Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru

Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru or Oreshura is one of those harem anime that is so underrated it's not even funny. Think I'm joking? Yeah, no. I'm not. I'm really not.

This story is freaking intriguing. Seriously interesting. There are few times where I find myself watching an anime and thinking it's really original. Most of the time, anime simply re-hash other anime. Plots are reused to the point where you know exactly what to expect in an anime, regardless of whether it's your first time watching it or not, simply based on what the genre is. Shonen anime are full of fights, monologues, and power levels that are over 9,000. Harems are all about the sexy shenanigans, fan service, and a bunch of women falling in love with a dweeb because he's nice. Shojos are either about a female who falls in love with an abusive male, or a female who tries not to fall in love with the popular pretty boy who's actually really nice because of... reasons. Anyway, you get my point. Simply by knowing the genre, a person well-versed in anime can predict the course an anime will take. Well, guess what? This was one of the few anime that I couldn't predict.

Let us start with the story. Eita is a young man who doesn't believe in love. Masuzu is a young woman who's popular, pretty, always being asked out by the boys, and also doesn't believe in love. Through a twist of fate otherwise known as blackmail, Eita becomes Masuzu's fake boyfriend, to keep the other boys from constantly asking her out. While this isn't necessarily original, it is rare story line to find in anime, and thus, gets a leg up on other harem anime, which are generally about some random girl falling in love with a nobody because he helps her out once. In this, the main characters don't even like each other at first, much less fall in love at first sight, and I like that. I like that a lot.

This anime's strongest point is most definitely it's humor and characters. Like all slice-of-life, harem, comedy anime, the driving point in this story is the combination of humor, real-life aspects like school and such, and the cast that keeps things interesting. The humor in this anime is surprisingly refreshing, not because it's original, but because it takes what isn't original and makes it witty. It doesn't overuse one joke to the point where it's no longer funny, and there's actually a decent amount of drama to balance out the comedy. Another thing that I liked was the lack of major fan service. While there is a bit, it's not enough to detract from the story itself. This also means that, rather than relying on the tits of their female cast, Oreshura relies on the witty dialogue, intelligent story line, and characters' personalities to keep the series going. And while all of the characters are recognizable by their tropes, there is enough backstory, character development, and personality for each character that I don't think, "that's the tsundere/yandere/kuudere/himedere," every time they show up on screen.

Finally, the last reason I like this anime: the kissing. No, I'm not joking. No, this isn't a prank. Yes, I s**t you not. One of my greatest dislikes of the romance, harem, ecchi, whatever genre is that, in spite of containing a heavy romantic theme, there is almost never any kissing. Some of my favorite anime have been docked points because of this. Fortunately, Oreshura does not suffer from this affliction. While there isn't a kiss every episode, there's no shortage of kisses either. This helps satisfy the romantic fanboy in me, which I am very grateful for. Seriously, that damn inner fanboy, which sounds a lot like Issei Hyoudo for some reason, can get really freaking annoying if you don't feed him his daily dose of romance.

Artwork: 8/10
Animation: 8/10
Sound: 8/10
Characters: 9.5/10
Story: 9/10
Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Total: 8.75/10

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lances N Masques

Because I review anime that I didn't like, along with anime that I did like, I am now reviewing Lances N Masques, which is an anime that I couldn't watch past episode 2. Please remember that everything I write here is my opinion. You are free to agree or disagree. If you enjoyed this anime, more power to you.

The first thing you need to know about Lances N Masques is that it's about a romantic entanglement between a 7-year-old girl and a teenage boy. Now, even though I'm not a big loli fan, I get the appeal that they have. As Sora from No Game No Life once said: "Cuteness is life. Cuteness is justice!" That being said, most lolis are, at the very least, the same age as the main character and simply have the appearance of a little girl. To me, this anime felt like straight up pedophilia. Maybe I'm misunderstanding things, maybe I'm taking the whole "hero rescues the princess" theme that this anime has going for it too literally. However, the fact that my first thought upon watching this anime was, "the main love interest is a child," tells me that, even if this anime isn't actually about some dude who wears a mask becoming romantically involved with a 7-year-old, it's far too close for me to feel comfortable watching it.

Following the creepy romance between a teenage boy and a 7-year-old girl, there's also the other caste to consider. No one in this anime has any depth to them. The girls are all flat, one-dimensional characters that could have been taken from any harem anime and tossed in here. The main character also has a very bad case of White Knight Syndrome, which I also call Feed the Harem Syndrome, since that's really all it is - an excuse for the main character to have a harem, or at least gather a bunch of women around him. None of the plot for this anime really stuck with me either; the humor fell flat, and the only character worth mentioning is the aforementioned little girl - and since I'm not into little girls, that wasn't a strong enough point for me to continue watching it. In short, this anime, in my opinion, was not worth watching.

Artwork: 6.5/10
Animation: 6/10
Sound: 7/10
Characters: 4/10
Story: 4/10
Personal Enjoyment: 2/10
Total: 4.9/10

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Spice and Wolf, Volume 5

Before I begin this review, can I just say, "Oh, my god! Oh. My. God! OH MY GOD!" There, now that we've gotten this out of the way, I can tell you all that volume 5 of Spice and Wolf was unbelievable. Amazing. Incredible! At least until the end, where the author must have suffered a brain fart.

After arriving in the town of Lenos, Lawrence and Holo take a respite from their travels, but an unprecedented opportunity for Lawrence presents itself. However, the bigger the opportunity, the bigger the risks.

This volume was definitely the one with the most romantic tension between Lawrence and Holo. In the beginning, we get to see how truly close these two have become. Their banter is delightful, and Lawrence shows that he's beginning to grow used to being in the presence of the wisewolf. At the same time, we can see that Holo still has something of a leg up on him. However, tensions rise and Lawrence and Holo are soon faced with a problem that's been on their mind for a while now, but was never put into words, because doing so would mean confronting that issue.

Immortality. It's an unusual concept. We see this a lot in other stories, but here, it's meaning is clear. Holo is immortal, a goddess who lives within the wheat. Lawrence is a human. He has a finite lifespan. More than that, however, is the fact that Holo, as an immortal wisewolf, can only enjoy something for so long. Eventually, when you have had something for a certain period of time, it no longer becomes this new, amazing thing. That video game system you own? You'll probably discard it in a few years after it's become obsolete or you grow bored with it. That awesome new car you just bought? At some point, you'll begin to want a new one. In that same way that we humans eventually grow bored of the things we own, Holo realizes that she will eventually grow bored of Lawrence's companionship. Now she wants to end their journey before the time she spends with Lawrence becomes stale. Throughout the entire story, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering if these two would really split up.

While I loved how the tension in this story rose, the one thing that I did not like about this volume was it's ending. It felt so anticlimactic. With so much build up, tension, and drama, I was really expecting an exciting end. What I got instead was a lackluster end that made me go, "wait, is that it?"

Despite how the ending was less than I'd been hoping for, I can't say that I'm dissatisfied. I still enjoyed most of this volume, and the drama throughout the rest of the book makes up for the lack of a strong end.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Reviewing Process

Because of the limited time I have to write reviews, I'm making a change to how I review manga. From now on, I'm going to take a manga and review each new chapter that comes out. However, I'm only doing this for a single manga. As most of my time is spent writing stories, I don't have much time to write reviews.

Right now, I am only reading three manga, so these are the three that I can review. I want you, the readers, to select which manga I should review with this poll. The results will determine which manga gets reviewed.

What manga should I review?

The Seven Deadly Sins
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
UQ Holder
Poll Maker

Saturday, November 7, 2015

To Love Ru Darkness Season 2

What is there to say about To Love Ru Darkness Season 2? Well, it's just as ecchi as the last season, if not more so. There are more boobs, more butts, more crotch shots, more... well, you get the picture. This is a show that pushes the border between ecchi and hentai. Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that no one has sex in this anime, it would be hentai.

That being said, while some other people probably wouldn't enjoy this anime because, well, it's a lot like watching a really funny porno without sex, I like it. Yeah, I know. It's perverted, and the plot centers around its perversion. How could anyone like that, right? I guess I'm just a perv, then. The fact is, I think it's a really funny anime, and while I'm not the kind of guy who goes out and buys figurines and hug pillows and calls them my "waifu," I do enjoy admiring beautiful artwork - and the females in this anime are are gorgeously drawn. The improbable scenarios that somehow always end with Rito either groping someone or having his face shoved into their crotch are funny, too.

Now, despite how I enjoyed this anime, I'll admit that I don't think it was as good as the first season - or rather, I don't think the story is as enjoyable now as it was back when I first started watching. Truth is, I feel like the anime is going somewhat downhill. The reason is simple: Plot progression. While I understand that this anime's plot centers around it's ecchi, I do wish there was more progression with the story itself. Considering how much time is spent with Momo trying to enact her "Harem Plan," one would think that Rito would have either just given in by now, or grown a pair of balls and told her no. However, that isn't what's happened. In fact, nothing has changed between now and when the first season of Darkness aired. This lack of any real development bothers me.

Something else about this anime that I really did not like is the lack of Lala Satalin Deviluke. In the first series, Lala played a major role, which is natural, as Lala is supposed to be the main heroine. In To Love Ru Darkness, she takes a back seat and we only see her occasionally - usually when Rito falls into her boobs. I know most people prefer Momo over Lala, but I'm the opposite. As far as likable characters go, I feel like Lala is much more likable and fun than her younger sister. I know what you guys are thinking, "But Brandon! Momo is the one who came up with the Harem Plan!" I am aware of this, believe me. However! That is exactly why I like Lala more. Unlike Momo, who is trying to push her harem plan onto Rito, Lala simply wants what is best for Rito. I feel like her love for him is more pure than her sisters. I also enjoy Lala's bright personality and outlook on life. If Lala had one weakness, then I would have to say that it's being too nice. Lala is the kind of girl who seems to think everything will work out, and she doesn't seem to try to progress her relationship with Rito. I know this is contrary to what I said earlier, but I do wish she would at least make an attempt at becoming more intimate with Rito. Regardless, Lala is still my favorite female out of the whole bunch, and I wish she'd gotten more screen time.

Artwork: 10/10
Animation: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Story: 6.5/10
Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
Total: 8/10