Lenlo
Yeah, Lovecraft is a hard one. Even his own books are hit or miss, because it is a very fine line for his brand of psychological horror. Would make for an interesting and unique anime if done well though
Kaiser-Eoghan
A lovecraft themed world would find some difficulty in getting the atmosphere right as he has proved difficult to adapt.
Lenlo
Ah. Yeah, a non-traditional setting like that would be good. I think Isekai, to really change it up, should start going for non-traditional settings. Sci-Fi, Lovecraft, etc. I think this was mentioned before yeah?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I believe the anon was saying it in relation to making a good setting for an isekai show.
Lenlo
Its why I standby Sakaki in this that, even if he was a dick about it, he is right to be angry at how it all placed out. Just not at Kurahara.

Also @Anon, I loved Bloodborne! No idea what the convo is about, but saw it mentioned
Lenlo
They should Kaiser, I agree. Just look at American college football right now. ITs coming out all over the place, and people wonder why teams dont speak out against it. Its because they are kids, they think "This is how its SUPPOSED to be. Only the best make it. Its not the coaches fault, he makes us win". etc etc.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is a spinoff anthology for bloom into you's manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or other big issues relating to sports such as performance enhancing drugs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lenlo, a thought popped into my head there, more sports shows should focus on abuse.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think flipflappers is one of my favourites in years, but it was definately at its best when it wasn't really about wrapping up its story.
Amagi
Space Dandy and Kaiba had this to some degree too. Liked both series.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Kinda sad that the latter half of Flip Flappers was rather weak because it started with this different worlds idea.
Amagi
I think Matsumoto stuff might actually be the very first anime I have seen in my life, not regularly though and usually when I was in Italy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The noir world could be in black and white.
Kaiser-Eoghan
How about another world that has different sections that follow different genres?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Helped greatly by his use of artistic cinematography and use of dramatic stills.
Anonymous3316528
Old anime has very bitter stories. Despite the old drawings, several had harsh live lessons. Osamu Dezaki had such a talent to direct drama.
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Winter 2019 Summary – Week 2

Welcome to the new weekly section where I will cover current season’s shows that I’m still following that haven’t been blogged by us, the leftovers so to speak. That way readers who watch these shows below can keep tabs on how we feel about them. At the moments aside from the top tiers shows we […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai – 02 [The Wandering Six]

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) – 04 [VS The Imaginator 1]

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Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai – 02

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Yakusoku no Neverland – 02[131045]

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Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru – 13 [And Then Start Running]

Kaze Fui returns, contending with and maybe even beating Mob Psycho for best episode of the week! We have introspection, backstory, and the team coming together to protect their emotionally stunted friend! Lets charge in! Everything about Kaze Fui this week was fantastic. From the narrative to the VA’s. But one I want to hit […]

Dororo – 2 [The Story of Bandai]

Hello and welcome to show number two for me of the new season! Dororo is an interesting one, based on a 1960’s manga, with this being its second adaptation. This week we meet another demon, learn our leads name and that not all spirits are bad. Let’s dive in! Visually, Dororo is sort of a […]

Goblin Slayer Anime Review – 60/100

The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a […]

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The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a […]

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