Girlish Number Review

a18676-1837812794-1472196440Story:
Chitose Karasuma is a newbie to the voice acting business. With almost no experience and an unexplainable amount of self-confidence veering into egomania, she lands a lead role for an upcoming anime that has more than a few kinks to work out…

Violence:
Super low here aside from some slapstick stuff, but even then it’s pretty rare.

Language:
Another low one. A few dumb-ss comments and maybe one or two b-words, but that’s over the entire show. This one was pretty light. But then, most slice of life titles are so long as the leads aren’t super violent or sarcastic in nature.

Nudity:
A bit more here. We have one or two flashes of a bath scene with rear nudity that the girls are voicing over. It’s very quick stuff and besides that we just have the required bikini episode and insinuating talk here and there concerning the girls being “easy on the eyes.” It’s not a progressive show by any stretch of the imagination, but I did appreciate not being subjugated to an insane amount of fanservice. Especially considering the set up.

Theology/mythology:
Besides seeing temples in the background and the girls tying their wishes to a tree branch, nothing to speak of here.

Personal impression:
Another anime riffing on anime production? Well, I still like learning tidbits about what the industry is like on the other end. When I was a kid, finding out how things really worked was like watching magic disappear from the planet, but now that I’m older it’s a bit encouraging. Because I see that this huge project really just stared with a few people and slowly grew and changed over time, but even so, it was still up to a key group. One person is therefore capable of far more than we think, often times.
Putting that aside, however, this show was a blander look at the industry than other takes in the past. Shirobako was enjoyable to me because we were clearly dealing with adults in their field. It was also far more focused on how things were actually getting made due to the lead being part of the producing team. While this show does reveal a bit of the production side of things, usually in the form of negotiations with the author and directing teams, its main lens is squarely on the shoulders of our lead, Chitose, who, quite frankly, I found to be annoying around 80% of the time. While I was able to finally warm up to her slightly by the end, I left this show feeling lukewarm over her character development, which wasn’t much progress at all (we also don’t get to witness her acting improving all that much, but have to depend on what other characters say about it). In fact, two side characters get further along in their stories than Chitose does. Although that hardly saved the show for me as their “development” was painfully cliche. It was the old “my parents are kinda rude to me, but they mean well and I eventually find that out and we ignore how rude they are because intent excuses people from being jerks” run through. And while I understand that Japan is very family-first minded, this particular storyline is getting beyond old.
In the end, the story itself was focused far more on drama and cute girls in the industry than on the industry itself, so if Shirobako was too much production for you, this might be more your speed. Just don’t expect any new territory to be broken here. Or many questions on voice acting getting answered either.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Slice of life, drama
Production: Diomedea
Company: Sentai Filmworks
Official streaming: Yahoo View and Crunchyroll 

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Flip Flappers Review

6f23cba5886611b854a147890757cdfa1475754586_largeStory:
Cocona is a straight laced student, dedicated and always on time. Until she bumps into a strange girl named Papika who drags her down into a strange alternate world called Pure Illusion where they must find magical crystals that supposedly have wish granting abilities. So much for perfect attendance.

Violence:
At first it seemed blood violence would be low in this, but around midway it jolts up and by the end it’s decently high. Bullet wounds, monsters cut in half and spewing blood… Think between Black Cat and FMA levels.

Language:
The isn’t too bad. A rare b-word in a few spots, but mostly just sh-ts and d-mns.

Nudity:
Ok, here’s where it gets strange. This series is obviously trying to address some queer questions, but unfortunately they stumble into sexulizing it here and there. Like both characters suddenly in lingerie with one implying they should “have some fun together.” Nothing actually happens, but it’s awkward to say the least. We also have a villain early on who has a bunch of other female “creatures” (?) in bondage poses. It’s really brief, but undeniably inappropriate.

Theology/mythology:
Super powers that create other dimensions, a cult that surrounds these special people, if any of that bugs you, this isn’t for you.

Personal impression:
My thoughts on this one are… complex. On one hand I liked a few of the questions that were brought up for the lead. I felt her musings on her emotions were actually realistic and came about pretty naturally despite the strange chaotic set up. But that was one of my main issues with this title. The choatic nature of it all. The first few episodes are kinda all over the map, as if the creators had some characters and a vague story idea, but no clue how to execute it. Eventually they got into a better rhythm, but it was still rough enough to leave me lost here and there, wondering if I missed a scene and backing up to make sure. And the decent fight scenes about midway through were lost pretty fast as well, the animation getting shotty at the drop of a hat. While we’re spared the horrid fate of still scenes with dialog only (a sure sign that production fell WAY behind), the separate realities don’t really keep in line symbolically with what the characters are going through at the end and more than a few cliches kept the climax from feeling all that, well, climatic. In the end I simply found myself relieved it was over. A shame as a few scenes here and there showed promise. If they had a tighter vision and team, this might have been a better show.
Of course, staying away from sexulizing scenes that contained queer exploration would have been nice. In fact, staying away from the sleazy scenes period would have been nice, but whatever.
In the end, if you’re cool with trippy visuals and moe and conveluted plotlines, you might like this one. It’s not horrid. It just… could have been better.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Language: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Fantasy, adventure
Production: Studio 3Hz
Company: Showgate
Official streaming: Crunchyroll and Yahoo View

WWW.WAGNARIA Review

news_xlarge_www_workingStory:
Daisuke Higashida is unfortunate enough to be the oldest child of a family of idiots. When his father loses his job and doesn’t get another, he’s forced to work part-time himself to get enough money for his family to live. He also has the horrid luck of applying for said job at a family restaurant filled with crazy people.

Violence:
Slap stick only for this one, though some of that slap stick does use blood and such as a visual aid now and again so be warned.

Language:
The usual TV14 levels of d-mn and sh-t apply.

Nudity:
Besides some innuendo in a few spots, nothing to put in this section, which is nice.

Theology/mythology:
One character can see and communicate with the dead, a running joke in the show. Her mother is also an exorcist. One character is supposedly a ghost herself. If these things bug you, you might want to skip this show.

Personal impression:
This show was easily the funniest of the season for me. The cast was solid and not as predictable as I had originally feared. Which isn’t to say this was super unique. Not quite. But it was very enjoyable as it was also a title I ran into by accident. At the time I started this one, no one else was really talking about it.
Art and music don’t stand out in the slightest, and the plot doesn’t really exist, so really the comedy is the only selling point for this title. But it sells it well. Even the couples that form as the series progresses continue to be comedic landmines, despite (or perhaps because of) their happy endings. If you’re worried romantic angles will take away from the comedy, this is one title that goes in the opposite direction. It gets funnier. There’s even a bit of character growth thrown in near the end.
Overall, if you’d like a comedy with little to no depth and/or ever wished Spock was an anime lead, this might be the one for you (our main male lead is known for being pretty emotionless on the outside).

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Comedy, slice of life
Production: A-1 Pictures
Company: Aniplex
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Kiss Him, Not Me Review

kiss-him-not-meStory:
Kae Serinuma loves boy love! And by “love” we mean she’s “obsessed.” So when she manages to attract the attention of four very handsome young classmates, she can’t help but ship them together, much to the young men’s distress.

Violence:
Besides slap stick, comedy nose bleeds and a few flashes to the shows Serinuma likes, not too bad. This said, one episode contains some violent history on a warlord with makes the blood more serious as it’s not for comedy purposes. These flashes are brief however.

Language:
Not much here besides some sh-ts and d-mns.

Nudity:
While there’s more fanservice of males than females in this show, it’s still surprisingly tame. Heck, Yuri on Ice had more shirtless scenes and suggestive camera angles than this one. So besides some suggestive talk between anime fans on their ships, not much here.

Theology/mythology:
Remember my mention of Japanese history up top? Well, that episode contains a strange arc where the characters supposedly battle a ghost. In the end it’s heavily implied they were all accidentally high off bad mushrooms (I’m not even kidding), so theoretically it never happened. Still, there’s a decent amount of temples and such in this show so if anything like that bugs you, be warned.

Personal impression:
This title was hilarious. While it still had more than its fair share of cliches, it also had a rather unique approach to drama as the heroine in question was nearly too otaku to function. A fact the male leads not only had to come to terms with, but accept. They also had to deal with the concept of loving Serinuma regardless of what weight she was.
Oh, I didn’t mention that earlier. The series actually starts out with our lead being overweight and not really seen as a romantic option by anyone (at first). She suddenly loses weight after her favorite character in a show dies and she goes into mourning. I was afraid at first that the issue of the male leads loving her simply for her body wouldn’t be addressed. Thankfully, I was wrong and the series actually took that one on. While the result was still rough around the edges, I appreciate how this show made it clear that Serinuma was lovable and desired, regardless of what her body looked like.
As for art and music, this show had nothing new to offer. And the ending wasn’t new either. If you hate shows that pretty much end where they began, this title isn’t for you. I’m just going to warn you now that this series follows one of the biggest shojou tropes ever: keeping the reverse harem intact at all costs. Interestingly enough, this didn’t put me off the show. Considering our lead’s personality, it was oddly fitting. Even so, it’s worth noting for those out there who want more heavy duty character progression in their anime.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Romance, comedy
Production: Brain’s Base
Company: TBS
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Yuri!! On Ice Review

yurionice-pngStory:
Figure skater Yuri Katsuki suffered a huge loss during the Grand Prix, leading him to fall into depression and nearly give up on his career. But when the world champion skater Viktor Nikiforov sees a online video of Yuri’s rendition of his own winning performance, he shows up in Japan to declare himself Yuri’s new skating coach forcing Yuri back into the rink!

Violence:
Not much here besides some kicking and falls, mostly used for slap stick effect.

Language:
Some b-words on rare occasion, with a more steady appearance of sh-ts and such, as usual for TV14 fare.

Nudity:
We actually get a decent amount of heavy handed masculine fanservice in this show. Think Free! here. So lots of suggestive angles for specific characters, implications in dialog now and again, and a few revealing bath scenes. Compared to the usual fanservice at the expense of female characters, this show might be seen as tame. Even so, it’s by no means subtle, so if this kind of thing bugs you, I’d stay away from this show.

Theology/mythology:
Besides some brief mentions of mythology, there’s not a ton to discuss here. We do see a small memorial set up for the dead, namely the MC’s dog, but these things are not explained in detail nor discussed.

Personal impression:
Welcome to my first review for 2017! I must say that this is a somewhat fitting one as it was by far the most hyped show of last season. In fact, the fever over this show was perhaps the highest I’ve seen all through 2016 and I feel it was a fanbase reaction very similar in tone to Free!, that fanservicy swim number a few years back that everyone and their cousin died over.
That said, I do feel as if this show was a bit more focused on the sport, which was nice as I enjoy watching figure skating myself. And there in lies the biggest pull of this show for me: the animation for the skating sequences. Despite a few scenes being rough here and there (the DVD release is supposed to have the “polished” versions), overall the skating is beautifully animated and quite realistic in movement. The camera angles are also very well done and keep the scenes interesting and new depending on the character’s emotions at the time, despite the skate sequences often being the same routine.
This isn’t to imply that the story and characters don’t have their own pull. They do, but not as much as I was hoping when I had started this show. The first few episodes of this series have a bit more introspection for the main character, but as the series closed the competitions overtook this aspect and conversations, in-depth ones at least, between leads became more rare. The last episode in particular felt a bit rushed.
In the end, this series wasn’t at all bad. It was quite good and had some nice moments of both mirth and drama that were visually and emotionally well executed. The music is pretty spot on too (despite the theme being oddly Americanized). There’s good reason behind the hype for this one. My desire for more heart to hearts between leads is simply a personal taste choice. Overall this series did very well for itself and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing fancy at figure skating for the visuals alone.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Langauges sub and dub (dub through FUNimation only)
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Sports, drama, comedy
Studio: MAPPA
Company: TVAsahi (US – FUNimation)
Official streaming: Crunchyroll