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Sep 11, 2019
This review contains mild spoilers for the beginning of the series.

Our Love Has Always Been 10 Centimeters Apart, which I'll refer to from now on as "10 Centimeters" because ye gods that's a mouthful, is a straight fastball, high heat right down the middle. It knows exactly what its strengths are, and it sticks to them. In that sense it reminds me of Violet Evergarden, another melancholy drama which came out a year later, though the setting and subject matter are much different.

10 Centimeters focuses on two characters in their final year of high school, artist Miou and filmmaker Haruki. It's the old read more
Sep 2, 2019
This review contains only mild spoilers for the first episode of the series.

I will say this for Golden Time: I didn't dislike it for the reasons I thought I might upon reading the premise. It's a sloppy, ambitious mess of the show, loaded with more problems than I can list (although I'll do my best), which I kind of love and kind of hate at the same time.

The premise is eye-rollingly familiar: Tada Banri has amnesia, and is starting his first year in college with no memories of his past life. He has an old flame from high school that he's forgotten, a read more
Jun 29, 2019
As you've probably figured out by now if you're reading this, despite the title, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is not a horror movie about cannibalism, though it does cannibalize many story elements used by other movies, shows, and books. The title's meaning is fairly innocuous, and is explained early in the film, so I won't bother going back over it here.

What's also explained early in the film--the very first scene, in fact--is that the main character's love interest is going to die. I've seen a number of other films and TV series on the topic of terminal illness, but none were read more
May 8, 2019
Hoo boy, there's a lot to unpack here.

Kaguya-Sama is your classic Pride & Prejudice romance, except it's more like Pride & Pride, and then taken to the most ridiculous extreme imaginable. I'm not sure whether I loved it or thought it was banal beyond belief, I just know I was having too much fun to care.

The titular Kaguya is the scion of one of the wealthiest families in Japan; she serves as Student Council Vice President in one of the country's most prestigious high schools. Her foil is Miyuki, the Student Council President in the same school, who comes from the opposite background--lower read more
May 5, 2019
Cross Game is the story of two high school kids who play baseball; Kitamura Ko and Tsukishima Aoba, who fight and argue continuously on an inevitable trajectory toward romance or heartbreak. Aoba loves baseball, and Ko has immense raw pitching talent, and they hate each other. Or so they say. *Everyone else* says that Aoba and Ko are exactly alike.

The biggest problem with Cross Game is that there's simply too much of it. There isn't anything seriously wrong with the writing--the characters are fine, and much of the cast has developed and changed in gradual but realistic ways by the ending. read more
Apr 9, 2019
This review contains only minor spoilers for the beginning of the series.

There are two different ways to drive forward a story: To have things happen to the protagonists, or to have the protagonists MAKE things happen. There's a writer's term for the latter: We call it Agency. It's a powerful thing, maybe the MOST powerful tool in a storyteller's kit. And Sora Yori is overflowing with agency, absolutely brimming with it, like water seeks release from any crack or opening in a vessel.

Sora Yori is girl power done right, better than any superpowers gifted by coincidence or gods or fate, better by read more
Mar 13, 2019
What is the essence of a good romance story? What makes it tick?

It's a well-trod genre, one of the oldest and most trafficked, probably dating back to before humans even had written language, back when we all gathered 'round the fireside and told tales. And it's easily defined: If a story's primary topic is romantic love, it's a love story, or a romance, or however you'd prefer to describe it.

But I believe that whenever you use a genre to tell a story, that story should justify occupying its place within the genre. In other words, a romance story should be a story which could read more
Mar 5, 2019
I'll say this for Violet Evergarden, it knows what it wants to do: Tug on your heartstrings, and be really, really beautiful while it's tugging. And it largely accomplishes its mission, with little deviation, from beginning to end.

Is it wrong that I wanted more from it?

The premise of Violet Evergarden is pretty simple: Orphan girl fights in war, is wounded both emotionally and physically, and becomes an "Auto Memory Doll" in an attempt to learn what it means to be alive. (What is love? Baby don't hurt me...)

As a so-called Doll, Violet acts as a letter-writer who helps other people express their read more
Sep 9, 2017
This review contains minor spoilers.

Tsuki ga Kirei is the most realistic anime series I've ever seen. On the surface level, when you're just reading out a synopsis or checking off boxes, it sounds like a very ordinary slice of life/romance series. Boy goes to middle school, boy meets girl, boy and girl start dating.

But the devil's in the details. Tsuki ga Kirei is not your typical school life series, and it goes about this by an extraordinary commitment to depicting reality in an understated and believable way. The first episode had my jaw on the floor with how much it mirrored read more
Sep 6, 2017
This review contains minor spoilers.

When I was in high school, I had a huge crush on a girl for years. She was a talented singer with long red hair. I was obsessed with this girl, and had put her on a high pedestal. But I never really knew her very well; I had a hard time talking naturally with her, and our friendship, such as it was, was incredibly awkward.

Needless to say, my feelings were never reciprocated, and nothing ever happened with her.

Things were different with the girl I eventually married; we were close friends for years, and were comfortable read more