Review- AHO-Girl: Fast-Paced and Fun

AHO-Girl, man what a rush.

If there is one show I really enjoyed from the summer 2017 anime season, it’s this show. It uses a very fast-paced variety of humor to set up a great joke that doesn’t overstay its welcome. As I have mentioned before, AHO-girl is the best thing I’ve watched this season, and there are a couple of different reasons why.

The 12 episode series, produced by Diomedia, uses the same setup as a show like Nichijou or Azumanga Daioh and provides its own unique set of characters to play off of. Yoshiko, the resident Aho-girl herself, has a very one-track mind but often does not have much of an attention span. Her willingness to just about anything to get what she wants while ignoring any and all social cues is the show’s driving force of comedy, and it works well. Akutsu, aka A-kun, is Yoshiko’s childhood friend who, as we learn in the last episode, has a weird history with Yoshiko, to say the least. His unwillingness to let Yoshiko’s stupidity go unchecked manifests in him getting verbally or physically violent, to the misfortune of Yoshiko. There are times when he seems like a one-joke pony, but he does come off as hilarious in more ways in one, like when he is being harassed by the student council president, who just happens to fall in love with him. Sayaka, who becomes Yoshiko and A-kun’s friend, becomes an innocent bystander in their daily antics and suffers some of the consequences as well.

There are a few other side characters, like A-kun’s sister and Yoshiko’s mom, that are also fantastic and hilarious. A special shoutout goes to Yoshiko’s dog who is especially great and has some of the best moments in the show, like when he watches a movie with A-kun and the two immediately become friends

The animation, in the case of comedy anime, is less so dependent on overall quality than it is on being able to help in the delivery, and in that case, it does well. The animation keeps up well with the show’s variety of fast-paced and low-brow humor and is able to enhance the jokes in a way that brings them to life, as animation should. It’s overall above average.

The Music is nothing special but also isn’t bad. It is used to help with jokes like in any other comedy and does well to enhance the joke, but really doesn’t go beyond a typical comedy soundtrack. Considering how funny the rest of the show is, I had hoped this wouldn’t be the case, but sadly it was.

Overall, aside from a few aspects that are a bit lacking, AHO-girl is a great comedy. Its characters are its heart and soul, and on that front, it uses them well. The comedic situations that Yoshiko and the other are put in is enough to get anyone laughing. With just 12 minutes per episode, there’s no reason not to watch it.

 

 

Rei Kiriyama: The Perfect Example of Why Being Lost is Okay

I don’t think there are many times that I have come across a character I can relate to as much as Rei Kiriyama in March Comes in Like a Lion. Granted, I haven’t lost my family in a horrible accident, nor have I grown up with a strict stepfather, but I am 17 years old. Most importantly, though, I also feel a bit lost, to say the least.

It might also be that Rei’s sense of not knowing where he wants to go came from a much darker place in his life. After all, he grew up learning a game he didn’t even necessarily want to play, from a stepfather whose respect he never quite seemed to have, and has a sister who can only barely tolerate him. Rei chose Shogi because it was the only thing that connected him to his late father. His passion was never for Shogi, it might not have even been for just the game he played with his father. In fact, it’s fair to say that Rei might not have had passion for anything throughout his life.

I think what Rei has learned so far on his journey to becoming a master Shogi player is that being lost is ok. Rei spent almost all of his childhood on Shogi only to find out that he never really felt anything for Shogi other than a connection to his father. Rei eventually finds a newborn passion for the game when he realizes that he has friends that are there for him, but that’s only after the fact.

Rei’s journey, the quest to search for his place in the world, is the most realistic part of his character. While he may consciously admit he is on this journey, Rei realizes throughout March Comes in Like a Lion that getting outside of his comfort zone and dealing with the problems in his life is the only way to move forward.

For Me, I find a great deal of wisdom in Rei’s journey. His need to find what drives him and his determination to see that mission through to the end is inspiring. It has also made me realize that being lost is ok.

In this case, Rei Kiriyama being lost is very much the same as being vulnerable. Without people to both support him when he feels like giving up, but also criticise him when he does something wrong, I find it unlikely he would have been able to accomplish the things he did throughout the series.

Rei Kiriyama is a reflection of what it means to be a person: sometimes lost, and a lot of the time vulnerable, but he is also a prime example of why that’s ok. When Rei realizes that he isn’t going to be able to live a normal life without his friends and family, he doesn’t just retreat inward. Ok, well maybe he does for a little bit, but after a while, he figures out that trusting in others for help is acceptable, and the people that we value in our lives will always be there when we need them.

 

Note: I read Mechanical Anime Review’s OWL Post immediately after writing this. Not copying, I promise.

Review- No Game No Life Volume 2: Blank, the Masters of Gaming(SPOILERS)

No Game No Life has, without a doubt, been one of the most fascinating adventures that I have been taken on ever. A world in which there is no conflict, no war, no physical pain, and it is all being taken over by an 18-year-old virgin and his 11-year-old sister. In their previous world, they were known as “Blank,” and the two have never lost a game, no matter what it is. Now, slowly conquering the entirety of Disboard, Sora and Shiro are on their way to challenging God.

The second volume picks up right where the first ends when Sora and Shiro have become the joint ruler of Elkia, the last kingdom of the Immanity race. At this point, the writing is still fantastic. Yuu Kamiya’s story has started extremely strong and her characters are both hilarious and relatable.

Sora and Shiro have, so far, been largely defined by being opposites of each other, and therefore have strength in being together. Sora is defined by his ability to read other people. He knows when someone is lying, like how he is able to tell that warebeasts can’t actually read minds just by Inu’s reaction to his accusation in the Elkian Embassy. Shiro, on the other hand, is much more like a sponge, using her near-photographic memory to absorb all the possibilities in a given game, like when she plays chest and is able to map out her moves based on the situation at hand. While they may share much of a personality, the way they approach the games that they play makes them work well as a pair.

It was also good to know that the story of their life in their previous world has not yet been forgotten, as the book also brilliantly hints at the pain they both shared, especially Shiro, in another world. The way Shiro life is described before and after she met sora as being monochromatic and then filled with color really sets up a beautiful ongoing metaphor, although in this case, I feel like it was used to much greater effect in the anime, where the world of Disboard reflects the colorful life they both longed for.

Jibril is also a great addition to the cast, as her lack of emotional understanding of humans leads to some pretty funny comedic bits. It does look like she might be a one trick pony as the story continues, although I can’t be entirely sure.

Steph is, well Steph. I never found her to be the most interesting part of No Game No Life, although I also don’t think she is the worst part of it either. She does become a bit more likable when Sora gets angry at her for how her grandfather handled the kingdom, only to discover that Sora got angry for no reason.

Overall, I can’t stop loving No Game No Life. The second volume got to one of my favorite parts in the anime, the battle with Jibril, and did well setting up the cliffhanger for the arc with Sora’s disappearance. It is still a wonderfully imaginative series that I cannot wait to continue.

 

 

 

Neo Yokio Trailer Reaction: huh?

Trailer: https://youtu.be/hwc6fTnsdBI

As has been reported before, the unprecedented growth in popularity of anime has not been lost on Netflix. They have obtained the exclusive license for a few shows over the recent years, and just this season they managed to acquire both Kakegurui and Fate/Apocrypha. They are also planning on releasing a whole host of other projects, including a remake of the original Saint Seiya and Cannon Busters, a new show directed by LeSean Thomas, who recently directed Crunchyroll’s first original IP Children of Ether.

What was not on that list of new shows was Neo Yokio, a show written and produced by Vampire Weekend’s lead singer Ezra Koenig. The show’s new trailer sets the world of Neo Yokio in a city of the same name, where main character Kaz Kaan lives his life as a wealthy playboy who hunts demons on the side.

I can safely say that even with all the interest that Netflix has taken in anime as of late, I would not have expected this. Netflix must really have a thing for passion projects as of late because of this, along with the recently released Death Note movie, is honestly a bit surreal.

The Trailer opens on Kaaz, along with his robot butler Charles, watching two women play tennis, showing us part of his wealthy lifestyle. Charles then proceeds to describe Neo Yokio as one of the most culturally and architecturally diverse places, and the envy of the world.

At this point, I’m still in shock at the names attached to this thing, like Jaden Smith of all people, but at the same time, I’m a bit in awe. The show is described on Netflix as a comedy, so I can only assume much of this ridiculous mish mash of plotlines will be played for laughs.

The voice acting doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence in me either. Based on this trailer, it seems like Jaden Smith rushed through his lines just to get his paycheck and everyone else in the trailer was ok at best.

The Music also didn’t seem that impressive, with the trailer playing what sounded like some generic backing music.

I can’t overstate my general sense of confusion. On one hand, despite its lackluster trailer, this does look like something that could be genuinely funny. On the other, it’s just amazing that something like this even exists. I do hope there is quality to be found here, but I’m honestly just not sure where to look.

5 Great Slice of Life Shows You Should Watch if You Haven’t

The Slice of Life genre is one that has always been fascinating to me. The way that stories can focus on singular characters and have them be the story makes for a very different type of show. I thought I would take the time to share some of the ones that I enjoy the most. Some of these are my favorites, and some I just think are ones people should watch.

1. Spice and Wolf.

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Spice and Wolf is a show that I watched this summer because a friend had told me it was his first anime. After getting curious enough, I watched, and man am I glad I did. The Story of Lawrence Craft and his mercantile adventures with Holo is one of the most entertaining and thoughtful shows I’ve watched. As the two travel around the world, they talk about the economics of the times, the places that they’ve yet to visit, and even the mysteries of life. The show never fails to bring a smile to my face, or when it goes south, make me care for Lawrence and Holo. It is definitely worth your time.

2.  March Comes in Like a Lion

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If I had to pick an anime for anime of the year in 2016, it probably would have come down to March Comes in like a lion and a few other shows. After seeing Nisekoi a while back, I was honestly surprised that the people at Studio Shaft could take such a similar art palette and design style and apply it to a show like this. It’s quality shines through in every aspect, and most importantly in the characters. Rei Kiriyama is not only someone I can relate, in that, I get so focused on one thing that I shut out people, he is also someone I root for. His story is not only emotionally painful but also a journey I felt I had been with him for his entire life like I was his best friend. March Comes in Like a Lion is an example of why character driven stories can be so rewarding.

3. Tonari no Seki-Kun

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Aside from fantasy adventures and character dramas, Tonari no Seki-Kun is probably one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. With each episode, Seki is preparing a new gimmick, and his classmate Yokoi can only sit there and imagine what must be going through his head, whether it be a war on a chess board or the falling of a domino empire. The antics in this show reach absurd heights and it’s better for it.

4. Kokoro Connect

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Kokoro Connect was a show that I was not expecting to be as lively or as dramatic as it was, but it definitely wasn’t bad. It was a very interesting exploration of interpersonal relationships and how those relationships can get ruined by both lies and truth. It did amaze me when I watched it that such a fascinating show had flown under my radar for so long, but no longer!

5. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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If you’ve been in the anime community for any period of for the last year now, you probably know about Dragon Maid. The memes have reached far and wide and with them the show itself. But, if you have been one of the ones unfortunate enough to not check out this adorably hilarious comedy about dragons living in some random lady’s apartment you should. The show is genuinely enjoyable, and it has one of the most mature characters you will see in a show: Kobayashi. She’s kind, understanding, and respecting other people. Her, along with Tooru and the others will make you want to stay for the ride. But remember, don’t lewd the dragon lolis.

Twitter Poll: What Did You Think Of Netflix’s Death Note?

Hey, guys! Just wanted to throw this up because I’m very curious on people’s opinions of the new Death Note Movie. Would appreciate a response. The poll will be up for two more days. Thanks a lot in advance!

Netflix’s Death Note: A Misunderstanding of Source Material

Netflix’s live action adaptation of the popular anime and manga series “Death Note” became highly controversial among the anime community when it was announced. Fans of the original speculated as to whether or not the project’s director Adam Wingard could bring justice to a series that to many is considered the pinnacle of animated storytelling. The trailers released several months prior to the movie’s release gave many fans hope that the movie could bring one of the most famous stories in popular culture to a live action medium, but the finished product has given fans of the original, including myself, much to criticize in the way of a good adaptation.

Adam Wingard’s vision of “Death Note” was different from the original, and that is a detriment to the film. In an interview with The Verge, Wingard admits, “I grounded it by taking this complicated story, and rooting it in this idea of a coming-of-age teenage tragic romance.” This, however, is the main problem with the movie. “Death Note” is not about a romance or a tragedy. “Death Note” is the story of a kid who gains the power to kill anyone by simply writing a name in a book and picturing a face. This power corrupts him and he slowly transitions from a hero of justice to someone who kills without hesitation. Netflix’s adaptation ignores this transformation entirely in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and the movie suffers because of it.

This is not to say that a different interpretation of “Death Note” would be a waste of time. In fact, it’s setting in America might actually make it a more genuinely interesting film. As an article by Rebecca Sun in The Hollywood Reporter points out, “America’s greatest storytelling strength isn’t its high production value. It’s multiculturalism – access to a wide array of backgrounds and identities, and an ability to find out what happens when they collide.” An interpretation of “Death Note” where themes of racism and racial injustice, or one with even more focus on the idea of America’s identity as the world’s policemen, as the movie briefly hints at, would have been much more interesting. Instead, Wingard chooses to focus mainly on a romance that has zero chemistry, and little relation to the original story.

Aside from Wingard’s inability to find a strong thematic direction for the film, there is plenty to like about the live action “Death Note”. The casting of the movie was generally phenomenal. Willem Dafoe’s voicing of Ryuk was the perfect choice, as he precisely captures the creepiness and looming danger that Ryuk’s presence signals for Light. Keith Stanfield’s performance as L was also an enjoyable addition to the movie. Even though L’s quirks like eating sweets and sitting on top of chairs were seen by many as not easily transferable to a live action film, Stanfield manages to bring his character to life without coming across as awkward.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning, as it does a lot to hold up the movie. A considerable amount of thought was clearly put into the music and music placement in the film. It is especially visible during the final third when tensions between Light and Mia grow, and the two become visibly more insane. The fast and heavy music during the scenes where L confronts Light also add to the intensity during the movie’s best moments.

Unfortunately, it does not seem possible to call this movie great, and to some, it might even be a stretch to call it good. Wingard’s decision to depart from the core themes of the original while leaving nothing but a half-baked romance in its place takes away a lot from its standing as an adaptation. Wingard may have done well with casting and music choices, but trying to compare Netflix’s adaptation of the original anime series leaves a lot to be desired.

 

First Impressions: Bokurano: An Under Appreciated Thrill Ride

I’ve noted before on this blog that my experience with mech shows is limited, and that I had never really found a reason to explore the genre at all. After watching Eureka Seven, and also having seen just three episodes of this, I’m reminded that there plenty of great shows in the mech genre.

Bokurano’s story of a game turned reality involving 15 kids who get sucked into a war that they can’t leave is attention-grabbing. Not only are the kids very different in personality, their sense what to do in the situation that they are in is also diverse. Some are hesitant to start piloting a robot from a game that appeared without any explanation. Others, like Waku, innocently assume that it’s all still a game and that nothing will go wrong.

It’s also fairly obvious from this point which characters are probably going to be the most interesting. Masura, who’s arc looks to be coming up in the next episode, is implied to be very demented based on what he’s said so far. Although we don’t know much about, Yosuke also seems like someone who’s character will be a lot more interesting than implied. His shyness, while making him look innocent enough, might also be a sign that he is hiding something he doesn’t want others to find out about him. Takami, whose father is a member of the Japanese Diet, also looks like she is hiding something about herself in favor of appearing as a dignified daughter.

A topic that comes up in a lot of anime, this one especially, is the idea of doing something for the collective versus doing something for the individual. So far, the show has portrayed the idea of doing for the collective in a very negative light. After all, when they tried to work together to save the world from the first of the 15 aliens that are going to attack earth Waku ended up dying just for piloting the ship, even though he won.

Aside from the ideological aspects of the show, it still has some things to like about it. while the animation is older, and the CG doesn’t look as good as it probably did, It still holds up in quality. The character designs overall are a little plain, and at times it can be hard to tell characters apart.

Musically the show is nothing to ride home about so far. It works for setting up the scenes that it needs to, but aside from that, it hasn’t shown any outstanding qualities so far. The opening is nice to listen to and is somewhat reminiscent of Evangelion’s opening, albeit much less up beat.

I’m definitely excited to move forward with the show. I doubt I will be excited with anything animation or music wise that the show has to offer, but I am genuinely curious to see what the show does with its setup and what it has to say about that setup.

 

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