This is a place where I talk about anime and manga! Below you can see some of my favourites, and reviews of stuff I finished after making this page. Due to my goldfish memory I don't think I'd be able to reliably review things I watched/read ages ago, even if they were my favourites.

The last list on the left can be used to navigate inside this site.

The clickable images on my favourites list lead to their respective myanimelist sites. Yes I still use MyAnimeList, not sure if there's anything more trendy nowadays.

Favourites

Dennou Coil

Dorohedoro

Haibane Renmei

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

Kino no Tabi

Legend of the Galactic Heores

Monster

Mushishi

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Welcome to the NHK!

Oniisama e...

Paradise Kiss

Sonny Boy

Twelve Kingdoms

Versailles no bara

The Night is Short, Walk on Girl

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

20th Century Boys

Dead dead demons Dededededestruction

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run

La Pomme Prisonnière

Short Cuts

Umibe no Onnanoko

Ashizuri Suizokukan

Kani ni Sasowarete

Ito Junji Kyoufu Manga Collection - Kao Dorobou

Wandering Island

Toys Harmful But Unprohibited

Palepoli

Mitsuami no Kamisama

Reviews

The reviews are full of spoilers, you've been warned.

Evangelion Rebuilds

I have a pretty long history with evangelion. I watched it when I was around 13 and it impacted (hehe) me in many ways. It's true what they say, baby's first deep anime. I spent a lot of time back then reading about the lore and the symbolism, I even wrote an essay about evangelion for my ethics class when I started high school. The teacher asked me if I really wrote it on my own, and it's true that I kind of didn't, since my interpretation of evas representing jobs and responsibilities was a pretty common interpretation online. Suffice to say, NGE had a pretty strong grip over me in my early weeb days. I rewatched nge recently, in preparation for the last rebuild and along with my bf that never watched nge before. I noticed a lot of things I didn't pay much attention to before, specifically when it comes to the adult characters. One of my favourite episodes now would be episode 13, where we find out more info about the Magi System and how it was built. The whole plot surrounding Ritsuko, her mother and Gendo was something I just ignored when I was a teen. Another thing I really love about the show were the eva designs, they look so slick compared to your standard mecha designs. Unit 01's screams? Perfect. And yeah yeah I know evas aren't mechas technically.

Now that I'm done reminiscing about the show let me start rambling about the rebuild movies. I never saw the rebuilds as a remake, but more of a continuation. This is why I kind of see characters in the rebuilds as detached from the originals. We don't really know their backstories, some of their proper motivations, a lot of things are missing. Is the rebuild universe something shinji willed into existence after EoE? Idk I'm too lazy to theorize about it. Anyway, the first movie is kind of the same as the start of the original show, with not too many differences in the story. There's one scene in it that stood out to me that was a bit changed from the show, the scene where Misato is yelling at Shinji after he disobeyed her order. In the Rebuild she gets a lot more angry and physical even. The main reason why I like it so much because it's so visible here how Shinji really is just a child still. He's damn tiny.

Now the second rebuild is where things start getting wacky and different. Rei is on her way to become a moeblob but it's not as extreme as the 4th movie. Shinji is getting his own harem, but also I'd say his rebuild self is a bit more charming compared to the the show. The emphasis on him being a good cook is much bigger here I feel. Asuka is just a random angry girl now, and she's going to stay angry for reasons that are unknown to us, as she won't get a backstory until the last 10 minutes of the last movie. Mari appears and I'm already exhausted by her presence. We had a little battle shonen moment at the end with Shinji saving Rei. Misato is telling him to go for it even though she's aware he's causing the Third Impact. Hmm Okay.

The third movie made me the most angry. It starts with Shinji being told to never pilot again and that basically he's a piece of shit but nothing is being explained to him, so he feels confused. Understandable. Why is nobody explaining anything? Also the jarring change in art style only became obvious to me now, even though I watched 3.0 back when it came out. Dorito chins. One thing I didn't mention before but it was already present in the first movie, was the larger focus on machinery, various robots and ships. 3rd and 4th movie take it to the next level. Both movies start in the same exact way, with Mari's singing and a barrage of boring looking cgi machinery. It seems to me the rebuilds have a large focus on scale as opposed to interesting 1 on 1 fights which makes it less enjoyable imo. Anyway, Shinji is confused and angry, so he rejoins daddy and most importantly Rei whom he thought he saved but Misato and co didn't want to elaborate on. Gendo refuses to elaborate on anything but this at least is consistent with his character and his motives so it's fine. Kaworu instead serves us the exposition dump and it turns out he wants to revert things back. So now finally we have the final scene, where Kaworu realizes he was tricked by Gendo. Instead of explaining it to Shinji who is now having a full on breakdown because nobody is bothering to explain him anything, he just sits there covering his head. This movie had way too many moments like this that it became frustrating. In an attempt to make things right due to feelings of severe guilt, Shinji manages to fuck everything up and he uses the two spears only to fuck things up again.

The fourth movie was uhhhhhh "alright". As a movie unrelated to nge I'd say it was pretty okay. It was 2 and a half hours long but I was able to watch it without losing attention so I'd say it did a good job at being a movie. First thing that I disliked was Rei's childification. This Rei is very uwu and child-like. She's learning words for the first time, her purpose in life is to be Shinji's waifu and she doesn't even have the drive to give herself a new name. I thought at the very least she's going to mature into her own person on her own terms as the movie suggested with the cute village life scenes, but she didn't. Shinji is suffering from ptsd big time at the start. I liked the scene where Asuka stuffed food in his face.

I'm sensing a pattern here, I really seem to like the scenes where Shinji gets abused by women. Am I some kind of a fetishist? Uncomfortable, lingering scenes like that are the essence of Evangelion to me lol. I'd totally watch a spinoff about life in a post apocalyptic village protected from the outside world by those column things. Rei explodes and it feels like it was all for naught. This gives Shinji the drive to go and confront Gendo. Weird fight scenes ensue. Shinji finally gets to confronting Gendo and honestly, why did that part end so abruptly and quickly? I think it should've been given more screentime, mainly the part about Gendo. Finally we heard some of his internal monologue, this was something I've been waiting for, for a long time now. I hated how it was wrapped up neatly, especially the "Yui was inside of you all along!" part. After that we just moved on to Asuka, who finally had a brief little backstory and then the rest of the cast. This short scene was super cute, honestly.
In a way this sequence was the complete opposite of the show ending (and eoe too) where Shinji gets interviewed by everyone and realizes things about himself. But those moments were intertwined with the backstories and internal monologues of the whole cast along with Shinji, here it felt more onesided. Anyway, now it's Shinjis turn to interview everyone. And then, the one character that remained a complete mystery besides the fact that she was has something to do with Yui and Gendo meeting, Mari, turns up and comforts Shinji. Now, I read somewhere a while ago Anno wanted Mari to destroy Eva, but Shinji did a fine job of that himself with willing Evas out of existence and having a world without them. I feel like it was a very tongue in cheek move to do, but it was a decent ending for the rebuilds since seeing as how they're implied to be a loop the ending makes total sense. So Mari would be unecessary. Mari being connected with Yui and Gendo is strange because it either implies she has been suffering from the evangelion curse for a long time now or she's a clone type thing like Rei and maybe Asuka even. Also, I think that the fact that Yui's maiden name became Ayanami takes away from the whole Yui/Gendo love story and turns it into something entirely else. I always found it selflessly romantic that Gendo took her surname. Usually men are more into the whole "preserving my seed/lineage/family name" shit while the woman is just a mere stepping stone towards this life purpose, to add to it this act was kind of a symbol of what's to come as Gendo took it next level, as he heavily prioritized Yui over Shinji. But in a more healthy way of course, I find this super romantic, Gendo was just too extreme about it. This surname thing hints at some big backstory we don't know anything about though, as now Rei, Asuka and Mari have military ship surnames. So are we really free from Evangelion?

Twelve Kingdoms

A little while ago, I decided I really want to clear out my backlog so I planned to start with all the mid 90's/early 00's fantasy/isekai anime that I've been meaning to watch for ages. The first one I began with was Twelve Kingdoms. I really, really loved it. The worldbuilding was so interesting, most characters were amazing, the main heroine experienced a lot of growth, her love interest was adorable and generally all of the characters had pretty understandable motivations and reactions to situations besides a couple of kooky ones. Frankly I was stunned with how comfy that anime was because I only heard about it once online and that one sincere recommendation made me save it to my backlog. Sadly as was the fate for a lot of anime at that time, its funding was cut short and the anime was never finished. Despite that it made it to my favourites list, because it was that enjoyable to watch. The last arc aside, which was the start of an arc that was basically never finished, the show ended on a decent note, and we got to see our main heroine grow into a competent queen. Pretty satisfying.

Now, I finished watching this anime around 2 months ago hence the less detailed review. But I feel like it's important for me to put this review out here because of the one that follows...

The Vision of Escaflowne

As mentioned in the Twelve Kingdoms review, my quest to watch the most popular fantasy/isekai from 20-ish years ago continues, and the next one on my list was Escaflowne. Now, I've heard about this anime time and time again and I mostly heard words of praise. It was compared to Evangelion before Evangelion, best fantasy anime ever made, best isekai etc. etc. After watching it however... I can definitely say I liked Twelve Kingdoms a lot more.

On the first glance, both of these shows share the same flaws. Both had their funding cut short, although while Twelve Kingdoms was more interrupted and didn't finish, Escaflowne was condensed but finished. Both seemed to have a lot of unfinished plot threads. Another flaw they share is an annoying main character, but Twelve Kingdoms fixes that around episode 12 (out of 45, so pretty early on all in all!) while... Escaflowne never fixed it. In fact, all of Escaflownes characters are so bizarre to me that I can't wrap my head around them. This show had the most ridiculous and forced (quite literally, plot forced!) love triangle I've ever seen. Love triangles and love misunderstandings are a big reason why I tend to skip over romance shows and shojo anime, despite me preferring female protagonists. Anyway, let me start hating the characters. First we have Hitomi, the main character. She falls in love with like 4 different dudes throughout the show and despite having a future telling ability, or more like a faith altering ability, she's never able to utilise it properly once throughout the show (on a second thought I actually find this sort of cool because she's not in the show to fight or to be an amazing protagonist, but it's still a bit frustrating). Despite being told how to do it somewhere around the middle of it. She keeps changing her mind regarding her love interest, and one of her love interests is Allan that's around 30?? years old. Allan is probably my most hated character. He's a full blown misogynist, constantly belittling Hitomi and saying how he literally wants to keep her in a cage. The dude knocked up a queen (that had a husband) and never took part in raising the child or taking responsibility, even after the king died. Then he went on to fall in love with the queen's sister. And then Hitomi. He was full on ready to be with the princess but Hitomi cucked him with her fate altering powers. That's actually the only time she consciously used her powers lol. And the most disgusting part is, he had feelings for Hitomi (even before being forcefully manipulated to kiss her) but at the end of the show he says Hitomi reminds him of his little sister. What the fuck!!! His horrible treatment of women could be explained by the fact that maybe the world he was raised in is also like that but then it makes no sense for Hitomi to accept his weird comments since she comes from the modern day world. Van is a character I actually liked, he's your typical action focused male fantasy protagonist that doesn't have time for romance. Endearing in a way, but his lack of ability to express feelings made the show ending so... limp. Despite their amazing true real love being the thing that saves the whole world, the two of them decide not to stay with each other? Insted Hitomi went back to her world. Left me feeling more on the edge than Twelve Kingdom's ending even though that show literally never had a real ending to it.

The way both shows deal with having female heroines are vastly different. However, a part of that is because of the worlds the main characters found themselves in, they're vastly different too. But I still think it's worth a mention. In Escaflowne, Hitomi is constantly baragged with "you're a woman you should stay away" comments but there's never any rebutals to them. She does stay away. She never proves anyone wrong. Yoko in Twelve Kingdoms is pretty amazing though, as she goes from this timid, boring perfect girl to an actual Queen that needs to fight her way to the top. Just the way in which her development happened was so well done, I rarely see it being done in anime with female characters. The way Hitomi and other characters have this ability to constantly fall in and out of love is impressive. It just makes for such lukewarm romance that I wasn't rooting for anyone at all, I just got super pissed.

One thing I can say I liked about Escaflowne was the music and the animation. The soundtrack was scored by none other than Yoko Kanno so of course it's going to be great, and the animation was impressive for an episodic tv anime at the time. I'm not really going to complain much about the never resolved plot points because it's whatever to me. I might watch the movie somewhere down the line because I heard it had a darker tone that the show. A lot of people seemed to complain about the art style and the noses but I really had no problems with it.

Despite me shitting on this anime so much, I had fun watching it because it was pretty nonsensical. If someone watched this anime as a kid or a teen I can totally see why they'd like it and have fond memories of it. In that sense, it's not that bad and the problems it suffers from can be seen in a lot of anime with similar themes, so it's not really outstandingly horrible. I guess I just had my standards set high by an anime seemingly more obscure from this one that follows the same premise, hence my disillusionment.

I Want To Be Killed by a Highschool Girl

I Want To Be Killed by a Highschool Girl is yet another Usamaru Furuya's manga that I've read in the past month. I think I read most of his stuff by now. I find his work really interesting because he never planned to be a mangaka until he was 26. He still has a background as an artist, he majored in oil painting but being a mangaka never interested him until he actually did it, and you can see it in his earlier works. His earlier works are what I love the most because they're so strange compared to the rest of the stuff you'd see around. I love the humor mixed with ero-guro stuff, never thought I'd have such taste before. The first manga of his that I read was 51 Ways to Save Her and I actually didn't know he was behind it when I read it. That manga had a cohesive linear plot and one set of characters, rather than just being a gag manga like his earlier works. Sometime after that I read his earlier works Short Cuts and Palepoli which became my favourites, and I still didn't know that he was behind 51 Ways to Save Her! Just shows how different the subject matter and the vibe was. Even though, looking back, the art style is pretty recogniseable.

I Want To Be Killed by a Highschool Girl is one of Furuya's newer stuff and I have to say the premise was really interesting, I read it under an hour. The manga is about a dude called Haruto, that has Autoassassinophilia which is basically a fetish for being killed by somebody. He of course, wants to be killed by a pretty high school girl. And there's one girl he set his sights on, so much so that he swapped his major in university to become that girl's high school teacher, and he also left his gf for this reason (or so we think). Oh and his gf is on her way to become a psychologist. I'm spoiling shit big time from this point on so if you're interested in reading, I recommend you don't read from here on! The girl Haruto is into is called Maho and she has dissociative identity disorder due to a traumatic childhood. Her best friend Aoi has autism, but she's also the only person that's aware of Maho's split personality who she's actually friends with. Maho helps Aoi with understanding social cues, but Aoi is also the only person she can feel safe around because she knows about her DID. They have a cute dynamic going on. Yukio is a boy that has a crush on Maho, he likes her so much he got into the same prestigious high school despite being kind of a dumbass. The story starts when Haruto's ex-gf Satsuki shows up at the high school as a counselor. She slowly starts to unravel that Maho is in love with Haruto, that Aoi doesn't feel safe around Haruto and she thinks he's trouble, that Maho has DID and that Yukio is in love with Maho and wants to help her. In the meantime Haruto is orchestrating his big plan of his murder-day that will happen on his 35th birthday, he quits his job, gets rid of all of his belongings, and plans on how to get Maho alone in order to have her split personality murder him. Anyway, it turns out Satsuki knew about all of this and she came to that high school in order to put an end to it. Basically all of them help Maho get over her DID and "merge" the personalities and they also get a tracking app on Maho's phone in case Haruto gets to her. Which he does of course, and she accepts his invitiation to go to the woods as she still has a crush on him (and doesn't know he's a degen, only Satsuki and Yukio do). Anyway in the end they manage to prevent Haruto from getting himself killed, Yukio and Maho end up together, and Satsuki ends up with Haruto while trying to undo that fetish of his. He is, however, still a degen and now he's looking into hypnotisation in order to bring back Maho's old split personality.

So what's the point of the story? That degenereates will always be degenerates? Hehe.. Well either way the main thing I wanted to talk about was Satsuki. She is such an ironic and tragic character, and I'm not sure if she was purposefully written that way or not but this hit hard. She embodies the "I can change him" mindset a lot of women tend to have and suffer for it. And the last big irony is how she is able to perceive things well and read people masterfully yet she cannot see this fatal flaw in herself. She wasn't able to help Haruto in the end, because it turns out he's just a plain old sociopath. One super weird thing I have to point out was the monologue Satsuki had when she was confronting Haruto during the climax, she tells him how Maho had a crush on him and how if he wasn't such a crazy person, they could've ended up together. It took me by surprise but also not really because I noticed before Japan (or maybe just anime/manga, idk) has this weird obsession with teacher/student relationships, not in a taboo way, but in a "this is totally normal and respectful" way. God I can't remember which anime it was that just glossed over such an event. In DeDeDe at least it was treated as someting weird and unusual, and also as a gag. Anyway, Haruto literally spent a portion of his life stalking Maho and planning his life around her in order to get killed by her at a certain age, how could you tell this man that he could've been her husband??? It should be the last thing to say in such a situation, Jesus.

All in all I enjoyed the manga, especially for the Satsuki/Maho/Aoi interactions which I thought were endearing. I don't think it's perfect and the end felt like it came all of a sudden with a large timeskip but it's worth giving it a read, it's quite suspensful at parts. Also here's a pic of Haruto playing Shadow of the Colossus, my favourite game.

River's Edge

Let me preface this by saying that I love coming of age and edgy teen stories. I'm kind of a sucker for them. It's the reason that initially drew me in to Asano Inio's work when I was 14, and I still have a tendency to read similar works many years later. This manga perfectly fits into this theme I like, and it was an enjoyable read. It's not too deep or anything, but it was an enjoyable vignette into a teen girl's life.

To briefly summarize the plot and character relationships; Haruna is the main character who befriends a gay guy called Yamada. She has a boyfriend called Kannonzaki that cheats on her with her best friend Rumi. Rumi whores herself out to sugardaddies and she has a fat NEET sister. Kannonzaki is jealous of Haruna and Yamada's friendship and he thinks she's cheating on him. Yamada has a girlfriend whom he doesn't like at all, called Kanna. He also has another friend, a bulimic model called Kozue. Pretty iconic and simple setup for such stories. Kozue may or may not be gay or bi, but this trope of "gay model" is something that's pretty prevalent, and I'm not sure if she was just yet another extension of that trope. Someting that made me relate hard is Haruna's feelings towards Kannonzaki, she lost her virginity to him but she doesn't care about him at all. Despite that she still says stuff like "I love you" and "we'll be together forever" when she doesn't mean it and regrets it immediately. I had a very similar experience with a relationship like that in high school. I did that because I was weak and wanted the easy way out by being in a relationship with someone that was my best friend. I definitely saw that part of myself in her during those moments, with the exact feeling of self-doubt and immediate regret. I think it's just good proof teens aren't that mentally mature and ready for serious relationships. It seems this manga is loosely based on a movie with the same name that came out in '86 that I never watched. Unlike that movie though, the characters in this manga never kill somebody except for Kanna killing herself at the end. Anyway, Yamada discovered a random dead body at the river bed and he just stares at it from time to time. He shows this body to Kozue and ultimately Haruna. The body is a pretty clear metaphor for the problems they deal with, skeletons in your closet kind of thing. There's not much of a real plot to this, it really does seem like an episode of a pretty turbulent time in their life, and when it's time to turn over a new leaf the story ends. I love that format honestly, but it might not be for everyone as people love to have closure or read longer stories. Everyone here is an asshole to some degree, some more some less. Nobody is perfect. Problems get resolved by not handling them head on, but instead it's done passively by letting time pass and things change naturally. I think that's pretty realistic, and something all of us are familiar with.

All in all this was a pretty easy read, and fits into the "junkfood for my soul" genre that I love to read. Nice.

The Shut-In Newlywed

Fuck. This manga hit way too close to home and now I'm a bit anxious. This "review" is more of a blogpost about my life than anything so brace yourself if you want to read it!

To sum up, this is a short 11 chapter autobigraphical manga about a woman who just got married. She was in a relationship for 6 years with her boyfriend, 3 of those were long distance, before they got married. She essentially had to quit her job, leave her family and friends, and abandon everything familiar to her in order to be with her future husband whom she feels she doesn't deserve. The manga talks about that whole process, as well as her depression, her hating the role of a housewife and her realizing her boyfriend accepts her for what she is. I spent the last few chapters slowly crying as I got reminded of the fact that I'll essentially be doing the same. It's not like I wasn't aware of this before, in fact I'd say my communication with my boyfriend is a lot better so we're both prepared for what awaits us once I move away, but the thought of me not integrating well enough into his world is ever present in my life. At least I spent a few months living with him. Either way, this situation is so scarily close to mine that I feel a bit of relief. I'm not the only woman doing this and feeling worried about it.

Prepare for a barrage of contradictory statements. Being a housewife is something I'd feel embarassed about in today's age. But in fact, that's a whole job of its own. And it's not easy work. There's a certain level of fear and immense trust that comes with it, as you'd be solely reliant on your husbands earnings, effectively stripping yourself of financial independence. I think in today's society (and especially modern work driven Japan where nobody wants to be a nuisance to anybody) that role carries some negative connotations to it. Easy way out, too useless to do anything else, freeloader, man's property etc. Yet despite me feeling shame about the possibility of being a housewife, it's something a lot of women, including me, secretely dream of at some point in our lives. And why is that? Well if you ever plan to have kids, or if you ever look at your friends that just got kids, you'd notice how the role of a parent is still pushed onto the mother. Fathers are hardly as present in the caretaking role. Women end up having two jobs, three jobs if the husbands don't bother with chores which is still a thing. Thinking of yourself in such a future can't help but evoke feelings of "I don't want to have kids" or "I don't want to have a job" in order to release yourself from one stress or the other. It's a sad fate many women end up with, with their husbands playing goofy useless oafs to avoid responsibility or just them being plainly patriarchal in a society that doesn't function that way anymore. Our society treats women as if we're equal, but our home life often tells another story. Anyway where was I going with this? I don't really know, but what I do know is that the main character probably had the same thoughts brewing inside her head. She's afraid of being a burden on somebody, and ironically she feels even more useless when her husband helps with the chores, stripping her off the only role she would unwillingly put herself into, the "housewife".

Another topic this manga deals with is long distance relationships. As someone who is unfortunately still in one (the long distance part is the unfotunate one) and is feeling frustrated due to the pandemic I think the experience of being in an ldr is very well portrayed. The curious questions from friends, the anxiety of being "that one crazy girl in an ldr" etc. were all things I went through and still experience. The whole dynamic of ldrs is so well explained as something that truly isn't for everyone, and something you really have to be mentally strong for to make the relationship survive. I really loved that part.

Anyway despite me thinking about this plenty already, this manga maybe soothed some feelings I had about being a housewife, or rather it just provided another perspective. I still think that being a housewife is as much of a curse as it is a privilege if you're decently safe money wise but it was a realistic portrayal of someone going bonkers after their life situation changed drastically, even if the change wasn't necessarily negative. I hope the same doesn't happen to me honestly...

To Your Eternity

I am an anime-only fag so I apologize if you were expecting a manga review. I kind of have mixed opinions on this anime even though the ending of this first season was so amazing. I'm a pretty big crybaby but not many shows had me crying so hard that my nose was all runny but the ending on this one was.. phew. The show started off pretty strong but somewhere along the middle I kind of lost interest. And then the prison island arc was just so trash. All of the characters were annoying, the group's deaths were so pointless and easily preventable that all I could do was roll my eyes. It felt like there was a lot of plot armor going around in that arc, until of course it was turned off so as to kill a few characters off for a little emotional moment.

Due to the nature of this anime it's bound to have a lot of "meaningful" deaths. It's an interesting thing for sure, but I think that this plot device brings a lot of flaws with itself. It's hard to get attached to some characters when you know they're definitely dying soon, so I think the mangaka has to think of many different ways to have the mc interact with other characters and their lives to keep it interesting. At some point it's bound to get boring. Or maybe not? But this is why Pioran's death was so good. She wasn't killed during some self sacrificing heroic moment like many characters prior were, her death was so relatable to me as a normal human being that it really hit me hard. But that's the thing, now that she died of old age, the mangaka can't use it again to make the same point without it being repetitive. There's only so many ways in which people can die which is why I think that the show is a bit gimmicky. I still enjoy it though and I will watch more once it comes out.

I'm definitely a fan of shows where the main character wanders through the world and meets different people a la Mushishi and Kino's Journey which is what my first impression of this anime was. This one has a totally different vibe though. Lastly, I love seeing fun elderly characters in anime. Especially old ladies. I love Pioran. That's it, I'm really tired and this whole review makes no sense I'll probably rewrite it.

Sonny Boy

I honestly couldn't wait to talk about this anime somewhere. I started watching it when it was already on episode 7 or 8 so I didn't want to spoil myself on /a/ or anywhere else. This anime has a lot of things which I love, coming of age themes, weird atmosphere, meaningless wandering, weird monologues, things left open ended and up to interpretation etc. The animation stood out, especially the colour palette. The undrawn faces in far away shots, the ost... A lot of nice things basically. I had a big fear that it would turn out to be Wonder Egg 2.0 but I think Wonder Egg was a lot more style over substance than this, even though it had a lot of potential.

Nothing will change how much I like this anime, even though I've been reading a lot of lukewarm opinions about it. I think over time I've been getting better and better at deciding what I truly like (even if it's not really that good) and not being influenced by online strangers opinions. A lot of people seem to find this anime too uncertain in its ending, or thinking that the characters did a 180 in the last episode. I've also seen people absolutely obsess over the romance and shipping wars, and cucking and ntr. It really makes me feel like the collective iq of anime watchers dropped down drastically, but it's probably just me growing up. These topics will be what I'll mainly cover in this review.

First let's talk about romance. A lot of people were PISSED that Nagara got LITERALLY CUCKED!!!! by the turbo Chad Asakaze, probably because they self-inserted a little bit too much. While I don't think the main theme of this anime was purely escapism, I think that wanting Nagara to end up with Nozomi would be a pure escapist wish fullfilment fantasy. Nozomi had a bit of a manic pixie dream girl role through the most of the show, the quirky, extroverted qt to the boring, uninterested and introverted boy with a shitty life. She lifted him up like she did with the sick bird, and she nursed him back to health. Her role was that of a saviour, and I think even the show highlighted the fact that she didn't go through any catharsis like the other main characters did with her being dead in the real world, or so we thought. She was there for Nagara to help him realize who he is and to help him use his power to save others. In one discussion someone mentioned to me that Nagara returned the favour and helped Nozomi with deciding something but for the life of me I can't remember when that happened. I still feel like their relationship is more onesided in the victim-saviour way, and that Nozomi isn't that much of a romantic interest. Now, they made a promise to stay friends in the Real World if one were not to remember the events of the Other World, but now I bring to you episode 11. Rajdhani stated how you have to make a sacrifice in order to go back to the Real World. He was talking about Mizuho's cats whom she had to let go off in order to go back. He didn't mention Nagara, but that's because Nagara already made the sacrifice so to speak, he lost Nozomi. Which is why I think he didn't rush to her immediately in the Real World. But that's open to interpretation as well, since now that he knows she's alive, he can make that choice. But also I think, Nagara doesn't need Nozomi anymore. She helped him and their chapter in life is over. Maybe now that he's not broken anymore, she wouldn't have any interest in him. Maybe now, they wouldn't be compatible anymore? Much to think about! Mizuho is very similar to Nagara in that way, as she was saved by her cats. They gave her a purpose to live and grow and she was really attached to them. Therefore she let go off them. Do I ship Mizuho and Nagara? Not really, I don't mind it either way and I find it ridiculous that people are so focused on romance in this anime. Their relationship would make more sense to me as they have more things in common but they could also be good friends and anchors for the rest of their lives sharing that one crazy experience. Both outcomes seem fine and natural to me.

Now I'll move on to the "why did both Mizuho and Nagara become pussies in the Real World". I feel like this opinion is just an outcome from people being used to media that always has the characters progress in some way, and never look back or doubt themselves in significant moments. Doubt and regression are treated as more of an obstacle to overcome in the story than as part of living, if that makes sense. And I feel like this anime treats it as a part of life which I appreciate. One's growth as a person is not linear, and people will always make mistakes and doubt themselves, it's natural. When Nagara came back he saw Asakaze with Nozomi and felt discouraged. That's normal. He saw Mizuho brush him off and he didn't chase after her. That's normal. But he works in order to escape his bad family. He did make progress. Mizuho tried going back to the Other World when she got confronted with her shitty reality. Again, that's normal. But she ended up talking with Nagara and having a nice discussion with him. He even gave her great advice, and so did she. Personally I absolutely love this. We'll never know if their lives will turn out perfect and happy, but that doesn't matter. What matters is they both had the resolve to make this choice of going back, and they're going to try actually living this time.

Rajdhani was my favourite character in this anime, and the 11th episode really solidified it. I am happy with his ending, and I am happy to have him as an example that choosing to stay in the Other World isn't escapism, it supports my theory that this show isn't about hurr escapism bad wagie life good a la rebuild 4.0. He happened to wander for a very long time and he even sought after death for a while. His existence (as with many others) proves the Other World isn't an escapist fantasy we had hoped it would be but instead it is just Another Type of an Existence. Maybe after helping his friends he decided to die in his own way by becoming a forest, or maybe he just entered another stage of life of his ideal existence. Who knows but I really liked him.

Lastly I'll talk about one character I disliked which was the big breasted teacher whose name I forgot and refuse to look up. I was surprised how the show had no fan service but she had to show up. The fact that all students have normal bodies (and the fact that she's also a middle school student) made me hate her. But I think I fell for the trap, because she was made to be a hated character that causes strife. What made me hate her even more though was the abundance of positive comments from people watching the anime. She was just so annoying lol. Since she's kind of a student larping as a grown person, maybe she really just willed that ridiculous physical appearance into existence and used it to make people go crazy. Oh well, I still don't like her. Also her design stood out from the rest and she looked like she came straight out of Devilman Crybaby which I absolutely disliked. I know a similar bunch of people were behind these anime and Tatami Galaxy which is one of my favourites but it was such a horrible anime and I still hate it. Or maybe it's just the animators? I'm too lazy to research it I apologize. Adding to that, Japan Sinks also sucked.

I could talk about many other themes in this anime but I'm getting pretty tired now. All in all a really great anime original.

Bokurano

Boy of boy... This anime was a trip. I finished it like 3 weeks ago but I've been putting the review off for a bit because of life so the details will get murky. The main plot of the anime has been done before, a group of kids sign up for a "game" but oh! It's actually real life and they're all going to die one by one. However a lot of these kids lead really troubled and complicated lives. To sum it up better, a group of 15 troubled kids aged 14ish from all walks of life are in a summer camp together, and while bored they venture off into a cave where a mystery computer man resides. He offers them a chance to register for some kind of a mecha game and they all of course decide to play, aside from one kid that's 10. They have to defeat 15 monsters, and each time they fight the mecha is piloted by one kid while the others are spectating inside the mecha. After each fight the pilot kid dies and then a new one gets selected and so on. I heard the manga is a lot more bleak, especially the ending, and that some character arcs are totally different so it seems like the two differ a lot. The kids have no choice but to fight otherwise the earth gets destroyed. Deaths aren't really presented to us as surprising as the episode always begins with the kid that's about to get chosen, so you know what's about to happen. You get the enjoyable experience of watching the last few days or hours of the chosen kid's life, which is usually messed up with a few exceptions. Some politics drama is also woven into the story so the supernatural part of the story is nicely countered with a more realistic way of handling such situations which was a nice surprise. That's all I can say without spoiling things, but if you're interested in watching do read the next paragraph only.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier texts, despite the amount of disturbing manga I've read recently I knew that if I were to see the same stuff shown in anime form I wouldn't feel as indifferent about it. I'll stop beating around the bush, this anime has pedophilia in it. There's one graphical scene that's framed in a more negative light, but also a couple of depictions of pedophilia that are just... there. The latter I don't really mind considering the context but I felt it was worth bringing up. And the worst thing is it just hits you out of nowhere. I'm talking pretty graphic and not even super short scene of a teacher having sex with a 12? 13? year old student. Well technically you can't see any genitals or nipples but yeah. Now, I know teacher-student relationships are particularly common in japanese media (honestly western teen media from the early 00's had a surprising amount of it too though) especially when it concerns coming of age stories about troubled teens in particular. Student teacher relationships, sugardaddies all that. I know that it's almost to be expected for something like that to be a sidestory in an early 00's anime that's basically suffering porn as people like to call it. Yet... to me it really felt that it came out of left field because nothing too graphic happened by then (it was episode 6 or 7 I can't remember), the deaths weren't gruesome etc. But the scene had nudity, moaning, awkward facial expressions, it really felt out of place. And this was the one and only sex scene in the whole anime! Not sure about the manga. They could've just implied it but they really went at it. Anyway this is really the worst scene in the anime but it does have some other weird scenes that stuck out to me so I'll mention them later. If you're fine with watching the show knowing this shit exists in it, don't read the rest so you don't get everything spoiled. I'm not really the type to do content warnings but man, this was so unexpected I had to mention it lol.

Other pedoish scenes are as follows: a 14 yr old girl trying to prostitute herself but in the end it gets played for laughs as her dad is the one to "buy" her to protect her or whatever (she never met her dad before so she didnt know it was him), a 16 yr old girl marrying a yakuza boss while everyone in the show says how she's a brave, strong, mature woman which like?? Okay she's a child, and lastly a quick remark from a father being concerned about his daughter receiving a scar because she wouldn't be a "suitable" bride. The last scene in particular I found very interesting honestly because I read that scars were thought to ruin a womans worth as a bride and I didn't even know that was a thing in Japan, but I'm basing this off a comment on an anime streaming site so it might be bullshit, I'm too lazy to fact check at the moment. So yeah if that's the case I do think it's a really interesting comment, especially because all the other adults in the room skipped past it. Not surprising.

Something I think this anime does a good job at is painting this picture of despair for the young lives that are going to inevitably die, prematurely. I don't mean it in a typical way where you'd be crying each episode for the kid that's about to die. There's a couple of tear jerker episodes but most didn't really affect me much in that way. Instead it does the following: these kids are constantly surrounded by adults, a lot of shitty adults at that, yet we're constantly confronted with the fact the kids are the ones that have to die. All the shitty adults survive. The pedo teacher gets protected by none other but the sister of the girl that got raped by him (the sister was getting raped by the teacher too btw), the "good" father that made the weird bride comment cheated on his wife with a younger woman because hes a horny male etc. Pretty bleak. The kids get to experience this whole chaos unraveling around them, they get involved with politicans and people trying to kidnap them because they're the pilots, they're forced to get closure before their lives even began all because of some parallel world richies that wanted to.. reduce the amount of universes or something. Drain energy actually?

This brings me to the whole plot thing. The stuff that gets thrown at us near the end remains kind of unresolved and there's a lot of it to grasp in a short period of time. The last few episodes have a lot of infodumps and exposition actually. But basically these kids are just one of the many that get thrown in that situation, and the other mechas they have to defeat are also piloted by kids in the same situation. When they get defeated their earth and their whole universe gets destroyed. So the stakes are quite high. The reason why is because some super secret future elite wants something out of it, and they're basically indestrucible as far as the anime shows us. If the kids win, their Earth's energy gets sucked out, or actually maybe only if they try to defeat the future elite using some program that's actually a trap that ends up enslaving their world... So they're fucked either way.

The ending is thought to be disappointing by mangafags as it ends on quite the uplifting note, everyone died except for the little sister character and they managed to save the Earth by killing this little thing that serves as their.. instructor kind of. Speaking of, I haven't even mentioned this yet but each group of kids is assigned a creature that guides them through the whole process and that creature is just the kid that "won" the game in their own parallel world. Just another layer of "you're getting fucked no matter what" in the story. Anyway, I'm not one to be upset by disappointing endings and they usually don't make or break the show for me so this end didn't bother me much. After all their story is over, but it does give off an unfinished vibe. Nothing happened to the main villains and as far as we know this whole ordeal is just continuing on as normal, with parallel worlds getting wiped off and the suffering is neverending. Fits the theme of the show eh? But the last episode is more positive about it as it only focuses on the little sister character. Apparently the manga had a bigger downer ending, so I'm kind of thinking of reading it.

This show was quite the ride. I don't think I was shocked by many anime before, but this one did it ngl. It was realisticaly bleak at some moments, but sometimes it stumbled to tell a story and ended up pretty goofy and weird so it's hard for me to decide how much I liked it. But it definitely was a wild ride that's for sure.

His and Her Circumstances (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou)

This review has been a long time coming. KareKano (how I'll call it for the rest of the review) came out in 1998, and I don't think many romance shojo managed to get out of their tropes and be as different as this anime was. KareKano is a manga adaptation, and it was directed by Hideaki Anno. Only a year after Evangelion came out so you can definitely pull a lot of parallels. Because the animation budget didn't seem particularly high or sufficient at all, there's a lot of still shots, a lot of manga cutouts, the ending is always filmed with a camera at a random location, a lot of artsy ways to basically say "we don't have the money to animate this shit", there's even a stop motion episode with paper puppets/cutouts lmao. It didn't bother me much, as it's an anime that doesn't need a lot of action to keep you watching. There's a lot of dramatic internal monologues, moments of self-doubt and self-reflection with classical music playing in the background and those specific shots invoking a feeling of isolation, basically you can see Annos influence. Even the episode titles are very Eva like. The ending of the anime is a very controversial topic, and probably the reason why KareKano didn't reach its deserved fame. But on that later.

The characters in KareKano are really something else. First of all you have the two main characters, Yukino and Arima, which on the outside are absolutely perfect students, helpful to everyone etc. Behind closed doors it's a different story, and of course it is! Nobody wears their school face home, you know? It's something I wish anime depicted more often, at least in the manner that it was depicted here. An ocurring theme in this anime is family, or the lack of thereof. Yukino has the best family depicted in anime ever. She has two younger sisters, and a wonderful mom and dad. I truly love how the parents love each other, and love their children. They're all friends and it's something you don't see in anime a lot. They hang out, talk about everything and are really relaxed. One other thing is that the dad is the type of that dad that loves having daughters and you know, even though you'd think we moved from that time, many men still obsess over having sons so it's nice to see. Sometimes it's played up a bit to be almost perverse like, but I'm willing to forgive it because Japan is just retarded like that. He reminds me of one of the more positive sides of my dad, because he truly always seemed thankful for having two daughters, rather, he never seemed remourseful for not having sons. Yukinos parents have their own cute story too, and I mentioned in my blog that they got married really early, but I give them a pass. They were childhood friends, with the dad not having parents and being raised by his grandpa, and the mom not having a mother. After his grandpas death during the last year of high school they start dating and get married some time soon (I don't think it was said exactly when). I think it's bittersweet as they didn't have anyone else, especially the dad, so it was nice that he was able to find family after his grandpas death. I can't imagine having a nice time living alone right at 17/18 and still in high school.
Yukino and Arima are already confessing to each other and dating by the start of the anime (forgot exactly which episode) and basically most of the show is them dating. The "obstacles" you'd expect they meet ahead like love triangles, past loves etc. do not happen even though you're lead to believe they will, instead all the characters representing those obstacles stay their friends and they keep hanging out together. All of their friends have complex family situations too, which I won't go into too much detail about. All of these people help Yukino get to know Arima better as she is vastly different from him, family-wise. He was born into an extremely rich family, however his father was the black sheep. He ran away with money and left Arima to his brother and his wife and they raised him like their own child. However, the rest of this big mega rich family absolutely hates Arima for ??? reason, and also he was abused by one of his aunts. Anyway, Yukino of course can't relate to that shit as her family life is perfect, so she has troubles understanding him. Later on we come to find out Arima is actually extremely posessive and jealous, but ominously so, because as the anime ended, he never got to resolve that issue or bring it up with Yukino.

I love how KareKano portrays their romance as something extremely dramatic and serious to them, because truly when you're a teenager, love is extremely serious and dramatic to you. You're scared to do anything and you always hesitate and second guess yourself, everything is so much more important than it really is. I think this anime captures it well, the grand scale of it all. Despite that, they hug, kiss and get physically close to each other at a decent pace, you don't have to wait for the whole show to just end with a peck on the cheek, thank god. The tension is there regardless, and I think it was done really well. Oh but get this. They have sex, not even at the end of the show. They just... do it lmao. The show doesn't dance around the subject too much, one random episode, at the end of the summer vacation after Arima returns from a sports camp, taller and handsomer than before, he just says to Yukino he wants to have sex with her. The whole episode is spent with them being awkward around each other because saying that aloud IS awkward and even though not too much is said you can see how Yukino is debating what to do in her mind, and deciding whether she wants it or not. Idk, I just think it was portrayed very well and proper for a smart and young high school couple madly in love. The sex scene was not revealing, it was nice and respectful and most importantly I didn't feel like a pervert for watching it. Now I can say with certainty, this was "wholesome". And you know, compared to My Dress-Up Darling I ranted about below, what's the difference? I'm pretty sure the two protags don't have sex there yet it's so much more coomerish and lewd. And the answer is really simple, KareKano doesn't feel the need to titillate their audiences. There's no gratuitious shots, you can't see Arimas raging boner or something (I saw a picture like that from dressup darling, never watched it after ep 1 so don't know the context but it's pretty obvious), when Arima gropes Yukino for the first time they don't do a closeup shot of her breasts being all squished or something cringy like that, there's truly no need for it. The romantic tension is all you need, it doesn't have to be graphic at all. Much appreciated.

Now onto the more controversial parts. First I'll bring up something I don't see others talk about much, and it's the cool-headed, "mature" friend of the group, Maho. Maho fulfils that ice-queen trope many shojo require, but quickly she becomes Yukinos friend. In one episode Yukino applauds Mako for being so smart, mature or whatever and asks her if she has a boyfriend. To that Maho responds her boyfriend is 28, and a dentist. She says he is also very mature and she doesn't want to disappoint him or something along those lines. To which Yukino responds how expected and mature it is of Maho. Yea the word mature got thrown around a lot. I know this is kind of a shojo trope, one KareKano sadly wasn't free of, but it still bugs me. There is nothing mature about a 15 year old girl dating a 28 year old man. However, I don't have issues with such relationships being portrayed in media, or being seen as mature by other kids in that media. Kids are stupid after all. However however, irl, these relationships never, ever end well. Men that date girls are often mentally stunted, as peers their age don't give them their time of day so they pray on children that see themselves as "mature". I would have enjoyed a subplot with some drama on her side, and realizing how she was not so mature after all but it seems that never happens, not even in the manga. And that kind of disappoints me. Different time, I know, but still.
The second issue is the ending. Depending on the source, you might hear Anno dipped around episode 16, 18, 21 and so on. Apparently the mangaka wasn't happy with how comedic the anime was, or something. I don't have any concrete sources to back that up. After episode 19 I'd say is when the show starts lacking. The thing is, it really seems there was no budget, and the ending was just unfinished. You can still read the manga to finish it so I don't see a big problem with that. Most anime is a commercial for the source material anyway. But they chose a random time to end it, is all. After episode 19 a new character gets introduced, and we have a whole school festival plot that never gets finished so you know... It seems like a season 2 soon (tm) kind of ending. It's not as horrible as other people say, I feel like it's a massive overreaction. The last episode was black and white, and animated in the manga style they utilised before. So yeah, it's real bad. The only thing that bugs me, is that they didn't decide to end the show with a scene featuring Yukino and Arima. That's my only gripe with the ending. They're the main characters, yet it ended with Yukino on a picnic with everyone else except Arima, kind of lame.
Despite its flaws, I recommend KareKano to anyone that likes romance shojo, or anyone that wants to like romance shojo but could just never get into it due to how the genre is. Yeah the animation is horrid, but they made the best out of it, it doesn't feel like a constant stream of QUALITY animation like some other low-budget shows are. Maybe I should say read the manga instead but I can't say that for sure yet as I haven't read it. It's still worth the watch, despite the lackluster ending.

My Broken Mariko

My Broken Mariko is a short 4 chapter manga about loss. Well, it's more about a woman whose best and only friend kills herself and she goes on an adventure with her ashes. The facial expressions of the main character and everyone else are highly stylized and exaggarated in a comical way, I thought this was quite obvious, but after reading some MAL reviews I feel like this flew over peoples heads and they really thought the main character was some caricatureish, hysterical person?? With that in mind the manga, which deals with extremely sad and heavy matter, manages to turn into something more light hearted and bittersweet. It still had me teary eyed, but the unusual contrast of the plot and the pace coupled with the facial expressions kept me in check lol. The character of Mariko is, in my opinion, a really great portrayal of an abused woman that struggles BPD due to her rough childhood trauma. The clinginness, posessiveness, self-destructive behaviour, self harm, lack of good relationships in her life... It's very accurate, and sad. The way the main character, Shii, is pissed and angry at Mariko, the way she admits their friendship was not ideal and perfect - I think it's a good portrayal of losing someone you loved but they were extremely flawed and it wasn't their fault. It's bound to make you confused, it's bound to make you want to help them yet be extremely frustrated and annoyed by them. The manga isn't anything crazy deep but the story it wants to show us, is shown well. Everything you need to know about Mariko is presented through short flashbacks which are more than enough to piece the whole puzzle together, to imagine how their friendship was. The ending of Shii's adventure is comedic, yet poetic as she ends up hitting a molester with the box containing Mariko's ashes and as the box opens the ashes are sent into the sea, as Shii intended to do. It's a short read, so I recommend it to anyone that likes to read things with a more serious subject matter hadnled lightly and female friendships.

Ashizuri Suizokukan and Kani ni Sasowarete

Ashizuri Aquarium and Invitation from a Crab are collections of short, bizarre stories. They both share a similar theme which is why I'm lumping them together, but, as of writing this I'm 4 chapters away from finishing Invitation from a Crab. These quickly became one of my favourite manga I've ever read. In their surreality and visual humor they kind of remind me of Short Cuts. Both Ashizuri Aquarium and Invitation from a Crab share core themes like: wandering around and getting lost in places you can't comprehend, dream like situations, nonsensical conclusions, extremely simplistically drawn characters compared to the environment, big focus on fish and sea animals. Somehow all of this together comes to form something that is extremely appealing to me and my tastes. Maybe it's because my dreams could fit right into a chapter of this manga and nobody would notice, but I really love it. Tell me these images don't invoke a familiar feeling in you:

Maybe it's because of my tendency to not be able to perceive places as they are until I get used to seeing them regularly, but boy if this isn't me in every unfamiliar setting lmao. I used to get lost because I couldn't recognise places from a different angle. That lack of spatial awareness got a bit better over the years, luckily. I digress, the extreme dream like quality these manga posess is what made me enjoy it so much. The matter-of-fact way in which issues get resolved and how the main character is always taken on an unwilling journey but also somehow makes it safely back home, all of this makes for a fun little experience that you can't find in many other places. I don't like using this word becuase all the young zoomers will eat it up but you know - liminal spaces are kind of a core theme of these manga. Wandering from one area to the next, never knowing what you'll experience. Getting off at the wrong station on an acicdent. It's all very interesting to me.

No Longer Human

No Longer Human by Usamaru Furuya is a manga adaptation of Osamu Dazai's book with the same name. There is another more popular manga adaptation by Junji Ito, which I've partially read a long time ago, but stopped because I couldn't find it online or something like that. Regardless, I remember it decently well so I'll be mentioning it here too. Furuya's adaptation is set in the early 2000s as opposed to post ww2 Japan but other than that I believe it was adapted very faithfully and modernized in a good, non-jarring way. I love Usamaru Furuya and his type of horror and society commentary so I think this adaptation was right up his alley. One thing that this manga misses, naturally, is Yozo's inner monologues which I believe help portray him as more anxious, confused and vulnerable compared to the manga so he ends up seeming more calculating and a bit sociopathic in Furuya's version.

Kind of reminds me of Furuya's mc from I Want to be Killed by a Highschool Girl
On the other hand, a lot of his misogyny is exempt from the manga so this dynamic he has with women is left incomplete. Ito did a better of making Yozo seem anxious and I always love the way he draws nervous expressions in general but this too changes Yozo up a bit as he doesn't come across that nervous in the book.
Ito's Yozo comes across as an anxious mess more often
However I feel like both of them ended up portraying Yozo in ways they find more relatable and comfortable as Ito's Yozo is in line with some of his other male leads, same goes for Furuya's portrayal of Yozo. Furuya and Ito portray horror differently so it's definitely worth reading both for the horror art aspect. Ito's manga is set in the same time period as the book but from my memory, the plot was quite different. Namely Yozo's first "friend" Takahashi, appeared more in Ito's manga than he did in the book, while he was completely gone in Furuyas version. This is why ultimately, all 3 versions are worth reading. Done by some of the best horror and ero-guro authors I believe both Ito and Furuya did a good job in their own respective ways.

A Cruel God Reigns

A Cruel God Reigns is an extremely iconic manga about a sexually abused boy, whose life becomes a downward spiral after the abuse. I've heard about this manga many times, and I even started reading it once and then forgot (it was a long train ride). The manga originally started coming out in 1992 and it ended in 2001. It has 17 volumes and 86 chapters. Each chapter is 50+ pages long. The chapters are very long and exhaustive, and it took me a lot of time to finish it. If you looked into any seasoned manga reader's recommended list for disturbing or psychological manga, there's a high possibility this manga would be on it.
For me personally, this manga was torture. And I mean that in both a positive and a negative way.
First I'll start with some spoiler free stuff, like the art. Frankly, I was extremely surprised to see this manga came out in 1992! It looks like it's straight out of the mid 70s to 80s. Not just in the art style, but the stiffness and awkward anatomy in the early volumes, it doesn't have as much screentoning etc. All in all it definitely doesn't feel like it belongs in the 90s, especially when you think how 90s (especially shojo/bl) manga started going into that extremely lanky, sharp and pointy territory aka insert yaoi hands image here. And with how people described this manga as a pioneer in bl manga etc. my expectations definitely expected it to be older, as the first thing that I compared it to in my mind was Kaze to ki no Uta, another well known bl manga except it's from the 70s. This all of course makes sense when you take into consideration who the author is - Moto Hagio, she actually was a pioneer in bl and shojo manga during the 70s and 80s, a member of the Year 24 Group!
Now, let's get into the plot, and everything else. This manga is very clearly split into two parts. In fact, you could probably read the first part and end it at that, if you wished. The second part doesn't have much substance, or rather, it could have been much shorter and more concise. But it wasn't. There was probably a reason for that... As I said earlier, this manga was like torture to me. In a way, it perfectly encapsulates a heavily traumatized person, a teenager who suffered under the hands of severe abuse, someone who can not recover from it. It wasn't hard to read because the subject matter or the plot itself was disturbing, instead it was hard to read as it was extremely repetitive. Again, this is about an extremely unwell person, whose feelings go from 0 to 100 constantly. There is rarely a moment of peace, and if there is, it quickly comes tumbling down. He's also experiencing constant abuse from those who are supposed to be close to him, even after his main abuser is gone. And on it goes, in circles, until finally we reach the last chapter...
From this point on, I'm spoiling the plot!, click here if you want to skip to the spoilerless recommendation.
I will not be covering the plot in the order it happens or gets unravelled in the manga, to make it shorter. The first part of the manga tells us a story about Jeremy, a teenage boy from Boston, and his extremely fragile and mentally unwell mother Sandra who fell in love and is about to marry a rich Englishman, Greg. Greg quickly latches onto Jeremy and begins raping him. Ever since Jeremies real father died when he was a child, he enters a sort of emotionally incestuous relationship with his mother, as a replacement for his father. He goes as far to not even call her "mother" anymore, instead he calls her Sandra, like his father did. As a result of that, he feels obligated to protect her and care for her. We are shown throughout the story that his mother tried to commit suicide multiple times, she was extremely mentally unwell and her sister tried to take care of Jeremy instead (something that was played for laughs?!?) but she is so possesive of him that she can't let go, despite being an unfit parent. Greg is raping Jeremy and he is keeping his mouth shut to protect his mother. If he told her, she would blame herself, and Greg would also leave her. Since Jeremy wants her to be happy and alive, he endures, and loses himself in the process. He moves to England with Greg and Sandra and meets the rest of Greg's family. Greg's former wife killed herself, but her sister, Natasha, still lives with the family from time to time. Greg has two sons, Ian and Matt. Ian is the older and more favored one (despite being a bit of a delinquent and a womanizer), while Matt is the nerdy looking kid whom Greg hates and physically abuses (something known by everyone in the family). There's a lot more characters, especially in part two, but I'll only be focusing on these because I don't want this to turn into a whole book. After having enough, Jeremy decides to kill Greg by tampering with his car, knowing Greg would leave for the airport the next day. Except, his mom decides to join Greg, and they both die. To his luck it seems the car actually malfunctioned so it wasn't really his fault, but nevertheless, he blames himself and so begins the second part of the manga where he deals with all of that trauma.
The second part mostly deals with Jeremy and Gregs older son, Ian, who enters into a relationship (!?!?!?!) with Jeremy. I am sorry, but what the fuck. At first Ian wants to kill Jeremy for killing his father, but as he finds out the truth he begins his own descent into madness and confusion. He forces Jeremy to retell his story in details multiple times, he rapes him a couple of times in the process, he shows him pictures that Greg took of Jeremy when he was whipped and bound, he keeps going hot and cold with him, he cheats on his girlfriend with Jeremy, he puts him into counseling (never thinking he could maybe use some counseling too?), he's fucked up, if not more fucked up than his father. The second part is basically Jeremy continually reliving his trauma due to Ian forcing him to, and somehow everyone is chill with it. This manga is full of completely crazy and slightly absurd characters that do nothing to actually help each other, they all just keep falling into each others arms very darkly and romantically... And also everyone is gay. In a way, I expected melodrama and backstabbing but by the middle of the second part Jeremy has slept with or kissed every single male in the story, every wife/girlfriend of said males seem to not really care about it and things just keep happening and repeating. It felt like I'm reading an insane fever dream at certain points. And I don't think I can just write off these insane characters as "everyone has their own issues", no, it feels like everyone is kind of a rich privileged idiot incapable of any rational thought. And yea, Jeremy gets a pass but a lot of these characters actually led nice and comfy lives (from what we know). Compared to the first part where we have a couple of crazy characters and a cast of mostly normal people that either don't want to get entangled in the craziness or have their reasons for keeping secrets, part two is like wandering into an asylum and not being able to get out. But to me the biggest reason why this part is much worse than the first one is because of the relationship with Ian. It's almost as if... I don't know. Characters know Ian is having sex/raping/hard to tell anymore with Jeremy, they know Jeremy was raped by Greg and yet still... they don't care??? They don't bring it up??? It's all cool and swell because Ian is a cool responsible hot guy??? They're step brothers for god's sake. To top it all off, allegedly, even Sandra knew about Jeremy and Greg, or at the very least had a hunch something was going on. But nobody did anything, through the whole story. Everyone failed Jeremy, in every. possible. way. Because of that, this manga is pure torture. Like yes, sure, the way his sense of self breaks and is shattered is shown quite well artistically, and his own struggles are pretty accurate and I feel the way he navigates through all of this is to be expected and in that way it's great but there is not a single voice of reason that makes a difference. In that way I find this work to be utterly torturous, it's not that I want a happy ending, I just wanted a single level-headed person in the second part. A touch of realism perhaps, because the first part definitely had it. But nope. I also get the feeling that after Greg died, Jeremy had to have consistent gay sex with someone so the author was like "ok, let's go with Ian". Lmao. The story ends with kind of a compromise. Jeremy decides to step away from Ian and live a more fulfilled life, but every year around the time his mother and Greg died, he kind of regresses and relives his trauma, goes back to the place where it all happened, and Ian happily and willingly has sex with him. How tragic and romantic!!
I've gotta be honest, I was expecting to be a bit more impressed with this manga. If Jeremies sexual abuse trauma and ptsd can be portrayed so well, then why couldn't the rest of the characters have the same treatment? Why did Nadia, a kind and emphatetic woman have to end up marrying her literal stalker, and why did the rest of the characters just encourage him meeting up with her in a funny haha way? That felt like such a random insult to her as a character, pluis it makes 0 sense for her to end up with him... Why are rooms 100% soundproof? Why did a therapist, a woman who knows her patient is being abused by his brother, trick the patient into meeting up with his brother - upon the request of said brother? They then proceeded to physically fight and scream in her practice while she was waiting outside, somehow not hearing them, only for her to enter back and say this??

She is a therapist (or psychologist I forgot franky) there's no excuse for her to be acting that way. Anyway it was these small things, along with Ian's constant abuse and everyone victim-blaming Jeremy which just drove me mad. Except for that insurance dude nobody bothered telling Ian to chill out and everyone was just so constantly blind to Jeremies suffering. Yes it's not weird to be repulsed by sex after being repetedly brutally raped, for god's sake deal with it Ian!!!!! Does nobody have any understanding of sexual abuse whatsoever in this manga? It's like the first it happened to anyone in the world was Jeremy, and everyone else was just dumbfounded about what could be troubling him. So while the first half was chilling, realistic, scary and sad the second half just kind of feels like circus to me.
Spoilers over!
Do I recommend this? The first half, definitely. It's great. Try reading through the second half, and decide for yourself as it seems I am in the minority of people that had a lot of problems with it. Most people regard this is a masterpiece. The story doesn't have a happy ending, and it's quite disturbing.

Alien 9

Frequently referred to as a hidden gem, Alien 9 is a coming of age story about a group of girls chosen to fight the aliens that pop up in their school. It lures you in with it's cute moe artstyle that's very distinctive to the era it was made in, but it quickly becomes disturbing. However.. I don't think there was that much to it.
The anime was cute and interesting but it left me with a lot of unanswered questions, although compared to everything else I think the anime has the highest rating. I was really itching to finish the story and so I moved on to the manga. The best way to describe it would be... incoherent. Not sure if my mind was drifting off someplace else while reading it but it seemed as if things were just happening without much sense and reason. The sequel, Alien 9: Emulators, seems to be the same way. Everything feels very mysterious and unsaid until the very end, and nothing really gets resolved or built upon properly. Maybe the panelling isn't really the best but I couldn't make sense of the story, even if I went back and reread some pages to get a better idea of what the fuck I'm reading. The motivations of all characters are left to be a mystery. What's up with the teachers? They were fighters before right? Why do we need to groom little girls to fight aliens? Nevermind it's over... The fight scenes were cool, and I did like the art sometimes.
Next is the allegorical part, which is eh. So the girls get chosen to become alien fighters, and to ultimately become merged/one with the alien. Adulthood, puberty, sexual/romantic partners, give and take, whatever. I think if the focus remained on just that the lore wouldn't have to be explained too deeply, but things kept getting introduced that meddled with the original concept to the point where I feel like the mangaka lost track of the allegorical points he was trying to make.
I recommend the anime if you want a quick slightly disturbing watch with more than a couple of really cool still shots a la evangelion...

HEADS

I'll keep this review short since I read it back in June and the plot is getting a bit hazy. I've seen this manga pop up here and there, usually cited as a good psychological manga that's very thunk provoking. The story is about a nice, kind hearted beta male that gets shot in the head when trying to save a child during a robbery. They end up transplanting a part of an unknown man's brain into him, and he begins to notice his personality changing. Of course the man whose brain he received the transplant from is an eeeevil horny psycho. It's the criminals head, of course... I found it very predictable and there was 0 suspense building up to it. Frankly, I don't think this was a really good psychological manga, it was more like watching a boring and predictable action movie. All of the characters were very shallow, very black and white. This random article I found online does a great job at detailing the whole plot and how stupid it is, along with rightfully shitting on the characters.
There's a part of the manga that really annoyed me. He meets the father of the violent psycho whose brain he has. And the father tells him a sob story over how his dead son only caused him grief by being extremely unhinged and violent, how his wife left because she couldn't stand her sons violence bla bla. He ends it by saying he wishes his son was never born. I mean... You can't blame the poor guy right? His son was a complete monster from the way he described him, right? And then the mc proceeds to attack him and go on your typical "morally right" tirade about how it's actually his fault his son was a psychopath and idk. It just doesn't sit well with me. If someone is trully mentally ill to the point of harming others repeatedly, you can't really blame their family for struggling to love that person? What even gives the mc the right to judge when he doesn't even know the full story AGHHH idk that part really irked me. And this conversation ended up being some random lie anyway?? But then this whole thing is juxtaposed with the mc talking about his unloving father. He's your typical sensitive boy that gets mommied and showered with his mothers love, but not by his dad. As expected of your average uninvolved father his parenting consisted of him telling his son to man up and leaving it at that. Of course the mc never got why his father couldn't accept him the way he was, like his mother did. But then he comes to the brilliant conclusion that that was just his fathers way of showing love... Tough love of course. Unlike that EVIL father who wanted his son DEAD... lmao. I'm sorry my man, but you are a retard for comparing 2 totally uncomparable situations and somehow realizing that your father ackshually loved you. What?? He put 2 and 2 together and got 6.
And then the constant moralizing bullshit with "you shouldn't talk bad about your son after he died.... even if he murdered xyz people and caused constant suffering to those around him..." or the "your mother is a WOMAN... seeing her ashes would be INDECENT..." shit. Just so many random lines that made me go ?_?

And lest we forget, this awfully cringy line

Kyaa my brain is moving on its own (⁄ ⁄>⁄ ▽ ⁄<⁄ ⁄)
So yeah... I don't really recommend this. I noticed lately that a good amount seinen manga falls into this "emotional maturity of shonen manga except with guns and NIPPLES" which kind of beats the purpose, as I'd appreciate manga for adults to have more nuance, at least when it came to characters.

Himizu

Himizu is a psychological seinen manga about a dude who's determined to live a normal and average life, an objective which quickly falls apart right at the start as his life takes a downturned trajectory. This is another one of those "everyone is a piece of shit" type of media that tends to end in a bittersweet/depressing way.
The author of this manga is Minoru Furuya, who, according to the scanlator group that translated the manga, is well known for drawing extremely exaggarated facial expressions. I have to be honest, I didn't really like those. They always remind me of those cheesy korean stickers for whatsapp/facebook or something, but I know it's an east-asian funny haha thing present everywhere. Luckily though, the manga was only overflowing with these at the start, but as the story started moving the comic-relief characters fell off. The rest of the art is totally fine, except for one thing, all of the characters look extremely adult, and they're only finishing middle school so they're 13/14. At moments it was hard to suspend my disbelief that they were kids, or I kept thinking a sudden timeskip happened without me paying attention. In every interaction with adults, the characters don't look smaller/younger at all, which kind of made the whole thing a lot easier to digest lol. I do enjoy the way in which the female characters are drawn, they all come across as really tall and kind of big boned, which I don't think applies to Japanese women in the slightest but hey, it's a welcome change of pace in the sea of tiny and petite characters.

He's supposed to be 14...
From this point on I'll spoil some minor plot points, but I'll still hide the ending behind spoiler tags.

As far as the "everyone is a piece of shit" genre, I think Himizu is pretty decent. It's not too long, and the moments that get hard to look at like when things just keep getting worse and worse and worse aren't dragged out for too long and sometimes even end in a lighthearted manner. I did feel like the first 15? chapters or so are pretty different from the rest of the manga and I don't just mean it in a "that's the point when all hell breaks loose" way, just that the focus is barely on the mc and there's a few short chapters showcasing the rest of the cast that we barely see at all after those chapters. The mc, Sumida, has a pretty unfortunate life situation. His father is a good-for-nothing loser who abandoned him but still keeps coming back to beg for money, his mother is dating some douchebag, and she abandons him too. When the situation gets much worse than that, he drops out of school and starts his downward spiral. Frankly, some of his thoughts make a lot of sense when you take his background into account. He wants to prove to people that someone with "shitty genes" can still have a decent life, but ultimately he self-destructs. Of course, there has to be a woman (well, girl) that would greet him with open arms no matter what, and her name is Keiko. Keiko takes a sudden interest in him at the start of the manga and doesn't let go after that. No matter how shitty his life gets, she'll show up to his trailer house despite his indifference. I do like her stoicness, and in the end, the determination to actually do things right unlike Sumida. Her "I'll never abandon you and will always love you" type of love is actually such a good portrayal of these types of teenage girls that fall for an absolute shithead idiot, although I'm not sure the author meant to portray it that way, but I definitely knew a few girls like that. And kind of felt like that type of girl myself at some point. It's usually the most pathetic time in a young girls life lmao. You know, you think you're soooo smart in liking this misunderstood misanthropic doomer and you can totally see through him... That's exactly what she strikes me as, but like I said, I don't think the author even slightly hinted at her youthful ignorance and arrogance combined with a lack of experience. The manga ended with Sumida's suicide and the first thought that popped into my mind was, Keiko is free! I liked the ending though, it made the most sense.
I'd recommend this if you're a depressed teen and you just finished Oyasumi Punpun and you want to read something that invokes similar themes, I think Himizu comes pretty close. It's not really groundbreaking or anything. Oh and there's like 3 instances of rape so do keep that in mind.

Kakusan

Kakusan, or Diffusion Disease is Hideji Oda's most known manga, according to MAL at least. I've only read one other manga by him, called Coo's World which I had kind of conflicting feelings on, but didn't feel strongly enough about to write a review lol. In short, Coo no Sekai is about a girl that starts living two separate lives, one when she's awake, and one when she is sleeping. The idea of dream worlds and strange creatures is something I like a lot in fiction, but the weird incest around the child mc and her much older brother really threw me off from liking it too much.
But back to Kakusan. No spoilers this time. This is a seinen manga about a guy called Katsuhiko Tobe that has a special ability to diffuse which he can't control. When he diffuses he disappears into particles and roams around the world uncontrollably. Through the course of the 7 long chapters, he meets various people, mostly women who fall in love with him, but he disappears in the most crucial moments. I'd describe him as a weak person with a hard life, as he usually diffuses in moments that would change his life forever, for better or for worse. He claims to be searching for "something", but he doesn't know what. The women that loved him continue longing for him as he made an impactful mark on their lives. In the end, all the women he met end up being somehow connected to each other through him, and the show culminates with him possibly (?) disappearing forever, or not. It's open ended so I don't think I'm really spoiling anything. The "point" of this manga is mostly in the journey, anyway.
The art style is pretty realistic, probably one of the most realistic styles I've seen in recent memory. It's also very sketchy and shadowed so it doesn't look flat. Personally I like his art when it's more animeish but to each their own. I did really like how the character on the left looks like, mostly because she bears a scary resemblance to a girl I've known since childhood. Which made all the sex scenes featuring her hard to look at.
This manga didn't really leave a strong impression on me. Maybe I was slightly annoyed by the mc's subconscious selfishness, and by the women falling in love with him so hard they could never stop thinking about him even when their lives moved on. He certainly didn't leave an impact on me, as a character. Just like Tobe is searching for something he doesn't know, I think this manga is missing something and I'm not really sure what. I didn't particularly enjoy the journey he went through, I caught myself being more interested in the girls/women he left behind lmao. The overall message in one of the last pages seems to be "I was so focused on myself that I didn't notice the people around me", which, alright. Cool I guess.

Kuchu Buranko (Trapeze)

I first heard about Trapeze in 2013, when Aku no Hana came out. Everyone on /a/ was going crazy about the artstyle which used the rotoscoping method - when some anons pointed out how rotoscoping isn't a new thing (in anime), and Trapeze did it just a few years prior. From the screenshots posted, it didn't really catch my eye, and I was still high on the meme train that was Aku No Hana weekly threads. Watching something that was also rotoscoped was certainly not an option at this point. Ever since then I brushed shoulders with the anime, so to speak. A mention there, a screenshot there. I didn't even know Kuchu Buranko and Trapeze were the same thing lmao. Finally, 9 years after I decided to give it a watch.
This time, no spoilers. Trapeze is a psychological seinen that deals with mental illnesses in an episodical format. Each episode a new patient is introduced, with their own symptoms and problems. In some episdoes the patients manage to overcome their issues, in some they learn to deal with their illnesses. Despite the serious subject matter, Trapeze has a comical tone, and that's mostly because of the main character, Dr. Irabu. At the beginning of each episode his nurse administers a shot to the patient (which Irabu seems to have a fetish for) and the patients begin to halucinate Irabu to be with them the whole time after that. The diagnosis has been established and then throughout the episode we witness the treatment, which may or may not be conventional but it always comes with some comedy. Every episode happens in roughly the same timespan, from the 16th to the 25th of December, meaning Irabu has been treating all of these patients simoultenously. During almost each episode we have the patients interacting with each other or just sharing the same space. The plot is thus very intertwined and patients actions from one episode will impact the lives of other patients. It's pretty fun to witness. We're also reminded by a real doctor showing up on screen here and there, that Irabu's methods aren't really an everyday thing, lmao.
I truly liked all of the episodes, but I especially loved the first half of the 9th episode, where the patient suffers from npd (a narcissist). Gave me a good laugh to see how Irabu treated him to bring him down to Earth. It's just nice to see an anime focus on adults a bit, even if it's all just men. The 10th episode probably stands out the most, as the little plot twist is really satisfying and the story around it is fleshed out well.
As mentioned earlier, this anime uses rotoscoping but unlike Aku no Hana, it's not an all time thing. Instead it's mostly used for zoomed in facial expressions, or mostly on the nurse. Next is the world, which uses a psychedelic color palette and everything has weird circular textures slapped on. It's very similar to Mononoke, most likely because both of these anime share the same director (Kenji Nakamura). There's a lot of neat little things that stand out animation wise in this anime.

Finally, the overarching message of this anime is "nobody is perfect". I know some people struggling with severe mental illness hate that concept and equate it with the "everybody is a little mentally ill" and consider it invalidating, but frankly, the way our current society and culture sees mental illness is vastly.. well.. culture bound. In a country different from your own, some mental illnesses could be treated like passing colds. Actually they are somewhere but for the love of god I can't find it in my medical anthro notes so I'll leave it as a hypothetical... Anyway, read about culture-bound syndromes if that topic interests you! But it is a fact that 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental or neurological issue at some point in their lives (according to WHO, at least), and I think that living with that fact helps relieve some of the stigma, especially in societies where it is important to remain as "normal" as possible. There is no such thing as normal, and most people will struggle to perform within that framework.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (anime)

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is an adaptation of the manga by the same name, made by Hitoshi Ashinano. Ashinano is pretty well known for making extremely comfy iyashikei manga. I already read Kotonoba Drive and enjoyed it a ton, so I knew this wouldn't disappoint.
Since this is an iyashikei anime, there's not much happening. The plot isn't intricate, there's no action, not even much dialogue. People that don't like this would probably say that it's as entertaining as watching paint dry. Personally I prefer slice of life, calming iyashikei type of media in manga or book format, but before reading the manga for this I wanted to watch the anime, as I heard it was traditionally animated. The color palettes, the shading, the tranquility, the framing, so many good things can be said about this short anime. It's not perfect, and it's not mind-blowingly amazing in a way that would make you think they had an insane budget, but it's just right. Preferably you should watch this on a lazy afternoon before taking your nap. Or after the nap. Or before sleep. Whatever you prefer.
One thing that stands out in YKK is the setting. It's soft science fiction-y, set in kind of a post-disaster world, calling it post-apocalyptic might be too harsh. The sea levels have rose up drastically, you have robots, you have strange towering buildings.. But the mc lives peacefully, despite needing to have a gun near her all the time. Clearly there's some darkness being hinted, yet at the same time we're supposed to enjoy every bit of serene scenery the anime offers us.
Anyway, if you like this kind of stuff then you'd probably enjoy YKK too. If you haven't already, since it's like one of the first things people recommend when somebody wants iyashikei, along with Aria. I'm kind of late on this one...

Enidewi

Enidewi is a manga made by Kamome Shirahama, you may know her as the author of pretty popular Witch Hat Atelier, a really wonderful and sweet manga about witches which I highly recommend. Well, Enidewi is her more adult oriented work, albeit more lighthearted than WHA.
Enidewi is quite short, only 15 chapters. It's about two best friends, an angel and a demon. The setting would be best compared to Terry Pratchet's Good omens or even something like Yuki Kaori's Angel Sanctuary when it comes to the inner workings of the angel/demon system and world building. The plot is episodic, it documents the friendship between the two and the havoc they wreak on Earth when they fight or get into trouble. The two main characters have a great dynamic and they're both very pretty adult women, which is always appreciated. A light read with great art so it's a big recommend from me!

A Lollypop or A Bullet

A Lollypop or A Bullet is a short psychological manga about two middle school girls. The mc, Nagisa, wants to join the military right after middle school because her life kind of sucks. Her dad died, her elder brother is a shut-in and her mom has to work enough to support all three of them. She wants to help her mother, and support her brother, but she is definitely miserable. The mysterious transfer student, Mokuzu, who happens to be the daughter of an ex-famous musician is a girl that loves telling outrageous lies in order to hide the abuse she suffers under the hands of her father.
Mokuzu really wants to be Nagisa's friend, but Nagisa finds her annoying. Slowly she warms up to her because of her "candy bullets" as Nagisa calls them, aka desparate attention-seeking and cries for help.
The ending is tragic and sad and a kind of "we shouldn't have ignored the signs" type of ending. I think the manga was way too short for me to develop any connection to the characters. I usually like short psychological manga but this one was a miss for me. All of the characters kind of annoyed me, and I don't think that was really the intention. The MC, with her bullet monologues (maybe it was the translation, but it sounded like the author was trying to come across as deep and kind of missing the mark with the whole bullets analogy), the teacher who didn't get developed enough so his superman talk came out of nowhere, the mother who let Nagisa hang out with Mokuzu despite knowing her father was abusing her and not doing anything about it (?), the waste of space brother who just lets his sister run away from home. The plot was predictable. A couple extra chapters could have improved this I think.
One good thing about this show is the portrayal of someone in an extremely abusive situation. Nobody wants to help them, despite their frequent and severe cries for help. Really tragic but also quite common.

Boogiepop Phantom (2000)

I remember trying to watch Boogiepop with my younger sister because we heard it was similar to xxxHolic in regards to the psychological episodic format, but the style was too confusing for my then 10 year old sister lmao. So we gave up and didn't bother, especially because I later read you need to be familiar with the novels, or the live action, or god knows what before watching it. Well, I watched it now anyway!
Knowing the backstory definitely helps when it comes to piecing together the main, overarching story. I read a bit of the summary, and thankfully in the episode threads on MAL there was a user doing a little info-dump after the first couple of episodes to explain what's going on (thank you SuperLlama). That aside, I feel like Boogiepop Phantom is pretty self-contained. The main "villain" of the show is dealt with in the second to last episode and the story of the show itself ends with that. The last episode is more of an epilogue. At first there's a lot of nudges to the novel and previous events, but eventually they explain them in decent exposition episodes.
The shows main strength is in the way it presents its story and does the character studies, with many characters being interconnected, different perspectives, frequent jumps to the past (which really fits the state of the city where the past and present are mushed together), non-linear storytelling etc. The sound effects and music are amazing, the spooky atmosphere is top-notch, probably one of the best I've seen in anime. Once the whiplash of the bright, vibrant and cheery last episode hits, you can see just how much of a good job was done on everything in terms of presentation in the previous episodes.
Overall, this is a really good anime, especially in terms of execution. The main "flaw" is that if you haven't read the ln, some of the things that move the plot forwards are unclear and in fact the main catalyst for the things happening isn't explained so it feels like you tuned into a movie that's 30% in but you enjoy the ride anyway. That is of course, not necessarily a flaw if you have read the ln, which I probably will now lmao. So the people that said this anime was like a gift to the fans of the source material were right. Nonetheless, it was good enough for me to binge it, something I haven't done in a while.

Paranoia Agent

Ahh Paranoia Agent. I got filtered by episode 5 a whole decade ago (why does it seem like I watched most anime a decade ago) and stopped watching, even though I love Satoshi Kon and by that point I had watched most of his movies. The time to clear this off my "on-hold" list has come. Let's begin the review!
Paranoia agent is a fun one. I'll try to avoid core spoilers because if you want to watch it, they'll ruin the vibe. I'll still go over the main plot points, and mention the ending in as a non-spoilerish way as possible. Because of that I won't be able to say much at all, now that I think about it. The basic gist of the plot is this - people are being attacked by a myterious boy on inline skates, armed with a golden bat. Two detectives are trying to figure the mystery out. Despite what people say about this anime being an insane mindfuck where you'll barely make something of the plot and things are happening non-linearily - it's not true. The plot happens in a clear linear order, however there are some surreal elements, namely in episode 5 where a lot of people including me quit watching because they got confused with the sudden shift from reality to "magic" (but actually it's straightforward, I'll get on that later), and the last few episodes. The plot suddenly loses traction after episode 5 and moves away from the main characters and victims, onto how people deal with this phenomena. Everything you need to know about this show when going in is in the japanese title. Mousou (妄想, translated as paranoia) Dairin (agent). 妄想's actual meaning is delusion, from what I can find online and from what I heard on the show itself. I'm not sure paranoia was a great choice because paranoia is a type of delusion, but not the type this show is dealing with. To put it simply, this show is dealing with social contagions and mass hysteria. If you're interested in those topics do give it a watch! Episode 5 is just the cops playing into the suspects delusions except it's portrayed in a silly way through the wonders of animation, although I still think that episode is a bit boring compared to everything else lmao.
One thing I'm miffed about is the ending, which is done in a typical Satoshi Kon style where everything goes off the rails, the magic (delusions here I guess) and reality start mixing a bit too much. Personally, I don't think there was a need for that. You can still perceive it as just a metaphor I suppose, but I would've preferred if it was more down to earth. Also, leave it to Satoshi Kon to showcase the most vile examples of male depravity, in episode 6 specifically. I cried for that girl for about 10 minutes straight after the episode ended, and it was her dad's disgustingly innocent face that got me. It hurts because it's too real. Also, episode 8 was amazing.
Lastly, reading about this anime online once again reminded me of the sad state of anime watchers. Why are they all such brainlets!! I won't blame them too much, maybe they're literal kids, but reading all of the "all of this over such a small thing??" comments about the conclusion and main message of the anime really had me stunned.

Termina

If you've read my about me page, you would have noticed I said I like trams. During a particularly low point of my life, when I was failing my first degree and experiencing depression, I found solace in my countries biggest train/tram forum, specifically the tram section. I learned everything about the models, their nicknames, their official names, their production dates, where they were made, if they were domestic or imported, where they operated, what lines, where those lines were located. I would go on random tram rides through the city just to sit on a tram, I'd photograph my favourite lines, I lurked the forums so hard I knew all of the regulars, and I even knew which lines some of them operated on. In retrospect, this was a great way for someone that was as lonely as I was during that time to learn about the city where my dorm was. You could definitely say I was a big tram nerd. Still am, but not to that degree. A tram line is being built where I currently live, so I hope I'll get to see it. I actually went on a special viewing of one of the underground stations a couple months ago, and I got to see the tram in function. The reason why I never talked about this interest in detail with pictures attached was because it would fully dox me, but I digress. Because of this interest, this manga was really appealing to me. It combines two of my favourite things - learning about public rail transport, and travelling/getting lost in dream-like places that don't make much sense.
The manga is about a girl who just randomly became a catgirl one day (doesn't really add anything to the story), and she's really into trains. So in each chapter she goes on a new train line (all of them based on real operating lines), where something weird happens. The landscape is always weird and distorted, fellow passengers are often surreal and strange. The feelings I got from this manga are very similar to the ones I experienced when embarking on my lonely travels, where nobody knew me, and everyone seemed to know more than me. They knew the line and which stop to get off, but I was the inexperienced passenger being taken through their world. It also reminded me of panpanya's works which are a favourite of mine.

A line nicknamed "the gambling line" because it's known for passing next to many gambling facilities is shown to us in the manga like this. I love it...

Each chapter ends with the history and summary of the real life version of the line explored in that chapter which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's no wonder Japan has so many train otaku, when their rail transport is so rich with interesting and well-documented stories.
There were a couple of weird sexual scenes which I didn't really get the point of, until I read the afterword of the first volume, so now I kind of get where the weirdness and the off-putting vibe comes from.

The manga is still publishing, although only 8 chapters have been translated and I have no idea how many are actually out ;_;. Still if you're interested in the topics I mentioned I recommend reading it since it's so short.

Three works by Machiko Kyou

I was searching for interesting looking josei manga, and I came across an author whose stuff I immediately fell in love with.

  • U: I'll start off with the weakest one (but still good), in my humble opinion. I remember coming across this manga when searching through the Manga Erotics F magazine, that happens to publish a lot of manga I really like. The premise sounded okay enough; a girl with a twin sister happens to make a clone of herself, but the clone begins to surpass the original, then I saw a "Girls Love" tag and I felt like that would throw it into a direction I don't like (haha self-cest), so I decided against reading it. Turns out, there's 0 GL in this manga, and the genre on MAL is completely incorrect? Unless I missed something crucial lmao. The premise and the message of the manga is interesting, however I felt the storytelling was a bit weaker in this one compared to the other two. I liked the idea of "the copy begins to surpass the original, begins to see herself as superior only to begin feeling inferior to the original's twin sister - who the original always felt inferior to". God that sounds like a lot, and it really is. It's why I usually stay away from manga featuring clones, they make my head hurt. Reminded me a bit of Mikake no Nijuusei, but it was definitely darker.

  • Cocoon: This one made me cry, and I don't cry when reading manga that often. The manga is a fictional retelling of a real event, the Himeyuri students. If you don't know what they were, give it a deeper read after finishing the manga. Extremely sad and depressing, it deals with the horrors of war seen through the eyes of young girls, who were basically sent out into the frontlines without them knowing, under a false pretense. They were hopeful and unassuming because of the propaganda they've been fed which makes the fate all the more harrowing. We also get to see some of the "wonders" of war, such as men turning into animals and assaulting girls because they've got nothing to lose. The cute art combined with gore does a great job here at making you feel despair.

  • Mitsuami no Kamisama: My favourite of the three, this manga is about a post-disaster society but the intricacies of it I will not get into as I feel like it would spoil too much. I loved the personification of everyday objects (especially because it's a real life habit I have lol), giving them little storylines with meaningful messages that tie into the main theme. It felt like reading a childrens book, and I mean this in a very positive way. The main theme seems to be "if your purpose was to be used - would you fulfill it for the good of others?". The ending felt vague in the sense that nothing happened, but I think it felt very complete because of the MC's decision, therefore we don't need to see the rest. I love endings like these, and I love the type of worldbuilding where we're only given bits and pieces, kind of similar to Haibane Renmei.
The first thing that drew me to her manga was the art, which is simple and soft because of the shading and the rounded shapes. It definitely resembles art meant for children, which adds a layer of innocence to her poignant stories. All in all I really enjoyed these and I'm glad I read them. One of her other translated works Mikako-san is 221 chapters long, so I might tackle it at some point.

86

86 is an anime based on a light novel of the same name. The central focus of the anime is the ongoing war between humans in various countries and AI trying to destroy all of them. There's two sets of main characters, more or less. First being Lena, a starry-eyed commander who comes from a Totally Not Nazi country and the other set of main characters is the unit she was assigned to command long distance, the Spearhead Squadron. The first part of the anime follows the Spearheads and the commanders experience in the war, the former covering the experience of soldiers that are taught of as lesser and inhuman, the latter covering the experience of someone that's comfortably commanding from the back lines in a country brainwashed by propaganda. The second part of the anime I found to be much, much flimsier due to several factors I'll mention later, but one of the main themes is "what can a child soldier do once they don't have to fight anymore" and the answer we're given is "why, fight some more of course!" - this becomes a battle anime disguised as a war anime.

I'll begin with the things I didn't really like, because I think there were a lot so I'll get them out of the way. First, the setting. I have a big pet peeve for these pseudo-european settings, especially when names are done sloppily. Wtf kind of name is "Vladilena Milizé"? It's either a bunch of names with various origins tacked onto each other, or it's a vaguely european sounding name that doesn't actually exist. And yeah the setting is futuristic but there's something so grating when you have a "Richard Altner" and a "Kurena Kukumila" in the same anime lmao. My biggest annoyance with this is that in most cases - the side characters will have names based on real names, and the main characters will have the bastardized unique sounding ones. At least be like logh that has the balls to reference real history to not keep everything vague and give everyone normal sounding names.
My next gripe is with the artstyle. If you fed all post 2010 anime to some ai, and had it spit out an average artstyle - I think this anime would be it. The animation quality was good but no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it'll always be a pig!! I'm sorry, that's an insult to cute piggies. I just really dislike generic anime artstyles and I think I have been avoiding them succesfully for the most part. I don't like the glossiness.
Next issue usually comes bundled with the last one, and that's Generic Anime Gestures. We have the one hand reaches out to the sky classic, the immaculate "MC's eyes get obscured by a shadow when he gets serious and becomes edgy", and who could forget the Debby Ryan smirk edgy smirk and eye twitch combo?? When I see these used in excess, I can't fully enjoy the anime anymore, I just can't.
This issue is tied to the second part, and it's the "Anime Child" aka loli trope. Now THIS is something I haven't seen in a while, and I'll be vain and recognize is as an indicator of good taste! What's different about Anime Children compared to just Children in Anime is that they don't act like children at all! Nor sound like children for that matter, they sound like screeching goblins whose main purpose is to damage your eardrums. The loli character completely ruined the second part of the anime. She is somehow around 10 years old even though that does not make sense timeline wise at all, she is somehow extremely mature, well spoken and intelligent even though her royalty background and education would have stopped around the age of.. 3? At most which again timeline wise I don't get (maybe I wasn't paying enough attention tbh), despite her vast knowledge and maturity most of the time she acts like an unapologetic retard. While something like that could work in a silly comedy anime, it is completely out of place in a more serious setting that aims for some kind of realism. Of course she had to join the main characters in the army under a horrible lore excuse magically tailored specifically for her which was to be a "mascot" more or less. Despite being a mascot she somehow aids them in battle? Of course she had to physically join the main characters on their final battle even though she wasn't allowed to, she sneaked in teehee. At the very least the main characters being in their late teens made sense as the country they're from was lacking in soldiers due to treating them as dispensable fodder so there were no adults that could be drafted anymore, but her being a loli in battle is just AUGHHHHHH STOPPP. I was hoping for her to die once her purpose story wise finished (some former knight of hers became a part of the AI enemies and she wanted him to get killed), but sadly I wasn't granted that peace. There's absolutely zero reason for her being a small child really, and in fact it would've made much more sense if she was a couple of years older.
The next thing I didn't like about the second part was how much time was given to the edgy male MC's "muh reason for fighting". Wah wah he's so miserable and emotionless, he doesn't care if he lives or dies you guys! He has nobody left to fight for you guys!!! He's reckless and edgy... Meanwhile all 4 of his teammates, friends he's been with the entire time, friends who went through the same shit he did and friends who also have NOBODY left like he does get 0 screentime nor experience the same existential crisis he does. They're empty pillars of strength whose only purpose is to pull him back to reality. It's just too MC-syndrome like for me to enjoy at that point, and it would have been so much better if they worked together to overcome their trauma, purpose, life meaning - whatever. Instead it's just the one brooding guy and it dragged on for way too long. This whole thing just lacks the emotional depth, and I expected more from an anime that deals with hate crimes kek.

Ok I think that about covers the main things that mostly killed my enjoyment. The first half of the anime was promising, despite its flaws. It seemed to focus more on the horrors of war, hypocrisy of the military, that kind of thing. I wish it had expanded on that, and I wish we got to see what happened to the Totally Not Nazi inspired country when they got rekt. Maybe it'll be shown in the future seasons but I don't think I'll watch it lmao. I didn't even like the main conflict that much in the first season (have to avenge my dead brother grrrr) because it seems as if this anime can't portray a serious war situation - in which child soldiers are thrown into the frontlines obviously without wanting to, instead the MC has to have this strong personal reason to fight, which is the battle anime syndrome I referenced earlier. It kind of removes us from all the bad things that actually happen, makes it seem like all the people (literally all soldiers died) before the MC died because they just didn't have a strong enough reason to fight, and the war has been going on for 10 years. And then in the second part we just have the same conflict repeat again, instead of the dead brother's mind occupying the stronk AI machine it's muh dead knight but oh he comes from the super elite clan the main character comes from so idk, he's actually super speshul and Not Like The Other Soldiers. Zzzz. The second part shows us that different countries do exist, and that they treat their soldiers differently blabla, but it's not expanded on enough, instead we just have the main group fight again and the fight drags on until the end and on top of that we're forced to endure the loli as well. Another thing, once the characters got established as Main Characters, nobody dies or gets hurt anymore! Plot armor doing its best here, although I'll argue it makes sense simply because they're the only group to have survived so far, but still.
What prompted me to watch this anime was the lc thread, also my husband watched it and forgot about it on ep 4 so we decided to pick it up. I expected more honestly lmao. Oh and unrelated to my opinion of this anime but I went to check out the wikia just to confirm some plot things, and the character descriptions cracked me up. Male characters get mostly regular appearance descriptions, but then for the female characters you get this:

Frederica is a small girl with slender limbs, a petite frame, and a delicate, doll-like face. She has the blood-red eyes of a Pyrope and the jet-black hair of an Onyx trailed down to her knees.

The slight horniness in the descriptions is so weird, she's a fucking child of course she's petite, the redundancy makes it sound so horny. And then for the main character:

Although not frequently commented on, Lena is actually rather well-endowed. Amongst the Strike Package's 1st Armored Group, she is only behind Shiden and Kurena in that department.

Why does the breast size of a female commander in a war novel matter when the fanservice is barely present usually? Why aren't we discussing rumoured thick dicks and supple juicy pecs of the male characters? It's so out of place. I assume these are based on the authors descriptions and that it's not a horny wiki editors fault, but it's so silly. Male written literature will never be free from the breasts that titted boobily.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

I did it!! I fell for the meme!! Jk, an online friend kept pushing us to watch it, so we did it upon his humble persistent request. Now then, I'll keep this review short because there's not much to say really. I'll also keep it spoiler free since it's new. It definitely was not worth the hype. The animation and the style was cool-ish, but it doesn't hold a candle to the most popular anime cyberpunk classics like Akira and GiTS, imo. Now this anime follows a specific type of formula which is not new or original at all, but I believe it can be executed well and it rarely ever fails at being entertaining. A newbie joins a tight-knit crew reluctant to accept him, a la Black Lagoon which I found really fun for example, said crew is made up of a few tropes. However, this anime is so short (10 episodes) that it really gives you no time to form any emotional attachment to the characters, nor does it give any of them any backstories. Hell, I don't think the plot was set up well either. One characters death made me say "aw.", that's about it. I'm saying this because it clearly tries to make you feel things. Especially the last episode. It gives barely any time to establish the crew characters before taking a darker turn. I was very indifferent to the main character, I wish he had more personality. I'm not sure if it was the plot's or the general drop in quality of storytelling fault, but it really fell off after episode 4. I haven't played the game, so the first 4 episodes seemed like a nice introduction into the world. After that it was just kinda... eh.. that's it? That kind of sums up my feelings on this anime. People made a big deal out of the MC and his love interest getting into a real relationship pretty early on which, yay I guess, thing is their relationship doesn't really impress or wow me as it ends up being a game of cat and mouse and save the princess in the end anyway, instead of there being some teamwork or idk, whatever. In fact after they end up together, the gf just ends up moping around for the whole mid section of the anime until running off on her own.. okay. Now the hype around Becca, I kind of get. She was a fun loud character, and not overly annoying. I liked her as the voice of reason, again, shame the anime was so short because fleshing her out could've made me like her more or like care about her as a character. Also, I saw people complaining about the porn/sex toy parts, but I kind of liked it in a "everyone here is a degenerate" way. The same porn scene being shown twice was unecessary though lmao. Lastly, the OST was okay, there were a couple of songs I kind of liked, but the rest had a tryhard vibe to them.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (manga)

I read this during a pretty turbulent week, and I'm glad I did because this manga was so calm and enjoyable it helped me ground myself and relax a bit. It has around 140 chapters but it's a quick read because there's not a lot of heavy dialogue, and the chapters are always around 16 pages long. Pretty much everything I said when reviewing the short OVA stands here as well. I think the anime is a great introduction into the series, because it sets the scene well. It's adapted perfectly and it helped me visualize things better when reading the manga.
I loved everything about this manga. The character relationships, the inevitable passage of time, the slowly approaching human extinction that everyone has made peace with... So many themes I enjoy in this story, yet they're not at the forefront. The type of life everyone leads in this manga makes me so envious lmao. Insert that deviant art "god I wish that were me" comment, too lazy to pull up the picture. Also I love how the worldbuilding isn't super detailed and deep, instead we're left to guess and wonder and I greatly enjoy stories where we know as much as the MC does. Haibane Renmei does that too and I loved it. I don't need crazy infodumps!!!
While reading this I realized how similar Hitoshi Ashinano's works are to Kenji Tsuruta's. The lonely women doing their own thing, some casual nudity and an interest in some form of machinery, often set in a type of post-disaster/rundown/nature took over setting. So if you're looking for something similar, there you go.

The Girl From the Other Side and Love on the Other Side

This review will cover two works from Nagabe, one pretty well known and beloved - the other more obscure and more infamous. Starting with the first one.

The Girl From the Other Side
I loved the look of this manga from the first time I saw it but knowing it was nearing its end I decided to wait until it got finished and completely translated. I don't like reading manga that's not fully out - I can't keep up with the new chapters and I easily get detached from it. The artstyle fits the dark fairytale-like story and setting.
The premise is really simple - a little child was thrown out of her world for being "cursed" and a cursed monster took her in. Soon after the little girl starts getting chased by knights and monsters and the two try to stick together. There's more to it, but I'll stick to the basics without going into details. In that way we have a dynamic that's really common in fiction imo - a kind hearted giant and a fairy, a monster and a young girl, the beauty and the beast, a grumpy dude stuck with a kid learns how to love and mellow out, hell, Monsters inc has that very dynamic. You get my point. I was surprised to see someone in MyAnimeList reviews say this work tried to ride on the coattails of The Ancient Magus' Bride, when such a trope is extremely common in fiction, for better or for worse... Unlike The Ancient Magus' Bride where that trope is romantic, here it's clearly based on a father-daughter dynamic, and in my opinion, it's executed really well without any creepy undertones. The only similarity I suppose, would be the head of the monster which is goat inspired in both cases, but it's definitely not a feature that didn't exist before.
I think the story flew well and kept me pretty interested until the last two chapters, when it kind of got a bit convoluted. There was a bit too much exposition crammed in the last volume and because of that I think the ending didn't impact me as well as it could've. Still, this was a really sweet and enjoyable creepy story, both the monster and the little girl were loveable characters and their dynamic was neat. There were no silly misunderstandings, and the moments they shared together were endearing. I wish the plot took breaks more often for the slice of life aspect instead, honestly.

Love On the Other Side: A Nagabe Short Story Collection
Remember how I mentioned earlier that the dynamic between the monster and the little girl was executed really well, without creepy undertones? Well... I can't say the same here! MonsterxInnocentBeing is clearly Nagabe's shtick, and that's fine I guess. But sometimes this "love knows no bounds" theme that can be applied to the Beauty and the Beast type of story also starts applying to age... or species... or family relations... and then it gets a bit weird! I want to say I didn't mind the more furry relationship stories, where the animal was more human like. Mayonaka no Waltz, a story about a vampire that looks like a bat but believes is a human and a human girl that loves him was quite sweet, and possibly my favourite, although I don't really support giving into your partners delusions irl lmao. But then there are two stories in particular, one that is basically grooming 101 and the other a PedophiliaxBestiality 2in1 deal that I found quite uncomfortable in comparison to how sweetly they're portrayed! Nagabe enoys exploring power dynamics, clearly. Regardless of the creepy themes, all the stories are sfw and not explicit.
A lot of people mentioned how this collection of short stories soured their opinion on The Girl From the Other Side but I don't really share the same sentiment. Clearly Nagabe is capable of portraying a multitude of different relationships that explore the same dynamic in this short story collection. It doesn't have to mean that the little girl and the monster in his most popular work now have a mandatory creepy undertone to it. And it doesn't really seem like the stories were made for the purpose of sexual gratification or anything. It's true men are usually more depraved when it comes to stuff like this so maybe I'm just being naive! Sometimes you just know but this time I truly don't know. Oh well...

Ergo Proxy

The review will have spoilers in the last paragraph but I'll give a warning. Ergo Proxy is a 2006 anime done by Manglobe studios, known for being behind some banger anime originals like Michiko to Hatchin and Samurai Champloo. The thing about Ergo Proxy is, that if you ever looked at various recommendation lists all over the internet, you'd always find it under a "mature, psychological, symbolism packed, underrated gem, must watch, thonk provoking" description. All the biggest brained anime watchers love it. Maybe because of that I was expecting something incredibly deep and profound, but instead I got... hmm. A good show with a seemingly flawed production with an incredibly cool backstory that didn't get enough chances to shine? I think that would be right.
I think the biggest flaw of this show was the slow/lacking first half, that I believe could have been utilized better. I found the exposition episode 15 (in form of a silly gameshow) fun and creative, but in the grand scheme of things it sucks that the biggest exposition dump we got was in episode 15! and the last episode during the mandatory MC vs the "Villain" talk. I think a lot of the other episodes could have easily served as smaller exposition dumps instead... However, Episode 16, the one where "nothing" happens and the protagonists are physically stuck though is probably my favourite. That episode was a bottle episode done right, it advanced the characters plenty, and it also added to the general meaning of the show. The Disneyland episode was also fine (I see people online dislike it) because it gives us more info about proxies and how they work. And more Pino... But the first half really focused on the Romdeau dome and "grandpa pls give me some answers" while the michelangelo statues with the names of philosophers laugh at Re-l. Now, as I understand, this show gains a lot if you rewatch it, as in a lot of the things that happen in the first half make more sense with the knowledge you have gained in the second half, cool and all (not actually, I'm not a huge fan of that tactic), but I still think the first half is a tad too slow.
Next we have the symbolism. It's pretty decent, as far as psychological/mature anime goes. A lot of the names are utilized well and hint at somebodies function and role in the story like Deadalus, the proxies, cogito virus etc. A lot of things that happen in the anime mirror the real state of things that will only be apparent later so, job well done in that department, the names aren't merely references. Still, I don't think it's anything too mindblowing. And I'm not sure if I'm reading into things too much but Vincents issues with his sense of Self throughout the show remind me of Lacans mirror stage and self-alienation... But my knowledge on Lacan which was hammered into me during my first year of uni is 5 years old by now and I don't remember things as well as I'd want.
Now, the characters. I really loved Re-l, the spoiled bitch!! Jk, but I truly enjoyed her quirks, and how it made her interact with those around her. I love her silly blue eyeshadow and the fact that she's often shown without it too. Isn't it weird how in anime that feature girls with visible make-up on, they never seem to remove that make-up, or change their hairstyles? Well, my queen Re-l actually has hair that gets greasy and needs washing lmfao. Jokes aside, I enjoyed her growth and the fact that she had a no-bullshit attitude till the end, even though "fate" drew her to Vincent, so to speak. Vincent annoyed me a bit in the first half, simply because he had 0 agency and was just constantly confused and catatonic, it made it hard to get through his portions of the story until the two reunited. After that it got a lot better. Pino though, she was amazing. Remember how in my review of 86, I talked about the difference between "children in anime" vs "anime children"? Well, luckily, she is the former, and she's really amazing. Great child character for once, only made better by the fact she also actively participates when some thinking needs to be done instead of being just comedy relief/moe bait.

SPOILERS AHEAD

I really enjoyed the "positive" ending, although it hints at future conflict. At the end, it was cool to find out who the Creator is (maybe I didn't pay enough attention in episode 15 after all lmao), the whole purpose for proxies, domes, autoreivs, cogito virus, abandoned pristine towns being maintained by autoreivs, Monad, Re-l and Real, Proxy One, purpose of Ergo Proxy, Boomerang Star, all the shit leading up to the creation of Proxies... Once all the puzzle pieces fall into place - it makes for a great backstory. As far as dystopian stories go, this one was planned out amazingly but... but...!!!! I feel like the show almost like just glosses over some of these things? I feel like Re-l herself doesn't get a satisfying conclusion or her questions answered, instead only we do. In that way I feel like this more or less "untold" backstory was more interesting than the whole thing with Re-l's grandpa, the silly menacing statues, Deadalus and Raul conflict we had going on, that we spent quite a bit of time on... Because when you learn about domes and proxies being allowed to create those domes in any way they liked - the whole conflict in Romdeau (the conflict between the artifical infertile humans that is) is kind of pointless. Or at least, it's not as important as everything else, because most of those artifical humans were not privy to almost any of that information, the grand plans, nothing. However I still find Raul and Deadalus to be well made characters. Fuck Grandpa Meyer tho that man is useless.
All in all, this anime is pretty "deep" in the sense that it hides most of the information necessary to understand the backstory (and thus the reason for why everything is happening - which is really Not That Deep, but that doesn't make it bad) in one goofy exposition episode you probably won't be 100% attentive for, and the very ending. Some of the philosophical concepts featured, like the Descartes's famous "cogito, ergo sum" serve to explain some things like the virus and ergo proxies existence which is cool, but it's not like they make you think super hard to reach that conclusion haha. There's a lot of concepts and ideas that are less impactful on the overarching story that I'm sure I've missed which is what should be the catalyst for my rewatch but.. I must admit I'm a tad too lazy for that. I still enjoyed the characters and their back and forth journey but the pacing could've been better. Basically I think it could've been improved in some areas but I still liked the overall story... I guess I just didn't enjoy some of the ways in which it was told. My conclusion is - I'm either too smallbrained to Truly Get It, or I'm too bigbrained for most anime watchers. Because I enjoy a healthy dose of self-deprecation I'll go with the former.


Random thoughts

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Recent horror/ero-guro obsession (nsfw text!)

When I was a small child, around 5-9 yrs old, I'd watch a lot of horror movies with my dad. Trashy and good ones. It went from the more critically acclaimed ones like The Thing and Alien to stuff like The Amityville Horror (2005), Ghost Ship (2002), The Hills have Eyes (2006), to all the remakes of Japanese horrors which was all the rage in the early 2000s. I was never extra scared of them and in fact I really enjoyed the movies, while my dad would always fall asleep in the middle of the film and I'd watch it till the end alone. After that my interest in horror waned. I'd watch the ocassional big horror movie here and there but I wouldn't call it an interest of mine or anything of the sort. I'd say I'm slightly more scared of horror movies now than when I was a child, but more often than not I find them very frustrating. It seems I can't handle the suspense. After I got into anime and manga I avoided the horror genre. Again, I watched a few things here and there but nothing major. I disliked the thought of reading through a horror manga as I thought it wouldn't be as interesting as a movie would be. Fast forward to this summer and I developed this strange almost addiction to horror manga, specifically seinen horror which tends to delve into ero-guro territory. I can't stop looking for grotesque stuff to read. I generally don't enjoy much violence, rape especially, yet the stuff I read includes both. I admit I don't like it when it's ultra serious, I prefer it to be comical or satirical in some way. I'm feeling a bit ashamed but I'm sure this weird interest I developed will diminish once I run out of stuff to read. I'm picky and there's not a lot of it. Also reading a lot of obscure stuff made me realize how manga is just not that well translated unless its shounen stuff, and also how a ton of stuff doesn't exist on myanimelist. I really love to keep track of things I read so this bothers me. Maybe I should start looking into adding stuff on my own.

Moving on, I don't think I'd be able to watch this kind of stuff in anime form now. I think it would feel more gratuitious but that might be hypocritical to say as the genre itself already has a lot of nudity. In relation to that, I love depictions of nudity and sex in manga. I feel like such a coombrain for saying it, but I always liked naked bodies as in human forms just existing, even outside of a sexual context. I don't really read hentai in my free time, I just like adults being depicted as adults without the readers sexual satisfaction being the primary goal of the story.

I'm thinking maybe this is some kind of an outlet for my stress but let's be honest, it's probably just sick curiosity that's been with me since I was a child.

My Dress-Up Darling and "Wholesome" Ecchi

Before you continue reading know that I only watched 1 episode and dropped it so you won't get an in depth review of the plot and characters, just me raving and ranting.
So I was looking for stuff to watch this season, even though I still haven't finished the shows from last season but whatever. My dear boyfriend thought this would be a good fit for us, as we like to watch cringy otaku-ish romance/comedy anime here and there (like wotakoi for example) so we went in blind, especially because I saw it was a seinen so I was expecting something a bit.. less like this. Oh how wrong we were. This anime perfectly encapsulates everything I hate about anime today.

I don't know where to start. Oh right, the seinen part. So the manga was published in a seinen magazine so I was expecting something not really aimed at teens? Or not with an early high school setting at least? But no, the characters are fresh high schoolers, meaning 15. The main guy was honestly not giving me 15 year old boy vibes at all. The """gyaru""" girl looks 25 and definitely doesn't act like a 15 year old. Nothing about the characters seems early high school to me. Maybe if they were 3rd years I'd be able to suspend my disbelief enough to buy it but idk. The art style is partly at fault here but their bodies are just way too mature looking. A university setting would make more sense, especially considering what else I'm about to say later. Half of the episode is spent with the MC wailing and complaining about having no friends and how nobody likes him yada yada. He has an interesting hobby of making dolls and clothing for them that he basically got into because of his grandfather who seems to be extremely skilled at it. He feels super insecure about it because one girl in like primary? middle? school said it's lame. So now in high school, he has no friends. Because one (1) girl insulted his hobby? And basically now he feels super duper sad about it :(. He's ashamed that it's a girly hobby, I guess. Anyway now he's in class and his internal monologue is still him feeling bad for himself and being like "i'm such a loner nobody likes me I don't fit in anywhere im so lame and different from everyone" when a big breasted gyaruish girl bumps into his table and takes interest to him. Later that day, he's cleaning up the classroom alone :( :( and this girl comes in and she starts cleaning up with him and talking to him. I tuned out to their conversation but my god, I never felt this insane urge to point out how this reads exactly like some loners fantasy of a magical high school life where he a loner, gets a popular girl to take interest to HIM and SHE'S the one to start talking to him etc. So I think to myself what is it with men, Japanese men, and their obsession with getting a hot girl in high school that saves you from your miserable life. Your life doesn't end here. For the love of God, stop fantasizing about it you're like 30. AND THEN I FIND OUT THE MANGAKA IS A WOMAN, but on that later. Anyway next day he went to the classroom with sewing machines because his sewing machine at home broke and she of course enters the classroom and sees him sewing. A hilaaaaarious scene ensues where he's super ashamed for being caught doing something feminine :( how awful, but ackshually this girl is a Cool Girl (tm), not like that stupid bitch from middle school that ruined his hopes and dreams, and this Cool Girl (tm) with a HOT body actually wants him to make cosplay for her!!!!!! In all honesty I thought this would be a cute premise but the way it was executed was so ugh. Those dolls seem interesting to me, and the mangaka has some sewing knowledge too. Now, the reason why this is a seinen I assume is because of the massive coomer vibes? Idk what else would classify it as such. In the first episode we got - titty shots, ass shots of a 15 year old girl wearing mature lacy red/black lingerie lolok, a girl huffing and panting erotically but like not really xdxd it's a joke she's just excited lololol, her stripping and being like uwu don't look uwu.

So this sounds super generic right, I mean, why did I even bother getting annoyed it's so cliche and overdone and million shows like this before came out and will come out and whatever. I know, but usually I avoid this stuff. I avoid it like the plague. And now that I finally accidentally watched one episode of an anime like this, all my negative thoughts about this.. style/type of anime have been confirmed and justified and now I just want to shit on it. There is something kind of special about it, however. Well about modern anime and it's watchers in particular. The word "wholesome". I've been seeing it in a lot of places lately, when it comes to anime like this. This wish-fullfilment crap, with a pretty nice artstyle and coomerish vibes. Oh it's always described as wholesome. Goofy, sweet. Why? It's full of shots that could've been taken from any random ecchi. The panting scene is incredibly erotic but ultimately played for laughs with the comedic timing. Looks like any random hentai manga screencap of a horny girl.

Why are people saying it's wholesome??? I feel like I missed out on something. The opening is also full of equally ahegao-lite grimaces and expressions and no doubt the rest of the show will be too. That's kind of the main girl's thing. So why is this wholesome, I ask again. Because the MC isn't an outright pervert? Is that really all it takes? Because their interactions are sort of "clean" yet the "camera" still acts as if the opposite is happening? Oh the MC is autistically observing the seams of her badly made cosplay, but the camera is ogling her HOT and CURVY 15 year old body. Yeah yeah, that's not new in anime and I should be used to it by now. But I'm irked by the way audiences describe it and perceive it. I told my bf that the moment we ended the episode, even though I didn't hear any reviews/thoughts on it yet. And lo and behold, I went to MAL (I know, high iq anime discussion) and the first thread about it is "WOW THIS ANIME IS SO WHOLESOME CHUNGUS I LOVE IT SO CUTE WOW!!!". What? At least in your usual scenes of sexualized teens, I get the feeling we're seeing it because the MC is perverted, or well, a typical teenage boy. Panty shot - oh funny haha nose bleed scene. There's absolutely 0 reason for this anime to have so much of it though. It bothers me, incredibly so. ESPECIALLY because it was made by a woman. But hey women can be coomerbrained too haha equality!

I feel like I'm only now perceiving these things so negatively because I'm an adult. I can deal with high school settings, sure. But do the kids have to look like adults? Why not just make them adults at that point? Could make the interactions more raunchy as well. Why not? What compells one to keep making something that keeps being done, over and over and over and over and over, it's so over saturated. Why not another Genshiken? Wotakoi? I feel like I'm jumping on this mangaka in particular, because her brand of wish-fulfillment happened to offend me greatly. Which brings me to the mangaka. The artstyle is very shojo-ish but I've been fooled before, so I thought this must have been made by a made. But, It's a woman, apparently, judging by her twitter. A lot of cat pictures and she has small hands. Well anyway, I called it wish-fulfillment earlier, but now it makes much less sense! I can only guess she knows what appeals to lonely men because she grew up surrounded by similar media. Or she wishes to be a manic pixie dream gyaru, maybe. I know I at least wished that for a while, when I was also 15. But that's the thing, I don't think she's 15. MC at least has some interesting hobbies I suppose. Her cat is cute it seems he likes to stand on two legs a lot. That seems to have calmed me down from this dumb rant.

I'm also kind of disappointed in the whole handling of a "feminine" hobby. Something to be ashamed of, of course. Despite the mc having a really positive male role-model in his life? The only person (so far, but I only watched ep 1 so I'm prolly wrong) who seems to have teased mc was a girl. She's the reason of his insecurities. Realistically, most women would react like the main girl did tbh... Most boys I knew as a kid that shamefully played with dolls, played with girls and we offered no judgement. It was always the boys that would be quick to ridicule and roast. Something rubs me the wrong way about this... I'm probably thinking about it too much at this point.

Back on the "wholesome ecchi" topic though, because a similar thought has been brewing inside my head for a while now, although I haven't seen anyone else feel like this. So I watch Demon Slayer because of my boyfriend, I don't really like it. Yea the animation is wowie kewl at some points, and nezuko is cute I suppose but that's where my interest for the anime ends really. Nothing I haven't seen before, and sometimes I truly do like me some generic shonen! I noticed however, the whole world, and Japan in particular went CRAZY over it. Absolutely nuts, their prime minister promoted it, whatever. And the first season was relatively tame, typical sexualisation wise. I thought it makes sense, it seems to be aimed at all audiences anyway. And then the second season happened... Well, even the second season lacks your typical ogling camera shots but something really weirds me out and maybe I haven't paid much attention to it in the first season but, the artstyle makes everyone look incredibly short stacked (nothing wrong with that, I think it's kind of cute) and literally ALL the female characters sound like they're 10 (except for the evil sexy demonnesses of course) AND they all suddenly have massive tits so coupled with the short stacked art style it just looks off. I'm not hinting at anything pedophilic at all actually, but it's so out of place. Their voices are JARRING. Those little girls taking care of the boys are incoherently squeeking all the time, those adult WIVES from that jojo rip-off dude sound like they're in kindergarten. Why does everyone sound so retarded. The boys sound normal? In this season, women are literally just wives and caretakers or second grade warriors or whatever, or actual literal prostitutes. I just sound like a raging feminist now but yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn. Nezuko of course, when she gets more powerful she obtains big breasts too lmao. It's just. Interesting implications idk. And she's only powerful because she's been literally corrupted. Hmmmmmmmmmm. But anyway this anime is totally wholesome chungus too, as described by the audiences! Lastly, this is a plot thing that annoys me a bit and it's unrelated to everything, but if Tanjiros dad was some super mega powerful dude with super mega rare strong powers, why does everyone in his proffession know jack shit about him and his breathing technique that seems to be the origin of all others, except for that dead red dudes dad? Oh well, rant over. My energy has been spent.

Except wait, I'm not done yet. The wholesome pervert trope existed for ages, that is true. Look at Golden Boy for example. But I kind of have a soft spot for Golden Boy. He mainly interacts with adult women, and he truly seems like a swell guy, plus it's a comedy that doesn't take itself seriously, and it knows that. It doesn't hide its perversion behind "wholesomeness" and "you thought this would be something perverted but actually it's not, tricked ya!!!". Ok, now I'm done. I swear.

I don't like Boichi, and Boichi doesn't like women

Boichi is a South Korean manga artist mostly known for his manga Sun-Ken Rock and Dr.Stone which he illustrated. He's well known for his art, often described as powerful or testosterone filled. My first real introduction to Boichi was through the Dr.Stone anime, which I begrudgingly watched because my husband's anime taste is really juvenile sometimes. Even so we seem to have dropped the second season on episode 3. I don't think I'll remind him of that. The first thing I noticed about Dr.Stone was the art. Boichi's artstyle is quite distinctive but a certain feature of it's distinctiveness is where my annoyance with him lays. The women. The way he draws female characters is so, SO porny. While his male characters certainly are drawn often as muscular sexy statues there's still some kind of realism and respect for anatomy, there's varying body types, certain levels of stockinness and so on. If his male characters were as ridiculous as his female characters, they'd probably look like that one Rob Liefeld's illustration of Captain America. You know the one.

The female characters are 99% all tits and hips, no waist. Not to mention the faces, female and male faces just don't look like they belong in the same artstyle. Refer to the image above. They're not allowed to age. Have wrinkles. Men of course are!
This image was composed by some kind anon and I thank her for that. It's partially the reason why I'm rambling about Boichi today. Anyway, if you click on the image to enlarge it, I hope you can see what I'm complaining about. Another absolutely retarded thing is the clothes they're wearing. While men's clothing is somewhat functional, female ninjas and warriors are running in skimpy outfits that look like they were made of the scraps of remaining fabrics which were used for the male character's outfits. Fitting. The heels are stupid but hey, at least the male characters are wearing them too :). Not to mention that men seem to be wearing actual underwear/shorts under their robes, while women are wearing thongs??? Or nothing at all! Judging by the random hip exposing holes in the sides of their dresses.
I wouldn't be sperging so much if this was a seinen manga, but it's not. It's very clearly aimed at children due to the concepts it explores and explains. It's meant for kids and early teens at most, yet the designs are so fucking coomerbrained. It's pretty educational, which I found endearing. That's the thing though, from what I've seen, Boichi's work is mostly seinen. He also made ecchi, and hentai. He's no stranger to adult focused manga. And I guess that pornishness just can't help but seep through into a manga made for actual children.
His art wasn't the only reason why I'm writing this. I started reading his manga Hotel. I only managed to get 3 chapters in. The manga is a compilation of his short stories. The first chapter had an apocalyptic theme. To remind themselves of their mistakes for destroying Earth, humans built a huge tower in which they stored their DNA. As only a small amount of samples could be stored - the main leader of the project chose not to store his DNA, out of noble reasons or some shit. Pic related is him and his wife.

Next mini chapter, is a different post apocalyptic setting, this time featuring an old man and two young girls he considers his daughters. He decides that in order to prolong the human race, he has to sleep with them. Haha...

The next chapter centers around a student confessing love to her professor. He "honorably" declines her but she oh so romantically declares that she will be with him once she graduates. They marry, some bad shit happens and she wakes up after a two month coma, having only three days to live. One of the things she says first to him is this:

After reading this chapter, I dropped the manga. I didn't really care to find out whether the next chapter will have another age-gap relationship, or the chapter after that, or the chapter after that... My patience is wearing thin. My tolerance for shit like this is running low. What makes it necessary that 3 chapters in a row feature age-gaps where the male is old and decrepit and the woman young and oh so willing? Why is the wifes only function and goal to please her husband after she was in a two month coma?? Why does a man have to "control" his desire? Unga bunga male powerful animal, woman serve! I remember the wife and husband character in dr.stone (the ones from the International Space Station, how much involvement he had in this I don't know) also being in an age-gap relationship lol. I don't know what this fetish is, but it seems to be such a turn on for Boichi to the point that he can 't help but not include it in all of his works (all might be an overstatement, but I don't care enough to find out). It's not just age-gaps, it's the way he portrays female characters. They're ditzy, stupid, foolish, silly, horny, cutesy. Unaware of concepts such as honor or righteousness. In the meantime his male characters are serious, concerned with life and death, deep in thought, conflicted, doubting, thinking. And that portrayal is reflected in the design, so hard. His male characters have frown lines because they're allowed to think, it seems. No amount of technical skill can make you see women as human beings, I guess.

Anime/manga I dropped really fast recently

Decided to go through my backlog and I caught myself dropping stuff really fast. So let's go through some of this stuff.

  • Artiswitch: Premise sounded cute. 3D animation is utter shit but I was willing to stomach it since the episodes are only 8min long and at least the backgrounds were pretty. Main characters outfit is overdesigned, something modern anime-related media suffers from (looking at you Genshin Impact, vtubers and gacha games). The cringy dance sequence at the end of the first episode made me drop it.
  • Battle Programer Shirase: Pedobait too in your face, even for an early 2000's anime. Didn't want to see more of that.
  • Kachou Ouji: Cool, the main character is an adult with a wife and kids! Not cool, the main character is fantasizing about fucking a blond bombshell at the end of the first episode. High schooler gets to escape his dull life by the help of a mysterious girl is cringe, but it's even more cringe when aimed at adults. A bit sad I won't get to experience the iconic pissed off black dude voiced by a random gaijin scene but I didn't feel like watching a dude cuck his tired wife stuck raising his child for however long. My heart is too soft.
  • Franken Fran: I really wanted to like this because people used to praise it so much but.. but... idk just didn't vibe well with it. I don't mind nudity but something about this was too coomerish for me. Idk.
  • Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko: Main girl is too MPDG like, didn't like the fanservice. Girl in swimsuit make my peepee hard unga bunga vibes.

If you want to argue with me or discuss my reviews, don't hesitate to mail me! I appreciate input of any kind.

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