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drama

Impressions: Love and Lies

Aug 13 // Karishma Roy
Of course, there is someone who seeks to defy the almighty government. An underdog who just wants to follow his heart, despite the penalties he will face for not completing his civic duty as a Japanese citizen. The penalties include a drop in social status (such as losing your job), not being able to enter the university of your choice, and other rewards from working hard. The hero of our series is fifteen-year-old Yukari Nejima, who falls into the trope of the below average dude in academics and sport. Despite the show featuring a lead with a generally dull personality, he managed to attract two hot and popular chicas. Chica number one is Misaka Takasaki, who Yukari has been in love with since he gave her half his eraser in class before they hit puberty. However, he didn’t have another conversation with her for the next five years. On the night he turns sixteen, he plucks up the courage to confess to her. And what do you know? Misaka has loved him for all these years too! Following this, they proceed to have a steamy make-out session with a white string of saliva connecting their mouths. Two things that I love about the characters is that their teenage horniness is emphasized in the very first episode (most romance anime I’ve seen take five seasons have them join pinky fingers) so this is great. Secondly, I find the term “love” is used way too arbitrarily in our world and in this one too. The “love” they profess to each other would be more believable and hold more substance if they actually knew one other better. I’m not denying that observing someone from afar gives you some insight into their personality, but for the sake of the story, it would have been more realistic if they had at least been acquaintances. Chica number two is Ririna Sanada. She is Yukari’s assigned marriage partner and a fascinating character. She has some tsundere qualities but does not completely fall into this trope. Even initially, I don't find Ririna cold or uncaring. She is socially awkward and refreshingly straightforward but through the series we see her make friends and come out of her shell a bit. Yukari and Ririna form a strange friendship that initially centers around a mutual goal to make team Yukari x Misaka work. Yep, Ririna is a sucker for romance stories and since she isn’t in love with Yukari (yet), she is cheering her supposed rival on. All three of them hang out together and have an interesting time (it’s not a threesome, don’t get your hopes up). This will, as you have already guessed, turn into a love triangle that I am very interested in watching. Yukari and Ririna's attachment slowly starts to escape the friend zone territory so right now the endgame is at fifty-fifty. I think both girls are too good for our main boy but I’m on Team Riri at the moment. Misaka, though, has a layer of mystery surrounding her that intrigues me. I don’t want to force too many spoilers but two strange things stick out about her. Before Yukari gets his notice that confirms Ririna is his assigned marriage partner – it is hand delivered by weird government officials who randomly turn up at his location late at night- he receives a text message that reads Misaka will be his future wife. But the message flashes for barely a second before his phone screen goes blank and the government authorities brush it off as a glitch – that sounds shady. Despite having turned sixteen a few months ago, Misaka has not yet received her notice, and her family has some weird connection with the government. Hopefully, as the series progresses, we'll be rewarded with tasty unraveling that features some dark past. The most obvious questions people will have about this societal structure revolves around the marginalized LGBTQ group. The answer will be revealed in the form of Yusuke Nisaka – a hot homosexual dude who also appears to have an interest in Yukari. Seriously, what is it about him!? So far (we’re at episode six) we don’t know too much about Yusuke’s family life or his past but I’m pretty sure he'll be causing some welcomed upheaval – start a revolution, dude! The premise of this story is gripping and it seems like it will be ambitiously tackling some important themes surrounding forced sexuality, the meaning of love, social control, advanced technology and perhaps other things I cannot currently think of. The art would be more appealing if not for the overly emphasized eyes. In terms of sound, I enjoy the ending song “Can’t you say” by Roys. The opening, “Kanashii Ureshii,” by Frederic is alright, and some of the background music does not fit the scenes well. While the characters aren’t anything special, I’m curious to see how their interactions and relationships will develop. Overall, this anime has me hooked enough to see it through to the end. If you’re a sucker for drama and hot action that has a healthy dose of ecchi, then this is for you.
Love and Lies photo
Both Are Forbidden
Love and Lies is set in an alternate reality where Japan has figured out a way to stop their socioeconomic issue of declining birth rates. How, you ask? They forbade love. In this new system, your marriage part...

Beyond Fan Service: On the messed-up people of Scum's Wish

May 31 // Karishma Roy
  It’s actually refreshing to see an anime showcase sex boldly as opposed to the frequent, unrealistic portrayal of teenagers who orgasm aka “nose-bleed” at the thought of holding hands. Like, no, that does not normally happen. On the other hand, like some of the viewers, I felt that instead of devoting so much time to very awkward (cringey even) sex scenes, there could have been more of a focus on the emotional and mental consequences of the characters’ actions. It definitely lacked balance in this aspect but nevertheless, the series is still worth watching. We are taken through the journey of how Hanabi and Mugi deal with their pain and loneliness (often through sex) and eventually grow and develop into less unlikeable versions of themselves. I’ve seen that some viewers have been quick to label the female characters as “sluts” and “whores” but let’s not forget that the males are just as invested in sleeping around. More importantly, however, the sex here serves a larger purpose than mere shock value or fan service- it does contribute critically to the characters’ development. It’s not a strange idea that people may fill their hollow hearts with physical affection. The concept of friends-with-benefits and one-night stands is common in western culture and Japanese as well. Hanabi suffers from low self-esteem and abandonment issues. It’s no wonder that she gets lost trying to find her way to true love. In fact, a lot of us can relate to some sort of intense, emotionally charged teenage past. This girl is a damaged human being and that manifests (albeit annoyingly) in her focus on primitive desires. In the beginning, dealings between Mugi and Hanabi lack warmth but slowly they start to open up a small part of their hearts to each other. There’s a sense that the two of them start catching feelings for one other (totally did not see that coming) but they choose to ignore it and focus on their unobtainable adult love interests. This web of desire and possibility makes the story riveting. Hanabi gets a chance to assess the kind of person she is and makes decisions on what and who she wants to become. All the characters mentioned play into well-known tropes but their relationships with each other are what drives this show. Everyone, except that creepy cousin, transforms as a result of their interactions. For the most part, it is fascinating to watch although I found Akane’s character transformation unrealistic and very questionable. What the hell was Narumi thinking? Let’s talk about this biatch for a minute – she is by far the most twisted and fascinating one. Akane seems to derive pleasure from being the target of other women's jealousy. She sleeps with men (and underage boys) who are either in relationships or are wanted by someone else. There is a sadistically childish streak about wanting to essentially “steal” what isn’t her’s and Mugi was observant enough to figure her out as quickly as he did. Do people like her actually exist in real life!? In the end, she grows out of this toxic way of thinking which is great but I kind of wished she had an STD or prison sentence to go along with the new mindset. Other than this, I was very happy with the ending (especially Hanabi’s) because it was pleasantly realistic. The art was neat with an appealing soft colour palette and animation was fluid – every emotion was conveyed with exquisite clarity. The feels do punch you right in the gut. The soundtrack, both the opening - "Uso no Hibana" by 96 Neko - and the ending - "Heikosen" by Sayuri - are major hits among the fans. I listen to it on repeat most days! I rate this anime highly despite being unable to relate to or like most of the characters. I think that the idea of needing to empathise with every main character is limiting and one of the main reasons I watch anime, TV-shows or read books is to expand my knowledge on different fronts including religion, sexuality, culture, way of life etc.… so yeah. Should you watch it? Well, it’s a heavy, dark and sexual series where the tags “lust” and “obsession” would be more accurate than romance. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then go for it. My only advice would be to watch it privately with your headphones connected. P.S. I saw that people were comparing this anime to School Days and yes, that was equally messed up but in a different way. Scum’s Wish is purely psychological and emotional – no-one gets hurt physically, and it’s a much better watch.
Scum's Wish photo
What are your sinful desires?
Scum’s Wish is twelve episodes of a mature, romantic and psychological drama set at a Japanese high school. I will emphasise the “psychological” tag because this series is one hell of a m...

Review: Orange

Oct 11 // Karishma Roy
Orange Studio: TMS Entertainment Viewed on: Crunchyroll  Premiere Date: July 4, 2016 Orange is a character driven story and as such every single action and interaction matters. Naho, as the female protagonist, is a vexing character. She is a massive introvert verging on social ineptness. Despite knowing exactly what to do, thanks to the letter, she lacks the confidence to step out of her comfort zone and can often be found crying or running away. I felt that Naho’s growth as a character should’ve been made more evident to avoid audience frustration. Several times, I found myself saying, “Get an effing grip, gurl”, and this was especially true when she unnecessarily wastes time being indecisive or worrying about things like why her love interest might stretch out his hand with a longing look in his eyes. Thankfully her friends enlighten her on the age-old concept of hand-holding in romance. In some ways Naho’s weak personality is an advantage because it creates both internal and external conflicts that make the story eventful. She eventually gets her shizz together and towards the end appears much less timid. Kakeru, the male protagonist, may come across as playing into the trope of an angsty teenager but he suffers from depression and suicidal ideation. Episode 12, in particular, pulled at my heartstrings as it gave a gravely accurate picture of the severity of mental health issues. Research shows that Japanese people have very little understanding of depression, and suicide rates (especially among young men) are rather high, so I applaud this series for raising awareness about this serious condition. It was easy to understand Kakeru’s guilt and self-hatred and I found myself ruining my mascara as I ugly cried for him more than once. The romance between Naho and Kakeru was a bit clumsy and I’m just glad that Suwa existed - hats off to the best wingman ever! He was the most likeable character and is basically a saint. The determination with which he supports Naho and Kakeru, despite his own feelings for her, is truly remarkable. Our two main lovebirds would’ve been lost without him. The friendship is strong in this story – Hagita, Azu and Takako, along with Suwa, all come together to help Naho and attempt to save Kakeru. I appreciated that his friends noticed his depression, took it seriously and were actively doing something about it. The whole squad naturally complemented each other and I enjoyed their mundanely comical banter. Their different personalities were evident as the story played out, thankfully avoiding the need for character summations. The character design and aesthetics were visually pleasing except in episode 9 where the drop in animation quality made me gasp in shock. But, that is forgivable. Aside from that, the beautiful scenery and calm background music conveyed well the slow and steady slice-of-life feel to the story. Even though the mood is mellow on the surface, we are made aware that disaster is brewing underneath and the audience can’t quite relax. I liked the ending song, but I felt the opening was too upbeat whereas a slower and more emotional song would suit the melodramatic feel of Orange. So, should you watch it? I think yes. The overarching theme of Orange is about not wanting to carry regrets which I believe everyone can relate to. Most people tend to regret the things they didn’t do and this story encourages us all to become braver individuals who take risks. In that sense, Orange is inspiring. While I was dissatisfied with the romance mainly due to Naho’s initial characterisation, I accept that it was necessary to push the plot forward and allow the story to be told over 13 episodes. In every other way, this tale left my heart feeling full and fragile. The narrative about depression is accurate and it was refreshing to see a very prevalent mental health issue laced in with this anime. Orange is a good blend of romance, friendship, and slice-of-life with a sci-fi twist. If you find those genres appealing, then I believe it will be more than worth your time. [This review is based on a streaming copy of the series viewed on a premium account paid for by Japanator]
Orange Review photo
Would you change your past?
I was very excited for Orange, an anime adaptation of the manga, since it did incredibly well as a live-action film and there was generally a positive buzz surrounding this series. Did it meet my expectations? I enjoyed it an...

Live-action Idolmaster photo
Live-action Idolmaster

Wait, what? Amazon's making a live-action Idolmaster show


Kinda missing the point, isn't it?
Aug 28
// Josh Tolentino
Are you ready for this? Are you LADY for this? Amazon certainly thinks so, because it's taking The [email protected], Bandai Namco's landmark idol-simulator/DLC factory, is coming to the one place it has never truly been: The real w...

The Hero Yoshihiko photo
The Hero Yoshihiko

Dragon Quest Parody Series The Hero Yoshihiko gets a third season


It's time to go on a new journey
Apr 24
// Salvador G Rodiles
For a good while, The Hero Yoshihiko has been on my list of shows to watch, since it looks like a fun comedy series that'll please any RPG fan. With a new season being announced, my urge to catch up with the low-budget series...
Utada Hikaru photo
Utada Hikaru

Rejoice: Two new Utada Hikaru singles launch this month


Hikki is back again, baby!
Apr 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
When one becomes a parent, the world around them tends to change as it marks the beginning of a new journey in life. As Utada Hikaru was preparing her new album while trying to balance her new path, it turns out that folks ar...
RIP photo
RIP

Rest in Peace: Masayuki Izumi passes away


A great antihero has left our world
Aug 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
Ladies and gentlemen; it pains me to tell you all that Masayuki Izumi passed away on July 28. Sadly, the guy left to the other side at 35, which was too soon for someone at that age. The cause of his death was an undisclosed ...
Death Note photo
Death Note

Death Note TV series announced and characters revealed


More deaths than Game of Thrones
May 25
// Anthony Redgrave
Tsugumi Ohba's writing combined with Takeshi Obata's art produced a heart pounding, page turning manga called Death Note that was later adapted into a widely popular TV anime, a ho-hum movie adaptation, and some more side sto...
Junjou Romantica photo
Junjou Romantica

Junjou Romantica getting a DVD Litebox re-release


Love lives!
Jun 12
// Kristina Pino
Shungiku Nakamura's Junjou Romantica remains a relevant title for overseas fans these days, it seems, because Nozomi Entertainment announced they'll be re-releasing the entire first season this September in one 3-disc package...
Crunchyroll x FUJI TV photo
Crunchyroll x FUJI TV

Crunchyroll partners with FUJI TV to stream 21 dramas


Some of them are required viewing
Apr 07
// Chris Walden
Remember when Crunchyroll used to show Japanese drama? I kid, but let's be honest, it's been pretty slim pickings on the drama front as so much time and effort was instead poured into acquiring anime simulcasts. However, this...
Braving Inwards. photo
Braving Inwards.

Come meet the Kyoryugers of 100 years in the future


What is this sophisticated child-generating technology?
Jan 27
// Chris Walden
We do still have a few weeks of dinosaur-related sentai action, but if the conclusion to the story and a few movies don't seem like enough content for you, why not get excited for the upcoming special? Set 100 years after th...
Drama photo
Drama

An American take on Boys Over Flowers


Will it be worth the watch?
Dec 26
// Amber Hunt
So I'm a little obsessed with drama, typical for a girl right? I was a big fan of the British show Skins, and then later found myself in love with Boys Over Flowers. If I could describe to you how much I adore it, I woul...
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Slice of life: Sunny manga grabbed by VIZ Media


The boring lives of teenage orphans
May 09
// Kristina Pino
If you're a fan of slice of life, here's a thing for you. Sunny, by Taiyo Matsumoto, has been grabbed by VIZ Media and translated by Michael Arias (producer: The Animatrix). The release of the first volume of this manga will ...
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BWAHAHAH! Josh Groban singing in Japanese!


Oh, Josh...
Oct 19
// Dale North
You guys know who Josh Groban is, right? He's a very talented multi-platinum selling 'easy listening' vocalist that has 'raised up' so many weddings with his music that I get teary just thinking about his voice. So, again, s...
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Rejoice? Live action xxxHOLiC drama incoming


Sep 06
// Elliot Gay
I'm not on very good terms with Clamp these days. I absolutely adore their early work (Card Captor Sakura, Magical Knight Rayearth), but their recent stuff hasn't done much for me whatsoever. I've heard good things about xxxH...
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Sengoku Basara -Moonlight Party- to rival TMA?


Jul 05
// Chris Walden
Remember there is going to be a live-action Sengoku Basara series? Well, the official site now has a trailer to show off some of the characters involved, and I can tell you now, we're in for a treat. You also get to hear a l...
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EXILE's Akira to star in Great Teacher Onizuka remake


May 24
// Bob Muir
For a long time, people have loved GTO, a.k.a. Great Teacher Onizuka, the story of a gang-member-turned-awesome-teacher. The original manga ran from 1997 to 2002, which spawned a live-action TV drama, a movie, and an ani...
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Strawberry Night gets a night out to the theaters


Mar 23
// Josh Totman
Fuji TV's mystery drama Strawberry Night has just ended as of last Tuesday. The drama ended with a high 15.9% viewer rating for the final episode and a 15.4% viewer rating average for the season. That's some pretty strong num...
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Waifu Amami Yuki to star in Kaeru no Oujo-sama


Feb 28
// Josh Totman
FujiTV just announced that Amami Yuki will be playing the role of a legendary musical star in the upcoming musical drama series Kaeru no Oujo-sama. This is not anything new for Amami Yuki. She has had a very successful backgr...
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Yakuza spin-off will receive a TV drama


Feb 13
// Chris Walden
According to Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, there will be a television adaptation of the upcoming Yakuza spin-off game; Yakuza: Black Panther 2. The drama will be an eleven-part series that airs late at night, and will be released in ...
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Crunchyroll simulcasting Nisemonogatari, among others


Jan 04
// Bob Muir
The Winter 2012 season is upon us, and that means it's time for the licensing announcements to start rolling in! Bust out your Crunchyroll accounts, because they've acquired simulcasting rights for Bakemonogatari sequel Nisem...
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Liar Game: Reborn trailer appears, still no Nao


Dec 28
// Chris Walden
Who is up for some glorious drama? The full-length trailer for the second and upcoming movie Liar Game: Reborn has just surfaced, showing off some familiar faces in Akiyama (Shota Matsuda) and Fukunaga (Suzuki Kosuke). As we ...
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The Ranma 1/2 live drama trailer is here


Nov 27
// Hiroko Yamamura
Your nervous wait is finally over. The trailer for the Ranma 1/2 live drama trailer is finally ready to be viewed! I have to say, this look better than I expected. I guess the use of the word drama had me worried. It looks ev...
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The Truth: New Liar Game film inbound


Oct 05
// Chris Walden
If you take a look inside Weekly Young Jump, you will notice that there is an announcement for a new Liar Game film! Interestingly enough, it seems that Kanzaki Nao may not be making an appearance. In the article itself, it s...
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Ranma 1/2 is going to be a live action drama


Sep 27
// Hiroko Yamamura
Wow, talk about blast from the past! Rumiko Takahashi's classic sensation Ranma 1/2 is going to be made into a two hour drama, to be aired on NHK in December. I'm pretty excited to see some sex changing, animal ...
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Rejoice: Ouran Host Club to get live action drama!


May 19
// Brad Rice
The Ouran High School Host Club franchise has proven to be spectacularly popular not only in Japan, but in the U.S. as well. Now, five years past when the 2006 anime was released, the show is finally making its way ...
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Hikari Mistushima turns up the heat with Miike's Icimei


May 10
// Hiroko Yamamura
Sexy idol Hikari Mitsushima is having an awesome year. She'll be appearing opposite heart throb Eita in the upcoming Takashi Miike 3D flim, Ichimei -- a remake of the Japanese classic, Seppuku. The fi...
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Mnet teams up with Comcast to bring Asian media to cable


Apr 06
// Brad Rice
Exciting headline, isn't it? Sometimes, these cable deals can seem a little boring, but this one caught our eye: a company called Mnet is teaming up with Comcast to distribute Asian pop culture in a dedicated channel. So, the...
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Arakawa goes live-action, might bring creepiness with it


Apr 01
// MARC
Arakawa Under the Bridge was one funny show. A lot of people seem to agree as well, and if I were to just point out a single favorite thing out of the entire surrealist comedy, I'd have to say that the live-action previews fo...
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Saki Aibu dons a fat suit for her newest drama, Rebound


Feb 16
// Colette Bennett
Saki Aibu -- you know that pretty girl from Zettai Kareshi and Buzzer Beat? Yep, that's the one. The same one you see above sporting a full fat suit. If you can't even recognize her, that's good, because that's exactly what t...

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