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1 of 1 episodes seen
Episode 26, titled "No One is Alone", is the true ending of the Persona 4 video game and takes place the day before the farewell scene in episode 25, with the group holding a goodbye party for Yuu Narukami after catching the culprit for the TV murder cases. However, he notices strange things occurring such as how the day seems to keep repeating itself, and tries to search for the truth by himself. This episode is mainly centred around our protagonist, exploring Yuu's inner self and hidden fears, and his personal battle with the true enemy and another side character in the Mayonaka TV. "No One is Alone" is just an extension of the main series rather than a proper OVA, but as it's a blu-ray only episode released months later one may have hoped that it was longer than 30 minutes and would have better animation. Unfortunately, this is not the case so in a similar fashion to parts of the main series, this episode also feels incredibly rushed.
The animation and its various flaws is nothing new after sitting through the main series. Stiff character faces and chaotically-animated battles are present, which is disappointing considering that the animation quality arguably peaked in episode 25, and at times episode 26 doesn't even match up to those standards. Building interiors/exteriors, especially some of the scenery towards the end, look great though.
The music, while a plus point in the previous 25 episodes, is a bit hit-and-miss here. As someone who's played the game, I think some of the track selections are questionable and others have been overused; the background and battle music are decent but more could have been done to make the true ending a stand-out episode. The OP theme is the same energetic one used in the series and I could never get tired of listening to the fantastic ED song "Never More".
As previously mentioned Yuu gets most of the spotlight, with the others such as Kanji and Naoto relegated to the sidelines for much of the episode. Margaret from the Velvet Room shows up to teach Yuu a lesson or two, while important revelations are made regarding another character. Apart from that, character development doesn't really exist; the majority of that has been dealt with in the main series.
I think that if you've enjoyed Persona 4 The Animation so far despite its obvious flaws, then there's no reason why this episode won't be equally good, as long as expectations aren't too high. As before, viewers who have played the game will get so much more out of this because they can fill in any gaps that the anime adaptation creates. The pacing and animation problems return and the length could have been twice as long to explore the true ending in more detail, but the episode manages to get its point across. There's a proper resolution to the world inside Mayonaka TV, and the slightly-altered final farewell scene is better than episode 25's in my opinion; the other characters each get their own bit of dialogue to show their feelings towards Yuu, and there's a greater sense of satisfaction knowing that the mystery is fully solved.
24 of 24 episodes seen
Apart from the opening episode the anime has an arguably slow start, where the central characters perform many scientific experiments in their lab to research time travel. That is until we reach the conclusion of one particular test, and then BAM! Just a few minutes later you realise everything up until now has been part of a smartly concealed ploy. You've become emotionally invested in the characters. When bad things start to happen, you suddenly find yourself caring about them. As major events unfold you'll find it hard to tear your eyes away for even a moment. The first few episodes have served to develop the core group of characters as well as to provide details about the experiments, of which the ensuing drama is based upon. Which in turn allows the pacing of the story to speed up when it needs to, and from this point onwards it's an amazing experience.
The transition from the jaw-dropping cliff-hanger ending of one episode to the start of the next, is where Steins;Gate changes from a merely decent anime with an interesting concept and striking visuals into the beginnings of a near-masterpiece in storytelling and suspense. The conclusion to this series is not too shabby either. In fact, it's brilliantly executed and answers many of the questions asked throughout the story.
The lab members are a colourful group who have good chemistry with each other, and there's hardly a single annoying trait between them. You'll quickly become accustomed to each person's individual mannerisms. Okabe Rintarou's conversations with himself, his mad scientist personality, and his amusing interactions with others, are merely a few examples of the things which make him such a tremendous lead character to follow within the story. Makise Kurisu's not exactly far behind; she's intelligent, she's cute, she has several great verbal exchanges with Okabe, and she's a perfect tsundere. Hashida Itaru's perverted imaginations provide some good comic relief, but he's also a capable computer hacker who's a big help to Okabe. Shiina Mayuri's a cheerful, openly honest and good-natured girl who is friendly with everyone, so how anyone can dislike her is beyond my comprehension. She's also Okabe's childhood friend but not a love interest (this is not a romantic comedy). Others such as Amane Suzuha, Kiryuu Moeka and Urushibara Ruka are also recurring characters in the anime but to go into too much detail about them might spoil the story. The total number of characters in Steins;Gate may not be huge, but that's due to the absence of any pointless people; nearly everyone has a significant role in the storyline to at least some degree.
Throughout his adventures, Okabe will inevitably realize that messing around with time travel also affects the lives of the people around him, and so any consequences that arise must be delicately handled. It's in this way that much of the character development occurs for Okabe and we learn more about his friends.
Talented voice actors/actresses, strong opening and closing theme songs, solid yet subtle instrumental music, nice background art, and smooth character animation all contribute to this anime's fantastic production values.
It's common for even the best of anime to contain a few minor flaws, and Steins;Gate is no different in this regard. This includes a distinct lack of action at the start of the anime, and several unconvincingly glossed-over details in the story overall. It's difficult for any form of media such as films or anime to discuss the technicalities of time travel, because in reality we don't know whether it truly exists. Are there contradictions and unexplained theories in Steins;Gate? Perhaps. The important thing, however, is that the anime feeds us with so much exposition (along with a fantastic cast and a compelling story), that we won't care about the small details until long after the final episode ends, if at all.
It's also highly advisable to watch the excellent Steins;Gate OVA afterwards, which is basically episode 25, as it provides extra closure and an epilogue of sorts for the characters. Moreover, tidbits found within the series tease us about events that occur in the future, so hopefully the upcoming Steins;Gate movie will explore this in greater scope.
Steins;Gate is an anime that warrants at least a second viewing. Who knows? You might discover things that you missed out on or didn't fully understand at first. Nonetheless, it offers superb entertainment and thrilling drama that's unlikely to lose out to any other series. Highly recommended stuff for any fan of anime. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
The successful romantic comedies (and I mean in terms of quality and not just commercially because crap anime may also sell a lot) often overcome this by portraying endearing characters and relationships with enough realism to make you actually care what happens, in a way that's enjoyable to watch too. On the other hand, there are those which introduce elements such as aliens, deities, fantasy, gender benders or sports in order to mix things up a little. If handled in the right manner this results in a series that stands out from the majority of the pack, and one that you'll remember when thinking about romantic comedy anime in future. Sankarea is a prime example of this.
Zombies. The mere mention of this term in the synopsis means that rather than trying to be realistic, Sankarea belongs in the latter group of romantic comedies and introduces, yes, zombies into the story to give it an extra dimension. So how is it incorporated? To begin, our main character Furuya Chihiro is a high school student who has a rather unhealthy obsession with the undead that in most cases would cause everyone to avoid him, let alone girls. But as luck would have it, he encounters the beautiful Sanka Rea who has her own fair share of problems, and inevitably the two hang out together; their new relationship is heart-warming and there's a sort of nice and understanding connection between them.
Unfortunately, due to a sequence of events Rea dies and becomes a zombie, which brings with it a wealth of unique problems for the both of them. Although several issues are raised throughout the series, such as the exact nature of how Rea is revived and how long her body will last before it rots away, they are never really fully explored. Instead, the short twelve episode run includes: Rea adapting to her new situation with much help from Chihiro, family issues (in particularly Rea's father), the obligatory love triangle and a cat called Baabu. Praise should go to the series because there's excellent drama that provides an extra layer of development to its characters, but the final episode does end in quite an abrupt manner.
Moreover, the pacing is far from perfect as the anime starts off pretty well but slows down noticeably after the opening episodes. There's a couple of filler episodes that serve to flesh out the supporting cast, but they are positioned at strange points in the story which causes the pacing to stutter even more.
The overall animation in Sankarea is a variable aspect that may not be to everyone's tastes. Character designs and the attire they wear are usually on the simple side, whereas the background art can be stunning at times but less detailed and sharp at others. Fortunately, the art remains at least consistently decent throughout the length of the series, and character motions are always smooth and fluid.
The background music is surprisingly good in Sankarea. Although sparingly used, there are a wide range of beautiful instrumental themes for the mysterious, sad and unsettling scenes in the anime, and also light-hearted tunes for the peaceful and comedy moments. The voice acting is adequate and none of the characters sound bad. The theme songs are pleasant to listen to, with a unique-sounding and energetic track by nano.RIPE (who also did an equally-catchy OP for Hanasaku Iroha) for the opening, and a calm/soothing song by Annabel for the ending.
In terms of decent characters, Sankarea is well-covered. As mentioned before the cat-like Furuya Chihiro's standout aspect is his zombie fetish, and he has some entertaining expressions and dialogue. However, he's willing to fully embrace his fetish despite what others think, he can act serious when the need arises, and he is also quick to make important decisions; these are strengths for a main character in this type of anime, and it works to make Chihiro a better than average lead.
Sanka Rea is a student from a wealthy family who's popular at school and looks cheerful on the surface, but unknown to most people she's lived a sheltered life and wants to act more like a normal girl. She's a cute and fun character, yet much of the drama also springs from her side of the story to make you feel sympathy for her, especially as she tries to adjust to her new life.
Then there's Chihiro's cousin, Saouji Ranko, who is a likeable girl but sadly her role is limited to mostly comedy situations and fanservice while competing with Rea for Chihiro's affection. As opposed to Rea, Ranko is talkative, likes to beat up Chihiro, and is actually alive; this provides a good contrast in character between the two.
The rest of the supporting cast includes quirky members of Chihiro's family (the relatively normal father, the senile but entertaining grandpa, the amusing and quiet younger sister Mero), as well as members of Rea's rich household who are interesting for vastly different reasons. He's a bit of a conundrum, but chances are you'll be surprised at how much of a freak Rea's father is during the full length of the series and beyond; it's easy to see why she wants to escape her family, but her freedom does come at great cost. Finally, to round things off there are a few school classmates who are used for comic relief and not much else.
It's not every day that you come across a touching romantic comedy which also includes darker themes like isolation and suicide, graphically bloody scenes, more than just a hint of craziness, and a supernatural spin. And yet, Sankarea pops up as an enjoyable anime series that has done a fantastic job at establishing its setting and a likeable group of core characters with relevant backstory. It's also screaming for a second season with an improved focus on storytelling and new events that should undoubtedly build on its existing potential.
119 of 119 chapters read
What would you do if you found yourself in such a scenario, and how far would you be willing to go? Would you lie down and refuse to play? Would you accept everything you're told and kill your classmates before they do the same? Or would you choose to trust in your friends and hope to find a way to escape together? Well, the first option definitely gets you killed because you're an easy target for those who play. The second option will probably get you killed because the chance of survival is only one in forty-two. The third option is also likely to get you killed if your allies decide to stab you in the back. This is the terrible reality facing the characters in the riveting story of Battle Royale.
There are several types of characters in Battle Royale and through their backstories you can see that they haven't all led decent lives. In fact many of them are deeply flawed mentally, and when coupled with the desperate situation they now face it's horrifying to see the lengths that some will go to in order to live. Even if the winner was formerly the nicest person anyone's ever met, such an experience would destroy them forever. As a reader it's dangerous to become attached to anyone in the story as none of them are safe from being killed off, but the manga is great because you can't help but find favourites among the students.
The level of detail in the art is incredible. It's also very graphic, due to the common sights of bloody entrails, spilled brains and nudity. Which makes this manga strictly for adults only, though I doubt there won't be any younger readers. The action and gunfights are well-drawn, with blood and bullets flying everywhere in quite a clear fashion. Character expressions are also really varied, despite the majority being ones of shock, madness or death.
I'm not going to pretend being absolutely fine with the material I read in Battle Royale, and I'll even admit to feeling uncomfortable on several occasions. It's also hindered by a slightly repetitive structure and seemingly invincible characters, but the authors did such a fine job at creating an engrossing story and setting that I finished the manga despite dropping it at one point. Fans of thrilling, non-stop action and graphic violence should definitely read this series.
26 of 26 episodes seen
The opening of Valkyria Chronicles is engrossing and contains elements similar to real-life conflicts such as World War I or II. The small country of Gallia, and its Squad 7 militia, are basically underdogs stuck in a tug-of-war between two massive nations for its vast resources, and you're compelled to see how they will survive the war. Some of the drama in VC (such as discrimination against the Darcsen people) is executed very well, and certain aspects of war such as death is portrayed realistically, perhaps with enough impact to make you shed a tear or two. The pacing of the game was okay in terms of how it was separated into chapters, with several story cutscenes interwoven between various playable battles. Unfortunately, the pacing of the anime is relatively uneven with respect to how a sense of urgency is criminally absent in many episodes despite the aforementioned war; this is perhaps due to misplaced comedy, too much dialogue in certain places, or plot developments which drag for too long. The epilogue to the series, although perfectly welcome, lacks details from the game that would have made it amazing.
The animation is solid and includes excellent action sequences during battles, especially the awesome abilities of the Valkyria. Character designs for the majority of the cast in VC is pretty much spot on, except Alicia looks younger and much less mature than in the game. The background art is nice and appropriate; there's a darker tone used to reflect the destruction and devastation caused by fighting, and brighter colours for the peaceful countryside scenery that's reminiscent of watercolour graphics used in the game (shame they couldn't replicate this in the anime).
The opening songs are sung by people with strong voices, especially the first one. Sound effects such as bullets firing and explosions are very clear. Voice acting is decent for the most part. There are several cool action sequences shown in the opening credits, so it's unfortunate that more of them aren't present in the series itself. Speaking of this, it's difficult but try to avoid watching the second opening; it contains massive spoilers that ruin surprising twists!
A new character created for the anime, Ramal, is well-developed and provides interesting interactions with the others. The background stories of key characters such as Alicia, Selvaria and Rosie are well-told despite slight alterations from the game. And then there's General Damon; the anime does a fantastic job of making you hate this guy. There's a feeling of wasted potential when it comes to developing the remaining members of Squad 7; not enough focus is placed on them and instead it seems as if they're in the anime just to make up the numbers and take part in missions.
Then there's the presence of a love triangle involving the main characters, and it's difficult to see why it was necessary in the first place. All that it manages to accomplish is ripping the spotlight away from Welkin, the son of a war hero and commander of Squad 7, and thrusting it onto his best friend Faldio (who's part of the same militia but in a different squad). Ironically this makes Faldio a more well-rounded and intriguing character, but Welkin becomes the opposite; at least in the game you get to control him in a tank and blow stuff up! Of course, this means Welkin is indecisive for large parts of the anime and his chemistry and communication with Alicia is severely lacking. The main leads, Welkin and Alicia, were a fantastic part of Valkyria Chronicles but are nowhere near as likeable in the anime. As a bonus insult the pacing of the story is badly affected by the love drama, and the time it takes up could have been put to better use developing the supporting cast.
Valkyria Chronicles is a more than average series with its focus on war, friendship and teamwork that deserves a solid 7 for those who have no knowledge of the game. I'd actually give it a 6 instead but only due to the fact that I've played the game, and while it's not a train wreck the anime adaptation doesn't compare well.
27 of 27 episodes seen
TTGL recruit: "I don't think so."
Why the hell not?
"Um, I'm too busy with other stuff? Could you tell me more about it?"
HAR! How long are you going to run? The planet needs you! No, the galaxy needs you!! Screw that, the whole universe needs you!!! A fierce war lasting several years is being fought, resulting in severe casualties. The humans are heavily oppressed on all fronts by endless waves of beastmen, the ominous Lordgenome, and the shadowy Anti-Spirals. They’re in constant danger no matter where they are, be that an underground village, a hot springs in the middle of nowhere, or a city.
Have you seen the adverts? Heard the rumours? Think this story doesn't make any sense? Well let me just say: Real men/women don't think! They act! This is one lengthy thrill ride, with no time for breaks, so make sure to keep your seatbelt buckled or you'll lose your head! Persevere with your eyes and ears, climb the ranks as a member of TTGL, and you even get to pilot your own Gunmen: a mecha weapon that's crucial in fighting against the bad guys.
"Ha-ha, do you really expect me to believe that? What are the action scenes like? What could I possibly witness?"
Eh? Thought I'd already mentioned some of it. Well, things can get a bit chaotic at times, what with all the heart-stopping action and thrilling explosions going back and forth. But don’t worry, as you should have a clear image of what’s happening most of the time and some of the stuff is pretty spectacular to see! Just avoid becoming too dazzled by the numerous mecha battles and Gunmen designs!
When there's a lull in the fighting, perhaps you could admire the variety of landscapes, which look rather decent but will probably take a backseat to the grand events occurring simultaneously.
"Sounds awesome, but I still have some questions about characters and their develop-"
Hold it. This news just came in. We may not have need for you after all! Ever heard of Team Dai-Gurren before? You have now. Probably one of the greatest bunch of people you can find, who'll throw themselves into any kind of trouble in the coolest manner possible. Simon and Kamina are charismatic badasses who undergo so much growth over the course of the war and learn several lessons in life, of which they're happy to share with their comrades; they're the undisputed leaders of this whole show.
Think the female members aren't so high and mighty? Bzzt wrong! Yoko Littner is one tough customer who'll kick the crap out of her foes (but don't let her kiss you), whilst Nia Teppelin will do the same but in a slightly nicer way. Assuming you get into Gurren Lagann, there are plenty of other colourful characters to meet, including Kittan, Leeron, and the ever-tiny Boota, every single one of them legends in their own right; you may, however, develop a strong urge to punch that annoying kid, Rossiu Adai.
Have I discouraged you? Think there's no chance to compete with these guys? Well think again! Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb! That's the Gurren-dan way!
Of course, to get into TTGL you’ll need to showcase some of your qualities. Heard of the song “Libera me from Hell”? It’s a fantastic piece of music, and one of many, that help to raise morale and increase excitement levels. So put some passion into belting out DO THE IMPOSSIBLE SEE THE INVISIBLE ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWER!
Ahem. Pardon me.
Or perhaps you’d like to try the awesome and energetic “Sorairo Days” instead? You may even want to perform “Minna No Peace”, a song that’s full of spirit and promotes love and peace. It may be difficult, but I believe your determination is one that shall pierce through the heavens!
"I have to sing those theme songs in public?! And don't you mean "drill" rather than "determination"? What-"
Experiencing the trials and tribulations of Team Dai-Gurren will no doubt give you a massive rush on more than one occasion! You’ll need to be mentally AND physically prepared. Not only will your body be tested to the limit when attempting to harness spiral power, but you must make sure that the sheer GAR factor belonging to Simon, Kamina, and their friends don't overwhelm you during a battle! If you do, then let’s see ya grit those teeth!
"Hang on, I'm confused. Let me-"
I hope you'll join our side, which already has in excess of one hundred thousand members! By war’s end I expect there to be blood spilled, manly tears shed, and a severe lack of sleep. But it’s fully worth the sacrifice. You want to know what Tengen Toppa is? What Gurren Lagann is? Embark on this epic journey and find out for your-
"Stop! We're talking about an ANIME SERIES here right?"
"Up until now, I've been trying to make sense of what you're talking about. Now then, let me attempt to summarize this series.
So the PROS are:
---Fast-paced action with plenty of over-the top clashes between mecha, humans and beastmen
---Engaging storyline with some unexpected twists and turns
---Most loose ends are tied up by the end of the conclusion
---Fluid, stylish animation and varied character models
---Fantastic soundtrack that vastly improves the action as well as evoking emotion among viewers
---Very competent voice acting that's great at bringing life to the characters
---Characters that have depth and development as well as moments where they steal the spotlight
---An abundance of comedy and drama that's well crafted into the show
And the CONS are:
---Elements of the plot can be quite far-fetched
---Expect to see no shortage of Deus Ex Machina
---Series ending may not be to everyone's liking
---Some of the battles on show may cause epilepsy
---Only 27 episodes long
So despite starting out as a parody of the mecha genre, TTGL is so epic that it ends up becoming one of THE most memorable mecha anime? Wow!"
Are you an Anti-Spiral in disguise?! You think that sums up the greatness that is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann? You know nothing, recruit! Even if there's a fourth wall, we break it down!
WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK WE ARE?!
23 of 37 episodes seen
The story here is decent but it's probably the same sort that's standard in most sport anime: A main character, Aizawa Kakeru in this case, wants to get better at his chosen sport and make it to the championship finals with his school team. Problem is, there isn't much else to make it stand out in any particular way. While some of the early football matches on show can be pretty exciting, they tend to get a bit predictable after you've seen a few, until new skills and feints become available to the players. It's an advantage that the main football team plays attacking football and has a coach who changes their tactics depending on the opponent they're facing. On the negative side, players can sometimes look stupid when dribbling and spend far too much time talking during games. Certain aspects of the story such as close-to-supernatural stuff and medical conditions, when explained, are hard to believe and must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Well-developed characters are perhaps not the most important priority in a shounen/sport anime such as this. The main character Aizawa Kakeru is likeable enough but could have done with a bit more meat to the bones of his personality. His older brother, Aizawa Suguru, is a more intriguing character with his inner demons regarding the pressure of being one of the most famous Japanese youth players, as well as having a large circle of interesting acquaintances, but doesn't get enough screen time. Mishima Nana, the childhood friend who's set up as a potential love interest for Kakeru, also plays football herself as well as serving as the manager of Kakeru's team; a minority of the episodes are centred around her career and female teammates rather than Kakeru's, and they actually help prevent the story from becoming too stale. There are several other footballers who have moments where they shine in matches but unfortunately, they don't really get any focus on their personal lives.
The animation in this series is okay. Character faces are rather plain while some expressions are used excessively; Kakeru is especially guilty of looking shocked or amazed far too often. Football matches themselves tend to take shortcuts such as having several still-shots of players performing dribbles around others, and beams of light used to show the movement of players or the ball. It's more visually impressive during the parts of matches when you actually see players running and the ball zipping around the pitch in real-time.
The voice acting is mostly fine, except for a few adult characters who for some reason sound weird. You also get Japanese VAs who are required to say some of their lines in English and the variable degrees of success are expected. The OP song is energetic and suits the tone of the series, and although there's a limited range of background music, it's used quite effectively. The ED theme, well, the anime doesn't even have one; the next episode preview follows straight on from the end of each episode.
The fact that the anime doesn't portray football (or soccer) as realistically as one might expect isn't much of a problem; the football matches on display are usually excellent (as long as shortcuts with the animation are kept to a minimum), and they make up a big portion of this anime. Admittedly, the anime could be vastly improved by adding more twists and turns to the story outside of matches, greater character development and a better use of comedy. Is Area no Kishi an enjoyable series and one that's worth watching? I'd say yes, especially if you're a fan of the sport.
12 of 12 episodes seen
At one time or another we've all experienced life as a student in school. And at one time or another we all act like idiots in school. No, not the type of idiots who are just a nuisance and bully others for their own amusement, but idiots who battle to survive compulsory education through various methods: chilling out with friends, having as much fun as possible, and getting in trouble with teachers over seemingly trivial matters. Unless you're the type who studies diligently 24/7. Yet then you wouldn't watch anime, nor would you read this.
This anime is like a machine that takes situations we find in everyday school life, throws its own fictional students into the mix, and churns out exaggerated conversations, over-the-top reactions and ridiculous outcomes. Enough to leave you rolling on the floor breathless while witnessing some of the wild antics. They may take place in a classroom, someone's house, in the town, along a riverbank, etc. If most of these situations actually happened to us for real, our lives as a student would be one heck of a time.
You get an abundance of characters who become the source, and butt, of various jokes: those who are quiet, those who are perverted, those who are sarcastic, those who have beastly strength, those who are morons, and others besides. Unfortunately, some characters get less screen time than others. Some characters are hilarious, others not so much. This applies to the comedy. This show will be more or less appealing depending on each viewer's individual sense of humour. However, most comedy lovers should be guaranteed to find moments in this series that will send you into teary-eyed laughing fits, or at least slap a huge grin onto your face.
Each episode is split into a number of skits or segments that involve one or more gags. Make sure you don't stop watching once the end credits roll! Sure, there's an interesting school play with a catchy theme song, and it's amusing to watch. But more importantly, the episode continues for a short while afterwards with different characters in another enjoyable comedy tale. The music in this series is funky, it's relaxing, and it suits the light-hearted tone. The voice acting is impressive and lines are delivered with great timing to maximum effect.
There's not much by way of a complex story, but that was never what this anime set out to achieve anyway. The comedy succeeds for the most part, and that's the crucial aspect. Admittedly, the animation isn't amazing, characters could do with more varied appearances and not all gags will be well received. But give it a try if you've watched too much depressing anime and you need a good laugh; you could do a lot worse than Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou!
59 of ? chapters read
Gin no Saji has an entertaining yarn to spin: how the everyday life of Yugo Hachiken changes when, for reasons not initially revealed, he decides to leave his family and city life in Hokkaido to enrol at an agricultural school. From then on, he finds out the hard way that a talent for studying isn't all there is to life as he tries to overcome physically challenging obstacles, and meets people who've lived their whole lives differently to him. The story is a far cry from Fullmetal Alchemist in several ways, not least by replacing the militaristic world and alchemy aspects with a gentler slice-of-life setting in the school and its surrounding farms. However, Arakawa's meticulous attention to detail in developing her characters and the world they live in is still present. The mangaka has a gift for introducing fantastic comedy at appropriate moments to provoke the best laughs, while any serious issues in the story are handled delicately. The individual chapters progress the manga through each season of the year, and this is reflected by seasonal events such as festivals and activities outside of school, contributing to Hachiken's character development as he adapts to his new lifestyle.
While the manga presents us with much information about farming and the various responsibilities that accompany it, it does so through its delightful cast. Hachiken is a more than capable main character who's amusing and likes to help others, but is envious of his classmates who have their own dreams and aspirations. There's also Mikage Aki, a potential love interest and one of the first to teach Hachiken about agricultural life. Most of the other students in Hachiken's school feature regularly throughout the series, especially his fellow first-years. Despite the large number of supporting characters, it's quite easy to tell them apart thanks to their distinct personalities. This includes a would-be vet who isn't sure if he's able to euthanize animals, a student who plays baseball to support his family and their farm, the class clown who keeps getting into trouble, and many more. Even the farm animals have a certain charm, and they provide an important lesson to Hachiken when it finally hits him that some animals are raised for their meat.
As mentioned before, Gin no Saji can be absolutely hilarious at times and the art style that Arakawa employs makes a significant contribution. A wide range of facial expressions for comedy situations are used depending on which character it's for, with Hachiken himself getting some of the funniest ones. With such a sizeable cast it's inevitable that certain characters look very similar to each other, but through the use of different hair styles, clothing, and body sizes, it's not such a big problem. Anyone who's read Fullmetal Alchemist prior to this manga will surely recognize the art style, especially the character faces. The background art, including school buildings and rural locations, is a bit simple and sometimes sparse. However, for a slice-of-life series with little action this is perfectly acceptable.
To be fair, Hiromu Arakawa could easily have been forgiven for taking an extended break after completing such a successful series. However, to release a new manga less than a year later and yet manage to have it retain much of the things that made Fullmetal Alchemist brilliant, despite using an entirely different story, speaks volumes for her as a mangaka. You don't need to have read or watched Arakawa's previous series to enjoy this one, as FMA is part of the action/adventure genre. But with an impressive cast, a simple yet informative story and great comedy, Gin no Saji is recommended reading for fans of slice-of-life manga and everyone else too.
13 of 13 episodes seen
The story is simple. Boy encounters transfer girl. Boy deliberately tastes girl's drool on a desk. Boy falls in love with girl after that. Um, yeah.
The drool. If there's anything in this series that would turn off those who watch it, it'll obviously be the various saliva-swapping scenes. Personally, I don't think it's that bad. If it helps, think of it as an inevitable aspect of French kissing except without any lips touching. Nor tongues. Nor sensation. Well maybe sensation, in the form of the recipient of the drool experiencing the other's mood or feelings. Perhaps not as romantic though. But it's mostly down to individual tolerance levels for the things you find okay in anime; the same with fanservice, blood and gore, hentai, etc.
The series closely explores the slow-building but charming relationship between the main characters, inside and outside of high school. It's quite different to the romances found in other anime. After all, who shows affection by ripping up a photo of a previous crush as opposed to holding hands or kissing to start a relationship? And that's just one of many examples. Although it rarely feels out of place, there is some ecchi and fanservice present.
Saying that Mikoto Urabe is weird would be a huge understatement. At times in her relationship she just seems like a normal shy and compassionate girl underneath a cold demeanour, but her hobbies and certain superhuman abilities makes her more than that. She's a compelling character to watch however, and her various quirks (Fits of laughter? Scissors?!) are what makes the anime so addictive, along with her bond to Akira Tsubaki. Tsubaki is a relatively normal character, despite his attraction to Urabe's drool, and it's fun to see him cope with being the boyfriend of such a strange person and the requirements that come with the role; romancing Urabe is much harder than he thinks. The anime mainly focuses on the odd couple so important side characters are limited, but two of their classmates, Kouhei Ueno and Ayuko Oka, provide some extra entertainment; the playful and wild Oka has a particularly big influence in how the relationship develops between Urabe and Tsubaki.
The art style of Mysterious Girlfriend X is excellent and rather interesting. It goes for an older style of animation, and reminds me of anime that were made a decade or two ago, back when clichés were still original ideas. Backgrounds are also quite nice, especially parts of the school like the classroom and gardens as well as the surrounding town. However, I'm still undecided as to whether I like the character models retained from the manga, which are sharp and detailed but make the 17-year old students look like they're in middle school rather than high school.
The series makes use of a variety of background music that is sombre and mysterious, but also some which makes you think of a circus, and this works well with Urabe's character and the strangeness of the show itself. A few soothing melodies are thrown into the mix too. The OP is a catchy and upbeat song that fits with the high school setting, while the ED is also good and has a nice tune. The voice acting is decent all around; the voice actress for the role of Urabe is a newcomer but she's done an especially good job.
Overall Mysterious Girlfriend X, or Nazo no Kanojo X, is about a bizarre high school romance with unique additions in the form of drool with multiple and mysterious effects, excessive nose-bleeding and a very weird yet enjoyable character in Mikoto Urabe. This anime is sure to captivate some viewers while alienating others but like the manga, it does what it sets out to do with a passing grade. And that is to provide us with an entry in the genre that feels fun and more than just a little different. Assuming it doesn't make its audience sick to the stomach first. read more