Hiiro No Kakera Review

Hiiro-no-Kakera-hiiro-no-kakera-32777150-500-494Story:
Tamaki comes to a small village to live with her grandma for awhile, only to find she’s really a reincarnation/descendant of some ancient princess/shrine maiden whose fate is to guard/seal away a demonic sword which was actually from the gods but they don’t like it either and if it activates they get bent out of shape because anime. There are also magical items to collect and a homunculus with big boobs because this totally wasn’t a game first or anything.

Violence:
I admit to being a bit surprised this show had the backbone to show blood at all, but it does remain minimal. Cuts and drops coming from the mouth, but no loss of limbs or the more extreme stuff found in other YA action shows.

Language:
Another tame sector. Sh-t and d-mns are the worst it ever gets and it’s not too common.

Nudity:
Aside from some ol’ fashioned shoujo candy (bare chested guys) here and there, nothing to report.

Theology/mythology:
Demons, reincarnated animal god things (usually these would be yokai, but I felt that wasn’t always the case this time. Think this one is a mixed bag) and super powers galore in this title. There’s even a hint of lore about the world’s creation, though that doesn’t seem to play a big role in the plot. But the demons and powers being passed down the generations bit? That’s unavoidable. Oh and there’s the homunculus thing, a reincarnated body, pushed into the story near the end, just in case physics and science in this world weren’t convoluted enough for you.

Personal impression:
If you’ve been craving a shine maiden must seal evil power away and is guarded by a group of mostly arrogant and stereotypical pretty boys anime, here ya go. That’s all this show is, really. I mean, points for them trying a bit harder than some, what with some pretty heavy lore being dragged around here and there, but overall? Nothing to be noted here outside the usual RPG game stuff. Even the music sounds a bit too game-like at times. The boss battle music is particularly cringe worthy.
The art is a bit hit and miss as some frames will have very sloppy hands and arms that were clearly done by a small, cheap, side studio last minute and the script is pretty much the same deal. A few moments showcase solid dialog, but it gets ruined quickly by massive plot holes, characters with either no motivation or ambitions so shallow that the tiniest amount of light will dry it up in seconds, and outright murders being pushed under a rug because “there was no other way.” Like, seriously? There were multiple murders and we’re just supposed to shrug and move on? The criminals are still around and free too. Aren’t we going to, like, arrest them or something?
Overall this show is mediocre at best, but the romance is sorta concluded so it has that over a lot of other anime. Oh wait, did I mention that the main conflict in the entire show disappears at the end because of a “wish?” Like, really, the entire point of the show is blown out of the water at the end. So why did I watch this again? What was the point? Stand up to your grandma? Pretty sure that’s all the lead ends up learning.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 26 (seasons 1 & 2)
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Action, drama, fantasy, supernatural
Production: Studio Deen
Company: YTV
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

Natsuyuki Rendezvous Review

Natsuyuki RendezvousStory:
Rokka’s husband died young, leaving her his flowershop and numerous sad memories of promises left unfulfilled. When a young man joins her staff and falls in love with her, she has to reevaluate if she wants to try love again or remain a widow… Having her dead husband’s ghost hovering around her all the time, unbeknownst to her, isn’t helping things for her new love interest either. He can see the ghost. And the ghost isn’t pleased with his wife being hit on.

Violence:
Pretty much non-existent. However, death is a big element of this story so keep that in mind.

Language:
Another section that isn’t too bad. A few d-mns and a rare b-word but overall gentle on the language.

Nudity:
This is where the rating comes in. Although full on nudity doesn’t really happen, it’s super obvious that two characters have sex at one point and one character even straight up asks another for sex. It’s not done in a gross manor, but this show is definitely not shy about this topic and thus I feel it’s really best suited for older audiences.

Theology/mythology:
Ok, we can’t get around the ghost thing. Rokka’s dead husband shows up immediately and the idea of being possessed and such plays a huge role in the plot. If themes like death and ghosts and spirits make you uncomfortable in any way, skip this.

Personal impression:
This is a slow but very sweet show. And I don’t mean sweet like My Love Story or Snow White with the Red Hair. I mean sweet as in gentle and soft. The romance takes time and, because it’s between two adults, one of whom has quite a bit of baggage, it’s rather mature. Commitment for the long haul is a huge aspect of this romance, rather than the usual focus simply on feelings alone.
My big negative on this show falls under the typical romance stuff: male characters who feel like forcing themselves physically on a female is sweet or “decisive” and get frustrated when the female doesn’t “just choose already.” Yeah. Not cute. But something I’ve sadly come to understand isn’t going to end in this genre any day soon soooo yeah. These scenes don’t last long but they’re obnoxious.
The art and music are solid fits for the tone of this show, soft and mostly cheerful, though surprisingly somber when needed.
Overall I think this is a solid romance title. While the supernatural aspect of it made the drama a biiiit thick at times, considering how hard it is to cover grief over lost loves accurately, I feel like this show did a decent job of it. If you want a more mature romance and/or some adult leads for once, this show might be a good one for you. Just remember that action is not to be found in this one. At all.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 11
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Romance, drama
Company: Dogakobo
Production: Fuji Creative Corporation/Sentai Filmworks
Official streaming: Crunchyroll