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.

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



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


  • 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.

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

Positive: None


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



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


  • 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.

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


CharmGreat MusicHilariousPositive Recommended English Voice Track


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)



  • 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.


  • 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.

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


Engaging DialogueStrong Lead CharactersStunning Art Quality


Hollow World BuildingIncoherentMisleading