Why Darling in the Franxx’s Ikuno is Not a Tragic Gay, but a Hero of Humanity.

*This will contain spoilers of some key events, so be warned!*

Darling in the Franxx is arguably the most discussed anime of 2018 and so like any highly popular or controversial topic, it has its share of critics and opinions. For as much as it did right, it had a lot of flaws, but whether it was able to overcome those flaws is a discussion for another post. See my thoughts in my review post here. This post will be discussing Ikuno of Darling the Franxx, and how she became a hero of humanity.

But before we actually get to this, allow me to give you the background. Darling in the Franxx focuses on a team of children who are assigned the duty of fighting against a dangerous enemy, in mechanized weapons know as Franxx. These Franxx require fully functioning male and female sexual organs to be piloted, which therefore requires each unit to have a boy and girl. The power of the mecha is directly proportional to the compatibility of the pair and the feelings between them, or love. So, this necessity makes the likelihood of having same sex pairs almost impossible and therefore seems to push the heteronormative agenda. On this front, I can’t deny it may be based in some truth, and I’ll admit I’d have liked to see a better exploration of same-sex piloting and if it would have been possible if the pair had romantic feelings between them. I discuss this more in my review.

With this as the main setting of the plot, it makes it really easy to open the door to other claims, such as the studio being homophobic and partaking in the Bury your Gays Stereotype because Ikuno, a character who ends up with a shorter lifespan than the others, happens to be gay. In this post, I will attempt to argue against these claims, by showing how the series actually honors Ikuno, by giving her a legacy that cannot be forgotten and how she became a hero of humanity.

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The creators of DarliFra sent a shockwave through the fandom when they confirmed what they’d been hinting at since the start, that Ikuno, the lonesome bookworm of squad 13, was a lesbian and was in love with her team captain, Ichigo, who she confessed to. Many were pleased, especially in the gay community, and began to hope for the possibility that the Ikuno x Ichigo ship would sail. Of course, there were also skeptics, feeling it was just bait and that due to the somewhat heteronormative nature of the show, it’d never happen. As it turns out, both sides were half right. It soon became pretty clear that Ikuno and Ichigo wouldn’t be a thing and that she instead chose her male partner Goro. However, her identity was never erased and she received complete support from Ichigo and her friends, denying the idea that it was just bait. Ikuno was a confirmed lesbian from beginning to end, which is something we don’t see often in mainstream anime. Furthermore, she doesn’t end up alone in the end either.

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Before we get to that though, I’d like to discuss the confession briefly. During the scene pictured above, Ikuno had reached her wits end and could no longer contain her feelings for Ichigo. She confessed to her and was open and honest about how she felt about Ichigo as well as in general. How she hated the unfair piloting system of the Franxx and how she felt like a freak and a selfish pain to everyone because she was so different. This scene could’ve gone two different ways from this point. Ichigo could have been dismissive and disgusted and made Ikuno feel that she really was a freak or they could’ve had Ichigo not respond much at all, leaving Ikuno feeling rejected and confused.

However, it went in neither direction we might have expected. Instead what we saw, was a beautiful and respectful moment of acceptance, for a confused gay who was brave enough to come out to someone they trusted. Ichigo did not belittle Ikuno’s feelings or harshly reject her, but rather she told her it was ok to be herself. It was ok to be a pain because everyone could be sometimes. She said that she was valid, she was the same as anyone, she was human. She accepted her and who she was wholeheartedly, even if she couldn’t return her feelings. This is why although she may have “lost” in the conquest of Ichigo’s heart, she won in terms of being accepted and having a safe space. This was a win for the lgbtq community in anime, in my honest opinion. It was a wonderful moment.

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And then came this moment, where Ikuno chose to risk her life in order to help Hiro and Zero Two break through a blocked path, which would lead them to the Franxx that would save the world. It would require a lot of energy and being that the females take the brunt of the damage, it was naturally going to take the biggest toll on her. However, she believed in her friends and believed in the hope of a better future and so she did what she felt she needed to do and broke through. In the process, her hair turned grey, which we had learned meant her aging had been accelerated and that her lifespan was greatly shortened. It’s a fate all parasites would have to face one day, but this action led her to face it much sooner than the others. However, she was successful and this single act of selflessness, very well may have been the turning point as to if humanity would have a chance. In this moment, she took her first steps to becoming a real hero.

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Leaving Hiro Two to fight for their futures, all that was left for the others to do was try and make the earth a viable place to live. Squad 13 and all the other parasite groups, including those previously thought to be lost, came together to rebuild the earth and learn how to create civilization like the days of the past. Ikuno may have a been a bit greyer and bit weaker, but this wasn’t stopping her from helping them out. She did her best and had the support of Ichigo and all her friends every step of the way. This gave her the chance to focus on what she wanted and encouraged her to do what she could with the time she had left. What followed was nothing short of extraordinary.

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Using the preserved records of the past, Ikuno studied science and medicine and became a self-taught doctor and scientist. She then went on to discover a cure for the accelerated aging that the parasites suffered from. She created a new energy source to power their civilization, so that the dangerous alien energy could be discarded. She gave the others the knowledge on how to best cultivate food and create resources to sustain their booming population. As a doctor, she treated everyone’s sickness and improved their quality of life ten-fold. She literally paved the way for earth to become a self-sustaining planet and ensured that humanity would rise again and flourish for centuries and beyond. She saved humanity and became its hero, all while fighting her own battle to survive and live as long as she could. If that’s not legendary, I don’t know what is.

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Most importantly of all, she didn’t have to do it all alone. Yes, she had the love and support of her friends, but I’d imagine that it would get pretty lonley spending your days in a lab trying to save the world while everyone else went on to live their lives with their loved ones and children. Perhaps if she had never found love and died alone in her bed, she could be called a tragic hero, but this was not the case, as she did find love and a life partner both professionally and personally.

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This is Naomi, if you don’t recall who she is, she was Hiro’s original partner, but because she and Hiro couldn’t link up (not hard to figure why knowing what we know now ūüėČ ), she was sent away, presumed to be dead. But as it turns out, she was not dead, and she’d been kept in a deep sleep for a while, until the day came that she was freed. However, she wasn’t without loss, as she did lose an arm during an attack early on. That is to say, she had her own disability to live with. So, when she came back to squad 13, and they all began to live their lives together with their chosen partners, it should come at no surprise that she and Ikuno would probably become closer, as they were the only two who didn’t have a set partner and as they obviously had much in common.

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They both couldn’t conform to the Franxx system properly, they both had a disability and they both, we can assume, could only find love with other woman. It’s only natural that they would connect, especially since they would’ve likely spent more time together since all their other teammates had their own families to attend to. They were both sort of the odd girls out and were facing solitary lives, so if they could lean on each other in times of loneliness or when they were struggling with their disabilities, why wouldn’t they get closer? Perhaps Naomi could see how hard Ikuno was working for everyone and felt that while she was looking out for everyone else, maybe she needed someone to look out for her. That, I imagine, was why she likely became her assistant and spending as much time alone together as I’m sure they did day after day, it’d be more illogical for them not to fall in love. And it was clear they were in love, with Ikuno even going as far to have Goro track down that old mirror on one of his explorations so that she may give it back to Naomi. That seems an awful lot like a girl trying to do something nice for her crush.

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There are some naysayers against them being official, but to them I say they must be blind, because there is no way these moments can be seen in any other way. Ikuno was a lesbian who feared she’d be alone forever, but then she found another lesbian and they fell in love. She had found a healthy way to move on from Ichigo and live out her remaining days with someone who loved her just as deeply in return. Someone who’d stay by her side and could understand what she was feeling in every sense. She worked her hardest for the sake of her friends, the future and humanity. Finding love was a fitting reward for her selfless act and a gift she probably never expected to have. Whether you agree with it or not, is it wrong to allow her that simple happiness?

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There’s been so much debate on whether Ikuno is another victim of the Bury Your Gays trend and to that I say a hard NO. See OG’s rules on Bury your Gays here. Ikuno was not sacrificed for no reason other than to erase her existence or in a way that made no sense to the plot. In fact, she wasn’t even sacrificed at all, as she didn’t die. By the finale, her final moments were what we see above. Maybe she died right after, or maybe she dies in another ten years. We have no way of knowing, but that doesn’t really matter. Ikuno made the choice to risk her life to preserve the future of humanity. She believed in her friends. She believed in the future. She believed in herself. She did what she could do while she could do it. She fought a battle all of her own and won, even if ending up maimed along the way. She succeeded in what she set out to do and then was allowed to spend her remaining days with someone who loved her unconditionally. That is not a tragic end, that is a happy one. She is not a tragic gay, who drew the short end of the stick because the creators wanted her to suffer. She is a hero and the creators honored her as such, by allowing her to leave a legacy that will never be erased. Even thousands of years into the future, the humans of their world will know of Ikuno, the mother of modern science and medicine. They will know that they are alive thanks to the efforts of a strong, powerful woman, who against all odds, and with a single snap decision, became a hero of humanity and was also gay.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Darling in the Franxx: A Review and Discussion

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Background

Darling in the Franxx is an original anime by a collaboration between Trigger, A-1 pictures and CloverWorks. It has 24 episodes and aired over the Winter and Spring seasons in 2018.¬†Elements of all three studios shine through the project in a variety of ways, especially along the lines of animation, drama and romantic themes, which are characteristically A-1 and CloverWorks. However, Trigger’s presence in the Action, Sci-Fi and Mecha themes are prevalent and have a commanding presence that easily outshines its partners. This is why Darling is heavily considered another staple in Trigger’s legacy and gets them most of the love…and the hate. However, we should keep in mind that this was a joint effort and the hard work and dedication of all three studios should be praised.

Darling is set in a futuristic world where humans have thrown away their emotions and rudimentary desires for the chance to live immortal lives without the troubles that the civilizations of the past brought them. Thanks to a new group of leaders known as APE, they were able to maximize their use of a special Magma energy, which fueled their cities and made their complacent lives possible. However, as a consequence, they were constantly attacked by a force known as Klaxosaurs, forcing them into highly secured cities known as plantations. To combat these beings, they began experiments, which led to the creation of children called parasites. These parasites were able to operate special mechanized weapons called Franxx, because unlike the “adults”, who were the humans that choose immortality, the parasites retained their ability to use their sexual organs, which was required to pilot the Franxx. Their sole purpose was to fight for their “Papa.”

Plantation 13 is a special team of parasites that were even more unique than the standard parasites because they also retained emotions. This made them act quite differently from their fellow parasites and they often felt as though they didn’t belong because of these differences. Hiro was the most out of place, being unable to link up with his previous partner and pilot the Franxx, making him feel as though he had no worth. However, he soon encounters a rouge parasite with horns, named Zero Two, who is part Klaxosaur and has a bad reputation for draining her partners’ life force, getting her the nickname, “the partner killer”. During a surprise attack by the Klaxosaurs, Hiro is given the opportunity to become her partner and is surprised to find that not only can he fly, but with Zero Two, he can achieve impossible heights. From this point on they vow to do whatever it takes to always pilot together, despite outside opposition and interference, but they soon find that their freedom and newfound love will come at a higher price than they could’ve ever expected and they will have to go through much hardship, to protect their home, their friends and their future.

With that said, let us now take a look at the most talked about series of the year so far and discuss what it got right, where it went wrong and the ugliness of the fandom.

The Good

For much of the first half of the series, the focus was on Plantation 13 and the growing relationship between Hiro and Zero Two.  We began to discover a world in which children were not allowed to ask questions, explore their world, know themselves or pursue interpersonal relationships with each other outside what was necessary to pilot the Franxx. They were not allowed to voice their opinions or reach for anything more than what they were made for, piloting the Franxx and waging war against the enemies known as the Klaxosaurs. However, we soon learn that the children of 13 were meant to be different from their peers. That they were an experiment of Dr. Franxx, the genius behind the Mechas and the various uses of Magma Energy. They were essentially a case study and what we, as the viewers, saw in the first half, as a result.

We saw that by being allowed to retain emotions and desires, the children acted in strange ways. They experienced sadness, pain, rejection, depression, confusion, jealousy and anger. They struggled to find their self-identity, suffered from illness both physically and mentally at times and came to discover that they were starting to feel the greatest emotion of all, love. Love was the one emotion they were never taught or allowed to acknowledge, yet it alone created a frenzy within the group and started a chain reaction of conflict and drama. We saw triangles start to form, we saw puberty begin to influence their sexual desires and we saw some struggling to understand why they were different. The catalyst of all these changes, was Hiro and Zero Two, who quite naturally fell in love and became the example to the others of what it really meant to be human. This idea in fact, is what the series was really after, and is what it perfected by its end.

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The relationship between Hiro and Zero Two is also something the series got exceptionally right. From the start, the love between them was raw and deep, and their feelings never wavered, even when there were many forces working to keep them apart. Even when they were separated, they yearned to be together and worked to return to each other by any means necessary. They were portrayed as a unit that could no longer live without the other, literal halves of one existence. The theme explored by referencing the Jian, a species of bird that cannot fly without one lending the other a wing. Zero Two desperately wanted to become human for her Darling and Hiro in turn was willing to lose his humanity for Zero Two. They were destined soulmates and from start to finish, their relationship was developed, crafted and nurtured so delicately and perfectly, it can easily be seen as one of the greatest examples of true love in anime.

Last but not least, the most unexpected development of the series, was the reveal of homosexuality with certain key characters. While one character was hinted to be possibly Bisexual, another character was confirmed to be a lesbian. This character was shown to struggle with their homosexuality throughout the first half, starting subtly, but soon after by the climax, her struggles came crashing down and she could no longer hold back her feelings. She confessed to another girl in 13 and what we saw was a beautiful example of support for those who may lead alternative lifestyles. Her crush did not express disgust or belittle her feelings. She didn’t make her feel as though she was a freak and embraced her. Even though it was a soft rejection, she was supported and allowed to feel safe and comfortable. She was allowed to feel valid and normal. She no longer felt there was something wrong with her. She was allowed to hope that she might one day have her love returned or in the very least would be able to be herself without fear of being outcast or crucified. I found this to be a beautiful moment and I respect the creators for representing such a critical and important topic so well.

The Bad

The second half of the series is where things started to truthfully become unstable. This was largely due to the fact that they introduced a very unexpected new enemy into the fray of this war. Those who are familiar with Trigger shouldn’t have been too surprised, but despite this, the development was still a bit odd and frankly out of place. To go from fighting the planetary beings that were the Klaxosaurs, to suddenly being faced with the threat of a massive alien race, was a rather ridiculous jump, even for Trigger’s standards. I think this is where we perhaps saw a power struggle between the studios, namely A-1 who likes things to be dramatically contained and Trigger who likes things to be explosive and grandiose. Or maybe it felt more like they needed a way to pump up the action and so they pulled a ludicrous plot point from out of a grab bag of flair. This is all to say, this development was a bit off the mark and may have cost these studios a chance to have a collective masterpiece under their helm. They’d have been much wiser to keep things in line to the first half and focused on Papa, who truthfully is the enemy in any sense. A coming of age into rebellion story would have been a more sensible outcome.

Another negative aspect was the fan service and lewd innuendos the show began with. It gave the impression that this was going to be a bit of a trashy mecha series and so it made people take it less seriously and undermined the beauty it would later exhibit. It may have been an intentional tactic to bait in a certain audience, but it also backfired a bit because when it went in a different direction, this same audience became the biggest of critics. They managed to pull in a whole different audience midway in the series, at the crux, but then turned them off by again switching their focus to the extreme. It made them seem incompetent and honestly just confused everyone. It seemed to have lost its identity somewhere along the way and had to struggle to bring it back. It was only by the finale that we saw where they wanted to go, but the path they took to get there was too inconsistent to have as much of an impact as they may have intended and hoped for.

Finally, the plot called for the pretty non-negotiable need for the Franxx to be piloted by a male and female pair, making it seem that same-sex pairings were invalid and heterosexuality was superior. While not the most glaring example, I will agree that this is slightly heteronormative, despite being a valid plot point. I feel that the fact that male and female pairs were the norm was not the problem, but rather their lack of exploration of same-sex pairs. I think if they had a scene or two showing that same-sex pairings could pilot together if there were romantic feelings between them, it would have been better. It seemed as though they might be going there with that Bisexual character I mentioned and Hiro, but they didn’t seem to follow through on it. They could have utilized this chance to show that simply love, no matter if you’re gay or straight, is enough to save the world. That said, this doesn’t make the studio homophobic and their willing inclusion of an officially lesbian character shows that. I’d call it more of a missed opportunity to break the mold and support a better way of thinking.

The Ugly

Despite the flaws, Darling succeeded in being an experience and a massive success in many ways. It certainly wasn’t perfect on all fronts, but when it was perfect, it was PERFECT. However, an imperfect stain on its legacy was the extremely volatile and toxic fandom. From wishing death on characters for being human and taking it as far as threatening their actor, to calling the show a rip off of other popular shows, to calling it trash and to even claiming Trigger is homophobic simply because the story focused on the need for a male and female pair to pilot the Franxx. Fandoms always seem to take it too far and it can be very tiring to say the least and really can drag down enjoyment of the show. Love it or hate it, but don’t drag it because it didn’t cater to your personal desires. That’s something many still need to learn.

The Review

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Darling in the Franxx was an interesting story of philosophy, ideology, society, self-identity, personal discovery and most important of all, love. To its core, it’s the one thing it never strayed from and the one thing that it perfected by the end. It had its flaws and may have lost the right to be called a masterpiece by some poor decisions, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it is something to be respected and praised. It had a charm that is hard to ignore and it leaves you with a sense of fulfillment you didn’t know you needed. It’s a kind of journey and you fall in love with the characters to the point that their happiness becomes your own. You feel as though you’ve grown along with them over the course of the story and you reconnect to your sense of humanity thanks to its ability to pose the question, “what makes us truly human?”. I would give Darling in the Franxx a solid 8/10 objectively, but personally, it’s a 10/10 and one of my favorites. It’ll be up to you to decide if you like it or not, but I implore everyone to give it a chance and if you do, form your own opinions and enjoy it in your own way. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions sway you one way or the other and that goes for this one as well.

 

Lesbian Rape? Not Hardly. Why the First Episode of Citrus Shouldn’t Be Taken At Face Value.

Before I even begin, let me just say that I am not a yuri expert, nor a professional reviewer or media analyst. I’m not trying to say that my words should be taken as law, or that you shouldn’t have your opinion. I’m simply a romantic with a particular obsession for yuri/GL media, Citrus being one of my favorite series (I’ve read every chapter to date and own every published volume.) My intention with this is merely to educate based on my knowledge of the Manga, and explain why the first episode is not what truly defines Citrus. I will do my best to show this with spoiler free (minus ep 1 of course) information. Thank you in advanced for your time.

Just in case you somehow haven’t heard of this series, allow me to give a general synopsis. Yuzu is a fashionable gal who must suddenly move to a new city after her mom remarried. She therefore must start at a new school, which as luck may have it, turns out to be an all girl’s school. It’s there that she meets the strict and cold student council president, Mei, and their first meeting is rather intense to say the least. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Yuzu returns home to find out that Mei is her new step sister and being forced to live so closely together makes their already tense relationship that much more confusing.

Let me also say now, if you have a problem with relationships between step sisters who haven’t even grown up together and have just met, then I would say this show might not be for you. If you can understand that this is not really incest and more so is fiction anyway, then please continue.

The first episode adapts the first manga chapter and bits of the second and quite well I might add. It was generally well received by fellow manga readers as well as some other yuri fans new to the series, which was nice to see. However, there have also been a fair share of viewers new to the series, that were kind of turned off or turned away due to either the psuedo-incest plot or more so, the aggressive behaviors by Mei against Yuzu in two scenes. Slight spoilers of episode 1 ahead.

In the first scene, Which is also Mei and Yuzu’s first meeting, Mei gropes Yuzu, in an effort to take her phone from her pocket. In the second scene, and arguably the more controversial one, Mei forcibly kisses Yuzu, ultimately stealing her first kiss.

Let me be clear, this is assault. I’m not denying it nor condoning it. This isn’t normally acceptable behavior and should not be tolerated in most cases and despite how it seems now, Yuzu does not. She does push back in future incidents and makes it known she doesn’t like it. HOWEVER, with that said, I would never call it lesbian rape nor say Mei is abusive and that their relationship would be toxic. This just isn’t the case. I can say this confidently because I’ve seen the future (read the manga).

There are very specific reasons as to why Mei acts this aggressive, one of which will be revealed in the episode later today and was hinted at in the first if you paid close attention to a certain other moment of assault people seem to be ignoring in comparison. Also, all of these moments of assault are very isolated events and is not commonplace, especially as the story progresses. To put it simply, Mei and Yuzu’s budding relationship isn’t toxic and the story isn’t hentai as it may appear going off of this first episode alone. Rather, it’s complicated.

Mei has trauma. She’s damaged and has no idea what it means to have a relationship not driven by aggression. Yuzu however, is about to change her entire perspective and by the end of this season, you will hardly believe they are the same characters and that its the same story, especially on Mei’s part. If you go even further and catch up to the Manga, you might find yourself missing some of the moments some may be taking for granted now.

Ultimately, its your decision on whether to continue the series or not and I’m not asking you to watch if you hate it or its not your thing. What I am asking, especially to those who have already dropped it in pretense of it being ecchi fanservice or for romanticizing assault and toxic relationships, is to please give it a couple more episodes. The three episode rule is especially important in this series because quite a bit is explained over the next couple of episodes. Granted, the best explanation will come mid series, but still, give it the 3 episodes. If you find you’re still not feeling it after that, then you may leave it behind you. However, those brave enough to stick it out, I promise you, IT GETS BETTER! It’s good now, but it’s going to get so much better and so much sweeter, that you will come to see why it’s such a widely popular and beloved manga, especially in the realm of yuri. I know I probably can’t change the minds of the masses, but if I can at least be another voice vouching for the series I love, and sway even a few people, then I’ll be satisfied.

Fall 2017 Reviews and Rankings!

It’s that time again, where I review the anime I watched this past season and rank them on levels of my enjoyment. However, we’re doing things a bit differently in honor of the new year and new changes to the blog. The reviews will be done all in one post, in succession, with a non-spoiler paragraph blurb of my thoughts and final rating. I felt this would best balance my need to limit my blog time, while allowing me to freely watch anime without limits due to concerns over time to review them after. It also limits the amount of posts you guys need to read and gets to the main points of what’s important to note of a particular anime. I think this is the best case scenario for both myself and my followers, so I hope you guys will find it agreeable. This was a good season of anime, but only three excelled far above and beyond expectation to make it to my top 3. For the rest however, it was a tight race. Without further ado, let’s begin.

Two Car

Two Car

Taking the bottom of the list is none other than Two Car. This was an anime that started off pretty bad, but seemed to have potential for more, so I gave it a chance, but as expected, I was let down and it was a huge waste of time. The main reason for this was due to the two leads being absolutely terrible characters  and the plot never getting anywhere other than back to where it started. There were a couple of side pairs that were great, but they could not carry the show well enough. This was definitely the most disappointing show of the Fall 2017 season for me. Therefore, it gets a rating of:

5/10

 

Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World - The Animated Series

Kino, The Beautiful World: The Animated Series

Kino: The Animated Series begins the real list and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t all that exciting to me either. It was just…whatever. I could take it or leave it and couldn’t give every episode my full attention. However, it had it’s moments and only at those moments, was it amazing. Basically, when it was good, it was really good, but for the remainder of time, it was just bland. I didn’t see the original series, so I have no idea how it compares, but I will say the best things to note of this series is that it was nicely animated and I liked that Kino was kept a bit ambiguous in terms of gender. The last few episodes were the better of the series. So, I give this a final rating of:

7/10

 

Juuni Taisen

Juni Taisen

Juni Taisen was the one anime this season I had such high expectations for and seemed so promising, yet in the end, it let me down a bit. The death game based on the western zodiac was intriguing and could have led to many interesting plotlines, but I feel that it was trying to go for an edgy feel and ultimately failed. The plot was predictable and the ending was a bit underwhelming. It had a few noteworthy characters, but they were short lived as the deaths came fast and left no time to truly connect to the characters. The visuals were nice and the opening and ending songs might be the most memorable of the season, but that’s about all it has of note. Despite this, I still liked it, so it gets a rating of:

7/10

 

Just Because!

Just Because!

Just Because! was a show I picked up on a whim because I usually enjoy the drama filled, slice of life, school romance anime and that is precisely what I got, yet I still feel a bit let down. This was a bit of a surreal experience, because as much disappointment as I may have felt, I kept coming back every week for more. Thinking on it now, the main heroine isn’t very likable and seems to be a bit shallow and the main character is a bit boring. The side couple was a bit more interesting, but still leaves much to be desired. Truthfully, the most likable and noteworthy character is one that is doomed to suffer, much like myself, considering I knew how it was going to end from the start and knew I was going to suffer because of it, yet, I returned every week. I could sum it up to my romantic nature or maybe I’m just a masochist, or perhaps it was simply, just because. ūüėČ None the less, I watched it and enjoyed it, despite it being mediocre as far as the genre goes. So, it gets a rating of:

7/10

 

Imouto sae Ireba Ii.

Imouto sae Ireba Ii ( A little sister’s all you need)

With Imouto¬†¬†sae Ireba Ii, we’re finally starting to get into anime that exceeded my expectations or were just solidly enjoyable. This is the perfect example of an anime you must give the three episode rule because with the first two minutes, it may seem like absolute trash, but after the opening credits, it becomes something that goes from trash to treasure over time. It literally gets better and better before your eyes, really getting into full swing mid-series. The conclusion leaves¬† bit to be desired, but it also fits the series well. Besides being good comedy, it breaches a bit into what I like to call creator meta, as it focuses on the daily lives and events of various light novel authors and those associated with them and really nails some of the joys, horrors and realities of being a creator. This was a bit like what re-creators was for me last season and while not as exemplary, this series is worthy of praise in it’s own right. I find myself really wanting a second season of it. The final rating for this series is:

7.5/10

 

Blend S

Blend S

Blend S was another whim anime, but this time it really paid off, as it turned out to be a really fun and enjoyable comedy of the season. The characters were all very unique and likable and even the plot had a unique twists I feel you don’t see as often. The underlying romance subplot was also a nice touch, making itself known, while not becoming too dramatic or overbearing to take away the show’s light-hearted nature. Not too much more to say about this one otherwise, so the final rating I give it is:

7.5/10

Himouto! Umaru-chan R

Himouto! Umaru-chan R

Himouto! R is a solid follow up to it’s first season, though I’ll admit that the previous might have been a bit stronger overall. However, I loved this one just the same as the charcaters are what really drive the show, my favorite continuing to be Kirie. We do see some growth in Umaru this season however, which is nice, but it does feel a bit like the series is nearing it’s end. I think one more season would be perfect to end the series on a high note, but I guess we’ll see what happens. Hands down however, this had the seasons best ending song and probably best song of the series. I give this a rating of:

7.5/10

 

Net-juu no Susume

Net-juu no Susume (Recovery of an MMO Junkie)

Net-Juu was definitely an unexpected hit for me and had a lot to offer me. It’s rpg gaming focus, coupled with a relatable lead and an underlying romantic subplot between mature adults, hit all the right cords and made it one of the more enjoyable anime I’ve watched this Fall season. The characters were all great and the blend of real world vs. the virtual was well executed. However, it suffers from a limited degree of background development for some side characters, and seems to be missing some things it probably needed more time to get. 10 episodes just isn’t enough and so I’m really hoping we get a new season because all though I could live with the ending we got, it still has room for more. All and all, I enjoyed the serious quite a bit, and so I give it a rating of:

8/10

 

Inuyashiki

Inuyashiki

When discussing the edgiest anime of 2017, Inuyashiki should definitely be top on your list. It was a show that I really had no idea what to expect, but it literally delivered something from another galaxy. It focuses on a heavy consideration of what’s right or wrong, what it means to be good or bad and really makes you consider what the qualifications of how to be a hero or a villain. It’ll show you that the grey area between these concepts is much larger than you may think. It certainly isn’t for the feint-hearted, as it has some pretty gruesome and unsettling scenes, hence what makes it so edgy and it has a slight case of having more plotlines than accounted for, but it was all and all a very memorable show and gets points for being so unique and original. The CG use was ok, though still lacking, especially up against another CG heavy show of the season. The rating for this show is:

8/10

 

Ballroom e Youkoso

Ballroom e Youkoso  (Welcome to the Ballroom)

Ballroom is another example of an anime that makes a sport I’d never cared much for before, become much more interesting. I’d never have thought I’d enjoy an anime about ballroom dancing this much, yet here we are. The animation is certainly different and takes some getting used to, but the dances and technical details we get to see are worth it. They are often very beautiful and captivating. Tatara is a nicely adapted main character who’s growth over the course of the series is wonderful to watch. He goes from a boy with no direction, to a young man who’s found his passion. I really enjoyed this anime and so it get’s a rating of:

8.5/10

 

Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara

Shoukugeki no Souma: San no Sara

The third season of souma¬† got back to it’s roots a bit and that’s great to see. It has already been picked up for a new season come Spring 2018 and I eagerly await it’s return. I don’t have much to say on it that hasn’t been said, so it gets a rating of:

9/10

 

Love Live! Sunshine!! 2nd Season

Love Live Sunshine!! Season 2

LLS! season 2 was the same Aquors goodness from season 1, but even better. We got a nice selection of performances and enjoyable songs, as well as a fitting continuation to the plot of the 1st season. I may have said it before, but LLS surpasses LLSIP in the fact that the characters are more individually memorable, characterized and dynamic. However, I think it falls just a bit short when comparing the overall story and general feeling of magic that LLSIP possessed. Not to mention, the ships were far better defined in LLSIP, where they were more interchangeable with LLS. That being said however, they are both worthy of being praised as one of the better idol series out there and I enjoy them regardless of their differences. I’m looking forward to the movie for LLS that is in the works already. The final rating for this is:

9/10

 

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou ( Girl’s Last Tour)

Girl’s Last Tour was probably the most surprising hit of this season as for the fact that the plot was extremely simple and not much happens in each episode, yet you enjoy the episode as if it were full of action anyway and you’re never bored. It has a perfect blend of a post-apocalyptic, creepy and solemn setting and moe, lively characters coupled with a soundtrack that is an excellent driver of the atmosphere and mood. It in some cases even shapes your viewing experience. This also shows the phenomenal voice acting of the two leads, as they are able to keep us viewers engaged and make the events believable, as well as bring their characters to life such that you feel like you know them. It’s something only a show like this could accomplish and it’s for this reason that it’s secured a spot in my top 3 of the season. This was an easy rating to give, which is:

9.5/10

 

Konohana Kitan

Konohana Kitan

Konohana was the unrivaled feel good anime of the season and blew past my expectations. It seemed like a simple slice of life involving cute fox girls, but it became much more. The episodes were often peaceful and serene, while offering glimpses of the beauty of their world and life in general. It touched on much of the Japanese folklore stories you may know and some you don’t, but presented them in beautiful ways. Besides this, the romance between the pairings of the show was light enough to appreciated by all regardless of if they are fans of girl’s love, while not being so obscure that it leaves any question about the fact that they are official, as in the source material. My rating for this show is:

10/10

 

Houseki no Kuni (TV)

Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous)

Houseki is the ultimate, no doubt about it, dark horse of the season that jumped from obscurity to fame. It was easy to be turned off by the fact that it was all CG animation and many did in fact write it off due to that, but those who stuck around were in for quite a surprise. This is most likely the most well done CG animated anime we’ve had in the very least, a very long time and it honestly wouldn’t work without it. The gems are beautiful, shiny and captivating to watch and the action scenes are enthralling. It’s a very original story and all the characters are unique and attractive in their own ways, while never really conforming to any gender identity as the source confirms they are in fact genderless, being they are living rocks. The majority likely will see them as females, and doing so is not a crime, but there are aspects that could be seen as more masculine as well. No matter how you may see them, they deserve to be seen and definitely deserve another season. Especially with how the season ended, it left a lot to be desired and so I’ll be hoping for it. If you have not already seen it, you should absolutely do so, as it’ll be an experience for sure. Therefore, the rating for my top anime of Fall 2017 is:

10.5/10

 

With that, the Fall 2017 reviews come to a close. Like I said, it was a tight race, especially in each group of rating, but the top 3 deserve to be there without a doubt. I hope you liked this new format and be feel free to comment about it or any of your thoughts on any of the anime in the comments. Thanks for reading and see you for Winter 2018!

 

 

 

Koi to Uso Anime Review

Koi to Uso

Genre Tags: Drama, Romance, School

Seasons/Episodes: 12

Synopsis:¬†In a futuristic society, Japan has implemented a complex system referred to as “The Red Threads of Science” to encourage successful marriages and combat increasingly low birthrates. Based on a compatibility calculation, young people at the age of 16 are assigned marriage partners by the government, with severe repercussions awaiting those who disobey the arrangement. For Yukari Nejima, a teen that considers himself average in every way, this system might be his best shot at living a fulfilling life.

However, spurred by his infatuation for his classmate and long-time crush, Misaki Takasaki, Yukari defies the system and confesses his love. After some initial reluctance, Misaki reciprocates his feelings in a moment of passion. Unfortunately, before the two can further their relationship, Yukari receives his marriage notice. He is then thrown into a confusing web of love and lies when his less-than-thrilled assigned partner, Ririna Sanada, becomes fascinated with his illicit romance.

Plot Rating:  8/10

Character Development Rating: 7/10

Progression Rating: 7/10

Animation Rating: 8/10

Conclusion Rating: 7/10

Technical Overall Rating (based on average of above ratings): 7.4/10

*This rating is unbiased and based completely on the honest ratings for each category and so may often be lower than my personal rating. This is the rating you’d probably like to go by when deciding if you’ll watch a series or not, unless my explanation for my personal rating of why it deserved a better rating is one you agree with

Personal Overall Rating (based solely on my personal enjoyment): 8/10

*This rating is totally biased and based completely on my personal feelings of the anime. This will often be higher than the technical rating because sometimes I love certain series despite them being kind of bad. My reasons for the higher rating will often be given here or in the GC.

Should You Watch: If you liked Kuzu no Honkai, you’d probably like this too.

General Comments: Watching the first few episodes of this immediately will give you a sense of deja vu if you watched Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Wish) as the basic theme is similar, but Koi to Uso is by no means a copy cat. Koi to Uso has a very unique plot that I actually found interesting, but it’s complicated relationship dynamics is where the real comparison lies.Where Kuzu had a love triangle, this had more of a love square. I kind of liked it though, because it kind covered all sides of the love spectrum. There’s a guy who likes a guy, a girl who likes a guy and a girl and a girl and a guy who like each other, but the guy also likes another girl. It’s a complicated messy web just the same, but where they really start to diverge is the finale. Where Kuzu had a more bittersweet ending, Koi had more of a an open ending. This wasn’t surprising considering the circumstances and I may even say I liked it, except there is one problem that it also shares with Kuzu. The openly gay character always draws the short end of the stick.

Overall, I found Koi to Uso a good treat for my romantic cravings, but as a whole, I liked Kuzu no Honkai more and thought it was far superior. Koi isn’t a bad watch though, so if you like romantic dramas, definitely give it a go.

Princess Principal Anime Review

Princess Principal

Genre Tags: Action, Mystery

Seasons/Episodes: 12

Synopsis: The stage is set during the 19th century London, in its capital where a wall divides the east and west of the Kingdom of Albion. Five high school girls, who enrolled in the prestigious Queens May Fair School, are involved in spy activities that involve disguise, infiltration, car chase, and more. These girls take advantage of their special abilities and fly around the shadow world.

Plot Rating: 9/10

Character Development Rating: 8/10

Progression Rating: 8/10

Animation Rating: 8/10

Conclusion Rating: 9/10

Technical Overall Rating (based on average of above ratings): 8.4/10

*This rating is unbiased and based completely on the honest ratings for each category and so may often be lower than my personal rating. This is the rating you’d probably like to go by when deciding if you’ll watch a series or not, unless my explanation for my personal rating of why it deserved a better rating is one you agree with

Personal Overall Rating (based solely on my personal enjoyment): 11/10

*This rating is totally biased and based completely on my personal feelings of the anime. This will often be higher than the technical rating because sometimes I love certain series despite them being kind of bad. My reasons for the higher rating will often be given here or in the GC.

Should You Watch: If you like the idea of Steampunk Spy Girls being Bad@ss, yes!

General Comments: Honestly, PriPri is probably the most underrated anime this season. It probably got overshadowed by the other great things this season and while I can admit that it’s technically not above certain other shows this season, it was the most unique, original and enjoyable. However, this is an opinion that can be nothing less than subjective as it is for me and my absolute adoration for it comes down to three basic things. It’s got a Military/Spy theme, it’s got badass moe girls and it’s got yuri. Those who know me know shows with these three things are like catnip to me and adding in the steampunk ascetic and an interesting story, I’m in love. This is my number one of the season on a personal level, but I’m sure that there are other shows that are technically the best of the season (Made in Abyss). PriPri isn’t perfect technically speaking, but personally I can’t get enough and I’ll be singing it’s praises for quite a while. I pray it’ll have a second season soon. If you liked Izetta, you will love this too, as it’s similar. So I highly recommend it, but if you’re of the type who dislikes a female-centric plot with no male MC, stay away.

Made in Abyss Anime Review

Made in Abyss

Genre Tags: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy

Seasons/Episodes: 13

Synopsis:¬†The Abyss‚ÄĒa gaping chasm stretching down into the depths of the earth, filled with mysterious creatures and relics from a time long past. How did it come to be? What lies at the bottom? Countless brave individuals, known as Divers, have sought to solve these mysteries of the Abyss, fearlessly descending into its darkest realms. The best and bravest of the Divers, the White Whistles, are hailed as legends by those who remain on the surface.

Riko, daughter of the missing White Whistle Lyza the Annihilator, aspires to become like her mother and explore the furthest reaches of the Abyss. However, just a novice Red Whistle herself, she is only permitted to roam its most upper layer. Even so, Riko has a chance encounter with a mysterious robot with the appearance of an ordinary young boy. She comes to name him Reg, and he has no recollection of the events preceding his discovery. Certain that the technology to create Reg must come from deep within the Abyss, the two decide to venture forth into the chasm to recover his memories and see the bottom of the great pit with their own eyes. However, they know not of the harsh reality that is the true existence of the Abyss.

Plot Rating: 9/10

Character Development Rating: 8/10

Progression Rating:  9/10

Animation Rating: 9/10

Conclusion Rating: 10/10

Technical Overall Rating (based on average of above ratings): 9/10

*This rating is unbiased and based completely on the honest ratings for each category and so may often be lower than my personal rating. This is the rating you’d probably like to go by when deciding if you’ll watch a series or not, unless my explanation for my personal rating of why it deserved a better rating is one you agree with

Personal Overall Rating (based solely on my personal enjoyment): 10.5/10

*This rating is totally biased and based completely on my personal feelings of the anime. This will often be higher than the technical rating because sometimes I love certain series despite them being kind of bad. My reasons for the higher rating will often be given here or in the GC.

Should You Watch: Absolutely! No questions asked.

General Comments: Every season, there’s that one anime that not many people pay attention to at first, but then it has an amazing premier and keeps getting better as it goes, to end with a stunning finale and becomes the dark-horse of the season. Yes, Made in Abyss is it. It blew any expectations I had far out the water and might be one of the best anime I’ve seen of it’s kind. It’s literally a masterpiece and I can’t find fault in anything it’s done, except perhaps the over sexualization of children in parts, but even that can be forgiven when the remaining content and the plot is that amazing. The feels were strong in this one and there may be moments not for the feint hearted, but it’s not so much so that it can’t be enjoyed. Although the season wrapped things up in a nice bow, I really hope we’ll see it continue on in a second season, as I’m not ready to ascend from the depths of the abyss just yet. Please watch this show, you won’t regret it.

New Game !! Anime Review

New Game!!

Genre Tags: Slice of Life, Comedy

Seasons/Episodes: 12

Synopsis:¬†‚ÄčIt has been a year since Aoba Suzukaze started working at the Eagle Jump game company. In that time, she and her eccentric coworkers in the character design department have worked hard to release the company’s newest game: Fairies Story 3. With their latest title now complete, a new project must begin‚ÄĒstarting with a contest to decide the character designs for the upcoming game. Through hard work, dedication, and some guidance from the previous character designer, Kou Yagami, Aoba wins the contest and begins her new role as lead character designer.

However, her new job is not an easy one. In addition to having extra work and longer hours, Aoba questions whether she is the right fit for the job.¬†New Game!!¬†continues as Aoba overcomes her inexperience with the help of her friends and coworkers, willing to face any challenge to make Eagle Jump’s newest creation, a cutesy game called Peco.

Plot Rating: 8/10

Character Development Rating: 9/10

Progression Rating:  8/10

Animation Rating: 9/10

Conclusion Rating: 10/10

Technical Overall Rating (based on average of above ratings): 8.8/10

*This rating is unbiased and based completely on the honest ratings for each category and so may often be lower than my personal rating. This is the rating you’d probably like to go by when deciding if you’ll watch a series or not, unless my explanation for my personal rating of why it deserved a better rating is one you agree with

Personal Overall Rating (based solely on my personal enjoyment): 10/10

*This rating is totally biased and based completely on my personal feelings of the anime. This will often be higher than the technical rating because sometimes I love certain series despite them being kind of bad. My reasons for the higher rating will often be given here or in the GC.

Should You Watch: If you loved the first season, you’ll really love this one, so yes!

General Comments: Our favorite game developers are back and boy were they missed. The Eagle Jump team returns with their unique personalities and hilarious hijinks, but with even more vigor. However, the comedy wasn’t the only thing they amped up, but the feels as well. Where the first season was more focused on comedy and getting to know the team, this season was focused on actual game making and the conflicts that come with it, therefore making it a more serious season. There was one moment in particular this season involving Aoba and a certain competition she was involved in that made my heart hurt as I could wholeheartedly relate to the struggle and her grief.

It wasn’t all serious however, and we also had several new characters to meet, though I will say perhaps at the cost of development for some of the veterans. There was more drama this season as well, but it was offset with the increase in romantic subplots. That’s not the focus of the show of course, but I can safely say that at least one of the favorite ships sailed and more are highly likely to in the future.¬†Overall, the second season was even better than the first in several ways and I really hope we’ll get a third.

Kakegurui Anime Review

Kakegurui

Genre Tags: Game, Mystery, Psychological, Seinen, School, Shounen, Drama

Seasons/Episodes: 12

Synopsis:¬†Unlike many schools, attending Hyakkaou Private Academy prepares students for their time in the real world. Since many of the students are the children of the richest people in the world, the academy has its quirks that separate it from all the others. By day, it is a normal school, educating its pupils in history, languages, and the like. But at night, it turns into a gambling den, educating them in the art of dealing with money and manipulating people. Money is power; those who come out on top in the games stand at the top of the school. Yumeko Jabami, a seemingly naive and beautiful transfer student, is ready to try her hand at Hyakkaou’s special curriculum. Unlike the rest, she doesn’t play to win, but for the thrill of the gamble, and her borderline insane way of gambling might just bring too many new cards to the table.

Plot Rating: 8/10

Character Development Rating: 7/10

Progression Rating: 8/10

Animation Rating: 9/10

Conclusion Rating: 8/10

Technical Overall Rating (based on average of above ratings): 8/10

*This rating is unbiased and based completely on the honest ratings for each category and so may often be lower than my personal rating. This is the rating you’d probably like to go by when deciding if you’ll watch a series or not, unless my explanation for my personal rating of why it deserved a better rating is one you agree with

Personal Overall Rating (based solely on my personal enjoyment): 9/10

*This rating is totally biased and based completely on my personal feelings of the anime. This will often be higher than the technical rating because sometimes I love certain series despite them being kind of bad. My reasons for the higher rating will often be given here or in the GC.

Should You Watch: If you like psychological game anime with crazy characters, for sure!

General Comments: This was probably the craziest anime of the season, figuratively and literally. I think the main guy might be the only sane character who isn’t a total gambling psycho. However, the craziest thing of all, is that it’s the insane gambling ladies, namely the lead lady herself, Yumeko, who makes the show that amazing. They could have had a standard anime about the art of gambling, but the sheer insanity of the activity and how much of an obsession it can actually be makes it much more interesting. You can truly feel the obsession of the compulsive gamblers and you can’t look away because every game pulls you in. The real star of the show is truly Yumeko however and she is reason alone to watch. She’s a gambling mastermind and watching her epic take-downs are the most exhilarating and savage things you’ll see this season.

As good as the anime is, I highly suggest reading the manga, as it’s that much better.

Re:Creators Anime Review

Re:Creators

Genre Tags: Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Seasons/Episodes: 22

Synopsis:¬†Humans have designed countless worlds‚ÄĒeach one born from the unique imagination of its creator. Souta Mizushino is a high school student who aspires to be such a creator by writing and illustrating his own light novel. One day, while watching anime for inspiration, he is briefly transported into a fierce fight scene. When he returns to the real world, he realizes something is amiss: the anime’s headstrong heroine, Celestia Yupitilia, has somehow returned with him.

Before long, other fictional characters appear in the world, carrying the hopes and scars of their home. A princely knight, a magical girl, a ruthless brawler, and many others now crowd the streets of Japan. However, the most mysterious one is a woman in full military regalia, dubbed “Gunpuku no Himegimi,” who knows far more than she should about the creators’ world. Despite this, no one knows her true name or the world she is from.

Meanwhile, Souta and Celestia work together with Meteora √Ėsterreich, a calm and composed librarian NPC, to uncover the meaning behind these unnatural events. With powerful forces at play, the once clear line between reality and imagination continues to blur, leading to a fateful meeting between creators and those they created.

Plot Rating: 8/10

Character Development Rating: 7/10

Progression Rating: 7/10

Animation Rating: 8/10

Conclusion Rating: 10/10

Technical Overall Rating (based on average of above ratings): 8/10

*This rating is unbiased and based completely on the honest ratings for each category and so may often be lower than my personal rating. This is the rating you’d probably like to go by when deciding if you’ll watch a series or not, unless my explanation for my personal rating of why it deserved a better rating is one you agree with

Personal Overall Rating (based solely on my personal enjoyment): 9/10

*This rating is totally biased and based completely on my personal feelings of the anime. This will often be higher than the technical rating because sometimes I love certain series despite them being kind of bad. My reasons for the higher rating will often be given here or in the GC.

Should You Watch: This is so meta for creators, I think it should be a requirement for them. For regular viewers however, it depends on if you’re ok with dialogue heavy shows and world building between the action.

General Comments: Re: Creators probably had the most interesting plot of all the anime this season. It featured a kind of creatorception, where created worlds and characters entered the world of their own creators. It’s fascinating, because what creator would ever imagine meeting their fictional creation? It makes you wonder, what would you do? Would they maintain their created personalities, or can they develop their own will and motivations? Can they live apart from the world you have crafted for them? All of these questions and concepts are explored in this series and it’s done in a very interesting, unique and almost perfect way. There are so many layers to the concept, it almost blows your mind, especially once the climax hits. It’s honestly an experience you must see for yourself. I especially encourage any type of creator, be it writer, artist, game developer and so on, to watch this anime, as it will really offer a unique perspective on your craft and the deeper significance it can hold. The pace is a bit slow moving and their is a lot of world building and storytelling, but it’s all worth it for the pay off in the finale.