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Dec 22, 2016
A nice film that I don’t really love, or feel the burning need to re-watch in the future. Its narrative is bogged down by overly familiar plot devices and predictable trajectory, but it works as a populist love story with very accomplished audiovisual execution.

(mild spoilers ahead)

It’s interesting to see how simultaneously similar and different Your Name is to Makoto Shinkai’s previous works. It used many of the same foundational elements, but it is also antithetical to his “relationship (particularly long-distance one) sucks and often doesn’t work” theme. This one is unapologetically romantic, much sweeter and more appealing to the mass. It also has a read more
Oct 18, 2016
Reading this feels like listening to a talented singer with great voice, who unfortunately keep making the same mistakes and hitting the wrong notes over and over again until the whole performance is kind of ruined.

Er, random musical analogy aside, there's actually a lot that I like from this manga's set-up. For starter, the fact that the the main characters are middle-schoolers/pre-teens, which I don't see very often in manga. It's a great period when kids are mature enough to start exploring complicated feelings and emotion, while still retaining the sense of childhood innocence lacked by high-schoolers. Naoshi Arakawa's art hits similar kind of sweet read more
Jan 8, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Anime.

Kagewani probably wouldn't leave much of an impression with its first episode.The animation is very janky with everyone and everything moving awkwardly, and there's nothing in its narrative set-up that suggests it would be something more than overly repetitive vignette of 'random silly people getting offed by monster of the week'. However, it does feel like it ups its execution for every episode afterward, ultimately becoming a net positive experience for fans of this particular sub-genre.

The animation (which could be aptly described as something like motion comic) eventually gets easier on the eyes, along with read more
Oct 5, 2015
One of the most unfortunate cases of adaptation in recent times.

Gangsta lured many fans through the promise of 'maturity' alone: actual adult characters, a gritty crime-infested setting that recall to mind the likes of noir and gangster flicks, and ultraviolence. It certainly started out promising enough, introducing three principal characters with significant amount of baggage (in its 2Male+1Female dynamic and thematic thread of 'escape from the past' linking them, there's a strong whiff of Cowboy Bebop) and establishing a slow burn atmosphere that may disappoint those looking for more 'punch shoot explode' type of series, but hugely appeals to fans of intricate character read more
Sep 22, 2015
In many ways, this is a story about the end of childhood.

The manga primarily took place over the course of a summer holiday, when a pair of sixth-graders connected. The boy, a soccer kid raised by single mother, had become disillusioned after his favorite coach is hospitalized with cancer. The girl, an unusual kid conspicuously taller than her classmates, carried with her an unimaginable burden. Yes, there’s eventually the development of that first love, but don’t be mistaken: this is heavy stuff, more nuanced and wistful than what seems to be your standard puppy love scenario. There’s melancholia frequently etched on the pages of read more
Sep 22, 2015
What can I say, apparently my favorite of Summer 2015 is the two minutes per week of literally just watching a woman eats, drinks, commentates, and lets out what is probably the most contented sigh you’ve ever heard in the history of moving pictures.

You don’t need to be a big foodie or particularly invested in Japanese culinary to be able to appreciate this show. Wakako basically acts as a tour guide into her headspace, delivering simple and instantly relatable monologue revolving around “what I will eat today, and why”. Such is the nature of this one-woman show, the voice actress is probably read more
Aug 27, 2015
An old favorite from late 1990s, this is a solid murder-solving ventriloquist show and a particularly memorable representation of its genre.

The show comprised of eight murder cases, presented in separate story arcs that last for 3-4 episodes each. It's very similar structural-wise with Kindaichi Shounen, which also shared a number of familiar whoddunit tropes between them; seemingly impossible scene of crime, multiple victims, tragic and elaborate backstory, etc. While none of the ideas or solutions for the murder themselves is particularly mind-blowing, it’s still plenty engrossing for the most part. The show also subscribes to the fair play rule and very generous with read more
Jun 1, 2015
Baccano! has a great reputation among many American fans, who lauded its boundless energy, larger than life characters, and unconventional narrative style. As I eventually watched it, I discovered that Baccano! indeed has all that stuff and could understand why so many people love it. And yet, curiously enough it never ascended beyond a mildly entertaining show for me.

The feature often mentioned first in regards of this show is its non-linear narrative, so let’s address that accordingly. I don’t find it significantly confusing, for one; while certainly disorienting at first, Baccano! is pretty easy to follow once you’ve focused on these key questions: (1) read more
Apr 4, 2015
The recommendation baseline for Confession/Kokuhaku is simple: if you're a fan of intense psychological thriller, you'd probably love this.

Award-winning creators Nobuyuki Fukumoto and Kawaguchi Kaiji provided the story and art respectively for this single-volume manga about two long-time friends stranded in the middle of a mountain blizzard. An unsettling sentence on a pitch-black background set the opening tone, and we are whisked straight away into the thick of it. The rest of the story you should really discover by yourself, but suffice to say that fan of Fukumoto's works (most notably popular long-running series Kaiji and Akagi) would be familiar with what's in store: mounting read more
Mar 20, 2015
Cage of Eden is something you’d get by tossing Lost, Jurassic Park, and Battle Royale into a cheap blender, with heaps of fanservice seasoning on top of it. Reading the manga is kind of similar to devouring greasy junk food; instantly gratifying, but insubstantial and probably left you mostly unfulfilled by the end. That last bit is particularly significant.

The premise is an instant sell for lovers of roller-coaster suspense story: an airplane carrying a high-school class crash landed on a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere. But, that's not all: before long, the main protagonist has to round up his missing friends, read more