Category Archives: Series

The Best, The Worst, The Lot of Us: Ryou Yamada

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As I talked about in my review of the series last month, Bocchi the Rock does not have a typical sense of character development. Given its origins as a four panel gag manga, much of its story revolves around set-up punchline scenarios that leave a lot less room for traditional storytelling. While I cannot speak for the source material itself, the adaptation manages to circumvent this and give all of the girls meaningful focus, including Ryou.

Ryou Yamada serves as the chaotic neutral of the group, doing whatever and whenever she pleases while barely hiding her excitement and lack of concern about the rest of the group. She might not seem high energy in the first few episodes, but given the right topic of discussion she opens up fairly easily. Ryou is also known for admitting to her weirdness without a second thought.

One of the things that made Bocchi the Rock! such an interesting experience from a character perspective is the way it incorporated their development into a lot of the comedic bits. Now, the center of these bits is usually centered in one way or another on Bocchi herself, but the ones that do end up focusing on Ryou are also pretty interesting.

There are, of course, the various quirky moments where she chooses to simply do the dumb. However, many also highlight the weird contradiction between her coming from a rich family while simultaneously begging the others for money and food, usually to the detriment Bocchi and Nijika.

On top of that, while usually not presenting herself as such, Ryou is very much a music nerd’s music nerds. She feels like if every music influencer on social media were put together into one person. Basically, she is there for the vibes and not much else. Which, honestly, who can blame her most of time?

Though it is not much explored in the first season, there is so implied backstory that has to do with Ryou complicated connection to music. Primarily, this comes in the form of her previous band, as one scene near the beginning of the show has her staring at a battle of the bands poster rather closely.

Despite not being the most stable herself, financially or otherwise, Ryou does end up becoming part of Bocchi’s mental support system. In particular, the scene with her and Bocchi at the café conveys a lot of the two’s personality. While not having any idea what to do about the bands lyrics, Bocchi confides in her and vice-versa. Ryou ultimately ends up giving her one of the most important pieces of advice, and one that helps get her out of her shell. Basically, even if the lyrics feel niche, they can still convey a lot of emotion, and that is what matters the most.

This is something I can speak to personally as a creative writing major, specifically someone who spent a lot of time in poetry classes, and it is often referred to as the paradox of specificity. In poetics, it refers to the idea that the more specific a personal experience, the more compelling and relatable that experience becomes. Adversely, the more generalized a piece of writing is, the more abstract and uninteresting it is. Thus, Ryou’s advice is genuinely very good, on top of being good for Bocchi.

Assuming there is a season two at some point, it is likely that Ryou’s character will only get better. She’s witty and quick to make bad decisions, but simultaneously introspective and wise beyond her years in a way that does not feel like a stretch. Overall, despite not being the most deep character, she is still a really well-written character for a well-written gag-comedy show.


How do you feel about Ryou as a character? 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

As always, special thanks to the Jenn for the support 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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Secondary Findings January 2023

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Well, it is still the first month of the year, and what better way to start off the year than by sharing some of my more recent favorite things with you, the lovely readers? Also, a slight change in format: for the sake of general organization, I am going to start dividing everything by medium (i.e. movies, tv shows, books, etc) so people can find things a bit easier.

For those who are reading for the first time, Secondary Findings is a series where I talk briefly about all the stuff that is either not anime or manga related or that would not be talked about otherwise. It is a fun way to share a little more about me while hopefully putting people on to some cool media that I enjoy.

Music

First up, here is some of the music I have been enjoying:

Hypochondriac by Brakence

If there was ever an album worth being annoying about, it is this one. I did a favorite album of 2022 list over on my other site, and this…this came in first by a pretty comfortable margin. Elements of emo and math rock, hyperpop, hip-hop, EDM, and pop, basically all of my favorite genres, come together to make one of the most memorable and infectious listening experiences to date. Absolutely slaps.

I Didn’t Mean to Haunt You by Quadeca

Though I certainly was not as big on this album as some others, it does represent a pretty big artistic shift in Quadeca’s career. It is not always the easiest to listen to, but as an experience it is probably one of the most interesting things one could listen to from last year. Of course, concept albums work much better when listened to all the way through. However, more specifically, check out the songs “tell me a joke” and “fractions of infinity” featuring the Sunday Service Choir. It really is some magical stuff.

Games

Now for the games.

Coffee Talk

Even after just a couple hours of gameplay, the charm of this game shines through tremendously. Although, “gameplay” is maybe not the right word for what is otherwise just a visual story where you occasionally mix together ingredients and try your best to do latte art.

Still, it is an imaginative world where the political implications of a fantasy-esc alternate universe with fairies, orcs, vampires, werewolves, and others are filtered through the door of an otherwise ordinary late-night coffee shop run by none other than yourself. It is a great game, especially for people like me who find themselves up late at night with nothing better to do. Might not be worth the almost 15-dollar price tag for some, but I still recommend it wholeheartedly.

Persona 5 Royal

*insert 200-hour-long JRPG joke here*

I started Persona 5 Royal back in 2020, and somehow never found the time to finish it during the global pandemic…huh, funny how that works. However, since graduating college left me with a lot more time on my hands, I figure why not give it another shot?

The game is really solid mechanically and narratively, with Royal more or less improving on just about every aspect of the original. There are more side characters as well as more things to do with your days in between dungeons. However, Persona 5 has always been a franchise more focused on aesthetics, at least for me, and it does that very well. The soundtrack of this game alone is reason enough to at least check it out. Obviously, finding the time to complete a game this long can be tough for people with busy schedules, but for those who are looking for a fun time sink and somehow have not heard about this game, well, here ya go.

YouTube

Here are some videos/channels I think are worth watching.

SugarPunch

I basically spent a good two hours just binging videos from this channel and man was it a good time. SugarPunch focuses primarily on fighting games and their most famous series breaks down the use of various fighting styles in said games, including their history and implementation across various titles.

However, my personal favorite video is linked above and goes into the history of queer representation in fighting games, which to my pleasant surprise is quite abundant. The video is a little bit outdated in regards to the section on Guilty Gear since Bridget was confirmed in canon to be a trans woman upon her release in Strive, but otherwise, it is a great video. Overall, a really fun channel, even for people who are not the biggest fans of the genre.

Smosh Pit

Anyone who was on the internet, specifically YouTube, in the late 2000s and early 2010s probably stumbled across a Smosh video, even if it was by accident. The whole thing has become a lot more… corporate, with one of the original creators Anthony Padilla leaving a few years ago. However, if one good thing has come out of the brand since then, it would be Smosh Pit, specifically their version of a “try not to laugh” series using prop comedy. Something about the regulars they have along with the assortment of guests makes it where the video can go from relatively dry and clean humor to entirely unhinged in a matter of one skit.

Blogs

I’ve never done a blog section in this series, for some reason, so I figured it might be time to change that.

I drink and watch anime – Irina

Part of the reason might be that I am really bad about keeping up with my fellow bloggers. However, if there is one person who I do read pretty consistently, on the part of her putting out genuinely interesting content, it is Irina. I have mentioned her a few time on the site back when it was going by different names, and her perspective on a lot of series and issues within the medium of anime have stayed incredibly thoughtful and reflective.

She recently wrote a piece about the “adorable glutton” trope that pops up in a lot of cute girls doing cute things type series, and it genuinely made me stop and think for a bit about just how much issues of implicit bias towards heavier people go unchecked in media. So yeah, do yourself a favor and go read some more stuff from her. When she’s not being incredibly thought-provoking, which is rare, she’s also recommending anime series-based drinking games and various alcoholic beverages to do them with.

The Afictionado – Alex Henderson

This is another blog that I have been reading for a while, but have yet to properly shout out for just how awesome it is. Given her Doctoral work focusing on young adult literature, Henderson’s writing, even about more casual and very odd anime, takes a decidedly more academic tone and approach, something I try and ultimately fail and replicating.

However, Henderson also has an impressive body of work outside of the blogosphere and academia. One of my favorite articles, as it relates to anime, is one she wrote about Spy x Family and its relationship with queer families. Queer representation is something I try to talk about as much as I can, and I have learned a lot just from reading her articles, so please do yourself another favor and go check out her work as well.


And that, my friends, is pretty much all of what I have been consuming outside of anime and manga recently. Normally these end up being quarterly posts since I do end up reviewing most of the stuff I consume in any given week or month.

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

As always, special thanks 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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Secondary Findings: Guilty Gear, MultiVersus, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Las Ruinas by Rico Nasty

I have always been much more of a casual fan of Rico Nasty than a dedicated listener. Sure, I heard her featured on tracks with other artists like Denzel Curry and enjoyed her performances. Even on her own singles, she clearly has an aesthetic and direction she enjoys However, nothing has really compelled me to listen to a full project from her. At least, not until now.

I got to say, though, as the only full-length project I have heard from her, this is surprisingly great. The fusion of a wide variety of genres was not something I expected, even despite her singles like “Intrusive” leaning pretty significantly into hyperpop territory. Songs like “Phuckin Lady” demonstrate Rico’s tight flow even on faster, break-core style production, and the slower acoustic ballads such as “Easy on Me” and “Chicken Nugget” show she is more than just a rapper vocally. Even for people who are not “into hip-hop/rap,” I recommend giving this a try.

Creepy Nuts

Call of the Night is currently my favorite seasonal, even above Made in Abyss, for one simple reason: aesthetic. The story is by no means bad. In fact, I would love to do some kind of post breaking down its themes when the series is over. However, the show has cultivated an air that just oozes cool, in no small part to the band Creepy Nuts.

Ok, “band” is maybe slightly inaccurate, at least connotatively. Creepy Nuts is a duo comprised of rapper R-Shitei and producer DJ Matsunaga. The two formed officially in 2017 and have gone on to have a lot of success not just in music but in various other areas of entertainment, even now hosting their own radio show.

What I love about this group is how, while they are indeed centered in hip-hop, they are able to pull off a variety of styles, from their jazz influence which can be felt in the opening and ending of Call of the Night, to their other work which takes from many genres. I have not listened to enough of them to have a favorite project, but needless to say, I will be listening to them quite a bit from now on.

Strangers Things…Again!

The last time I put out one of these posts, Stranger Things season four had only gotten through its first half. However, the second half came out right at the beginning of July, and wow it was incredible. I was not sure what to expect from a nearly four-hour-long finale, but everyone involved was on their A-game when it came to this ending.

The acting was absolutely incredible, but shout-out to Netflix for calling it, I guess, because Caleb Maclaughlin as Lucas arguably had one of the best performances. My favorite of the season, alongside many others from what I can tell, is Gaten Matarazzo playing Dustin. He went from not much more than comic relief to arguably one of the most compelling storylines of the season, alongside fan favorite Eddie, anyway. The worst performance I would actually give to Finn Wolfhard, not because it was actually bad, but rather because everyone else was amazing by comparison.

The settings and background shots were also fantastic. Dumping money into a series may not always be the best way to get good results, but the 30 Million Dollars per episode budget definitely did not hurt when it came to bringing alive Vecna’s House, the Upside-Down, the Russian Prison, and various other locations. Overall, a fantastic way to end the season, and one that most certainly builds the hype for season five.

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Guilty Gear Strive

Slowly, but surely, I am getting back into Guilty Gear Strive. I picked up the game a few months after its release last year and enjoyed the game’s mechanics a lot. Yet, I enjoyed its aesthetics a lot more, which is primarily why I ended up buying it. The metal-inspired soundtrack combined with its unique fantasy world and colorful characters made me want to get into it. However, I ultimately stopped playing because…eh?

While I may be juggling this blog along with competing in Smash, as a casual fan of the traditional FGC, Strive has been one of my favorite viewing experiences of the last year. The mechanics are a bit complicated, but not so much that someone who knows literally nothing about the game cannot enjoy it. So, yeah, hopefully, I will have time to play more in the future.

MultiVersus

Platform fighters as a whole are seeing potentially the largest interest surge in the genre’s history. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Melee are both doing great in terms of viewership, Rivals continues to draw a decent crowd of its own despite having a significantly smaller competitive community, and while Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl ultimately ended up kind of unfinished, it too had a strong interest grow around the game upon announcement.

MultiVersus seems like it could be adding to that surge, with a cast that spans the Warner Brothers universe, from Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and Steven Universe to Shaggy and Velma of Scooby Doo. On top of that, the game’s mechanics are not only fun but show the team’s willingness to experiment beyond being “just another smash game.” In particular, the perks system introduces a new level of strategy and seems designed to test what aspects of a character the player values.

This is only compounded by the game’s emphasis on the two versus two format, where teamwork and communication are essential. Doubles formats in platform fighters have historically been unexplored, largely due to the genre’s emphasis on single-player experiences which tend to mirror normal FGC titles. However, given the genre’s unique emphasis on positioning and the many differences when it comes to executing combos, the two versus two format could very much flourish in a game like MultiVersus.


What non-anime/manga things have you all been enjoying recently? 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

As always, special thanks 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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Feeding the Flames: Anime Music, Turn-Based RPGs, Etc.

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Well, as usual, I am behind schedule on the series I was planning on covering this month. So, in order to supplement this, it is time once again for some hot takes.

Length is Not Important in Making Good Art

I thought about this a lot after finishing Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto. He completed a well-rounded story in just about 200 pages and arguably wrote not only one of the best manga of the year but potentially a contender for best manga of the decade.

If it sounds like I am calling out shounen here, well it is because I am…kind of. Obviously, this applies to all long-running series, but Shounen stories tend to disproportionately fit into the category. However, the probably here is not the length itself, but rather that the longer a series goes on, the more prone it is to losing focus of its main plot.

The most important thing when writing a story is not its length. Rather, it is making sure that each part of said story is purposeful, and engages with its other parts in a way that makes sense.

Turn-Based RPGs Aren’t Inherently Boring

As much as I consider myself a fan of more action-oriented RPGs like Final Fantasy 13 and the very small amount of the Tales series that I have been able to play, something about the turn-based style of gameplay has always held its charm for me.

While I can certainly understand why people would feel strongly about their repetitive nature, part of that come from a lot of games that either focuses heavily on grinding, have little variance in gameplay, or both. Games like 2012’s Bravely Default prove that even small variations in the traditional formula can make for engaging gameplay that requires more attention than simply mashing through menus.

Still, I am not gonna sit here and pretend like most games that stick with the turn-based formula are innovating in that way.

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The Tokyo Ghoul Anime Wasn’t That Bad

There are very few anime that I would say are wholly inferior to their source material. One of those is The Promised Neverland, which…yeah. The other, though, is Tokyo Ghoul. So much of the second season just feels scuffed as hell compared to what we got in the manga.

However, to say that its first season is on the same level feels a bit ludicrous. The adaptation of its story, even if some minor details were left out, was solid, and the animation from Studio Pierrot was above average. It was by no means perfect, but certainly not bad enough to complain endlessly about.

Hiroyuki Sawano

That is the take because my boy Sawano is on fire. On a more serious note, I do think Sawano has, at least at this point, cemented himself as one of the better music producers of anime history. It can certainly feel one-note at times, but at his best, his production is so hard-hitting that it frankly does not matter.

If I were to name some of my favorite music producers, it would likely be Sawano and Yoko Kano. I realize that these are not especially controversial picks, and this series is called Feeding the Flames, but hey, what can I say, quality is quality.

Good Anime Endings are More Memorable than Good Anime Openings

There are a lot of good anime openings, both in turns of animation but also in terms of music. However, the same cannot be said for anime endings, which often feel hand-picked to sound as boring and forgettable as possible. It does make sense, though, as first impressions are often much more important when it comes to sticking to a consistent audience. This is why, despite not thinking much about them, I could very easily name some of my favorite ending themes (more specifically, my favorite anime ending at the moment is Style Helix by Myth&Roid from Re: Zero, while my second favorite is Hibana by The Sixth Lie from Golden Kamuy).


What are some of your hot takes? 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

As always, special thanks go to Jenn for the support 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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Secondary Findings: Redveil, Stranger Things, Blue Box, etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Welcome back to another edition of “talking about random things I like cause it makes me feel good.” For those joining this series for the first time, Basically, anything that either I do not feel like covering in full or does not fit within the usual scope of the blog. I try to keep these a few months spread apart so that people do not get bored and I actually have stuff to talk about. With that being said, I hope you Enjoy

learn 2 swim by redveil

Something that most probably do not know about me is that I am a pretty big RAP and Hip-Hop. In 2022? I know, very surprising, but it is true. However, since I do not talk about music that much on this site, I figured this would be a great place to talk about said music.

First on that list is an album that seemed to take a lot of critics by surprise, learn 2 swim. Redveil is an artist that I honestly knew nothing about before this project, but he certainly has my attention after its release. A lot of the instrumentals seem to be sampling or inspired by jazz and soul, with most of the tracks having a flare reminiscent of a downtown street performance. My only gripe with it musically is that some of the tracks can sound a little samey, but given its overall narrative arc that makes sense.

Speaking of, the lyrical capability on this album is absolutely insane. Lines like “growth ain’t one direction it’s a tour” gave me pause and honestly sent me into a bit of self-reflection. The over-arching narrative is one of self-growth, looking back on the past as a way of informing the present. All of this is made even more impressive by the fact that redveil himself is only 18 and produced the majority of the album by himself.

At the end of the day, learn 2 swim is an incredible album. It has basically everything one could want out of a hip-hop record, so if you’re looking for something a little more low-key and experimental I would highly recommend it.

Things with Wings by ericdoa

On the note of experimental, I talked previously about my love hyperpop and its adjacent sounds. ericdoa’s previous solely record COA is considered largely a success in that regard, with a variety of hyperpop/EDM-focused sounds, leaning on a good amount of vocal modulation to boot.

Things with Wings is taken a bit of a departure while still retaining a bit of what gave COA its hyperpop identity. It is decidedly more pop, with songs like “phases” leaning into more funk sounds and “victim” feeling more like traditionally dance-pop.

Surprisingly, there are no features of which to speak, which is a bit of a shame since some of the songs could have used the additional length as many feel a tad too short. Most of the songs have a verse and maybe a small breakdown. Still, eric is a capable vocalist and manages to carry the majority of the songs pretty well.

The album definitely has its shortcomings, but it is still a lot of fun. So, anyone who is interested in that sort of sound should give it a chance as well.

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Stranger Things

Well, I was supposed to finish part one of season four with my siblings and my mom…but, that did not really work out. Everyone kept having something going on, and so I just said screw it and finished it by myself.

I do actually feel a bit bad though, cause wow, that was an amazing way to start the final season. The hype may have died down a bit from the series being delayed by COVID and Netflix’s general incompetence but it still felt well worth the wait.

Stranger Things has always felt at its best when disconnected storylines build and then eventually meet, and thus far the series has done an excellent job of that. I will leave this section spoiler-free since, by the time this comes out, the series will still be relatively new. What I will say, though, is that the horror in this season has been turned up to eleven (all puns intended). That 30 million per episode budget may feel ridiculous, but it seems to have accomplished something at least.

If I were to pick a favorite character, however, it would probably be Dustin. In the past, Dustin has come off as mainly just the comic relief of the group, for better or for worse. In season four, it feels as though he is finally coming into his own, almost becoming the “mad scientist” of the group. Overall, it was a fantastic start and I am genuinely excited to see how part 2 wraps ups the series.

Trash Taste Podcast

Putting this here almost feels stupid since the number of views they get on one episode seems to suggest that just about everyone watches them at this point. However, I recently got back into watching the Trash Taste Podcast, so I figured I would talk about it.

Despite having the least history watching him as a creator, it was actually CDawgVA that got me back into it. His second channel just happened to show up in my recommendations, after which I started watching his videos which eventually lead me back to Trash Taste.

I am not gonna sit here and pretend like I have always been the biggest fan of their work. (The whole Flying Colors Foundation thing from years back still makes me seriously question their trustworthiness). However, I have been missing something to put on in the background while I fall asleep, and so it fills a nice role that way.

For what it is worth, though, I do think they are genuinely pretty entertaining. The way they go off on stupid tangents at basically every point of a given episode makes it a lot more engaging and fun to listen to. It is a tad disappointing that do not talk about anime more, considering that is kind of what it was originally advertised as, but still a great podcast overall.

Blue Box

I am putting this here only because I honestly do not know if I will end up covering it for the blog or not. However, I did manage to read the first few chapters of Blue Box, a sports/romance manga that is currently being serialized in Shonen Jump. I found out about it after watching Super Eyepatch Wolf’s recent breakdown of Shonen Jump, and I have to say, I am impressed so far.

The introductory chapters are about what one would expect from the above description. However, there is an earnestness in the characters’ feelings which does resonate quite a bit. Also, despite how obvious it was, I would be lying if I said the reveal at the end of chapter two did not catch me off guard.

The art, while not particularly detailed, is nice enough to look at, and the character designs are distinct enough that I do not have to do a double-take while reading, which is more than I can say for some other series. The whole thing honestly reminds me more of a shoujo aesthetic than it does a sports manga, which makes sense considering the romance seems to be the main focus. I am excited to eventually catch up and see where exactly the series will go.


What have you all been enjoying recently? 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

As always, thank you to our Patron Jenn for being absolutely fantastic!

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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Feeding the Flames Pt. 3: Even More Spicy Hot Takes

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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The internet certainly is a place, or rather a space? It does feel a little weird to try and quantify it in terms of geographical space when for all practical purposes the internet is more or less infinite. Yet, increasingly it feels as though there is less and less space for people’s terrible opinions. Well, unfortunately you all are getting mine today, as it is time for another installation of feeding the flames.

Mamoru Hosoda makes better films than Makoto Shinkai

I had been thinking about this one for a while, and prior to the release of Belle I was still somewhat in the camp of both of them being relatively equal. However, while I still have plenty of criticism of the film itself, Belle did make me realize that Hosoda is just a better storyteller, straight up. While the more style over substance approach Shinkai has since popularized works sometimes, riding on it for a significant portion of his career leaves a lot to be desired.

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Marin from My Dress-Up Darling is a good character, actually

The early episodes of My Dress-Up Darling seemed to promise a fun albeit uncompelling slice of life/romance. After all, its entire second episode was dedicated to an unfunny bit where Gojo was nervous about taking her measurement. Yet, as the series has continued over the season, Marin has become significantly more 3-Dimensional in terms of her development and is otherwise turning out to be incredibly likable. Assuming this blurb does not jinx the series into a terrible ending, it feels like Marin will only continue to get better as a character.

The Tokyo Ghoul manga is better

This is probably only a hot take amongst the hardcore anime fans, but yeah, it is true. As much as I enjoyed both seasons of the original Tokyo Ghoul, it would be hard to argue that it’s handling of the manga’s original story was worthwhile. Whereas the manga took the time to tie together threads which gave some of the side characters and villains the characterization they needed to be compelling, the anime forgoes this development in favor of a more rushed and sloppy ending.

Fanservice is only good in context

People have been arguing about the merits and demerits of fanservice basically as long as the anime community. However, fanservice as a concept is not just good or bad. What counts as good fanservice depends entirely on what is happening in the story. the fanservice in Fire Force, for example, is not bad because it is fanservice but rather because it often takes a very serious tone and immediately interrupts it.


Got some hot takes yourself? Feel free to share down 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

As always, thank you to Jenn for continuing to support the blog!

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 Best of Us, The Worst of Us, The Lot of Us: Hidenori Gotou

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Most will read the character name in that title and immediately think, “who?” This is a completely appropriate response, given that the character I am focusing on today is from Samurai Flamenco. One could be forgiven for not having heard of this series before today, as it was a seasonal series from back in Fall of 2013 that it seems like most people dropped after just a few episodes.

Which, given how Samurai Flamenco turned out…was probably the correct decision. It came out during a time when Isekai was just getting big and Japan was still trying to market superhero stories, and well, outside of break-through series like My Hero Academia, it is pretty easy to tell how that ploy worked out.

Even outside of general genre unpopularity, the series did not do itself any favors, as It feels as though director Takahiro Oomori and studio Manglobe were really asleep at the wheel. This is a real shame, considering Oomori also directed Durarara and Princess Jellyfish, two of my favorite series.

However, what makes Flamenco such as special case is not its subpar storytelling or pacing, but rather its characters and how it attempts to define what it means to be a hero. The most interesting of all its characters is not its primary main character, Samurai Flamenco. Rather, it is the even more wannabe hero: Hidenori Gotou

The main story of Samurai Flamenco stars Masayoshi Hazama, a male model who wants to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a superhero. With the help of some crazy technology, he does so. However, local cop Gotou eventually finds out, but rather than turning him in, he decides to help Hazama in his endeavor…

And that is about as normal a description I can justify without underselling the series because believe me, it gets weird. What starts out as the hero Samurai Flamenco, alongside a group of idols, fighting petty criminals quickly escalates into life or death scenarios with actual supervillains. These supervillains not only have real powers but some end up threatening the safety of the entire planet.

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While its sense of scale and pacing are indeed incredibly terrible, it is those same qualities that make Gotou’s story possible. After the last major arc of the series, Hazama is forced to take on the task of helping Gotou himself. It is revealed near the end that the wonder cop’s girlfriend, which the show takes great care to depict him texting quite often, has actually been missing since high school. Thus, he has been texting himself as a way of coping with her loss.

What makes the arc even more perplexing is that despite how much the show sets up the reveal with tiny hints, it never becomes clear until exactly when his situation is revealed. Gotou, despite going along with the antics of his superhero partner, still remains the most stable throughout most of the show. That is, until the end.

After this information about his girlfriend comes out, Gotou breaks down. What’s worse, Haiji, one of the main villains of the series, comes back and uses this information to torture him, kidnapping him and deleting all of the text messages he sends his “girlfriend.” The show ends in a slightly predictable fashion, with Hazama defeating Haiji and rescuing Gotou, but that is really it. Despite the now loved and appreciated Samurai Flamenco saving the day, it never feels like a victory, as Gotou experience is one of immense trauma.

Superhero stories in anime, despite their scattered presence, have always been incredibly fascinating compared to their western counterparts. There are some that attempt to copy the traditional formula, like Marvel Future Avengers, which attempts to tell a pretty by the comics rendition of the popular franchise. My Hero Academia takes a more centrist philosophical position in its assertion that peace and justice are the most important elements of a heroic society.

Tiger and Bunny has a much more radical perspective. It depicts a superhero society in which the primary motive for justice exists not in and of itself, as one might expect, but rather built on the profit motive of large corporations who sponsor particular heroes.

What separates Gotou as a character, as well as Samurai Flamenco as a whole, is its willingness to deconstruct the identity of a hero. Rather than defaulting to superheroes as the good guys, it takes a broader look at their existence in relation to the traditional systems of criminal justice. On a more personal level, a hero is not only someone who helps others, but often someone who has suffered great loss, persisting despite whatever failings they perceive themselves to have.

To put it a bit more bluntly, Gotou suffers most of the series because he blames himself for his girlfriend’s disappearance. What his arc in Samurai Flamenco ultimately argues is that, sometimes, people need to be saved not just from the threat of physical harm, but from the mental and emotional damage of their own past. Whether or not that idea is good or not is a much larger argument that I do not believe I would do much justice in this article, but considering these perspectives is nonetheless important.


How do you all feel about the character of Gotou, or about Samurai Flamenco in general? 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

Special shoutout to our Patreon Jenn for their continued support! As always, it is greatly appreciated.

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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Feeding the Flames: Wonder Egg Priority, Hearthstone, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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It has been a while since I did a post like this, but Dewbond’s similarly focused series Don’t @ Me made me realize just how much fun giving random, semi-related hot takes about things can be. After all, what is the point of the internet if not to get people arguing in the comments section?

With that being said, let us get started.

One Piece isn’t worth it

We are starting off strong in this one, and yeah, sorry not sorry. Maybe this is easy for me to say because I am not on the other side of it, but a series that takes 50 episodes minimum to get anywhere close to interesting, let alone getting through now 1000 episodes. While I can understand and even appreciate people’s passion for the series, I just have no reason to invest that much time into a show while barely enjoying it.

Wonder Egg Priority is almost certainly getting nominated for Anime of the Year

For as much of a disappointment as this series was, and much to many people’s, including my own, dismay, Wonder Egg Priority will likely see at least one nomination at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards for next year. Now, this does not mean that anime awards are always a perfect measure of quality, but the series does appeal enough to reviewer types like myself and probably a lot of the people who will act as judges to land at least a nomination. This will almost certainly be the case even despite the series lackluster ending.

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Sora has the best Smash reveal trailer in all of smash

Listen, I know I’m milking this one for all its worth, but just let me have this, ok?! Obviously, full bias here, as Kingdom Hearts is a cherished memory of mine, but even so, Sora’s reveal for Smash is the most hype trailer for a couple of reasons. First, The main plotline serves as a callback to the World of Light story, in which the characters are captured by darkness. This mirrors perfectly the story of Kingdom Hearts, in which Sora must use the power of light to defeat the darkness. On top of that, the trailer has some top-tier animation along with some amazing meme potential without feeling entirely like a joke. Iconic is an understatement.

Fractured in Alterac Valley will be a good set, actually

This one will be for all two of my readers who are also Hearthstone players, but the upcoming set “Fractured in Alterac Valley” looks to be an exciting set, even without the addition of new hero cards. The cards seem significantly more measured in their impact even while looking incredibly powerful. In particular, the callback to burgle Rogue, while not super convincing from a power level perspective, does seem to be lining up as a fun archetype. Big Mage, even more, seems to be a legitimate threat as far the meta is concerned. Despite the popularity of standard format going down a significant amount, there is still plenty of fun to be had.


Have a hot take of your own? Just want to argue? Leave a comment down 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

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 Best of Us, The Worst of Us, The Lot of Us: Rikka

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

(As a quick aside, this post was significantly better written beforehand, however, my WordPress decided to forget half of the post after I went to sleep one night and so I had to rewrite a significant portion much differently. Regardless, I hope you enjoy).

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Chuunibyou is an oddball series animated by Kyoto Animation. It focuses on the life of Yuuta and his wish to start high school over as a new person. This is because Yuuta spent his middle school days with a “disease” known as Chuunibyou, a condition which invokes in its victims the horrible fate of *checks notes* …writing and acting out a horrible OC while looking like a complete dork. Needless to say, the actual stakes of this series are fairly low. However, while that may be true in an absolute sense, the series does a fairly good job of absorbing us into the world of these “delusions.”

At the center of these delusions, and the show’s secondary main character, is Rikka, a girl who is still afflicted with Chuunibyou, and who ends up slowly dragging Yuuta back into this world. So, “what is this world?” you might ask. Well, it is complicated, but it most often manifests itself as a series of JRPG, action-adventure, and fantasy tropes which the characters have collectively agreed to be a part of. Well, mostly agreed to be a part of, as Yuuta’s hesitancy to embrace his character of “Dark Flame Master,” which left him without any real friends in middle school, becomes a major sticking point throughout the series.

The show does seem primarily concerned, though, with Rikka, and Touka’s, her sister, concern that this Chuunibyou will leave her without the ability to function as a real member of society. From Rikka’s perspective, it is this world of fantasy and delusion that serves as an escape and purpose. Each battle with Touka, imagined as the evil “priestess,” or Nibutani, who Rikka believes to be a false incarnation of her former character “Morisummer,” brings with it a sense of living genuinely.

I said before that the stakes of this series are fairly low, and that is very much the case. While Touka definitely worries for Rikka’s health, she never goes as far as to take her to a doctor or therapist, at least within the confines of the story told. It is possible to imagine her resisting that suggestion strongly, but still. In contrast with that, the death of their father and a subsequent forgotten run-in with the “Dark Flame Master” himself seem to be the catalyzing factors in Rikka’s strong sense of Chuunibyou. This, again, begs the question: what exactly is at stake for Rikka?

At first, it seems to be her father’s memory. When observing Yuuta’s character, Rikka came to believe that her father was trapped in the “horizon” of this Chuunibyou world and that by training and getting stronger she could eventually find and rescue him. While the end of season one, and the resolution of Rikka’s feelings surrounding her father’s death, it becomes Yuuta, and their burgeoning romantic relationship, that keeps her involved in the world of delusion.

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After she reconciles her feelings and beliefs about her father at the end of season one, her primary driver becomes Yuuta, and with the introduction of a little bit of competition for his affection in the form of Satone, her Chuunibyou becomes firmly grounded in their relationship. Her mystical battles become ones of love, rather than a fight to preserve her father’s memory.

Chuunibyou’s existence as a real-world concept is attributed to Japanese comedian and commentator Hikaru Ijuin when he used it in 1999. In that context, he was referring to middle schoolers with wide imaginations and very little shame. However, after psychologists began investigating the condition as potentially real, Ijuin became worried and retracted his statement. As I mentioned above, Chuunibyou has very few actual stakes in its narrative, at least as far as most people would use the term. So, if it is not a real condition, and her problems involving the loss of her father are gone, then what does that mean for Rikka?

While this series is technically one of my favorites from Kyo-Ani, on the whole, not many people rate the show particularly high. I cannot speak for everyone that has watched the series all the way through. Still, I do think it is worth applying a couple different lenses to her character.

When I talked about the series back in 2019, I threw out the idea that the Chuunibyou could be a metaphor for neurodivergent people. After all, Ijuin retracted his statement in 2009, and the first light novel for the series did not come out until 2011. Though the specific cultural connotations of the word are lost on me, it is clear that the term Chuunibyou developed a context outside of the comedian’s initial comments. After all, Rikka’s journey involves fighting against both her sister, at times Yuuta, and others who tell her that she eventually has to become “normal” despite the fact that remains a serious challenge. The metaphor is not totally one to one, however, since Chuunibyou is considered a temporary condition, whereas things like ASD and ADHD are usually with people for life.

Even outside of that more narrow interpretation, however, the influence of magic and fantasy-style games and anime can be evidence of a general appreciation for nerdy subcultures. These groups, almost by definition, exist outside mainstream tastes. As a result, many people in these groups can feel isolated. Finding comfort with people who are also in those groups becomes one of the few avenues for expressing themselves against a conformist society. The backdrop of Japan here also plays a surprisingly relevant role, as cultural homogeneity in Japan is even greater than in places like Western Europe or the U.S.

Ultimately, regardless of the interpretation one might use, Rikka’s character is about breaking hegemony. She exists in a world that is unsympathetic to her as a person, and as much as Yuuta might be embarrassed by her at times, he cannot help but feel grateful to her. Her steadfast sense of self in the face of an uncaring environment is admirable, to say the least.


How do you feel about Chuunibyou and the character of Rikka? Are there other characters I should take a deep dive into? 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

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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Secondary Findings: The Mitchells vs The Machines, Kingdom Hearts, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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So, a while ago I started doing posts based on Super EyePatch Wolf’s series “My Favorite Things,” and while I do enjoy doing something similar on this blog, I never actually gave the series a proper title to differentiate it. Since it has been a hot minute since doing one of those posts, I figured now to be a good a time as any. Thus, welcome to the (re)launch of my new series on this blog: Secondary Findings, where we talk about all the things I thought were cool recently that otherwise would not fit as its own post/video.

(As a side note, I never actually intended for the blog to have the astronomy theme that is clearly been developing subconsciously, but it feels oddly fitting.)

Anyway, on with the post!

The Mitchells vs The Machines

The state of children’s media in 2021 is…not something I have enough knowledge to competently discuss. However, it would be a lie to say that all of it is factory-produced, lifeless shells akin to Cocomelon. Though, this movie is clearly aiming for an audience a bit older than that. The Mitchells vs The Machines is a project that I was not expecting to be as entertained by as I was, and was genuinely sad when the credits rolled.

There is so much about this movie worth liking. From its unique animation and character designs courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation to the well-written story and characters that form the base of its title. The movie also is not afraid to cover heavier topics. College-age Katie Mitchell plans on going to film school, but her dad is less than understanding. So, in order to better connect with her daughter, Rick Mitchell decides to take Katie and the rest of his family on a road trip to her new home. All the while, the world is being taken over by the operating system PAL.

I will say, in trying to cover things like the prevalence of technology in people’s lives, being creative in a family that does not accept it, giving up passions in order to start a family, the pacing does suffer a little bit. Additionally, while it never seemed to be the focal point of the movie, Katie’s gay identity feels a bit brushed over as a point of her character. Still, this movie was so much fun that I would not be surprised to find myself going back to it again fairly soon.

Sora in Smash!

Ok, this is cheating a little bit since I did technically do a full write up of Smash Ultimate’s potential last patch. However, the feeling of amazement has not yet been lost on me. Trying to speculate just how much legal effort it took on Nintendo’s part to make this happening is probably in vein, but my simple guess would be “a lot.” Still, everyone’s favorite spiky haired, key blade wielding, anime protagonist is now playable (and most likely going to be my main for competitive play). His skins feel like they were made with purpose, even if Disney’s ownership of certain IPs made the range of selection rather limited, and his overall move set makes him feel purposeful, with nearly every move having a strong role to play in his kit.

While I have little reason to return to his original games at this point outside of a passing fluster of nostalgia, his inclusion is bound to make many of those who grew up with the Kingdom Hearts universe happy. More still, it will be exciting to see just how far he can be pushed from a competitive standpoint.

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Hanasaku Iroha

If it was not clear already from the haphazard times between when I first talk about show to when, or really if, I finish them, I am bad at sticking to one show for an extended length of time. That being said, Hanasaku Iroha is a show that I am most definitely interested in finishing…at some point. Again, I am not going to put a date on it cause that feels sort of pointless, but there is a lot to like about the series.

Ohana has a sort of out there, individualistic spirit that feels rarely represented in a narrative space so focused on characters. Having grown up with an unreliable mom, she is forced to deal with life mostly on her own. Because of this, her philosophy of only relying on herself comes up against her hardline grandmother and the staff of the Inn where she is now forced to work. In spite of this, the first few episodes see the beginning of change, a readjustment to her new environment and the blooming of ability to rely on others for the first time in, basically, forever.

If this were an Initial Results post, I would say just go watch it. But…na, jk still go watch it. Great series thus far.

Franny Choi’s Soft Science

*remembers I have a second blog that I have not been posting on at all for months*

*screams*

Existence is a weird thing, huh? and no, I am not just saying that as a way to ridicule myself further. While I have been contemplating doing reviews over on Solidly Liquid for a while now, that has yet to materialize, so it seemed appropriate to talk about one of my favorite collections in recent memory: Franny Choi’s Soft Science.

There is a lot going on in this collection, but the primary tension seems to be the contrast between how the narrator wants to be seen versus how those identities often appear in reality. It brings up femininity, Asian identity, and how those things are experienced both internally and externally. The running metaphor used throughout Soft Science compares the speaker to a machine, acting and thinking as a stereotype despite the emotionally complex reality of what they go through in every-day life.

Since this is ostensibly an anime focused blog it would be a mistake not to mention one of my favorite pieces in the collection “Chi” based around the main character of Chobits. Visually, it has a very unique presentation, being divided into four sections each with their own unique structure, commenting on the various aspects of Chi’s character and how that relates to the speaker. There are also a ton other nerdy sci-fi references that I know at least a portion of those who read this blog will likely appreciate.


What things have you all been enjoying recently? 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

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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