If I could describe the plot of Moeyo Pen in a phrase, it’s OreImo crossed with Bakuman. Although the plot focuses on the struggles of two high school students struggling to find success in the manga industry, Moeyo Pen has a much more niche appeal than Bakuman ever did. The heroine, Ikoma Matsuri, is a hardcore otaku with a tsundere streak, though mercifully she’s not nearly as abusive as Kirino of OreImo infamy. The characters are drawn to be extremely cute and their personalities don’t stray far from the harem genre norms. Longtime consumers of light novels should know exactly what to expect from this kind of work.
The first volume of Moeyo Pen is by far its strongest and most focused from a storytelling perspective. The subsequent volumes lack a clear sense of direction, probably because the main characters have already achieved their main goal by the end of volume 1. Only in the final volume does the manga subplot come to the fore once more. Unfortunately, the volume was also very abridged and rushed, leading some readers to speculate that the series was cancelled. Whatever the case, Moeyo Pen makes for a very uneven reading experience; despite the foreshadowing, many of its more interesting side characters get little to no development. And for most of the story in volumes 2-4, the main plot is totally ignored in favour of ecchi romcom antics.
If you’re mainly interested in the manga aspect of this series, my advice to you would be to stop reading after volume 1. If you can’t read Japanese, I’ve included a summary of volume 1 on my blog: http://frogkun.com/2015/03/07/untranslated-light-novel-summary-impressions-ore-to-kanojo-no-moeyo-pen-vol-12/
Alternatively, you can read the manga adaptation, which covers the events of the first volume, though unfortunately the manga artwork is far inferior to the fantastic illustrations Tsukako drew for the LN.
While the illustrations are clearly the standout element of the light novel, I do also enjoy Murakami Rin’s writing for its simplicity. He keeps the story moving in every scene. Moeyo Pen is also arguably one of the easiest light novels to read in Japanese. If you can read manga comfortably without a dictionary, you should probably be able to handle Moeyo Pen just fine.
Another point in Moeyo Pen‘s favour is that it’s not obsessed with clever-sounding dialogue, so the trope-y moments came across as rather innocent instead of smug and self-aggrandising. On top of that, some of the trope-y moments actually make sense from a characterisation perspective. Our heroine is a socially awkward geek, so she only feels comfortable exploring her sexual curiosity by contriving what she calls “staple romcom events”. Many ecchi tropes revolve around non-consensual sexual situations, such as accidentally encountering a girl naked, so it was quite interesting to have our main characters agree to them beforehand. My favourite volume in the series was actually volume 3, which was full of such contrived (yet consensual) ecchi situations.
In the end, I do like I’ll Make You into an Otaku, So Make Me into a Riajuu! a little better, though. The manga industry aspect of Moeyo Pen is never shown in-depth, even when manga is the focus of the story. From what he wrote in the afterword of volume 1, it seems Murakami has familiarity with drawing manga, but since he and his friend only pursued their goal casually, he doesn’t have anywhere near the level of industry insight as the creators of Bakuman. Moeyo Pen is at its best when it manages to balance its serious plot with light-hearted romcom antics, but it lacks the interesting core themes of OtaRia.
Moeyo Pen is an enjoyable romcom series that seems to say more about the awkwardness of teen sexuality than it does about manga, but I wouldn’t have it any differently. It certainly has its trashy moments, but it has just enough earnestness that its ecchi moments have a touch of honesty about them. This is the kind of writing that I have come to expect from Murakami Rin. I’ll be looking forward to his next work. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
While this movie does explain the major plot points of the anime series and features a standalone story that can be enjoyed by anyone, it is still a direct sequel. You'll get the most out of this movie if you're familiar with the characters and their relationships with each other.
So how does this compare with the original anime series? The feel is more or less the same, though it's great to see the story play out with Production I.G.'s top-notch animation. Some scenes, particularly the chase scene and the climax, stand out quite well because of the dynamic sense of movement and detail in the backgrounds, and the romantic moments are portrayed with great use of lighting and atmosphere.
The plot, too, is what you would expect from the Library Wars setting. Our heroes Iku and Dojo are charged with protecting an elderly writer from the heinous clutches of the Media Betterment Committee. The story is well-paced from start to finish and moves along briskly, not even dragging in the middle part where the action is slow.
It's interesting how at one point in the movie Iku admits to being more interested in characters and forgetting the overall plot whenever she reads books - this is precisely how I feel about Library Wars as a whole. The setting is still ridiculous and the villains are never really given an identity or a proper motivation, but the characters are so down-to-earth and charming that it is hard to focus on the flaws. Library Wars treats its unbelievable setting with seriousness and dignity, but it is hard to believe the characters are ever in any real danger even as the bullets fly. Even so, it's so easy to root for the characters and to cheer for Iku when she displays her boundless courage. To be able to pull this off without much serious dramatic tension takes some great writing.
The movie will probably best appeal to romance fans who enjoy a bit of action here and there. Picking up directly where the series left off, Iku and Dojo's newly discovered intimacy lies at the very heart of the story. It inspires Iku in particular to be braver, and the influence is always felt while never feeling overstated. It is not a particularly deep love story but it works in this movie in particular because of how grounded the interactions are in the characters and their idiosyncrasies.
Library Wars is an underappreciated gem of a series and it is a shame the movie has not seemed to have gotten the exposure it deserves. While the setting might not get the closure it deserves by the end, the characters certainly do. It's definitely worth your time to check out, both for newcomers and veterans to the franchise. It's easy to watch and the characters are fun. There's really not that much more we can ask for in a story. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
Kyoto Animation is very well known for their cute character designs and on the whole, Tamako Market seems like it was a consummate effort on their part. It's not new and it's not original, but it seems like it was created very easily and with great refinement and polish.
So what is this series about? Not a lot, if I'm going to be honest. Tamako is the daughter of a mochi (a kind of Japanese rice cake) maker and the episodes seem to revolve around what kind of new mochi she makes for each different occasion. There's a certain educational appeal in this.
Tamako Market also focuses on the bonds Tamako has with her friends and family. It captures the feeling of living in a small yet close-knit community. People from all walks of life populate this town and they all interact with each other in simple yet heartwarming ways. This series is a slice of life in the purest sense of the word.
The most praiseworthy aspect of the anime is the cozy atmosphere it manages to create. It's as if nothing bad will ever happen in this town. It's definitely escapist - but in a different way from most anime. The world of Tamako Market is one where you want to escape to and live in because it's so simple and innocent. If the world was just a little bit more like the one in Tamako Market, it would be a much better place. That's the appeal in these sorts of shows.
In addition, KyoAni seems to have crafted their ultimate cute girl in our heroine Tamako; she is nice, polite and liked by just about everyone in the series. Though she is not a particularly quirky or memorable character (besides being totally dense when it comes to romance - I pity her love interest), her traits are very balanced and she has an air of genuine sweetness that's impossible to dislike.
I do not think Tamako Market is "moe pandering". That is an unfair slight against the anime. Yes, the girls are cute, but so is everyone else in the series, even the old men. One particularly charming episode focused on Tamako's FATHER of all people. If anything, this series is targeted for general audiences and has a family friendly feel. It is not an otaku series and it is not trying to be one. I am neither a moe fan nor a moe hater so I would prefer to look at this series through the merits of its STORYTELLING.
The problem I detect with this series isn't so much in the content so far but in people's expectations of it. I believe the first episode was not a strong indicator of what the series is about. The first episode was high on energy and comedy, mostly through the slight supernatural aspect of the show. A talking bird is the main comic relief mascot of the show and this character featured prominently in the opening episode.
But Tamako Market isn't really a screwball comedy, even if it does have a quirky sense of humour. It is really a laid-back sort of anime that takes its time to develop the various characters and let the mood sink in. While the premise of the bird character's subplot reappears in the second half of the series, his main role in the series is for a bit of laughs and to support the character development. The few subplots and promises of development lead to nothing in the end, and while it's not necessarily a bad thing to see a story that isn't so focused on a tight storyline, Tamako Market feels particularly light and frothy, all the more so because what plot it manages to build up is deemed irrelevant by the end.
Tamako Market sets itself up to be one thing and turns out to be something else. I do consider this to be a flaw in the writing. Even slice of life fans should take note that the dialogue isn't particularly witty and the charm comes across as somewhat calculated. As I said before, it's not moe pandering, but there's a certain "been there, done that" aspect to a few of the more emotional scenes - most likely because seasoned anime fans may have already seen them done in previous KyoAni shows, or just in anime in general. That doesn't stop this series from being good at what it does, but there is a distinct feeling that it could have been stronger. Some episodes do drag in their pacing.
Still, it's a nice slice of life show, very clean and perfectly harmless, even though it doesn't do anything new with the genre. Do give it a shot. read more