Tag Archives: Manga

The Observation Deck: Goodbye, Eri

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

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

Storytelling

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

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

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

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

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Fantasy vs Reality

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

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

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

Panels

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

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

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

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Conclusion

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

95/100


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

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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

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SPY x FAMILY Episode 1 Reaction

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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

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The Observation Deck: Kotaro Lives Alone

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

Because, well, fuck this show is so sad…

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

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

Kotaro and Trauma

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

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

Ok, but Why a Kindergartener?

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

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

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

It Takes a Village

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

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

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

Kotaro’s Animation

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

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

Conclusion

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

88/100


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

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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

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The Observation Deck: My Dress-Up Darling

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, yeah, get to the point!”

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

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

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

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Cosplay? Cosplay!

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

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

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

Pretty Colors!

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

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

Conclusion

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

68/100


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

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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

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What I’m (Probably) Watching for Spring 2022

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

Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 3

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

Komi Can’t Communicate Season 2

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

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Summer Time Render

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

SPYxFamily

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


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

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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

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The February 2022 Jon’s Creator Showcase #TheJCS

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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and welcome back everyone to the second-ever edition of the Jon Spencer Showcase hosted by Animated Observations.

As always, a quick explanation for those uninitiated. The Jon Spencer Showcase, abbreviated as TheJCS, is an event organized by members of the Jon Spencer community as a way of sharing each other’s creative endeavors. This can be anything from blog posts to videos, artwork, and really anything that one has worked on from the previous month. So, for this JCS, we’re looking at projects from January of 2022. If you would like to be a part of the community, you can do so using the discord link here.

Per usual, posts will be organized by general subject matter (i.e, anime, video games, etc.) for ease of browsing. With that being said, here are your community posts for this month!

Anime Fans & Children’s Media – A Look at Muteking the Dancing Hero – Jon Spencer/ Jon Spencer Reviews

In this fairly in-depth post, Jon from Jon Spencer Reviews talks about a subject that does not usually come up among more casual audiences: children’s anime. Specifically, he takes a look at why studying children’s media can be important, along with a show that is apparently a lot weirder than it sounds, that being Muteking the Dancing Hero. My personal experience with children’s anime is limited to a few shows that I have a bit of nostalgia for, such as Bakugan, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc. However, Jon’s post highlights a series that is both experimental and formulaic, but ultimately still does a lot right.

Masterpiece Anime Showcase: Tamayura ~More Aggressive~, A Thank You For the Past Year and Welcoming the Brand New Year – Infinitezenith/The Infinite Zenith

This impressively thorough piece details author infinitezenith’s relationship with a series that I had never heard of, Tamayura More Aggressive. Additionally, they give a detailed account of how the series affected them personally and how it also “helped [them] to take a step back and count [their] blessings at a time when my future seemed uncertain. It is a bit of a lengthier piece, but it is genuinely nice to read about how anime helps people through personal struggle, so for those that are into stuff like that, I highly recommend you check it out.

Jobless Reincarnation’s Rudeus Greyrat: The Long Hard Road. – Dewbond/Shallow Dives in Anime

Jobless Reincarnation was met with a lot of criticism upon its completion late last year, specifically for its main character Rudy. In this post, blogger Dewbond seeks to address that criticism by offering up an argument for why the series was not only a welcome departure from the isekai formula but also a unique approach to the isekai protagonist that has become the norm. Not everyone will necessarily agree with their conclusion, but it is a thought-provoking read nonetheless.

Fan Service: Is it Really Necessary? – Lynn/The Otaku Author

Fan service can often be a touchy subject in the anime community, and often invites a lot of conversation for merely existing. People can enjoy or not enjoy fan service, but Lynn is here to argue that regardless of that personal preference, fan service does have a reason to exist. This is another piece that is obviously not going to draw agreement from everyone but is a worthwhile perspective regardless.

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Top 10 Most-watched Donghua of 2021 in China – Yu Alexis/Yu Alexis

The space of increasingly popular Chinese Donghua is one that has alluded me for a long time. I would also be willing to bet the same is true for many of the people reading this. However, Yu Alexis is here to discuss the most popular of these series from 2021 and why they are doing so well. After looking into some of these series, I am genuinely curious about getting into Donghua, but before any of you do I highly suggest checking out their full list.

My Dress-Up Darling Episode 4 Review – Best In Show

Episode 4 of My Dress-Up Darling is right around the point where the show genuinely comes into its own. What in its initial couple of episodes felt a little shallow and painfully unfunny suddenly brought out the best in its two leads. Crow, of course, talks about this much better than I ever could and in a way that really highlights the episode’s strengths. Definitely a worthwhile read.

After Rain Comes Sunshine – Lita/Lita Kino’s Anime Corner

I do hope that in the year 2022 the anime community can still appreciate a good AMV every once in a while, yeah? Well, Lita is here to deliver. Using the 2018 anime After the Rain along with the song by Nickelback of the same title, she retells the story of the anime in the context of the song. It focuses on the difficult nature of the main characters’ relationship and how it may look weird from the outside, but that it should not influence their support for each other in a non-romantic context. Overall a great post and one that deserves some attention.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood Review – Tequila/Core Reviews

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has long been a cultural phenomenon, with people around the world enjoying anime and manga alike. However, Tequila has brought it back to the beginning, reviewing the show’s first season Phantom Blood. She discusses elements of the series like the relationship between Jonathan and Dio, and the series’ overall unpredictability. Overall, a great review, and one that I recommend.

Review – Fruits Basket – 1st Season 2019 – Courtney/The Anime Tourist

Fruits Basket is a series that for many in the anime community has some very fond memories associated with it. Well, Courtney is here to talk about the 2019 remake which, for the most part, was received fairly well. Does this also include The Anime Tourist? Well, you’ll have to read to find out, but regardless it is a great review. I highly recommend giving her review a read.

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How Anime Episode Reviews Capture The Moment and Promote Conversation – Karandi James/100 Word Anime

Recently, the conversation of how people enjoy anime has arguably become just as important as what anime they are enjoying. In their submission, Karandi takes the time to talk about episode reviews and why they are important to the community. The debate rests on the bigger divide which has occurred recently between companies like Netflix who traditionally release their series in batches and traditional anime release schedules which are usually weekly. Regardless of your opinion, it is an interesting discussion to have and definitely a worthwhile read.

Spoiler-Free Review: Sword Art Online the Movie -Progressive- Aria of the Starless Night – Matt/Matt-in-the-Hat

I’ll be totally honest: I have not watched anything Sword Art Online-related since I finished the first series back in 2014. However, its universe has expanded significantly since its debut in 2012. multiple seasons, spinoffs, and even movies, including the one Matt discusses in this review. While I will not give away his entire opinion, he does seem to think fans of the series will not be disappointed.

30 Best Cooking Anime Shows to Make You Drool! – YumDeku/MyAnimeGo

For better or for worse, it feels like a lot of people’s image of food-centric anime looks like Food Wars. This is not to say it is a bad show, but there are a lot of great series that inhabit this anime sub-genre. Luckily, Yum Deku is here to show everyone exactly that, as he goes through a laundry list of great series on the subject including one of my personal favorites Sweetness and Lightning. Given its length, I am sure those reading will also find something they enjoy.

Nora’s Weekly Anime Digest – Winter 2022, Week 3 – Nora/It’s Your Fault That I’m Not Popular!

It is crazy to think that the winter season of 2022 is already coming to a close relatively soon. However, It is always fun to take a look back to the beginning of a season. After all, some perceptions can change rapidly from episode to episode. This is why it was especially fun to read Nora’s thoughts on the winter season when there were only 2-3 episodes out. Anyone who is feeling that end-of-season nostalgia should check out this post.

Akebi’s Sailor uniform is okay (bit weird) – Roki B/Solitary Cubbyhole

Continuing our theme of the winter season, this post looks at a show that I think had a pretty collective response from the anime community of “foot fetish? foot fetish.” Still, as Roki points out, there are other things to appreciate such as the dynamic between the main character and her sister, while also giving off the typical “cute girl” vibe. I still recommend reading the entire post, as it is short and gets to the heart of the show very quickly.

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Anime Reviews: To Do or Not To Do? – Lyn/Tabibito’s Anistory and Beyond

I think it might be fair to say that most of us in the ani-blogging community, at least to some extent, take for granted the fact that we have an audience, to begin with. After all, not everyone approaches reviews in the same way, as is evidenced by Lyn’s post here. Sure, lots of us appreciate reviews and the perspective they bring, but not everyone reads them, nor is everyone necessarily a person who writes them. She provides a genuinely interesting perspective on criticism which I think is well worth anyone’s time.

Sabikui Bisco – Official English Sub – Scorpz/Scorpzgca

Writer Scorpz talks briefly about another Winter premier: Sabikui Bisco. It is a series set in post-apocalyptic Japan which was supposedly caused by mushroom spores. Bisco, wanted as a criminal for spreading these spores, is, in reality, using them to help return the earth to its previous state. Scorpz provides some key information as well as showcases the show’s trailer, so if this is a series that sounds interesting, definitely give it a look.

Anime Corner: Lupin the 3rd: The First Review – Chris Joynson/Never Argue with a Fish

Lupin the 3rd is a series with a lot of history behind it, and I do mean a lot, as its original manga was released in 1967. However, the series has continually been updated and redone in a variety of fashions, including in its latest film. Here, Chris Joynson of Never Argue with a Fish breaks down the film and gives his final opinion on the matter. Lupin is not a series I traditionally keep up with, but it was nice to read his thoughts regardless.

Celeste – Ellie/The Almighty Backlog

Make no mistake about it, Celeste is an indie video game darling. It has received nothing but praise since its release back in 2018 and has been released on virtually every console. Yet, for as much as the game seems to be loved, Ellie has a different take. While she certainly gives the game its due diligence, she also discusses the nature of games that are made challenging on purpose, and how not everyone plays games for a challenge, a conversation that has only gotten more widespread in the last few years. It is a substantive review, regardless, and highly worth the read.

Top 10 Cosy Comfort Characters For When You’re Feeling Under the Weather – Oona Tempest/Sweet and Spicy Otome Game Reviews

Hey, all you *check notes* “plague-infested couch gremlins…” Are you looking for some comfort characters? Well, then this is the right place. Otome enthusiast Oona Tempest has some great recommendations. At least, I think so? I have never actually played an otome game before, but I can definitely see how some of these characters would come off as fairly attractive. Regardless, give it a read.

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Ziggurat 2 – A Review – Static/Overage Gaming

In a gaming landscape that spans triple AAA developers to single-digit indie studio teams, it is actually pretty easy to find hidden gems. I get the feeling that Ziggurat 2 might be one such game. Writer Static talks about the sequel to the original Ziggurat, a game that focuses on rebuilding its namesake, a prison that houses magical creatures. They go pretty in-depth while focusing on and scoring the categories of graphics, sound, gameplay, and how much fun the game is. Idk, it has me pretty convinced, and I think those reading might be as well.

Moonrise [Game Review] – Matt Doyle/Matt Doyle Media

Want a werewolf story with visual novel mechanics, replayability, and good gender/sex representation? Well now you’re just being a little specific, huh? Still, Matt seems to have a good game for that. In this post, They talk about the game Moonrise, a romance werewolf story where choices matter and there are plenty of love interests to choose from. Those who enjoy this genre of game will probably get a kick out of it, but I highly recommend reading the whole post for a full breakdown.

8 Recommended Romance Webtoons – Nabe-Chan/Geeknabe

Oh, golly gee do I love me a good romance. It is a genre that has a pretty big market across both anime and, in particular, manga, webtoons, etc, and yet, there are probably plenty of those reading who are looking for more romance stories. Well, you’re in luck. This article from Nabe recommends some romance webtoons that she thinks many of those reading will enjoy. In particular, I found her description of Under the Oak Tree by Kim Soo-ji to be fairly enticing. Hopefully, there is also something on this list for all of you as well.

Manga Recommendations for Otome Game Lovers – Naja B./Blerdy Otome

Hopefully, after reading this JCS you’ll be set with recommendations for a while. Here, Naja gives some recommendations for those who also happen to be fans of otome games. There are a lot of great series on this list, but the one that stands out for me is definitely Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku. While I have yet to read the manga proper, its anime adaptation was a lot of fun, so imagine there to be plenty in the manga as well. Before reading that though, definitely check out the rest of Naja’s post.

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My Top 10 Most Anticipated Manga of 2022 – Alyssa/Al’s Manga Blog

Rather than regular recommendations, Alyssa talks about her most anticipated manga of the coming year, with the focus being on physical releases to North America. There is a lot to like on this list, as it has a lot of titles which I have heard a good amount of buzz over. I myself am looking forward to The Tunnel to Summer, The Exit of Goodbyes by Mei Hachimoku, although given how interesting it looks, I may end up reading the light novel instead. Regardless, she has some great taste and I highly recommend checking out this article.

First Manga Haul of 2022 – Takuto/Takuto’s Anime Cafe

It is always fun seeing what people are watching and reading, and what better way to do that than with a giant haul video? I have not seen a ton of these pop up on my YouTube page, partially because I am not as tuned into to mangaTube, but also because it seems that supply chain shortages are making them harder to do. Still, Takuto gets a lot of interesting stuff in this one. In particular, a series I am looking forward to checking out is A School Frozen in Time, which gives me a lot of Sunny Boy vibes (despite the fact that I have yet to finish it). Definitely give this video a watch.

Review – Love Story of Hoshino Zoo – Millia/The Tender Fujo

Sometimes, when a person is feeling down and they are not really sure what to do, all they really need is a story about anthropomorphic animals. In this post, Millia writes about a BL manga centered around a squirrel at the zoo. Well, to be more accurate it is about the animals at the zoo, which artist Kurihara can talk to. Definitely seems like a fun enough read, and I highly recommend reading Millia’s post.

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The Apothecary Diaries Review – Elizabeth Howie/Religiously Nerdy

Craving a mystery about a palace worker and her dreams of escaping her boring day job? It looks like this may be the series for you. Elizabeth Howie of Religiously nerdy writes about The Apothecary Diaries, a series that, on the surface, looks pretty normal. However, I also get the feeling that there is a lot more going on, especially with the main character MaoMao. I suppose I will just have to read and find out, and while I am doing that, read this post to find out more about the series.

Blu-ray Review – Red Angel – ManInBlack/MIB’s Instant Headache

War films are very often not about the wars themselves, but rather the tolls they take on the individuals involved. Red Angel, as ManInBlack discusses in this piece, is one such film. An enthralling drama about the horrific experiences of a nurse during the second Sino-Japanese War, it reveals the tragedy of “the effects of war on those whose role is crucial yet always seen as peripheral.” This review does a great job at breaking down the film into its baser elements while also understanding how they come together to be even greater.

Plurality: In Defense of Endogenic System – Leth/Yuki/Lethargic Ramblings

Life…is hard. Controversial statement I am sure, but it is true. However, I cannot imagine what it must be like living with two separate selves. In this post, Leth and Yuki talk about his and her experiences with Plurality and why those whose additional selves who were not born out of trauma, known as Endogenic Systems are valid. It is a subject in which I am nonetheless fairly ignorant, but the two of them do a great job at explaining regardless. Highly suggested reading for those who are interested in the topic.

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After So Long, Some New Music – Scott/Scott’s Muse

I am ashamed to say that I did not know that the mecha man himself also happens to do music?! Maybe it should not be that much of a surprise considering how talented and awesome he is. Regardless, Scott shares a bit of new music he has recorded, covering both jazz and classical music on the trumpet. All of it is genuinely very good and entertaining to listen to, so take five minutes and give it a listen.

Immersive Reading: How to Get the Most Out of Your Reading Experience – Megan/Nerd Rambles

I think it is fair to say that most of the people reading this are also fans of reading, otherwise, why are you reading a blog? However, when it comes to sitting down with a good book, is it possible people are doing it wrong? Ok, maybe not wrong, but as Megan argues, immersive reading can be a great way to enhance one’s experience with a piece of literature. It is something that I feel gets made fun of in a lot of sitcoms, mainly at the expense of middle-aged women characters, but there are definitely a lot of positives, so give this a read.


Thank you all for reading. I know this is coming out a bit later than usual, so I would like to apologize once again, and also say thank you for all of the wonderful submissions. The next Jon’s Creator Showcase will be hosted by none other than Art of Anime. For those who missed out this time, or those who want to participate again this month, feel free to submit here.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Thanks as always to our amazing patron Jenn for the support!

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

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Rating My Old Reviews: Huh?

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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For those who are not aware, Animated Observations recently received a rating system courtesy of yours truly. The reasons for this are multifaceted, but the primary one is that It allows me to summarize my overall feelings about an anime/manga/video game without taking away anything from the review itself. However, since this system was only implemented a couple of months ago, a lot of my older reviews are without a proper rating. So, I figured it would be fun to go back and give some of said reviews a numerical score.

Princess Jellyfish

Hard to believe that the show which has validated my recent revelations surrounding my gender Identity was something I only watched in the last six months or so. On top of that, it is easily one of my favorite series of all time, and so giving it a score is both satisfying and scary. This is because, while it is satisfying to recognize and promote what I consider to be a great piece of art, it also feels strange to give it something as permanent as a number. The possibility of its score changing in the future certainly exists, but for now, I can only give it the highest possible praise.

94/100

Beastars (Seasons One and Two)

Some of my hatred of this series in the past has come off a bit hyperbolic, mainly because of me, but in all honesty, I can only summon up so much hatred for it. Yeah, the plot is an absolute mess, the characters are painfully underdeveloped and the pacing feels like when getting stuck in an elevator multiple times while almost falling down every time it buckles. Yet, a really solid soundtrack filled with some of the smoothest jazz instrumentals I think I have ever heard along with Studio Orange’s amazing 3D animation work saves it some slack.

40/100

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The Flowers of Evil

I only just realized while looking back at my posts that I never gave Aku no Hana a final full review, but it has been a hot minute since I have talked about the series, so I figured it would be worth doing so again. While definitely not a manga I would think about returning to all that often, it is one that I feel like most people should read if they have the ability to. It has some important commentary on a lot of current issues: mental health, the boundaries in relationships, where people derive happiness from, etc. While it can in a lot of scenarios come across as unnecessarily provocative and frankly degenerate, the message is far more important.

75/100


How do you all feel about this type of post? I am working on finishing a few other things at the moment, so normal reviews/content will hopefully be back soon. But, if you would like to see me go over series that I have done in the past, let me know.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Special thanks to our patron Jenn for being amazing as always

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

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

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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

Mamoru Hosoda makes better films than Makoto Shinkai

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

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

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

The Tokyo Ghoul manga is better

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

Fanservice is only good in context

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


Got some hot takes yourself? Feel free to share down below.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

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

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Secondary Findings: Hades, All of Us Are Dead, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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As much as I love talking about all of the things I review for this blog, there is also a lot of stuff that I watch, play casually that does not get its own dedicated post. This is either because I have yet to finish it or because it does not fit in with the normal stuff I talk about. So, we are back with another edition of Secondary Findings, a series where I do just that.

Hades

This game probably will end up getting a full review on this blog at some point. However, with the little free time I have already, it has been hard to dedicate the proper hours to actually finish it. On top of that, Hades is the type of game where exploring it in depth could mean going through multiple runs, as it has become the poster child for indie rogue-likes.

It is not hard to see why, though. Between the relatively straightforward gameplay, unique build paths for different styles, and the incredible fluidity with which to make combos. That is not even getting into the super-inspired character designs which re-imagine the greek gods and goddesses in a way that gives them a lot of charm. While I cannot speak to anything beyond a few hours of gameplay, it is fairly obvious why Hades has such a strong fanbase.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer

Though the series has yet to get its recently announced anime adaptation, its 15 minutes of Twitter fame was enough to ensnare my interest, and so I decided to give its first volume a read. To my surprise, the hype felt mostly deserved.

Even with its incredibly convoluted plot about saving the world from a wizard and a giant hammer with the help of a girl who also wants to destroy the world, this shounen comedy has thus far been a delight. Its funnier moments are indeed funny, but in the moments where the series calms down and starts to do a bit of introspection, these moments of malice slowly creep in and reveal some things that really drive a lot of interest.

It is hard to say what exactly will happen from here, but Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is definitely a manga that I am going to pursue further. if those moments of darkness are any indication of what is to come, there will certainly be something worthwhile on the other side.

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Hyperpop

I generally try to avoid talking about music on this blog unless it is in the context of an anime or video game soundtrack since that is fairly outside my wheelhouse. Though, of course, I have made exceptions for albums and artists who have had a significant impact on my thinking, with the most recent example being From Me to You by Quadeca.

However, since this is a more casual series focused on the stuff I enjoy, it would be weird not to talk about this strange musical subgenre that has taken up a not-insignificant portion of my music diet. Anyone who has been paying attention to internet culture has probably at least heard the name 100 gecs, who are the most recent act to popularize hyperpop.

However, the subgenre goes has been developing a lot over the past couple of years, often with the artists themselves having a love-hate relationship with the label. Personally, what I love about it is the way it combines elements of EDM reminiscent of the early 2010s, as well as modern pop and hip-hop trends.

The song linked above serves as a good example of what a lot of modern hyperpop has leaned into. I have heard it described more than once as “a musical genre for people with ADHD,” and while I am not sure if I actually have ADHD, it does help scratch a certain brain itch when listening to it.

All of Us are Dead

All of Us are Dead is a Korean zombie horror series that was released on Netflix in a manner similar to the now hit series Squid Game. It focuses on a Korean high school where a new illness has broken out which rapidly transforms the students into zombies, and now they must survive while being quarantined inside the school.

This is another property I have yet to fully dive into, having only watched one episode as of writing. It does take a while to build to its crescendo, with the first episode clocking in at just above an hour in total runtime. Yet, even with that long run time, it still manages to set up a lot of unique storylines without feeling bogged down by the number of characters.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not the series can actually stick the landing, but considering the last semi-competent zombie story I consumed was roughly seasons 3-4 of The Walking Dead, I am excited to see where this goes.


What all have you been enjoying recently? Let me know in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Special thanks as always to our amazing Patreon supporter Jenn!

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: Wotakoi

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Listen, I know romance has basically become a weekly ritual on the blog at this point, but I promise we will start covering some other stuff soon, just stick with me. After all, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so why not celebrate by covering some more? Today I’ll be talking about a series that, while I initially lacked much interest in during its 2018 run, decided to watch because of a certain individual on the bird site (they know who they are lol). So, let us talk about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku.

After getting ousted as a massive otaku and subsequently breaking up with her boyfriend, Narumi Momose is effectively forced to transfer jobs. However, upon getting to her new company, she reunites with her childhood friend Hirotaka Nifuji and the two start hanging out like time stopped moving. Hirotaka eventually asks Momose out, and so the two of them, along with their other closet otaku friends Hanako Koyanagi and Taro Kabakura, must navigate their hobbies in secret.

Adulting is Hard, huh?

A large part of Wotakoi’s comedy comes from the intersection between the boring drudgery of the Japanese salary person and their life outside of work. In that way, the show is pretty similar to Aggretsuko. However, rather than being a satirical piece about the normalization of some pretty atrocious behavior and abuses of power, Wotakoi opts to take a much more straightforward, mostly non-serious romantic comedy route in its story.

In its own case, the series focuses on the main characters’ otaku tendencies, with each of them having their own unique interests within the otaku space. Narumi likes writing Doujinshi, as well as reading manga and watching anime. Her partner in crime Hirotaka is a solo gamer, spending most of his time on what appears to be a Monster Hunter-like game. Hanako is a cosplayer who focuses on male characters, and Taro is pretty much just your average manga reader who likes Yuri.

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What I like most about the premise of Wotakoi is really just the admittance that, well, being an otaku is weird. Though it may be true that gaming and anime are pretty mainstream at this point, it does not stop those in professional environments from laying judgment. Coworkers, bosses: they are just that. Being ridiculed for weird hobbies is still pretty common.

I have said before that anime relying on relatability to drive narratives is a problem, and indeed, it still is. However, given how likable the series is overall, it can slide.

Nothing Lasts Forver, or Does It?

While the existence of the childhood best friend trope kind of confused me in the past, I can understand it a lot more now. It is comforting, at least, the idea of falling in love with someone who knows a lot about you, maybe even more than yourself. In that regard, Narumi and Hirotaka’s dynamic is both entertaining and heartwarming.

The two of them do not always know what to do or say. Sometimes they will avoid each other out of embarrassment, or they simply will not ask each other for help. It feels like a stretch to call this a feature of every relationship, but for two people who are reuniting after probably a decade, their relationship makes sense.

Hirotaka’s character, in particular, is fairly interesting in this regard. It is obvious they show decided to introduce him as aloof and unintentional. However, as Wotakoi goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that their separation never really changed how Hirotaka felt for his childhood friend. The person who was there for him always is the one he wants to be with, and that is pretty nice 🙂

A-1 Just Pictures

Considering the best thing A-1 Pictures has made outside of Wotakoi in the last half-decade is probably Kaguya-Sama, it feels weird that they have bothered to focus on anything else. After all, their track record for popular shows is Fairytail, Sword Ass Online, and Seven Deadly Frames (not my joke but I screamed when I heard it). So…yeah, maybe they should keep it a bit more lowkey.

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As far as actually animation goes, this is also admittedly nothing special. The animation can largely be described as just fine, although there are plenty of scenes where the character movements feel a lot more expressive than in your typical rom-com series. My favorite parts are probably the gaming ones where the crew gets together to play an MMO, as the movements and character designs for those scenes I can only describe as incredibly cute.

Musically there were not a ton of stand-out pieces. Again, it all kind of felt just fine. The exception to this critique is the opening and, to a lesser extent, the ending, both of which had me bopping my head along.

Conclusion

Wotakoi was a definite surprise for me. It was not a series I was expecting to get much out of but ended up being incredibly entertaining, even if I would put some other series in its lane a bit ahead. For those that have the time and are looking for a solid romantic comedy with an otaku spin, this is the series for you.

75/100


How do you all feel about Wotakoi? Let me know in the comments.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

Special shoutout as always to our lovely patron Jenn for being incredibly awesome

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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