Posted on 30 March 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kimi ni Todoke




Each year, before the start of each Autumn Season, I hold a little poll in which you can all force me to blog a series I wouldn’t normally even consider to cover. The only time at which I could not complete such a series was in 2009, with Kimi ni Todoke’s first season. It had very solid production values; Production IG made sure of that. However, as a romance it just had no idea what it wanted to do. Any scene that focused on Sawako’s (the lead character) growth as a character was overshadowed by its romantic drivel that refused to go anywhere.

It really was the classic syndrome of romance shows, where the creators just refuse to let relationships play out normally, in favour of forced and artificial cheese and drama. It’s because of this that I wasn’t looking forward to its second season. But lo and behold: it actually redeemed itself a bit. The biggest surprises of this season definitely lie in its sequels.

This second season really shows that the creators took a good look at what happened to the first season, with the intention to fix its major flaws. They put aside the romantic nonsense and simply constructed a series with the sole purpose of resolving the romantic relationship between the two lead characters. It’s an in-depth look at how the relationship between the two lead characters grows. It’s no longer another simple “will they won’t they”-story, but instead the series changes into a “when, how and why will they hook up”. A much more interesting premise, and to make matters even better: the creators also figured out how to use slow pacing. Instead of using it for stalling, they use it to slowly build up everything they need, deliver one hell of a climax, and afterwards carefully wrap up everything that needed to be wrapped up. It’s a massive improvement over the first season.

At the same time though, I wouldn’t say that this is the second coming of White Album. The fact remains that the first season just left a lot to be desired, and it didn’t even seem to build up for this second season. The second season does make use of some of the things that happened throughout the first season, but it mostly feels like the creators went “oh crap, we actually need to develop these people”. Kimi ni Todoke still is an overly pure portrayal of teenaged romance: great to swoon away, but at the same time it’s not like the story behind it is really deep and thoughtful. The characters remain one-sighted teenagers who only seem to think about romance and the drama still is based entirely around the fact that they refuse to talk to each other. They’re just much better written and portrayed than in the first season.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Has exactly what the first season lacked: focus. Carefully builds up its simple but effective romance.
Characters: 8/10 – They refused to develop in the first season. In the second season however, they do, and IT’S ABOUT BLOODY TIME.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Production IG is solid as expected, though there are too many distorted faces.
Setting: 8/10 – Nothing special nor nothing bad here aside from an overly idyllic portrayal of teenaged life. But then again, something tells me that was very much intentional.

Suggestions:
Bokura ga Ita
Aoi Hana
True Tears

Posted on 4 January 2011 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke, Showa Monogatari, Some Quick First Impressions

Showa Monogatari

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a regular kid who grew up before WWII.
Whoa, where did this come from? Wasn’t this supposed to not air for three months or something? Anyway, this was a pleasant surprise: it’s basically a slice of life series of a young boy in what I presume to be the part of the Showa Era somewhere before WWII. I’m especially impressed with how much the creators did in just one episode: they showed about him, his friends, his family and even a friend of his sister. It gave all of them a bit of attention and personality, and it even included some good drama that centred around the typical problems that a guy of his age had. By far the worst of this episode was voice acting of the different children that appeared. I have to applaud the creators for making them sound like kids, and the rest of the voice cast is also pretty decent. But the voice actors for the kids just can’t act. This especially hurts when they’re just unable to raise their voice when they’re angry. In any case though, this thing has potential. Whether the second episode airs next week or next year, it’s something to watch our for if you like historic slice of life series.
OP: Minimalistic, but effective.
ED: Neat idea to use a radio tune from those days.
Potential: 80%

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season

Short Synopsis: Our lead character hardly ever appear in the start of this new season.
Okay. So it’s been more than nine months since Kimi ni Todoke first ended. The staff has had plenty of time to prepare for the second season, so naturally they start off with a recap. Yeah, this episode pretty much retells Kurumi’s side of the story. But then again, like with a lot of other series that take FOREVER to get from A to B, it wasn’t really bad for a recap: it neatly compacted Kurumi’s story into a digestible 20 minutes, rather than the seemingly endless 17 episodes that it took up in the first season. And also, this episode wasn’t bad at all in the technical terms. My problems with this series really lie when you look at the big picture: it’s pretty much angst, angst and more angst; Sawako is too pure, Kazehaya is too perfect and the angst itself is decent, but it lacks fleshing out and therefore it has no chance of remaining fresh for a whopping 25 episodes. Let alone this second season!
OP: Granted, by far the best theme song this series has shown. Neat visuals.
ED: Bland song, neat visuals.
Potential: 50%

Rio – Rainbow Gate

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a really famous dealer at a casino city.
My biggest concern about Rio Rainbow Gate was whether or not it had its mind in the gutter. As it turns out, it did: the camera just refuses to focus on anything other than Rio’s ass or boobs and the entire premise of the show is meant to get her into as many sexy outfits as possible. Beyond that, the direction for the most part is also pretty bland and the acting also leaves a lot to be desired. As for the entertainment value this show has some potential, though: the climax of this episode was ridiculously stupid, but surprisingly enjoyable in a “so bad it’s good”-way, including a pretty creative depiction of Poker. At this point, the only way that this show can make it is as a guilty pleasure, but for that it needs to pack variety: think of many crazy anime variants of casino games and vastly different premises other than “let’s stuff Rio in the umpth sexy outfit here”. At the very least, this show really knows that it’s a silly fanservice show and there are no signs whatsoever of teenaged romance or an annoying male lead or shallow drama.
ED: Another one of those boring fanservice EDs.
Potential: 25%

Posted on 31 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kimi ni Todoke



Romances often are annoying, which can often be attributed to characters acting completely irrational, illogical and against their own feelings. I’ve watched quite a few series that created a well developed cast this way, like with Bokura ga Ita and White Album. Kimi ni Todoke however… just… didn’t work for me.

The first half of this series really was a pain for me to try and sit through. The premise is simple: a very shy and socially inept girl (Sawako) and a popular, good-looking guy (Kazehaya) fall in love with each other. Fair enough, but the execution left a lot to be desired, especially when the creators started focusing on the love triangles. Hordes of girls turn out to be in love with Kazehaya as well, and the drama that results out of it is horribly dragged out for way longer than it should have, and the creators treat it like some kind of blasphemy if any of the two lead characters even dares to talk to someone of the other gender.

For a series that’s about the high school years of a bunch of people, Sawako and Kazehaya don’t really feel like interesting characters at all. Sawako is way too pure: whenever someone tries to take advantage of her feelings (by making her jealous for example), her incredible naivety just feels incredibly unnatural and it quickly turns into a bit of a lame gimmick. Kazehaya on the other hand is just so bland as a male romantic interest. He’s just… there, with hardly any personality about him other than some guy who just keeps smiling.

What also did not help was this series’ facial expressions, especially the chibi-distortions that you see in most of those other shoujo series as well. Usually they’re used with stylistic purposes; you know, colour each character with these seemingly over the top reactions. Here however, they felt more like “Okay, you can laugh now”-signs. They’re often badly animated in contrast to the rest of this series’ beautiful looks, are forced and hardly ever are actually used in funny situations. This show just continuously tried to be subtle, while it ultimately just wasn’t.

The only subtle part that I actually found about this series was its character-development. THANKFULLY, this show gets better in its second half as soon as the main love rival is put on a bus away from the main plot. From there on the characters change ever so slightly: Sawako learns how to appreciate life more and Kazehaya becomes less bland, but it’s not that the creators try to shove this development down your throat like they did with the love triangles. it really helps for a series if its final arc is the best one, and that pretty much was the case here.

Still, I don’t think that this show is the same as White Album, in which an excellent second half made up for an incredibly annoying first half. In the end I still see Kimi ni Todoke as a bit of a half-baked series with characters that never really stand out at anything. It’s overall something that will keep you busy on a rainy day with not much else to do, but there are a lot of better series out there.

Storytelling: 7/10 – Lacks subtlety, drags on for way too long.
Characters: 8/10 – Decent enough in its focus at being in love, with slight development that at least makes the final parts of the series interesting enough.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Great visuals, as expected from Production IG, but the chibi-drawings annoy.
Setting: 7/10 – Pretty much your standard high school setting Nothing that really stands out.

Suggestions:
Bokura ga Ita
True Tears
Kimikiss – Pure Rouge

Posted on 23 December 2009 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke



This episode was… tedious to sit through. It was basically just Kurumi trying to get a love triangle started, which is probably going to be worthless in the next episode when everyone realizes that it was just a misunderstanding. Agh, it’s like Itazura na Kiss all over, but without the funny parts.

Let me list a bunch of shoujo-series that actually did get the love triangle right (Minor spoilers included):
Bokura ga Ita: mainly worked because the love rival got fed up with the indecisiveness of the lead male, which was a huge theme of the series.
Kodomo no Omocha: worked because we actually see both the lead male and female go through other relationships with other people, while it’s actually the distance between them, created by the lead female’s job as an idol that prevents them from hooking up, rather than the ditzy love rivals being the sole reason.
Ashita no Nadja: we actually see the lead female hanging out with other guys without it suddenly creating a huge drama.

On top of that, we also have shoujo-series as Glass Mask, DNAngel and Full Moon wo Sagashite in which the romances work because of their realism and the way they let their relationships progress naturally. Not in the forced way that Kimi ni Todoke has been doing for the past twelve episodes…

I’m interested to see the other sides of the story, though. I’ve heard quite a few arguments why this show is popular, but those all seemed to come from the ones who didn’t like it. When I look at various blogs, all I see is squealing over various characters, but for the past months I’ve hardly seen any people who liked this show and came with valid reasons.

Sure, that might just been me, looking at the wrong places, but still: fans of Kimi ni Todoke, enlighten me! What makes this show so great that it deserves such a high score on various anime sites? What was so good about this series that everyone vote for it here? Or is this really just another Twillight which has tons of squealing fangirls who like it just because of the hot guys and sparkles?

Whether I’m going to drop this show at the start of the Winter-Season, I don’t know yet. Because Aoi Bungaku, Darker than Black, Erin, Konnichiwa Anne, Kuchuu Buranko, Umineko and White Album are going to be ending all within a week, this means that I need to find seven new bloggable shows among the line-up of the upcoming Winter-season. Which is a lot during such a small season. However, if number eight does pop up, then expect to see this show in the dropped-list.

Right now, this show is just… too convenient. Sawako doesn’t really have to work hard for her newfound popularity. She gets protected everywhere, and her exaggeratedly weird personality makes sure that all the bad guys’ plans go wrong. At first I praised this series because it showed outcasts as they try to live back into society, but that’s not even what this series is about. We’ve just got another Mary Sue here where the entire plot revolves around. Sure, Sawako has flaws, but all those flaws seem to be more and more used in favour of her, rather than creating her as a character.
Rating: — (Lacking)

Posted on 16 December 2009 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke



The final scene of this episode really showed that the creators of this series are biased for the main couple. As soon as Kurumi even mentioned the possibility of talking to another boy, the dramatic music set in and they tried to make it look like a cliff-hanger. Like it’s blasphemy if the two were to even look at each other. Even though Kurumi was doing what she’s been doing ever since the previous episode, and it wasn’t really worse than any of her other plans. This really could hurt this show in the long run.

But yeah, it’s the small things like this that prevent me from fully enjoying this series. When you look at the big picture, there really isn’t much wrong with this series: it’s got a nice concept of an outcast who manages to find herself. The dialogue is well detailed and the characters have good concepts. But then there are times at which the creators are just trying too hard, like for example dragging the evil bitch-arc on for too long (I’m sure that I wouldn’t have complained as much about that arc if it was done in just one episode). This episode also carried Sawako’s naiveness a bit too far, and I feel that Mamiko Nouto doesn’t really fit her as a voice actress.

So yeah, I’m not often one to agree with the “the manga is so much better”-arguments, but I think that it really holds up here. This is not about cutting certain parts off, this is rather about blindly adapting a pretty good manga without thinking about the transition from still frames to animation. I personally couldn’t care less whether creators of an anime delete stuff or add extra stuff in, as long as it works. This goes with series that take a lot of these artistic liberties like Umineko and Full Metal Alchemist, but also with series that do try to put everything in from the original source-material like this series and Bakemonogatari.

Incidentally, I noticed something interesting when I looked at the staff page at ANN. While there is very little to say about the main director, the script has been written so far by two people: Tomoko Konparu, who wrote the majority of the episodes, and Mamiko Ikeda, who wrote episodes 2, 7 and 10. Incidentally, now that I look back, I can say that these three episodes belonged to the best ones of the series so far. My guess is that Tomoko Konparu, who also is doing the series composition, really isn’t having her right year: the series composition she did on Chi’s New Address also left a lot to be desired and while she has worked and contributed to a lot of great and awesome series in the past, this time she just seems to have an off season.

I think another reason why I’m extra critical of this series, even though it seems to be loved by many, is because half of the times, the jokes fall flat. Do other people have this as well? I mean, there are tons of awkward moments in this series for me when the creators are trying to make a joke, which just isn’t funny to me. There really is this thing called suspense of disbelief, and if this series had built up any at this point I definitely wouldn’t be whining as much as I am now, but it’s a shame that this show continues to break this for me. It’s especially annoying now that even Kobato, which once was even duller than this series for me, is getting better and better.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 9 December 2009 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke



Yeah, It’s as I thought: Kurumi indeed has a crush on Kazehaya, apparently just like any other girl aside from Yano and Yoshida, it seems. While this episode was fine, I see so many potential pitfalls for this show if it keeps going into this direction.

I mean, the Kurumi-issue is probably going to resolve itself in a few episodes for now, or at least that’s my prediction. This just doesn’t seem like a series like Bokura ga Ita, in which these things take their time to resolve themselves naturally. So what’s going to happen after that?Are the creators going to throw in yet another love rival? I mean, Kazehaya is really being set up as the perfect boyfriend for everyone: there are still tons of other girls who might potentially hate Sawako for going out with Kazehaya.

it’s a big cliché of romance shows that I’ve gotten tired off by now. My second fear of a cliché in this show is the lead romance getting stuck at this rate. While the relationship between Kazehaya and Sawako has progressed so far, it’s still pretty one-sided: Sawako likes Kazehaya, Kazehaya likes Sawako, and that’s pretty much it. One thing I hope is that this isn’t going to turn into a will-they-won’t-they show, because I feel that it won’t be able to get everything it wants out of the characters.

But yeah, Kurumi was very nicely done. I liked the subtlety in which the creators revealed her intentions. She’s a major step up from those evil bitches that preceded her, and the tensions between her and Sawako were very nicely done. Now all the next episode has to do is turn her into a character, rather than just another love rival whose sole purpose is to “test” the relationship between the two lead characters. Clichés aren’t bad, as long as they’re handled well. Now, Kimi ni Todoke: prove this!
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 2 December 2009 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke



Seriously, it’s like nearly the entire episode had its head in the clouds this time. The amount of slow-motion shots, close-ups with lots of sparkles, glitters and brightly coloured flowery backgrounds is really hard to believe. I don’t want to know how much sugar the creators took before writing this episode…

In any case, this episode also reminded me how different Japanese cultural standard can be at times. A lot of attention in this episode was spent to Sawako and Kazehaya who kept calling each other by their last names. I’ve been watching anime for quite a while yet, but the difficulty these people have with even pronouncing first names surprises me at what a polite country Japan can be.

The rest of the episode, aside from this and the countless other scenes that feature Sawako and Kazehaya getting uncomfortable toward each other, focused on the upcoming sports event. It’s a staple of any high school series to feature some sort of traditional school event, so I guess that Kimi ni Todoke has gone for the sports festival. In my opinion, anime in general puts too much emphasis on these things. Seeing these seemingly obligatory events in just about every high school series also doesn’t really help. And it’s a shame, really: shows like GA show that there are plenty of other things that you can do on a high school.

Oh, and a surprise was seeing that Kurumi suddenly claiming Sawako as a friend of hers. I’m not exactly sure what to think of this at the moment. It would have been pretty weird for her to do such a thing without an ulterior motive, so let’s see what the next episodes can do in explaining why she chose Sawako of all people to become friends with.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 25 November 2009 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke



Nice. Two good episodes in a row for this series. At this point this series is starting to look a lot more positive than what it did in the beginning. At this point, the obligatory school sports festival is about to arrive, and the creators did a pretty nice job to show the preparations for everything, including Sawako’s antics because she doesn’t exercise.

The episode also did nice in fleshing out the romance and the different characters. It was pretty enjoyable to watch, and you can really see that Sadako is gradually getting used of not being ignored anymore.

I guess that the biggest danger for this show is the love triangles. When you see love triangles in a series in which it’s pretty obvious that the creators have no intentions to break up the main couple, they’re just boring! This episode established that the blond girl is yet another one of those girls who has a crush on Kazehaya, so I really don’t hope that this is going to continue on throughout the series. It reminds me of Itazura na Kiss: the creators just kept throwing in love triangles to supposedly “test” the strength of the relationship between the lead couple. Unfortunately, all that did was make the entire series incredibly shallow.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 18 November 2009 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke



Now this is more like it. This episode was a major step in the right direction for me: simple slice of life with a bit of subtle drama here and there, instead of the forced and dragged-out cheese around a simple misunderstanding. It just showed the characters hanging out, while fleshing them out at the same time.

it’s a surprisingly well written episode in which Sawako gets more and more used to her new friends, and even ends up calling Kazehaya to join her, Yano and Yoshida at Ryuu’s house, which also is a ramen bar. We got to know the middle school versions of some of the characters (Kazehaya apparently played baseball), and the creators had enough inspiration to keep the rest of the episode going without getting boring.

My big worry right now is that call that Yano made to her mysterious “boyfriend”. While I like this subtle of an introduction, I still don’t quite trust this show for drama. This show is good at slice of life and dialogue, but the drama hasn’t caught me yet. Still, at this point Kimi ni Todoke is interesting enough to keep blogging, despite its flaws. Thankfully it’s not such a chore to watch and blog like other series I’ve dropped, like Valkyria Chronicles, Allison to Lillia and Soul Eater.
Rating: * (Good)

In a few weeks, I’m planning to write the first of my 2-part “Decade Summary”. Unfortunately it’s going to be filled with major spoilers, so I’m experimenting right now with a simple spoiler-tag. Let me know if you can read this text without highlighting it.

Posted on 11 November 2009 with categories: Kimi ni Todoke



Ah, the cheese.

I know full well that romances are supposed to be annoying and irrational. Heck, I really liked Bokura ga Ita, and I’m currently even enjoying White Album which has more drama than Kimi ni Todoke could ever hope to achieve, but still this episode just felt off. Instead of going for the subtle route, the characters in this episode cried more than Lag Seeing in your average Letter Bee episode.

I can see how this story worked in manga-format though. The manga-readers seem surprised at how the creators managed to stretch this arc over three episodes, and even I could pick it up that these past three episodes dragged horribly. I really don’t hope that the rest of the series is going to be like these past three episodes. The first three overall were fine, but the past arc just… felt off.

Also, there’s one thing I don’t get in this episode. Did I miss anything? Sawako finally confronts the “evil bitches” about the rumours. The episode closes, and suddenly the entire class is outside the bathroom talking about how a fight has ensued. Did something get cut or something? The “evil bitches” only pushed Sawako to the ground after the entire class was already gathered and talking about this fight.

Also: Kazehaya, please grow a personality in the next couple of episodes. I’m getting pretty tired of how he’s supposed to be this perfect guy in love with the lead character. His only flaw at the moment is his crush on Sawako, and I’m still not buying this guy, even though he had relatively little airtime during the past arc.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

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  • Masky
    (Sunday, Aug 2. 2015 02:09 PM)
    Geez, people really make odd excuses when defending stuff they like ._.
    …I feel like thats probably hypocritical comment coming from me since I’ve probably done that too, but I think I usually go with attitude of “Hey, you’d probably not like it anyway, but I think you are wrong about that thing” xD
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 09:47 PM)
    @Aidan: I would recommend downloading it rather than browser-playing it as my browser kept crashing when I tried to.
    Its quite short but it gives a great teaser and introduction to the game, that gets me excited for it.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 09:45 PM)
    @Aidan: Mangagamer have released the demo for kara no shoujo 2, they’ve also confirmed a release for Autumn. Its probably better to call this demo more of a prologue/compliment to the game with content exclusive to it.
    Demo/prologue here: http://mangagamer.org/kns2/
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 02:14 PM)
    @invicableGod, Yep that comment was spam. Should have got rid of it first time I saw it.
  • Wicked
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:10 AM)
    well, this place changed a lot. Gotta say, I’m not a fan of how they adapted GATE into an anime. It feels too decompressed. Manga did a better job at keeping the tension taut
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:08 AM)
    Also I am not the blog, I’m just a poster… I really hope you have enough sense to tell the difference…
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:07 AM)
    @Emo: you’re saying all that like that doesn’t fit your description to a T. Kinda sad actually…
    Well I guess now at least I gave you one more thing to get angry about so your day seems just a bit more active than your last.
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:03 AM)
    I don’t think people are really expected to read it from the start anymore. I mean that’s probably why it stays popular in Japan considering people would have to be in their 20s at least to keep up from the start without reading hundreds of chapters just to keep up.
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 01:00 AM)
    Well admittly comics don’t seem to be that easy to follow (don’t actually read comics despite liking a lot of DC and marvel media), but anyway it’s not like the other long-running shounens in terms of continuity and more like the long-running comedies like say Kochikoma.
  • ;(
    (Saturday, Aug 1. 2015 12:56 AM)
    If you don’t like it, it’s cool.
    If you don’t feel like watching a thing that still airs weekly that’s also cool.
    If you leave it because it’s long or far from ending, you’re really missing out for little reason. One Piece is like western comics, the characters and setting has been around for years but each saga comes as a standalone story and for the most part is directed at both veterans and newcomers.

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Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

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Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]