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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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...