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review

Teasing Master Takagi-san the Movie

This film satisfactorily caps off Nishikata and Takagi's story by being very light on the teasing and heavy on the warm fuzzies. ― With its pitch-perfect portrayal of an awkward middle school romance, Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san (or Teasing Master Takagi-san) was always one of the more charming anime romcoms. After three seasons of adorable flirting masked as teasing, there's absolutely no doubt that ...
review

Kotaro Lives Alone

I have to say, though, that I'm really glad that I went back and gave Kotaro Lives Alone another shot, because it turned out to be a surprisingly well-written and affecting dramedy that speaks to some important social issues. ― Kotaro Lives Alone had a lot going against it at the outset, which is maybe why I had such a hard time going back to it after giving it a shot during the season's Preview Guid...
review

The Deer King

Screening in U.S. theaters this month, director Ando shows his talent in creating emotional impact through subtle character animation, even within a dense story. ― Aptly timed, The Deer King's story around a mysterious infectious disease conjures up ideas of a found family and the uncomfortable debate between science and faith. Studio Ghibli alumni Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji have impressive res...
game review

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined

A shrine maiden and a tanuki take on monster hordes in this extensive remake of a classic Super NES shooter! Do Pocky and Rocky still have the magic? ― You don't need to know anything about Pocky or Rocky to enjoy their latest game, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined. You don't need to know how their series began with the Taito arcade game Kiki Kaikai or how it reached its greatest international popularity when...
review

Macross Frontier: The Wings of Farewell

This rewrite of the final act of Macross Frontier changes a lot, but are the adjustments in service a better story? ― If I had to describe this film's predecessor, The False Songstress, in a single word, it would be “functional.” The film did a decent job trimming down the first 60% of Macross Frontier's TV series and delivering a coherent storyline, but it was an obviously compromised production tha...
review

ESTAB LIFE: Great Escape

Sure, the anti-panty cults and commie penguin armies are…a lot, and don't think for one second that this anime isn't proud to get weird and stupid whenever it gets the chance. ― Estab-Life: Great Escape is an especially bizarre anime, and not just for the reasons you're probably already expecting. Sure, the anti-panty cults and commie penguin armies are…a lot, and don't think for one second that this...
review

Love All Play Episodes 1-13

Love All Play is the sort of show that's good enough to keep watching even as it doesn't blow you out of the water. ― If there's one thing Love All Play unquestionably has going for it, it's the facial expressions. That perhaps sounds like an odd thing to praise in a sports show, but it truly is one of the standout features of both art and animation; each fleeting emotion that the characters feel can...
review

She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man

She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man is a forgettable show, so much so that I found myself struggling to recall what happened in the earlier episodes by the time I reached the end. She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man is a forgettable show, so much so that I found myself struggling to recall what happened in the earlier episodes by the time I reached the end. But to its credit, it's r...
review

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: the Movie Trilogy 10th Anniversary Blu-ray Box Set

Puella Magi Madoka Magica may not have reinvented the magical girl story, but it is an important step in the genre's evolution. ― Given that this is the tenth anniversary release of these films, I'm going to assume some familiarity with them in this review. When Puella Magi Madoka Magica initially came out as a TV series (which the first two films are a retelling of), it started a conversation about ...
review

Yuri Espoir GN 1

Yuri Espoir is an odd combination of froth and sadness. The way that the world seems hellbent on crushing Kokoro under the burden of false heteronormativity is undeniably tragic, but there is still hope. ― Kokoro's death is impending. That's how she puts it to her friend Amami, anyway – her father is forcing her into an arranged marriage as soon as she finishes high school. The man she's meant to wed...
review

Dropkick on My Devil!! Dash

Maybe it's the Stockholm-esque relationship I cultivated in consuming so much Dropkick in only a couple of weeks, but this opening stretch of the new season was the most fun I had with the series. ― So here we are with the second season of Dropkick on My Devil and immediately it feels like I'm in an even trickier critical position than I was with the first season. At least I could approach the origin...
review

Orient Episodes 1-12 Streaming

Based on the manga by Shinobu Ohtaka, Orient's first twelve episodes are both comfortably within shonen norms and just different enough to give it an edge. ― Based on the manga of the same name by Shinobu Ohtaka, creator of the Arabian Nights-inspired series Magi and the battle comedy Sumomomo, Momomo, Orient's first twelve episodes are both comfortably within shounen norms and just different enough ...
review

Hikaru in the Light! GN 1

Hikaru in the Light! is an idol competition tale, and while its initial description and unfolding feels a little like Blue Lock but for girl idols, it's actually a bit more grounded than it wants to let on in its opening chapters. ― Japan's idol industry has a problem. No, it's probably not the one you think it is; according to M. Hayama, a producer in Mai Matsuda's manga series Hikaru in the Light!,...
review

Island in a Puddle GN 1

From the creator of ERASED comes a new series about jumping through time when fifth grader Minato switches bodies with adult career criminal Tomohiro Takita – in the moment just after Takita committed murder. ― Kei Sanbe certainly has a way with stories about tormented little boys, doesn't he? But it's hard to complain that the protagonists of Erased, For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams, and now this seri...
review

Fruits Basket -prelude-

Before there was Kyo and Tohru, or even Kyo and Kyoko, there was Kyoko and Katsuya. Kyoko was a troubled teen; Katsuya a student teacher with no actual interest in education. Apart, they were a pair of misfits; together, they made Tohru. ― One thing I've seen bouncing around shojo-dominated spaces of the internet is anticipation for this movie. Specifically, people are excited about the all-new epilo...
review

The Town of Pigs GN

The first new release of Hideshi Hino's work in a decade, The Town of Pigs is a short allegory of war that starkly reflects the demons inside humanity. ― Spoiler warning: for the sake of discussing the context of this manga, the end twist is included in this review. The Town of Pigs marks a long-deserved return of Hideshi Hino, a central horror manga artist whose work hasn't been released stateside i...
review

Look Back GN

From the creator of Chainsaw Man comes a story about the passion of artists and the tragedies that shape our life. ― Growing up as a child, I've always found that there's never really a right or wrong reason to pursue a passion. Whether it's sports, academics, or even the creative arts, the reasons behind why one might decide to walk down those paths could range from the incredibly complex and selfle...
review

Dropkick on My Devil! Season 1

An anime filled with devilish dysfunctional weirdos engaging in wanton violence is a bit dated at this point, but its filling a niche for someone, if the crowdfunding numbers are to be believed. ― With the third season crowdfunded and poised to premiere this summer, it's well past time to formally take a look back at the original Dropkick on my Devil, to evaluate what brought us here. It's a unique p...
review

Macross Frontier: The False Songstress

Now screening in the U.S. for the first time, Macross Frontier: The False Songstress proves its larger-than-life idol, Sheryl, is still legendary for a reason. ― It still feels surreal to be covering this film, honestly. Sure, Macross Plus got an event screening not all that long ago, but that was a title that had at least temporarily escaped the licensing nightmare that has plagued Macross for decad...
review

Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love GN 2

The second volume is a step up from its debut but will a too-clingy younger sister put the brakes on Satomi and Yagyu's relationship? ― In a decided improvement from volume one, this second book in the shoujo romance series Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love features our hero and heroine slowly growing closer. This naturally means three of the major romance manga staples: the beach date, the zoo date, and the ...
review

The Strongest Hero With the Weakest Crest Episodes 1-12

More familiar than fresh, Grant tries out this anime entry in the "a curse is really a boon" trope to see if there's anything redeeming about it. ― You've already seen this show. You know every story beat, trope, and twist that The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest has to offer – whether you've watched it or not. It's been done, you've seen it done, and it was better that other time. See, The Str...
review

Run on Your New Legs GN 1

After losing a leg in an accident, Shouta Kikuzato's dreams of high school soccer with his best friend Take are shattered. A new prosthetic opens the world of sports to him again, as a track-and-field sprinter. ― It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that Run on Your New Legs is the second manga I've read about learning to run with a sports prosthetic. Blade Girl: Kataashi no Runner by Narumi Shigematsu (...
review

Crazy Food Truck GN 1

Violence, nudity, and some of best BLTs on the block! Gordon Goliath's food truck gets about as many customers as you could expect for one driving around a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but it's a living. ― I have a healthy respect for works where the creator makes what they specifically would want from something. To hear Rokurou Ogaki tell it in the notes included at the end of this first volume, Craz...
review

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero

The newest Dragon Ball film's promotional material highlighted Gohan but make no mistake, this is Piccolo's time to shine. ― Superheroes are not a new concept in Dragon Ball. Most notably Gohan himself spent his high school years as a masked hero. Yet, this film is not about him—well, at least not directly. In the years since the Tournament of Power, Gohan has unconsciously pushed his responsibilitie...
game review

Fault StP: Lightkravte

Lightkravte features gorgeous art and is interesting both as a prequel and as a game in its own right. ― The fourth game in Alice in Dissonance's fault series, Fault StP Lightkravte may raise a few eyebrows since it's being released ahead of Milestone Two: Side Below, meaning that series fans have to wait a bit longer to continue the main story. (On Steam, the developers have said that staffing issue...
review

Shaman King Episodes 26-52

As Shaman King enters into the back half of this reboot, the show enters into a seemingly hopeless battle on two fronts. Jairus Taylor questions if, following the show's missteps along the way, this reboot needed to happen at all. ― As Shaman King enters into the back half of this reboot, the show enters into a seemingly hopeless battle on two fronts. The first being Yoh trying to find a way to put a...
game review

Metal Max Xeno Reborn

Metal Max Xeno Reborn can be a lot of fun, but it does make you work for it. Its oblique objectives and wild difficulty curves can definitely be off-putting—and yet there's fun to be had in driving around the wasteland, scrounging for scrap metal, and blasting away mobs of cannon fodder. ― Fans of old PS2 JRPGs might remember the obscure Metal Saga; what you might not have known is that it's one in a...
review

Revue Starlight The Movie

Revue Starlight The Movie addresses and fixes nearly all my quibbles with the series by burning off the fat and violently compressing the remaining stylistic meat into a brilliant multi-faceted diamond. ― Revue Starlight The Movie is a sequel in the familiar sense of the word. It follows up on the conclusion of the television series, and gives its characters another chance to soak in the limelight be...
review

Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan's Island

Even if the status quo is maintained at the end of the film, Cucuruz Doan still tells a satisfying adventure that fits seamlessly within the larger narrative of Mobile Suit Gundam. ― The existence of this film is an oddity, being a retelling of the 15th episode of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. Apparently, that episode had some issues on the visual production side, prompting its omission fro...
review

Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to be an Adventurer! Novels 1-2

This novel series tries to mix things up a bit but ultimately is too devoted to the basic villainess story to truly achieve that, giving it that slightly stale feeling. ― Forget Being the Villainess, I Want to be an Adventurer is, in its first two novels, a mix of checklist villainess isekai and something a bit more innovative. The story follows Serephione, daughter of the noble Granzeus family in a ...
review

Magical Star Magical Emi Streaming

This magical girl series is pushing towards its 40th birthday. Does it still have anything to offer to modern anime fans? ― Falling between Magical Fairy Persia and Magical Idol Pastel Yumi is Magical Emi, the third of Studio Pierrot's early magical girl titles, and while the former hasn't been released in English as of this writing, Magical Emi is notably stronger than either Creamy Mami or Pastel Y...
review

Tomorrow, Make Me Yours GN

If a simple love story is all you need, this manga has it in spades. ― There are a few things to like about Tomorrow, Make Me Yours. The story is simple and self-contained within one volume. It covers the major grounds of romantic progression from infatuation to confession to dating to sex. Its stylistic flourishes are heavily inspired by other light-hearted romance stories, with cute little lighting...
review

From the Red Fog GN 1

This edgy manga comes with a slew of content warnings, but is there anything to it beyond reveling in its own darkness? ― Not all books with disturbing content merit up-front content warnings; From the Red Fog is not one of them. Before you embark on this book, it's worth knowing that it features a slew of troubling material, most notably a mostly off-the-page rape of a child; torture and violence ma...
review

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Novel 1

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is both precisely what it claims to be and nothing of the sort. See where the anime started in our review of the novel series. ― When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is both precisely what it claims to be and nothing of the sort. A bit of a riff on supernatural battle stories, the first light novel in the series by Kota Nozomi (whose light novel se...
review

Quintessential Quintuplets the Movie

If you've somehow managed to remain unspoiled about the ending of The Quintessential Quintuplets, then this movie will finally resolve your burning questions...but it could have looked better while doing it. ― If you've somehow managed to remain unspoiled about the ending of The Quintessential Quintuplets, then this movie will finally resolve your burning questions. It does an impressive job with the...
review

Summer Time Rendering GN 2

The second volume of Summer Time Rendering is fantastic, and its 374 pages have enough twists to appeal to the most hard-core of suspense readers. ― In Volume 1, Shinpei learns about the suspicious circumstances surrounding Ushio's death. He then discovers that townspeople are being consumed and replaced by “shadows,” which appear to be connected to an island legend. While he can reset time by dying,...
review

New York, New York Omnibus 1

New York, New York tries to present a more realistic image of what it meant to be gay in the 1990s, with all the uncomfortable (and sometimes downright homophobic) baggage that comes with it. ― New York, New York is a bit difficult to fully quantify. Written between 1995 and 1998, the story, set in New York City with a jaunt to Newton, Massachusetts in this omnibus, is very much of its time. Marimo R...
review

Kageki Shojo!! GN 3-5

These side stories go a long way toward making the world of Kageki Shojo!! feel less like it's revolving around Sarasa, and more like she's just the member of a cohort full of driven young women with big personalities. ― Well, Kageki Shojo!! wouldn't be a true school manga if it didn't have some kind of a sports or cultural festival arc, would it? It's practically a prerequisite for these arcs to pop...
review

Vampire in the Garden Streaming

This tragedy-tinged romance clocks in at just five episodes. Is there enough meat on its bones to serve as a full story? ― Vampire in the Garden is a fascinating production that almost feels like an anime from another time, even as it simultaneously exists as a project that could only exist in the age of streaming. It's an original property that is being produced by the famous Studio Wit and helmed b...
review

Frieren: Beyond Journey's End GN 3-4

Honestly, the mixture of tragedy and hopeful beauty in this volume overall is enough to get me choked up even writing this. ― Volume 3: The first half of this volume of Frieren is the continuation of the big, interconnected story arc started in the previous volume with the forces of Aura the Guillotine attacking the gateway city to the human territories of the south. It's basically the big action cli...
game review

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix+

Hatsune Miku is back, with over 170 songs and customizable outfits. Does the Vocaloid gang still bring the charm in this PC game release? ― With how much a certain blue hedgehog and a would-be reformed Japanese gangster dominate Sega's limelight, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that Sega also plays host to the video game exploits of Hatsune Miku, the famed digital singing platform musicians have use...
review

Darkstalkers Blu-ray

The Darkstalkers OVA series gets a new Blu-Ray treatment, but beneath the polished look it’s much the same as it was in the 1990s: nicely animated but too darned serious for its own good. ― Adapting the Darkstalkers games into an animated series is harder than it seems. True, the games are largely plot-free cavalcades of marvelously animated monsters sparring with each other, but therein lies the cha...
review

Thermae Romae Novae Streaming

Part of the joy of this series is the realization that people are people no matter where and when they live. How does this second adaptation of Mari Yamazaki's manga bring Roman and Japanese bathing culture together? ― Japanese bathing culture, writes Garrett G. Fagan in his exhaustive 1999 text Bathing in Public in the Roman World, “bear[s] resemblance…to documented Ancient Roman practice.” Since th...
game review

Cotton Fantasy

Cotton Fantasy serves up a complete course of the “cute-‘em-up” flavor of 2-D shooting game, and it turns out light and breezy yet surprisingly filling. ― The Cotton series is nothing if not a survivor. First appearing in 1991, Cotton introduced the horizontal shooter genre to a cute little witch with a cuter, littler fairy sidekick, and it never wavered from that. The 1990s brought sequels and ports...
review

By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga

Noted yuri scholar Erica Friedman explores the origins of women loving women in Japanese media from its roots in literary girls' fiction to the acknowledgement of yuri as a genre. ― Whether you call it yuri or GL, the genre of women loving women in anime and manga hasn't always been understood or appreciated. Erica Friedman's new book By Your Side: The First 100 Years of Yuri Anime and Manga is a maj...
review

Shin Ultraman

Shin Ultraman is a perfectly watchable film—though far from a great one. It's clear that the exceptional amount of creative freedom was given to the creators which brings the film to its highest highs and lowest lows. ― Before we get into this review, I think I need to make one thing absolutely clear: I'm in no way a hardcore Ultraman fan (nor am I a hater). While I know the basics through cultural o...
review

Free! The Final Stroke 2nd Part

The dramatic side of Free has always been its weakest point, as the story once again draws on the same conflicts before racing to its predictable conclusion. ― Note that this review contains spoilers for the first Free! The Final Stroke film. The first Free! The Final Stroke film ended with Haru and Rin symbolically parting ways, as they struggled to reconcile their dreams of world-class swimming wit...
game review

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

Suikoden was never an action game, and now that series creator Yoshitaka Murayama returned to it with Eiyuden Chronicle, what better form for its prequel to take than a side-scrolling action title with some RPG trappings? ― Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising makes a certain degree of sense. It's a prequel to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, which is itself the spiritual revival of the Suikoden series that s...
review

My Brain is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders GN

My Brain is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders is a highly personal book that shines a light on how the neurodivergent navigate a world that isn't set-up for them. ― I was diagnosed with ADHD in my mid-20's. For my entire life, I struggled with things other people, including my twin sister, seemed to have no issue with. I had trouble turning in homework, even if I had alread...
review

Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis Movie

This CG film is probably the most accessible animated entry of the franchise in years, but decades of fandom in-jokes have warped this series into a bizarre, campy mess that barely resembles the sport action drama it once was. Prince of Tennis... What have you become? This CG film is probably the most accessible animated entry of the franchise in years, but decades of fandom in-jokes have warped th...
review

SPY×FAMILY GN 7

Everyone gets a turn to take center stage in this book, and that makes up for a slightly stalled main plot. ― One of the joys of Tatsuya Endo's Spy x Family is its varied cast of characters, most specifically the members of the Forger family. With only Anya (and to a degree Bond) fully aware of everything that's going on behind the façade of a perfectly normal upper-middle class home, misunderstandin...
review

Scarlet Nexus

Scarlet Nexus is both hard to fault and hard to praise, and in many ways its averageness makes it harder to recommend than if it were an outright dumpster fire – it lacks the spectacle that disasters often have. ― Scarlet Nexus is a perfectly serviceable show let down by pacing and length. It is a show that is both hard to fault and hard to praise, and in many ways its averageness makes it harder to ...
review

Pacific Rim: The Black Season 2

This is still a very flawed series, and this second season of the show suffers from some unique issues compared to its first, but it sure isn't afraid to get weird. ― I enjoyed the first season of Pacific Rim: The Black, imperfect as it was, though some of its most interesting elements only arrived at the very tail end of its short seven-episode first season. The fairly generic “find our lost parents...
review

Ultraman Season 2

The new season on Netflix clearly has reverence to the tokusatsu series' origins, but also isn't afraid to cut what doesn't service the plot. ― The 2019 Ultraman anime is a funny thing, seeing as it is an easter-egg laden labor of love that is clearly made with reverence for the legendary Ultraman franchise…that also tosses out a lot of the classic elements that have made the series so popular over t...
review

Bungō Stray Dogs: Wan! GN 1

It's the characters you love in a brand-new way: going on mini-adventures in a chibi art style! ― In case you hadn't noticed, the main story, both in manga and novels, of Kafka Asagiri and Sango Harukawa's Bungo Stray Dogs is really very dark. It has its lighter moments, but everything tends to be in service of a greater, more serious theme, and that can weigh you down as a reader at times. That's wh...
review

The Transcendent One-Sided Love of Yoshida the Catch GN 1

From the creator of Hatsu*Haru comes a story about a gorgeous salaryman named Yoshida as he yearns for the one woman who has zero idea that he's got a thing for her. ― The characters in this book may look familiar to readers of Shizuki Fujisawa's other series to get an English release (Hatsu*Haru), but otherwise you'd never know that these books came from the same pen. Where Hatsu*Haru was a heartfel...
review

Anyway, I'm Falling in Love with You. GN 1-2

The COVID-19 pandemic is the backdrop of this high school love story. What's striking about the opening chapters of the first volume is that it shows how so many things are linked to the “normal” progression of our everyday lives. ― The hardest change is the kind you don't see coming. That's something Mizuho is rapidly discovering in the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to rear ...
review

My Love Mix-Up! GN 2 & 3

Aoki may have “confessed” to Ida by accident, but he's definitely got feelings for the other boy now, even if he's a little befuddled by the fact. ― I am perhaps reading too much into this, but it's wonderful that in My Love Mix-Up! we have a manga starring characters who can be interpreted as bisexual and demisexual, two orientations that don't always get the visibility that they deserve. After a vo...
review

A Man and His Cat GN 5

It's a pet owner's biggest fear: an indoor cat escapes into the wide world. Will he make it back safely? ― Reading a volume of A Man and his Cat can be emotionally exhausting. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because creator Umi Sakurai truly captures the ups and downs of having a pet. This volume, however, covers a more difficult topic than most in the series: what happens when an indoor cat gets...
review

Tiger & Bunny 2 Episodes 1-13

If you were worried about Tiger & Bunny's return, Caitlin Moore is here to reassure you that this new season's first half should please long-time fans. ― After the disaster that was Double Decker! Doug & Kirill, I was inordinately nervous about the second season of Tiger & Bunny. Really, could anyone blame me? Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising- added little to the series' narrative, the director wa...
game review

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Forgotten Land represents more than anything else, an opportunity for HAL Laboratory to break out of the side-scrolling mold and expand Kirby's horizons. ― In my eyes, Kirby games have always been defined by their astounding visual and musical artistic direction that is somewhat held back simple yet serviceable side-scrolling platforming gameplay. Forgotten Land represented, more than anything else, ...
review

The Case Files of Jeweler Richard GN 1 & 2

While the anime did a fine job of working with the story, the manga version shows that this is a work that may function better in writing. ― Even if you were only mildly entertained by the anime adaptation of Nanako Tsujimura's The Case Files of Jeweler Richard light novels, the manga is worth picking up. While the anime did a fine job of working with the story, the manga version shows that this is a...
review

Bubble

Visually, Bubble is a tough act to beat, but does this sci-fi film full of parkour action deliver on its love story? ― Let's get something out of the way first. Those who jumped on this movie on its staff pedigree alone are going to be disappointed. This is a Gen Urobuchi project in the same way as Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet or Aldnoah Zero. While there's no doubt that Urobuchi had a hand in t...
review

Pompo: The Cinéphile

Now playing in U.S. theaters, every single frame of Pompo: The Cinéphile is packed with vibrant colors and flavors, with snappy transitions between animation-like and cinematic expression. ― What a delightful, exhilarating film to watch. Pompo: The Cinéphile is the perfect showcase of anime cinema – with equal emphasis on both words. Every single frame is packed with vibrant colors and flavors, with ...
review

Waccha PriMagi! Episodes 13-26

Waccha PriMagi! in its second cour continues to be more than the sum of its parts. Rebecca Silverman looks into how the magical series subverts the genre's tropes. ― If there's one thing Waccha PriMagi isn't afraid to do, it's to have a variety of characters who don't just embody a single trope or stereotype. Matsuri, our main heroine, may actually be the least interesting and nuanced of the bunch wi...
review

Sensei's Pious Lie GN 1

We're so used to the narrative that people who experience trauma gain a deeper sense of empathy for others that it's easy to forget that anger, even when it's misplaced, is just as likely. ― "As it went on...I grew less and less sure. I knew it was wrong and I didn't want to be doing it...but I thought maybe it was me who made it happen. Even though I was scared, even though I wanted to run...I staye...
review

Ragna Crimson GN 4

With an anime adaptation in the works, Grant explains why Ragna Crimson gets better with each volume. ― Ragna Crimson continues to find new ways to impress me. My reception to the series has only grown more positive as each volume expands its world, broadens its cast, and enriches its conceptual landscape. This volume was my favorite by far, and honestly I can't wait to see what's next. For starters,...
review

Sakamoto Days GN 1

A retired assassin finds domestic bliss and opens a convenience store, but the crime world isn't ready to let Sakamoto go. ― Taro Sakamoto was once the most feared assassin in Japan...until he fell in love. Now he's an overweight convenience store owner, married with a young daughter, and he's very happy to keep it that way. Sadly, the crime world isn't all that keen on letting him retire in peace, s...
review

Muteking The Dancing Hero

Watch an episode or two of Muteking and it becomes abundantly transparent that there is no subtlety to the clear and direct parallels between the show's story and what is happening in real life. ― If you haven't seen a single episode of Muteking The Dancing Hero, you may think I'm making it up, or that I'm imposing Western values onto the show when I say that it's about how technocrats have gentrifie...
game review

Gotta Protectors: Cart of Darkness Game Review

But what about the players who don't have fond memories or excessive fixations surrounding that particular era of video games? What does Gotta Protectors: Cart of Darkness offer them? As it turns out, plenty. ― There's no shortage of modern creations that evoke the look and sound of late 1980s games. Not so much as those games actually were, but as players fondly remember them—with bigger characters,...
review

The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You GN 1

No way he gets 100 girlfriends, right? The thing is, you're thinking about this premise with logic, and logic has no home in this manga. This manga runs off of pure, lovestruck insanity. ― Now I know what you're probably thinking, just from looking at that title. 100? Really? That's obviously some hyperbolic number meant to pull you in, right? There's no way any series could actually introduce a hund...
review

Catch These Hands! GN 1

Two former delinquents cross paths again in adulthood. Their rough-and-tumble days of excitement are far in the past but maybe a new kind of excitement is awaiting them? ― An obvious element of the appeal of murata's Catch These Hands is one of contrast—that despite the nominally rough-and-tumble subject matter, the story contained within is actually adorable and sweet as hell. There's little reveren...
review

I'm a Wolf, but My Boss is a Sheep! GN 1

It's not entirely fair to say that this is essentially BEASTARS Lite, but it's also a little hard to shake that feeling. ― It's not entirely fair to say that this is essentially Beastars Lite, but it's also a little hard to shake that feeling. Shino Shimizu's I'm a Wolf, But My Boss is a Sheep takes a just-similar-enough premise to tell its workplace romantic comedy: in its world, people have animal ...
review

Hello, Melancholic! GN 1

This is by and large an extremely familiar story – but that doesn't mean it can't be a good one if told well, and through this first volume, this series is a firmly charming riff on the formula. ― Stop me if you've heard this one before: a mopey, socially anxious teenager just can't find the courage to make friends. They're kind and friendly at heart, but feel like an outcast from others who make fri...
review

The Orbital Children

From the creator of Den-noh Coil comes a story about the interconnectivity of humans, artificial intelligence, and our species own mortality. ― Fifteen years ago, the skilled animator Mitsuo Iso helmed Den-Noh Coil, a science fiction tale about children interacting with and exploring the world through augmented reality glasses. It was the first time he was able to show off his incredible storytelling...
review

Odd Taxi: In the Woods

By cleverly reframing its narrative around a series of interviews with the supporting cast, Odd Taxi: In the Woods succeeds where most recap films fail: it's an artistically cohesive film in its own right. Odd Taxi was 2021's sleeper anime hit, telling an intricate, original mystery that kept viewers guessing every week. Now it's back as a (mostly) recap film, which mainly serves to tie up some loo...
review

My Happy Marriage Novel 1

Set to become an anime series, check out this variation of the Cinderella story about a down-trodden girl as she embarks on a fantasy romance with a side of ESP. ― Set in an alternate version of the late Meiji or early Taisho era, My Happy Marriage is a fairly classic take on the Cinderella story – especially if you remember that in many, if not most, variants of that tale Cinderella's father is aliv...
review

Futsal Boys!!!!! Streaming

While Futsal Boys!!!!! isn't alone in its enthusiasm for its own title, it also isn't up to the task of living up to it, either in terms of sports-related lunacy or its love of its subject matter. ― In the novel Reaper Man, the late, great Terry Pratchett remarked that “Five exclamation marks [are] the sure sign of an insane mind.” While Futsal Boys!!!!! isn't alone in its enthusiasm for its own titl...
game review

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition

Chrono Cross returns with a remastered treatment and its never-before-translated predecessor, Radical Dreamers! How do these follow-ups to the cherished RPG classic Chrono Trigger endure after all these years? ― The best way to approach Chrono Cross is to forget that it's a sequel to Chrono Trigger. It is, of course, but Chrono Trigger—an inventive, marvelously crafted time-travel romp that's tied wi...
review

Konosuba: God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! TRPG

Grant tries his hand at the tabletop iteration of the hit anime and light novel series. How does Kazuma Sato's adventures translate to the TRPG world? ― Ah, finally a review that leans into both my lifelong hobbies: anime and tabletop RPGs (or TRPGs in short). I'm always curious to see what happens when the two worlds entwine, but beyond my personal interest, this being an official English release of...
review

Cosplay: The Fictional Mode of Existence

This is the most scholarly and straightforward approach to the idea of cosplay that I have ever seen. ― Cosplay is one of the cornerstones of pop culture celebration. Whether it's science-fiction, fantasy, western, or eastern animation, it feels like you don't have to go far nowadays to come across people that wear their love for these mediums on their sleeves in a very literal way. Granted, in my pa...
review

Project A-ko: Perfect Edition Blu-ray

The seminal anime film is back and it looks better than ever before! Find out whether this 1986 classic deserves a spot on your shelf. ― I'm here to answer three questions looming over this release. Is Project A-ko worth watching for newcomers? If you have seen it before, is this edition worth your time? Lastly, what are the special features that make this the "perfect edition?" For the uninitiated, ...
review

I Can't Believe I Slept With You! GN 1

The manga starts off with questionable premise (a tenant agrees to exchange sex for roof over her head) but what you'll discover beneath that façade is an account of the desperate lengths that people will go to find a connection in a society. ― It's hard not to feel cautious about delving into a manga with such a premise. When a story about a blossoming romance between two characters starts with one ...
review

Lightning and Romance GN 1-2

20-year-old Reo returns to high school to finish his education where he meets Sumire, and she's not about to let him dictate her feelings – especially not when he's kind of bad at hiding that he may like her, too ― If you've been reading Rin Mikimoto's previously translated works, you may have figured out that she has a thing for the age-gap romance – all of her other translated works but Kira-kun To...
review

Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai GN 1

See where young warrior Dai's adventure began...in the original manga series! ― Your enjoyment of Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai will depend quite heavily on how you feel about the iconic Dragon Quest JRPGs. Do you think fondly of the franchise as a series of fairy-tale-esque adventures that provide a sense of comfort and familiarity through its whimsical and well-worn conventions? Or does the me...
review

Whole of Humanity Has Gone Yuri Except for Me GN 1

Mankind is extinct but womenkind is thriving. The premise of a world occupied only by lesbians might sound silly on the surface, but 'Yuri Except for Me' is a genuine attempt at creating a narrative arc for our main characters. ― I must say, the title and initial premise of this two-volume series did have me wondering just how much the story would fall back on gay panic or other stereotypes for the s...
review

Soul Eater - The Perfect Edition GN 4-6

The shonen action series enters Crona's arc, adding the most compelling drama in the series so far. ― Volume four of The Perfect Edition sees Soul Eater in pure, shonen action mode. It's the classic setup of an evil villain waiting at the end of a gauntlet of enemies, with each of our major characters getting a battle against an established baddie as they duke it out for the fate of the world. The ma...
review

Orochi: The Perfect Edition GN 1

At long last we have a new translated manga from horror visionary Kazuo Umezz. How does Orochi hold up over 50 years after its original release? ― Orochi is a mysterious, clearly supernatural woman who serves as our guide through the two stories in this volume, a little bit like how Golden Age DC horror comics House of Mystery and The House of Secrets had Cain and Abel fill a similar function. But in...
review

My Isekai Life: I Gained a Second Character Class and Became the Strongest Sage in the World! GN 1

Yuji's attitude is something of a saving grace, because he's just so remarkably unconcerned about how things are playing out. They can make him live an isekai life, but they can't make him like it. ― As you can guess from the title, there's a pretty good chance that you've read, watched, or played some version of this story before. My Isekai Life: I Gained a Second Character Class and Became the Stro...
review

It's That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story GN 1

While the book itself errs on the side of the fluffy and goofy, it's subject matter is difficult to divorce from present reality. ― Before anything else, it's important to mention that the source novel for this title, plus the decision to adapt it into manga form, both predate the COVID-19 pandemic. Original author Kalaku Yuki is very clear on that subject in their afterword, most likely out of an ab...
game review

Rune Factory 5

Some technical issues aside, the latest installment in the village-making RPG brings it all together in the end. What will you do with your time in Rigbarth? ― It's a little hard to talk about the Story of Seasons games (and their Rune Factory spin-offs). Not because of the complicated legal snarl involving the Story of Seasons and Harvest Moon branding, but because on the merits that most games woul...
review

PuraOre! Pride of Orange

If the first two episodes of this girls' sports series put you off, you might want to give it another try as the real heart of the show comes through after episode three. ― First impressions matter, and the one given off by Pride of Orange isn't the most charitable one. Let-downs for sports anime, particularly ones centered on girls, are disappointingly common these days (anyone remember Tamayomi: Th...
review

Rosen Blood GN 2

Do you read vampire manga for the sexy, sexy blood-sucking? Do you find forceful immortal men alluring? If you answered yes to either of these questions, this is just the book you've been looking for. ― Note: you can read our review of volume one here. Do you read vampire manga for the sexy, sexy blood-sucking? Do you find forceful immortal men alluring? Is your preferred aesthetic "Victorian Gothic ...
review

5 Seconds Before a Witch Falls in Love GN

Readers will find themselves quickly falling in love with this yuri romance between a sorcerer and a witch hunter that our reviewer called simply "adorable." ― 5 Seconds Before a Witch Falls in Love is more or less a short story collection. I say “more or less” because in actuality, three of the four pieces in Zeniko Sumiya's first book are actually about the same group of people, but they're broken ...
review

Life Lessons with Uramichi-Oniisan Episodes 1-13 Streaming

Uramichi is the enthusiastic host of a children's variety show, but underneath his perfect smile is a hardened cynic. Can he keep the façade up? More importantly, is the show's cynical humor on the mark or too venomous? ― The major deciding factor of whether or not Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan is going to tickle your funny bone or not may just come down to whether or not you regularly work with...
game review

Chocobo GP

Chocobo GP is a big improvement and an even greater risk. It's sharper, tighter, more enjoyable...and now competing directly with the latest Mario Kart on Nintendo's home turf. ― The original Chocobo Racing was not an astounding game, but it was a cleverly-positioned one. It offered the PlayStation owners of 1999 an answer to the Nintendo 64's Mario Kart while dusting itself with Final Fantasy refere...

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