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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...

Kiss Him, Not Me photo
Kiss Him, Not Me

Kiss Him, Not Me : Fangirling, Feels and Boys' Love

Who are you shipping?
Dec 06
// Karishma Roy
Kae Serinuma, the protagonist of Kiss Him, Not me, is a fujoshi – a term that describes female fans of any media (anime, manga, light novels) that depicts romance between gay men. She constantly fantasises about the hot...

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...

Rickshaw Pullers photo
Rickshaw Pullers

Japanese ladies love them some rickshaw-pullers

Women love a Shafu
May 07
// Soul Tsukino
When the single women of Japan are asked about the types of guys they are into, you get the usual answers of rock singers, pilots, and of course Foreign men, but the men of one particular occupation have seen their stock in the eyes of women rise in recent times. That of the hardworking rickshaw puller.

Final Impressions: MY Love STORY!!

Oct 06 // Nick Valdez
Leading into the finale, Yamato got herself a part time job at a bakery over spring break, hoping that she'd be able to pick up some tricks of the trade. But much to Takeo's chagrin, the head patisserie Ichinose (who, as the show likes to point out, has all the qualities of a traditional shoujo protagonist) has a crush on her and vows to Takeo that he'll tell her after taking first place at his big baking competition. So Takeo spends the first half of the final episode dejected, and this is entirely a new feeling for Takeo. As he questions whether or not he should actually be with Yamato, he gets steady reassurance from all of their friends that Yamato chose to date him because he's so great. And it's not like the audience needed reassurance as we've seen his greatness throughout the entire series. It completely makes sense for the kind hearted (but not completely pure hearted, as I'll discuss later) Yamato to fall in love with Takeo, a guy who'd happily sacrifice his own well being to help someone else find happiness. And that's put to the test here in the finale, as well.  When Ichinose realizes he's forgotten his baking tools, Yamato asks Takeo for help. Being the big goof that he is, he runs all the way to the bakery and to the contest without a second thought (only reflecting on helping Ichinose win after all the craziness settles), catching Ichinose by surprise. After Ichinose wins, he confesses to Yamato (right in front of Takeo like a damn goob) but Yamato rightfully turns him down. She explains that she's never really felt the same way (thus clearing up the only major problem with this beat as we never really know what she's thinking during all of this) and genuinely loves Takeo. After some loving awkwardness, Takeo calls Yamato by her first name, Rinko, and the two clumsily shuffle off into the future.  I didn't enjoy this final arc since it was the first time it was about Takeo alone, rather than the two working out relationship stuff, but I won't really let it hinder my enjoyment of the overall package. As community member John Seiler helped point out, this show is one of the few available that reveals different types of love. My Love Story!! is technically everyone's love story as I'm sure there's any type of relationship you can cling to. There's the fast developing Kurihara and Nanako, the already established of Takeo's parents, the teacher student dynamic between Saijou and Takeo, the crippling shyness leading to idolization between Yukika and Sunakawa, the unrequited love of Suna's sister and her admirer, and the nearly asexual Sunakawa who just wants to avoid all of that together. While the focus is given to Takeo and Yamato's central relationship, we're always given little peeks into these outside loves so no one feels left out. And it's all just so it hammers the main message home, that there's never one right way to love.  My Love Story!! felt more personal than not, because for the first time, I legitimately felt that a show was trying to tell my story. As a towering man of 6'3 and 300 pounds, any girl I've ever been interested in has been smaller than me so I know all too well what Takeo went through. His awkwardness that made him stand out from his friends, his inability to believe that someone would actually have feelings for him, and being so hilariously inept at relationships that he couldn't figure out how much Yamato wanted to take their relationship further. That's also a great part of this series too. Although Yamato's meek demeanor would perceive otherwise, she's always been the more active one. You'd expect her to be fall into the shoujo traps of the "pure hearted maiden," but that hilariously went to Takeo. Neither character ever acted the way they were expected to, and that's what makes a great watch.  Couple that with the show's use of color, outrageous reactions to things (as Takeo's many faces and forms led to quite a few laughs), and its ability to hit that sweet spot of romance and comedy on more than on occasion, My Love Story!! was the best anime of the Spring and Summer seasons. It's a love story everyone'll love. 
Final Love STORY photo
"Suki da"
Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, as I'm sure I've said this in the past, but I'm a sucker for good romantic comedies. While there isn't exactly a big list of films I could point to, there are definitely a boatloa...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episodes 19-23

Sep 18 // Nick Valdez
Episode 19 Takeo's mom has been pregnant on the sidelines, and it finally comes to a literal head in this episode. Takeo's been concerned with his mom's health ever since she told him about it (even if he's the one who's always reckless with his body), but she's maintaining a high level of activity despite his wishes. She's tough, and Takeo knows it, but he can't help but worry. After saving another pregnant woman from a fall, his mother feels a pain in her side and ultimately goes to the hospital. Takeo understandably freaks out and after running frantically and carrying his mother to her hospital room, Takeo's left to worry on the sidelines. After some consoling for Suna, he calms down and after retrieving a charm from Yamato wishing a safe delivery, Takeo's mom gives birth to the adorable giant baby you see above. In case you were wondering the show wouldn't crack a joke about that, Suna notes that she's the biggest baby in the room. It's actually the cutest and funniest thing.  Episode 20 This is my favorite episode to date. When Takeo laments that he never gets chocolate from a girl on Valentine's Day (and notes that Suna always receives tons of chocolate along with one from a secret admirer each year), he remembers Yamato and suddenly freaks out. Beaming with happiness, his friends corner him and ask if there's a way they could hang out in a huge group with Yamato's friends like they did at Christmas. During the group date, Yamato gives everyone chocolate cookies and Takeo's constantly wondering when he's going to get his special Valanetine's chocolate from Yamato. He's depressed when he thinks he won't get one, suddenly realizes he should've appreciated the cookies, and he acts like a giant, adorable idiot the entire episode. Of course, Yamato shows up with some kind of giant chocolate mountain and Takeo blows a super kiss from a couple of floors up. It's a good year for them both.  Ugh, this show is so cute I can't stand it.  Episode 21 During my last recap, I noted how Sunakawa is not only disinterested in women, but romance in general. He's clearly in tune with emotions as the show's proven that he cares about Takeo (going so far as to not date any of the girls who secretly joked about Takeo behind his back), but he's never pursued anyone for himself. It's a forward thinking asexual person that I hope wasn't the writer's happy accident. Anyway, the first person to challenge this and show a definite romantic interest in Suna is Yukika, a girl who's had a crush on him for ten years now. Her major flaw, however, is her crippling shyness that keeps her from actually approaching Suna in any way. the only way she's expressed her love is through Valentine's chocolate throughout the years with a note reading "I don't need anything, I just want you to love me back" or something to that effect. When Takeo and Yamato finally convince Yukika to approach, she suddenly blurts out a confession and Suna oddly agrees to go out on a group date.  While this episode tests my theory, it also posits that none of the girls were unique enough to have a relationship with a main character. Yukika's got all of the design of a new main character (silver hair, personality traits, uh, love?) but I never quite dug her. I actually found her quite annoying and way too stalkery to actually lead to a healthy relationship. Regardless, this episode's hilarious because Takeo's radar like senses always spotted Yukika.  Episode 22 While the last episode challenges Suna's bachelor lifestyle, this episode highlight's Suna's greatest quality and, potentially, his biggest flaw. You see, he's such a nice guy that he's willing to put everyone else's happiness ahead of his own. While that may be an anime staple, Suna's is actually kind of tragic. You see, as the group all go out to the zoo, Suna's just humoring Yukika the entire time. He doesn't really react to anything (except to Takeo, which Yukika points out later as a sign that he's truly interested in someone), and rather than it resembling traditional shoujo love interests, it actually adds to Suna's mysterious nature. We're never really sure what he's thinking and in fact we don't really find out till episodes end when he ultimately (and understandably given that she watched him from the shadows for ten years) declines Yukika's love. He gives her a notebook, and she loves that she even got to spend some time with the object of her affection. Of course, there was some weirdness in the middle when she freaked out on Suna since he had no interest in her. That only cemented how annoying she was. I'm glad it didn't really work out.  Episode 23 As a sort of palette cleanser, this episode is a light affair that returns to Takeo and Yamato's relationship. When Yamato gets a job at a bakery in order to better learn how to craft desserts, Takeo gets jealous for the first time in the series. When a handsome looking patisseire, Ichinose (always a hilarious ring of a traditional shoujo protagonist), mistakes Yamato's interest in cakes for an interest in him, he eventually challenges Takeo's relationship. He runs to Takeo and asks if Takeo really belongs with Yamato and states that she deserves someone more alike to her. Takeo, for the first time in the series, doubts himself and thinks Ichinose might've had a point. The episode ends as Takeo stands on shaken ground for the first time. Will Takeo actually give up on his relationship with Yamato? Nah, probably not. But this is an intelligent way to bring Takeo's untraditional nature and design in the genre to light. And it'll most likely bring about a good end to the season, and more likely, the series.  I'm not ready for this show to end, but as no sequel season was announced, I'm pretty sure the next episode is the last. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when it's over.
Annotated Love Story!! photo
I love this show so much
Have I told you that My Love Story!! is my favorite anime of the season? Although I jumped into these annotations majorly late, I've been glued to the screen each week just waiting on the latest release. It's the most fun I'v...

Annotated Anime: MY Love STORY!! episodes 15-18

Aug 27 // Nick Valdez
Episode 15 Although I've conceded the fact that MY won't have the kind of big emotional breaks I'd see in a more nuanced romantic story, that doesn't mean there's a lack of tension. It's kind of nice to watch something that's so low stakes, every molehill seems like a mountain. The latest stake is the introduction of a new love rival, Saijou, a classmate of Takeo's who's really bad at athletics. When she gets swept up in a relay, she asks Takeo to help train her. In classic Takeo fashion, he's super cool and supportive (and eventually wins the relay with no problems) and Saijou falls for him. All the while Yamato (thanks to input from her friends) catches on to Saijou and is constantly worrying over Takeo. But good ole' simpleminded Takeo sees Saijou as nothing more than another classmate. As Saijou calls him out after school in order to confess, she chickens out and asks Takeo to be her teacher instead.  Episode 16 Since this is as close to a conflict as I'd expect between the two of them, it has to be mined for as much as it can. Thankfully, the whole thing only lasts two episodes as a lesser anime would've stretched it out to at least three. That's sort of the show's best quality and biggest flaw. There's just nothing getting in the way of Takeo and Yamato's burgeoning relationship, so there really isn't any room for outside development. While that leads to some great decisions like having them form a relationship in the first episode, it's a greater effect of the Shoujo genre's flaw. In this episode Saijou is still trying to make advances on Takeo after she tells him she likes him just as a "person," and as pure hearted as Takeo is, he takes it literally and completely ignores her advances. Yamato is worried, but Takeo tells her not to worry because he's not popular with girls (instead of saying he really loves Yamato). When Saijou confesses again (during a particularly well crafted shot), Takeo turns her down and realizes why Yamato was so worried. After a pleasant scene, the two reconcile.  Best part of this episode? Sunakawa comforting Saijou. He always seems so cool and collected (and a great flip on a traditional Shoujo protagonist), but he's in touch with people's emotions. He seems asexual himself, but that doesn't mean he's checked out. It's pretty neat.  Episode 17 Even though I just went into this whole thing about the story not allowing for outside character developments, here comes "My Christmas." As Takeo and Yamato's friends Kurihara and Nanako confess their feelings to their respective friends, the two decide to cheer their friends on and take a back seat in this episode (even if it's their first Christmas as a couple). Since Kurihara is not used to talking with women, he ends up pushing Nanako away with constant jokes. Basically, he's trying the kindergarten tactic of picking on the girl you like in order to get attention (this doesn't work, gentlemen) and it's failing hard. After Nanako is finally fed up and Takeo gives a rousing speech, Kurihara climbs a giant Christmas tree in order to grab its top star (that's said to instantly make two people a couple, or something like that). Then the two reconcile and it's all back to normal.   I didn't quite like this episode. I may complain that the show doesn't explore others well enough, but if the other character's lives aren't engaging, I don't really care.  Episode 18 I'm a little sad it took so many episodes to get to this point, but it's finally happened. Takeo and Yamato kiss! It's also my favorite episode up to this point. It's Takeo's birthday (and also New Year's Day), so Yamato makes it her goal to make it Takeo's best yet. After hearing from Sunakawa that Takeo doesn't want to kiss until Spring (and calling back to one of the best gags of the series, Takeo stealing a kiss from Sunakawa), Yamato decides to push forward and kiss Takeo sometime on his birthday. This episode's full of romantic and well crafted scenes, and has a particularly deft hand with the lighting. It's all so well done, Madhouse just knocks it out of the park here. Story wise, not much happens other than Yamato and Takeo furthering their relationship a bit, but it's just so damn cute. It reminds me of why I fell in love with this in the first place. It's a return to the awkwardness, and I can't help but revel in it.  Truth be told, it just brings up a lot of memories for me. I'm 6'4, so I've always towered over girls I've dated and I've had to take the position above a few times. Just seeing it here warms me up inside.  I hope MY Love Story!! runs for more than 24 episodes, or announces a second season soon, because I don't want this to end yet. 
Annotated Love Story!! photo
Takeo x Yamato forever
I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. But it's been such a long time since I've been drawn to a romantic anime since they've all pretty much become the same thing. It's either an inappropriate relationship, an appropriate but b...

JapanaTen: Romantic Comedies to celebrate Valentine's by

Feb 14 // Red Veron
[embed]33518:4458:0[/embed] 1.) Ouran High School Host Club (Full First Episode above)Now this is an oldie from 2007 but don't let that turn you away. I did that when I first saw the opening which I thought was the most... uhm, not for straight guys like myself and immediately dismissed it. However, a podcast I was listening to at the time recommended it and gave a brief summary.The story of Ouran begins as a Fujioka Haruhi, a poor scholarship honor student starts attending a academy exclusively for the super rich. Haruhi accidentally wanders into the school's Host Club, basically a student club of male hosts--- those who provide company to sit beside you and chat while they sell you drinks and food at their establishment. Haruhi accidentally breaks a very expensive vase and is forced to join the club to pay it off.However, things aren't as they seem and it turns out that Haruhi was a girl all along who wore the male school uniform because she couldn't afford the female uniform. The club finds out and tries to hide it while having Haruhi work off her debt to the club. It's a really fun romantic comedy where the laughs can outshine the bishie shoujo stuff enough that even straight males like myself can enjoy. This is one you can enjoy with a SO or alone.   [embed]33518:4459:0[/embed] 2.) My Bride is a Mermaid  (Video Clip Above)My Bride is a Mermaid is one of those boy-meets-girl anime where the girl ends up living under the same roof as boy because of certain circumstances. Though the difference here is that the girl is a mermaid, a mermaid who is part of an undersea merman Yakuza clan.So when the lead boy Nagasumi drowns and is saved by the mermaid Sun, Nagasumi is to be put to death for learning the existence of mermaids under the mermaid law. Sun steps in and agrees to marrying Nagasumi to spare his life and goes to live with him. Sun's family is outraged and hijinks ensue with the family stepping in and try to break them apart.My Bride is a Mermaid is a romantic comedy full of outrageous visual gags and a few great references to anime and manga (I just saw a JoJo gag a moment ago).   [embed]33518:4460:0[/embed] 3.) School Rumble  (Full First Episode above)Another great comedy with romance and even more comedy. School Rumble is an older show that I enjoyed in both dubbed and subbed forms because the humor is that good and the dub provided some extra 4th wall breaking gags.Tenma Tsukamoto is in love with Oji Karasuma. Karasuma does not seem aware of Tenma Tsukamoto. Kenji Harima is in love with Tenma Tsukamoto and Kenji is a delinquent who is trying to go straight because of his love of Tenma. Sounds complicated? Add in a couple more girls and more misunderstandings and you've got much more silly fun.   [embed]33518:4461:0[/embed] 4.) The World God Only Knows  (First Opening above) Did your parents ever tell you that your skill in playing video games would never help you in life? For dating sim master Keima Katsuragi, the protagonist of The World God Only Knows (TWGOK), it actually gives him the opportunity to become a god. Keima accepts an offer in an E-mail to "conquer" girls which he mistakenly thinks as an invitation to test a video game.The invitation turns out to be from hell (not the western concept of hell) and it was to actually capture escaped evil spirits from hell who have possessed the bodies of his female schoolmates. Keima has to use his skills in dating sims to capture to hearts of the possessed girls to release the evil spirits or if he doesn't abide by the contract, he will have to pay with his life.TWGOK features different heroines that Keima "conquers" provide great variety in the show and interesting premise, not to mention the comical situations provided by the unique setting.   [embed]33518:4463:0[/embed] 5.) Mayo Chiki  (First Opening above)Boy meets boy. The other boy is really a girl and is a highly trained bodyguard to a sadistic rich girl. Boy is allergic to girls because he has been beaten up by females his whole life. Boy has to help hide girl's secret from the rest of the school. Funny situations happen. I enjoyed this one a lot but don't remember much. Hope you enjoy it.   [embed]33518:4464:0[/embed] 6.) Kimi Ni Todoke  (First Opening above)Perhaps this is the only "pure" romantic show on here, Kimi Ni Todoke is shoujo romance anime with plenty of moments that can make your heart smile. KnT is about Sawako Kuronoma, a girl often misunderstood by her classmates and called "Sadako" (from the Ringu movie series) because of her gloomy appearance. Sawako is actually a sweet girl who finds friends and even love through the course of the series and is just adorably sweet in her sincerity and innocence.Kimi ni Todoke is definitely something to watch if you want a bit more romance with a few light ups and downs along the way.   [embed]33518:4465:0[/embed] 7.) Nisekoi  (First Opening above)Nisekoi is a harem anime. I am okay with harem anime as long as it uses it uses harem as a source of comedy. If you want a harem comedy, this is a solid title for that kind of entertainment. Nisekoi is about Raku Ichijou, an heir to a gangster family, is forced to be a couple with Chitoge Kirisaki who the daughter of the boss of a rival gang. The couple must keep up appearances of being a couple to maintain the peace between the two gangs. Raku also has a locket pendant with a keyhole that he has had since he was little and the key to it was given to a girl whom he made a promise of love. It also turns out that there is more than one key and Chitoge happens to have one of those keys. Nisekoi is animated by the studio SHAFT, the crazy people behind stuff like Madoka Magica and the Bakemonogatari series, so expect crazy motifs and animation that you would expect from that studio. If you like SHAFT or harem comedy, watch Nisekoi. If not, go watch something else on this list.   [embed]33518:4466:0[/embed] 8.) Monthly Girls' Nozaki Kun  (First Opening above) One the best surprises from last year, Monthly Girls' Nozaki-Kun is an absolute joy to watch. A school comedy that features an eccentric cast of characters with punchlines that are hilarious without being too absurd. The story of Nozaki-kun starts of with the female lead Chiyo who finds out that her crush Nozaki-kun is a shoujo manga author through a series of funny misunderstandings. Chiyo ends up working with him and the series focuses on her and Nozaki along with their friends.I'd hate to spoil much of the details on this one since those little bits are the best parts of the show. Nozaki-kun came out of nowhere last year and was one of the best rom-coms of last year, I would have never expected a shounen comedy show about a shoujo author to be a great rom-com. I urge everyone looking for a fresh romantic comedy to check this one out.   [embed]33518:4467:0[/embed] 9.) Chunibyo, Love and other Delusions  (First Opening above)When Yuuta Togashi was in middle school, he used to be a "Chunibyo", a term that roughly translates "second year junior high syndrome" or one who has delusions of grandeur.  Now Yuuta is in High School and has now closed that chunibyo chapter of his life but one day he meets Rikka Takanahashi, a cute girl his age who is still chunibyo. They become friends and grow closer together, Yuuta finds out that Rikka is looking for something.Chunibyo is a fun and endearing show. Not so much in the second season, but the first season is really good. Plenty of laughs and a lot of heart, keep a look out for this one.   [embed]33518:4468:0[/embed] 10.) Amagami SS (First Opening above)Amagami SS is one show I recommend for those looking for a show with romance but don't want the dragged out drama that most anime have to fill out their episode count. Anime based on dating sims tend to always be a mess due to the nature of dating sims and how they have branching paths that the anime would try to clumsily cobble together into one single story.Amagami SS tries an entirely different approach that I really like, it just gives each heroine their own mini arc that are independent of each other. This allows each heroine a more focused story that is faithful to the source material. There are six different heroines in Amagami SS that would surely please different audiences. Oh and there's the main character guy who's boring but earnest who happens to have been heartbroken in the past when he got stood up on Christmas, the holiest of date days in Japan.So what's your romantic comedy recommendation? What did you do to satisfy your romantic cravings today?
Valentine's Anime! photo
For those who love to laugh and love
[Author's Note: This is for those who want romance, those who do not scroll no further! I have something else for you later today]Valentine's day falls on a weekend this year and I know some of you are in the mood for some ro...

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...

Valentine's Day: Our Favorite Anime Romances

Feb 14 // Karen Mead
In no particular order: Misa and Usui (Kaichou wa Maid-Sama) At first glance, Misa and Usui are such an odd pairing due to their own mysterious natures. Misa hides the fact that she works in a maid cafe while Usui hides... well, everything! As we get to know each character though and they start to grow closer, we see some pretty amazing things happen over the course of 26 episodes (or dozens of manga chapters, depending on which route you decided to take with this series.).  By the end of the anime series however, they've grown to the point where they can finally confide in each other, which is an amazing change from where they were during the first episode. That's why they're my favorite couple this year: they aren't static... they grow and they change. They challenge each other each and every day that they are together to become better than they alread were and really, what more could you ask for?  - L.B. Bryant Lina and Gourry (Slayers) There's something to be said for a romance that develops over a long period of time without feeling dragged out. For me, that'd have to be the odd relationship shared between Lina and Gourry from the various Slayers TV series. Up through Slayers Next, these two were partners in crime, traveling together and gradually learning to rely on each other's strengths. They're romance was always fascinating to me because instead of having specific episodes forcing the point, things just start to fall in place as time goes on. As the viewers, we watch as the two of them go through countless trials, each one overcome by the power of the trust they shared with one another. When Next rolls along and things look bad for our heroes, the day is ultimately saved by a kiss; the culmination of everything Lina and Gourry's relationship had been building toward. Future series muddied the waters a bit, but I'll always look back fondly on that final moment of Slayers Next. - Elliot Gay Amy and Ledo (Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet) Amy and Ledo are a bit of a strange choice for me; after all, there are so many other anime couples that I've been emotionally invested in for much longer: Usagi and Mamoru, Kenshin and Kaoru, even Yukino and Soichiro from Kare Kano. Yet for some reason, when it was time to do a "favorite couples," list, Amy and Ledo from Gargantia were the first pair to pop into my head. I think it may be because their relationship manages to follow a very classic romantic trajectory, while never crossing the line to boredom or cliche. They "meet cute," with a confused Ledo taking Amy hostage while she makes rude comments about his mother. That awkward situation evolves into a strong, if at times perplexing friendship, while the brainwashed Ledo rediscovers his humanity as his feelings for Amy grow. Refreshingly, it's Ledo's development of sexual feelings for Amy that perhaps change him the most; a rare positive affirmation of the potential for sexuality to help us grow as people, instead of serving as a perpetual weakness. I hear a sequel to Gargantia in the pipeline; it probably won't feature a married Amy and Ledo raising their kids on a reinvigorated planet earth, and will instead feature, you know, a plot. Still, I'd be happy to watch Amy and Ledo just be together for a while, and that's pretty rare. - Karen Mead Hitagi and Koyomi (Monogatari Series) Could you think of a more mismatched anime pair than the awkwardly-named lead couple of the Monogatari series? Even within the show itself, characters remark right and left that they'd have pegged the more logical, trope-adherent pairing to be Koyomi and Tsubasa, the cat-possessed glasses girl that displays all the qualities of the typical anime leading lady. By comparison Hitagi's cold, socially inept, and has a sense of humor that borders on sadistic. In a lesser story she'd be the secondary heroine, always competing but never winning. But that stuff's for lesser romances. And what's better is that while they seem to be a total mismatch on the trope front, in the actual depths of the Monogatari story, they couldn't be better for each other. Just as a proper functioning relationship requires a bit of give and take, and every couple experiences friction and needs mutual trust and respect, Koyomi and Hitagi are involved with each other as equals, rather than the typically protagonist-centric orientation of most anime expressions of romance. The Monogatari series may be about oddities and the paranormal, but its lead boy and girl are refreshingly down-to-earth. - Josh Tolentino Haruka and Michiru (Sailor Moon) Sailor Moon has always been a very progressive series in terms of relationship dynamics between women, especially the romantic ones. The subject of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune is a touchy one, considering Haruka and Michiru are one of the most pivotal same-sex couples in anime. They couldn't be more perfect for each other, though they're always at the mercy of different Sailor Moon localizations. Western fans had it the worst, having to watch "Amara" and "Michelle" become creepily close as cousins, when this pair of lovers deserve every moment in the spotlight they can get. Seeing them together is like some kind of cosmic privilege: the androgyny of Haruka and the elegance of Michiru make for a stunning duo who would do anything for each other.  The two complement each other in all the ways you'd expect from the "perfect" couple: Haruka's sporty tastes to Michiru's subdued, artsy inclinations, short, choppy blonde hair to long, flowing teal locks -- yin to the other's yang. Michiru is soft-spoken and flowery while Haruka is a flirtatious "gentleman" type. And yet they work so well together. This is a relationship that's inspiring enough to get you to go out and find your own order to your chaos, and that's the hallmark of one that lasts. Now, excuse me -- I need to go fangirl over some gorgeous art of this couple.  - Brittany Vincent Maki and Huggy (Love Lab) Most of the relationships on this list won't last. [Editor's Note: Them's fighting words, Chris!] There's nothing wrong with a school romance, and seeing two teenagers in 'love' can be heartwarming, but when it comes to college, work and further life troubles, will they really hold up? I don't think so. It is for this reason why the relationship between Maki and her ever-faithful Huggy trumps so many others.  First of all, Maki is the student council president. She's a well-raised girl who speaks properly, gets top grades and has a huge following at her school. She's incredibly intelligent, and this is why she devotes herself to her own romance. Huggy is a pillow. He is not capable of the same emotions we humans have with our partners. But Maki is a smart girl, and her love for Huggy transcends all. They will always be together, they will never argue and they will continue to support each other.  Maki is initially embarrassed about this relationship, but becomes more and more comfortable in letting other people know about it. And really, why should she hide it? She'll learn to be proud of their relationship, and perhaps in the future we'll see their love blossom into adorable scatter cushions. - Chris Walden Sawako and Shouta (Kimi ni Todoke) Is there a more perfect couple in life? No, there isn't. All of these other romances can't possibly hold a flame to the awkward love that exists between these two. We watch as, in by inch, these two get closer to each other, fall in love, and stumble around awkward excuses and situations. After two long and wonderfully torturous seasons, we finally saw that love realized. It was bliss in its purest form. What makes this love so great is its purity. We all had our high school crushes. Whether or not you acted on those feelings, and how it all shook out is as varied as the colors in the rainbow. But here, we watch a relationship unfold in a safe space, one where good will surely triumph over evil and we can root for our heroine with the utmost certainty that it will all work out in the end. There were no unlucky childhood friends left out in the rain or loved that died in their arms. It was just the perfect young love blossoming and showing us what could have been (or what was!) for our own life.  - Brad Rice Simon and Nia (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) I didn’t go into Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann looking for romance. There were giant robots that needed to punch other giant robots. I wanted action, and I got what I wanted. Then about eight episodes in, the series takes a hard swerve and we lose a major character. In that character’s absence, Simon becomes despondent and loses his will to live. In that moment, he meets Nia. This innocent girl saves Simon from falling into a rut that he might not have been able to get out of. Through the first half of the show, you see a strong bond form between them that leads into the second half of the show and their engagement. The second half of TTGL seals my affection for this pairing. Their love is so strong that it’s capable of surviving across an entire galaxy. Hell, it survives in a completely separate universe. Going into the last couple of episodes, it becomes clear that there are consequences to saving Nia and defeating the final boss. However, both Nia and Simon understand that the universe has to be saved no matter what. Going into the show’s final moments, their final words and actions seal their eternal love for each other and a place at the top of my favorite couples. - Pedro Cortes Sasha and Her Delicious Potato (Attack on Titan) You know, there's not a lot of anime based relationships I can't  relate to. Although, I enjoy watching most of them; like Taiga and Ryuuji from ToraDora, Takizawa and Saki from Eden of the East, and so many more. I even enjoy couples who aren't really together, you just want them to be. For example, Chihiro and Haku from Spirited Away or The Baron and Haru from The Cat Returns. Although they all make my heart melt, I can't really relate to them much! But do you know what relationship I can relate to? Sasha and her beloved potato.  We meet her in episode three of Attack on Titan. How does she become such a distinguished character all of a sudden? It's because she's eating a potato out of the blue, especially at an inappropriate time. From there on out, we refer to her as Potato Girl. So why does this matter? Because Sasha and her beloved potato are my favorite anime couple. Her love for potatoes and food in general is stronger then any anime romance I've ever seen. She would die for food, let's be honest. There isn't a more perfect match in my eyes. This pair is a relationship I can actually relate to, unlike most. Almost every time we see her in the series she is eating or has food. She even asks Mikasa for leftovers at one point. Sounds like me, to be honest. Sasha and her beloved potato have a strong love for one another, and that's why they're my favorite anime couple of all time. [Editor's Note: Wait Amber, you think the potato RECIPROCATES Sasha's feelings? Well it's Valentine's Day, guess I'll let it go....] - Amber Hunt
Valentine's Day photo
A mix of old and new
It's Valentine's Day, and love is in the air! Actually, where I am, it's mostly snow in the air, but I have faith that there's plenty of love out there too. This time of year, we at Japanator like to take a moment to look bac...

Sweet Rein vol. 1 photo
Sweet Rein vol. 1

Romance and Christmas spirit abound in Sweet Rein vol. 1

Santa Claus and reindeers just belong together
Nov 02
// Kristina Pino
VIZ Media is ready to kick off the holiday season early with the release of a new shoujo series titled Sweet Rein. The first volume will be out on November 5th both in print (US$9.99) and digitally (US$6.99) via the VIZ Manga...

JapanaTen After Dark: Our 10 Favorite Fanservice Fiestas

Feb 15 // Josh Tolentino
1. Agent Aika [embed]27970:2122[/embed] Josh Totman said it best when he nominated this fanservice classic: "This show is the king of panty shots. You can't even go more than two minutes without seeing one! It's more comical how all the girls in the series fall over in just the right way to show their panties. Even when it came over here to the states, the collector's edition came with a pair of panties. That's how laced it was with them."   2. Neon Genesis Evangelion [embed]27970:2129[/embed] This one is more relevant to me in terms of personal history than the actual content in the show, as it was my first exposure to the term "fan service" as a concept. At the time, I didn't know what it meant, but once I did, the damage was irreparable, so to speak.  Evangelion was also a true pioneer of fanservice-as-commercialization. Why settle for a tame shot of Misato bending over the kitchen table when you can slap some Eva goodness on everything from towels to racing teams to cameras to torso-shaped water bottles. If you were an Eva fan, then Gainax had something available to service every conceivable need.   3. Vividred Operation   [embed]27970:2128[/embed] The show's not even half over and it's already taken the list by storm, by dint not of "bloomer-service" or butt-shots but by the sheer comprehensiveness of its pandering. References to everything from magical girls to Super Sentai to Evangelion to Madoka to mecha musume to Gurren Lagann to military hardware nuts abound, and Vividred has somehow still managed to maintain coherence. If it manages to keep up this high standard for the rest of its run, we may have a new legend on our sweaty hands.   4. Highschool of the Dead   [embed]27970:2126[/embed] Said Hiroko: "This is one of the shows that I watched pretty much for boobs alone. I mean come on, they were the "stand out" of the show, I don't know if 10 seconds passed without some huge boob scenario. Adding some zombies and nicely designed guns were a nice backdrop for boobs, but the anime's title was misleading. It should have been Highschool of Boobs: Things that happen to make them jiggle!"   5. The Qwaser of Stigmata [embed]27970:2130[/embed] Before falling into a coma, Jeff managed to submit his nomination to the list: "Qwaser - Boobs, milk, water, toys, rope, public, fountain, super powers, candles, sucking, boobs, the matrix, sub, sentai parodies, shota, bathtub, Russian cuisine, nuns, boobs, busts (figure), aprons, lasers, flower garden, blood, hidden continent, boobs that change sizes, a song about flat chests, Big Mama, tuning fork, bronze dolls, high school chemistry, boobs, gothloli, twins, Nazi references, mind control, biting, and much more. There are a lot of boobs in Qwaser, did you know?"   6. Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! [embed]27970:2125[/embed] Gunbuster was exactly Hiroko's type, and this is why: If you didn't fall in love with Noriko and her enthusatic chest, I take back any chocolate I've offered you. It tough to really call her sexy, but like I mentioned in Kristina Pino's excellent fan service article, it's the kind of fan service I dig. The whole thing is sexy in a non sexy kind of way. Or perhaps I'm just confused. It's the whole girls and mecha combination that gets me excited once again, and Gunbuster is still one of the best examples of the genre. Determination, drive, boobs, and mecha are all I need to get me in your robot! Being penned by Haruhiko Mikimoto doesn't hurt either.   7. Bubblegum Crisis [embed]27970:2124[/embed] With a name like that, how could you not have some service waiting in the wings? Hiroko elaborates: Chicks with robotic suits are sexy. What if the suits were even sexier than the chicks? Bubblegum Crisis definitely played up its sexy angle. A few shower scenes, bouncy boobs, gorgeous designs, and of course Sexroids. What makes this a top fan service show for me, was the immaculate character designs of all the ladies, Kenichi Sonada's ability to draw women in anime and manga is just tip top. From Gun Smith Cats to Gal Force, he knows how to really illustrate jaw dropingly sexy women. Bubblegum Crisis really kicked things up with Hard Suits that accentuated the female form, yet not in a way that downplayed the mecha aspects. Everything on each Hard Suit was functional, yet feminine. The design of Priss busting out of her hard suit is what always comes to mind, when I think of sexy anime. Robots + chicks = win. An Extra Sexaroid on top just adds to the equation!   8. Dragon Ball [embed]27970:2127[/embed] If Evangelion was my fanservice gateway, Dragon Ball was Hiroko's: "Laugh as you may about this choice, but as kid, Dragon Ball delivered. Bulma served as my introduction to the concept of fan service, and hid it nicely inside an innocent looking children's anime. The purple haired trollop worked her way into my heart instantly, by flashing her panties at a totally bewildered Son Goku. It seemed like half the characters were always plotting some way to see her naked, or cop a feel. You have to understand that this was better than gold for a twisted kid like me. The show slowly moved away from the sex gags, and perhaps that's why I lost interest later on, but the original Dragon Ball was always naughty fun!"   9. Nisemonogatari [embed]27970:2133[/embed] If there's any anime out there that's managed to approach the territory of actual erotica, rather than just fanservice, it would be Nisemonogatari and its SHAFT-produced siblings. With every leering angle and disturbingly fetishistic focus SHAFT has taken fanservice to a level that's both titillating and a little bit dirty. It's sleazy without being crude, exploitative without seeming cruel, all executed with such artistry that it overwhelms accusations of being overly "pornographic".   10. Jungle de Ikou [embed]27970:2123[/embed] To be honest I didn't even know this existed until Josh Totman brought it to my attention: "The main pull of this show is the transformation of little flat chested girl to a voluptuous adult by way of interpretive dance. She also over does it to help out the town being attacked by a giant monster by growing large herself. So you can see what kind of hilarity can ensue with a kaiju battle with a overly busty female."
10 Fave Fanservice Shows photo
For your post-Valentine's perusal
Had enough of love, romance, and all that other junk? No need for all that gooey cootie-filled stuff? Well, we've got the list feature for you, an opposite number to the tender caresses of a Valentine's Day love-fest. Yes, to...

Life (not) After Rinko photo
Life (not) After Rinko

Life (not) after Rinko

Still the only one, number 1
Feb 14
// Jeff Chuang
You can be a realist and move on with your new games, new anime, new favorites, and your ever-renewing life. Or you could be serious about your relationships and realize that we have to live with our choices. Sometimes what w...
Life After Rinko photo
Life After Rinko

Life after Rinko

Moving on with my life.
Feb 14
// Chris Walden
The road to recovery was long and arduous, but as many good friends had told me, time is a great healer. I was able to abandon thoughts of venturing to the smoky prison to see her once again, and instead made preparations to ...

A Daily Dose of Love: Valentine's Day Edition

Feb 14 // Hiroko Yamamura
[embed]27975:2115[/embed] Elliot Gay  Slayers Next -Kina and Gourry finally kiss With Phibrizzo having revealed himself as the most powerful of the evil lords, things are looking bad for our heroes. Lina watches as every single one of her friends is seemingly murdered, forcing her to use the deadliest magic in her arsenal: the Giga Slave. Should the spell be beyond her control, Lina could inadvertently end all of existence. With Gourry's life on the line, she makes the ultimate choice and casts the Giga Slave. As Phibrizzo anticipated, it goes out of control, and Line is possessed by the Lord of Nightmares. As Lina is slowly consumed by chaos, Gourry charges forward to tear her away from the Lord of Nightmares. Pulling her away from the darkness, the two share a kiss as they're reunited with their friends and comrades. Long time fans of Slayers had been waiting on this moment for nearly two seasons, and it didn't disappoint. Gourry and Lina have always been one of my favorite couples in anime, and this climactic scene (and episode), are the reason why.   [embed]27975:2116[/embed] Jeff Chuang PLANETES -Shiritori Proposal It's kind of a spoiler, but it sums up the series in a succinct 5-minute montage that begins with two EVA workers playing Shiritori. It's also the kind of thing where the entire weight of the series comes crashing down in a surprise marriage proposal, completing the full circle of character development from someone who is self-centered and loathes life to someone who now knows how to love someone else. It's kind of cheesy, in retrospect, but the journey to get to that point makes all of it work. It's a pretty high bar for a proposal, being in space and all, but it's full of cheerful aspiration!   Pedro Cortes Rumbling Hearts -Episode 14 - 14:26 18:01 For those of you familiar with Rumbling Hearts, you'll know that the entire show is one big heart-f**k. After the second episode, not a single character is happy with their lives, and things only go downhill from there. By the time you get to the last episode, just about every character has done something stupid to cause emotional trauma to everybody else and you've probably yelled at your screen in sheer aggravation. My moment comes near the end of the final episode, where Takayuki, the main character, finally gets his sh*t together. He's made his choice and now he has to try and get Mitsuki, the woman that he loves, back. By this point, there have been things said and done that should spell the end of this relationship, and if you watched the show, you'd know that this guy has nothing left. If he doesn't get Mitsuki back, he might as well just end it. Takayuki returns to a tree on a hillside near his old high school, a place with great significance for everybody involved in the love polygon. He's holding the ring that was arguably the cause of the entire conflict years earlier, yet it's also the biggest symbol of his love for Mitsuki. He sits under this iconic tree and waits in the rain. After some time, Mitsuki arrives and the two finally deal with their final roadblock. I've really got to write about Rumbling Hearts one of these days, as it's one of the shows that was a formative experience for my fandom. If you decide to give it a watch, and I suggest you do, you might not want to watch it in one sitting. I did that and I was an absolute mess afterward.   [embed]27975:2117[/embed] Chris Walden Clannad Episode 22 I get the feeling that some of you may have expected me to talk Clannad, especially as I've made it quite clear in my year and a half of being here that I absolutely adore the show and its sequel. Nagisa is quite simply an adorable, clumsy character, so seeing her put on the spot like this really brings out the best of her character. No doubt she'd have been quite content harbouring her feelings for Tomoya if he was happy. Tomoya is in many ways a very similar character, though he is certainly not afraid to speak his mind in most situations. His hate for the school quickly disappears after his chance meeting with Nagisa at the beginning of the show, and he starts to make more friends and socialise more, his feelings of gratitude toward this awkward girl shine through. It gets to the point where you are screaming at your screen in a similar manner to Kimi ni Todoke, trying to somehow get these two characters who are clearly in love to just go and confess. Unlike Kimi ni Todoke, it's not as painfully drawn out here, as we get to see Tomoya have a rare bout of courage by confessing his love to Nagisa. The background music works exceedingly well at making the moment that much more dramatic, and I'll even forgive the crazy lens flare. It's a beautiful moment seeing Nagisa burst into tears of joy after hearing the confession, and I can't help but have my heart warmed just a little every time I see it.   [embed]27975:2118[/embed] Josh Tolentino Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid -Sousuke gets a haircut Quite a lot of folks were overjoyed when Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid came out. Here was Kyoto Animation, a top-flight studio, getting back to the "canon" of gritty sci-fi robot military action after the amusing non-sequitur that was Fumoffu. While I personally found the new season a little overwrought, The Second Raid contained with in its pretty, angsting excess a number of really great moments. This scene is one of them, and seems to contain an understanding of how to do characterization and show off the dynamics of a relationship that's entirely different from what happens in the rest of the show. It's subtle, meaningful, understated, and damned romantic enough to send fans into fits of joy. If only it had happened with Tessa instead, am I right?   [embed]27975:2119[/embed] ToraDora! Taiga and Ryuuji tie the knot This one isn't my favorite for its quality (high as it is) or its ability to tug my heartstrings (though it did), but because it's someone else's favorite romantic anime scene, that someone else being my sister, who thoroughly enjoyed watching ToraDora! despite having never watched an anime past Evangelion and Cooking Master Boy, or ever wanting to, since. By good fortune of timing and J.C. Staff being in a better phase, she sat through the whole thing and had a great time, one that I've yet to get her to repeat despite my best efforts. Perhaps that says something about how good ToraDora! is, after all. Incidentally, her boyfriend at the time, also not an anime fan, also somehow got it into his viewing diet, and recognized the title when it was mentioned. His response? "I liked that one, but the girl looks like a grade-schooler." Yes. Yes, Taiga does.   [embed]27975:2120[/embed] Hiroko Yamamura Kimagure Orange Road -Episode 48 15:25-17:33 -The final kiss Besides being a comedy show, with lots of espers and sci-fi elements, Orange Road was a love story. In fact, it really was the prototype for the modern love triangle scenario. Our main character Kyosuke Kasuga is just your average dude with ESP powers, and somehow has been lucky enough to catch the eye of two lovely young women. What set the show apart was the often impure motives of the characters, doing things due to pressure, or to make some one jealous. The show dances around our main character having a hard time really choosing between his love interests, and if they really do care for him or not. From the get go we all know he should be with ultra cool Madoka, but the show constantly shows Hikaru in a favorable light. There's heartbreak, betrayal, and some raw emotion in this show that's never been matched in an anime series for me. Being a person that can admittedly be a bit indecisive about love, the show hits home. When Kyosuke finally makes up his mind to get the girl he wants, and the insane things he has to endure to get to her, the final kiss is one of the most satisfying moments in anime history. True romance.
A Daily Dose of Love photo
We're all hopeless romantics...
Happy Valentine's Day Japanator readers! Although you may not particularly enjoy celebrating a Hallmark Holiday, I like to just use it as an excuse to tell you guys how much I love you and share some love for anime around. We...


Let Them Eat Romance: Rose of Versailles licensed

Sep 18
// Josh Tolentino
Now here's a blast from the past. In a move I definitely did not anticipate (though this probably stems from my cluelessness regarding the genre), Right Stuf has acquired the license to - of all things - Rose of Versaill...

Final Impressions: Kids on the Slope

Jul 18 // Bob Muir
The core of Kids on the Slope is really just a love triangle with a few further romantic interests attached to it. While the jaded critic in me is ecstatic that there was no harem angle mixed in, I was surprisingly disappointed that jazz wasn't as big an influence on the plot and tone. The various jazz sessions provided reasons for the characters to interact, but based on Watanabe's work on Bebop and Samurai Champloo, it's not wrong to expect the music to harmonize with the style of the anime. Here, there's nothing disharmonious, but the jazz element was never integrated into the show's heart because Kids on the Slope isn't about jazz. It's about romance. I feel like once a few episodes had aired, the buzz for Kids on the Slope died down, and I won't deny that I was disappointed. It's a shame, because the audience's initial hype about what the anime could have been prevented the enjoyment of what was actually there. The relationship between Kaoru and Ritsuko may be formulaic at times, but unlike so many other generic romances, it feels real. Maybe that's because Kaoru is kind of a creepy guy and Ritsuko is rather plain, in contrast to the male underdog cipher and unattainable feminine ideal so often present in anime romances and romantic comedies. It doesn't feel like the producers are trying to take advantage of the fact that the male viewers generally like cute girls. But as refreshing as it is to see the drama of a boy and girl trying to discover their true feelings, the bromance of Kaoru and Sentaro was far more interesting. It would have been really easy to preach the story of a bookworm learning to chill out while also helping the delinquent smarten up. They even could have put a bow on it with an ending scene where the delinquent is overjoyed to graduate, while the bookworm says something like "I'll never forget the time I spent with Sentaro." Thankfully, Kids on the Slope avoids such sappy cliches. Watching Kaoru's feelings toward Sentaro change from annoyance to begrudging acceptance to fond companionship is extremely rewarding. Sure, when they have an argument, Kaoru can be a little whiney -- in fact, he acts just like a jealous girl! But it's still interesting to see them learn and grow from each other without completely changing who they are. Though none of my friendships have followed the same story beats, it was easy to relate to their heartfelt friendship. The last episode was set up to easily make or break the series, either excusing the whirling romantic merry-go-round or hardening the emotional center of the story. Thankfully, it capped off the series quite nicely. After a weird forced make-out session, Kaoru and Ritsuko graduate with their romance seemingly dead. Kaoru takes a train to Tokyo to attend college, with Ritsuko suddenly running after the train. Eight years later, Kaoru is a resident at a hospital and happens to meet Yurika, pregnant with Jun's child. She shows him a picture of a church's clergy and Kaoru notices a familiar face. Upon finding the church, he discovers a drumset and begins playing jazz on the organ nearby. This attracts the attention of Sentaro, a priest-in-training who cares for the orphans, and the two have a happy reunion, with even Ritsuko showing up to see her two best friends. I applaud this mature ending, because it recognizes that their high school problems that seemed so important didn't matter. No one "gets the girl," because their friendship was more important, even years down the road. It was surprisingly cathartic, considering all the drama in the series. Kids on the Slope wasn't what I wanted, and I'm not even sure it ended up being my anime of the season. But as expected from Watanabe, it was a wonderfully told story with believable characters that I grew attached to. I just hope we don't have to wait another eight years for his next work.

No one can deny that Kids on the Slope had fantastic pedigree. It's the adaptation of Yuki Kodama's award-winning josei manga, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and with music by Yoko Kanno. Based on the pairing of Cowboy Bebop vets Watanabe and Kanno, I expected another anime heavily influenced by jazz, as I imagine many viewers did. This couldn't have been farther from the truth.


Inflatable fun to be had with Record of Agarest War 2

Apr 23
// Chris Walden
I didn't play much of the first game, I'll admit. Most of my time was put into Disgaea 3, so Record of Agarest War has just been sitting in a draw somewhere, waiting to be revisited. What I did play was pretty cool though, bu...

9 things that Japanese girls don't like about otaku

Feb 16
// Bob Muir
Japan's dating scene has gotten so bad that even the government is getting involved, in hopes of getting more couples to get it on. They're pushing girls to put themselves out there more and teaching guys how to be likable on...

Japan tries to teach people how to date and reproduce

Feb 15
// Bob Muir
Japan is rapidly greying. Over a quarter of the population is 65 years of age or older; the population will likely shrink as much as one-third within 50 years. If it does, social security will be heavily strained for the next...

Publicly display your affection with Love Plus arcade

Jul 23
// Josh Tolentino
Love Plus has been the girlfriend game  of choice for people who aren't interested in 3-D disgusting pig romances, but the big problem an otaku might face in his affair with Manaka, Rinko and Nene (but really just Rinko)...

Yotsuba x Yanda: A shipping I never thought I'd love

Feb 14
// Brad Rice
While we're sitting here on Valentine's Day, I just wanted to take a moment to share a doujin that's been sitting on my harddrive for a while, and it brings a smile to my face every time I read it. Pairing off our fearless le...

No Valentine's Day plans? Why not play a dating sim?

Feb 03
// Brad Rice
It can be a hard and lonely life for an otaku. The massive buildup and subsequent celebration doesn't make things much more fun, either. Yet, for some reason, you find yourself sitting in a room all by yourself watching your ...

Read romance novels on the DS, plus relationship charts

Jan 21
// Josh Tolentino
If you're having trouble keeping your hot, steamy romance novels away from prying eyes, and lack the money to have a basement built to hide them in, Nintendo may have an answer for you.That answer is to toss all those damn bo...

Konami is sending lonely people love letters that read 'Pls. buy Love Plus kthnx'

Aug 28
// Josh Tolentino
That's the gist of it, at least.Earlier this month Konami announced that they would be undertaking a "mysterious project envisioned by our boss," aimed at "saving" men around the world who have not been ve...

Japanator Recommends: Romeo x Juliet

Jul 08 // Tim Sheehy
The series is kind of a mixture of all things Shakespeare, with various characters--including Shakespeare himself, though they simply call him "Willy"--and themes, in a love story loosely based on the play Romeo and Juliet, which was arguably his most popular work. Instead of using the exact script from the play, we have a series stretched out over 24 episodes, of which we have 12 included in this two disc release. It follows the star crossed lovers as Juliet finds herself in love with the son of the man who murdered her entire family, Montague. In a twist, the two lovers find themselves eventually uniting to try and overcome the various trials which threaten their relationship. The animation itself was done by Gonzo, so if you're a fan of their previous works, you'll probably know what to expect in terms of quality. It's very well animated, and the character designs look as though they could easily fit into a Fire Emblem game, without being too over the top. The world of Romeo x Juliet on the other hand has a bit more imagination to it. There are flying dragon-steeds which look similar to a horse with wings, and the city of Neo Verona, along with the surrounding lands, appear to be floating in the air. I guess we should leave it to Japan to take a mere play and run with it, and in this case, it works. As for the soundtrack, I had previously written a feature on Original Sound Version about the score provided by veteran game composer Hitoshi Sakimoto. Being his first major anime sound track, he blew me away. I don't know why I'd expect anything less, seeing as he's the man who scored Final Fantasy Tactics, which is perhaps one of my favorite video game scores of all time. Shortly after learning of his involvement, I found out that he had also worked on other series, such as Valkyria Chronicles which aired a season or two ago in Japan. For those of you who'd like to learn more about his involvement, there's an interview with him in the "making of" footage included on the second disc. One last thing--I feel that it'd be wrong not to mention that the English dub features some revised script work. It appears that they took some extra time to add more Shakespearean dialog. In my opinion, this was a brilliant move on the part of Funimation, and I adore the fact that they care enough to want to improve the experience for an English speaking audience who can appreciate it. If you get a chance, please make sure to pick the series up at your local retailers, or favorite online vendor. it's currently only out on DVD, but I wouldn't mind seeing a Blu-ray release should it come later down the line.  

For some reason I feel like we haven't seen enough series that feature a strong female protagonist. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think we could all stand to see more of it, especially one that isn't just sex appeal. Of course I'm n...


Rumors from a Japanator geisha: FUNimation to annouce Romeo x Juliet?

May 15
// John Martone
Reporting from some internet laden cave, the reporter Gia brings her speculation that FUNimation will be dusting off Ye Olde English Dictionary. Apparently this is a blitz week for FUNimation, as they've announced several tit...


Mar 12
// Zac Bentz
Proof that Pikachu is a (very nasty) girl. [via Japundit] 

First Impressions: Kimikiss ~ pure rouge

Nov 06
// Brad Rice
Ah, romance is in the air, even though it's only Fall. So now that we're back at school, Kimikiss brings up the eternal question of love -- more importantly, the first kiss (for high schoolers, at least). So once agai...

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