Amanchu! Review

amanchuStory:
Futaba Oki is extremely shy and anxious about pretty much everything. Especially about changing schools and moving so far from the city. But when she runs into the eccentric, cheerful, scuba loving nerd Hikari Kohinata, she not only finds a friend, but also learns how to control her anxiety and embrace the joys of everyday life in a small town.

Violence:
Besides the occasional slap-stick punch, nothing to report.

Language:
Another section blissfully free of worry.

Nudity:
We get an episode where the girls try on new bikini’s and, of course, bust size comes up. We don’t see anything though, so besides some talk of chest sizes and such, not much to say here.

Theology/mythology:
One person might comment in passing about how humans came from the ocean originally, but that’s about it besides one character hanging a rain charm up in the hopes of keeping it from raining one day.

Personal impression:
This was definitely one of my favorites from this last season, which was rather unexpected for me as I thought this show was going to be a typical (aka boring) slice of life. Thankfully, while it never becomes revolutionary, it definitely has a charm unique to itself. One of the main leads suffers from anxiety. Her personal journey of not only becoming more in control of it, but also learning to trust her new friends and growing skills, is handled at a gentle, but realistic pace.
Perhaps most importantly of all is how her new friend reacts to her anxiety- with compassion, cheerfulness and love. Too often in anime anxiety and other such traits are dismissed or used as cheap stereotypes. But this show not only portrays it accurately, but also introduces characters that are understanding and caring towards it. Our anxious MC is never expected to get rid of her anxiety, but rather not let it control her. It’s an important distinction. She’s also never told she has to face it alone. Instead she is constantly reminded to trust and ask for help from her friends. At the same time, there are some battles she does face alone and I couldn’t help but feel proud that she faces them bravely, knowing that even if her friends can’t physically fight along side her, they support her in spirit and it allows her to press forward despite her fears.
As someone who suffers from functioning anxiety, I can safely say that this show is the most accurate portrayal of what living with it can be like day to day, yet is still a joy to watch as it remains cheerful and bright throughout (unlike Orange, which deals with another mental illness but is far more dark). Overall, if you don’t mind stepping back from the actions flicks for a bit, this is a really great, sunshine-lovin’ title.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: PG
Genres: Slice of life
Company: Production I.G.
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

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B-Project Review

b-projectStory:
Tsubasa is a new hire at Gandala music. Before she can adjust to going from working retail to being inside the music industry itself, she’s assigned as the new A&R for a large boy band called B-Project.

Violence:
Aside from some scrapes and one character being sick enough to cough blood once or twice, there’s not much here.

Language:
Some sh-ts, but other than that we’re clear.

Nudity:
Shirtless scenes with the boys is as bad as it gets.

Theology/mythology:
For most of the show, seeing shrines in the background is it for this section. However, one episode decided to have one of the boys sensitive to spirits and to have a good ol’ “careful, that sword can posses people” arc. It’s only for one episode, but it’s there, for reasons I couldn’t explain even when drunk.

Personal impression:
This show is horrid. I mean, it wasn’t the worst of the season, but it got pretty close. Now, to be clear, I didn’t go into this show with any real hope for it being super good. I knew the best it could manage would be mediocre.
But it couldn’t even manage that. Know why? Because the creators realized, having only three episodes left, that they needed a dark evil mastermind enemy, complete with a “your father killed my entire family” back story. So they pulled one out of thin air, destroyed everything and, in the last five minutes of the last episode, brought everyone together again for rainbows and sunshine and fireworks.
I’m not even kidding, there were fireworks. Or the MC imagined there were. It was really hard to figure out if what was happening was real or not at the end, what with plane doors being jettisoned and people flying onto a stage in an empty auditorium on ropes…. To call this show a mess would be an understatement. Which is so weird because for almost the entire run, this series was plain-Jane. Nothing bad, but nothing good. It’s almost as if the creators had a spazz attack and it bled right into their work. Maybe that’s what happened.
In any case, the art, music and everything else besides the last three episodes or so are stereotypical to a fault. If you like pretty boys in your shows, but want the romance stuff to take a hike for a bit (surprisingly, romance plays almost no role in this show), this one is ok.
Until, ya know, those last few episodes. Then you’ll wonder if the whole damn show was one giant prank.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genres: Drama, slice of life
Company: ABC Asahi
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

The Morose Mononokean Review

moroseStory:
Hanae just wants to have a normal, fun life as a high schooler, but when he accidentally steps on a yokai, everything changes. Suddenly he can see yokai everywhere and they aren’t what he thought they were. Oh and he may have been hired to be an assistant for an exorcist. So much for joining a school club.

Violence:
Characters are threatened to be injured and there are a few scary scenes, but no real violence comes upon any of the characters, thus keeping this show reasonably tame.

Language:
Aside from some sh-ts and such, another tame section.

Nudity:
None to speak of.

Theology/mythology:
If the idea of yokai bothers you, just straight up skip this title. Aside from that, there’s also a shrine or two and one yokai that is seen as a “god.” No conversations about worship or whatnot, but if any of this makes you uncomfortable, this isn’t the show for you.

Personal impression:
I’ve been so spoiled by shows like Natsume and xxxHolic, that shows like this are just kinda… there.
That isn’t to say this series was bad, parse. It’s not. It has decent characters, some cute themes and the art and music are consistent. But nothing is spectacular. In fact, it remains rather average all the way through. Even the overall plot remains standard. No darker enemy changes the “issue of the day” structure and the big “climax” to the show resolves itself with little effort.
If you enjoy yokai centered stories, cute shows with little on the line and buddy “comedy” set ups, this might be your ticket. But if you find this a little too straight forward and bland, give the above mentioned shows a go.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: supernatural, fantasy, comedy
Company: Yomiuri Telecasting Corp  (YTV)
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Orange Review

orange2b1Story:
Naho lives a pretty standard existence. She’s the incarnation of shyness itself, is blessed with a very supportive group of friends and together they enjoy their high school years to the fullest. One day, Naho receives a strange letter in the mail. It’s supposedly written by her future self and instructs her to save the life of a boy who enters her school the very next day.

Violence:
A few scrapes and such, but nothing serious. However, one character commits suicide off screen, another attempts it more than once and the topic of death comes up a lot.

Language:
Some sh-ts and a few instances of the b-word being used.

Nudity:
We’re in the clear here besides some shirtless scenes from the guys.

Theology/mythology:
Going to a shine on New Years is the only thing to put here.

Personal impression:
This series is pretty clean, yet I’ve decided to rate it for young adults simply due to the heavy themes within. Not going to lie, this show was really hard to get into and, once I did, I had more than a few moments where I wasn’t sure how I felt about the show overall. I still don’t.
What this show seemed to be doing at first was set up a fantasy world, but have the characters act as if the strange and totally impossible things were normal, aka magical realism, in a sense. It rubbed me the wrong way, as did the numerous times Naho’s shy behavior was used to an extreme for drama and/or she was blamed for other characters’ actions. However, as the show progressed, it started to become clear that this series was trying to tackle another issue all together.
Depression.
A weighty issue that few who don’t experience it personally can understand, depression is a mental illness that can be deadly. Seeing a counselor and possibly taking medication can be the difference between life and death for some. And the case of dealing with the death of a loved one who committed suicide, well, that’s even more complicated.
Once I understood what the show was actually trying to portray, the viewpoints of the characters began to make far more sense.
Even so, addressing depression is a hard path indeed. Where support is a requirement for those suffering from depression, it’s also vital that those around know that there’s no magic combination that can cure or “save” someone permanently from depression, and thus it is no one else’s “fault” that the person who is depressed has, ya know, depression.
As someone who has anxiety, I’m happy to see mental illness being tackled. At the same time, I know for a fact how slippery the slope is. See, my main issue with this show, and what still puts me a hint off, is this series’ constant trend of characters blaming themselves and cross examining themselves on every little, tiny issue, to try to keep Kakeru from committing suicide. Because the reality is, everything around someone can be fine. Everything can be perfect, even. And someone might still be drawn dangerously to suicide because depression is a mental illness and not always triggered or sustained by outside forces (sometimes, but not always).
On the other hand, I understand why his friends feel like it’s their job to do what they can. They love him and want to help. That’s good. But I still believe you should be careful when discussing what to do to help those with depression because there’s really only so much you can do. Unfortunately, it’s a demon only the depressed party can personally fight head on. All those on the outside can do is constantly offer support and encouragement. You can’t take that burden away,  no matter how much you love them. If someone with depression closes off, refuses to talk to you and even verbally abuses you, it is not your job/duty to force help upon them. You don’t have to abandon them or anything, but you also shouldn’t blame yourself for their behavior.
See how much of a slippery slope this is? The issue is a complex one and while I appreciate the show for addressing it and I do think it captures depression very well, I also feel some wrong conclusions can be drawn from it.
Overall, this is not a bad show. Not at all. It’s actually very good, considering the monster of a topic it took on. But if you watch it thinking about how someone you know behaves exactly like Kakeru, you need more than just friendship. You might need to do some extra research on depression and possibly seek the help of a good counselor. Depression is serious and can be life threatening.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Drama, slice of life, fantasy
Company: Toho
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Sweetness & Lightning Review

sweetnessStory:
Kohei is a single father and school teacher who can’t cook to save his life. Feeling like he’s letting his small daughter down, he begs culinary help from one of his students who’s mother is a professional chef.

Violence:
None. Kohei gets one or two toddler kicks to the face in temper-tantrums, but nothing even remotely serious.

Language:
Another one we’re safe on. There might be one or two spots where an older character curses to themselves, but sh-t is as harsh as it ever gets.

Nudity:
Another one you don’t have to worry about. Nudity free!

Theology/mythology:
Aside from a magical girl show being a favorite of Kohei’s daughter, nothing much going on here either.

Personal impression:
It’s pretty rare for me to review a show that is safe for anyone to watch, but I’m always happy when I do. And, I won’t lie, I enjoyed this nice, cheerful break from the usual drama in anime.
That said, near the end of this show’s run, we did get a bit more melancholy thrown our way. Even so, this show remained largely bright, which was nice considering the other shows in my line up this season.
As far as characters go, no one stood out as super unique, but nothing was too terribly written either. There were hints of character development, but not as much as I would have liked. The art and music kept up with the theme of the show and the mood and remained consistent. And, blissfully, we avoided any strange romantic entanglements.
Overall, this is a great little feel-good show. It has a few serious moments, but they don’t last too long and thus you almost always end on a good note.
If you want a nice, safe, bright show that makes you want to eat and cook up a storm, this is a great watch.

Personal rating: All ages

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TVPG
Genre: Slice of life
Company: Sumitomo Corp
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

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