Your Lie in April Review

yourlieStory:
Kousei Arima was a child prodigy. His piano playing was perfect, allowing him to easily win competitions around Japan. Until his sickly mother passed away, leaving him traumatized and unable to hear the notes he’s playing. Years later, Arima is pulled back into the realm of music thanks to an energetic female violinist.

Violence:
We have a classic tsundere on our hands so expect her to beat on our lead for no reason at all. We also have an abusive parent and those scenes are pretty scary to see. She beats her son until he bleeds. This show doesn’t show blood every episode, but when it comes up, it doesn’t shy away. Be well warned.

Language:
D-mns and sh-ts are usually the worst this show sees. And it’s not a frequent issue.

Nudity:
We don’t deal with this too much either. Aside from a painfully stereotypical meeting between leads where he “accidentally” takes a picture when her skirt blows up, (because anime) we avoid nudity all together.

Theology/mythology:
There’s some dark talk about suicide and death near the end concerning a character with a terminal disease. Nothing about God(s) or the afterlife though.

Personal impression:
This is a show that might have been near perfect if it hadn’t fallen for a few horrendous anime cliches along the way. Our lead is an abuse victim. And the feelings he has towards his abuser are complex, further confused by the fact that she had a painful illness, which may or may not have furthered her violence. As an aside: I do not endorse this as an excuse but simply something that may explain why she became so vicious later in life. An important distinction as this anime almost uses it as a straight up “get out of jail free” card to “clear” the mother from wrong and get the audience to feel sorry for her. This is a position I do not agree with at all and am extremely uncomfortable with. However, I can understand how the victim is confused over this, as most are. Abuse is often layered with love, making it difficult for the victims to seek help and leave the situation.
This is important to note as two aspects of this show made this abuse story increasingly hard to bare. One was the fact that another family member (and many other people) actually witness an episode of the mother’s abuse, to the point of drawing blood. Nothing is done. Everyone in the scene simply watches. The family member even watches with sympathy as the abuser cries after the fact, as if this should make us feel as if her beating of another was simply a sad mistake.
Another painful aspect was our tsundere female lead. She often beats on our abuse victim simply for her own enjoyment/because she has zero control. She often takes out frustration on him, mirroring his mother’s earlier abuse. It hurts to see, especially as the show tries to make it look like typical anime love interest ooze. It’s not. It’s straight up abuse. The fact that this leading lady is also very ill simply complicates matters. While it is true that having a terminal/painful illness can bring out the worst in people at times, the show often used this as a way to excuse this violent behavior, rather than explain where it came from. This is obvious because she has this horrendous behavior even when not feeling sick. It’s typical tsundere trash and I’ve never been more disgusted with this trend as I do in this show. If they had made her a normal character, with her violence only appearing during times of pain and extreme stress, it would have been a more powerful window into the lives of those who fight terminal illnesses. Instead, her illness is a sick play for drama and sympathy towards her abusive behavior, just as it was towards the early mother abuser.
Add all of that sludge to the side story of girl next door falling for the lead and picking up the tsundere role while the usual female is too sick to punch people for no reason. Oh but we should feel sorry for her because falling in love is so very painful and goodness life is so hard and tragic.
If it hasn’t become obvious already, I was not at all a fan of this anime. Which is sad as I truly do believe it might have been a good show without these issues. Abuse is real and what victims feel towards their abusers is not a simple matter, especially when the abuser is a parent. And the trauma felt by artists does impact their work in various ways. If this anime hadn’t felt so compelled to take on every nasty cliche it could find in the female cast, this show could have seriously addressed some really strong topics. As it was, it just felt more like it was blaming victims for “being weak” when they have episodes of trauma and excuses terminal illness patients from all wrong doing because, well, they will die soon so it’s not really their fault.
I will admit that finding out what the “lie” was at the end was nice, as was the unexpected apology by the lead for her behavior. Even so, the way this series handled itself was just painful for me to watch overall.
If drama is your jam, you’ll probably love this. It has great art and the music is wonderful. But if you, like me, have a vendetta against the tsundere trend… skip this. I’m serious. You won’t like this one. I sure didn’t.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 22
Language: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Drama
Production: A – 1 Pictures
Company: Kodansha USA
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

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Nyanko Days Reviews

nyanko-daysStory:
Konagai Tomoko is a shy girl who owns three cats. She meets a popular girl who owns a cat. They become friends. The “cats” are chibi cat girls. That’s it. That’s all there is. How in the world was this funded again?

Violence:
None.

Language:
None.

Nudity:
None. The “cats” are tiny cat girls, but we’re spared anything gross or sexualizing. Although what with the whole loli thing, it’s hard to tell sometimes…

Theology/mythology:
Aside from cat girls (a thing which is never explained), nothing here.

Personal impression:
This whole series is around a half hour long grand total. It has no plot. There is no point. The characters aren’t horrid, but they aren’t good either. I can see this mini series as existing for two reasons. 1) Filler between other shows airing on TV or 2) promos to get a full series deal. Regardless, it seems like a real waste of money. No matter how short a show is, it still takes money to make it and I just don’t understand how this little thing could make up its own production costs. Especially when, due to having no actual story, it’s so forgettable.
Of course, if you need something cute and kid friendly and non-offensive (generally), this show is just fine. It’s rare for me to be able to mark a show as All Ages, so woowho for that. But besides those reasons…. this show has nothing unique to offer. Unless you love watching cute cat girls. Like a lot.

Personal rating: All Ages

Episodes: 12 (episodes are 2 mins long)
Languages: sub
Official rating: n/a
Genre: Cute things, slice of life
Production: EMT Squared
Company: YTV
Official streaming: crunchyroll

Warning Zone: Seiren

seirenThe What:
Our main wimpy guy has no ambition or talent. Irritated that one of his female classmates seems to have more direction than he does, he forces himself to go on an academic retreat with a friend. But the girl who annoys and arouses him ends up there too because anime.

The Why:
This series doesn’t show that much, but it implies a lot. Our main character has rather… graphic imaginings about his classmate. We don’t see breasts or butts, but we hear his dialog ramble. Around episode 3 or 4 the combination of sexual inner dialog and his fantasy of seeing her pee was too much and I cut ties. Technically we don’t see much other than a lump of our lead’s erection, but with the twisted dialog and wondering camera… it’s very obvious that this show is just barely staying from an M rating. But let’s be honest. It requires an M anyway.
That being said, I can see why a few people might like this show. It’s pretty brutal about the typical awakenings of the teen sex drive and it is nice to see a lead actually wish to better himself outside of the female lead. It has a few.. interesting points. But it has far too much perv for me to stick around…

March Comes in Like a Lion Review

march-comes-inStory:
Rei Kiriyama is a 17 year old pro shoji player (Japanese chess) who makes more at what he does than most adults. Even so, he feels incomplete…

Violence:
Nothing much here. Most of the story revolves around shoji, which isn’t exactly a contact sport. That said, there is a bit of domestic violence implied with a few characters. Nothing too graphic, but it’s uncomfortable at the least.

Language:
We get spared anything too bad in this sector as well. A few d-mns is about as bad as it gets.

Nudity:
Aside from one scene of a girl changing, with a bra flying through the air, nothing here either. And fear not. It’s played for comedy and we’re spared any details.

Theology/mythology:
Nothing here besides seeing a few characters at shrines, praying for success and such. No discussion is had on these things, however.

Personal impression:
This was a wonderful show. It’s second season was one that seemed to lose momentum for many reviewers, but I personally enjoyed the second half better than the first. We get a lot of character growth from our lead. That said, I can see how if one pauses too much between seasons, it can feel as if there’s a lull in the story as the flow from the first to the second arc is pretty seamless.
Overall, I really do recommend this show to anyone who needs some solid characters and a heartfelt story. Not to mention artsy graphics that add to the wonderful “show don’t tell” theme within the series. The only thing I will warn about would be that this anime is like literary fiction put to screen. This isn’t really… genre stuff, which might put off people who are used to genre works. Technically you could say this is a sports anime… Except it’s not. It’s not traditional drama either (drama doesn’t happen just to happen, but often only occurs as a natural state of progression for story and characters). It’s not a love story or an action show… And I certainly wouldn’t call it a slice of life. This is just one of those shows that’s hard to put in a box and is all the better for it. If the slew of genre sludge that gets pumped out every season has you down, give this show a shot. It might just be the breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 22 (seasons 1 + 2)
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Drama (not sure how else to mark this)
Production: Shaft
Company: Aniplex
Official streaming: crunchyroll

Gabriel Dropout Review

dropoutStory:
Gabriel is a perfect straight A student in heaven. Until she goes to earth for her studies on humans and discovers gaming.

Violence:
Slapstick stuff only in here. Some comedic nosebleeds is as graphic as it gets.

Language:
Pretty tame for TV14. Sh-t is the most common, often said by the lead or her “rival.” Can’t recall it getting much worse.

Nudity: 
Considering episode one opened with a joke about our lead’s underwear transporting to class without her (and all the boys praying to it), I expected this show to be far more of a fanservice mess than it actually ended up being. Actually, the worse pantyshots and such occur in the first few episodes. After that it tappers off and… it stops. Which I’m grateful for, but just goes to show that they probably didn’t need it in the first place.
Ah, there is one episode in which one of the big breasted of the cast goes through her day terrified her bra will snap because she’s outgrown it (dear men: we usually know something is getting tight far before it reaches this point, just sayin’). Nothing is shown, but it makes her chest a focus for much of the episode.

Theology/mythology:
Considering the setup, religion is definitely an unavoidable aspect of this show. There are “angels” and “demons” and zero commentary on actual religion. The closest you get to any kind of discourse on such things in a Christmas episode where jokes are made towards the demons about celebrating the birth of Christ and it is countered with “Christmas is more of a commercial holiday in Japan.” Which is funny because it kinda is in the US at this point too. Anyway, that’s as “serious” as it ever gets. Don’t expect any religious realism here. This setup exists for the laughs and not for any other purpose.

Personal impression:
This is one of take it or leave it shows for me. It had a few chuckle-worthy moments, but not enough for me to say it was actually funny. But it was cute and upbeat and had the best coffee shop owner ever, so I’ll give it a pass for how dull it ended up being overall. In fact, some of this show’s run-on gags were the best gags (see coffee shop owner), unlike other comedies this last season *cough*DragonMaid*cough*.
The art and music match the overall result of the show: nothing insulting nor compelling to report. All in all, this show was more of a filler for me to watch between other things. Though, again, it was nice to get that break from hardcore fanservice, given the moe cast and all.
Clearly directed and made by men though, as evidenced by a big breasted girl going through gym in a normal bra versus a sports bra. Seriously guys, we don’t do that. Unless it’s laundry day/we completely forgot. But we typically don’t forget those things. We just don’t.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, comedy
Production: Doga Kobo
Company: Kadokawa Pictures
Official streaming: Crunchyroll