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

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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.

Predictions

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!

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Secondary Findings January 2023

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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

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(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.

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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.

Predictions

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!

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The Observation Deck: Brothers Conflict

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

25/100


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!

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Toradora is Peak Fiction. No, Seriously.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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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.

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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.

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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!

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The Observation Deck – Spider-Man: No Way Home

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(HUGE SPOILER WARNING AHEAD)

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.

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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.

Conclusion

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!

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Initial Results: Komi Can’t Communicate

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Ok, so I already talked about Blue Period on Sunday, so I figured I might as well talk about the other seasonal series I have been watching: Komi Can’t Communicate. Another series that had a lot of manga hype and another series that I have been enjoying a lot for the most part. While, as of the writing of this post, there have only been about three episodes released, there is enough here to warrant talking about it. With that being said, let us get started.

Komi Can’t Communicate hilariously chronicles the unapproachable and yet incredibly loveable Komi, a girl whose social anxiety renders her unable to speak to people in person. Tadano has managed to find himself in the same school as Komi, although given his self-described “average” qualities, feels a bit out of place alongside his…unusual classmates. One day, he begins talking to Komi through a chalkboard, and the two ultimately become friends. Now, Tadano is on a mission to help Komi open up to others and make 100 friends.

Though it was not represented a ton in public discourse, and the comparison has yet to land, I have seen a few people putting this series next to the likes of Nagatoro, Uzaki, and others as “bait,” and while I can understand this comparison on a surface level, I do not necessarily agree. Whereas the main characters in those series feel designed and written to initiate outrage among certain groups, Komi does not really give me the same vibe. Rather than being an outward, almost obnoxiously energetic character, she feels very much like the opposite, subdued by her anxiety and overall reserved. This is not to say it would be impossible to write a “bait” character in that mold, only that the character of Komi and the story being told feels more genuine.

The show also is not as outwardly sexual as those series, at least not at Komi or Tadano’s expense. The most sexual character so far is probably Agari and at the very least it is out of a genuine attraction to Komi rather than just “lol fanservice.” Granted, this could change later on, but the sense I get overall from Komi Can’t Communicate is a desire to have a conversation about social anxiety through comedy. Whether the series will ultimately succeed in that goal has yet to be seen, but, at least for now, it is not doing a terrible job.

Tadano, on the other hand, is, well…ok. He’s not an outright horrible character, but currently, he feels much more like a lens through which to view Komi rather than a distinct character of his own. In many scenarios, he is relegated to the butt of some admittedly pretty funny jokes, but not much else. That is not to say he does not have potential, however. Clearly there is a storyline to be told between himself and Komi, and while his character design feels fairly bland, I would like to know the motivation behind that flower shape on his head.

Overall, while I am less excited about Komi Can’t Communicate than some other series I have been watching recently, there is still plenty of potential, and though I might not necessarily be able to convince people who have written it off as “bait,” I would still encourage everyone to give it a shot.


How do you all feel about Komi Can’t Communicate? 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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Quadeca, “From Me to You,” and the Internet

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I do not often talk about music on this blog because I rarely have opinions strong enough to justify writing a whole article about them. However, this is without a doubt of of my favorite projects of the last year, which is strange because I definitely would not consider Quadeca to be one of my favorite artists. Still there is a lot to talk about when it comes to “From Me to You,” which is why I thought it was worth taking another post to explore. In particular, I want to take a bit of time to talk about the storyline of the album and some of the implications of its subject matter.

The story of course starts with the track “Sisyphus,” named after a Greek god who was cursed to push a boulder up a mountain only to have it fall over and over again. The track mainly concerns itself with Quadeca’s internal monologue, with the story of Sisyphus being used as a metaphor for his relationship with his own success and self-growth. Try as he might, the fear of getting to the top of that mountain, only to fall back down and have it start all over is a scary prospect.

While Quadeca, or at least the character that he plays in the album, is not the only one in this story. There is, of course, another, indicated in the chorus: “You’ve got a mountain of your own,” and throughout the rest of the album. So, who exactly is this “you?” Well, at first glance it might feel reasonable to answer that question with some variant of romantic partner, and to an extent, that is right. In the song “Shades of Us” he does mention that “[he] just wants love,” but also says that its “outside my reach, always inside my aim.” This would rather imply that he is currently single, so at best this might be addressing some future relationship.

Instead, the “you” here feels a lot more literal, as though he is addressing the audience directly. Quadeca appears to be telling both the story of his experience with internet fame, as well as reflecting on the creation of the album itself, both of which have come with their ups and downs.

This becomes much more apparent on the song “Smiling at the Ground,” in which he raps about a crazy fan who would rather see him break up with a potential girlfriend as opposed to being genuinely happy, as well as the music labels which resent him for staying independent. These things are so stressful that he “searches his fake name” only to be relieved when neither of them appear together with it. The following track “Can’t You See” also speaks to this idea as well, where Quadeca equates this Sisyphean journey to being “lost in the fog,” and that it is both “hard to stay, hard to stay gone,” again repeating the idea that his situation is very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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While it is fair to say that most artists and/or people who create things, especially on the internet, hope for some level of success, it does not necessarily mean they want all of that attention at once, or even really at all. The process of virality, in which a person can become famous overnight, is an area that feels like it has been overlooked in cultural discussion. Having thousands or even hundreds of thousands of new eyes on you, as well as a mountain of new expectations can be incredibly nerve wracking. Even now that Quadeca has an established fanbase who probably will not abandon him, the fear alone can make an album that was supposed to come out in 2020 take a whole extra year.

Another major theme of the album is the idea of balancing work and the rest of one’s life. This theme comes to a head much later in the album on the three tracks “Burnin Bridges/Long Day,” “Work!” and “People Pleaser.” Each of these tracks aims to address a different aspect of Quadeca’s relationship with his work and how it has affected his other relationships.

“Burnin Bridges/Long Day” sees him playing the part of “the villain,” but also directly states how he’s “burning all [his] fuckin bridges til there’s nothin left,” and that he “trusts no one but myself, the only one that hasn’t fuckin left.” In other words, from his perspective, Quadeca is taking people out of his life who never really cared for him anyway. While this is a pretty common sentiment across rap as a genre, it feels even more important here given how the internal monologue established in earlier songs has made it clear just how much he doubts himself.

“Work,” in contrast, sees Quadeca satirizing the unhealthy relationship with work that many have come to understand as grind culture, or the idea that one should always be focused monetary or social gains, even at the expense of interpersonal relationships. Though it may not seem like it, the exaggerated lyrics as well as the fax machine noise which slowly ingrains and distorts itself into the beat make it fairly obvious. Some of the best lines, in this regard, are when he talks about “only loving you from like 3:15 to 5 PM,” as well as having “like twenty-five Red Bulls still tryna find them wings, like a blind Rick Ross.”

It becomes even more apparent when beat comes to a halt, and Quadeca talks about how “[his] mind got carpal tunnel” and that “[he] wants it all to double, even the stress, even the mess, even the largest struggle.” In this final verse, he point out how those who have bought into this grind mentality put themselves through all of this work, in part at least, so that they can where it as a badge of honor around others. The song “People Pleaser” serves almost as a prequel, describing how Quadeca’s innate need for validation from others got him into the cycle he is in, with the ever increasing quantities of money he manages to acquire never being enough for this “you.” The line “feelin’ like its eight-bit, lookin like its IMAX” also helps to reinforce the idea that, while his life on the outside looks great, self-doubt is still very much central to his problems.

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All of this comes to a pinnacle, almost literally, on the song “Summit Pt. 1” in which the major themes get reinforced. Despite how much progress has been made, both in Quadeca as a person and on the album itself, he still does not believe he has made it particularly far, evidenced by the refrain “And I’ve been lookin’ at the summit. They say we’re halfway there, I think we’re halfway from it.” Still, it would be unfair to say that he has made no progress at all, as it he also says that “me and my boulder grew a bond,” implying that, despite still not being confident, he has managed to get something of a handle on these mental burdens.

Additionally, the question of who exactly “you” is becomes an issue again, because although earlier in the album Quadeca implied a lack of romantic relationship, the song “Its All a Game” does seem to present a major romantic interest. Still, interpreting the “you” as still talking directly to the audience makes a lot of sense. When he says “I swallowed it, thank god that it was you that shared the key” in reference to the previous interlude, Quadeca seems to be saying that if there was anyone who he was going to share his most vulnerable self too, he would rather it be an audience that has expectations of him rather than random strangers.

The journey is still not going to end, both as an artist and as a person, until he meets his. In a way, acknowledging that “we’re halfway from it” is saying that not just he, but everyone has yet to reach their full potential, and although everyone might have a mountain to climb and a bolder to climb with it, seeing what is at the top might just be worth it.


There is a lot more about this album that I can and probably will talk about, from the incredibly constructing bars and ryhme schemes, as well as the amazing production. Still, if I did try and talk about it all in one post this would probably end up being a 20 minute read, and as someone with an incredibly small attention span myself, I do not want to do that to other people. So, have you heard “From Me to You?” What do you think of it? 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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My Top 10 Favorite Anime (As of August 2021)

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Well, It certainly has been a while since I made this list, about three years to be exact. Sometimes it can feel a bit pointless to try and nail down favorites because tastes are constantly changing, but I have watched a few series lately that I feel strongly about, and thus I thought it would be fun time to remake this list and share it with all of you. With that being said, let us get started.


10. Terror in Resonance

Honestly, I thought out of all the shows on my previous list, “Terror in Resonance” would have not made it on still, and yet, through hours of internal debate, it still managed to find a spot. I would say that its one thing in particular that keeps me thinking about it, but that would lie. From the gorgeous animation produced by then up and coming studio MAPPA to the gorgeous Icelandic vocal filled soundtrack, this show has so much. As time has gone on, my sympathies for the series’ political messages have also gone up significantly. While “Terror in Resonance” might have just barely made the list, do not take that to mean I think it is bad, because that is far from the truth.

9. Fire Force

Speaking of shows that I did not think would be on this list. Although, what can I say, it grew on me. “Fire Force” may have some serious problems when it comes to its female characters, which I will definitely continue to talk about, but it also just has a really cool premise that it executes on fairly well. Couple that with the fact that the series was created by the original author of “Soul Eater,” and thus has some fairly similar character designs, and yeah I am on board. It may have taken me a bit more time to fully get into it, but it has certainly earned its place on this list.

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8. Robotics;Notes

Oh, look, its the anime that got me somewhat interested in mecha. Not sure how Scott will feel about that, but it is true. Without “Robotics;Notes,” “Gurren Lagann” probably would have ended up as the extent of my mecha experience. However, this show is also just good on its own merits. The character-driven, sci-fi mystery plotline has twists and turns at virtually every stage of its progression, as well as boasting one of the most interesting fictionally diseases in the form of Cat and Mouse Syndrome. I have wanted to revisit this series for a while now, and since I now own the “Robotics;Notes” visual novel, I may just do so…

(This is totally a hint that you should follow me on twitch ;))

7. No Game No Life

Look, I get it, the show is a bit problematic in its depiction of Sora and Shiro’s relationship. Ngl, kinda cringe. However, for those who are willing to look past this, there is a lot to like about “No Game No Life.” Not only did Madhouse do a great job animating the entire series, from the games to conversations between characters, the color palate for this show looks gorgeous, though I am incredibly biased because purple. On top of that, there are some intriguing ideas when it comes to the series’ message and philosophy. For those who are fans of Isekai stories and have somehow not come across “No Game No Life,” this is a much watch.

6. A Place Further Than the Universe

Oh boy. I can count of two hands the number of series that have made me cry, and “A Place Further Than the Universe” happens to be one of them. What is even crazier is that, it does not use any incredibly sappy set up to try and pull at your heart strings immediately. Rather, it just tells the story of a girl who really wants to follow in her mother’s foot steps, and three others who are along for the ride. They share the adventure of a lifetime going to Antarctica and…well, not to spoil too much, but it is certainly an experience.

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5. Log Horizon

Alright, so I have a confession to make. I have yet to watch the third seasons for both of the next two series. I know, I know, it feels a bit weird to still have them on here without having technically watched all of them. In my defense though, the first two season of “Log Horizon” are just good enough on their own. Drama, politics, worldbuilding: “Log Horizon” has it all, and then some. It may not be the best looking show ever, but when its got one of the best hype anthems ever written by Man on a Mission fronting every episode, it does not have to be. I said before that Isekai fans should have “No Game No Life” on their to watch list, and that goes more-so for this series.

4. Oregairu

Truth be told, the only reason I did not end up watching the third season for “Oregairu” is because me and my friend got a little too intoxicated while we were re-watching the first two and, well, let us just say it got messy. Regardless, like with “Log Horizon,” “Oregairu” could be carried by its first two seasons. I am still a little bit salty about the change in art style after season one, but honestly, given how good the show is, that is a minor complaint. There really is not too much else to say for this one other than it is a fantastic slice of life comedy that is certainly worth anyone’s time.

3. Golden Time

What can be said about “Golden Time” that is not already buried in my 1000 word video script on the series (I meant to put out the video a long ass time ago I just kept forgetting to record and edit.) Romance in anime has felt one note for a pretty long time, outside of some recent exceptions like “Horimiya.” However, the romance in “Golden Time” is dynamic and feels real. While it may have a fantastical element as it core premise, it is believable because all of its characters, including the main character, develop relationships that mean something. In show’s best moments, there is a deep sense of investment in the lives of the people on screen, and to think, it all started with a dude getting slapped with a rose bouquet.

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2. Princess Jellyfish

The hardest part about making this list was not writing these blurbs, but rather deciding who would get second and third between the last two entries. In fact, it probably took me at least an hour going back and forth in my head to make a decision. While “Golden Time” is without a doubt great, I only really felt its impact all at once, at the end, when I could barely contain my tears. “Princess Jellyfish,” on the other hand, was different. It hit in waves, as if at the end I was not able to fully process what I had even just watched. After sitting with the series for a few days, I can be assured in the assessment that “Princess Jellyfish” is a remarkable series.

1. March Comes in Like a Lion


As remarkable as “Princess Jellyfish,” It was unlikely that the series that helped me in one of the darkest periods of my life was ever going to get dethroned. “March Comes in Like a Lion” lacks in no category, and while the subject matter may seem a bit inaccessible, shogi is simply a means to a storytelling-end. Rei, and later on Hina, are two of the most complex characters in all of anime, and their arcs are some of the best storytelling I have ever seen. Couple that with studio shaft’s unique, occasionally minimalist art style and you get a series frankly deserves a lot more recognition than it currently gets.


What are some of your favorite series? 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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Is From the New World Still Good?

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

My next video is done! In this one, I focus on the series that the #anitwitwatches crew most recently got into, which is “From the New World.” It is a 2012 series produced by A-1 pictures which focuses on a dystopian world in which humans have gained god-like powers. I had some reservations when I first started watching it again, but ultimately came out of the experience with an affirmation in my appreciation of the series.

If you want to see any of the live tweet thread I did while watching the show, you can check that out below.


How do you all feel about “From the New World?” 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!