Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Bride is a Mermaid Anime Review!

A lot of romantic comedy anime are often hit and miss. Sometimes they're amazing and sometimes they suck complete donkey balls. My Bride is a Mermaid is a slightly older anime, having been created in the earlier 2000s, about a young man who, through a series of unfortunate events and circumstances, ends up getting hitched to a mermaid—which is kind of obvious, seeing how it's in the title. Fortunately for everyone who is curious, My Bride is a Mermaid happens to be one of the better romantic comedies.

Our story begins when Nagasumi Michishio almost drowns while on vacation. Luckily, he's saved. Unluckily, the person who saved him happens to be a mermaid. To make things even worse, the mermaid who saved him was Sun Seto, daughter to the head of the Seto gang, a mermaid yakuza group. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a law among mermaids that whenever a human sees them in their true form, the mermaid must die in repentance... or something. That part is never explained, but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that this sticky situation can only be resolved without impending death on either side by one thing, and one thing only: Nagasumi and Sun must get married. Too bad her father, Gozaburo Seto, isn't keen on the idea and will do anything to stop this marriage from happening, including murder.

There are a number of aspects that make this anime better than the average harem romantic comedy. For starters, the series doesn't rely on fan service-y gimmicks and threadbare cliches to tell its story. Instead it relies on outrageous events and preposterous scenarios that could never happen in a million years. Things like a submarine suddenly crashing through the gymnasium floor during class, or an epic battle between a mermaid pop idol are pretty commonplace in this series.

Of course, it's not as if the story is free of tropes. However, the tropes used in this anime are used well. Chimp is the perfect example. He's basically the perverted best friend who's only real purpose is to be, well, perverted and humorous. What makes him funnier than most characters of his type is how he's used. A great example is how Chimp can sometimes randomly turn into a “wise old man” archetype character and start spouting ridiculous lines. It's even better because this character archetype was clearly inspired by none other than Master Roshi from Dragon Ball Z.

Going through the episodes, it's clear that My Bride is a Mermaid doesn't contain much in the way of plot, but since this is a romantic comedy, I don't really think that matters. Every episode focuses on delivering off the wall and outrageous comedy, while exploring and further developing characters and character relationships.

Seeing how Sun and Nagasumi are our main characters, it's pretty obvious that they would be the focal point for most of these episodes. However, there are a number of side and support characters who actually get a time to shine. In fact, part of what makes this series better than most is because it gives its other characters enough screen time to properly develop. Even the “Class Rep,” a girl who is so invisible that we never actually learn her name, has several episodes where we get to see her being placed in the spotlight.

This sort of side character development is never more clear than in episode 24, where Kai Mikawa, Nagasumi's rival for Sun Seto's affection, gets a boil on his butt. During this episode, Chimp overhears the doctors talking about Kai and mistakenly assumes they're saying that Kai has contracted a terminal illness and will die soon. Of course, they were only talking about how Kai was insufferable, but he didn't hear that part. The entire episode then deals with Kai as he's treated like a prince, only to learn that he's apparently terminally ill. Despite knowing that what his real illness is—you know, the boil on his backside—Kai ends up believing he's going to die soon, which may or may not be because the entire world apparently said so. This episode would actually be really touching, except you know that Kai isn't really dying, and so the entire episode is just this huge build up for a massive train wreck.

Saying that, the series isn't all fun in games. While every episode delivers a good deal of comedy, there are also some life lessons to be learned, and we get to watch Nagasumi and Sun undergo numerous hurdles as they further their relationship and develop as characters. In most of the episodes, we get to see how these two interact with each other and with others.

One of the most important reasons I enjoyed this series is actually Sun Seto. In a day and age where I feel like a good portion of anime have become standardized to the point where characters are so bland I could replace any one of them with a character from another anime and the story wouldn't suffer, Sun is a breath of fresh air. She's one of those characters that you can't replace. Her personality is unique and every bit as outrageous as the other characters of this series. This allows her to shine as the main heroine.

Episode 22 epitomizes her individuality. During this episode, Lunar requests that Sun act as her boyfriend because she's rehearsing for a movie. Sun agrees. Not only does Sun agree, but she goes all out. The next morning we get to see exactly what Sun's ideal version of a boyfriend looks like. Poor Nagasumi doesn't quite match up. Perhaps it's not surprising, but Sun's idea of a perfect boyfriend is someone who acts like a yakuza thug. She's even got a beard.

It's not just the episodes like this that make Sun a likable main heroine. Outside of having a sweet and kind personality, Sun has these little quirks that make her feel a bit more real, such as her catchphrase, or the fact that she's a complete airhead, or how she panics whenever Mawari—Nagasumi's childhood friend and someone who's life goal is to become a cop—starts talking about following the rules. Little moments like this allow us to see Sun as her own person and not just Nagasumi's trophy wife, which is something that many harem anime suffer from.

Perhaps the prime example of proper main character development is at the halfway point, episode 13. Lunar, a mermaid pop idol and Sun Seto's self proclaimed rival, has fallen in love with Nagasumi. In this episode, her father decides that Nagasumi has to take responsibility and marry into the family, or he will be killed. He's then kidnapped and taken to the Edomae estate. There, he's strong armed into accepting his marriage to Lunar. The timely arrival of Sun, who confesses her feelings to him, sways Nagasumi to take a stand and state that he won't marry Lunar because he's in love with Sun. This sort of development is not only appreciated, but it's also what makes both Sun and Nagasumi more likable than the standard protagonists that newer anime of the same genre have a tendency to produce.

Another thing that I really like is how they properly reuse a joke in a way that, despite having already been used, remains funny even after using it again. In the first episode, Nagasumi and his parents are dragged to the bottom of the sea, where Gozaburo is waiting for them. After they arrive, Masa, one of the Seto gangs thugs and Gozaburo's right hand man, performs mouth to mouth resuscitation, essentially stealing Nagasumi's first kiss. This joke is revisited several times. In fact, whenever Nagasumi is in Masa's presence, he gets all starry eyed. Adding to the humor is the fact that Nagasumi's mother also gets starry eyed whenever Masa is around. This joke culminates until the last few episodes of the season, where we learn that Masa has lost his memory and is coming close to regaining it. This episode features an “out of the closet” joke, in which Sun mistakenly believes that Nagasumi is in love with Masa—much to her husband to be's horror.

Just as important to the series is how the anime had a satisfying conclusion. I've been let down by a lot of romance anime in my time. The biggest problem with harem romantic comedies is that most of them are always open-ended. They make you scratch your head and wonder why the hell you spent several hours watching these characters get closer to each other when, in the end, the main character didn't choose any of the girls, didn't man up, and the romance never progressed even after everything these characters have been through. My Bride is a Mermaid had a truly satisfying conclusion, and it shows that conclusion in the most spectacular manner possible by having a suddenly transformed Nagasumi in place of his usual character design. If you want a good comedy mixed with romance, then I'd definitely recommend you watch this anime.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Accel World Volume 2 - Light Novel Review!

Accel World - Novel 2: Die rote Sturmprinzessin (Accel World - Novel #2)Accel World - Novel 2: Die rote Sturmprinzessin by Reki Kawahara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, what can I say about Accel World Volume 2. Well, for starters, I do not think volume 2 was as good as the first volume. Don't get me wrong, I still highly enjoyed volume 2, but when you compare the personal issues that Haryuki had to overcome in volume 1, volume 2 presents a lackluster personal crises that I feel was less of a crises and more of a plot device to try and mimic the success of the previous volume.

So, the story starts off like any other. Takamu, Haruyuki's friend who got his ass handed to him by Haruyuki himself in the previous volume, has teamed up with Haru and Kuroyukihime. They've begun to expand the influence of their legion. However, Haru seems to be having trouble. Namely, he can't seem to win a single battle anymore.

What I found unbearable about this was that Haruyuki's only strength is in his ability to win at video games. It is literally the one thing he's good at. Now that this has been taken away, I feel like Haru is less than what he was in volume 1—a sort of one step forward two steps back kind of thing, if you will. However, the problem isn't just that Haruyuki suddenly sucks at video games. It's the reason he's become so bad that I take issue with.

Without giving too much away, I can tell you that Haruyuki's issue seems to revolve around his belief that Kuroyukhime will throw him away if he fails. However, this issue was already resolved on volume 1. During the moment where they were about to get run over by a car, Kuroyukihime confessed her love to Haruyuki. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think a girl who confesses her love to someone would throw that person away. This makes the entire personal turmoil Haru feels seem less like a real problem and more like a plot device.

Saying all that, this volume was still a lot of fun to read, and here's why:

There are two factors that make this volume really shine. First was the introduction of a new character: Niko. Niko is a ten year old burst linker and the Red King. Despite being a little girl in real life, her avatar form can transform into a massive fortress that's capable of demolishing entire buildings. She's crass, kinda rude, and has a major attitude—all the things that make her an interesting character.

What really brings this new character into the fold isn't just her introduction and attitude, but what we learn as the story continues. In the beginning, Niko finds out who Haryuki is in Brain Burst, hacks into his family's server, and then pretends to be his cousin... which is pretty damn impressive, if I do say so myself.

After Niko is revealed to be a fake, we learn that her reason for this was because one of her members has the Armor of Catastrophe, which is this supposedly cursed armor that has a lot of history behind it. Toward the end of the volume, we're given some major plot twists that flip everything I thought I knew about Niko onto its head. It was well-done, and it made her personality make more sense. If I had to deal with half the hardships she's dealt with, I'd probably act just like her.

The other aspect about this story that I loved—loved, loved, loved, loved—is how we learn more about Kuroyukihime's past. I said this in my last review of volume 1, which you can find here, but Koyukihime at first comes across as a teenage boy's wet dream. By the end of volume 1, this illusion is shattered and we learn that she's actually just a normal girl with a past that makes her feel a bit like an anti-hero.

In volume 2, we learn even more about that past. We're given an in depth look into her sordid history with the other Six Kings of Pure Color. This adds even more depth to her character and gives us something to empathize with her. She's not just that hot chick who loves Haruyuki for some unknown reason. She has goals and desires and a past that have nothing to do with him. It makes her feel a lot more real.

I also like how she has her own personal issues that she needs to move past. While we don't see everything because the story is told from Haruyuki's perspective, the fact that she has to overcome the regret she feels for her past actions makes her stand out among other light novel female protagonists.

We're not given too much outside of that. Takumu, Haruyuki's friend, has teamed up with him and Kuroyukihime as the third and last member of Nega Nebulus, which is Kuroyukihime's old legion name. This volume has a good deal more action than the previous one, with the entire last third being dedicated solely to a massive battle. Haruyuki is having confidence issues again, which to me, feel like a forced plot device to give him some kind of personal crises, but there isn't much more to the story.

The writing was enjoyable, as always. While I felt like this story wasn't as good as the previous volume, it had nothing to do with the writing, which remains a joy to read. If you wish to read a light novel that is the very epitome of what a light novel should be, you don't have to look any further than this.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Orange - Anime Review!

Every few seasons, an anime will come out that touches you—and I don't mean the tentacle grope kind of touching. It's an anime that touches your heart, that makes you feel a wide array of emotions you generally don't feel, that makes you curse the damn ventilation system, because now you've got this suspicious moisture in your eyes that could have only come from dust particles floating in the air.


Orange is an anime about a group of high school teenagers. It's filled with all the drama, comedy, romance, and things so typical of high school that I almost forgot these characters aren't real. Watching Orange made me remember all of the drama that I went through during high school. Of course, my high school days didn't have any supernatural elements, but whatever.

The first and most important aspect about Orange is that this is one of those anime where all of the characters feel like real people. Naho isn't just a character in an animated series. She feels and acts like I imagine a real girl in high school would act. Everything about her, from her design to her personality, makes me think of the people I knew when I was attending high school. What's more, because of how realistic she is, I found her character to be very sympathetic. From the moment she was introduced, I wanted to root for her, to see her succeed in her goals.

Of course, she isn't the only character. All of the characters feel like real high school teenagers. I have to hand it to the Seiyuus. While Masako Nozawa, the seiyuu for Goku from Dragon Ball Z, recently stated that the quality of voice actors are dropping, I think the people who play the voices of these particular characters did an admirable job. I never once felt like I wasn't listening to a bunch of real teenagers in high school going through life's daily problems. This was especially true during the more emotional scenes. It takes a lot of effort to make your voice sound like you're actually crying. As someone who has tried to fake cry many times to get out of punishments when I was younger, I can tell you this from experience.

I mentioned before that there's a supernatural element involved in here. During the first episode, Naho receives a letter from her future self, which asks her to save Kakeru, the male character who becomes the main love interest and a central point of this anime's plot.

One of the more interesting aspects about this series is the supernatural, time-travel letter itself. I still don't know how future Naho managed to send her past self that letter. To be honest, I don't think we're ever going to learn how it was sent back to the past, even though we get several flash forward scenes of Naho and the other characters ten years in the future. I actually think this is a good thing.

One thing about a lot of anime is that they really like explaining how something came to be, or how a particular power works. In shonen anime, characters will go into this detailed description about how X-technique works by compressing the space-time continuum of this world's inter dimensional whatever, and I really don't fucking care. Like, seriously, I don't always need to know how something works. In fact, sometimes, most of the time, all that exposition does is bog down the story with needless explanations.

Orange gives us an aspect involving time travel, but it doesn't give us anymore than that, allowing the viewers to come up with their own ideas about how the letter came from the future. Of course, it does go into a minor exposition about how time travel creates alternate realities whenever the future is changed, but that actually furthers the plot by presenting a series of conflicts later on.

Perhaps the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of this anime was watching Naho as she tries to help Kakeru, who suffers from depression because of his mother's death. In the future, Kakeru committed suicide because he felt guilty about his mother dying. The letter that her future self sent to Naho was done with the intention of saving Kakeru's life, because future Naho has lived in regret ever since he died.

Dealing with someone who's suffering from depression can be hard. Anyone who's ever had depression or watched as someone they love dealt with depression can tell you this. What makes this particular plot so moving is how accurate they portray someone who's depressed. Kakeru tries to act happy whenever he's with the others, but there are points where he gets moody and seems down. He sometimes snaps at Naho, even when she hasn't done anything wrong and only wants to help, which is another accurate portrayal of people who are depressed.

Outside of the story itself, I was really impressed by the artwork. The character designs differ vastly from most other series. In particular, the attention to detail on their faces made these characters stand out. They all have differently shaped eyes, which are designed to help reflect their personalities. Likewise, the way their mouths are formed could easily denote what kind of person they are.

The greatest example of how these characters personalities are reflected in their appearance can be found in Saku and Azusa. Azusa has wide, bright eyes, a slightly larger mouth than the others, and is almost always seen smiling. This immediately let's viewers know what kind of personality she has. The bright eyes denote her enthusiasm. She's probably a very optimistic person, and the larger mouth, which we usually see smiling, tells us that she A) probably likes to talk more than the others, and B) has a brighter outlook on life.

In contrast, Saku has narrow eyes, which he wears glasses over, and a small mouth that rarely smiles. The narrow eyes denote a more serious character than the others, but since he's with a bunch of rowdy people, this also means he's going to play the straight man more often than not. The smaller mouth also means that he won't talk as much. When he does talk, it'll always sound serious, even if what he's saying is completely ridiculous.

In this day and age, where the artwork in anime has become very standardized, a style like this stands out a lot.

Something interesting that I discover while watching this anime is how I found myself not shipping the OTP. From episode 1 and onward, we're shown that Naho is in love with Kakeru, and that love sometimes seems reciprocated and sometimes it doesn't. However, the longer this series went on, the more I found myself rooting for Suwa.

I feel like Suwa has gotten the short end of the stick in all this. Throughout the entire series, he's done nothing but support Naho's love for Kakeru, even though it's blatantly obvious that he loves her. He's also more supportive of Naho than Kakeru is. He's that friend who constantly hangs in the background, always there to catch Naho when she falls. But because Naho loves Kakeru, nothing happens... which is kind of funny because the future Naho is married to Suwa.

On the whole, the series is touching and deals with emotional issues that some people might find uncomfortable. I think this brings out a unique quality that we don't often see in anime. To anyone who would enjoy a heartfelt romance, drama, and hints of supernatural time travel, I'd recommend this anime to you.

Friday, September 9, 2016

New Game Anime Review!

I think 2016 has been a great year for anime. We've had a number of excellent series come out, including the second season for Shokgeku no Soma and a new season of D. Gray-Man. However, while we've had a lot of good anime, there were still a lot of bad anime. Fortunately for everyone involved, New Game is one of those anime that is actually highly entertaining despite not sounding all that exciting.

So, the premise for this anime is pretty basic. You've got Aoba Suzukaze, who, immediately after graduating from high school gets a job with a video game company. Now, I'm not gonna go into how unrealistic this is, nor am I going to harp on about how someone who doesn't know how to model would never get a job in character modeling. While this is unrealistic, I don't think it necessarily matters, and to me, it doesn't take anything away from the series.

Like most slice of life anime, this show doesn't have any real plot. It's basically giving us the daily life of Aoba as she works at creating a video game with her fellow game developers. For the main cast outside of Aoba, you've got Hifumi Takimoto, Yagami Kou, Ijima Yun, Shinoda Hajime, and Tooyama Rin. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of these characters are girls, and all of them are exceedingly cute.

Each member of the cast seems to represent a different life-style. Hifumi is an excellent character modeler, but she's very shy around people and doesn't like to talk much, though she's apparently super friendly when texting. Ijima is sort of like the loli of the group. Not only is she short and young-looking, but she wears classic lolita clothes and has a tea set that she sometimes breaks out during work hours. Shinoda is the enthusiastic and always moving animator. She strikes me as highly athletic, and Tooyama Rin is the hard working and respectable art director. All of them have a personality that vastly differs from the other, which sometimes leads to comedic missunderstandings.

My favorite character of the series, however, has to be Yagami Kou—and no, it's not just because she likes to wear nothing but a pair of panties while she's sleeping. Yagami is probably the most interesting of the group outside of Aoba, and I would say she's even more interesting than our main character. She's always staying late at the office to get her work done, which makes her seem very dedicated to her profession. She lives, eats, and breaths character design. However, for as hard working as she is, she has some really odd quirks and seems super lazy about things like her appearance. Of course, the biggest of those quirks is that when she sleeps at the office, she doesn't like to wear pants.

Like I was saying before, a lot of the anime is based on these characters interacting with each other and causing some comedic misunderstandings. A great example of this was in episode 5, where Rin and Yagami were working late. The topic of their conversation somehow ended up on how Yagami always sleeps in her underwear. Yagami said that it's a lot more comfortable and that Rin should try it. Rin refuses. However, after Yagami falls asleep, Rin wakes up and decides to see what it's like. Naturally, Yagami wakes up to find Rin without pants on and teases the hell out of her.

This sort of interaction is what makes this anime so worth watching. Yes, there isn't much of a story, but not every anime needs to have a story to be enjoyed. It's the little things, the small details, and the every day interactions, that make it such a fun show to watch.

Something else that I want to discuss is the artwork. Now, I don't usually talk about the art because I honestly don't care very often. Artwork in anime has become pretty generic these days thanks to studios like A-1 pictures, who you'll probably know as the people that produced such anime as Sword Art Online and Asterisk Wars.

The artwork for New Game is incredibly cute. The colors for the characters are all very bright and vibrant, and their eyes are large and have a reflective quality that makes them seem more expressive than most anime characters. This also gives them an innocent appearance, which is used to further highlight the nature of this anime.

The nice use of vibrant colors for the characters and plainer colors for the background serves to emphasize what this anime is about and makes the characters pop out more. There are also times where the world around our characters will disappear to be replaced by sparkles and various colorful backgrounds. This enhances the cuteness to “oh, my god too much fluff!” levels. While that can sometimes detract from a story, in this case, I feel like it merely highlighted what this story was about.

One thing you'll notice as you continue watching this anime is that there are no male characters, and there shouldn't be. First off, this anime isn't a romance. It's just an anime about cute girls doing cute things. Second, part of the charm to this anime are the various yuri moments that happen between our characters.

The perfect example of this is actually the first meeting between Aoba and Yagami. When they stand face to face for the first time, Aoba blushes, the background changes to one of vibrant rainbows, and a heart suddenly pops up between the two. There are numerous moments similar to this one, which helps set the tone and mood of the series.

If there was one failing of this show, it would be episode 6, which is the episode that doesn't involve Aoba working with her colleagues. I understand that the purpose of this episode was to show what everyone's life was like outside of work. However, compared to the other episodes, where I got to enjoy watching all of the cute and funny moments between Aoba and her co-workers, this one didn't have the same level of humor. That said, it does help introduce Nene, Aoba's best friend who becomes a part-time worker as a game tester, so I guess you could say this episode was sort of like an introduction episode.

All that said, the biggest question on everyone's mind—at least, I hope it's the biggest question on everyone's mind—is whether or not New Game is Worth watching. That would be up to you. I personally found this show a joy to watch. If watching an anime that's about cute girls doing cute things is something you like, then this show is definitely for you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Accel World Volume 1 Light Novel Review

Accel World Manga, Vol. 1 (Accel World Manga, #1)Accel World Manga, Vol. 1 by Reki Kawahara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, I have just had my mind blown. I've been reading a lot of light novels recently, from the witty dialogue of Spice&Wolf, the impeccable world building of Log Horizon, the poetic prose of Strike the Blood, and the hilariously stupid yet highly intelligent plot of No Game No Life. However, in all that time, with all those light novels, I have never once finished a volume and said, “This is what a light novel is all about.”

However, today, I am going to tell you this: Accel World is what light novels are all about.

The story starts off with exactly what I want to see in a series like this—our main character. There's no unnecessary exposition, no purple prose. We're immediately introduced to Haruyuki, a seventh grader who's short, fat, and gets bullied a lot.

What struck me about this introduction was how we're shone that Haruyuki is being bullied from nearly the moment he's introduced, turning him into a sympathetic character from page one. Now, being an anime/manga/light novel fan, I've dealt with my fair share of bullying, so I understand where he's coming from. However, he's got it hundreds of times worse than I ever did, which makes me really empathize with him.

After being introduced to Haryuki, we learn more about the world itself. The story is, believe it or not, the sequel to the light novel series Sword Art Online, which every anime fan should know about by this point. It's set several decades after SAO, and the world has changed drastically. The age where gamers wore unwieldy helmets to dive into a fake reality are no longer needed.

Now people have nuerolinkers, which are like microchips that have been implanted into them around the time they're born. This not only allows them direct access to the net whenever they want, but it means almost everything in their daily life revolves around the digital data being constantly fed to him—and of course, the neurolinker also allows people to enter a digital world whenever they want.

I have to give Reki Kawahara some major props here. I was hooked on this story from the moment I started reading it. He really knows how to suck readers in. His story is surprisingly concise, yet it delves into the mind of Haruyuki so well, presenting his trials and tribulations in such a way that I was rooting for him from the moment the volume started.

The digital world, that is to say, the world where people can leave their physical bodies and throw their subconscious into a false reality, is Haruyuki's only solace. During lunch, he secretes himself in a bathroom stall, dives into the virtual world, and spends his entire lunch playing games, so as to avoid the constant bullying he always receives.

During one of his dives, he travels to the game that he normally plays—only to discover that his most recent high score was utterly destroyed. He's shocked. And he's even more shocked when he discovers who it was that defeated his previous score.

Kuroyukihime is the girl that everyone loves. Boys want her and girls want to be her. She's basically the embodiment of a teenage boy fantasy. While she at first comes across as too perfect, it's easy to realize that her seeming perfection is nothing more than the skewed perceptions of Haruyuki, who feels so inferior to her that everything she does seems perfect to him. It's a great example of an unreliable narrator, and it's one of the writing traits that I feel Reki Kawahara does best.

Haruyuki is invited to lunch by Kuroyukihime, who claims that she has something to tell him that will change his life forever. Against his better judgement, he meets her for lunch..

As the story progresses, I've noticed that Haruyuki is exceedingly self-conscious about other people. He dislikes crowds or being the center of attention. When people do pay attention to him, his self-loathing becomes more and more apparent. This is another piece of writing that Reki Kawahara did well in. Haruyuki is a massively flawed character. Not only are his physical traits what most people consider flaws, but the way he so obviously hates himself for those traits is an inherent personality flaw that a lot of teenagers in junior high and high school deal with.

During his lunch with Kuroyukihime, he has a program installed into his neurolinker called “Brain Burst.” It's an interesting program. The basics is that it allows him to do a full-dive. However, rather than leaving the physical world for a fake one, “Brain Burt” takes his subconscious out of his body, places it in a digital recreation of the real world, and speeds up his mind's ability to process information.

There's a lot of technical jargon involved with how the real world is recreated by the view of multiple security cameras. Brain Burst supposedly renders the data from those cameras into polygons that it feeds directly into the brain. This is what allows people who use Brain Burst to see what's happening in the real world at a slowed down speed.

If there's one thing that's apparent to me, it's that a lot of effort has gone into this series. The world building is impressive, and the explanations are thorough, easy to understand, and done in such a way that I don't feel like they're too info-dumpy. All of the characters have this “normal teenager feel,” which I believe is due to the unreliable narration of Haruyuki humanizing them. Even Kuroyukihime, who feels perfect from Haruyuki's perspective, seems human when I read about her.

Another aspect about this series that I thought was entertaining are the battles that are fought during the Brain Burst. We don't see this until the day after the Brain Burst is installed in Haruyuki's neurolinker, but there are a lot of people who have Brain Burst installed, and these people can challenge another Burst Linker to a duel in what I'm going to call the replica world for now. The battle system is reminiscent of old school fighter games like Tekken and King of Fighters. However, rather than controllers, people use their avatar, which is digital body that manifests itself based on a Burst Linker's desires and insecurities.

Without giving away the plot, I can tell you that this is hands down my favorite series currently. While I've enjoyed all the light novels I've read, this one speaks to me in a way that the others simply haven't. Whether it's because of the characters, the setting, the nostalgia I felt for my junior high days, or a mixture of everything, I can tell you that this is one of the best light novels I've read—and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys video games, understands what it means to be bullied, or just wants to a damn fine read.

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Yona of the Dawn - Anime Review!

Yona of the Dawn is one of those anime that can appeal to both male and female anime fans. While there are a lot of those, most shojo anime don't often appeal to the male demographic because, well, a lot of them are like chick-lit—an abbreviation of literature who's demographic is, well, chicks.

The story starts off with Yona, a spoiled princess who's used to getting her way and doesn't like her fiery red hair. I have to be honest, I didn't really like her character at the start of the anime, but I can't deny that they did a really good job creating her. Yona acts exactly as I would imagine a spoiled princess would. She's carefree and worries about the most trivial of matters. She's stubborn and likes to have her way. At the same time, Yona isn't a bad person.

Yona has two friends at the start of this series. Soo-Wan and Hak. Soo-Wan is Yona's cousin, and the person she's in love with, while Hak is her bodyguard and a general in the Kou Empire's army known as the Lightning Beast. During the first episode, Soo-Wan kills Yona's father, and he almost kills Yona. It's only thanks to Soo-Wan's help that she manages to escape with her life and flee the castle.

What sets this anime apart from other shojo series is first and foremost, the story itself. Typical shojo anime generally involve three things: a high school setting, a lot of teenage drama, and a romantic pairing. While Yona of the Dawn does have it's fair share of drama, it's not the kind you'd find high schoolers dealing with. This is like a political drama with moments of intense action and humor to relieve the tension. Also, while there IS romance, it's not the kind of high school romance that's so typical of a series like this.

Out of all the characters in the series, my favorite is definitely Hak. He's just one of those characters that you can't help but want to get behind. He's strong, has a sharp tongue, and a strong sense of duty. I was really impressed with his loyalty to Yona. Despite how often he pokes fun of her, you can see how much he cares about her as well.

The dialogue between Yona and Hak is also something I enjoyed a lot. Dialogue is always a tricky issue. In a lot of anime and TV shows, the dialogue tends to sound forced, as if they were reading lines from a script—which they are, but when someone sounds like they're forcing out words, you can really tell. The dialogue in Yona of the Dawn is smooth and flows easily. It doesn't sound forced, especially when it comes to the conversations Hak and Yona have. Having a childhood friend myself, I can tell you that the good-natured teasing is something that we do. Saying that, my childhood friend isn't a girl, so all of the heavy romantic undertones that can be found during certain scenes feels a bit off to me, but I can accept it because of their close relationship.

What really surprised me about this anime, outside of my much I enjoyed it, was the animation. While shojo anime aren't poorly animated, I feel like many of them are lacking when it comes to fluid animations. This is generally because the highest focus isn't on the animation but on the romance. Yona of the Dawn is one of the better animated series I've seen. I was especially impressed by the fight scenes, which I felt were incredibly well choreographed.

However, where this anime really shines isn't the animation, the artwork, or even the story. It's the development of Yona as a person. At the beginning of this series, Yona is your stereotypical spoiled princess. Through the course of the series, she goes through a series of hardships, starting with the murder of her father and the betrayel of her beloved Soo-Wan. By the end of the series, Yona is almost unrecognizable from the spoiled girl that she had been at the beginning. Her metamorphosis from weak little girl to strong female protagonist is one of the most well-done examples of character development I've seen.

Something to take note of in this anime is that all of the characters are fairly likable. There was no one that I truly hated. Even the antagonist of the series, Soo-Wan, is someone who I can't find myself outright disliking despite what he did at the beginning.

If there was one issue I'd take with this series, it's that it's incomplete. There are more loose ends than Yona has split ends, and the main issue, the plot that this entire anime revolves around, was never resolved. Now, I understand that the manga is currently an ongoing series. Even so, I hate it when I watch something that doesn't have a conclusive ending because it always leaves me unsatisfied. Since this was one of the anime that I really enjoyed watching, seeing such a unresolved ending was particularly hard.

That's all for today's review. Remember to give this video a thumbs up if you enjoyed it. If this is your first time watching me, then please be sure to subscribe to my channel. And finally, if you have any thoughts, opinions, or advice that you would like to share, feel free to leave it in the comments section below. I hope you enjoyed this video, and I'll see you all next time!