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Life at the End of the World – Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou Omnibus Volume One

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


After watching and writing about Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou back in 2022, it was exciting to learn that the original manga series which had at that point never seen an English print, would be translated brought state side officially. Though I was admittedly a bit inebriated which left me in a state of feeling a bit more warm and fuzz, watching the OVA adaptations of the series left me excited to get into the series proper. Now, through kind of forgetting about it because of school and spending the last few months doing other stuff, it is finally time to talk about this manga.

For those who are coming across this series for the first time and those who need a refresher, YKK tells the story of a future earth where natural disasters have drastically shifted the land and human society. Alpha, a humanoid robot, runs a small coffee shop which was made by her owner. Her owner, absent on a journey far away, leaves Alpha the shop to look after. Now, she must deal with the day to day of running the shop while finding out more about her self in his absence.

Damn, The Apocalypse has Never Looked Better

Mangaka Hitoshi Ashinano received the Seiun Award in science fiction for Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou after finishing the series in 2007, and while the exact criteria for that award are unknown to me, it seems likely one of the big contributing factors was the series’ beautiful art and scenic shots.

In fact, it would not be a stretch to say that the landscapes and backgrounds of this series contribute as much as the characters who walk and drive around on them. The world has shifted greatly in this future version of reality, and while the end times are often characterized by immediate devastation and hardship, the series pushes past that and looks at the aftermath, what is left behind and how these natural disasters shape the land and human involvement with it.

One of the series’ most iconic scenes involves Alpha staring down at a city that has been submerged under water due what is assumed to be tsunamis and flooding. While a story focusing on imminent danger and survival might focus on the horror of these scene, Ashinano instead enhances the beauty of the scene by showing the somehow still functioning streetlights turning on to glisten in the water, creating a lightshow of the bay.

An admittedly fantastical example, sure, but YKK is layered with shots of Alpha’s long drive over rural and previously developed landscapes, of humanity which has returned to a more immediately communal style of living. This new landscape is not just a byproduct of disaster, but endemic to there new way of life. Capturing these scenes and moments is itself a work of art beyond the story of the manga itself. That being said,

Oh to Be a Robot Making Coffee

In stories like Yokohama Kaidsashi Kikou, narrative exists usually as a compliment to some primary objective and not necessarily as the main focus. Of course, how much a narrative actually matters in a given series as defined by its relation to theme is up for debate. Rather, this is to say that narrative remains less of a focus in and of itself. Still, the cliché that “nothing happens” is highly reductive.

Sure, Alpha spends a lot of time sitting in a coffee shop waiting for anyone to show up and give her something to do. In that sense, there is a bit of empty space in events. However, that empty space still progresses the manga’s overall story. Whether contemplating her relationship with her owner or reflecting on the found family she has in Takahiro and the old man, there is a sense of development turned appreciation, one that is implicitly juxtaposed against her immortality as a robot. Subtlety is by no means the only approach to storytelling, but it is an art form worthy of appreciation.

In this sense, Alpha’s bonding experiences with the other characters serves as the big moments that in other series would be payed off with a fight scene or battle of the mind. Her relationship with Kokone is another example of this. Being the only other robot she has met in a long time, Kokone allows Alpha to better understand herself and vice versa. It is not entirely clear at this point in the story that there are any romantic feelings involved, but like…c’mon, look at them. The two literally do music together along in their room. It does not get much more implied queer relationship than that.

Splitting the Difference

It may at first seems like there are a lot of disparate elements at play in YKK. New landscapes, humanoid robots, even magical creatures like the Osprey who seem content staying out of plain sight. One might even assume that a story like this would be far to busy to work based on the description just given. However, that is far from the truth.

At least so far, the story of the manga has allowed ample room for Alpha’s journey to proceed in a more open world direction. Each day is her own, and with each chapter comes a new adventure/potential friend with whom to share a moment. Still, the landscapes are never left to the sideline, and often become a focus of many of the chapters, such as when Alpha decides to try out the camera her owner sent.


In truth, whether or not I write about the rest of the series from this point on is a bit up in the air. Really, this was just an excuse to write a bit more one of my favorite OVAs. That being said, there is a lot going on given that this first volume has over 20 chapters. For my money, there is probably going to be more of a focus on Kokone and Alpha, as well as Takahiro and the Osprey.

Have you all been reading Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou? Let me know down 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!


A Few Recommendations on Recommendations and My Philosophy on Sharing Media

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


For those who haven’t seen, Anime Hanabi put out a great post on how to recommend anime to beginners. It talks about things like asking questions of the recommendee and not throwing them into something super obscure right away. It pretty much inspired my wanting to write about the subject so please go show it some love before continuing here.

It feels fair to say at this point I have spent a long time writing about anime, primarily in the form of this blog, but also in more formal, journalistic settings. One such setting was as a columnist for my college’s newspaper. The column, called “Anime Tour Guide,” was written as an introduction for newcomers to the world of anime. It also, unfortunately, worked out that a good chunk of said column was written during the pandemic era when people had a lot more free time to explore new media.

I say this not to purport to be some expert (probably more the opposite tbh). Rather, because writing about anime in that context allowed me to reflect a lot on my own recommendation philosophy. Something as simple as recommending an anime, or really any piece of media, one likes might seem insignificant, and for a lot of people, it probably is.

However, in an age where media is being produced faster than ever, there is now so much that could be considered worthwhile. Additionally, people will always have media that is important to them. Thus, finding out what that media is can be, and often is, important to a good recommendation. After all, the best way to predict what people will like is to know what they already do.

That being said, here are some other things to keep in mind when giving recommendations.

Consider Their Interests Across All Media

This might seem like an obvious one but it still feels worth pointing out. Now, it is true genre tends to express itself differently depending on the medium it is in. Horror literature can be fairly different than horror movies, sci-fi novels different than sci-fi tv shows, etc. Still, it is not as if they are completely different entities. After all, the reason genre exists is to group together similarities in how various media expresses itself.

So, consider asking said friend, partner, or whoever if they enjoy a specific genre across media. Hell, it does not even necessarily have to correlate with genre specifically, it could be something as simple as a certain trope or storytelling device. While these things should never be a box, they can act as helpful guides.


Suggest a Series That Relates to Them

Hot take, but it seems as though people often like relatable characters. Who knows why?

In all seriousness though, it is a nice feeling to see elements of yourself reflected in storytelling. Representation does, in fact, matter. While said representation still is not perfect, it can be easy to forget just how far good representation of minority groups has come. Not to say people should just accept bad representation for the sake of any representation, but it is all about perspective.

However, representation does not have to be that deeply sociological or personal. Even just finding a series about one of their hobbies can work as well. For instance, there are plenty of opportunities to find a cross-section of their favorite sport and a related sports anime. Hell, even people who like crafts or building things could probably get some enjoyment out of Do It Yourself!!.

Be Flexible

Lastly, and this is somewhat of a challenge to Anime Hanabi’s original post, I think it is ok to ignore popularity altogether when recommending a series. Of course, if the person being recommended to is someone who is looking for a big active fan community, maybe this will not hold true, but otherwise, it is totally fine to recommend things outside the context of popular opinion.

Using myself as another example, I love March Comes in Like a Lion. It still probably represents the plurality of my word count focus on this blog even having not talked about it in a long time. However, my recommendation of the series is never based on its perceived popularity or lack thereof. It is a deeply personal narrative that reflects on self-identity and found family, elements which many people I know personally are fond of in storytelling.

If a more mainstream show seems like it would better meet their tastes, go for it. If a more obscure show would do the same, send it their way. Popular opinion does not necessarily determine how much someone will enjoy a recommendation.

What is your approach to recommending things? 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 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!


A New Friend? Old Lovers? Welcome Back, Alice Vol. 4

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


Forget rollercoasters, Welcome Back, Alice is turning into the whole damn amusement park, but not necessarily in a bad way. Every other page is a new layer of drama and internal debate that is seemingly driving these characters insane…ok, maybe it is not that hyperbolic, but it is definitely getting interesting.

Volume four sees the continued aftermath of Yohei’s…intimate outing with Mitani having gone wrong from the last volume. Kei, rather than being upset, not only emotionally supports him but makes him feel better in other ways. The two go back to having a normal relationship, at which point a new potential friend comes into the fray. Mitani must now deal with her own insecurities once again.

Mitani and Yohei’s Complications

Speaking of Mitani’s insecurities, it makes sense for this volume to start at the end, where Mitani, after feeling bad about not getting intimate with Yohei the first time due to his seeming lack of attraction to her, decides to whisk him away after school and try again. The two “do the do,” and Yohei leaves feeling… disappointed.

At this point in the story, it is clear that his emotional investment is with Kei, and sex with Mitani feels like a betrayal of their newly restored relationship, especially after their own episode at the beginning of the novel. However, despite Mitani coercing our awkward protagonist into sex, there is a lot more going on here.

In this situation, she feels bad about not being able to get him hard, because attraction and being erect are automatically linked, which is not necessarily the case a hundred percent of the time. As a result, she feels a need to rectify the situation by trying again, even to Yohei’s and her own discomfort. It creates yet another situation where no one has any absolute moral authority.

The Fourth?

One of the critiques about Kei that stuck with me from initial impressions of the series is about how the character ultimately does embody a lot of hypersexual stereotypes about queer people. Though that is still true to an extent, it is a problem that could be addressed later down the line, either with a serious transformation in Kei’s character or another queer character.

It is unclear whether Ren is actually going to be that, though their mentioning of “understanding Kei’s feelings” on gender issues certainly points in that direction. Still, even if it ends up not being the case, adding a fourth does create new possibilities for potential dynamics, some romantic, some platonic, and even some purely plot-related.


As of right now, though, it is still mostly speculation outside of her one conversation with Yohei, and also the fact that she saw Yohei and Mitani leave school together. You know, small stuff.

Also, a small addendum: I talked in the last post about how Yohei and Mitani refer to Kei with he/him pronouns, but Ren’s character still uses she/her. This leads me to believe that, rather than Oshimi not understanding non-binary identity, it is more the other characters who are purposely written to do so. It sounds stupidly obvious in hindsight, but given that no other character had previously done this, I had little reason to believe otherwise.


The big contrasting element of the story so far is just how much Kei cares for Yohei, but also how much Yohei’s actions seem to waver despite similar feelings for Kei. People who have also read the series or those who have been following my posts on this series might be asking “but isn’t that the entire point?” to which I would answer, “well, yeah.”

I point it out only to further emphasize just how interesting the series writing really is. Despite the two internally wanting to be together, there is a lot of obvious tension in how Yohei is being pressured away from Kei, both in an abstract societal sense but also in a more tangible, immediate social sense by himself and others.

I also point this out because volume four is the last volume currently available in English, and based on when the others were released it seems like there will be at least another few months before the next one comes out.


Whatever interaction the cliffhanger was leading on is probably going to be important. Wild guess, I know, but at this point, it is hard to say anything concrete. Ren feels like they are going to be pretty important as well, but in what sense I do not have a clue.

How do you all feel about Welcome Back, Alice? 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 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!


The Observation Deck: Cowboy Bebop

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


This is honestly a long time coming, by which I mean literally three years since I started the series with my dad back before the pandemic. Unfortunately, we never finished it together, but it was easy to tell even back then that this was indeed a special series, and one that, for the most part, deserved continued praise after all these years.

Luckily, though, a friend of mine from high school was willing to rewatch the series with me, which gave me a great opportunity to start over again and take it all in. So, what did this revolutionary space western have to offer?

Oh, right, my bad. For the uninitiated, Cowboy Bebop tells a story set in the early 2070s, when space travel has become a regular part of life. However, given the sheer volume that governments would have to cover, they have instead found it easier to police the endless bounds of space with private bounty hunters, of which our protagonists Spike and Jet are involved. The series explores their journey in a mostly episodic fashion, eventually picking up the dangerously beautiful Faye, a young computer genius in Edward, and a man’s best friend in Ein, a smarter-than-average dog.

Bebop’s Aesthetic and Storytelling

Critics in the past have talked about the so-called “rule of cool” in relation to Bebop, often defined as a show’s ability to generate a feeling of sustained badassery based on the combination of certain elements. While Bebop certainly is cool, and I do not disagree with that characterization, it does feel like it is selling the show short, in a way.

Part of the implication when invoking the “rule of cool” is that the coolness is making up for lackluster elements. In this case, it seems that criticism is most often directed at the show’s laid-back, episodic storytelling in a way that feels undeserved. After all, a show tending toward episodic elements does not automatically mean the writing is not there to support it.

Many of Bebop‘s more self-contained moments could be argued as some of the best television of all time. Episode 20, “Pierrot le Fou” provides an incredibly transgressive story about the mind of a serial killer and implicitly comments on Spike’s willingness to die when he goes after the killer despite escaping from him previously. The imagery of the episode is as much psychedelic as it is psychological, contrasting the horrific imagery of a darkened amusement park with a sterile testing facility in Pierrot’s flashback.

“Hard Luck Woman,” the precursor to the show’s two-part finale, sees Faye dealing with finally understanding her past and remembering who she was before waking up from her preservation. It is an emotionally vulnerable, and at points lonely, episode that sets the tone for the conclusion to come.

Now, this is not to say every episode is perfect. For as cool as the concept of space truckers might sound, “Heavy Metal Queen” did not contribute as unique a feeling as some of the other episodes, and probably would not noticeably affect the show’s pacing if it were skipped. However, the episodic nature of Cowboy Bebop does fit its overall themes and ethos, where life is taken one journey at a time and is ultimately there to be enjoyed, despite the ragged conditions one must get through to do so.


Ok But Spike is Cool as Fuck

as is everyone else on the cast, and yes Edward is included in that. While she may be very obviously comic relief, she adds a dimension of quirkiness and even personal struggle toward the end of the series that helps balance the cast from being too laid back. If there’s one thing I have learned from listening to a lot of emo and trap-leaning hip-hop, it is that sounding deadpan and uncaring does not automatically equal cool.

Spike is indeed laid back in a lot of areas, but he is also fairly quick to anger. He tries to be suave and to most people probably comes off as quite the lady killer, but to the rest of the crew, he’s a bit of a dumbass with a past that often leaves a lot more questions than answers.

Faye often feels like his foil in that regard, positing herself as the sensual, mature woman of the group but is just as scared if not more so about the events surrounding her past. Her con-artistry makes her hard to trust from Spike and Jett’s perspective, at least at first. However, as the group collects more bounties together, it is clear that a bond of some kind forms, whether or not they want to admit it, and clearly they do not.

Jett, meanwhile, is the actual calm and collected one…most of the time. This is, in part, because he arguably gets the least developed in the series. Then again, that is not saying much because even the least developed character across this cast still contains metric tons more personality than your average isekai protagonist. His development, too, is often tied to elements of his past, such as reuniting with his ex Alissa in “Ganymede Elegy” or his daughter’s friend in “Boogie Woogie Feng Shui.”

I guess technically Ein is “the least developed character,” but even then, 1. he’s a dog that cannot communicate linguistically whatsoever, and 2. the series puts in enough effort that even his attachment to Edward before she leaves the ship becomes readily apparent. Overall, the cast exudes personality in a way that not only makes them feel like individuals but counterbalances them against everyone else.

Yoko Kano and The Seatbelts

Music is a big part of Cowboy Bebop. The episode titles which I have thus far been referencing, along with all of the series’s episode titles, reference either famous musical concepts or famous songs. Most recognizable of these are “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Honky Tonk Women.

The show pays tribute to a lot of different musical styles, not just in the episode titles but in the music itself. Yoko Kano has been dubbed one of the best anime composers but many, including myself, and one of the primary reasons for that is her work on Cowboy Bebop. Specifically, in her recruitment and formation of The Seatbelts, a Japanese jazz-rock band, specifically for this series.

The group is not only responsible for one of the best anime openings in “Tank,” but for many of the musical pieces found throughout. Of course, credit must also go to various other collaborators who contributed to the series’ musical success including Steve Conte and Mai Yamane.


Cowboy Bebop’s Animation Stands the Test of Time

It is easy enough to take a random show from the 90’s and compare it to something from now and say, “the 2023 anime looks better.” Sure, fair enough. I myself am pretty hypocritical in this way when it comes to video game graphics and not wanting to play “older-looking” series despite gameplay or storytelling being equally as good if not better than the stuff I am playing now.

Cowboy Bebop is the anime equivalent of that. Despite looking and feeling like a 90s anime, that is basically the worst one could say about it. The animation is fluid and fast-paced in a way that honestly could still go toe to toe with stuff coming out this year. However, characters and backgrounds also remain expressive even when not much is actually moving in any given scene.

The show also knows how to be experimental. The previously mentioned episode “Pierrot le Fou” has some of the most expressive animation of any series I have seen in a hot minute. Though a bit less experimental in terms of pure animation, the episode “Toys in the Attic” plays with horror in a similar way, one that incorporates common fears about space and aliens and makes the antagonist truly terrifying in its movement.


Look, I am not here to tell you that Cowboy Bebop is the best anime ever and that newer anime suck in comparison, far from it. In fact, because of how much hype the show had going into it, I was ready to be even more critical than I usually am. Still, some things are classics for a reason. It is by no means perfect, and definitely some more questionable storylines from a 2023 perspective. However, the parts that work do so incredibly well.


How do you all feel about Cowboy Bebop? 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

As always, special thanks 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!


The Place Where Shame Goes to Die: Welcome Back, Alice Volume Three

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


It seems as though a lot of questions from the last volume have been answered relatively quickly, but maybe that is a bad thing? or maybe it is a good thing and I am just using that sentence structure for rhetorical effect. Either way, let’s talk about it.

In volume three of Welcome Back, Alice, Yohei finally gets what he wants. At least, Yohei gets what he thought he wanted in his relationship with Mitani. However, her prohibition on interacting with Kei at all leaves him with a seemingly much stronger yearning for his childhood friend. Mitani, meanwhile, deals with her own insecurities, most stemming from Kei’s transition, and largely takes it out on her new boyfriend.

Kei’s Identity

Something I have noticed, which was also pointed out by the “Reception” section of the manga’s Wikipedia page, is that Kei’s identity as non-binary feels…well, dismissed. Sure, it is true that everyone, except Yohei and Mitani, is pretty excepting of Kei’s identity in a way that feels genuine.

However, the use of “he” by every character other than Kei kind of undermines that identity and the whole mission statement of the series. Up until this point I had been using “they” to address Kei as a character, which felt more correct given the initial volume. Kei himself says explicitly that he does not identify as a guy.

I do not mean to come across as quick to label the series “problematic,” because that is not my intention. However, it does feel like a big oversight on Oshimi’s part, one that ultimately serves to weaken the message of the story by placing Kei back in the masculinity that he explicitly rejects at the start of his introduction.

Mitani and Heterosexual Attraction

The more of this series I read, the more my theory about Oshimi’s writing style feels correct. If Kei represents a sort of radical sex and queer positive life that might be better for Yohei, Mitani very much represents traditional heterosexuality, with all the pros and cons that come with that.

On the one hand, being with Mitani means Yohei will not have to worry about being judged by his peers. His life remains stable but is maybe not be what he truly wants. On the other, a relationship with Kei comes with the societal stigma of Kei’s identity (and maybe his own but that remains to be seen) but ultimately still feels like the choice that will make him happiest.

There is also a sense of betrayal and manipulation that comes with their newfound relationship. When Yohei tries to kiss Mitani and is rejected, she admits that “[she] thought she could love [him],” implying that her confession was more a way to drive a wedge between him and Kei. The whole thing feels messed up in a way that represents the toxicity present in a lot of heterosexual relationships.

Decision Point

Yohei is clearly under a lot of pressure in the context of the story. Navigating relationships, especially romantic ones that challenge societal norms, is not always the easiest task to handle mentally. However, as mentioned before, he is presented with a serious decision to make.

At the risk of making too many comparisons. the setup is fairly similar to The Flowers of Evil. Both main characters are forced to comply with a set of socially acceptable boundaries, for they risk revealing something that society might deem disturbing. Both even go as far as to comment on young male sexuality. However, Welcome Back, Alice feels more purposeful in its attempts to do so.


At this point, it feels hard to say what will happen. Oshimi tends to make pretty sudden plot-related shifts. Still, it seems as though whatever decision Yohei is planning on making, romantically at least, will probably happen in the next volume. If it does not, however, it will likely mean some serious social consequences.

How do you feel about Welcome Back, Alice? 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

As always, special thanks 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!


Secondary Findings January 2023

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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!


Shuzo Oshimi’s Latest Work: Welcome Back, Alice (Vol. 1)

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


(This one gets a bit weird, even for manga anime standards, so if you’re easily grossed out maybe skip this one for now).

*Terrible impression of Jerry Seinfeld* “What’s the deal with gender? and sex? get outta hereeee.”

Oshimi’s The Flowers of Evil is still one of the wildest experiences I have had with a manga to this day. It is a psychological thriller in mostly the best way possible, letting you feel everything the main character feels as his life becomes a spiraling mess. I never ended up watching the anime, but from what I saw of the promotional material…yeah the manga was a significantly better choice.

Of course, that manga is, at this point, over 10- wait, Flowers of Evil is almost 15 years old…anyway, his newest series, which started back in 2020, is called Welcome Back, Alice, and has a decidedly similar character set up and tone to his most successful work. I say this not as a diss, but merely an observation, for thematic reasons which we will get into shortly.

First, though, for those unaware, a quick mostly spoiler-free summary of the opening volume: Yohei is a loner middle school kid who all of a sudden becomes friends with a boy named Kei and a girl named Yui. The group gets close until Kei moves away. When the three meet up again in high school, pre-existing romantic feelings get complicated when Kei comes to school dressing like a girl, and saying they no longer identify with either gender.

Ok, for anyone interested just based off of that quick summary, just go ahead and read it, it’s weird but interesting. For everyone else, strap in.

So, That Just Happened

Well, Oshimi is nothing if not a little bit weird. Ok, actually “a little” is putting it lightly. I mentioned The Flowers of Evil at the beginning because as far as the overall tone and setup the manga are actually remarkably similar, at least as far as the coming-of-age set-up and deeply horny main character.

Also, I do not know if this is just me being dumb, but the opening chapter was just kind of confusing on a text level because the characters that were not Yohei kept shortening his name to Yo, which felt more like a general greeting than a nickname so the part about them being friends prior felt very tenuous.

Which, even without the confusion, it still kind of does, as most middle school friendships do. This feels especially true after Yohei sees Yui confessing to Kei behind the gym building, after which the middle school crush jealously kicks in, and their relationship sours. Que the time skip and Kei’s transition and we get to the real meat and potatoes of the story.


Oshimi’s Take on a Non-Binary Character

For what it is worth coming from a random internet critic, I do things it is still noteworthy to have a stated Non-binary main character from an otherwise relatively notable mangaka (I say main character because it feels pretty obvious that Kei is the focal point and will as or more important than the other two). Representation has come a decent way but is still far from perfect.

What’s more, that representation does seem to matter to the overall story. Yohei starts the story with a fairly normal heterosexual crush on Yui, but ultimately ends the volume with the two of them reevaluating their feelings towards Kei.

Oshimi states at the end of the volume that the story is about exploring male hypersexuality and ultimately how fragile it can be. As far as motivations for writing a story, I think this makes sense, especially at a time when that same hypersexuality drives a lot of internet grifters telling men that being cold and misogynistic is the best way to get women along with reinforcing decades-old stereotypes about queer people.

Still, using your only genderqueer character in a way that portrays that as not just hypersexual but very willing to violate boundaries for no reason might not be the best way to do it. It is one thing to say stereotypes are bad, but it is another thing entirely to do that while also then reinforcing those stereotypes. Ultimately, the story has yet to cover much ground, in the first volume, and Oshimi is an intelligent enough writer that it feels worth giving it more time.

The Art

Oshimi’s art sits in a weird place for me, because while I would by no means call it bad, he also probably would not make my top mangaka artists list any time soon. It comes with a sense of realism that, while mostly uneventful, becomes infinitely more detailed in the moments when the story ramps up, or when he wants you to experience the same intense feelings as the characters.

The same is true of Welcome Back, Alice, with the backgrounds often being solid but uneventful, which fits the more intimate subject matter of the story. If the author were making his debut attempt at an expansive shonen action series, I would probably be a bit more disappointed, though.

The character designs, on the other hand, do feel unique and in line with the personalities they are supposed to represent. Kei is much more boyish and feminine even before presenting as such. Yohei looks like a typical middle-school/high-school nerd (and certainly acts like it). Yui looks like…well, a girl that it would be totally reasonable to have a crush on if you’re a nerd idk. Saying they look stereotypical feels more like a compliment in this case given that it appears to be the focus of the story.


After Flowers of Evil, it honestly feels like a wasted effort to try and guess where this man will be taking his story. That being said, I do expect it to be significantly more unhinged as time goes on, but hopefully in a good way? Like I said, the dude’s an intelligent writer, I just hope the significance of the subject matter is not lost on him as the story goes on.

As of right now, the manga has four volumes in English and 30ish chapters. So, assuming I like the story enough to get that far, I’ll probably continue to cover it on a weekly or biweekly basis until I catch up.

Have you read Welcome Back, Alice? Let me know your (spoiler-free) thoughts 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

As always, special thanks 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!


The Observation Deck: Brothers Conflict

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary folks, we are gathered here today to talk about an anime. Not just any anime, mind you, but the one, the only, Brothers Conflict. This is a show that is so genuinely awful it is honestly not worth it to even pretend there are redeeming qualities about it, an adaptation so lazy that the cast barely has a workable personality split among its almost 20-something-odd list of characters.

I could sit here and do any amount of research about the development process or its source material, but honestly, I do not care that much and yes, the source material, both the light novel and the game adaptation, are almost certainly better than this garbage. Calling this show Oreimo levels of trash is frankly insulting to Oreimo, because that would imply that anything about it is remotely interesting or worth caring about. With that being said, let’s get started, I guess…

What is Brothers Conflict?

Some-no, most-no, nearly all of you probably read the title of this review and went “huh?” and yeah, that is totally reasonable. In short, Brothers Conflict is a light novel/Otome dating sim adaptation about Ema Hinata, later Ema Asahina, a girl whose rich and famous dad remarries a mom with 13 other sons. As part of this new stage of their life, Ema moves into her mom’s luxurious mansion with room enough for all of them. However, Ema quickly discovers that nearly all of her brothers have some sort of romantic feelings for her…yeah, it is one of those.

Boring Main Character is Boring

Ema is the main character in the same way that your avatar during a multiplayer fps game is technically the main character. Literally, the only purpose she serves is to show you around and get a better view of the brother characters who you are supposed to fall in love with. She is so shamelessly a self-insert that when I did bother to look at the Wikipedia page for this franchise, I was genuinely surprised to find out the light novels were the original source material.

Ema not only has no personality worth mentioning, but the only interests she is given are also to better connect her with the potential relationship matches she might have. Her liking video games? an excuse to get more involved with her brother that works at a video game company and her brothers that work as voice actors respectively. Her interest in flowers? so she can talk to the one that works in their home garden and give a nice romantic background for later romantic encounters. Seriously, how was this not a dating sim first?

Fun fact, I wrote most of this review and almost completely forgot to mention Juli, the talking squirrel character who only Ema and Louis can understand. This is never explained and is treated as totally and completely normal.

Boring Brother Characters are Boring

I could sit here and give you a sentence-long blurb about each of the other main characters and pretend like I care about their development, and yeah, that would probably be the responsible critic thing to do. However, this is an anime blog, and also there are thirteen of them, none of who have any remotely notable personality traits outside of their occupations and their insatiable lust for their 16-year-old step-sister.

I will mention that Louis and Hikaru, two of the older brothers, have mildly more interesting character designs, but that is only because it seems like they were intended to be some flavor of queer, but of course, the anime would never dare to be that interesting. The ongoing antagonism between Natsume and Subaru ends up being the “main” storyline near the final few episodes, but that is only because it is really the only plotline the series bothers trying to resolve.


Yeah It’s Problematic, But Man It’s Hard to Care

It absolutely should not be overlooked that much of what happens in this series is older, college age and above men going after a 16-year-old girl. It is most definitely weird and creepy and Brothers Conflict should be criticized for it, especially since at no point is this fact ever addressed, let alone framed in a negative light.

At the very least, when it comes to a show like Oreimo, there are points where the weird incest vibes are less distracting because the characters are notably interesting and have conflicts outside of that dynamic. Because this show is only interested in romantics to the point of being one-dimensional, it becomes hard to ignore. So, not only is the show painfully boring, but it is also incredibly gross and creepy.

Animator? I Barely Know Her!

For how much the characters and backgrounds in this show actually move in any dynamic or interesting way, they might as well just have ported over the png files from the Otome adaptation, which I will remind everyone for the third time came after the light novel (seriously wtf?!). The most “well-animated” moments in the series, if one could even call them that, are the sequences at the beginning which only serve to remind you just how interested her brothers are in f***ing her.

This is by no means meant as a criticism of the animators themselves, as they were likely operating with pretty spare time and coordination and thus just had to put something together. Rather, it is pretty clear that Brothers Conflict was only greenlit as a way of selling merch and copies of the existing materials.


I’m sure there were some amount of people who saw this series and genuinely enjoyed it, mostly in the sense that it did something for them sexually. Still, I just do not get it. There are so many other series in this same lane that are not only better at being hot but are also legitimately more interesting from a storytelling and character perspective.

Brothers Conflict is a half-assed, quantity-over-quality approach to making a reverse harem that does not come close to overcoming its problematic and boring execution. I reached some of the highest highs this year when it came to the medium of anime, so I suppose it only makes some sort of weird cosmic sense to torture myself with the lowest of lows.


Have you seen this abomination? 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!


Toradora is Peak Fiction. No, Seriously.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


The content meta online is so weird. It is like, did you click on this because of the title, the featured image? Idk, but since you’re here, how about I give you a much more nuanced take on Toradora than what I implied.

Even as weebs become further divided by fandom and sub-culture, I think one thing most of us can agree on is that we all have our comfort media. whether it be an anime, video game, manga, etc., there are always certain series that bring out a sense of either nostalgia or just straight happiness.

Though I would not necessarily call Toradora a comfort anime in that same sense, I have, for a while now, been finding myself happiest as an anime fan while revisiting some of these shows which I have a fond memory of. Toradora certainly invoked some warm feelings, but I had a hard time remembering why exactly that was, at least until now. While it feels difficult to point out a lot of what the show does exceptionally well, it is also is hard to find a lot of weak points.

For example, the series sits at a whopping 25 episodes, which may not seem like a lot given that others like Kimi no Todoke have stretched on for longer, but there are also tons that have dragged with lower episode counts. Yet, there is never a moment in Toradora feels that feels wasted. Character arcs are started and resolved in ways that, though might come off as shallow to some, resolve in a satisfying way.


The main cast is a drama machine, by which I mean they are a series of interlocking parts which function together smoothly after being oiled by the first few episodes and the introduction of Kawashima. From there, goals become solidified, but the character’s relationships continue to be fluid.

The line that divides good romantic drama from bad or corny can often feel invisible. After all, who or what decides whether dialogue or character interactions feel natural or not largely depends on prior context and the progression of those characters. Still, very few moments if any throughout Toradora feel forced or unnatural given the events which happened before.

When the crew gets back from their beach house extravaganza at Kawashima’s and Taiga looks longingly at Ryuji before she dashes to catch up to him, it feels correct. The two spending time with each other as a way of helping the other get with their best friends naturally brings them closer together. There is never a moment when the two are supposed to fall in love, but between Taiga’s increasingly nonchalant attitude towards Kitamura, and Ryuji’s obvious jealously about the rest of his class wanting to see the two together, nothing has to be said.

Of course, one of the biggest hints the series gives about its romantic direction is the fact that Taiga gets rejected by Yusaku, and that Taiga herself rejected him a year prior, during their first year of high school. It is definitely within the opening episodes of the series which feel the most “high school romance,” and what I would probably call the weakest part of the series. There is a reason I started my re-watch last year and did not finish until this one.

Yet, I would be reluctant to say Toradora has a bad episode. Again, relative feelings of “cheese” are entirely subjective and often have a lot to do with what we consider embarrassing, but even that “cheese” has a purpose because it effectively sets up more powerful moments later on. The strangeness of Ryuji agreeing to secretly take photos of his best friend for Taiga is an act of kindness which shows how much he is willing to care for her.


Another element worth touching on is the absence of parents in the lives of the main characters, a trope that occurs commonly in anime but in Toradora that serves a stronger purpose. For Ryuji, the absence of his father creates a need for self-reliance as well as a desire to take care of others, something that Taiga becomes the receiving end of. Taiga, meanwhile, has only her deadbeat dad, and as a result desires a normal life, one in which she can rely on someone instead of having to act tough.

What this ultimately creates is a series in which the two main characters are self-reliant. They are forced to rely on each other in order to get their initial love interests (Kitamura for Taiga and Kushieda for Ryuuji). However, it is this reliance on one another that ultimately makes them realize just how much they care for each other.

I could go on for a while, and indeed I probably will in a future post. There is so much about Toradora worth talking about. Still, I would like people to be able to read this post to its finish, so I will stop for now.

What is your opinion on Toradora? 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

Special thanks as always 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!


The Observation Deck – Spider-Man: No Way Home

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations



Normally I am not super prone to covering Marvel movies, as it’s not my primary focus nor my primary interest. However, I wanted to at least get out a few thoughts on the film so that I can at least say I posted something today. Anyone whose been on social media over the past week or so has probably seen all of the positive things people have said about it so far. As much as I would love to be a contrarian, in this case, I really cannot.

A Top 5 MCU Film

No Way Home will likely go down as one of the best MCU films of all time, and for good reason. There is, of course, the man himself, Tom Holland, who continues to be the best live-action iteration of Spider-Man to date. This is not to say that Andrew Garfield and Toby Mcquire, who reprise their roles in this film, are bad, just that Holland feels like the perfect mix of Peter Park and the superhero spider.

Speaking of, seeing the Spider-Men together on one screen was indeed a highlight of the film. Part of me wants to complain that they spent a little bit too much time reveling in the fact that all of them were in the same dimension, but given the arc of the film, it kind of makes sense. On top of that, seeing some of the most beloved Villains in Spider-Man also make a return only added to the hype.


Dr. Strange: A Welcome Addition

Ever since the release of his self-titled film, Dr. Strange as a character has always been one of my favorite parts of live-action marvel. Everything from his backstory to his power and even his aesthetic oozes a certain level of cool which few other characters, outside of Spider-Man himself, have managed to top. Thus, I was happy to find out just a little while into the film, that he would end up playing a significant role.

And well, what a role it was. I am hyping it up a little too much maybe, as he spends a significant portion of the film trapped in his own magical dimension. Still, his presence can almost be boiled down to a level of “I told you so,” having to clean up a lot of the mess Peter Parker creates. In order to change the villains that so desperately want to kill some version of him, he has to give up not only his Aunt May but his very existence in the mind of his friends.

Now, given that Dr. Strange previously mentioned that he used the mind-erasing spell on people other than himself, it is unclear whether any of the other he or any of the other Avengers will actually remember him. Regardless, it will be interesting to see Spider-Man’s progression and whether or not he becomes an active part of it again.


Like I said, I do not have too many concrete thoughts on the film outside of repeating how amazing it is, but yeah it is amazing. Spider-Man: No Way Home is not only a great Spider-Man and MCU film, but arguably one of the best Superhero films, period.

How did you all feel about Spider-Man: No Way Home? 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!