GRANBLUE FANTASY: The Animation Review

granStory:
Gran would like nothing more than to leave his village and set off to find his father, long sense missing after he pursued a tale of a mysterious island. But those dreams go on hold when a girl plummets to the forest, dropped from a military ship and with little knowledge of what she is.

Violence:
This is the only reason this show got bunked up to YA. Creatures are cut in two and in a dream sequence our heroine is walking in a lake of blood. Although this show still remains tame overall, it’s juuust enough that I felt I needed to bump this one a rating higher. That said, even if violence isn’t your thing, it’s really not that bad in this one. I’d say this is an avoid for you if any blood at all sets you off. Otherwise, this show is pretty tame.

Language:
Tame. Sh-t and d-mn are the most common, but they happen rarely.

Nudity:
We’re spared this for most of the entire show. Until the last two episodes. Then the overly skimpy outfits and boob fixations began. A shame as most of the show is in the clear for this sector.

Theology/mythology:
The ideology of this world doesn’t seem to put much stake in God or any normal variant. However there are these “beast” creatures that seem to have demigod abilities and are treated as “guardians” of specific elements or locations. If that kind of thing bugs you… Also, magic is used in this world. No details are given on how it works though.

Personal impression:
Remember that Phantasy Star title awhile ago? Yeah, this is like that one but with less character development and far more obvious “see isn’t this a cool world? Wouldn’t you like to play this as a game?” vibe.
Overall A-1 really did a nice job with what they were given. The world is crisp and the animation nice to look at. It’s nothing unique at all, but it’s not bad either. In fact, the relationship dynamics between the main cast are kinda cool. No typical anime romance triangle garbage. Just old school comradery. And we get two female leads that have a solid relationship with each other that has nothing to do with the male lead. So not a horrible show character-wise.
Until that second to last episode when they dump in every other party member you could have chosen instead in the game version out of nowhere. But if that makes you cringe, it gets better. The last episode goes back and switches to a female lead and the story doesn’t change AT ALL. It’s such an obvious shrill for the game that it hurts. To make the pain more grotesque they then take full advantage of the new all female cast and drag the rest of the episode into a -yooou guessed it!- beach vacation. Because anime boobs. I should have known the clean of fanservice angle would die, but this method really takes the cake.
The only redeeming bit about that last episode is how surprisingly more reliable the female lead seems than the male, Gran. When we finally see her in combat, she often isn’t even looking at the enemy, slicing one after another as if she’s making a grocery list while chatting on the phone. Think Wonder Woman on crack. It was actually kinda cool, in a funny and very unexpected way.
Overall, this show isn’t offensive (until the end) but it also offers absolutely nothing new. If you like the game or like generic RPG stuff, this will do the trick. But there’s nothing else to be had here. Nothing at all.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
Company: Aniplex
Production: A-1 Pictures
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

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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

Interviews With Monster Girls Review

interviewsStory: 
Takahashu Tetsuo is a new high school teacher who is doing research on demi-humans, people that are half monster, half human. Luckily for him, four of them go to the same school he works at and are chicks. What could be weird about this?

Violence:
Super low, but there is mention of violence as well as artwork images when characters are discussing old legends. Nothing super graphic or frequent, however.

Language:
Another low one. Aside from d-mns, this is pretty tame language-wise.

Nudity:
This is where the bulk of the YA rating from me comes from. One of the four (only four??) demis is a succubus. Yeeeah. Expect big boobs on this one, the “jokes” that comes with em and uncomfortable comments from the males concerning this character. Oh and bath scenes are common, though we see no details.

Theology/mythology:
Clearly this show contains supernatural elements. Vampires, succubus, snow women and dullahans. Aren’t chill with that? Skip this show. Even though it’s a slice of life in tone, the supernatural topics are addressed every episode.

Personal impression:
This show is a confusing one for me. Not because of the plot or having complex characters, but simply because of the show’s general tone towards certain characters. Primarily towards the only succubus character in the show. She’s a teacher (so at least we don’t have the added issue of a teenager with stranger danger scenes), but there are more than one or two scenes in which her nature (which she has almost zero control over) villainizes her. In one particular episode it is suggested (heavily) that because of her power of awakening sexual desire, cases of assault and such are her fault/men can’t control themselves around her. One could probably write an entire academic paper on all the issues with that, but to highlight only one: her “power,” according to the show, is a release of extra pheromones, not brainwashing/control. Therefore, yes, the males CAN control themselves, a fact evidenced by the main male lead teacher who -shocking!- controls himself rather well. However, other characters continue to insist that control isn’t possible, placing all blame on succubus for incidences. It’s a nasty element to this show that tainted it near the end rather badly for me. And that’s a shame because overall this show was pretty nice. Not amazing, but decent. The music and art weren’t anything to chat up, but the overall progression of the story and characters was quite pleasant. There’s even an arc right near the end that addresses the demis and their regular classmates trying to understand one another better. Considering how the demis’ unique needs and restrictions due to their natures can easily be seen as symbolism for various minority groups, the arc was handled rather brilliantly as it concluded that treating those who are different as if they aren’t can actually be more damaging than acknowledging differences and embracing them. It’s a heavy topic for a slice of life and I gotta admit to being impressed with the outcome. The only downside of it was that it didn’t happen sooner. Scenes of the demis and normal students interacting was surprising sweet and I would have REALLY enjoyed more of that. I actually think focusing more on the students and their personal relationships with their classmates would have been a FAR better show than their teacher trying to “get” them. Especially as it’d sound a lot less condescending…
In short, this show was definitely one of the better shows of this last season. Not the best, but decent. Something this season was low on. Soooo, props?

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Slice of life, fantasy
Production: A-1 Pictures
Company: Kodansha Ltd
Official streaming: Crunchyroll