Posted on 30 June 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



And as today is the last day of June, this is going to be the last post for my Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope. I am not sure what I’m going to do next season though: whether I’m going to do a Summer Kaleidoscope and blog six full series, or blog seven full series instead: it’s entirely going to depend on that seventh series. Plus, it’s got two huge question marks as well in the form of Appleseed and Last Exile. They’re both two series that aside from the regular line-up I really want to blog.

In any case, this episode was build up, build-up and even more build-up. The creators made sure to make it into a gripping episode though, especially when Kaiji brought in Endou of all people: the guy who was responsible for getting him into his mess in the first place. This episode was really being mysterious in the way that it refused to reveal Kaiji’s plans (much like the previous arc), so a lot of this episode consisted out of cryptic hints at how supposedly awesome his plans are going to be, although the negotiations with Endou really kicked ass in how intense they were.

Now, the big pitfall for this series is going to be the the suspense of disbelief. There is one big difference between Akagi and Kaiji: Akagi was superhuman. It’s not about seeing really smart plans, but about psychology. Kaiji meanwhile belongs in the category of series that specialize in plans and schemes. The biggest pitfall of those kinds of series is to take their plans a step too far and make them just ridiculously complicated, a la Death Note or Code Geass where in the end things depend on the most precise coincidences. That’s also one of the reasons the first season annoyed me, in the way in which Kaiji miraculously danced across death on the beam arc.

In terms of characters though, this arc does have the most interesting side-kick for Kaiji that we’ve seen in this series yet. His Buddhist roots, his incredible temper: all of it works really well and it’s quite a step away from the usual young guys. The villain though has yet to prove himself. He’s just this posh underling, and nowhere as interesting as some of the best villains of this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 25 June 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Okay, I know I already made a post for my Kaleidoscope this season, but I just can’t help but gush at how absolutely fantastic this ending was. This ending… it’s just unbelievable. If you thought the previous episodes were crazy: this one actually tops them. It’s been a long while since I saw an ending with this much BALLS. It was the perfect closure for this series. But what the hell did I just watch!? Seriously, who came up with this stuff?

This episode already started off hilarious with a Wacky-races parody of all things, but after that the characters just continued to pull all sorts of random powers out of their ass to upstage each other. It was a really creative final battle where things like popcorn were used to fight Enma’s fire for example, or glowing tangerines turned Kappaeru into a professional wrestler. Just when you thought that this couldn’t get any crazier, this episode pulled something more bizarre out of its ass.

And then… the finale. That was just… surreal. The entire series had been building up to Enma losing control of his fire powers. The OP kept unsubtly foreshadowing it, and when it finally happened… it just turned out to be a side-effect of his powers. I’m not going to say here what the real reason why his powers were sealed was. Just… watch this episode.

What I’m really amazed at is how all three endings of this season so far have been much better than I ever could have imagined. Anohana, C and Enma-kun: they all ended with completely amazing endings that brilliantly made everything come together that they had been building up to. Enma-kun has been incredibly juvenile, but ridiculously entertaining. If you’re looking for a series that’s completely crazy: go for it.
Rating: **** (Fantastic)

Posted on 23 June 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



One sub-genre of shounen that I’ve been missing for quite a while: the ones based around playing games. And I don’t mean those stupid kiddie shows that are meant to sell toys or cards, I mean the ones that are based around the characters involved playing various games and try to be creative with that. Of course these kinds of arcs can be terrible if the creators don’t make them fun to watch, as it’s impossible to get a good plot out of that, but I can enjoy a good tournament arc once in a while. Sket Dance is a very nice example of this.

It’s not just the characters playing games that was fun about these past two episodes. In fact, the way the games are won is about the only predictable part. What also makes these episodes so great is characters like Bossun fidgeting from the sidelines, or the energy that this series has, setting every of the games up. I especially loved the stress in trying to find the fifth member for the tournament and how Bossun just randomly switched the names around in his panic.

What’s more: this also shows perfectly that the characters in this series aren’t stereotypes: by making everything fit so well at the beginning, this episode shuffles around the characters competences, and shows that everyone doesn’t just have one thing that they’re good at, but are in fact well fleshed out characters. At least, this goes for the main characters. This episode ended with the single biggest stereotype in the entire series’s turn about to start, so I have no idea why the writers chose her of all people to fill in aside from shock factor. She’s bound to lose (predictability yo!), but then again, I wonder more about she plans to do to make that match entertaining.

Overall, I am not really fond of Shounen jump adaptations, especially the ones that go on for ages, due to how incredibly long they take to get somewhere. The good parts tend to be overshadowed by the really long and draggy ones. Sket Dance though managed to be entertaining throughout its entire run so far. Its lack of plot doesn’t really matter so far: it’s really good at giving colour to its character, and it also keeps bringing back old characters, not just as cameos, but to flesh them out even more. And it’s really creative and funny in the process.

But yeah: the big question is whether this series will end up dragging, and when this will happen. There have been tons of once excellent shounen jump adaptations whose huge length became a huge turn-off: Gintama, Bleach, Naruto; even Dragonball Z would have been a pretty nice series if it ended right after the saiyan arc. Will Sket Dance avoid this and know when to quit like Level E, or will it pull a Bleach, jump the shark and refuse to end for the next couple of years?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 13 June 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Ideally, we’d want a list of exactly what kind of episodes of Gintama’s sequel are worth watching and which ones aren’t. It’s going to make this series much more accessible to the ones who can’t be bothered to sit through the bad episodes at this point. I myself am nudging more and more to that group. In any case, let me at least start for the first eleven episodes of the second season:

Skippable: Episodes 1-7
Worth watching: Episodes 8-11

The first eight episodes were random stories, where episodes 9 to 12 consist out of the Otose arc. This Otose arc is really recommended, more on that below. As for the random episodes, the only one that I can really recommend is the eighth one, in which the characters start toying with recap episodes again. Out of all of the running gags, that’s the one that still works at this point. I also wouldn’t really recommend the Catherine episode: that one was basically the creators screaming “Find this sad!” It didn’t even prepare for the Otose arc either.

In any case, I remember clearly that the first episode focusing on Otose (I believe it was episode eleven, so this goes way back) was the point where I first realized that the original series would be something special, and not just a focus on good laughs. Finally, 200 episodes later we see this story continued, and at the very least I’m glad to have stuck with this series at this point, because the added background to Otose was just excellent.

Oh, and Otose’s younger form was awesome. It usually works great when a younger version of a character is shown to illustrate how much he/she changed, but for an old lady this works even better. The story created around this was just great: it’s both tragic, yet unlike the Catherine episode it’s not just there for cheap cries. It adds a lot of new stuff to Otose’s character and it feels genuine for nearly all of the involved characters.

Now, I hardly ever edit posts aside from fixing typos, but with this one I’ll continue updating the above list for as long as I keep watching this series. I’ll probably drop this series some time around the beginning of the Summer season, due to how incredibly busy it’s looking out to be, so let me know when any new awesome episodes pop up from this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 10 June 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



These final weeks I’m going to be revisiting my favourites of the past season that I didn’t blog, or any other particularly awesome episode that pops up. This week’s episode of Enma-kun was completely crazy, so I couldn’t pass up this chance. It’s also a good point to talk about the comedies in this season in general.

Because there have been quite a few comedies this season: aside from Enma, there was Gintama, Hen Zemi, Azazel-San, Sket Dance, Fireball, plus the half-comedies of Hyouge Mono and Tiger & Bunny, and those are just the ones that made me laugh. With this many series out there to get some laughs, especially for the pure comedies, it’s certainly difficult to find any lasting impact: what series will be remembered years after this season?

I think that here, it’s going to matter a lot what series managed to set themselves apart. Especially with so many sequels, this matters even more: can these series really prove that they were worth it to expand further upon. And I think that here, Gintama, Hen Zemi and Azazel-san pulled on the short end: Gintama’s comedy episodes have mostly been pointless and instead it should have just stuck with its serious arcs, which really are good. Hen Zemi meanwhile never really succeeded to step outside of the OVA’s shadow. Yeah it added nice things to the characters, but overall it’s not enough to gain any lasting impact. Azazel-san meanwhile is too inconsistent: Moloch was brilliant, but too often I get the idea that the creators lacked inspiration for good episodes and characters. It’s the kind of one trick pony comedy that it unfortunately couldn’t avoid.

The ones that set themselves apart the most were Fireball Charming, which improved upon the original with some great creativity and visuals, and Enma-Kun, who despite being completely juvenile had consistently the best ideas of the pure comedies this season, added to how incredibly entertaining it has turned out. It’s the kind of roller-coaster ride that never leaves a room for taking a breath, and this episode was one of the best episodes so far. It once again was wrong on so many levels but its huge amount of energy made it one heck of an enjoyable ride.

And the episode was basically the lead characters trying to turn the home base of the Youkai Patrol into a giant robot and screwing up horribly in the process, with just bout everything going wrong, and somehow this lead to some of the funniest scenarios I’ve seen this season so far. Especially Kappaeru was hilarious: both when he was randomly goofing off in the background and whenever he kept eating important plot devices. When he first appeared in this series I really hated this guy: he really looked like the usual pointless side-kick. So okay, he turned out to be a parody of that. And I must say that it was a hilarious one: in just about every episode since the third he has been hilariously useless.

Also, what the hell did the creators do to poor Yuki here? An angels are actually those stereotypical Americans? What the hell?

The trend for comedies in 2010 and 2011 has definitely been to explore taboos. It’s nothing new what this series is doing right now: there have been a lot of series about toilet humour by now. It is an interesting trend, though. At first you might think that all of these series are just trying to jump on a bandwagon with uninspired series. And that’s indeed how this started: I believe that Juuden-chan was the kick-starter, realizing that both Gintama and Kanokon were surprisingly successful, it too tried to push its boundaries. What followed were more utterly horrid fanservice shows of Chu Bra, Ladies Versus Butlers and Qwaser, so yeah: it seemed like a terrible trend began.

After that however, series started to jump the bandwagon that actually challenged each other, and pushed each other to explore these boundaries in interesting and funny ways: first there were Mitsudomoe and the Hen Zemi OVA, then Panty and Stocking came along, Milky Holmes aired, and suddenly these series that supposedly had toilet humour ranked themselves amongst the better comedies each season. There’s a ton of stuff happening in this genre and the shows are pushing each other to produce new and interesting stuff. Even Hen Zemi and Azazel-san, while they won’t have any lasting impact, do feel fresh and come with something interesting that doesn’t make me abandon them. This actually is pretty healthy competition here.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 1 June 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



With this episode closing off the Chinchiro Arc, it’s now a good time to look at this series. And overall, the Chinchiro arc was awesome: it took a while to get there, but it was focused, well built up and based around a carefully prepared plan. The climax was very short for Kaiji standards (in fact, that’s why I didn’t cover this show last week: I thought that there would be more than jut one episode), but very satisfying.

Now, all that’s left is to see whether this series can keep things up. I really watched the first season in the wrong way: because Kaiji took forever to get from A to B, it completely drained me from inspiration: I had hardly anything to say about episodes where only one or two things actually happened. Just whenever you thought that things would get interesting, it ended, or so it seemed at least. Instead, this is the series to watch right before punching an angry bear or something.

In any case, this episode was also the introduction of the Pachinko arc. And by god, I’ve heard some rumours about this thing. Especially the OP: it apart from the Chinchiro arc and the Pachinko arc… it doesn’t seem to foreshadow anything else aside from another confrontation with the old guy again. That means that the entire second season of Kaiji… will only have three arcs. How long is this pachinko arc going to be anyway? Especially because this episode made everything seem so simple. The key is probably going to be the same as with the previous arc: if Kaiji can take his time thinking and preparing then it’ll work out fine, however it will get tedious if it’s going to keep delaying the inevitable.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 24 May 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Okay, so I’m going to be covering multiple series this week for this category. People have kept saying over and over that this arc of TWGOK would be something special, and now that I’ve watched it, I do have to say: it was indeed the best arc of the series so far.

Finally, this show bring sin an actually normal girl who is more than just another stereotype come alive. Finally this show actually brings in a boundary between reality and fiction, and finally Keima actually develops. If anything, this episode was refreshing and different, and it was the first major arc since the first episode of the first season that did not feel like a chore. But I do have a few problems with it.

Especially near the end, the girl of this episode turned formulaic again. The whole moral speech-kiss routine actually wasn’t quite different from the other arcs. In fact, every arc has simply ended in the same way. It’s not the first show to do that and things like that can be done well; heck, Jigoku Shoujo turned it into an art and all, but Keima’s moral advice about how she should live… probably was the least interesting part of the entire arc.

That’s just nitpicking, though. The question is: was it worth it sitting through sixteen episodes of mediocrity, just to see this? For that, I unfortunately have to say “no”. I could just as easily have skipped a bunch of arcs, and I wouldn’t have missed anything. The thing is, that at the moment, this series feels like it’s a series where various game characters have escaped into the real world where the main character has to conquer them back, with this arc being the point where he actually has to encounter a real girl. Unlike Gosick, which despite its mediocre episodes did a wonderful job of building up and using this build-up, The World God Only Knows has too little of this to really make me reconsider labelling this as a waste of time. The rest of the series needs to be of at least this calibre for that to happen.

What was up with that Southpark-reference, though? I really noticed that the references this series puts in are… completely random and out of context.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 23 May 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Aaand thiss is about the point where my patience with Denpa-Onna has run out. I’m going to drop this, but I do want to wrap up my thoughts about this show because it’s not like it started off without any potential. My bias against Shinbo would have dropped this immediately if it sucked completely.

The first three episodes of this show were actually very good. You didn’t know whether there really were aliens and the theories of that cousin were quite interesting to watch. This show was quite dynamic, had good themes, was unpredictable and seemed to have a lot of potential. After that though… this show jumped the shark and pretty much now it tries to stuff material for perhaps 3 or 4 episodes in its nine remaining episodes. The way in which it fills up its extra time is… really annoying.

My big problem here: there has been no good drama for the past four episodes. Instead we get that horny aunt, ditzy classmate and that girl whose only defining trait is that she dresses up in strange costumes. All of them are really annoying. And the main character wasn’t much better. The premise about aliens was nice. Right now however, this show’s themes are just moe pandering:

“Oh no. We have this really cute girl who is completely helpless and mentally challenged and yet everyone in town hates her. The main character is very unfortunate to have to take care of her.” This is nothing but the excuses that moe pandering shows always make, only even worse.

Also, the dialogue has the Bakemonogatari syndrome. It’s not as bad, but that possibly makes it even worse because that means that it stands out even less. There is a lot of dialogue in this series, but in the end, what do these characters really talk about? They just keep repeating themselves over and over again, and they. Just. Won’t. Shut. The hell. Up. This show majorly lacks inspiration to fill its time.

Compare that to Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru: its characters were annoying, but it always had something nice to discuss, the characters were always doing something interesting and it was always trying to be varied. It’s characters like these that were genuine and fun to watch. Denpa-Onna is just annoying, and I’m glad that Shaft is not going to output any new series for the upcoming summer season. Let them put some actual work in making one series, instead of a bunch of mediocre ones.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 20 May 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Dear Brains Base,

What the HELL have you created here?!

This show is sneaky. I mean, it is written and directed by the director of the crack-fest Hoshi no Umi no Amuri, so I was sort of looking forward to this series. It then commences to have a terrible first episode and an even worse second episode. I nearly gave up on it because of how uninspired those two were. But no. This show waited until the third episode to reveal its true colours. It’s completely bizarre true colours that are wrong on so many levels.

And don’t get me wrong, this IS a fanservice show. But the fanservice is the most bizarre fanservice I’ve ever seen. Stuff like Seikon no Qwaser is just thinly disguised porn. Series as Hoshikaka just use horribly uninspired and forced fanservice as cheap ways to sell dvds. This… is on a completely different level. This show is crazy. It’s absolutely crazy. The fact that it has a character who walks around completely naked save for a hat and a cape is just the tip of the iceberg.

this show is episodic, and beyond the fanservice it also has the craziest ideas to base its episodes around. Episode six was the most surreal by far, having the entire cast bounce around the world chasing a youkai who blows up everyone he touches like a balloon. This episode? You know these scenes where a character tells a bad joke and as the punchline, everyone falls over? This episode turned that into an art form by introducing a youkai who does exactly that. Some of the visual gags based around this were just beyond weird.

After the first episode I really wouldn’t have guessed at all that I’d say this, but I love this show. Sure, the only show that has more fanservice this season is Seikon no Qwaser and all, but I love its limitless energy and creativity that goes with the most creative ideas it can think of, no matter how stupid or wrong. This really is a breath of fresh air compared to the shows that are either just complete porn or just use the same kind of out of place fanservice over and over again.

Also, what also completely surprised me about this series is how good the background music is. I mean, it completely fits with the energy of this series, and actually creates even more energy this way. The songs are all catchy beyond belief and make sure that there hardly is any time to catch a breath. And you know what? It has the composer of Tokyo Godfathers doing the soundtrack, and the same guy will also do the soundtrack for the upcoming Noitamina series No.6. There’s another reason to look forward to that one.

Beyond that, I also chose this week to blog Enma-kun thanks to a very intriguing news item that popped up. If this is what I think it is, then the summer season is looking even better than it already has. For starters, this means that it’s going to break the record for the most amount of TV-series to premiere during one summer season (Anime is dying? Hah!), but more importantly: the director of Utena is finally going to make another series!

It looks childish, just the story of a bunch of penguins. But it all just seems too…strange. First of all you have to wonder why Emna-kun of all things is going to air promos for it (promos that I unfortunately have yet to be able to find), because it airs in the middle of the night; a really weird time to advertise kids’ shows. Second of all, kiddie shows hardly ever introduce themselves like this. In particular the fact that this will be 24 episodes has me intrigued. I could be wrong here, of course. This could be just another show aimed at 3 year olds. But something’s telling me that this show is pulling a Kaiba.
Rating: ** (Excellent, as wrong as it was)

Posted on 9 May 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Last week I noted that Gintama’s sequel wasn’t as good as I hoped to. I’m not sure whether I was the only one with this, but I’d like to use this post to elaborate a bit on that. The current episode is a good example of why, while still a good comedy, it’s no longer the comedic classic that it once was.

A lot of it has to do with many jokes not being funny anymore, and trying too hard. And I have to give this series credit: these episodes are not as bad as the point where Gintama originally started to move downhill (after about episode 100, if I recall correctly). If I were to compare it to your average comedy, it’d still be pretty decent, but I’d rank Gintama among my top 5 of favourite comedies ever. The first 100 episodes also had their weaker moments, but overall they tended to be brilliant. This isn’t.

The running jokes are probably the ones that went downhill the most: there was a time where this show knew exactly what the border was between great running jokes and shameless repetition. that’s what allowed it to become such a long series in the first place, but the new season reduced the running jokes either to repetition, or took them to too forced absurds. Sarutobi’s crush on Gintoki for example: this episode made her an even bigger fangirl of Gintoki, but it just didn’t feel fresh. Also, in the middle the mood suddenly got serious. But what was it about? About her refusal to get other glasses. What happened to the manly tears of the first season? This was just silly.

The series itself is also getting rather formulaic. I mean, using guilt to get people to move? Didn’t the creators play that on Gorilla a few episodes ago? Plus, the way in which the serious parts showed up felt formulaic, and quite similar to the previous episode (which granted, was better done than this one, but even there it was forced: “care about these characters!”).

It’s also the presentation: the original Gintama may not have had the most fluid animation, it hardly ever contained weak shots. The new season though is full of distorted or rushed faces. The new season also has this habit of overabusing the “straight man”-faces. I mean those scenes that focus for seconds on on a heavily exaggerated serious facial expression after something outrageous happened. They’re all surprisingly poorly timed for this series’ standards.

It’s still inspired, though: the ideas behind each episode are definitely interesting, and each episode does have a collection of good jokes amongst the ones that fall flat. I just don’t know whether I can really enjoy this series when I keep comparing it to the classic that it once was. Especially considering how it’ll keep going on for ages. I mean watching this for 26 episodes is okay, but I don’t think that I’ll have the patience to watch 100 more episodes of the caliber of the past six episodes.
Rating: * (Good)

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  • Nyangoro
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 10:31 PM)
    Ping Pong’s second episode was so fucking good. I just love these characters.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:57 PM)
    You know…as much as I like mushishi’s manga…I never felt compelled to read every single chapter..
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:38 PM)
    lol, as if on cue XD
  • Brad Kremer
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 07:57 PM)
    Hello, I recently made a film telling the story of Dogo Onsen. As you may know, Dogo Onsen was the inspiration for the look of the bath house in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. The Legend of Dogo Onsen
    https://vimeo.com/91544453 Subtitled
    https://vimeo.com/91547432 I hope you enjoy! Brad
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 06:49 PM)
    @psgels Yeah I feel you about the spam bots. I mentioned a specific terrible anime website that gets link spammed all over the place. If only they would put that much effort into their content.
  • Friend
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 02:52 PM)
    @Aidan dat straightforwardness XD
    Sidonia is a little strange, Ill have to see how well it sticks for a few more episodes.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 10:28 AM)
    @Roger, It’s funny just how little it took for you to say “Screw you guys. I’m going home.”
    Rather flaky if you ask me. Not that you would be missed of course.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:04 AM)
    *typoed an M instead of a , =<
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:03 AM)
    *isn’t felt as much.
    I actually that while he drew the monsters and robots pretty well and was as always dependable drawing the scenery his modern art actually loses alot of his older style actually benifitted from.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Apr 17. 2014 09:01 AM)
    Sidonia no kishi volumes 1 through 8: All in all compotent, decent m average enough to stick with and even buy the rest of it. The setting, tech/science is fine, its not trapped by exposition and when the action shows up its enjoyable to look at/read, good designs on the monsters too. However the flow/pace of it is a bit off, it drags, meanders a bit, its too mainstream for that author and favours poorly in comparison to the rest of his work. The athmosphere, roughness, grit isn’t felt.

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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: […]

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Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

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Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

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Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]

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Yahari Ore no Seishun no Love Come wa Machigatteiru Review – 82,5/100

I like surprises, like when a series comes that just turns out to be good against my expectations. Yahari Blahblah from the outside had all the signs to turn into yet another one of those high school comedies: snarky male lead, pointlessly long title that fails at being witty, various other cliched side-characters. And they […]