Tag Archives: Sudden Girlfriend/Boyfriend Appearance

The protagonist meets someone who becomes their boyfriend/girlfriend with unrealistic speed, often instantly and without a say in the matter.

Sola – Anime Review

Japanese Title: sola

 

Similar: Air

Clannad

AnoHana

ef: A Tale of Memories

H2O: Footprints in the Sand

5 Centimetres per Second

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Supernatural Romance Drama

Length: 13 episodes, 2 OVA

 

Positives:

  • A few atmospheric moments.

Negatives:

  • Boring start to finish.
  • Bland skies.
  • Characters don’t fill their intended purpose.
  • Feels in alpha planning stage.

(Request an anime for review here.)

Yorito is a guy obsessed with the sky. Sunrise, he’ll be there; midday, he’ll be there; sunset, you bet he’ll be there; no matter the state of the sky, he’ll be there taking photos. He’s so obsessed that he doesn’t notice his best friend Mana has a crush on him. One early morning when out on a sunrise excursion, he meets Matsuri, a girl battling a vending machine that ate her change without beverage compensation. She, however, vanishes before the sun rises.

Sola takes the subtle approach – the too subtle approach. Sola is so subtle, one wonders, much like the sky itself, if it’s there at all. See, Sola requires forever to tell us its purpose. I started with the episode-0 OVA. Don’t do that. It was pointless with no plot.

Even once in the actual episodes, Sola is too vague in its aim. It doesn’t lay down anything concrete for us to invest in at the start. Writers need to give something. The Elric brothers want their bodies back with alchemy, but they need to find the philosopher’s stone first. Ash wants to be the very best, but he needs more Pokémon. They have a direction. Even if it changes further along, a story must present something to hold onto within the first episode. Other than his love of the sky, which is a mere hobby, Yorito has nothing going for him. And Matsuri is even emptier. She’s “mysterious” for no reason other than the fact that she doesn’t talk. Seriously, a few minutes conversation with Yorito would clear up all mystery. It’s never clear why she’s so mum either. For several episodes, the story amounts to people doing ordinary things and a guy taking photos of the sky.

I only enjoyed the parts when they appreciated nature, whether the rain or sunset. The music and audio effects evoke a nice atmosphere and make me want to go sit by the rain.

I almost forgot: Yorito’s sister is sick in hospital. There is always a sick girl in this type of anime, isn’t there? Fear not, she’s as bland as the rest. On paper (nudge, nudge), she has a good backstory, but she does nothing, so once again I question if she exists at all. Sola has “mysterious” character with no mystery, “cute” character without cuteness, and “deep” characters as shallow as a puddle. It’s simply boring. (Parents are invisible as well to no consequence on a teen with a hospitalised sister.)

The first twist, of sorts, happens a few episodes in when Yorito stumbles upon Matsuri under attack by a curse hunter. Sneeze and you miss the resolution to this plot line. He gives up his pursuit so easily that I must question, yet again, if he was truly a part of the story at all.

The main theme is loneliness, but they never make use of it. Yes, Matsuri is lonely because of her ‘curse.’ Yorito’s hobby is a lonely one. His sister is lonely in the hospital. Mana is lonely in her one-sided love. Even the Loli vagabond is lonely living in a cardboard box. Problem? You guessed it: they don’t use this loneliness to develop some complex metaphor or change. Come on, Sola, how many times will you do this!? Use something!

Every motivation in Sola comes down to promises. “I promised my sister this” or “I promised this little girl that,” type of affair. I hate the promise motivator, for it gives us nothing about the characters. It’s a shallow dodge for effort. Imagine you couldn’t use the promise device, how would you justify these characters? Why would they do what they do? If one insists upon the promise usage, then focus on the motivation for making the promise. What about a broken promise and the consequences? Why do they never consider that?

“What drives you?” a scene asks.

“I made a promise,” says the character.

“Great. That taught us much about you…”

Back to FMA again, the Elric brother promise to resurrect their mother, but anyone who’s seen the series knows that’s not the motivator. Selfishness is their real motivator, which is excellent, as it shapes their entire quest.

Lastly, it irks me that Matsuri goes back to same broken vending machine. This is Japan where one can find another machine around the corner. No, forget the corner – there’s usually two side-by-side! Yeah, it bothers me like an old man with kids on his lawn when there’s a park next door.

None of Sola’s problems are atrocious. They are just nothing. The worst thing is that for a sky-themed anime, none of Sola’s skies are interesting. How…?

Art – Medium

The art is pleasant enough, but nothing stands out. They should have hired Makoto Shinkai’s artists for the skies in Sola, the sky anime. Is it just me or do heads grow larger relative to bodies in close-ups?

Sound – Medium

Average audio in every sense, music to script. Only the ED song and some atmospherics stood a little above.

Story – Low

A guy obsessed with the sky meets a mysterious girl before she vanishes. Took me ten minutes to write that elevator pitch because I forgot what happened in Sola, so dull was its story. Whole lot of nothing, albeit innocuous.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Don’t bother. Unless looking to fall asleep, spend your time elsewhere. Sola has nothing to recommend itself.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative:

Hollow World BuildingLacks ConflictPoor PacingRubbish Major CharactersShallow

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Please Twins – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Onegai Twins

 

Related: Please Teacher (same setting & character crossover)

Similar: Kiss x Sis

W: Wish

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: High School Comedy Romance Harem

Length: 12 episodes & 1 OVA

 

Positives:

  • Nothing at all.

Negatives:

  • The characters. All of them.
  • The lazy incest premise.
  • The one repeated joke.
  • So creepy.

Let’s get this over with, for I have already wasted ten hours of my life on this garbage twice. Why twice? Because when I first watched this as a teenager for its relation to Please Teacher, I thought it was average. Average, yes – I truly was a git, an imbecile of the highest order. To consider Please Twins as average is not only too generous for even a Nigerian prince, but also an insult to intelligence. What we have here is the lowest form of anime.

One day, Karen and Miina rock up at Mike’s house, both claiming to be his twin sister found in a childhood photo. Of course, only one can be his sister, the other a stranger. And so, while they figure out who is related, they decide to crash at his place, oh, and mount his mini fireman’s pole. They pretend to care about waiting until they are sure who can avoid incest, but as we are (cruelly) witness to each episode, they want nothing more than to slide that toothpick between their teeth. Karen, Miina, even when you girls spend five minutes EVERY EPISODE telling us you won’t hump him, your actions scream ‘take me roughly by the garden shed.’

These characters being related has no effect whatsoever, entirely meaningless to both plot and “romance.” Even if you ignore the incest angle, (pretend these two girls are whores who left their adoptive families to find the cream of some young guy) it is still super creepy. More baffling are the reactions of classmates and his teacher (Ms Kazumi from Please Teacher), as no one objects. Sure, some girl, also in love with Mike’s wet noodle, protests about the indecency, but we can all see how feeble her convictions are – hell, she would probably agree to join the three, if you know what I mean. (Of course you know what I mean; you’re not an idiot, unlike these characters.)

Is there anything good I can say about this shite? Well, Ms Kazumi is humorous for her few appearances, and there is a guy in class who has the hots for Mike, making some hilariously timed comments about wetting his whistle with Mike. Except, it turns out the guy isn’t gay and all of that was meaningless. They could have replaced him with an entirely new character for the second half. Yep, they couldn’t even maintain the one funny character.

Please Twins was agony. My forehead hit the desk many times, yet the memory never faded of seeing the characters get into compromising situations, then mentioning they are related, but maybe not, repeated every episode. This anime could fit into three episodes without loss of content. Even three episodes is pain.

Art – Very Low

Though Please Twins shares an art style with Please Teacher, the former lacks the surprising polish found in the latter. Also, the leading trio are hideous in design.

Sound – Low

With such an awful script, one can hardly expect greatness in the sound department. Doesn’t have a memorable soundtrack, unlike Please Teacher – minimal effort, honestly.

Story – Very Low

Two girl show up on a guy’s doorstep; one is his twin, the other a stranger, both want to get into his pants. Creepy, unfunny, repetitive.

Overall Quality – Very Low

Recommendation: Avoid it, even if you liked Please Teacher. Please Twins contains just about every awful, clichéd, and eye-rolling trope found in anime. Utter arse.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative:

Atrocious PlotAwful DialogueInduces StupidityLacks ConflictNot FunnyRepetitiveRubbish Major CharactersUseless Side Cast

Tenjou Tenge – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Tenjou Tenge

 

Related: Tenjou Tenge: The Ultimate Fight (OVA – included in review)

Similar: KenIchi: The Mightiest Disciple

Ikki Tousen

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Martial Arts Action Ecchi

Length: 24 episodes & 2 OVA

 

Positives:

  • Some cool action if you don’t think too much about it.

Negatives:

  • Aya is incredibly annoying. Moments that are taken too seriously usually involve her.
  • Inconsistent lore for the chi, powers, etc. and useless backstory to the school.
  • Several idiotic character designs.
  • Forced character expositions, only to leave their arc forgotten halfway.
  • Incomplete, even with the “concluding” OVA.

Tenjou Tenge takes place in a martial arts school where of various fighting styles compete against each other with their Bruce Lee-ripped bodies. The story starts with knuckleheads Nagi and Bob, thinking they are the toughest guys around and pick a fight day one, only to get stomped by Natsume, a sexy woman who can shrink to chibi size at will and is captain of the Jyukenbo club. To make matters worse, Aya, younger sister of Natsume, joins the school and through a mishap in the showers, she falls on top of and in love with Nagi, declaring them engaged. It isn’t long before the new members of the Jyukenbo club attract the attention of the student council, who want to destroy them.

What you need to know about that narrative setup is just how irrelevant it is. Halfway through the series, the story switches to a flashback involving Natsume’s dead older brother and his best friend, the current student council president, and their falling out. This lasts the remainder of the series with all but two of the present characters cast aside. Tenjou Tenge can’t seem to decide who should be the protagonist. First, you get the impression that it’s Nagi, then Aya for a moment, before Masataka (council president’s younger brother) is hinted as the one with the hidden growth, but Natsume has the most screen time and she’s important in the flashbacks. So who will it be?

Much of Tenjou Tenge’s enjoyment comes from its parody nature. In similar martial arts anime like Ikki Tousen, I find it impossible not to laugh at the stupidity of it all because they expect us to take punches that tear clothes off seriously. Thankfully, Tenjou limits this to twice (if I recall) and it doesn’t try to sell us on the idea that martial arts makes the world go round. However, there are still problems – many of them. Whenever Aya is involved, it takes itself seriously, especially with the love at first sight…thing that amounts to nothing, despite how important she tells us it is. What a waste of time. Almost every genre cliché comes from her and she becomes irrelevant with the flashbacks, so why even include her in the first place? Then there is the dictatorial student council. Where are the adults who teach them? The plot tries to explain where the powers come from and how chi works and all that, but before it can finish, we need to change protagonists.

I got the impression that the writers never looked back on their work before submitting for print. They start one story, and then get a new idea, changing the narrative to fit that. Hang on! New idea! We must change everything again to accommodate. But wait. Still not settled, we have another idea! Yay

To cap matters, the story doesn’t end with the series. An OVA titled ‘The Ultimate Fight’ follows, and guess what? Go on – guess. It has no ultimate fight in it. The entire OVA is padding to lead you on to another incomplete finish. You know, I may have just wasted your time…

Art – Medium

The art is standard for anime, though as a fighting anime, the animation is quite good during the action scenes. Shame about some of the character design.

Sound – Medium

Voice work is fine in both languages, though with a lot of Japanese words, it may bother you in English. I got used to it after a few episodes – the dialogue and plot aren’t important enough to care.

Story – Low

Tenjou Tenge does try to inject a plot among the action. Still could have put more effort into the lore and not forget half the character arcs midway through.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: For martial arts fans only. Tenjou Tenge is at the very least entertaining, but the lack of effort put into the lore and characters, never mind the unfinished state, makes this an anime of narrow appeal.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative:

DissapointingHollow World BuildingIncompleteNo DevelopmentShallow

Ah! My Goddess TV – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Aa! Megami-sama! (TV)

 

Related: Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy (season 2)

Ah! My Goddess: Fighting Wings (OVA side story)

Ah! My Goddess: The Movie (sequel)

Ah! My Goddess OVA (original version)

Similar: My Bride is a Mermaid

Maison Ikkoku

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Supernatural Romance Comedy

Length: 24 episodes & 3 specials

 

Positives:

  • Sweet romance.
  • Fun, innocent comedy.
  • Pretty art style and elegant character design.
  • Beautiful music coupled with perfectly matched voices.

Negatives:

  • Slow relationship progression.

Keiichi is the unluckiest guy. If there is a hole to step in, he will step in it. If there is an accident waiting to happen, he will trigger it. Being a short guy with an unmemorable face, he’s never had a girlfriend either. Seeing such misfortune on one guy for all his life, the Yggdrassil machine up in heaven adjusts his fate. When he dials a number, his call redirects to the Goddess Helpline, and from his mirror emerges Belldandy (Norse goddess of the present).

She offers him one wish, any wish. Thinking this all some prank by his dorm seniors, he wishes for her to be his girlfriend. The wish is granted. However, since Kei’s university dorm has a no-girls policy, his manly seniors eject him onto the street, and after a lengthy search, Kei and Bell find residence in a temple. They are soon joined by her sisters, Skuld (goddess of future), who thinks his intentions impure, and Urd (goddess of past), who thinks them not impure enough!

Ah My Goddess is an anime full of heart and sweetness. It gives that warm, fuzzy feeling I like to experience every once in a while. The romance is light-hearted and innocent; the characters have goodness to them, even in the antagonists. Kei’s motor-club seniors always make me laugh – they carry full toolkits under their jackets in case anyone suffers a breakdown.

Despite the three women and one man living under the same roof setting, this isn’t a harem. Outside of the conflict with Urd and Skuld, Keiichi has to contend with hiding Belldandy’s identity as they attend university, where the campus queen, who rejected Keiichi in the past, is jealous of Belldandy’s beauty and popularity. The rich guy makes it his mission to pull her as well. It’s funny to see Belldandy clueless about human customs, getting into bad situations, but her innocence and kindness gets her out alive with Keiichi’s help. They also have to deal with devils, heaven glitches, and the occasional supernatural entity. Keiichi polymorphed into a scooter by a devil had me laughing to the point of pain.

I enjoyed the small details such as each goddess’s transport catalyst. Belldandy can travel between mirrors, Urd through televisions, and Skuld via warm water. They also recharge power with different sources – sleep, alcohol, and ice cream, respectively. Devils are weak to various things as well, which leads to many humorous scenarios; main antagonist Mara can’t handle lucky charms or resist dancing to rock, and Urd, being half devil, falls asleep to classical Enka.

Unfortunately, rather, frustratingly, I should say, the light-hearted nature of Ah My Goddess leads to a restrained relationship between Belldandy and Keiichi. The constant stalling, in particular due to Keiichi’s cowardice becomes tiresome before the end; the relationship barely sees progression after the initial foundation. This wouldn’t be such a problem if they were saving for season 2, but there it is even worse. At least the movie knows what to do.

Even so, I love Ah My Goddess. As long as you don’t go in expecting Rumbling Hearts, I am sure you will enjoy it too.

Art – High

Ah! My Goddess has a gorgeous art style and character design suited to the elegance of Belldandy. The animation is good, in particular when racing or casting spells. I appreciate Belldandy’s varied and ever-evolving wardrobe – most anime sticks to one or two outfits throughout.

Sound – High

Though the acting is great in Japanese, I prefer the English, for Belldandy is sweeter, Urd sexier, Skuld cuter, and Keiichi funnier. Fantastic music with Nord and Celtic influences.

Story – Medium

I enjoy the premise of a goddess coming down to Earth to live with a nice, ordinary guy. Keiichi and Belldandy make for the sweetest couple. Frustrating relationship stalling, however.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: Despite the problems with relationship progression, I easily recommend Ah! My Goddess. I love the humour and sweetness of these characters – Belldandy always lifts my spirits.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

CharmGreat MusicHilariousPositive Recommended English Voice Track

Negative:

Weak End

Bakemonogatari – Review

Japanese Title: Bakemonogatari

 

Related: Nisemonogatari (sequel)

Similar: Katanagatari

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance

Length: 13 episodes (12 is the finale; 13 is a bonus)

 

Positives:

  • Fantastic art style and animation to create a vibrant, yet haunting world.
  • Well-suited music to the dialogue heavy plot.
  • Strong male and female protagonists.
  • Solid voice work to accompany the varied dialogue.
  • Dark humour from lead female is a pleasant change of pace.

Negatives:

  • Incoherent story overall marred by throwaway side characters.
  • Random screens of text flashing every few seconds.
  • Sexually creepy at times.
  • Too little character development, even from the protagonists.
  • No world building despite the incredible visual design.

Bakemonogatari is one weird anime. You don’t get many as weird as this one. This anime has people with spaghetti for brains and staplers as weapons. Probably the most normal thing here, as far as anime goes, is starting with a pantie-shot. From then on, it goes to a whole different dimension. The question we ask ourselves: Is this weirdness good? It does create greatness, but unfortunately, it brings several poor decisions along for the ride.

Immediately, I was struck by the vivid art of Bakemonogatari. Its brilliant use of light, shade, and colour is gorgeous. There is style here, plenty of it. Gradients give backgrounds depth on top of the multi-layering. All colour choice is deliberate, intended to match the mood and atmosphere of the characters and their situations, even at the cost of continuity – a room could be bright one moment and change to dark if the situation called for it, regardless of realism.

It is a shame then that poor choices mar these visuals. Bakemonogatari use a mix of live-action, stop-motion, collage pages, and text for metaphors and similes. At times, the change in art is both hilarious and clever, the rest, tedious and forced. The worst offenders are the screens of text; they flash at random intervals for no purpose. Every instance broke my immersion. Get used to seeing a flat colour with Japanese lettering and the subtitle ‘unidentified cut’ underneath. A dozen times. Per episode. Every episode. Unbelievably stupid decision to kill the atmosphere. It feels as though they had a great idea to use live-action, collages, and so on, and found them to work so well that they thought, ‘why not add more?!’ only to kill it all by going too far. Such a shame.

The plot swims in much the same ocean as the alternative art styles: greatness weighed by poor decisions. We start with protagonist, Araragi, running up a grand spiral staircase in what you can assume is his high-school (most expensive high-school I have ever seen, especially considering no one goes there – more later). He looks up to see a girl falling down the hundred-meter tower. He catches her (don’t question how she drifts twenty meters from the central axis into the stairs) only to find she weighs five kilos (still enough that it should have broken his arms from that height, however). With Senjougahara’s secret revealed, she cannot let him go; she attacks armed with a box cutter and a stapler. After she staples the inside of his cheek for the fun of it, he pulls open his mouth to show no wound. Turns out Araragi recently reverted to human after a stint as a vampire. They become tenuous allies to return Senjougahara’s stolen weight (from a giant ghost crab that also took her memories) with the help of his acquaintance who cured his vampirism.

This initial premise captured my interest; unfortunate then that it lasted but a few episodes before it took a tangent about a little girl with another supernatural problem. The tangent itself wasn’t poor, but lacked development of the main plot and romance. When yet another girl with a paranormal issue enters afterwards, one realises this show is on a formulaic cycle and has little to do with the initial promise. His former life as a vampire has no bearing on the plot. Senjougahara’s backstory seems forgotten, and the relationship development stalls until episode twelve – a fantastic episode, admittedly.

In all, five girls partake, including the lead female, which is why you see Bakemonogatari categorised as a harem anime, yet this isn’t one. Yes, creepy sexualisation exists with a side character or two, but nothing that constitutes a relationship or even a crush required by harem anime. At least they made the correct decision in that aspect.

One of the strangest factors is how the entire world’s population is nine: protagonist, five girls, mystic, minor vampire girl, and Senjougahara’s father. That’s it. No background characters at all, not even in a school big enough to have a glass tower of no purpose, and parking for a thousand bicycles. Is this a problem though? Not really, but it did reduce world depth. This brings me to another negative: no world building. Why is this ghost crab after her? Where do all these supernatural elements come from? Where is the lore, the backstory? You get nothing. The world feels empty despite the visual depth.

Bakemonogatari is heavily dialogue driven. You have to pay attention, as it moves at a brisk pace while you extrapolate what is relevant from the random junk littered throughout. Episodes tend to diverge halfway through into some long-winded tangent before they return on track – medium success rate. The camera likes to cut away to different angles during dialogue. Focus on someone’s feet, then their hands, the corner of the table, the wall, a badly framed shot of the face. Prepare for irrelevance as well. The side of a building, some grass, a window, dirt, more grass…

Allow me to stress that this isn’t for children, and not because of the nudity. Topics of discussion range from Araragi’s virginity to Senjougahara’s choice of clothing and even to some specific types of incest-like fetishes. Honestly, I didn’t even know those were actual fetishes… Anyway, they deal with deep psychological issues caused by broken families and assault on loved ones. Dialogues are largely between the two lead characters, where Bakemonogatari is at its best. The dynamic between these two is a pleasure to watch. I find it hilarious how her attempts to help him with problems (she’s the more mature of the two), end up abusing him instead, making things worse, except, she honestly believes she’s helping. The humour is along those lines: serious in delivery, ironic in reception. His stray lock of hair being a symbol for his arousal level is clever too.

Despite the negatives, Bakemonogatari is still an anime worth watching. For maximum enjoyment, I recommend you watch no more than three episodes at a time to avoid overload and to maintain your focus throughout. Marvel at the art, focus on the lead characters, and you will end with a positive opinion.

Art – Very High

Truly spectacular. From the light to the shade, marvellous work here. However, it is brought down by some obnoxious screen flashes that occur far too often.

Sound – High

The right actors to match the great dialogue. Music is enjoyable too, outside of the opening and closing sequences.

Story – High

Moments of greatness distracted by random elements thrown in for the sake of being random. Three of the five story arcs fall flat.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: Watch this for what it does right. Take Bakemonogatari in small doses to stave off what it does wrong.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Engaging DialogueStrong Lead CharactersStunning Art Quality

Negative:

Hollow World BuildingIncoherentMisleading