All posts by Jack Scheibelein

Former Opinion Editor of the HVA Hawkeye. Current Writer at SakugaCity.com. I write about Anime and Politics, along with publishing a ton of poetry and short stories. Hoping to be a successful person, at some point.

Initial Results: Kaguya-Sama Season Three

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Love is war, indeed, and the war now continues into the series’ third season. The competition: fierce, the battles: just as high stakes as ever. Even Chika is resorting to cheating just to get a leg up, much to Ishigami’s continued annoyance. Those who have watched the first few episodes already will understand what I am talking about, and those who have not…what are you doing reading this?

I mentioned in my seasonal intro that Kaguya was the series I was most hyped for. The first two seasons not only had me laughing my ass off but also genuinely had me invested in the characters as people. Luckily, the first episodes of the season have yet to disappoint.

Part of what has made Kaguya-sama work up until this point is its previously mentioned characters. Sure, Kaguya and Miyuki themselves could probably carry a good portion of the show. After all, their dynamic is well thought out on a comedic level. However, they can only be that funny for so long, and the elevated role of Chika, Ishigami, and the recent addition to the student council Miko has helped to prolong the show’s comedic value.

Still, the opening bit between Miyuki and Kaguya is no less funny. With her first-ever smartphone now in hand, Kaguya attempts the daunting task of responding to Miyuki’s messages. The 4D chess of trying to get her to admit to staring at her LINE app for hours and then getting saved by Hayasaka and the “computer system” at the last minute is honestly brilliant.

The growing relationship between Ishigami and Miko is another that I am intensely curious about going into the rest of the season. At times, it can be hard to tell whether the two actually hate each other or if the combative aspects of their personality are just being played up for maximum effect. Personally, I am not complaining either way, but I do hope we get a real conclusion in that regard.

The anime is also no less beautiful than it was last time around. A-1 Pictures seems to be handling the production well enough, and director Shinichi Omata, who handled the first two seasons as well, seems poised to deliver on quality, per the usual. Musically, the series is still quite interesting. the OST feels as strong as ever, and both the opening and ending themes also have their strengths, along with also being incredibly well animated to boot.

Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Ultra Romantic seems to be on track to be one of the better entries of the spring season. Though I have definitely cursed other series with those same predictions into a spiral of bad writing, this series has a proven track record and a convincing one at that.


Are you excited about Kaguya-sama season 3? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thanks to Jenn for being our amazing supporter on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: Goodbye, Eri

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At times, it can feel as though there is no logic to the world in which we inhabit. There is innate cruelty that taxes our very existence. Sometimes that tax is physically far enough that we can go on mostly unaffected, other times, it happens right in front of our face, maybe even behind the lens of a camera…

I won’t bother giving much of a plot description here since the story in question is only one volume. Honestly, the short and sweet of it is that it has my thorough recommendation, but the long version is going to be entering big spoiler territory, so I will give a warning now. Basically, the story consists of a middle school-aged boy named Yuta who confronts personal tragedy by making films.

Storytelling

Goodbye, Eri is much about narrative as it is about tragedy. In most cases, the audience experiences the world not directly from Yuta’s perspective but filtered through the camera on his phone. Even the first panel in which he is scene comes from the camera recording him during his birthday party. Additionally, Yuta is encouraged both by his mother and later by Eri, to record them, and thus the world of Goodbye, Eri is always one degree removed.

This becomes a factor pretty much immediately, as having all of this footage of his later deceased mother becomes the motivation for his filmmaking. The reason narrative becomes so important is that later on, it is revealed just how horrible Yuta’s mother actually is, constantly degrading him for not capturing her perfectly. Despite this abuse, Yuta decides to make the film anyway, with a twist: Yuta is unable to record his mother’s death despite asking her to, and so the final moments of his film involve him running away, the hospital exploding behind him. This eventually leads to his classmates making fun of him and his principal reprimanding him for the directorial choice.

Eri, though shown to be significantly nicer than Yuta’s mother, ultimately makes the same request, and thus Yuta experiences her most directly through his camera. What’s more, the fact that Eri meets a similar fate to his mother makes the continued filming of Eri emotionally difficult.

What makes Goodbye, Eri so compelling is the way Fujimoto Juxtaposes the need to remember somebody fondly with the power to control their narrative. It would have been just as easy for Yuta to make a film that was honest about his mother’s behavior, and yet the entirety of the opening act is filled with nothing but positive, save for Yuta’s indecisiveness at the end.

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Fantasy vs Reality

The ability to control the narrative as a thematic concept is explored even during moments when the camera turns off. We find out in the final moments of the manga that, much like in Yuta’s hastily thrown together screenplay, Eri is actually a vampire. Despite witnessing her death firsthand, Eri returns without her memory. Except, she writes a letter to herself as a reminder of her identity. The resident filmmaker experiences this during another time of immense personal tragedy, after waking up in the hospital to find out his entire family is dead.

Again the question of perspective throughout the manga invites the questioning of this dynamic in such a brilliant way. Before this moment near the end, Yuta had primarily experienced Eri through a camera lens, and even during the moments when she is off-camera, the two of them are alone. Now, is it necessary to read Eri as completely imaginary on the part of Yuta as a way of coping with his mother’s death? No, but it is a conversation certainly worth having.

After all, the abandoned building where the two spent hours watching films just explodes in the final panel after Yuta decides suicide is not worth it. Even in the most bitter and hopeless moments of his life, he is still in control, whether or not he wants to be.

Panels

I have already talked about how perspective plays a huge role in determining Goodbye, Eri‘s thematic and narrative elements. However, Fujimoto also uses his art to help support this as well.

For starters, his character designs lend nicely to the grittier realities he tends to portray. A manga with this framework would not work nearly as well with lighter, fluffier character designs that tend to support a more relaxed atmosphere, as this story is anything but relaxed. This is not to pass judgment on said art styles, but I somehow doubt this one-shot would have had nearly the same emotional resonance in another artist’s hands.

On top of that, there are many frames that are drawn more roughly, with less line work in order to simulate the effect of blurriness in a camera. While probably not a complicated endeavor from an art standpoint, it does add a lot to the narrative and thematic elements, as it reminds the audience that Yuta is constantly behind a camera rather than viewing things for himself.

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Conclusion

While a story of this nature likely could have worked in a multi-volume setting, the decision to make this a one-shot was a brilliant one, as the brevity of a single volume lends it a power that not many stories in its lane are able to match. If for some reason there are people at the end of this post who have yet to read Goodbye, Eri, 1. I did warn you for spoilers, and 2. read it anyway. Easily one of the best stories to come out this year, and I would not be surprised to see it win a ton of awards.

95/100


Have some thoughts on Fujimoto’s latest work? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, shoutouts to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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My Top 10 Favorite Anime Openings (As of April 2022)

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In the latter months of last year, I put out a post detailing my favorite anime. For as superficial as it might be to try and pin down favorites, it was a post that I had a lot of fun working on, both organizationally and in writing it. So, I thought it would be a good idea to work on another listicle, and talk about some of my favorite anime openings. While their is some crossover between the two, my favorite openings tend not to be attached to my favorite shows, so this will probably still end up being a surprise for most.

HM: Fiction – Sumika – Wotakoi OP 1

I figured this time around it would be worth including at least one of the honorable mentions so that people know what else was in contention for my top 10. Vocalist Sumika has some damn good pipes, and man is that chorus infectious as hell. On top of that, the visuals are incredibly fun and give a really good representation of the personalities of the main characters. The main reason it is not only the list proper is that, while it is overall a really solid OP, the middle section drags a little bit more than the openings above it. Overall, though, a really solid piece.

10. Shounen Heart – Home Made Kazoku – Eureka 7

Listen, I already warned everyone this is going to be a weird list, so that means no judgment whatsoever (Jk, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments). In all seriousness, I know this probably is not everyone’s cup of tea, however, the Japanese hip-hop group Home Made Kazoku sells the song with a passion that I kind of respect in a campy, 90’s hip-hop kind of way. Their near yelling over this saxophone accented beat is hype in a way that feels hard to explain. Visually, this is definitely the weakest of the openings on here, which is why it stays at number 10.

9. My Soul, Your Beats! – Lia – Angel Beats! OP 1

A theme that might emerge for some in my discussions of these openings is that I care way more about the music than the visuals. Of course, good visuals are nice, but when being compared to the angelic vocals of singers like Lia it feels way less important. That is not to say that the visuals of Angel Beats‘ first OP are bad. In fact, I think the through-line of Kana playing the Piano in various places across the school grounds is a great visual representation of how she manages to affect all of their lives while they figure out what is even happening to them. The visuals are definitely a lesser factor for me, but certainly not a non-factor.

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8. Chain – BACK-ON – Air Gear OP 1

Call it what you will, Nu Metal, Butt Rock, etc, the combination of rock and hip-hop elements has always been a staple in my musical diet, at least up until recently. Air Gear, meanwhile, feels like the perfect fit for the song. A show about battling on rollerblades might as well embrace the edginess. The opening definitely looks its age, with some pretty barebones movement, but it does at least have a narrative, and while the version above does not show it, the credits are pretty well integrated into said narrative.

7. Jiyuu no Tsubasa – Linked Horizon – Attack on Titan OP 2

On the other hand, maybe sometimes there can be too much narrative. Looking back at “Jiyuu no Tsubasa” while also just so happening to be in the middle of marathoning Attack on Titan (more on that later), it is pretty hilarious how many clues it just hands out. Still, what makes me like it more than its first-season counterpart, other than just being a contrarian, is the way it focuses on that mystery. The series is at its strongest while focusing on the secrets of the world they inhabit, and this opening does that the best, with no questions.

6. Katayoku no Tori – Akiko Skikata – Umineko no Nako Koro Ni

Fun fact: I have yet to watch a single second of the series proper, despite generally enjoying its predecessor Higurashi. On the other hand, why would I when this opening goes as hard as it does? After originally hearing the song in the background of Glass Reflections’ review of the series, I was instantly in love. It is one of the few openings on this list that I have known about for a long time, and musically it has stuck with me. Something about the chants in the beginning and the buildup to the chorus just feels right.

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5. Goodbye Bystander – Yuki – March Comes in Like a Lion OP 2

Of course, if we are talking about openings with a good narrative… Honestly, when everything was said and done, I expected Goodbye Bystander to be a bit closer to the bottom since I had never really remembered any of the March openings super fondly. Yet, as I went back and listened, I could not help but get swept away by the magical instrumentation accompanying Yuki’s heartfelt performance on this song. Both lyrically and visually, the song also talks about an important aspect of the show, one in which Rei is not only becoming more comfortable in his arrangement with the Kawamoto sisters but also realizing the debt he owes them.

4. Gravity Wall – Hiroyuki Sawano, Tielle and Gemi – Re:Creators OP 1

If there is one thing I resent about Amazon’s Anime Strike channel, other than being overpriced for no reason, it is keeping this show behind a paywall and thus not letting as many people see it. Re:Creators is such a phenomenal anime, and alongside it are two incredibly produced OPs, the first of which just happens to be more my speed. Add in the fact that the opening looks just as good as the rest of the anime, and it should be pretty obvious why it is this high.

3. Destiny – Neko – Phi Brain OP 3

I made a rule early on in the creation of this list that their would only be one opening per series. This is because, without that rule, Phi Brain very likely would have snagged three spots on the list. Both of its first two openings “Brain Diver” and “Now or Never” have been heavy in my rotation since I watched the series a few years back. Still, I went with with the third one because it is both visually pleasing and one of the harder hitting songs instrumentally. Neko is an expressive vocalist who commands attention not only during the chorus but throughout the song.

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2. ft. – Funkist – Fairytail OP 3

The reason I clarified my focus on music as opposed to visuals beforehand is because, well, this opening is as high as it is on the music alone. While it is definitely better than some of other openings here as far as the animation, it would definitely be lower were my focus changed. However, that does not matter much considering how incredible the music actually is. The use of flute as one of the primary drivers of melody in the song gives it this really interesting property of being continually hopeful despite some of the darker turns. Fairytail is probably one of the worst when it comes to the whole power of friendship thing.

1. Database – Man With a Mission/Takuma – Log Horizon OP 1

Was it ever really a competition? the answer is yes, it definitely was. However, Log Horizon‘s hard hitting Man With a Mission opening beats it out, partially on nostalgia but also because it takes a lot of what I like about Air Gear‘s opening and turns it up to 11. It may not be as distinct musically as some of the other openings here, but the computerized intro and solid English verse delivered by Takuma certainly give it an identity of its own. On top of that, the art and action present in the series translate really well into the animation, which just looks really cool, even if the storytelling is limited. “Database,” at least for now, is my favorite opening.


And that’s the list, Is there an opening that I missed? One you just want to recommend? Should I do anime endings next? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special shoutout to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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SPY x FAMILY Episode 1 Reaction

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The spring season is officially upon us, and with it a plethora of exciting new offerings. However, the series I am focusing on today has received the bulk of the hype from manga readers and new comers alike. Yes, my dear readers, I am talking about SPY x FAMILY.

The series takes place in a slightly alternate universe from our own, one in which the war of information between the west and the east is well on its way. The most trusted by spy on the side of west, Twilight, has been tasked taking out an influential party leader. His mission is one which could potentially alter the course of history, but in order to accomplish it he’ll need… a family?

In my recent binge of romance anime, I think it fair to say that what I was really looking for was some emotional levity. I went looking for solace in stories which were primarily focused on romantic relationships, and while I got some, there is also plenty of that to be found in anime like SPY x FAMILY.

If the series were taking itself super seriously, there might be a problem. Names like Westali and Ostania feel a bit on the nose, especially considering the period they are trying to invoke (At that point you might as well call them Americaville and Russialand). On top of that, Twilight as a character takes himself way to seriously to be enjoyable on his own.

However, the moments in the first episodes which are most enjoyable come from when the veil is lifted, and we seen the humanity in both Twilight and Anya. As much as the life of spy is one of deceit, retaining a sense of humanity is important too. It also helps that those moments also happen to be pretty hilarious.

There honestly is not much else to say beyond that. Both characters seem to have a solid foundation, and for as much as the show does not take itself super seriously, the action sequences still look fantastic. It feels like an adaptation worthy of its source material. The big question is whether or not the rest of the series will stick the landing, and given that SPY x FAMILY has been confirmed for 25 episodes, it is a big landing to stick.


How do you all feel about SPY x FAMILY so far? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special shoutout to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: Kotaro Lives Alone

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Normally, I would start this review with a joke or some stupid bit of imaginary dialogue as a way of easing people into the content. But to be completely honest with everyone reading, I do not have one this time.

Because, well, fuck this show is so sad…

Kotaro Lives Alone was released on Netflix early last month, and given that I have not been keeping as up to date on their releases, came as a bit of a surprise. What I initially guessed to be little more than a run-of-the-mill slice of life series ended up being something that at points was hard to watch, but not necessarily in a bad way.

The series focuses on Kotaro Sato, a kindergartener who has moved into the same apartment complex as an aspiring mangaka Shin Karino. Kotaro eventually makes friends with most of the people in the building, but it leaves everyone wondering: why is this kid in an apartment by himself? The others in the building soon come to find out about Kotaro’s dark past and his relationship with his parents.

Kotaro and Trauma

For anyone who has yet to see this series and becomes interested in watching it, let me use this space to offer a bit of a warning. For as cute an aesthetic the show has, Kotaro Lives Alone goes to some surprisingly harsh places. Thus, I suggest those who are triggered by similar experiences hold off or proceed with caution. Given that I will be discussing these same elements throughout the rest of this review, the warning applies here as well.

With that being said, It would be hard to have an honest conversation about the show’s subject matter without mentioning the themes of abuse and trauma. Kotaro Lives Alone is not a question, but a statement. A reality imposed by the unacceptable behavior of his parents. Thus, he is forced to fend for himself, and it is only after he becomes friends with his various neighbors like Karino, Mizuki, and Tamaru that he begins to truly lower his guard. It is an honest view of how these systems can inevitably warp our minds to focus solely on survival, represented by Kotaro’s persistent desire to “become stronger”

Ok, but Why a Kindergartener?

At first, I did think it weird to have the main character be at an age where most kids are barely able to speak, let alone pay taxes and rent. After all, the idea that a four-year-old would be allowed live alone and sign contracts sounds pretty ridiculous. Regardless, the nature of animation is exaggeration, and one of the biggest known effects of trauma is forcing kids to mature at a pace they would otherwise not.

It is within this framework that we can begin to understand Kotaro’s character. The extent of his abuse has created a child who is not only self-reliant but one who actively refuses the help of others as a means of saving face. All of this makes Kotaro a much quieter kid, who makes friends in a way that feels awkward to someone who watching from the outside.

What’s more, Kotaro’s personality is much different from that of his peers. It is noted often and by multiple characters that Tono-Sama, his favorite show, is not particularly popular among kids his age. The show’s focus appears to be on strength and personal responsibility, how to be a good kid, and things that have also been forced on Kotaro by his situation.

It Takes a Village

In the absence of said abusive parents, Karino thinks it important to help Kotaro in his day-to-day endeavors. Thus, he, along with the others living in the apartment, decides to help look after the young boy. As previously mentioned, it takes a while for Kotaro to get used to the idea of trusting these random adults, but eventually, he becomes used to their company.

The relationships Kotaro builds with Karino and the others are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. For every moment in which the group becomes closer, another element of the kid’s broken past seems to come out, whether it be the fact that he doesn’t like having his picture taken because his father used it to track him down or his affinity for large meals due to the absence of consistent food.

Stability for Kotaro has largely been a privilege, and getting comfortable is hard for him.

Kotaro’s Animation

For as compelling a story as Kotaro Lives Alone is, its animation is one of the departments where I would say it feels lacking. Not bad per se, as the choice of bright colors contrasts well with the drabness of flashbacks to Kotaro’s past. Rather, I cannot really come up with anything particularly praiseworthy about it. Which, in all fairness, is true of most shows I review.

Another thing I slightly dislike is the character designs, specifically concerning Kotaro. Idk if this was another choice specifically motivated by psychology, but his eyes look almost lizard-like. There is a deadness there which just feels incredibly off-putting. Again, it makes sense given the context of the story, the whole premise is incredibly off-putting. I wonder, though, if maybe there was another way to portray that through his character design.

Conclusion

Kotaro Lives Alone is an incredibly special series. It is rare that shows tackle social issues specifically and with this much depth. It was indeed hard to watch at times, but mostly because of the painful reality of its descriptions. Because of the gripes I mentioned with its animation, along with some of the later episodes kind of blending together, I cannot give it a perfect score, but it does deserve your undivided attention at some point.

88/100


How did you feel after watching Kotaro Lives Alone? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, shoutout to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: In the Land of Leadale

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“Hey guys, did you hear about the new anime that just got announced ‘I Woke Up in Another World as a Rake in Autumn?!'”

For as stupid as the landscape of light novel to anime production has become over the past few years, it is not as if it is all bad. After all, with every dime, a dozen video game fantasy stories comes a genuinely great piece of art. If waiting through five seasons of In Another World With My Smartphone means we also get a Violet Evergarden or a Spice and Wolf, I am more than happy to wait.

Still, despite its fairly common-looking presentation, I had at least some hope for In the Land of Leadale. Its focus on a character who was stuck in the hospital and only had video games as an escape, while not particularly original, did at least set itself up for some more introspective moments. However, while Cayna is certainly wide awake in this new version of Leadale, ready to discover its mysteries, the series itself is, unfortunately, sound asleep.

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Video Game Fantasy World, Yay…

At this point, my gold standard for isekai-like fantasy worlds is No Game No Life. Maybe that is a little unfair because their stories are not trying to accomplish the same things, but I am making it anyway. The reason being: regardless of your feelings on its story and characters, No Game No Life‘s aesthetic contributes to building an identity that is fundamentally its own. Disboard is not just a setting, but a core aspect of the series.

This is not me asking every series to reinvent aspects of the genre or anything. However, there are a lot of elements of Leadale’s world that just feel boring. The towns are fantasy towns, the weapons are fantasy weapons. With the exception of the towers belonging to the various missing players, there is not much that separates Leadale in this regard.

Ok, but Good Story?

Leadale‘s story is definitely one of its better qualities, though I would probably stop short of calling it good. Cayna, now imbued with the powers of her avatar, begins exploring the world to figure out what exactly has happened. Along the way, she meets her in-game children she apparently forgot about, along with a crew of mercenaries and various figures from the magical academy in Felskeilo.

Much of Cayna’s adventure in this regard is fine, albeit a little dull. She goes to the guild, gets a quest, completes the quest, rinse and repeat. As she completes these quests, however, she finds more and more towers belonging to the missing players, getting special rings from the guardians of these towers. It is not well-explained what will happen when she manages to collect all of them, but it does at least give the series a through-line which keeps it somewhat engaging.

I think the best compliment I can give Leadale‘s narrative overall is that it feels a lot like watching someone play an MMORPG. Which, in the right context, can actually be a lot of fun. However, the series does little to clarify its overall plot, which means that context for enjoyment is absent.

That, and the fact that the series had one of the most powerful moments I have seen in a while. After adopting a young girl named Luka on one of her last quests and building a house in the countryside, Cayna sits on her back porch watching her and Lytt play in the flowers. At that moment, she reflects on the journey she has had thus far, contrasting it with the life she lived in the hospital and all of the things she has been able to do since coming to Leadale. It is a scene that serves as a reminder of how much potential In the Land of Leadale had that sadly got thrown away.

The Non-Ending

“Read the Manga” Endings, or in this case “Read the Light Novel,” have been fairly common in anime since the genre became popular. This is because anime is often used as a promotion for its source material counterparts. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this from an art perspective, it hurts even more since it feels as though the anime was only just picking up steam.

Before I get preempted in the comments, I will say this. I know it is hard for studios to commit to longer-running series because it often doubles their production costs. Not to mention, longer series often mean more crunch time for already overworked and underpaid animators and staff. Regardless, the show definitely could have benefited from an additional 12 episodes, given how much source material there already is.

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Conclusion

I honestly feel a bit bad picking on the series like I have. Lord knows there are plenty of other isekai tail riders that deserve it a lot more, but while I did not expect much from them, to begin with, In the Land of Leadale seemed like it might be different. Sadly, aside from a few good moments, this was not the case. It is a fine series, but I cannot recommend it as something people need to watch.

58/100


How did you all feel about In the Land of Leadale? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thanks especially to our Patron Jenn for being absolutely amazing.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Starting One Piece, Anime’s Most Timeless Pillar

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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April Fools 🙂

The Observation Deck: My Dress-Up Darling

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Valentine’s Day may be long past at this point, but there is still plenty of love in the air…or, maybe more like pent-up sexual frustration? or, no love? We’ll go with love.

Nerds come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds. Some of them like to watch anime, play video games, collect figures, read comics, and…make Japanese Hina dolls? Sure, why not. The story of My Dress-Up Darling focuses on two such nerds, albeit of very different social standing. Gojo is a loner who has literally zero friends, and Marin is the high school hottie who everyone loves and adores. However, after the two have a chance meeting after school, Gojo finds out that Marin wants nothing more than to cosplay her favorite characters. Attracted to her endearing personality (and general good looks), Gojo agrees to help, and so the two begin their cosplay journey.

Is It Horny In Here, or Is It Just Me?

It is not much of a secret that a lot of high school romances in anime tend to be on the…ecchi side of things. Whether one considers that a good or bad thing, that is the reality. This is not to say that is the case for all of them, but a decent portion.

“Yeah, yeah, get to the point!”

…the point is that, I do not mind that much when a character expresses their sexuality openly. In fact, in a lot of contexts, it is more than justified. However, when it comes to a romance show My Dress-Up Darling, some of that should, at the very least, feel earned. Character development should come from more than just how many weird angles a series can shove into one episode, and plot should mean, ya know, plot.

My expectations of this show were pretty low, to begin with, just based on what I had heard about the manga, and for the first two episodes, I was a bit torn. How the series managed to spend an entire episode on measuring Marin’s proportions I will only ever view through the lens of extreme horniness.

Still, what lies past those first two episodes is actually a genuinely entertaining series about

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Cosplay? Cosplay!

Well, mostly. There is of course the blossoming romance between the main characters, but when they are not obsessing over each other there attention is focused on making cosplay for Marin. Given Gojo’s skills in designing dresses for Hina dolls, Cosplay comes pretty naturally to him, and Marin (being a literal model as we come to find out later) wears his cosplay effortlessly.

This dynamic between the two of them is arguably what feels most enjoyable in the series. Marin tells him about one of her favorite characters, Gojo spends hours on research and coming up with a near perfect design, and then the two of them geek out over it when he finishes it. Of course there is a little more to it then that, but overall it feels incredibly wholesome and fun.

While dynamic female characters are definitely becoming more prominent in the medium, and despite my introduction focusing on the more pronounced sexual elements, it is worth noting that most of the show cast Marin in a light which hones in on her enjoyment of Cosplay. The romance, meanwhile, develops as a result of this, as opposed to be assumed from the beginning.

Pretty Colors!

Being the big, dumb stupid idiot who is easily impressed/entertained, I appreciate the shift towards brighter color palettes. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with drearier color schemes. it of course makes sense that this will changed depending on the tone and subject matter of the series attached to it. I guess what I really mean to say is that it is nice to see a shift in color to match the happier, more popcorn-y direction of slice of life/romance type shows.

With My Dress-Up Darling, in particular, the pinks and oranges stand out in a way that feels really pleasant to look at, especially against the background of Gojo’s house and the various cosplay locations they visit throughout the show. It reminds me a lot of Lovely Complex, in this way, which is certainly not a complaint.

Conclusion

I could speak more about the various problematic elements of the show, but honestly, for a series that is otherwise fairly light-hearted and enjoyable, it feels like wasted breath. It is not a masterpiece by any means, but it is, at the end of the day, fun. I cannot say this is going to be a series that everyone enjoys, but certainly a lot of people will.

68/100


How did you feel about My Dress-Up Darling? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, thanks to our patron Jenn for being amazing.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Anime Music Quiz Highlights

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Most of the people who end up reading this will probably already be familiar with Anime Music Quiz. However, for those that are unaware of the game, a brief rundown. The game is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, where player(s) get some amount of time, usually 20 seconds, to guess a song from a given anime. It is a fun time, especially when you get to play with other people (shoutouts to the people in the Jon Spencer discord). As such, I wanted to highlight a few songs that I either discovered or rediscovered via the game.

Lullaby of Birdland – Yoko Kanno/Aoi Teshima – Kids on the Slope

Despite the fact that I probably would like it if I ever bothered to watch it, I have yet to experience Kids on the Slope outside of its soundtrack. Yet, this cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s 1947 song is probably one of my favorite of all time. Yoko Kanno’s brilliant as always production combined with the soft, luscious vocals of Aoi Teshima make for such an enjoyable listen. It may not be an all the time type of song for me, but when I am in the mood to hear it calms me down better than pretty much anything.

This is the End – Coldrain – King’s Game

While King’s Game the Animation may have been an exceptionally dull experience when I watched it back in 2017, it was not without its strong points. Mainly, this opening. The visuals are satisfactory, mainly just a run-through of the characters with some visuals which imply the show’s basic premise. However, the metalcore instrumentation and vocals of artist Coldrain is a welcome addition to any otherwise fine opening. On top of that, the all English lyrics make for a much more enjoyable listening experience for my admittedly uncultured ears.

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Kawaki wo Ameku – Minami – Domestic Girlfriend

Domestic Girlfriend’s plot honestly sounds like the writing of a really bad porno. There, I said it. Still, my hesitancy to engage with the show at all certainly will not take away my enjoyment of the series’ opening. The visuals are honestly fairly strong for a romance series, which, in my experience, tend to be uninspired. On top of that, the vocals of singer Minami are out of this world. There is roaring anger that comes out in the build-up to the chorus which probably underscores a lot of the tension that comes out in the anime proper. Even on its own, though, the song is really solid and one that I do not at all mind having on my playlist.

Contradiction – KSUKE/Tyler Carter – The God of High School

EDM is a genre that I feel does not get a whole lot of representation when it comes to anime openings/OSTs. on the one hand, it makes sense, since it is not a genre that fits every story beat. Still, it is a shame since there is honestly a lot of places it does fit, and an anime like The God of High School is one of those. The production of KSUKE is admittedly not the hardest hitting I have ever heard, but the drops are still fun, and the vocal presence of Tyler Carter makes for a complete package.


I realized while writing this that most of the songs have some form of English lyrics, which is probably why they caught my attention, lol. Plz do not flame me in the comments, I am a weeb I swear!

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Patron Jenn for the support!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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What I’m (Probably) Watching for Spring 2022

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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It is about that time of the year again, where the anime of a given season finishes, and the list of new arrivals is all but determined. I tend not to dip my toes too far into the pool of seasonal offerings, usually because I am either too busy or too lazy to keep up with the series that I start. So, in the interest of not developing bad habits, here are the series that I may or may not watch for the spring season this year.

Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 3

I honestly do not know what more needs to be said about one of the best romantic comedies of the last few years. Despite its admittedly gimmick-based premise, it has since managed to create many layers of depth within its story, with its central premise of two idiot nerds with way too much pride to even cut through some topical issues like classism. Above all else, though, it is genuinely entertaining to watch Kaguya and Miyuki exchange mental blow after mental blow, all the while the people around them perceive them as the weirdos they really are. I honestly had forgotten that this show was already confirmed for a season three, but there are certainly no complaints.

Komi Can’t Communicate Season 2

Komi is another romantic comedy series that, since its initial episodes, has come to genuinely surprise me, although certainly not to the extent of Kaguya-sama. Its humor is a bit more niche, and the jokes do not land for me as often as I feel they should, but the series also still has a lot to say, particularly about anxiety and its effect on our ability to navigate social interactions. While Komi is always surprised to see her classmates so supportive of her, it does not mean she is satisfied with sitting down and being quiet. I do not expect to get much out of this season outside of a few chuckles, but I am open to being pleasantly surprised once the rubber hits the road.

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Summer Time Render

Studio OLM also has another series airing this season alongside Komi, and that is Summer Time Render. Given my terrible relationship with social media, a lot of my news on upcoming manga adaptations comes from manga tik tok creators, and given that literally none of the many that I follow even so much as mentioned in this series, I am a bit hesitant. That being said, there is a certain allure in the vague plot description which serves as the series intro. On top of the incredibly 0-100 trailer which makes almost no sense, I am really only left with feelings of excitement and possibility.

SPYxFamily

If there was an honorable mention slot on this list it would probably go to SPYxFAMILY, because, while I do want to experience the series at some point, there is also a decent chance that I just end up reading the manga in my spare time. This is nothing against the anime, Cloverworks and Wit Studios have decent track records, after all, but sometimes I just need something to look forward to reading, so the anime will not be high on my priority list.


What are you watching this season? Let me know down in the comments. Also, since the season is starting soon that will mean full reviews for the Winter shows I watched and some initial reactions for the spring, so expect more seasonal content in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for being an amazing Patron

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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