Convenience Store Boy Friends Review

convenienceStory:
Two friends fall in love with two female classmates. Their stories will span an entire year.

Violence:
Pretty much nonexistent here. Not even nose bleeds. There is a character death off screen, but nothing scary is shown.

Language:
Another tame sector. Outside of sh-t and the occasional d-mn, nothing to report here.

Nudity:
Yet again, tame stuff. Nothing worse than bare man chests for swimming are seen. No fanservice at all, really. And I won’t lie, it was nice.

Theology/mythology:
Outside of one character making good luck charms for her classmates, nothing to put here.

Personal impression:
By all rights I could have marked this as an all ages show, but I’m erring on the side of caution due to the serious content, which isn’t kid centered stuff. And, yes, that does mean that this title drags a bit in places. The combination of serious tonality with a lack of any firm plot means we get a decent amount of aimlessness, at least at first we do. However, I found this show to be surprisingly grounded for a drama. The relationships actually make sense a decent amount of the time. So aside from a “plot twist” at the end, everything that happens is completely within the realm of possibility. In turn this made the emotional pull a bit stronger for me. I prefer logic to the over-the-top grandeur some shows are so addicted to these days.
All that said, overall this is still a pretty bland show. It has some decent ideas, but applied them in such a laidback manner that little gets done overall and some plot points just straight up get forgotten in the mix.
The animation reflects the tone well, decent enough at times but lacking in consistent quality, especially at the end where production takes a rather sharp drop (still backgrounds in place of moving animation, for example). The music is also all over the map, going from rather nice soft piano and violin to strange arcade-like music you’d find in Harvest Moon (I’d swear that was the “going into town in spring” theme).
Overall, this isn’t a bad show. But it was definitely rushed and likely a fuller title meant to waste time between higher grade shows rather than actually contribute anything new to the genre.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: PG
Genre: Romance, drama
Production: Studio Pierrot
Company: Dentsu Tech/BS TBS
Official streaming: crunchyroll

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Hanasakeru Seishonen Review

hanasakeru_seishounen_ostStory:
Kajika has lived a rather unusual life, growing up the daughter of a rich business man with ties to the oil industry, she lived for most of her life on an isolated island with only a family friend and tiger as company. When she leaves that safety for Japan, she never expected her introduction to “normal life” to be so short as her father soon involves her in a “game” to find her future husband…

Violence:
There’s a small amount of this over the nearly 40 episode run as political intrigue and civil war are large arcs. The blood is rarely seen and when you do see it, the amount isn’t over-the-top and the focus doesn’t linger.

Language:
Nothing extreme here. In fact, d-mn might be the only common one, but even then entire episodes can go by without an issue so it’s pretty light over the entire series.

Nudity:
This is where my YA rating comes in. We are spared actual nudity for much of the show, with the only straight offenders being still “art” scenes where a character is nude and curled up so no details are shown. However, there is a plot arc of two characters obviously having sex. We don’t see anything, but it’s pretty obvious what they did. The show handles this arc in a very tasteful manner, but it might be an uncomfortable topic for younger viewers to face if you don’t see it coming first.

Theology/mythology:
This is a strange one as the lead has ideas about reincarnation that she talks about quite a bit. A main arc of the show also deals with a country that views their rulers as god(s) and have an entire religious system built around that. If these kinds of topics make you uncomfortable, you might want to skip this one as this topic comes up pretty regularly.

Personal impression:
This is one of those shows I wanted to like far more than I actually did. And I can truly say it’s a real shame and a half.
If you’re new, I love a solid plot containing political intrigue. And this is something we don’t get much of in the shoujo genre. But this title had a LOT of it. Which should have made me happy, right? Well, the issues, as usual with shoujo works, were entirely due to the characters. And the sickest part was that the lead should have been an exception to the usual “listless/powerless girl everyone loves” stereotype. But… she wasn’t? For while she seemed to have a lot of agency and power, all of her actions centered on the male leads and no one else. It didn’t help that she was also the enraging “naive girl” type on top of that. She would occasionally display moments of wisdom and such but only when the plot called for it and it became less and less common as the show progressed. Her actions are incredibly selfish at all times and she never learns better by the end of the show. In fact, the show seems to push the message of “follow your heart” BS to the end. Which, I’m not entirely against, but when it’s a message not balanced with the idea of considering others and safety and basic common sense? Not a fan.
In the end, I think the lead’s many issues come from the faulty idea that a “strong” character means a pushy or bossy one that simply bullies her way through everything. The fact that she was interchangeably smart and insanely stupid for the plot’s convenience doesn’t help at all.
And yes the male leads are cliche. At this point I expect nothing else from this genre so there ya go.
As for art and music, both were reasonably stable, though mediocre throughout. The opening and ending were forgettable and while I liked the political stuff going on in the last part of this show, the drama caused by the lead’s stupidity made it far less enjoyable than it could have been. But, hey, the romance actually gets a conclusion, another rare thing for this genre. So… woowho?

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 39
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Romance, drama, action
Company: NHK
Production: Pierrot Co ltd
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

Yona of the Dawn Review

yona-of-the-dawnStory:
Yona is a princess sheltered in the palace from all harm by her pacifist father, King Il, and her friend and servant, Hak. But when Soo-won, a noble Yona has long been in love with, visits on her sixteenth birthday, she is thrown into a world of conspiracy against the crown by the murder of her father and the call for her own execution. Forced from her protected life, Yona must learn to survive if she is to not only live, but also take back her kingdom from her father’s murderer.

Violence:
Episode one ends with the murder of a king and there is a decent amount of blood involved. Although pure action shows like FMA still contain more violence overall, this show doesn’t shy away from showing blood here and there. Also, various characters are fighting for their lives multiple times and some are from abusive backgrounds.

Language:
Tame by US standards, the worst it ever gets is a few b-sterds and b-tchs here and there. It’s rather rare, but not absent either.

Nudity:
Despite the set up, there is little to no nudity in this show. A few shirtless scenes for the men and more than one threat is made to Yona of a sexual nature. However, none of these threats are carried out and, thankfully, the show stays tastefully away from blatant forms of fanservice.

Theology/mythology:
If the idea of prophecies and people being born with abilities passed down from dragon god-like beings bothers you, this show won’t be your favorite. While we never get the clearest picture of what the dragon beings were exactly, we are told that they allowed their powers to be harnessed by select humans. I was never really sure if only power was passed down or if the dragons themselves were reborn. Regardless, re-incarnation is heavily implied in some form or another, to be sure.

Personal impression:
I expected this to be another typical shoujo, reverse harem, period thingy. Thankfully the first episode ends promising something entirely different and I couldn’t have been more pleased. While the occasional scene here and there still panders to shoujo stereotypes, this show impressed me by never staying there for long. Yona may start out weak enough, but her emotional struggle with both her father’s death and the betrayal of her kingdom, not to mention the reality of her father’s political decisions on real people she meets outside the palace, are shown very realistically. Yona’s love and frustration over those who have betrayed her are clear early on and hold true as she slowly hardens and changes throughout the show.
And speaking of characterization, her journey is slow, but all the more powerful for it. No one learns to defend themselves and others overnight and Yona takes up nearly the entire show before she’s able to not only survive, but also fight for her kingdom. Her journey to master archery, as well as come to terms with being the cause of death for another human being, are taken seriously and as such I was nearly jumping out of my seat once she managed to stand completely on her own.
Unlike other shows where the main character very suddenly becomes a warrior, this show takes a realistic amount of time to get Yona to such a point both physically and mentally.
While the show has a few pit falls (the dependence on magical powers and legends is a bit distracting), overall I really enjoyed this series. It’s one of the most realistic female hero stories I’ve seen in anime and definitely worth a try. I just pray it gets a second season as there’s just far too story left by the end to ignore…

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 24
Language: Sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Adventure, action, romance
Company: FUNimation
Official streaming: Crunchyroll and Hulu