banner image, art by Akihiro Yamada for the lightnovel Twelve Kingdoms

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?

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...

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 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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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 div 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.

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.