Please note this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation out of Debt and while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based on a popular light novel series of the same name Tensai Oji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu better known to Japanese audiences as Tensai Oji and to western audiences as the Genius Prince is a fantasy and comedy genre anime that gives us the unique opportunity to see what will happen if one day due
to a sudden illness the heir designate of the kingdom of Natra a man who despite his station and projected appearance was one that seemingly preferred to live his life free from as much responsibility as he can manage is suddenly given the role that he worked so hard to get away from which is that of a ruler.
What will happen when despite his best attempts to slack off and pass responsibility to others that the kingdom of Natra that he currently helms is faced with situations that demand not only utmost seriousness but also a level of cunning and intelligence that our laid-back prince seems to be seriously lacking. Will our prince simply try to pass on the responsibility to others intent on living the easy life or will he counterattack by making use of a long-nurtured skillset that even the famed Earthborn Empire fears and become the dragon that will push the small kingdom of Natra to the forefront of international relations and change its reputation as a kingdom forever.
On initial review of the anime’s premise and summary of its story, my initial impression of this series was that it was an Isekai as the series' main concept were topics and themes that were commonly seen within that genre of anime. However, after watching the first episode of the series which not only dispelled that mistaken belief but also did an excellent job of introducing not only the main cast but also of the tense situation that comes from having a kingdom that’s surrounded by problematic nations that would require a delicate balance of diplomacy to manage, I can see why Wein wanted to stay out of it.
All in all, my impressions of the first episode was a positive one that did an excellent job of not only introducing the main characters of Wein and Ninym but also showcasing the complicated situation that lies around their homeland while also showcasing what will become the series trademark of fantasy action combined with small injections of comedy into the interactions between characters as they tried to navigate the tricky tightrope that is international diplomacy and ensure the survival of their kingdom in a world where international relations can change in an instant.
Prince Wein Salema Arbalest
Prince Wein Salema Arbalest known to his friends and allies as Wein and to his enemies as the Damm Genius prince is one of the main characters of the series and is the protagonist of the series overall narrative. The crown prince of the small kingdom of Natra that lies to the far north of the continent of Varno and after his father’s incapacitation its de facto ruler Wein from initial appearances was shown to be an ideal image of a ruler being one that was not only calm and collected but also one that projected confidence and hopes to his people by providing decisions that appeared to be a result of his foresight and intelligence and ensuring that within his realm Wein was seen as a beacon of hope whose every decision allowed them to become more prosperous by the day.
Beneath the surface and known only to his closest confidants however was the fact that while Wein had all the qualities that would make him an ideal ruler in every respect in reality Wein was someone that was lazy by nature and was loath to do anything that required a degree of effort preferring instead to simply enjoy life as it is while daydreaming about a day when he can just watch things unfold from afar instead of being in the thick of it a fact that his closest confidants know only too well. However, it is when Wein discovers a threat that endangers either the kingdom itself or to those that are dearest to him that a much different side of Wein would surface one that proves why he’s considered a genius and why the powerful Earthwold empire after seeing his true skills was forced to wipe all mention of his time training within their academy such was their fear of his skills.
In his true self Wein while retaining his base traits of being a calm, composed and intelligent person who ruled his kingdom with confidence was also shown to be someone that was not only creative but possessed a level of cunning and grasp on the minds of men that many would find surprising a fact that is best shown in ep2 when he broke the back of the enemies army by launching a decapitation strike on the enemies command element as well as ep5 when his cunning allowed him to deal with two different factions in one fell strike. This skill at reading into the heart of man while being an effective tool militarily also within the series was shown to serve him well diplomatically as well, especially when used in conjunction with Wein’s preference of doing extensive prep work before he makes his moves as shown in the Cavarin arc. While these aspects of his one might argue would have allowed him to easily carve out a small empire of his own after which he can easily step back and enjoy being a ruler while others handled things for him it’s important to note that this side of Wein is something that only comes about as a result of a trigger point being reached with said point being a threat to either himself, his kingdom or to those that he holds dear to his heart. What served to make this true self of Wein shine more within the narrative however I felt was the existence of a hidden bloodlust within him that manifested when those dearest to him are threatened. This degree of bloodlust while showing a darker aspect of Wein’s personality due to the way that it was used within the narrative, I thought also represented well the kind of things that Wein cherishes above all else which is that of loyalty and friendship to people who had been by his side since the beginning and that anyone or thing that tries to infringe upon it will be dealt with which within the series was aptly shown during the Marden and Cavarin arcs respectively.
As a character Wein I felt was an excellent character that throughout the series was developed relatively well with his two faces doing well to not only balance each other out but also give him a necessary boost by enhancing his already existing skills at diplomacy and strategy while complementing it with the addition of boldness and cunning that served to make his plans anything but predictable which within the ever-shifting world of international diplomacy and church-sponsored plots is a grim necessity. While this dark side of Wein can be seen to take away much of Wein’s comedic interactions in the form of the gradual decrease of chibi figures that represented Wein’s inner thoughts as well as his borderline treasonous plots I believe that their replacement within the narrative served to represent Wein’s growth as a ruler as a result of needing to adapt himself to deal with factions and situations that he had not encountered before. Certainly, there were no churches that employed assassins peering over his shoulder where he’s from.
Ninym Ralei is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Wein’s closest friends and allies within the kingdom of Natra. Serving as the kingdom’s chief advisor as well as one of Wein’s closest confidants and friends within the kingdom Ninym from her initial appearances was shown to be an intelligent, composed and levelheaded person by nature that projected a level of calmness, composure and maturity that was benefitting of one that held the lofty position of chief advisor to the prince. While for all intents and purposes an excellent aide that was highly efficient and organized and capable of great foresight Ninym was also shown to be someone that was friendly and caring towards those that she considers friends and especially so for those that treat her as a living thing and not as animals as the rest of the continent views her race as. As a result of this Ninym while shown to be on good terms with visually everyone within Natra was shown to exhibit great loyalty towards those that she sees as having saved her in the form of Wein and his family which is reflected in the strong bonds of friendship that lay between them. While quite capable of being a harsh taskmistress that would organize and dish out all of the necessary paperwork that needs doing to Wein Ninym due to her strong bond with Wein was shown to take a more measured approach in trying to understand the root of his anxieties and suggesting solutions while providing emotional support to cheer him up when needed that would keep him focused without having to take harsher methods as some would try.
As a character, I felt that Ninym was both well designed and developed as the series progressed. While her abilities as an advisor and aide to Wein was undeniable Ninym was also shown to be quite capable of accompanying Wein to more hostile environments such as battlefields and diplomatic functions where her skill with the blade as well as her skill with words made her a real asset that was quite capable of both turning back an enemy counterattack as much as deducing hostile factions true intentions with the latter two situations providing a rare opportunity to see Ninym in frigid mode where she will show no mercy to those that are hostile to those that she cherishes. However, while capable of providing great help to the kingdom of Natra with her skills as both an aide and a field commander Ninym’s true worth as a character I felt lies in the emotional support that she can provide to Wein and his family for while she serves as a kind, caring and polite older sister like character for princess Falanya who views her affectionally as an ever-reliable repository of knowledge for Wein and herself she served not only as an effective foundation for him that kept him focused on the job at hand but also as the primary source of his motivation to keep fighting the good fight as the ruler of Natra with their respective feelings for each other serving as an additional means of motivation for both to do their best to support each other in their respective roles.
LowellMina Earthwold more popularly known as Lowa to those closest to her is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Wein’s main allies within the series. The second princess of the large neighboring Earthwold Empire that lies on the eastern half of the continent of Varno Lowa from her initial appearances was shown to be a calm, polite and kind person by nature that while intelligent and modest was also noted to be perceptive and unusually idealistic for a princess of an empire. Despite being a member of royalty Lowa was seen to be someone that if one were not to know her identity see her as an everyday girl as she was someone that rather than being a typical arrogant noble that treated those beneath her with disdain, she instead was a friendly and easygoing person that treated those around her with respect and dignity and was one that always thought the best of those around her being loyal to her friends and expecting the same in return. This sense of always treating those around her with respect while showing well Lowa’s humble nature also reflected well on the core values that she lived by namely her firm sense of justice and the desire to always make decisions based on the best interests of the people that she not only loved but represented as well. Aspects that as the series progressed was to become increasingly important as her destiny become intertwined with those of her best friends Wein and Ninym after their reencounter.
As the series progresses and Lowa’s character is expanded upon it can be seen that while Lowa’s loyalty towards the empire was never in doubt she nonetheless was someone that didn’t agree with all of their cultural norms namely the gender bias that existed within it that served to prevent not only her from helping out within the government a fact that she believes served as a catalyst that caused the empire to not only stagnate but also fracture into different camps that served to make life for the people that she adores much harder than it needed to be. This sense of desperation that comes from not being able to do anything while her people suffered can be seen to be her central focus within the narrative that served to transform her from a kind, caring but an idealistic princess who had no power to do anything for them to a princess that while having less power than her brothers nonetheless worked hard to find a way forward for the empire that doesn’t involve sacrificing the happiness of the people for meaningful gains.
This new side to Lowa as a character I felt while serving to allow her as a character to be further developed upon also provided an excellent opportunity to tie her development with those of both the overall narrative and that of Wein’s development as a ruler as any good king or empress must be able to be rational and be able to see the effects that their decisions would have on both their respective kingdoms and loved ones and in this Lowa and Wein’s attempts to outwit each other as they tried to get their intended results proved to be a most enlightening lesson for both and even more so when you factor in the fact that the levels of cunning and intelligence that they possessed were equal.
Animation wise while for the most part the character designs, as well as designs of the various kingdoms, were relatively simple affairs, I felt that they reflected well on the cultures that each state adhered to within their borders. The kingdom of Natra for example as a kingdom that was based off in the far remote north owning to lack of significant resources got by with simplicity and functional equipment whether in terms of architecture or the clothes worn by its inhabitants while their one-time rival Mardan owning to its militaristic culture directed much of their economy to their military at their expense of their people and in doing so creating a military that was well-armed while its people made do with what's left.
Location wise while the number of locations featured within the series was few the ones seen I felt featured a nice variety that did well to convey not only the unique culture of the country that it was in but also of its significance within the delicate confines of international diplomacy. The palace for example serves as both a home for Wein and his family and advisors but also the place where the fate of a small kingdom like theirs are matched against both their goals and the ambitions of the countries around them. One of the locations that I felt truly shined to me was the city of Mealters which within the lore of the world was the world’s first self-governing merchant city that was ruled and managed by its inhabitants. Between the power of the large Earthwold empire which commands enormous military and economic strength and the Levetian church who commands equally large religious fervor from its people having a city that was run by its own people, I felt created an excellent sense of balance between the factions present within Varno.
In terms of combat animation while the battles and skirmishes that were featured within the series were relatively simple affairs that made great use of the traditional arsenal of fantasy warfare to create tension-filled situations for the main cast I felt that this within the series was also aided greatly by a number of features that made it easy for viewers to see how the battle was playing out in the form of the strategy screens that outlined how each battle would play out as well as the real-time screen that allowed us to see how the battle played out in real-time from Wein’s point of view. This added simplicity while serving to allow viewers to see what the overall plan for the battle was as well as follow them in real-time also, I felt provided an extra layer of immersion to the viewer as well. While the pitched battles themselves I thought were interesting I would say the few instances where Wein himself has to defend himself were probably the ones that were the most enjoyable as this allowed us to see how the hidden genius fought for real when a threat demanded his attention appears in front of him as shown in his fight against the assassin leader. It’s unfortunate however that there were few opportunities for Wein to show his prowess with the blade within the series though.
Music-wise the series made use of one opening and ending theme which was Level which was performed by veteran singer Nagi Yanagi in collaboration with the popular The Sixth Lie band and Hitori to Kimi to which was performed by veteran seiyuu singer Yoshino Nanjo. While both of these songs were excellent ones, I felt that the two of them conveyed very different feelings and emotions when listened to with the former conveying a sense of wonder and amazement at not only seeing a new world and meeting many new and interesting characters but also of the potential sadness that comes from knowing that of those presented some would also be losing not only their loved ones but their lands as due to the cruel machinations of others. While the song was excellent the accompanying visuals also did well to convey the fact that in this time of strife being able to hide your true nature was as much of a necessity as was being able to use a blade to defend oneself. The ending theme I felt was much different in that while its accompanying visuals are dependent on the nature of the episode that had just finished its tone and the feelings that it conveyed felt more relaxed and upbeat as if to allow the cast and us the viewers relax after having a hard time dealing with running a kingdom and in attending to RLI’s a contrast that I felt allowed it to resonate well with the opening theme that introduced us to a brand new world full of interesting characters and places to encounter.
Voice acting-wise I felt that overall, the series' main voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether they were main or support ones. In particular, I felt that Soma Saito, Rie Takahashi and Nao Touyama really did an excellent job of portraying their assigned characters of Wein, Ninym and LowellMina where the chemistry between the cast members really served to make their interactions within the narrative that much more impressive. Among the supporting cast, I was also impressed with Yuki Nakashima’s portrayal of the character of Zenovia especially her portrayal of the different personas of Zeno and her true self of Zenovia that did well to showcase the necessity of having two sides to you when your country gets dragged into a war that they didn’t understand. While only introduced late within the narrative the character of Torcheila that was portrayed by senior seiyuu singer Rie Kugimiya when working in tandem with her father King Gruyere portrayed by the veteran voice actor Akio Otsuka really did well to make the last arc of the series a tough one for our dear prince.
In overall The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a nation Out of Debt I felt was an interesting anime that had among its strong points a creative premise, an interesting narrative that featured plenty of interesting characters and diplomatic and military scenarios that demanded creative thinking, interesting world-building methods in the form of Falanya’s lessons on the world and Wein’s simplified intros, excellent music and voice acting from a talented vocal cast. While this series can be seen to be a more comedic kingdom builder anime than heavyweights like the Realist Kingdom, I felt that the various situations that demanded Wein’s attention within the series while representing only a small selection of the kind of situations that a kingdom faces served to bring to the series narrative a level of tension that forces the cast to do all they can to avoid the worst-case scenario though in a way that almost ends up having a comedic result as per the genre.
At the same time, I felt that the marriage of the series narrative with the series trademarked theme of being two-faced while adding a level of tension within the series, especially within the negotiations that Wein and co have with high-ranking politicians also aided significantly in the character developments for Wein, Ninym and Lowa while adding another layer to the likes of Caldmelia and Zenovia as well. At the same time, its mere existence and the effects that it can have on situations also showcased the fact that even if you are simply the prince of a small remote kingdom when you have to contend with powers that not only command much more military and economic might than you do you then you have to be able to compensate through either brawn or brains because simply treating each new day as a day to avoid work will not allow you to attain your greatest desires nor protect your most cherishes ones from those that would pounce on the slightest signs of weakness within a ruler.
All in all, while the series narrative and world were pretty standard fare for fantasy-themed series its marriage with the Two-faced theme, tension-filled high-level diplomacy and the desire by Wein to safeguard his kingdom and cherished ones from harm made for quite the compelling tale. Overall, I would say that the series deserves a final overall score of 8/10 for this was a tale that brought me much laughter and joy while also reminding me that no matter how successful you are and how much power you wield without people that you care about at your side is that a life worth having at all. Those that use such power to protect those that they cherish the most are the ones that deserve to be the rulers of man.
Mar 26, 2022
Please note this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching Akebi’s School Uniform and while care has been taken to minimize spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based on a popular manga series of the same name Akebi’s School Uniform which is more popularly known by its Japanese title of Akebi Chan no Serafuku is a slice of life and coming of age anime that allows us to see what will happen if one day a young girl who ever since seeing her idol dressed as one had developed an intense fascination with the ... sailor fuku style school uniform was to be given the once in a lifetime opportunity to don that very uniform and attend the very academy that her beloved mother had attended in the past. Despite an unfortunate mishap on the first day thanks to the generosity of the academy’s headmistress Akebi was not only allowed to attend the academy wearing her prized sailor fuku school uniform but for the first time in her life be given the opportunity to not only meet other girls her age but also make her first-ever connections with them while experiencing the unique social and cultural activities that are the hallmarks of not only broadening one’s life experience by meeting and befriending like-minded peers your age at school but also in the process create many cherished and powerful memories that she can one day look upon fondly.
Whether you grew up within a bursting metropolis such as Tokyo or Osaka or grew up in small outlying towns that only have a few dozen inhabitants there will still be life moments that will always be common wherever you live and one of these is the attending of school. For most people school is a place that invokes bittersweet memories for them as it reminds them not just of the fear that came from facing stern and scary teachers but also of the unique fear that came from making sure that you pass every test and exam through many sleepless nights of cramming and for some praying. Though school was a tough environment for them for many young adults the attending of school was also one that provided many firsts for them as it not only allowed them to develop their first interests and hobbies that may aid them further down the line but also for the first time in their lives meet likeminded people and establish friendships and bonds that can last for extraordinary amounts of time.
While the premise for Akebi was relatively simple its primary focus of being a coming-of-age narrative for a girl who had spent her early school days alone be suddenly presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to change that by entering the very school that her mother had attended and take her first steps into the wider society that comes from being a young adult, what made it even more relatable was the level of innocence and heartwarming feelings that are invoked in you as you see our lovable protagonist Akebi Komichi navigate her way through the unfamiliar confines of a junior high school and for the first time in her life meet, befriend and enjoy school life while learning of new social interactions and events every new day. This combination of wanting to root for Akebi as she encountered new situations each new day and a desire to see how her overcoming of this would change her and enhance her time as a junior high student as a result of this I felt was one of the reasons why I cherished this series so much because while watching Akebi change as a result of her accomplishments was enjoyable seeing her was like seeing a younger version of yourself go through the same trials that she was and in the process invoking a sense of nostalgia in one as well because back then things were far simpler.
Akebi Komichi is one of the main characters of the series and is the protagonist of the series' main narrative and one of the core members of Roubai Girl Academy’s class 1-3. A middle school freshman who before the start of the series had successfully passed the entrance exams for the famed Roubai Girls Academy Akebi from her initial appearances was shown to be a kind, caring, and gentle girl whose positivity and energetic nature made her a joy to have around for both friends and neighbors alike. Though innocent and somewhat of a klutz at times and liable to panic easily due to her inexperience with others her age she was someone that was friendly and honest and was always willing to learn from her mistakes and was someone that truly wore her heart on her sleeve which is perhaps best shown in her organized nature and her strong desire to remember each member of her class correctly. When used in combination with her polite and earnest nature this served to make Akebi an unexpectedly popular member of the class which allowed her to quickly befriend many of her peers despite the uniqueness of her self-intro on her first day in class.
Despite her airheaded nature and the sense of fame that her self-intro caused on her first day Akebi’s primary focus within the series had always been to live her life freely and enjoy whatever new challenge awaits her as she starts each new day. While she relishes the opportunity to explore the unique social interactions that school brings her in the form of school clubs as well as the opportunity to observe other clubs that while interesting to her was not one’s that she wanted to take part in its within her interactions with her classmates where her development as a character truly shined. While her base nature allowed her to easily make plenty of friends within the class that synergized well with her desire to live a fulfilling school life by forging strong bonds and creating memories of their time together within the series this aspect of her development was used in conjunction with her own desire to create an ideal image of herself that can be used as a foundation from which she can grow from. This desire of hers while stemming from her need to improve herself can also be seen as an effort on her part to better aid her friends in their endeavors while showing well her determination to help those in need also showed the kind of effort that she will put in to help those that she cherishes which within the narrative is shown in the number of friends that she was able to make as a result of her hard work. This development of hers I felt while endearing to look at due to the kind of lengths she will go to help her friends also showed a level of charisma and organization skills that she unknowingly possessed in abundance that allowed her to not only help those in need but also open up new paths that can be used to solve the problems that they encountered with her attempt to save Kojou’s prized bookmark from the wind by creating a human chain and her rather determined attempt to cheer for others despite knowing only the most basic of cheers that she learned minutes ago being the best examples of this talent.
As a character Akebi I felt while a simple girl whose earnest desire was plain to see was also one that had a surprising level of depth to her that I found surprising. While her base desire to live a fulfilling school life surrounded by friends was one that was shown excellently within the narrative her desire to help them with the problems that ail them by providing not only with potent emotional support but also her ability to motivate them via her often random but oddly charismatic actions that more often than not break them out of their predicament served to make her a surprisingly well-rounded character that allowed her to serve as one of the centerpieces of the class that complimented well with the personalities of her classmates. A role that while surprising to her showed well how much her earnest desires to have a fulfilling school life by helping those around her when they need her had touched the hearts of her classmates who now view her not as an oddity that wore a different uniform to them but as a dear friend that can be counted upon to help them with all her might when they need her a result that I'm sure Akebi will be too embarrassed to admit.
Erika Kizaki is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Akebi’s closest friends within the series. A junior school freshman and a classmate of Akebi’s Erika from her initial appearances was shown to be someone that was quiet, confident if standoffish person by nature that seemed to be wary of meeting new people even more so than your average schoolgirl on starting a new school year. However, while this nature of hers did serve to give the impression that she was not a sociable person in reality this nature of hers was seen to be a protective measure of sorts as while she was a transfer student at the academy like a large number of its freshman, she was from far away Tokyo and as a result, this measure of wariness that she showed was due to her desire to protect herself. Beneath her steely mask, Erika was someone that was shown to be a calm, kind and caring person that was warm, loyal, and very protective of her friends and was always willing to help others that require it as shown when she helped her fellow tennis club member Riona overcome her own anxiety.
While Erika on the surface was shown to be a confident and fast thinking person who treated those around her with both politeness and respect, she was also shown to be someone that had great trouble with revealing her true self to others and indeed despite her impressive amount of hobbies that included among other things Piano, Horse riding and fishing was reluctant to show them unless pressed by people that she trusts. Indeed, this level of reluctance was also the prime cause for the sense of perpetual state of anxiety that was seen to plague her until she met and befriended Akebi on their first day. Though the bond between the two of them was one that sparked off as a result of a random subject that they chanced upon on their first day it was one that Erika was shown to treasure immensely as a result of the fact that for both Erika and Akebi they were their first respective first friends within this new school. This bond while a simple thing on the surface was one that was shown to affect Erika greatly for this allowed her to not only show aspects of her character that she preferred to keep hidden such as her competitive nature in fishing but also her reluctance to ask others for help unless she requires it to someone that she knows will not treat her differently because of it.
While allowing her to present her true face to someone that was both dear to her and someone that she trusted impeccably to her this bond I felt also served as an effective foundation that was used by her to break out of the shell that she erected around herself to help those that required her specific skills all of which proved to be potent assets for both her class and her new friends. As a character Erika I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed as the series progressed with her chemistry with Akebi that was achieved through the shared sense of their origins and subsequent self-development of her through her interactions and observations of Akebi being especially well done. While within the narrative Touko was an effective mood maker Erika proved to be logical and sharp-witted one that more often than not provided some nice backup for Akebi’s plans within the series.
Touko Usagihara is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Akebi’s closest friends within the class. A junior high freshman and a classmate of Akebi Touko on her initial appearances was shown to be a positive, friendly, and kind person by nature who while chatty and teasing was also loyal and dependable to those that she has bonded with. While her antics can give the impression that she’s an attention seeker it can be seen that this aspect of her is a result of her innate ability to change the mood around her via her actions alone that allows her to not bond easily with others thanks to her skill at interpersonal relations but also identify those that would require greater effort to bond with as shown in her first interactions with Akebi and Erika.
While Touko due to her love of playing pranks on people can be seen to be somewhat of a joker within the class she was also shown to be an intelligent and modest person by nature and one that more than ever seemed to strive for a life that was independent of her family as shown in her knowledge of life skills such as cooking and organization at such a young age. Indeed, her ability to cook delicious sweets and offer to her peers within both the school and the dorm in which she lives also showed that she had also inherited her parents’ business sense as well both of which allowed Touko to easily forge strong bonds within not only her class but in others as well.
As a character, Touko was one that markedly different from her fellow cast members of Akebi and Erika in that while she lacked the innocence and sense of curiosity that the former had and the intelligence of the latter Touko made up for it by being an effective mood maker that was able to not only provide the narrative with a degree of comedy through her antics with her smooth-talking in ep1 being an excellent example as well but also the kind of skill that one can attain in a field if they have both the motivation and goal that they aspire to as shown in the skill she has with making delicious sweets that can be used to give her friends a time of bliss when relaxing around a hard days work at school.
Animation wise I was really impressed at the level of animation that was present within the series and I felt that the gorgeous animation that Cloverworks created really served to enhance the level of detail into not only its character designs but also its location designs as well. As one of the centerpieces of the series the uniforms that Akebi and her friends wore while richly animated also reflected well not just on the way the uniforms look to both students and parents alike but also on the kind of history and tradition that lies behind both it and the school to which it belonged too as the uniforms while being a piece of garment was also something that was connected to the history of the school just as its buildings were. The act of creating Akebi’s uniform via her mother and wearing it at school was akin to a mother transferring her mantle over to her daughter and allow her to retread the very steps that she herself took when she was a student to which the animation did well to showcase in perfect detail. Location wise while the number of locations that were featured within the series was only a handful, I felt that the ones featured while doing well to showcase the scale of Roubai academy’s grounds combined this with the element of variety by featuring not only dorms for its students in its guise as a boarding school as well but also a wide range of facilities that could be used by students and staff alike. While the academy itself was impressive as a location another location that I felt was particularly unique was the Komichi family home which took the form of a house that wouldn’t look out of place within a fairy tale.
Music-wise the series made use of one opening and ending theme which was Hajimari no Setsuna (The first moment) which was performed by the 16 main cast members of the series and Baton which was performed by Akebi’s seiyuu Manatsu Murakami. The opening theme when working in conjunction with the accompanying visuals I felt did an excellent job of conveying the sense of unity, friendship, and a desire to forge strong bonds of friendship as they overcome every trial that they encountered while in school that ties Akebi and her classmates together within the narrative. The ending theme on the other hand felt more relaxed and conjured up the image of ending each day by smiling and waving goodbye to your friends as you departed the classroom and prepare for what the next day would bring.
Voice acting-wise I felt that overall, each of the 16 main cast members all did an excellent job of portraying their assigned characters with my particular favorites being Manatsu Murakami’s portrayal of Akebi, Sora Amamiya’s portrayal of Erika, Akari Kito’s portrayal of Touko, Shion Wakayama’s portrayal of Tomono, Yui Ishikawa’s portrayal of Riri and lastly Azusa Tadokoro’s portrayal of Riona. With such a large number of main cast members, it is unfortunately extremely difficult to give each character enough expansion without diverging from the established narrative. Nevertheless, I felt that the voice cast featured within the series that featured some of the industry’s best seiyuu’s all did a fantastic job of portraying their characters however many lines they had to bring their character to life.
In overall Akebi’s School Uniform I felt was an excellent anime that featured as its main strong points its unique premise, heartwarming narrative, gorgeous animation, and bonding moments between its main cast, excellent characters, and voice acting.
The series overall narrative I felt was one of the main highlights of the series thanks to its seamless integration of both the coming of age and slice of life genre elements into it. While a school within the fabric of society has as its main role the teaching of its young students the most basic life skills that they would require in life in the form of language, cooking and math’s this is not all that a school will provide. Because as important as they were what the most important opportunity that a school will provide its young charges was the opportunity to meet others that are your age and for the first time in your life connect, bond, and make friends with them.
In a way, the attending of school is very much like a social debut for those in high society and indeed for Akebi within the narrative that was indeed the case because prior to her entry into Roubai she thanks to the most unfortunate of circumstances had no peers to interact with. However, while sad this unique background served as an effective catalyst that allowed her to not only achieve the dream of attending our mother’s old school wearing a sailor fuku uniform but also allow her to experience the beautiful magic that was the act of forging lasting bonds with others her age but in the process make many magical ones that would serve to make her school life an unforgivable experience. This potent combination I felt really served to make the overall narrative a delight to watch as while Akebi can be a klutz and do the most unpredictable things at random seeing her take her first steps into the wider society by forging friendships and strong bonds with her peers an experience completely alien to her up to that point really made me want to root for her as she learned how to interact with others her age. A level of immersion that only served to enhance the narrative even more so.
Overall, as a final score in my opinion Akebi’s School uniform easily deserves a final score of 10/10 for the series not only featured an excellent premise, narrative, and characters but complementing this was some of the most gorgeous and colorful animation that I have seen in a long time that served to showcase Akebi’s journey to make many wonderful and enjoyable memories while attending school and forging ever-increasing friendships and bonds with others in excellent detail. This potent combination I felt really served to make this anime not only the most beautiful one this season but also one that was heartwarming and easily relatable to many thanks to its simple but well-written narrative and characters that reminded us not only of the power of friendship but also how much we can improve ourselves by helping and learning from others.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Dec 16, 2021
Please note this review assumes that you have finished watching Shirai Suna No Aquatope and while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers present within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based upon an original idea Shirai Suna No Aquatope or to western audiences as Aquatope of White Sand is a drama and slice of life anime that gives us a unique opportunity to see what will happen if one day two girls of similar age, but different backgrounds, motivations and overall life goal were to one day have a chance encounter with each other and see within ... each the one spark that had been missing from their eyes.
What will happen if these two were given a second chance to not only find a field that fascinates and inspires them but also the chance to ask themselves the difficult questions that they never had the chance to ask themselves. What kind of life do I want to live and what do I want to bring to society through it? Only by answering these questions would the two be finally able to find the life path they both desired as well as a job that they can both pledge themselves wholeheartedly to and bring their newfound passion to life once more.
As human beings, our lives have always been one of struggles whether in trying to achieve the right grades in school or do well enough to enter the career field that you have always dreamed of going into. But what of those who after entering their dream fields and seeing its brutal reality have not only lost their passion for it but also the very direction that they should be aiming their life towards. While the overall premise of the series of two girls of differing backgrounds, desires and life goals and their chance meeting on Okinawa after becoming lost in life was my primary motivation for choosing to watch this series the one aspect that convinced me to watch it to the very end was the desire to see just how would the main leads of Kukuru and Fuka and their many friends rediscover the passion that they have for the sea and its many denizens and how will they apply the lessons learned in their care to change not only their current lives but their destinies as well. If there’s one thing in life that can be changed with hard work, it's destiny a belief that I felt was most appropriate for the struggles that Kukuru and Fuka were forced to confront in their struggle to forge a new path in life. The opening episode of the series I felt was an excellent one as it while doing while in introducing the main leads of Kukuru and Fuka also did well to showcase the majesty of the denizens of the deep that we seldom encounter as well as the magic that their care can provide to those that attend to them. While one might argue that this magic is a one-trick pony that’s only relevant in its original setting, I would say that this effect eventually transforms with the cast into a motivation that serves to drive them ever onward in their desire to educate people about the beauty that the sea possesses.
Kukuru Misakino is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the series two protagonists. A teenage girl that works as an attendant and stand in deputy director for the local Gama Gama Aquarium that while no doubt proving exhausting served to provide her with a place in which she while gaining plenty of valuable life skills also served to instill within her a deep passion for both the sea and a desire to take care of the many denizens of the deep that they hold. From her initial appearances, Kukuru was seen to be a positive, energetic, kind, and friendly person by nature that while possessing a mind that was almost always focused on her duties at Gama was someone that had the trust and friendships of countless people around her while simultaneously causing countless headaches for those that try and change her teachers included. While Kukuru’s passion for her job at Gama is undeniable as reflected in her diligence and her determination to confront and overcome the many trials that were arrayed against Gama this trait also served to make her a difficult person to know especially those that don’t share the same strength of bonds as her childhood friends did as Fuka discovered in her first days. However, while her passion towards sealife and desire to take the best care possible of them can serve to push people away this was offset by the fact that Kukuru deep down was also someone that was understanding and capable of self-reflection that within the series proved to be an able trait of hers that allowed her to clean up misunderstandings and forge bonds anew with those that may have been pushed away by her base nature.
As the series progresses and Kukuru’s personality is gradually expanded upon it can be seen that while on the surface Kukuru was someone that was positive, friendly, and diligent to a fault that approached each day with a beaming smile on her face that beneath this were many surprising insecurities that she kept hidden from her friends. While Kukuru’s passion towards the sea life that Gama possesses as well as her diligence in ensuring that they are cared for to the best of their abilities showcase well her skills as an attendant this within the narrative was offset by her sense of overprotectiveness towards both the sea life and to Gama itself. This sense of protectiveness towards them while showing well her desire to allow them to live their lives freely within the confines of Gama also likewise showed just how important the place was to her heart as it was here that she developed her love for sea life as well as being the place where her last cherished memories of her parents resided at reasons that served to ensure that within her life at that point in time Gama was one that took utmost priority. While this focus on preserving both in the face of declining visitors showcased Kukuru’s trademarked determination to persevere it also highlighted one of her more notable traits in the form of her ability to think outside the box which I felt synergized well with the strong friendships that she shared with her friends that allowed them to create some pretty creative ideas that acted as an effective stopgap for Gama in the form of the Touch pools and shaved ice that was shown in ep6 that took advantage of both human curiosity and desire to try animal-shaped seasonal foods.
While the success of these events did well to lengthen the time Gama had left these events also demonstrated the fact that while Kukuru’s desire to take care of others whether animals or humans is a strong one it was compounded by the fact that at the end of the day she was still a child whose stubbornness, inability to adapt when dealing with outsiders and her lack of knowledge on the activities needed to manage a business was actually making it harder for those around her to do their jobs properly while pushing away people whose life experience would have been useful for her to learn from. While the parting with her beloved Gama was a painful experience for Kukuru it also served to allow her to take her first steps into a brand-new world that would open her eyes as to what is truly needed to run an aquarium that is populated not just by the sea life but by her coworkers and visitors as well. While the transition from a small-sized aquarium and living in the rural areas of Okinawa to living in an apartment and working within a large purpose-built aquarium inside a big city proved to be a rude culture shock to Kukuru working within Tingarla had also allowed her to realize many things that she had not known Aquariums provided nor needed as part of their management which included among many things a PR department, planning events, larger amounts of staff and the need to ensure that both visitors and animals within the venue were cared for equally.
As a result of these revelations, Kukuru was able to realize that while the care of the animals that were housed within Tingarla was important they were not the only things as an Aquarium was not just a home for them but also a business and a place of learning whose main role was to not only educate the visitors on the sea life that it houses but also ensure that the guests visit, and overall experience was stellar. While Kukuru’s long grounded belief that an aquarium’s main role should be about the care of the animals was not completely eliminated this revelation allowed her to realize that without visitors it will be her beloved sea life that will suffer a sense of motivation that did well to establish a need within her to establish a balance within her priorities that would allow her to balance both and by doing so keep her dream alive. Arguably one of the most notable developmental traits for Kukuru as a result of her new role at Tingarla was the revelation that simply doing her best by herself is no longer adequate for Tingarla as this was a place that housed not only more animals but also employed a far larger amount of staff across its departments.
To be effective here, she had to be able to not only work well with others but also coordinate her actions with them as well. More importantly, she needed to place her trust in her fellow staff members in their roles as they have in her role within Tingarla a difficult prospect indeed but one that she was gradually able to accept the need for as she slowly grew from an overly idealistic girl who did not know the value of teamwork and trust and who always tried to do everything herself to someone who not only realized just how much work goes into keeping aquariums active but also the kind of bonds of trust and respect that are needed in a modern-day workplace.
Fuka Miyazawa is one of the main characters and is one of the two main heroines of the series. A former idol that’s in her late teens prior to her arrival in Okinawa and joining the ranks of the attendants in Gama and later Tingarla Fuka from her initial appearances was shown to be someone that was a striking contrast to her fellow attendant Kukuru in almost all aspects. A quiet, soft-spoken and friendly and kind person by nature Fuka while possessing neither the kind of fierce determination and confidence that Kukuru had nonetheless possessed a caring, friendly, and polite nature that allowed her to stand on equal footing with her eventual best friend. While Fuka was shown to be a diligent and dutiful girl who always tried her best in her former life her low self-confidence and her unwillingness to share her inner thoughts and worries served to make her an enigma that was difficult to get to know for both her former friends and her friends within Gama that served to make her early days a nerve-wracking experience. However, despite these problems that plagued her daily Fuka while unsure about the kind of responsibilities that were expected of her as an attendant nonetheless approached her new role with calmness and a willingness to adapt herself to learn the new knowledge that’s required of her.
Despite the dramatic bad experience that Fuka experienced on her first day of work with the penguins Fuka’s strong work ethic and a desire to pitch in when needed served to make her a valuable part of the team and allow her to forge lasting bonds with the one that had shown her a new path that she can now take in the form of Kukuru and for the first time in a long time be able to show a side of her that while fragile showed well the kind of struggles that she had secretly had to wrestle with as a result of trying to achieve her dream of being a popular idol that can bring joy to their fans. This unique experience of knowing full well how hard it must feel to be lost after having your dream shattered I felt served to create an excellent foundation for not just Fuka to ground herself on and motivate herself but also in creating the first sparks of the bond that she will eventually forge with Kukuru as to Fuka she was the person that had saved her from the darkness that had manifested after her own dream of being an idol had been shattered. While Fuka’s passion towards sealife and working as an attendant at first was not as strong as that of Kukuru especially after the scare that was her first day and indeed Fuka’s view of the job was only a temporary one at best her passion and interest into the role gradually began to increase as a result of not only seeing the beauty of the sea life but also of the many smiles that it can bring to the guests. In a way perhaps I felt that Fuka seeing the reaction that this job brings to the guests was of the belief that while not bringing them joy as an idol she through this role was able to bring it through her new role as an attendant that in turn served to make her approach her new role with far more passion than before which within the series is shown in her desire to learn more about the sea life that she cares for and her endeavor to care about her charges the best that she can.
Though Fuka in the beginning of the series was shown to be someone that had low self-confidence and had trouble in forging close bonds with her co-workers due to her fear of that they would start to distance themselves from her as they did in her previous role this gradually began to change as a result of both her desire to become more independent and forge a path of her own in something that interests her without being influenced by others as well as her desire to stay and support her savior by being there for her when she needs her. While she still prefers to stay quiet and do her assigned roles without interference the journey to become more independent and forge a new path of her own served to allow her to better assist her co-workers by chipping in with creative ideas such as the touch pool of ep4 and having a long overdue heart to heart with her mother to convince her of her desire to forge a new path with her own two hands experiences that served to gradually rebuild her into a better person that will be able to help far more people than she had in the past. By the time of the second half of the series that saw her join her co-workers once more as an attendant, we can see that as a result of her determination to improve herself Fuka was shown to have become more attentive and more mentally prepared for situations that she can potentially encounter in life that was further boosted by her increased confidence and a strong determination to help her friends once again. Though having increased self-confidence and a willingness to do what she can to help her friends Fuka however was shown to have not lost her trademarked trait of honesty and a desire to learn all she can to be of better help to others as shown in her desire to memorize the names of every penguin that was kept in Tingarla to prove her mettle to the staff there instead of simply relying on her past experience a feat that I felt was most impressive.
Overall as a character, I felt that Fuka was one that was well designed and developed as the series progressed with her evolution from a quiet and soft-spoken young woman who not only had her dream of becoming a top idol smashed but also had to battle some serious confidence issues to someone that had not only managed to reignite the spark of her passion by discovering a new career field that she has grown attached too but doing so in company with friends and allies that she is comfortable with showing her true face too while genuinely enjoying every day that she spends with them being especially well done. While Fuka’s individual development was certainly done excellently it is the chemistry that she shared with Kukuru that in my opinion really served to make their bond that much more heartfelt as their development was a direct result of the increasing bond that they have with each other and within this bond, Fuka’s older sister role I felt did an excellent job at balancing out Kukuru’s brash nature and open her eyes to the larger picture that those who wished to run an aquarium solely needed to have.
In terms of animation overall, I felt that PA Works did an excellent job at animating not only the characters present within its narrative but also in showing the beautiful scenery that the island of Okinawa features. When used in combination with the various sea life that the cast encounter and take care of over the course of their careers as attendants with the everyday moments that the cast experience whether it’s in events promoting their workplace or simply bonding over delicious food at Tsukimi’s I felt that the animation only served to enhance the experience by introducing a level of magic and warmness to their interactions while also having the unintended bonus of promoting the actual setting as well IRL. The animation used to showcase the series sea life of which the penguins seem to have been the main focus I felt likewise did an excellent job at not only personifying them but also show that resilient as they may appear to be they are also creatures that require careful care and management in order to allow them to live their lives comfortably and that it’s not simply a matter of just keeping them fed. Location variety wise while the locations featured within the series were not especially many, I felt that each of them did well to showcase an effect that served to not only provide them with a place to go to when the situation calls for it but also provide some nice expansion to both the cast and the narrative when needed. Tsukimi’s mothers’ shop and her later workplace for example provided the cast with not only a place to eat and relax at but also a place where they can forge stronger bonds with their co-workers while the hangout club allowed the cast of Gama to bond and make peace with the staff of their new workplace.
Narrative wise however the locations that were the most important were the aquariums of Gama Gama and Tingarla that while being the same manner of businesses within society within the series represented two different types of venues in the eyes of the cast with the former representing a venue that thrived on its core values of humility, warmness and a desire by its small but close-knit team of attendants to showcase the beauty and majesty of the sea life that it houses and through this try to persuade the locals that visit to come again to see the unique magic that the sea brings to the people. While compared to Tingarla Gama while smaller in size I felt was unique in that it managed to leverage not only its unique close-knit community of attendants that is almost akin to a family but also its ability to come up with small-time but creative ideas that make great use of the unique atmosphere that Gama offers to its guests.
Tingarla however can be said to be the opposite in that unlike Gama it was purpose-built to be an aquarium that centralized the housing of sea life within the island that aimed to offer its guests not only a large facility that housed twice as many species of sea life but also a venue that is able to offer large scale events that it hopes can be used to better educate people on the beauty of the sea life that they share the planet with. While larger in size and featuring a larger team of staff can often become a hindrance due to conflicting goals and desires of its staff, I felt that despite some teething rivalry’s in the beginning that Tingarla served to eventually transform into a business that was finely balanced between educating its guests on the beauty of the sea life and the commerce part of running it through the usage of events such as the cosplay event of ep18 and the visit of Fuka’s former co-worker in ep19. While the animations for the many locations, characters and animal species was done excellently within the series I felt that it’s also worth mentioning that the lightning within the series was something that I felt was done really well as it served to enhance the unique atmosphere that its locations featured with its usage within the aquariums being the most notable as it helped to give each a unique sense of identity within the narrative.
Music-wise the series made use of a total of four themes split between the two cours with two opening and ending themes for each. The opening and ending themes for the first cour was Tayutae Nanairo and Tsukiumi no Yurikago that was performed by Arcana Project and Mia Regina respectively while the second cour opening and ending themes were Tomedonai Shiosai ni Bokutachi wa Nani o Utau daro ka and Shingetsu no Da Capo that was performed by Arcana Project and Risa Aizawa. Each of these songs while all excellently performed by their respective groups and singers also represented well a unique theme that served to complement the series with the first being new beginnings in a new land amidst having a dream shattered, shattered dreams and the quest to rediscover a new direction in life, Reforging one’s life and broadening of one’s life by forging new connections and learning new knowledge in a brand new setting and lastly the realization that no matter where you are working whether it’s at Gama or Tingarla that their passion for both caring for the many sea life that they encounter in their careers as attendants like the bonds that have been forged between the main leads will never change and will only get stronger as they continue upon their chosen life paths.
Voice acting-wise I was really impressed by the vocal ability of the two main leads of Miku Ito and Rikako Aida who I felt not only did an amazing job at portraying their assigned characters of Kukuru and Fuka as per the specifics for their characters but also served to add a lot of chemistry between them within their voice as well that served to add a lot of depth to their interactions in my opinion. With regards to the supporting cast in general I thought that the seiyuu’s assigned to the supporting cast all did an excellent job in their assigned roles, but I felt that the characters of Karin and Tsukimi in particular who were portrayed by veteran seiyuu’s Lynn and Azumi Waki respectively provided much needed emotional and physical support for the two main leads within the narrative. Of the new characters introduced within the second cour of the series, I felt that only Chiyu and Marina were given enough screen time to develop as individuals while Akari’s only standout role was her brief development in ep18 via her arc. In hindsight, I believe that it was a waste not to give the new cast more time to develop as individuals as it would have allowed them to better chip in within the narrative when needed.
In overall Shirai Suna No Aquatope I felt was an excellent anime that had among its strong points an excellent narrative, characters, voice acting, animation, music and its strong emphasis on not only the need to find a life path that you have a genuine interest in but also the need to be both open-minded and determined as you strive to learn all the knowledge that is needed in order for you to walk that chosen path to its completion.
Undoubtedly the series overall narrative is what can be said to be the heart of the series and is here that I felt the series truly shined at thanks to not only its excellent cast of characters but also its usage of different locations that allow it to adhere to the central themes that the series has among its narrative which among others includes a desire to find purpose and direction in life, a place where you will feel belonged at and a destination and life path that one can take after losing one’s own dream. To a T I felt that the narrative did an excellent job of being able to frame the narrative around its stated themes through the usage of its two arcs that while featuring similar businesses in the form of Gama and Tingarla were ones that featured subtlety different qualities that made them differ from each significantly.
While the first half of the series did an excellent job at introducing the particular roles that attendants needed to be trained in within their field it was paired well with not just the start of Kukuru and Fuka’s eventual bond with each other but also with the rapidly approaching storm of closure that Kukuru was desperately trying to overcome and in the process making great use of the themes of hope, despair and determination to both find and preserve one’s own cherished dreams in the face of the brutal realities of change that is part of society’s advancement. The second half of the series that was centered upon Tingarla I felt represented an interesting challenge for Kukuru in particular as it not only represented a place that took her cherished dream from her but also a place that was completely alien to her both professionally and personally as a result of both its myriad departments that she never knew was needed within the field but also experience that she required but never had the need to possess in her former workplace. When combined with the themes of rediscovering your life path and the overcoming of one’s past by broadening one’s horizons by interacting with and bonding with new people and learning new things on top of the gradual development of both main leads I felt that the second half of the series was where the narrative and the cast truly came to shine despite the challenges arrayed against them.
In overall as a final score, I would say that Shirai Suna No Aquatope easily deserves a final score of 8/10 for its strong narrative, excellent characters, unique insight into how sealife is cared for at aquariums, strong bonding moments and chemistry between its main cast. While the series brought me a lot of entertainment it’s the core values that it serves to educate us upon via the insight into Fuka and Kukuru’s desire to learn how to better take care of sea life while charting their life direction that I felt was most fascinating and while the series itself is fictional the knowledge it imparts is not and I hope that by watching their struggles viewers would realize just how beautiful and yet fragile nature is and to do their part in protecting it by educating others. At the same time in this time of crisis being able to showcase the island of Okinawa to its viewers and promote it via the anime, I felt proved to be an unintended boon for both the staff and seiyuu’s and the people of Okinawa as well and I hope that with this it will be a location that will join people’s lists of places to visit once the crisis is over for I know it will be joining mine.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Dec 10, 2021
Be advised while care ahs been taken to minimize story related spoilers within the review there may still be spoilers within. Please read at your own risk.
Back in the year 2012 during the summer anime season of that year while browsing through the list of various anime’s that will be airing within that period there was one anime that caught my eye. Out of the 244 titles that aired that season the one that caught my eye was one entitled Sword Art Online. From the genre tags and the summary provided the premise was something that in the year 2012 was truly unique in ... that, unlike its opposite numbers that focused on more standard settings such as schools, supernatural worlds and ancient China the series promised a brand-new world that gamers have always imagined of being able to step into which is that of a game world breathtakingly created to resemble that of a high fantasy world that was far more real than anything else seen before whether in terms of sight, smell, taste and pain. As both a gamer and lover of anime that was what led me to the series and become a fan of what would soon become a most popular franchise not just domestically but internationally as well.
While the original series was a trendsetter in the world of anime that pioneered what is now the Isekai genre and popularized it to the public the series itself wasn’t perfect and had plenty of flaws that even the most die-hard fan would have to admit. However, no world is perfect and despite its flaws the series main themes of friendship, bonds and the act of working together with people across all age ranges and social classes to overcome insurmountable odds is one that I enjoyed the fullest through SAO 1, SAO2, Ordinal Scale movie and finally Alicization. Now you may be asking so what does Aria of a Starless Night bring to the franchise that we don’t already know. Let’s find out.
The overall story of the movie rather than focusing solely on Kirito and Asuna’s first days within the world of Aincrad after it become the infamous death game that it will later be known as focuses as its centerpiece the life of the series main heroine Asuna Yuki both prior to her entry into the game and her first days in the game itself. While the series itself did an excellent job of introducing and showcasing the character of Asuna as a kind, considerate and friendly girl who fought hard to protect her friends as a powerful swordswoman while being Kirito’s equal in both skill and foresight it in my eyes didn’t serve to give her much depth as a character that can be used to expand upon her. While SAO2 through the Mother’s Rosario Arc did serve to provide some limited expansion of Asuna through the intro of her tense relationship with her mother Yuuki and family situation as a result of the SAO incident the effects on character depth while nice to see was rather limited.
In this however the movie’s overall narrative I felt served to provide Asuna with the expansion that she desperately needed to have as a character. While SAO had long revealed to us that Asuna was the daughter of a rich family that had deep connections to the game itself prior to this movie we knew next to nothing about what her daily life was like before SAO. What were her life goals, what concerns did she have as she woke up each day and what kind of issues that she kept hidden behind her ever-present smile? These were all valid questions but the answers for them were not forthcoming until now.
While the insight into Asuna’s relationship with her friends, school life and bond with an almost perfect family proved to be interesting it also acted as an excellent foundation from which the series original character Mito would both be introduced formally into the narrative while setting the stage for her eventual personality change that Asuna would go through as she enters the world of SAO with her. Though the social standing of Asuna served to give her a comfortable life that was full of happiness and friends it also, unfortunately, created a sense of loneliness within her as well as there were few people who she can truly open her heart to until she met Mito. On the surface, Mito and Asuna were people that socially were polar opposites in terms of personality and under normal circumstances would have few opportunities to meet let alone interact with each other. While Asuna was warm, friendly and welcoming to all Mito was quiet, aloof and difficult to know. However, this kind of relationship was what made the ensuring bond between the two that much more heartwarming as within the world of SAO the two girls while bonding with each other to become fast friends that could be honest to each other also served to complement each other both martially and personally as via their every interaction they slowly changed and improved each other as individuals. Their bonding moments while sweet and heartwarming to see did well to instill within Asuna the combat knowledge that would prove vital to surviving within the harsh world of SAO.
Visually the series I felt was really impressive with particular regards to both the world of SAO itself that we last visited 8 and a half years ago and to the designs of both the main cast, monster designs and combat animation and to the fights themselves. While the locations that were visited within the movie weren’t especially many as they were limited to only the locations featured on the first floor I felt that the one’s that were used synergized well with the monster designs that while doing a good job of showing how dangerous the world of SAO can be also showed just how important friendship and bonds with your allies are as no matter how powerful you get and how proficient you are with your blade of choice there’s a limit to how much you can face by yourself. Combat has always been one of SAO’s chief hallmarks and in this, the fights presented within the movie were I felt flawless as they were both incredibly detailed and backed by the hard-punching OST of the famed musician and composer Yuki Kajiura that made each fight not only brutally clear but also reflecting well on the life and death struggle that those fighting on the frontlines as they confront fearsome and devious monsters and floor bosses go through as they try to cut a path to freedom by putting both their lives and trust in their skill with their blades on the very line.
Though the battle with Illfang and his cronies was one that I had already seen back in 2012 the battle presented here was no less tense and awe-inspiring as it was back then and in this instance, I felt it was even more so due to the twin sides of the bonds of trust that tied Asuna and Kirito together and the sense of forgiveness and atonement for Asuna and Mito that served to make the climactic fight against Illfang that much more dramatic and satisfying to see. While the series main voice cast was limited to the trio of Kirito, Asuna and Mito with the support limited to those provided by Agil, Klein, Kibaou and Diavel overall I felt that each of their performances was excellently done with Haruka Tomatsu and Inori Minase’s portrayal of Asuna and Mito being one of the highlights of the movie.
Overall Sword Art Online Progressive Aria of a Starless Night I felt was an excellent movie that had among its main strengths a unique premise that served to provide a much needed and long-awaited expansion of one of the series best characters in the form of Asuna through its strong narrative, excellent characters, combat scenes, music and excellent voice acting. However, while I did enjoy the movie a lot, I felt that as a character while Mito’s surface traits and role within the narrative was finely done I felt that there wasn’t enough depth within her for her assigned seiyuu Inori Minase to work with that limited the potential growth for her as a character a fact that I felt limited her role within the second half of the movie to that of a mere supporter. If Mito is to join the franchise on a more permanent role rather than simply existing within this one movie then I hope that she will be given the expansion that she deserves. As a final score, I would say that the movie easily deserves a final score of 9/10.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Sep 25, 2021
Please be advised that while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers that there might be spoolers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Rebuilding a kingdom not through might but through words, change and diplomacy
Based on a popular light novel series of the same name Genjitsu Shugi Yuusha no Oukoku Saikenki which is more popularly known among both anime watchers and readers of the light novel as How a Realist Hero rebuilt the kingdom is an action, fantasy and romance genre anime that gives us the unique opportunity to see what will happen if one day Kazuya Souma a 19-year-old college ... student is suddenly transported to another world after the death of his most cherished grandfather. However, what if instead of being summoned and granted the combat ability of a battlemaster or the power to use supernatural powers that allows users to use the knowledge that they accumulated in previous lives to enact plans of action that our hero was one that while having neither instead possessed an extensive amount of knowledge on economics and governance and most importantly a desire to rebuild a country from the ground up. In this we have our hero Kazuma Souma who while lacking brawn and powerful magic that characterizes the Isekai genre is one that’s every bit as equal in his ability to use his knowledge to not only change the country but the world as well.
On the surface, while the series itself has much of the trappings of the Isekai genre what served to differentiate it in my view was the fact that much of the plans and reforms that he enacts over the course of the series overall narrative is a result of not unmatched combat ability nor mysterious magic that transcends even death as other Isekai shows featured but rather simple replication and application of modern-day economic and governance practices that allowed him to readily reignite the embers of a declining nation and rebuild it into something that its people are content with living in. This combination of a desire to rebuild a nation from the ground up with modern-day techniques when used in combination with Souma’s innate intelligence, charm and ability at foresight I felt really served to make the show stand out from among its peers within the genre as these served to make the series narrative and premise that much more interesting and unpredictable and serving well to draw me to this series. The series opening episode I felt while doing a great job of introducing the main character of Kazuya Souma also did well to showcase not only the dire straits the world and the kingdom of Elfriden kingdom is in thanks to the demon lord’s domain but also the daunting task of governing it as its newly crowned king after being given the role.
Kazuya Souma portrayed by veteran voice actor Yusuke Kobayashi of Re Zero and Our Last crusade or the Rise of a new world fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. A 19-year-old student that lived in modern-day Japan prior to his summon to the kingdom of Elfriden and appointed as its new king Kazuya from his initial appearances was shown to be a quiet, calm and composed person by nature that while intelligent and well versed in a wide variety of topics was also someone that was capable of not only analyzing its teachings but also applying it in practice as well as shown in the many reforms that he had enacted after taking charge. While a kind and understanding person by nature Kazuya was also a realist and shown to be particularly adept at determining the hearts and personalities of men both in terms of his kingdoms social classes as well as his own people aspects that served to not only allow him to determine the priorities for rebuilding the kingdom but also determine the best ways in which he can win the trust of the people a combination that I felt served to not only establish himself not only as a new king but one that while readily admitting his own inexperience as a ruler was someone that cared little about either tradition, social classes or races and was someone whose first priority was in improving the quality of life for its people by modernizing both its infrastructure and economy even if it meant placing himself in opposition to powerful nobles and ever-ambitious foreigners who would love nothing more than to seize control of a kingdom that has a rookie king at its helm. On the surface, while setting himself to face not only the task of rebuilding and modernizing his country but also planning to unite it against any foreign invasion may sound like one that will be impossible for one man to achieve I believed that the twin tasks served as an excellent means to create the foundation to which Kazuya can use to stand upon as he sets about improving the country’s tech level and allow his people to live safely and in relative comfort.
As the series progresses and Kazuya’s efforts to modernize the country are complicated by opposition from not only the nobles but also natural disasters and foreign interventions from opportunistic rivals Kazuya’s personality slowly begins to change as he is forced to adapt to an ever-changing world that is found in no book he’s read. While Kazuya was someone that was kind and honest by nature and was someone that possessed guile and intelligence in equal measure he was not someone that believed that his view should be expressed via forceful means unlike his erstwhile neighbor's in the principality of Amidonia preferring instead to be open with his people and listening to their concerns and discerning measures that can be used to help them overcome both their short term problems but also address it in the long term as well an act that is best shown in him trading their national treasures to repay their debt to the empire and the televised address to the people where he set about outlining his plans and asking for any who think that their innate skills may be useful to join him. This sense of openness for a newly crowned king while doing well in showing his humility and determination to change matters also showed well to the people that young as he is perhaps Kazuya was someone that they can finally place their whole trust in after years of having an ineffective king at the helm. In my eyes this speech while serving as an excellent means to introduce himself to the people also showed well Kazuya’s skill at foresight as he had correctly predicted that while his plans will go a long way in improving the kingdom he cannot do so without the willing support of his people and only with their blessing would he be able to change their lives an aspect that I really admired about him.
While the business of running a country even with a staff of handpicked retainers was certainly a daunting task that involved making some heavy decisions both domestically and internationally Kazuya nonetheless was someone that had a more empathic side to him and while not shown often was quite capable of expressing strong feelings openly as shown in the sense of regret, devastation and sadness that he expressed on seeing the impact of the landslide on the dark elves village a side of him that I felt made him more human and relatable as few rulers would spare thoughts for such minor events. While the negative feelings expressed above showcased well his desire to protect the people from all manner of threats Kazuya was also someone that had a surprisingly fun sense of humor within him that he used to excellent effect both to inform the people of new developments but also in showcasing his own creations as shown in the cooking program in ep4 a development that while doing well in creating new food items also showed to them that their king wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty when it came to solving the food shortages aspects that were complemented greatly by Kazuya’s friendly, easy-going and optimistic nature. While the event itself was certainly one that had a functional goal in mind, I felt that they also served to allow the characters to have some fun, unwind and bring some welcome comedy to both them and us something that I felt was accomplished quite readily.
Overall, as a character Kazuya Souma I felt was an excellent one that while possessing neither skill with blade or magic was one that was able to take to the new role of being king easily via both the recruitment of skilled subordinates as well as his own innate intelligence, knowledge and cunning that allowed him to not only overcome fearsome odds with not brawn but rather with words, ideas, plans and budgets that showed the world that one does not need to be a despot to make their country strong. One that rules with a firm but gentle hand that takes and considers the advice of his most trusted subordinates while always thinking of the people can also create a country that’s strong and united. His development from freshly summoned hero to king I felt while making effective usage of his intelligence and ability to adapt to given situations quickly also in my opinion served to streamline the overall narrative which within the genre often gets itself slowed due to the need for the mc to realize this is a new world whereas in this case Kazuya simply took it in stride and dealt with one thing at a time. After his lengthy stint as Subaru in Re Zero it's nice to see Yusuke Kobayashi portray a character that while similar to Subaru was someone that can be said to be the total opposite of him in both temperament, maturity and ability to think long term.
Liscia Elfriden portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Inori Minase of Re Zero and A Place Further than the universe fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the primary heroines within the series. The sole daughter of the former king and queen of Elfriden and its former princess Liscia from her initial appearances was shown to be a confident, kind and honest person by nature that nonetheless also possessed a surprisingly fiery and haughty side to her that I felt complimented her character well. As a former member of the kingdom’s royalty Liscia was someone that while polite and courteous was one that trusted others warily and as a result of her fiery nature tended to misunderstand situations and the intents of others as shown in her first encounters with Kazuya who she viewed as a cheater or fraud that had usurped her father’s role.
However, beneath the surface, Liscia can be seen to be someone that while wary of outsiders and those that haven’t proved themselves to her was one that appreciated hard work and results that have been earned from it and was shown to be very loyal towards those that have earned her trust. While Liscia at the beginning of the series was shown to be somewhat of an idealist that believed perhaps too strongly in the belief that age-old traditions should be maintained, when possible, she was someone that was shown to be rather adaptable with her thinking when sufficient facts are shown to her. Though Liscia’s fiery and stubborn nature can often make people think that she’s a difficult person to interact with Liscia beneath her base nature was actually someone that was honest and caring by nature and was quite capable of reflecting upon her judgement and apologizing when needed a fact that I felt really served to complement her character’s desire to find the best way possible to rebuild her country by allying with Kazuya a person though she suspected as a fraud at first soon become the shining beacon that they needed to help her beloved home.
As a character Liscia I felt was an interesting character that was designed and developed relatively well as the series progressed. While Liscia’s first encounter with Kazuya was not the most pleasant experience for either of them Liscia’s innate qualities of being a stubborn and fiery yet intelligent and rational person over the course of the series served to establish her as not a princess but a dear friend and confidant for Kazuya that was always on hand to give him not only practical advice on the world but also emotional and combat support when needed. While her knowledge of how an economy works and how these will affect the kingdom’s people is not as refined as those of Kazuya her ability to self-reflect and expand upon ideas that have been proposed allowed her to not only keep in sync with Kazuya relatively easily but also served to keep him grounded as a person a relationship that I felt served to remind us that while being a king is a hard role it will be even harder if you did not have someone that you can be frank with in both your feelings and your plans to rebuild the land a role that Liscia managed to fulfil excellently.
Animation wise I felt that the animation used within the series was not only clear and detailed but also made great use of colour and environmental variety within its settings. Character design-wise while the series featured your standard variety of humans and elves or in this case the dark elves it also featured some interesting races that were unique to the series such as the Lion Beastman, Sea Serpent, Dragonnewt and Mystic wolves all of which featured designs that I felt while making them all unique in terms of race qualities also served to expand upon the lore of the kingdom as well with each of their traits serving to enhance each of the respective military branches and giving each a unique capability when their service is required as was demonstrated by the air force during their relief of the forbidden army . While the number of locations that the cast visit throughout the series wasn’t especially large by any means the ones that were featured I felt served to showcase well not only the reason for Kazuya’s reforms but also showcase the kind of division that existed within the kingdom even before his arrival and appointment as king as shown in the abundant cotton fields who are unable to sell because of supply exceeding demand, the tired and hungry civilians across the land who aren’t getting supplies due to inadequate road networks and lastly the decentralized military whose cities and domains while impressive in scale did nothing to help the kingdoms people and whose independence while itself initially a safety measure ended up causing issues with chain of command when their strength was needed the most. While the locations shown were indeed few the impact that they had allowing us to see how dire things were within the kingdom were certainly more than enough.
Music-wise the series made use of one opening and ending theme which was Hello Horizon that was performed by Liscia’s seiyuu veteran seiyuu singer Inori Minase and Kazanear that was performed by Aimi who portrayed the character of Carla. Both of these songs while excellent ones served to represent different emotions and feelings when used in conjunction with their accompanying visuals with the former being able to inject a level of tension within it as it introduced not only how divided the continent of Landia was but also how tough of a job Kazuya and his trusted allies have as they set about rebuilding Elfrieden when faced against the might of hostile nations and ambitious warriors and dukes that are determined to take advantage of the new reality being presented to them. On the other hand, the ending theme can be said to have the opposite effect in that it conveyed the feelings of hope, determination and a desire to forge a new path and future for your people by implementing change without compromising one’s own values and morals a contrast that I felt complimented both the series central theme and the feelings conveyed by the opening.
In terms of voice acting, I felt that overall, the series main voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether they were main or support ones. In particular, I felt that Yuusuke Kobayashi and Inori Minase who portrayed the main leads did an excellent job at portraying the characters of Kazuya Souma and Liscia Elfriden whose character chemistry really served to make them a delight to see on screen. Backing them up were a host of talented seiyuu’s who did well both to support them in their endeavors or frustrating them as their opponents with notable ones being Ikumi Hasegawa whose portrayal of the powerful but surprisingly gluttonous dark elf Aisha was as inspiring as it was amusing, Reina Ueda whose portrayal of the beautiful and graceful angel Juna was as elegant as it was awe-inspiring on account of her ability to combine her singing talent with mc and her duties as an advisor and lastly the trinity of dukes of Excel Walter, Castor Vargas and Georg Carmine who were portrayed by veteran seiyuu’s Yui Horie, Jun Fukuyama and Taiten Kusonoki who managed to convey into their characters a level of maturity, stubbornness and a desire to test Kazuya Souma’s mettle of king that served to make them formidable obstacles for him in the first days of the rebuilding and really make him pull out all the stops needed to overcome them.
In overall I felt that How a Realist Hero rebuilt The kingdom was an excellent anime that had among its main strengths an interesting premise, narrative, excellent characters that were both well designed and developed, stellar voice acting and creative problems that had to be addressed by the cast all of which served to introduce a welcome change to the Isekai genre by creating a tale in which the hero solves problems via intelligence, knowledge, words and creativity rather than with swords or magic a change that I felt served as an additional reason for this series popularity.
While the Isekai genre despite being one that has been in existence for just over 2 decades continues to move from strength to strength its focus in providing narratives that are easily relatable to its intended audience of teenagers have in my opinion started to make animes of this genre somewhat predictable in its ideas. However, in the case of Realist the series while having the standard trappings of the genre represented something of a unique case due to the fact that Kazuya did not take up the role of a combatant as most series of the genre would have but rather take up the role of an administrator or in Kazuya’s mind a caretaker king who would take up management of the kingdom of Elfrieden until a new and worthy king arrives to take over. Although Kazuya Souma was quite capable of taking upon the blade and becoming a warrior as many Isekai before it had done so with their mc’s the narratives decision to place him as a king who fought with words, plans and knowledge I felt really served to differentiate him while also allowing the usage of his impressive knowledge on economics and governance to full effect. While the series itself is indeed a relatively slow-paced series on account of its reliance on diplomacy and problem solving I felt that this resonated well with the overall goal of rebuilding the kingdom from the ground up that served to allow us a unique insight into the kind of goals and milestones that are necessary for the management of a kingdom that ranges from practical issues such as addressing food shortages, infrastructure, optimal crop placement and talent recruitment to more sensitive issues like liaising with the different races and social classes within the kingdom to inspire loyalty and unity against threats both internal and external. Though the reforms extensive as they were are not revolutionary by modern standards their implementation when combined with Kazuya’s skill at innovation proved to be both entertaining and a valuable lesson to learn as well a fact that was bolstered by the excellent usage of Kazuya’s skill at breaking apart complex knowledge into easily understood info that can be easily understood.
Overall, how a Realist rebuilt the kingdom was an excellent anime that provided a fine balance of entertainment, tension, comedy, heartfelt bonding moments and a level of unpredictability in the form of Kazuya Souma’s reform plans that left me eagerly waiting to see each episode as a new week began. While there were admittedly characters that I felt were underused within the narrative that I wished could have seen more expansion overall the series’ adaptation from its source material I felt was a resounding success. Anime’s that require the cast to actually think and consider all angles of a problem are a rarity these days and I for one would like to see more of these types of animes over ones where violence and OP superpowers have become the norm. As a final score, I would say that it easily deserves a 9/10.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Jun 19, 2021
Please note while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based on a popular light novel of the same name 86 is a military sci-fi, mecha and drama based anime that gives us the unique opportunity to see what will happen if one day the central government of one’s homeland was to experience a shared sense of madness that planted in their minds a belief that while one that was totally irrational and downright inhumane was one that they all willingly not only subscribed too but also spread it to every ... person within their population the belief that apart from the genetically enhanced Alba that make up the majority of the population every other minority race within the republic was from henceforth an alien that was to be stripped of their entitled rights and shipped to the containment camps where they will reside until death. But alas when the forces of the Empire of Giad began their march the same government that had willingly exiled half of their population to certain death in their quest to maintain genetic purity was forced to modify these orders and conscript the minorities now labelled as 86 that were able-bodied and have them serve on the frontlines as their guardians against the legions of the empire. In a curious twist of fate, the people that they had exiled in their quest to maintain genetic purity had become the only things standing between the republic’s people and a bloody death an irony that Shinn and his squadron take grim pride in as day after day they by surviving against both the legion and the republic’s attempts to kill them they are not only living a good life free from the scorn of the Alba but do so in the company of their brothers and sisters that will last until death claims them.
The overall story of the series follows the lives of Vladilena Lena Milze a major within the Republic of San Magnolian’s military and her counterpart within the darkly famed Spearhead unit field commander Shinei Nouzen who commands that unit as they both fight to not only stop the plans of the legion but also to for the first time in their life try to overcome the sense of discrimination and racism that the Alba in their quest to maintain genetic purity had created by not only labelling them as monsters but exiling them from their homes and try and find a sense of common ground where genuine trust and friendship can once again flourish between them and the bonds and trust between them long-strained can be reforged once more. But as Shinn and Lena were to discover on the battlefield the truth about the legion and their prophesized time limit was far darker than even they had suspected the bonds that both sides are trying to reforge may well be the very last thing that they will have if the Alba and the 86 are unable to put their differences aside and realize the true threat that the legion represents. For when death comes it will not care what colours your skin are only that as a human you deserve only annihilation.
Shinei Nouzen better known as Shinn to his comrades and friends and as the reaper to his Alba overseers within high command is one of the main characters of the series and serves as the representative of the common soldier’s perspective of the war by allowing us to see what it was like fighting tooth and nail against the forces of the legions on the frontlines. The combat commander and the acknowledged leader of the 86th spearhead squadron of the Republic of San Magnolian’s military Shinn from his initial appearances was shown to be a quiet, calm, and taciturn person by nature who while having no problems in socialising and befriending others was shown to be one that preferred to spend his time in solitude. While this can be seen to be a result of his quiet nature this instead was a means to allow Shinn to rationally determine the best way forward for he and his team that will allow them to accomplish their objectives while minimising the number of casualties that they can potentially incur while doing it. However, while doing his best to ensure that his friends and comrades have the highest chances of surviving their missions the unique nature of battlefields meant that the chances of there being a fatality were exceptionally high and it is in these sorrowful circumstances that Shinn would have to assume a role than not many would envy which is that of an undertaker whose role was to ensure that those that are too heavily wounded to survive are given a merciful end and their lives and deeds are recorded and engraved within his mind until the day when their time as soldiers comes to an end and only then would Shinn be able to relinquish the box of makeshift dog tags that represented the deeds and lives of every one of his comrades that had been lost since they joined the squadron. Though nominally shown to be loyal to the republic and obeying their orders Shinn and the members of his squadron after years of abuse and belittling at the hands of their superiors were seen to have little respect for them and indeed was all too willing to demean them based on what they believe they are like in their worlds and ensuring that their relationship with command while professional on the surface was in reality a turbulent one that had until the coming of Lena been one that drove their assigned handlers crazy. However, with the coming of their new Handler Lena this curious relationship that Shinn and his team had with their overseers soon changed to something that neither side expected to encounter in their lifetime which was a relationship where trust between the two sides actually existed.
As the series progresses and Shinn’s personality is expanded upon it can be seen that beneath his steely exterior Shinn was someone that had been profoundly changed by the experiences that he had experienced as a result of being forced upon the role of a soldier. As a result of always being treated by their overseers as beings other than human Shinn and his squadron had until meeting Lena been saddled with perhaps the worst members of the military as their Handlers people who not only advocated the most costly of strategy when confronted by complex objectives but at the same time ignored their recommendations for alternatives as well which when combined with the minimum amounts of resupply of ammo, fire support and critical components for their juggernauts ensured that Shinn’s attitude toward their overseers was not only cynical but also one where he not only expected them to backstab him and his team but also abandon them to the legion if given the opportunity aspects that served to ensure that to Shinn any new Handler that’s assigned to the unit needed to prove themselves first before they can be trusted to assist them. While the long years of being a soldier had allowed him to become an effective field commander that was not only able to make effective usage of Spearhead’s strengths but also pair them with effective usage of strategy and effective reading of the flow of battle that had served to humble many a legion attack it can be seen that the mental cost that came from not being able to protect everyone had served to create a heavy emotional burden that weighed heavily on his mind. This burden while a heavy one but itself was also complicated by the fact that in his desire to not diminish the overall morale of the unit and place more burdens on his friends meant that Shinn while perfectly capable of delegating tasks to his friends preferred to take upon the lion’s share of the work and responsibilities that if not for his strong will would have broken many a man. However, with the coming of Lena and the renewed bonds that came from learning to trust his closest allies this burden while never completely gone was instead lightened as his friends and the one Handler that he trusted stepped in to support him.
As a character Shinn I felt was an excellent character that was both well designed and developed with his skills as an effective field commander and soldier being complemented nicely with the developing bonds and relationship that he had managed to forge with not only his friends within the squadron but also with his new Handler. While the relationship between Shinn and Lena started off as being a perfectly professional relationship that despite the latter’s best efforts were unable to make a lasting impression on Shinn and his team due to the animosity that existed between them and the Alba as time passed, and Lena persevered in her attempts Shinn while still distrustful of her began to realize that despite all odds that their new Handler was indeed something different. For unlike their previous ones’ Lena not only treated them as humans with genuine respect but also took great pains to not only bond with them as individuals by asking them for their names a development that was as alien to Shinn as it was to his friends within the unit. Perhaps the most significant aspect of their developing relationship was the endless hours of talk that Shinn engaged with Lena over the most trivial of matters that ranged from his past memories to fireworks and a desire to attend his old home district again aspects that served to for the first time in his life show to him that while the majority of the Alba were scumbags there were still good people within their ranks who despite not being able to change society still did all they could to support them on the field a fact that Shinn was thankful for.
While the relationship between Lena and Shinn served well to showcase the positive aspects that can come from meeting someone that was willing to see the wider truth of society and change themselves to compensate I felt that the other half of Shinn’s core arc which explored the turbulent bond that Shinn had with his brother was the opposite in the spectrum in that it showed the worst effects that the combination of exile, loss and grief can have in creating a sense of madness within what pre 86 had been a caring and loving brother who cared for Shinn deeply. Though in the end the struggle between the two was resolved it can be said that he was just as much a victim of the law as the rest of the 86 were and while Shinn had served to protect himself and his friends the results were bittersweet at best.
Vladilena Milize more popularly known as Lena to both fans of the series and to Shinn and his squadron is one of the main characters of the series representing the command level’s perspective of the series that showcases the viewpoint of the war from the perspective of the now dominant Alba race within the republic. A major within the republic’s military and one of the youngest to attain that rank Lena while never actually serving on the frontlines as her charges as per the lie that the republic tells its people never less serves as Handler One the militaries assigned handler to Spearhead squadron and provides them with not only intel but also command and control via the orders that are given by high command that dictate their contribution to the war against the legion. From her initial appearances Lena while a member of the Alba race was shown to different to her fellows in that she not only treated the members of non-Alba races with respect, humility and honour but also did not outright discriminate against them based on their race, unlike her fellows. As one of the youngest commissioned officers within the military Lena was shown to be someone that was calm, composed, serious and professional in the conduct of her duties. While her serious, diligent, and determined attitude served her well in allowing her to climb the ranks this was complemented by her kind and understanding nature that allowed her to not only gain ranks but in the process allow her to forge strong bonds with the few like-minded personal within the ranks as shown in her bond with her friend Anette. However, what can be said to truly define Lena as a person was her belief in the founding moral principles of the republic that was represented within their flag that stated that all citizens of the republic should be subject to freedom, equality, justice and a sense of brotherhood that they can share with their fellow citizens regardless of their skin colour a belief that while central to the republic had largely been disregarded by the citizens of the current republic who prefers to live within their own dream world rather than face reality a fact that was seen to give Lena much lament as they were beliefs that she cherished deeply that acted as her foundation.
As the series progresses and Lena’s character is expanded upon it can be seen that like the great majority of the Alba Lena while knowing the surface details regarding the members of the squadrons of the 86 did not quite know the whole truth about the crimes that were committed against them by her people. While Lena’s confidence, kindness and friendly nature allowed her to bond easily with people within her world her attempt to replicate the same results with the members of the squadron by trying to empathize with them and motivate them via her idealistic read on the high ideals of the republic unfortunately backfired on her despite her sincerity since she not only knew little of the larger picture but also because her directness was seen as condescending as well. Despite this setback, however, Lena was seen to be undaunted in her efforts to bond with her charges and while her persistent nature served to annoy many this was offset by the increasing curiosity that they displayed towards an Alba that was trying hard to bond with what to them should have been the outcasts of her world with this ultimately being the deciding factor that shattered the unit’s reluctance and allowed her to befriend them for real. However, to Lena, while this one move may seem to be a simple step to her it also served as an effective foundation in which she can use to walk her path and correct the sins that the Republic had committed. As part of this desire Lena while still nominally serving as the unit’s overseer was seen to fight hard to not only try to enhance the overall effectiveness of the squadron by providing not only accurate intel and supplies but also trying to get them to submit battle data that can be analysed and used to improve their ability to defeat the legion. However, Lena’s attempt to help was not simply restricted on military matters as on a personal level she also persevered in her attempt to bond and befriend the members of the squadron with her usage of putting a personal name to a face that was created after they reveal them to her and her breach of military law to send them fireworks being the best examples of Lena’s desire to not only build a rapport with them but also allow them to enjoy the relaxation time that their duties prevented them from having and in doing so allow Lena to start her journey of walking her own path that was built along the foundations of equality, respect and friendship.
As a character Lena I felt was an excellent character that was both well designed and developed with a level of complexity that really surprised me. While her initial appearances of a young woman that was friendly, polite, humble, efficient, and professional broadly conformed to the image I had of her by looking at the series overview her persistence in trying to not only improve the units’ chances of survival and her determination to bond with the members of the squadron really served to surprise me. Complementing these aspects was Lena’s ability to both self-evaluate and adapt on the fly in her desire to change the republic and its bond with its people an aspect that made great use of the revelation of the 86 program to kickstart Lena’s transition from a simple cog of the republic to someone willing to do all she can to help those that the republic had so cruelly abandoned whether or not the rules let her or not with her unauthorised usage of the long-range mortar batteries in ep9 to support the squadrons assault on the legion being the best first step possible.
In terms of the former, I felt that overall, the animation that was seen within the series was not just top-notch in terms of graphical quality but was also used well to complement the series overall story by showing just how much the war against the legion has cost them as well as how deadly the new lives of the 86 had become after they were exiled from their lives within the republic to become its sacrificial pawns. Environmentally while the number of locations that the two casts of characters that represented the command and common soldiers’ perspective was not especially large I felt that the locations that were seen served to showcase the fact that while both sides ultimately live in the same world and serve the same country the worlds in which they exist within while similar are not the same.
In the world that Lena and her friends reside in that too me resembled a futuristic version of 18th century Europe the carefree nature of the genetically created Albas and the leisurely lifestyle that they lived as well as the beautiful architecture of their streets and buildings I felt was contrasted greatly by the sense of both their fanatic belief in their government and their desire to sacrifice everything that was deemed necessary by the former if they desired to survive a sacrifice that many of the Alba was all too willing to make as seen in their widespread discrimination towards the members of the 86 that eventually forced them from both their jobs within society and for many of them later on their lives as well. While the world that they gained by sacrificing their co-workers, friends and neighbours was indeed a beautiful one it came at the cost of losing much of their humanity, empathy, and territory as well and ensuring that while safe the food that they eat and the time they can spend exchanging ideas with likeminded people is gone forever a fact that represented well that the world that they created was safe, yes but empty of the things that made a world whole. In contrast to the sterile and hollow world that Lena resided in the world in which Shinn and the squadron resided in while certainly far more dangerous than the former due to the presence of the legion was one that featured not only much more diversity but also more freedom of action as well as while exiled from their former lives and fighting tooth and nail with the grim reaper at every party with the legion during their downtime Shinn and his friends while still subject to the deliberate supply shortages mandated by high command were able to freely spend time with their comrades and bond with them over their shared sense of hatred towards both the legion and the Alba who had banished them so readily from their world. Perhaps more than ever for Shinn and his friends being able to freely mingle with each other and forge bonds that transcend not only social class, but race as well allowed Shinn and his squadron to not only survive countless parties but also get stronger as they learn how to deal with the legion and in doing so get the final revenge on their overseers.
In terms of mecha design and combat animations and scenarios overall, I was impressed by what I saw within the series. Outside of 86 the realm of mecha anime while certainly not as large as it was in the past was still dominated by the juggernaut that is the Gundam franchise and while the designs of the mecha’s shown within the series was a tad basic I felt that in this case, their simplicity served to give them all their own unique role within both the line of battle and in the story. Within the series, the standard issued equipment for the republic’s military was the allegedly unmanned M1A4 weapon system that in reality was anything but unmanned. The M1A4 while the most advanced of the republic’s weapons was, in reality, sub-par in every regard owing to its poorly designed body, weak armour and low firepower when compared to the legion. However unlike the legion when placed in the hands of skilled pilots that are commanded by veteran commanders gifted with the ability to formulate effective tactics on the fly even the jug can be used to devastating effect on the battlefield as shown in ep2 when Spearhead’s ambush resulted in the devastation of a significant legion force with only minimal damage to themselves with the highlight of this battle being Shinn’s solo rampage that broke the back of their assault in spectacular fashion.
As the primary hostile force, the legion I felt proved to be a potent opponent for Shinn and Spearhead. While the standard mix of classes was represented well in the form of the Ameise scout types, the Grauwolf dragoons, the Lowe tank types and the Eintagsfliege electronic warfare types the legion also made great use of elites in the form of the Scorpion gunner type and the shepherd’s that acted as the legions command and control units that served to enhance their overall effectiveness when deployed. However, what proved to be the most unique of the legions line-up however were not the units that made use of firepower as their main offence but the unique black sheep’s that made use of Psychological tactics to unnerve their foes as their primary a tactic that I felt added an excellent new dimension to the nature of the combat that Spearhead faces on the field that was demonstrated the best in ep5 when spearhead squadron was forced to deal with a black sheep that had assimilated the memories of one of their most cherished friends. In addition to the tension that came from facing this, I felt that this battle also showcased the hard decisions that the members of the squadron had to make in the field to save the living in the form of the almost synchronised pulls of Theoto, Daiya, Anju and Kurena as they dealt with it which almost resembled an execution that was done to put to rest a dear friend that the legion had stolen from them.
Music-wise the series made use of one opening and two ending themes which was 3-bun 29 byo that was performed by Hitorie and Avid and Hand’s up to the Sky that was performed by the famed vocal project SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]. While each of these songs was excellent ones I felt that the songs when used with their respective accompanying visuals served to give off a different sense of feelings and emotions with the former showing well that while Lena and Shinn serve and live in very different worlds without the aid of one another the members of the squadrons deployed on the frontlines would not survive the first three minutes and twenty nine seconds and that while every death on the field is a tragedy by working with handlers that care about your well being and provide you with whatever is needed they will be able to survive another day with the friends that you managed to protect. In contrast, the series ending theme Avid while lessening on the action compensated by infusing it with some excellent displays of emotions and feelings that reflected well not just on the feelings that came about from witnessing the loss of friends on the field but also the effects of meeting and bonding with people that did not follow the status quo and instead of being compelled to follow society was instead willing to change it by treating their subordinates as human and not as expendable pawns. While the two songs were both equally excellent I felt that the series was also backed by an excellent OST that really showcased the talent of noted composer Hiroyuki Sawano which served to add an additional layer of tension to the scenes presented within the anime’s overall story.
Voice acting wise overall I felt that the series main voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters however I feel that Shoya Chiba, Ikumi Hasegawa, Seiichiro Yamashita, Natsumi Fujiwara, Saori Hayami and Sayumi Suzushiro all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters of Shinn, Lena, Raiden, Theoto, Anju and Kurena, respectively. Of this ensemble group of talented seiyuu’s, I have to say that Ikumi Hasegawa and Sayumi Suzushiro really surprised me with their portrayals of Lena and Kurena as in my view both characters were complex ones with Lena being especially as she had to portray a wide range of emotions and feelings as she had to wrestle both with her own development as a person as she came to terms with the scale of the crimes that her own people had perpetrated on the 86 as well as her own desire to reverse this by treating her charges as normal people rather than objects. For Sayumi while her character Kurena did not speak that much I felt her pent-up rage when unleashed really served to showcase the kind of pain, grief, and grave injustices that the members of the 86 had been subject to as a result of the republic’s exile of them with Sayumi’s inlaying of heartfelt feelings and emotions into her lines serving to add a little more punch to its effects.
In overall I felt that 86 was an excellent anime that had among its main strong points a unique premise, powerful and heartfelt story, highly detailed and well-designed battles, excellent variety of mecha, excellent voice acting and its bold usage of a serious subject topic that while rarely seen in modern-day anime is one that is especially relevant within both the world of 86 and in the current strife-filled world that we inhabit.
The series overall story and premise is without a doubt one of the main highlights of the series due to its excellent weaving of several different elements that while strong by themselves served to enhance and complement each other when used together and serve to improve an already well thought out story. While the series’ world-building and usage of mass discrimination and exile had served to create a solid foundation from which the Republic was able to stand upon served well to create the two worlds that Lena and Shinn reside in on a physical level this usage of the two worlds was bolstered by the usage of the legions unique method of gaining strength via their absorption of memories and the 86’s desire to make use of all available means to fight against their sworn enemies in the form of the legion but also prove to the ones that exiled them that even after they were booted out of their homes and had everything taken from them they are not only surviving but able to enjoy a better life outside the walls as well. This sense of a group of underdogs that continued to survive mission after mission despite high commands desire to whittle them down I felt was used well in conjunction with Lena’s desire to change the republic by changing her attitude towards her charges really served to make great use of the twin sides of hope and despair that is ever so common on a battlefield.
On the psychological side of things within the series apart from the laughingly bad legion knockoff in the form of the M1A4 another technology that served to showcase the two sides of hope and despair on the field was without a doubt the Para raid which when used correctly was able to allow handlers to share senses with their charges and allow the former to give timely intel to them and aid them on the field when needed. However, this sharing of senses between the two sides was as much of a double-edged sword as the M1A4 was as prolonged linking of senses can have the unfortunate effect of having a handler who is unaccustomed to the perils and strong negative feelings that can result from seeing your friends atomized suffer heavy mental damage that if managed incorrectly can easily result in fried brains if they did not have a strong enough will to weather it. However, while the potential of losing oneself to the negativity may seem overwhelming the reverse can also be true in that positive feelings supported with a helping of determination can also serve to forge new and lasting friendships with people that had considered you as enemies and when used correctly can also lay the foundations for changing the world.
Overall, as a final score, I would say that 86 easily deserves a final score of 9/10 for its solid weaving of an excellent story, characters, combat, voice acting, animation and a well-designed and thought-out fractured society that when used with the emotional aspects of the bond that is forged between Lena and Shinn made this show one of the highlights of this season.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Jun 19, 2021
Please note while care has been taken in minimizing story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. Please read at your own risk.
Intro and Premise
Based on an original idea Vivy: Flurite Eye’s song is an Action, Music, Sci-Fi and thriller genre anime that gives us the unique opportunity to see what will transpire if in the future humanity in their desire to innovate and advance themselves were to hit upon the idea of creating highly advanced AI’s and advanced cybernetic constructs that while allowing the advancement of their civilization also served to allow them to infiltrate their very lives on ... every level within society. What will happen if one day the very AI’s that you had created to assist you were to one day go haywire and attack their creators.
The field of Robotics and AI have always been subject matters that long interested humanity being present in a variety of media since its inception with notable examples being the famed Terminator franchise that showed them at their worst. However, what sets Vivy apart from such series is the fact that unlike the former which focused on potential effects that would happen If AI were to seize control of military hardware and use it to exterminate humanity Vivy served to do the opposite in that its overall story allowed us to look at not only the kind of impact that AI’s would have when assigned to specific roles within society but also the kind of emotional bonds and connections that their actions and missions would have on the people that they encounter in their lifetime.
This potent combination of the emotional connections that AI’s can foster between humans, quest to stop Armageddon at their hands and the core question of whether AI’s that act under their own emotions are artificial beings or sentient beings of their own right I felt made for quite the unique premise. The series opening ep while starting off slow did an excellent job of showcasing both the pros and cons of AI’s within society also did well to show the sheer potential of both discovery and creative world-building that came from the interventions across the timeline that Vivy and her cube buddy Matsumoto embark upon as part of the Singularity project which aimed to save humanity for forestalling the advancement of their own kind.
While this in itself was an extremely critical mission the irony that it was an AI that had as a singer provided much entertainment to humans with her songs and a cube that had quite the condescending personality as our would-be saviours for this tale I felt was pretty ironic but reflected well that to stop the madness that is the phantom song one must send out the best of singers to sing their own and restore the harmony between humanity and AI’s that had existed before the appearance of the destructive song.
Vivy is one of the main characters of the series and is the primary heroine of the series. Serving as the world’s first autonomous AI that was far more adaptable than her one-dimensional predecessors Vivy in her initial appearances was shown to be someone that while programmed with the mission and role of a singer was shown to be someone that not only loved to sing beyond her programming but also treasured the belief that by singing to the people around her she was not only making those around her happy but also visualize the belief that no matter how long one’s life is if you are unable to live that life to its fullest then it’s not really a worthwhile life.
In the beginning of the series, Vivy was shown to be someone akin to a new-born human being a kind and curious person that was trying hard to learn and adapt to her new role while battling with a sense of low self-esteem. Though lacking in confidence Vivy was someone that was willing to both experiment with different ideas and ask others for help when needed a fact that allowed her to bond easily with others and support them and in doing so creating a support network of her own as shown in her first friendship with Momoka and her later bonds with the allies she encounters within the story. This aspect of her while serving well to improve her as a person also served to reflect on her desire to help as many people as she can with her actions and make her contribution in helping others find their life paths that much more heartfelt. While her base personality and her steadfast determination to never waiver from her chosen path did well to showcase the levels of her focus and logic I felt that this served as an excellent means to complement her interactions with her future partner in her mission to save the world in that her countless arguments with him provided some excellent comedy that did well to ease the tension that can come about from trying to save the world from itself.
As the series progresses and Vivy as a result of not only meeting Matsumoto and embarking on the singularity project but also in the process encountering other beings in the process Vivy began to gradually change as she came to face the grim reality that existed underneath the glamour of what was supposed to be the golden age of humanity. While agreeing to aid Matsumoto in taking part in the project in order to stop the worst-case scenario that had been visualized in the nightmarish recordings that he had shown her it can be seen that while Vivi does understand the necessity of the mission and how she must change herself to do so that despite that she defined this as being secondary to her primary duties of bringing happiness to others and was adamant that the two missions did not interfere with each other. As a result of this determination to uphold her primary mission while trying to protect the world Vivy was not only able to understand and learn about not only the harsh realities and hatred that existed within the hidden cracks within society but also the many positive aspects that AI’s have managed to bring to human society and through that come to discover not only was the human heart not simply an organ within a humans body but was also the very essence of a person and the core of what defined an individual that motivated them in every action that they took in the world. This insight into the complexity of human emotions and feelings while at first difficult to rationalize by Vivy gradually as the series progressed and she came to understand it become one of her core focuses when embarking on the missions that make up the project in that while she will do her utmost to complete said mission she will always strive to save those that were innocent and always look at the bigger picture. An aspect that becomes especially important when encountering issues that she has never seen before as seen in her reactions to seeing the romance between Doctor Saiki and Grace and seeing the bittersweet relationship that existed between the sisters Estella and Elizabeth.
These interactions with not only her sisters but also with the many people whose lives have been changed by them however when used in conjunction with her overall role within the project unfortunately also served to provide Vivy with a heavy emotional burden as while Vivy was gladdened to have the opportunity to not only meet her sisters and see the kind of impact that they had on the people around them and on society she also had the unenviable task of facing down her fellow AI’s if the missions that form part of the project calls for it or if she had to kill a fellow AI to save the life of another. This contrast in personalities within Vivy that involved the hardening of one’s heart to complete her mission ultimately served to create a sense of conflict between the two of them that resulted in the fracturing of the two and the reborn into a new variant that can be said to be her ultimate form. In this form, while she still possessed her trademarked kindness, perceptive and determined nature she was also shown to be supremely confident in dealing with both her fellow AI’s and humans and unlike her past selves was seen to be highly charismatic in her performances as a singer as exemplified in her first concert in this new form.
However, these changes while working wonders for her career as a singer also served to complement one of her newfound traits that defined her new form which was a desire to not only find the truth but also to protect those around her with all her might one that once ignited was almost impossible to stop. This sense of sheer determination to discover the truth and protect all that she can while a consequence of the conflict that came about as a result of seeing not only the countless tragedies that had come about as a result of the hidden hatred between AI and humans and the countless lives that had been lost as a consequence while serving as a potent source of motivation for Vivy to finally put an end to her century-long journey also, in my opinion, served to showcase just how much more human she had become as a result of all the encounters that she has had over the century that she had spent on the project. An aspect that was exemplified by not only the sense positive feelings and strength that she was able to draw upon from her friends and allies but also the sheer amount of negative feelings that she was forced to acquaint herself with in the form of despair and fear as well. To be able to find one’s motivation when faced with the most extreme of feelings I felt really showcased just how much Vivy as a result of her centuries-long journey to save humanity had advanced and changed as not only an AI but as one that was far more humanlike than any of her predecessors and sisters.
Matsumoto is one of the main characters of the series and serves as one of Vivy’s most trusted allies within the series acting as both her constant companion but also one that always sets her on the correct but often hard path that she must follow for the sake of the project. In his initial form, Matsumoto as a result of his experiences from the future in which he originates from was seen to be someone that was self-confident, intelligent, direct and extremely talkative that served to complement his cunning nature. While relatively open-minded and a highly effective hacker thanks to his various modules that allowed him to easily compensate and adapt his skills to achieve his goals, Matsumoto, in the beginning, was seen to possess a degree of arrogance in him that made him difficult to work with which when combined with steadfast dedication to his assigned mission and willingness to use root extermination techniques to correct any anomalies that were discovered in their missions rather than look for the core reason for their formation served to ensure that the relationship between him and Vivy was an icy one at first.
However, while Matsumoto was not as much as a combat heavyweight as Vivy was though he did have his standout moments as seen in his fight against Ophelia and Antonio his role as an effective support character that provided combat and emotional support and direction to Vivy throughout the series was unparalleled and it is certainly not an understatement to state that without Matsumoto constantly making sure that their missions were following the proscribed perimeters and that they were not creating a paradox that the project would have failed. While the relationship between Matsumoto and Vivy started off in the worst possible way I felt that their constant bickering throughout the series when combined with Matsumoto’s own attempt to smooth over the relationship as partners and his gradual realization of his own flaws served to not only create some excellent chemistry between the two that really served to break the ice but allow the two to truly rely upon each other as friends and partners with his attempts at comedy and snarky comments as well as his concern for her wellbeing being the best representations of this.
In terms of animation overall, the animation that was shown in Vivy Flurite Eye’s song I felt was really impressive whether it was visually or in variety and made excellent usage of the futuristic timeline that served as the series main setting. Character designs wise I felt that the overall designs for the series main AI’s in the form of Vivy, Estella, Elizabeth, Grace and Ophelia were excellent ones that were not just beautiful but reflected well not just on their role within society as AI’s but also on their personality’s as well with the latter aspect making great usage of colour that served to both differentiate and define their personalities within the series both through visual means and as introduced within the story. In terms of the other AI constructs that were seen within the series while the number of unique constructs shown wasn’t especially large what was shown I felt were pretty unique with the notable ones in my mind being Matsumoto’s cube jet that was shown in ep6, his true form, Antonio who served as Ophelia’s manager and partner, M from the metal float and lastly the archive whose central form was both pretty and showed well the kind of scale that is necessary to process and disseminate data to other AI’s.
In terms of location design by using the future as its primary setting the series I felt managed to maximize the variety of locations that it made use of within the framework of the story. Within the series though the locations featured were relatively few the artistic purpose and the effect it had on the story I felt was combined well to showcase not only what it represented in peace but also what it can represent as both a tragic memory and asset to the war with Nia land that served as Vivy’s home representing both a home and also a tragic memory when the war began, the archive that in peace represents a space where malfunctioning AI’s can enter to recover and in war the central nexus of the one that instigated the war, Sunrise which in peace was a marvel of engineering whose beauty entertained thousands but when used as a bomb become an undying reminder of the selflessness of AI’s and their desire to save as many people as they can, Metal float that in peace represented a marvel that would greatly benefit mankind but in war become a critical asset that can be used to destroy it and lastly The Arayashiki labs which during peace would have been a place that housed the brightest of humans as they sought to innovate and create new tech to better mankind but in war become ground zero that housed the controls necessary to save mankind that was surrounded by the bodies of countless humans who by their sacrifice had served to delay the AI’s from enacting their plan.
Combat animation and fights within the series I felt were excellently designed that reflected well not just on the sheer speed in which AI’s operated when compared to their human counterparts but also on the sheer level of lethality that they possessed thanks to the amount of force that they were capable of expending. Each of the fights featured within the series was not just blindingly fast but also highly impactful with the best fights in my eyes being Vivy’s fight with Beth in ep4, Matsumoto’s solo fight vs Antonio in ep9, The rescue of future Toak in ep11, and the attempted storming of the Arayashiki labs in ep12 all of which were impressively animated and detailed. Music-wise while the series made use of one primary opening theme which was Sing my Pleasure which was performed by Vivy’s assigned singer new singer Kairi Yagi this within the series was supplemented by a number of insert songs that were performed by the other singers who were assigned the singing voices of the characters of Vivy, Grace, Estella, Elizabeth and Ophelia which within the series was provided by Kairi Yagi, Hikari Kodama, Rikka, Lica, Noa, Acane Madder and Miya Kotsuki respectively. Each of these songs I felt were equally excellent and served well to represent the kind of feelings and emotions that ran through the scenes to which they were featured in. Of the 11 songs that were featured within the series I have to say that my favourite ones were Sing My Pleasure, My Code, Happiness, A tender moon tempo and Elegy Dedicated with Love.
Voice acting wise the series main voice cast I felt all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether they were main or support ones with Atsumi Tanezaki, Jun Fukuyama, Yoko Hikasa, Satomi Akesaka, Rina Hidaka and Yumi Uchiyama all doing an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters of Vivy, Matsumoto, Estella, Grace, Ophelia and Elizabeth respectively. Of the supporting cast of which there were many, I have to say I was impressed by Ayaka Asai’s portrayal of the character of Yui Kakitani the granddaughter of Toak fighter Yugo Kakitani who unlike her father was not only more open-minded but more willing to put her faith in diplomacy than the hardliners that until then had been the largest faction within Toak. To be able to both stand firm against the demands of the hardliners as well as be brave enough to try and convince them to change their methods was most impressive as was her facing of her death with a smile on her face as she greeted her killer in ep12 a sign of bravery that few girls her age would have been able to show.
In overall Vivy Flurite Eye’s song, I felt was an excellent anime that had among its main strengths its unique premise, heartfelt story, interesting characters, excellent music, voice acting and its skilful weaving and integration of complex topics not normally seen within the realm of anime into its overall narrative.
The overall story of the series is without a doubt one of the main highlights of the series which when combined with the series unique lore and premise really served to make you get invested within the story. While the concept of AI’s and their integration into society as a means to supplement humanity isn’t new within the realm of anime as we have previously seen this within the Beatless series in this case their integration I felt was subtly different in that while they were invented to help humanity and advance their civilization it was not the AI’s that were driving the central threat of the series forward but rather the social and political aspects of humanity and their legacy of warfare and discrimination that was actually driving them to destruction with the AI’s being pushed along in the process as a result. This when used in conjunction with the time travel aspect of the story while serving to expand upon the history of humanity and the depth of their distrust towards AI’s also served as an excellent vehicle that was used to expand upon the main sister type AI’s that were featured alongside Vivy.
In this the series usage of individual story arcs that while standalone was woven seamlessly into the overall story an aspect that I felt was an excellent call as each arc provided an excellent opportunity to not only introduce a new member of the sisters and setting but also delve into the unique issues that plagued each one. Each of these arcs represented well not only the unique problems that AI’s inherent as soon they are born in the form of the mission system that defined both their life and their given role within society but also the kind of unique struggles that AI’s in the name of providing for the advancement of humanity were forced to shoulder as part of said mission. These arcs while featuring some excellent set pieces that served to both showcase and enhance the given role of its respective lead also did an excellent job at showcasing the emotional impact that the events of the arc and the advent of AI’s have on the AI’s themselves via the creative usage of the two different sides of the emotional coin that humans were so fond of using. While one side showcased the hope, happiness and joy that came from being able to fulfil their given role within society and in doing so accomplishing their mission the other did the opposite in that it showed the kind of negative feelings that can come about as a result of not only not being able to complete their missions but disappoint those closest to them as well.
Within the arcs this potent mix of emotions while doing well to enhance the arc’s narrative also did well to provide the sisters with some excellent emotional depth and serve to make them much more relatable as individuals rather than as mere AI’s with Estella’s arc showing well the double-edged sword that is the mission system that mandated that if one was unable to achieve their assigned mission that they will not only be deprived of a role within society but also be scrapped without being able to do anything in the world. While the contrast between Estella and Elizabeth in terms of achievements and motivation was striking I felt that this arc served to show that while the mission system serves as an important life goal for the AI’s that governed their life its inflexible nature can also serve to create a sense of regret anger and resentment into those that were unable to achieve their roles and create a sense of inferiority within society than can easily be exploited and used against the very society that created them. Grace’s arc while less action-packed than Estella’s arc nonetheless served to introduce a pretty interesting concept that was seldom explored within the realm of science fiction which was the potential for romance between a human and an AI but while this was unusual what made this arc truly stand out was its integration with the mission system and the effects that this has on the emotional bond between lovers. While the mission system itself and the unfairness of it were touched upon extensively within Estella’s arc I felt that this arc did an excellent job of showcasing the kind of emotional attachments that can form between humans and AI’s both in terms of positive feelings as well as the depth’s of despair that can come from having someone precious to you taken by a system that only cared about efficiency and nothing more. When combined with the overall objective of this arc for Vivy and Matsumoto and the emotional aspects of the professor and Grace this arc represented a sense of tragedy that I for one couldn’t foresee and served as an effective turning point for not just the series fans but for Vivy as well.
However, by far the most unique arc within the series was Ophelia’s arc that while building upon the foundations that were established in both Estella and Grace’s arcs served to introduce a rather curious concept in the form of a question Does an AI have a soul? This question while a deep one I felt also represented well the final stage in the series expansion of the AI’s by allowing us to look into not only their roles within society but also the physical and mental trauma that an AI despite how advanced they were still very much vulnerable to. While the arc made effective usage of the twin aspects of positive and negative emotions to showcase the triumphs and despair that Ophelia experienced its impartment of these same feelings into her partner Antonio when used in conjunction with the mission system I felt served to not only create an excellent twist within the story but showcase the fact that despite being AI they are still capable of experiencing strong emotions and feelings that governed their actions and that if they like their makers are pushed to the brink even they can be forced on to a path of no return.
In overall Vivy Flurite Eye’s song, I felt was an excellent anime that served to provide not only an interesting look at the kind of impact that AI’s can have on society in the sheer number of roles that they can fulfil but also look at the kind of opposition that can form from within humanity as a result of their rise as a faction within society through the creation of the Toak faction. While the faction itself had few standout moments I felt that its contribution in allowing Vivy to see the kind of pain and suffering that lurk in the heart of society and give her the resolve to try and create a world where everyone is equal was undeniable. As a final score, I would say that it easily deserves a final score of 9/10.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Mar 28, 2021
Please note this review is intended by those that have finished watching Idoly Pride and while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based on an original concept Idoly Pride is a Music genre anime that gives us the unique opportunity to see into the unique star-studded but hard-earned road that chronicles the evolution of a group of young girls as they transform from teenagers and schoolgirls who dream of becoming stars to professional idols that are able to not only bring light and hope to their fans with their dazzling ... performances and songs but also prove to not only themselves but to their loved ones as well that where there is a will, a dream and determination to reach the top there is no dream that you cannot make a reality if you work with your friends and allies. The only real struggle is whether you are able to muster the courage to take that first step and ascend the stairs to stardom that many have attempted but only few had succeeded in. Only with courage and teamwork and an unshakable desire to reach the top will they be able to achieve their dreams of becoming pros and be recognized nationwide as full-fledged idols.
The concept of idols is something that can be said to be very alien to western audiences as there is largely no western equivalent to them in the west unlike how popular and widespread, they are within both Japan and in the Asia Pacific region with notable one’s being the rightly famed AKB48 which is among Japan’s highest-earning musical acts and most recognizable idol group to date known not just in Japan but worldwide as well. While the groups are popularized in medium from manga, tv shows, movies, and games within the anime medium there have been few major successes as the concept is something that while easy to create in the real world is less so in the anime world due to the question of who the protagonist is. Despite that, over the years there have been many successes that while starting off relatively small served to thanks to their massive and often unexpected successes served to expand and become multimedia franchises in their own right with notable examples of this being the famed Idolmaster and Bang Dream series who served to popularize the image of young teenage girls who embark on a hard and exhausting journey that will see them not only learn how to effectively sing and dance and captivate the audience but struggle to achieve their dream of reaching the height of their careers with like-minded friends and teammates.
While the concept and premise of Idoly pride can be said to be very similar to the above-mentioned franchises what served to draw me to the series consisted of two things which were my own personal experiences at not only meeting actual idol groups and the opportunity to see the kind of hard work that goes into their performances as well as my interests in stories that feature young adults struggle against fearsome odds to achieve a goal that has been their dream for a very long time and adventures and bonds that they share with others as they forge their way to the top a premise that this series served to feature in spades. The first episode of the series while serving well to showcase the kind of ages that aspiring idols need to be before joining the industry and introducing the core characters of Mana and Makino also did well to showcase the sense of rivalry that exists in the struggle to get to the top and become the next shining if brief star within the hearts and minds of fans and fellow idols alike. While the first episode did prove to have quite the shocking development in terms of plot it also served as an effective foundation for the core members of the soon to be ascended Idoly Pride group to make their debut a development that served in my eyes to keep my focus on the series in a desire to see what will happen next a decision that I'm glad that I heeded upon.
Kotono Nagase portrayed by new seiyuu Mirai Tachibana is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the main protagonists of the series being not only one of the members of the Hoshimi productions newest generation of idols but also the leader of one of its two subgroups Tsuki no Tempest. The younger sister of Hoshimi production and the idol world’s most prominent solo idol Mana Nagase before her tragic passing Kotono from her initial appearances was shown to be a quiet, composed, calm and confident person by nature that despite still being in high school was shown to have a level of maturity, independence and diligence to her that would surprise most girls her age. While an intelligent person she was also shown to be a realist and was someone that was seen to put every effort into achieving the goals that she sets for herself whether they be academic or ones that define her future path in life. Though an admirable quality for one so young this also had the unfortunate effect of making her judge others rather harshly when encountering people whose reasons for their chosen paths may not resonant too well with her own a fact that is shown well in her reaction to Sakura’s reason for wanting to become an idol. Arguably for Kotono the base personality trait that served to make her stand out from her peers, in the beginning, was both her determination to become not only an idol but also a solo one and the fierce sense of determination that lay within her eyes that signified her earnest desire to find out the truth that lay behind the life of an idol and determine what was it that had served to fracture the relationship that she had with her beloved sister and fracture the loving bond that they had shared before her death.
However, determined as she was to set about becoming an idol and experience the kind of life that her sister had prior to her demise even if it meant staying away from the fun social life that defined girls her age as Kotono not only becomes an idol but also find herself unwillingly join an idol group instead of having a solo career that she desired things start to gradually change as for the first time in her life Kotono was not only able to sing and dance with like-minded girls who though not having the same kind of motivation for becoming idols nonetheless possessed their own unique reasons for becoming ones that were able to stand toe to toe with her own. Perhaps more importantly their shared aspirations and the fact that they are now a group served to give Kotono a rare opportunity to rediscover something that her desire to become an idol had served to obscure which was how to have fun with girls her age and how to befriend and bond with them and use that power to improve not only her own performance but the groups as well.
In the beginning of the series Kotono due largely to her core desire of wanting to become an idol and attempt to experience the life that had taken her beloved sister away from her was shown to be somewhat of a recluse that while possessing a sense of independence that was rare for her age was offset by the fact that she had few friends and had an aura about her that served to push away all but the most determined of girls within her class with the notable exception, in this case, being her sole best friend and eventual groupmate Nagisa. As a result of this Kotono, in the beginning, was noted to have a rare lack of individuality and indeed while not lacking in communication skills was nonetheless lacking in her ability to bond easily with others as demonstrated In her first days interacting with her groupmates factors that served, in the beginning, to create a wall between herself and her groupmates despite the attempts by them and Makino to break through them. However, as she continues to train alongside the girls and got to see not only their sense of determination but their different but yet similar level of motivation that fueled them Kotono began to realize that while her desire to emanate her sister and rise to the top of the idol world as a solo singer in order to see the kind of life that she had was one that had while serving to get her to where she is today also in the process served to cut her off from the fun and memorable moments that would have defined the life of girls who are amid perhaps their best stages in life and in the process making her a weaker person in society as well.
When combined with the revelation that unlike in the past where solo idol singers were able to grasp the hearts of their fans and achieve great success by their individual skill in the present world such rises were no longer possible and the new idols of this era not only needed individual skill as both a singer and a dancer but also the ability to not only work well with others but be able to harmonize and support her groupmates as well elements that due to her shunning of contact with others her age made it clear that in order to both achieve her dream and at the same time take the first steps out of the shell that she had formed around herself that she needed to change. While understandably hesitant Kotono while still retaining her serious, logical, and calm nature gradually breaks out of her shell and not only tries to bond with others but also work with them to not only improve their skills but also her own and in doing so helping them all take one step closer to their shared dream while also in the process finally understanding the sense of fun that can come from not only training together with like-minded comrades and friends but also from being able to interact with and be open with her feelings and concerns with them something that until then had been utterly alien to her. Perhaps more importantly Kotono likely due to a desire to atone for the hardship that she caused to her friends also served to take up the role of an elder sister similarly to her groupmate and friend Saki that allowed her to not only look out for them but also be able to analyse the decisions that were made by the managers with Makino, in particular, being her particular focus. This aspect of her development while reflecting well on her determination to rise to the top with her friends also reflected well on her new desire to do so on their terms by doing so through hard work, teamwork and a determination to work with everyone to achieve their shared dream and to do that she has to make sure that Makino as their manager is able to choose the correct paths forward for them.
Kotono’s most prominent sense of development as a character in my eyes however was without a doubt the resolving of the complicated relationship that she had with her elder sister Mana a person that while she was very much in awe off and respected greatly was also someone that she had a complicated relationship with as a result of the amount of time that she spent on her career as an idol that kept her away from their home and thus taking away the time that was needed for her to forge strong bonds with her that served to cause her to view the career field with a certain amount of disdain that only changed after her sister's tragic death and her enlistment as an idol for Hoshimi productions the same company that had managed her sister. Although the time that she spent with her fellow idols and eventual friends served to make her realize the many things that she had been missing in her single minded determination to become a solo idol in a bid to see exactly what her sister saw before her death this also served to make her realize that was only the first step for like all of her fellow idols she also had a wall of herself to surmount if she wished to be able to stand on her two feet and prove herself to the world that she was not merely a replacement for Mana and she was Kotono Nagase an idol whose ability at song and dance should be judged by its own merit and not unfairly compared against someone else a wall that over the course of the series that she was able to overcome successfully thanks to not only the support of her friends and fellows but also from overcoming the high expectations of her seniors who though viewing her with some amount of venom due to her being the younger sister of someone that they were never able to beat was nonetheless a new star that while unpolished and crude at the start was one that when nurtured properly would be able to not only shine in the spotlights of the idol world but also motivate themselves to do an even better job at being idols that can conquer the hearts of their fans aspects that ensured that when they were needed that they will be there to help.
Sakura Kawasaki portrayed by new seiyuu Mai Kanno is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of Hoshimi Productions' new generation of idols and the leader of Sunny Peace which is one of the subgroups of that unit. From her initial appearances, Sakura was shown to be a kind, cheerful and positive person by nature that while friendly and polite was also energetic and very adept at conversing with others. While this image of her can sometimes give the impression that she will be easily deterred if faced with a strong front it can be said that here the opposite was true in that Sakura was not someone that was easily deterred and when presented with a problem that she cannot overcome through normal means she will persevere with other methods aspects that show well the strong sense of determination she has within her that serves as the core of her motivation to become an effective idol. When compared to her friend and fellow member of Hoshimi productions Kotono Nagase who had trained extensively to take up the role of a solo idol that showcased her sense of determination to get to the spot where her beloved sister was Sakura can be said to have the opposite in that while she may seem rather frail in comparison Sakura’s core traits of being carefree, gentle, positive and understanding and considerate were traits that managed to synergize well with her desire to not only work ever harder but also in her core belief that only by working together as a group that’s able to follow the desire that lay within their hearts will they be able to reach their desired goal successfully. A belief that within the series was shown to have an excellent effect in not only unifying the girls as a group but also ensure that each girl was not only able to offer and exchange ideas freely but also that any problems and concerns that they may have with their careers and personal lives are dealt with a fact that I felt shows well Sakura’s determination to be able to rise to the top with her friends every step along the way.
The character of Sakura Kawasaki I felt was one that was both well designed and developed with her baseline attributes of being a kind, cheerful, positive, friendly if somewhat frail person being combined well with her personal arc to create a character that was not only the polar opposite of Kotono Nagase in terms of baseline motivation but also serving well to allow both Sakura and Kotono to mature as individuals thanks to the synergized development that her arc brings to not only her earnest desire to rise to the top and find a true voice that will define her but also in doing so put to rest the sense of regret that both she and Kotono had discovered in hearing Mana’s last gift to the idol world. While a large part of Kotono’s subsequent development as a person was due to her own hard work and desire to overcome the giant shadow that was her sister I felt that Sakura’s determination to unite the girls and making them work better as a group had a hand in not only making Kotono realize the error of her beliefs but also give the little push that was needed to get her back on the correct path a fact that I for one was thankful for. Overall while her seiyuu was still a rookie to the industry I felt that for her first main role Mai Kanno did an excellent job portraying the character of Sakura.
Mei Hayasaka portrayed by new seiyuu Moka Hinata is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of Hoshimi production’s new generation of idols and is a member of Kotono’s subunit Tsuki no Tempest. A high school freshman and one of the youngest within the unit Mei from her initial appearances were seen to be a cheerful, positive and friendly person by nature and was someone that was seen to have an almost boundless amount of positivity in her. While a friendly girl Mei despite her young age was also someone that was noted to be rather inquisitive for her age that when combined with her boldness in approaching and interacting with strangers and her desire to walk her own path in life served to create quite the well-balanced personality for Mei that allowed her to fit in almost anywhere a fact that no doubt played an important part in Makino’s recruitment of her to Hoshimi productions. While serving well to add additional talent to the ranks of Hoshimi productions new generation of idols Mei’s innate single-minded focus along with her carefree nature did serve to cause some headaches for Makino and the girls in her first days this was offset by the fact that she was able to encourage the free-flowing of ideas between them and serve to provide support to Sakura in her desire to unify and focus the team’s efforts while being able to motivate them even more by creative usage of nicknames an aspect that I felt added well to her charm.
As a character Mei I felt was an interesting character that was well designed and developed. While she has neither the single-minded determination that Kotono had or the desire to unite and guide the girls as a group towards a shared dream that Sakura possessed what Mei served to have instead was a sense of adaptability that allowed her to not only be able to fit in easily in new settings but also bond with others and understand them on an individual level relatively quickly which when combined with her default cheerfulness and friendly nature allowed her to easily switch between supporting the girls and helping them overcome their own personal problems and improving the group's performance by not only motivating them but also suggest new ideas that can broaden their horizons and enhance their performance even more and by doing so serve to draw them ever closer to their dream. Her seiyuu Moka Hinata I felt did an excellent job portraying the character of Mei.
Suzu Narumiya portrayed by new seiyuu Kanata Aikawa is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of Hoshimi productions new generation of idols being a member of Kotono’s Tsuki no Tempest subunit. A middle school student in her last years of middle school Suzu in her initial appearances was shown to be a confident, proud and high-class girl that while prone to being teased and falling for the most obvious of pranks was nonetheless a direct, honest and kind person by nature that always maintained a positive and friendly attitude towards all she meets and tries to be helpful whenever she can. While shown to be a member of a relatively well-off family to which she was shown to have great pride in Suzu was shown to have none of the bias that can result from such pride with her instead being shown to be both considerate to others and loyal to the friends that she makes within the group. While certainly mindful of the image that she needed to cultivate as a young lady that within the series manifested itself in the form of a curious display of pride and high-minded descriptions of what young ladies her age should be like this image of hers served to clash often with her genuine desire to simply have fun with other girls the resulting effect of which was not only amusing to see but served to add additional charm to her character with perhaps the best example being their time chilling in the pool on their first day off as a group.
Indeed this latter trait of hers shows well that while Suzu was someone that had great pride in her family she was not someone that lets that interfere with her interactions with friends and was someone that while clumsy and somewhat on the cocky side was someone that always spoke from the heart which when combined with her innocent nature and determination to always do her best in everything that she does served to make it not only endearing to all she meets but also someone that was extremely difficult to hate a fact that was shown well in the end of the debut performance of Tsuki no Tempest in ep6 where she greeted the fans warmly despite it not being necessary. The character of Suzu I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with her character displaying an excellent series of contrasts that not only served to showcase her determination to pursue her dreams by breaking free of the constraints that she had with her family but do so by opening her true self to girls her age and walk the path to stardom together as equals rather than as rivals. I felt that her seiyuu while still new did an excellent job portraying her assigned character of Suzu.
Saki Shiraishi portrayed by new seiyuu Koharu Miyazawa is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of Hoshimi productions new generation of idols and is a member of Kotono’s Tsuki no Tempest subunit. A high school senior and one of the oldest members of the group alongside that of Haruko and Rei Saki alongside that of the subunits leaders of Kotono and Sakura acts as one of the leaders of the ten girls that make up Hoshimi productions new generation of idols. From her initial appearances, Saki was shown to be a calm, composed, and positive person by nature and was someone that was not only diligent but responsible to a fault qualities that if she were not an idol would certainly have fit the image of an honor student. True to her image as a picture-perfect elder sister like persona Saki was also a kind, caring, and intelligent person and was shown to be readily capable of picking up on issues and quirks of the girls that should be addressed quickly demonstrating not only her perceptive nature but also her willingness to take care of girls that are younger than she is a fact that she served to inherit from taking care of her fellow idol and younger sister Chisa and a fact that the girls are ever thankful for.
While for the most part, Saki was someone that was calm, composed, and graceful and someone that seemed incapable of showing anger it can be seen that she like most girls did possess it but, in her case, she was able to keep it contained until it was needed. When sufficiently worried or angered Saki was shown to possess quite the impressive death glare that when combined with her kind but gentle tone served to create quite the chilling effect that was more than capable of placating even the strongest willed of girls an aspect that I felt worked well in combination with her role as a leader within the group. In a way given that Saki was someone that was shown to have reached a point in her current life stage that she can be proud of one can’t be blamed in wondering what lay behind Saki’s decision to become an idol a role that not only featured far more stress but also demanded far more perfection than simply being a student would have needed. However, in analysing her thoughts and interactions with her sister Chisa it can be seen that this curious lifepath change was a result of not only Saki’s desire to break out of the constraints that being a picture-perfect honor student have brought to her life but also her desire to be able to pursue a childhood dream that would allow her to live her life far more freely doing something that she can truly enjoy an aspect that I felt reflected well not only on Saki’s base traits but also show the kind of steely determination that she had when looking towards her future as an idol.
Rei Ichinose portrayed by new seiyuu Moeko Yuuki is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Hoshimi Productions' new generation of idols and a member of Sakura’s s subunit Sunny Peace. A high school senior and one of the last girls to join Hoshimi Productions lineup of new generation idols alongside her fellow Sunny Peace member Haruko She alongside Haruko and Saki form the senior cadre of girls within the group that serve to not only provide effective leadership within the individual subgroups but also serve to teach the younger girls the valuable life lessons that they have gathered as a result of their age. From her initial appearances, Rei was shown to be a cool, calm, confident and mature girl by nature that was shown to be someone that approached each new day with both determination and a desire to improve her own skills as a means to better herself. While not shown to be as talkative when compared to the likes of Sakura Rei was nonetheless someone that was polite, intelligent, and composed and was someone that was readily capable of showing kindness and unique insights to others when needed. Unlike the great majority of her fellow idols, Rei with the exception of Haruko Rei was someone that had valuable experience in performing which when combined with her skill at dance to which she has shown to have great pride in ensured that she will be a potent asset to the girls when needed if ever called upon. However, this sense of pride that Rei had while serving as an effective source of motivation for her, in the beginning, was also combined with the unfortunate air of perfection that served as Rei’s core focus in her passion one that demanded of her to continually review her performances and identify any shortcomings that can be improved upon to give a better performance next time.
While this attitude of hers was one that was admirable for not only Rei but for young girls who aspire to become pros in their respective fields this aspect of her personality also had the unfortunate effect of creating distance between herself and her fellows after she become an idol for she would try and motivate the girls into putting the same kind of effort into their training efforts that while understandable from her perspective only served to create unnecessary tension between herself and her teammates. However as the series progresses and Rei’s personality is gradually expanded upon and she bonds with her teammates it can be seen that Rei while a cool, level headed and independent young women that’s trying rather too hard to be perfect was also someone that while certainly not as openly friendly as the likes of Mei and Sakura nonetheless was a girl that understood the value and importance of friendships and bonds and the power that it can infuse within the bonds of a team. While not one that’s particularly open about expressing her feelings openly Rei was nonetheless someone that cared deeply about her friends and was shown to be pretty considerate of them as shown in her desire to both watch over the younger girls and ensure that their training was giving them all the knowledge that they needed while also keeping any developments that are unnecessary in her eyes away from them so as to not affect their determination to uphold their quest and rise to the top.
The character of Rei Ichinose I felt was one that I felt was both designed and developed with Rei in particular representing well the kind of attitude that some young girls who are on the verge of joining a career field in which they had prepared and train themselves extensively for can develop. In the case of Rei, while her base personality traits and her talent for dance was indeed real and formed a potent combination that served to make her stand out among her peers her sense of wanting to be perfect in every performance, I felt only served to highlight one of the pitfalls that can come from such a lifestyle. However, thanks to the intervention of her fellow teammates in Sunny Peace Rei was not only able to understand that while aiming to be perfect in every performance was an admirable goal what was even more so was being able to reach the top alongside that of your teammates and be able to celebrate the success together. This revelation when combined with the series own core themes of being able to forge bonds that not only change yourself but those around you as you start alone but rise to the top with them as a new sense of hope I felt really served to highlight what it really meant to not only become an idol but one that was trying to achieve the coveted goal of being the top one within the industry.
In terms of character design, I felt that each of the girls that were featured within the series were both well designed and showed an excellent variety that emphasized not only their youth but also their determination to enter the hard-fought world that was the idol industry at such a young age instead of opting to enter further and perhaps higher education and perhaps enter other careers that would have been easier. Another aspect that I loved regarding their designs was the performance outfits that each of the girls wore over the course of their performances within the series with notable favorites of mine being the outfits that Tsuki no tempest wore in their debut performance in ep6 and the semi-finals in ep11, Sunny Peace’s outfits in episodes 6 and 10 and the outfits that TrinityAile wore in episodes 4 and 10. These outfits while being ones that were well designed I felt also served to reinforce the central feelings and themes that each song tried to get across to their fans a sense of synergy that was not only a nice touch but also strived to represent well that an idol was someone that was able to bring happiness to their fans not only through their voice but through their dance performances on stage as well.
location wise while the series only featured a handful of locations that included among other things the office that Hoshimi Productions used as their HQ, the studio in which the girls trained at, the various venues in which the girls competed against each other, and lastly the dormitory that served as the home for the girls as they take up the role of idols. While each of these locations I felt had an important role in showing how the girls mature as individuals and in doing so become effective idols some of these locations I felt had both a larger impact on this while also serving to expand upon their characters as well with this group including the girl's dormitory that gave us the unique opportunity to see not only how the girls bond with each other but also how they find their true self and the motivation that they need to rise to the top as well as the stages in which they competed against their rivals that when used in combination with the race to get to the top served to add an excellent sense of tension to the series and enhancing the kind of feelings that can come from the outcomes of their competitions.
Music-wise while the series only featured one opening and ending theme in the form of Idoly Pride and the Sun, Moon, and Stars it also featured a surprising number of insert songs that were performed by the many idol groups that were featured within the series. Of these, the series opening theme Idoly Pride and the series main ending theme The Sun, Moon and Stars I felt were both excellent songs but gave off a very different feel to them with regards to feelings and emotions when listening to them with the former being an uplifting and positive song that showed well the girls teamwork, chemistry and a determination to rise to the top by working together as a unit a fact that was complemented by the bright colours of both the performance and the outfits that the girls wore as they performed. The series ending theme The Sun, Moon, and Stars on the other hand while still emphasizing on the bonds that were formed between the girls via their shared aspirations also served to emphasize on the bonds of friendship that were formed between the girls that serve to strengthen and reinforce the girls motivations both on stage and off as they take their first steps into the battlefield that is the idol industry. Of the series insert songs of which there were 13 in total of which consisted of First Step that was performed by Mana Nagase through her assigned seiyuu Sayaka Kanda, The Last Chance and Girl-Girl Borderless World that was performed by LizNoir, Shine Purity that was performed by the girls of Hoshimi Production before their split into units, Realizer and Les Plumes which was performed by Trinityaile, Sunny Peace Harmony, Shining Days, Song For you, Everyday! Sunny Day! Which was performed by Sunny Peace and lastly Gekka Hakanabi, Daytime Moon and the One and Only which was performed by Tsuki no Tempest. While each of these songs I felt was excellent ones that provided not only an excellent performance that showcased the girl's determination but also did well to show the seiyuu’s vocal abilities as well my favourite ones were Gekka Hakanabi, Shining Days, Song For you, Les Plumes, The Last Chance and the One and Only.
In terms of voice acting, I felt that overall the series main voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether they were main or support characters and whether did they appear in one episode or several. In particular, I felt that Mirai Tachibana, Mai Kanno, Moka Hinata, Kanata Aikawa, Koharu Miyazawa, Moeko Yuuki and Kokona Natsume all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters of Kotono, Sakura, Mei, Suzu, Saki, Rei and Nagisa respectively. Other seiyuu’s that I felt did an excellent job in portraying their assigned characters include Veteran seiyuu singer Sayaka Kanda the members of the seiyuu girl group Trysail formed around veteran seiyuu singers Sora Amamiya, Momo Asakura and Shiina Natsukawa and the two members of the seiyuu girl group Sphere veteran seiyuu singers Haruka Tomatsu and Ayahi Takagaki who feature in the series as the one time queen of the idol world Mana Nagase and the idol groups TrinityAile and LizNoir respectively. While I didn’t feature them within the review I also felt that Yukina Shutou, Nao Sasaki, Kanon Takao and Haruki Ishiya all did an excellent job at portraying the characters of Shizuku, Haruko, Chisa and Makino respectively. With the exceptions of Sayaka Kanda, Kanon Takao and the members of Trysail and Sphere respectively each of the seiyuu’s that formed the main cast are new seiyuu’s and having seen their performances in this series I wish them the greatest success in their careers that this series had served to open up for them.
In overall Idoly Pride, I felt was an excellent anime that did an amazing job at showing not only how modern days idols are born starting from their auditions and the forming of the units that will serve as the vehicles for their journey upwards but also the kind of tough training through hours of singing and dance practice that they go through as they prepare for not only their debuts but also their rise to further success. While the physical part of their training was handled pretty well I thought that this within the series was used well in combination with the kind of mental challenges that comes from entering the entertainment sector as a newly debuted idol. While this aspect served to affect each of the girls to some degree it also served to allow the characters of Kotono and Sakura to be developed more as it allowed us to not only see the innermost worries that lay within their heart from their past that they may not want to tell their friends and teammates about but through this also serve as a catalyst that will allow them to break through the walls that they were hiding behind in the past and grasp the future that the many bonds of friendship that they had forged with their teammates and friends in the present had forged for them and stand alongside them to achieve their shared dreams. While Sakura’s struggle to find her true voice served as an effective development and subsequent awakening for her I felt that this aspect of combining physical and mental challenges that needed to be overcome in order to forge a future for themselves was used most effectively for Kotono as well as for her there was also the added layer of the shadow that was her beloved sister Mana Nagase that she had to overcome in order to be able to stand and prove to the world that she was not Mana’s replacement but instead she was Kotono Nagase an idol who can stand on her own two feet with her own talent and shine just as brightly.
While the series like most idol themed animes did an effective job at showcasing both the budding professional careers that the girls and their managers had nurtured and the mental challenges that this, in turn, creates for them due to the effects that this has on the idol industry via the intense media focus on their past I felt that as a series Idoly Pride also did well to introduce the highly competitive nature that is the idol industry by introducing not only powerful idol groups in the form of TrinityAile and LizNoir that serve as powerful rivals and opponents that they needed to surmount but also excellent sources of advice that will be useful to the girls as they begin their ascent to stardom. While the fierce competition between the groups served to provide us with many great performances and songs that defined the skills of their members I felt that this within the series also served to showcase not only the growing skill and confidence of the girls but also the fact that even though the girls see each other as rivals that despite this they were all too willing to provide much-needed advice and direction when the going got tough as shown in Rio’s help of Kotono in providing the final piece of the puzzle that was needed for her to unlock the closed-off heart that had lain within her for a long time a fact that while reflective of the girls personalities also showed that even though they were rivals and that only one group will get to the top in the end that as long as you have proved your commitment and your desire to get to the top that they as rivals and fellow idols would do what they can to cheer you on and provide what help they can to aid you.
In overall Idoly Pride, I felt was an excellent anime that while on first impression seemed to be another idol themed anime reminiscent of the likes of the famed Idolmaster and Bang Dream franchises was also one that served to differentiate itself from them via the insight into not only how idols are recruited but also the kind of reasons that served to motivate them to join the industry, the physical and mental challenges that each girl has to meet and surmount and the surprisingly high emotional walls that they had to not only face but also come to terms with and convert into a stepping stone that will allow them to get ever closer to their shared dreams of becoming a top idol within the idol industry. While the series overall did an excellent job of developing the girls and transform them from rookie idols to immensely popular ones I felt that whether its Kotono’s strong-willed but fragile unit Tsuki No Tempest or Sakura’s cute but heartfelt group Sunny Peace that while their initial image of an idol differed that by series end to them an idol was someone that was able to bring fun, happiness and a smile to everyone’s faces by virtue of their powerful heartfelt performances on stage a point that I felt accurately reflects what they are to everyone that they encounter within the series. As a final score, I would say that Idoly Pride easily deserves a score of 8/10.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Mar 25, 2021
Please note this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching 5-toubon no Hanayome SS and while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based on a popular manga of the same name 5-toubon no Hanayome SS which is better known to western audiences as The Quintessential Quintuplets season 2 is the second season of the Quintessential Quintuplets a Romance, comedy, school, and harem genre anime that premiered back in the winter of 2019 that served to introduce us to the poor but impressively intelligent Futaro Uesugi ... and how he comes to encounter, befriend and surprisingly become the tutor to the schools enigmatic Nakano sisters a group of Quintuplets that while unique in terms of temperament and appearance all share a common correlation in that all lacked skills that were crucial to them in their current life as high school students which was the all-important skill of being able to not only learn new subjects but also be able to demonstrate this by passing their exams a crisis that if not rectified would see them forced to vacate the school for another and start anew at another school. After much hardship and much sleep and time lost Futaro had managed to not only delay the deterioration of their school lives but also teach them the skills needed to not only face down their dreaded exams but also pass them with a comfortable enough margin of error and for the first times in their lives create a light of hope that they like their fellow classmates will be able to graduate high school and be able to join society as adults.
Now in the aftermath of the school camp and the improvised fireworks viewing Futaro and the Nakano sisters find that as they approach their final exams that will either end with their ascendance to their third year or out of the school that they had for the first time grown to love and enjoy being part of that for the first time in their lives that they might be approaching a crossroads in their life one that might if given the right opportunity to blossom would serve to allow Futaro and the sisters to find the one thing they have been missing until now which is the attention of a special loved one that cares for them deeply. While I had been increasingly a fan of romantic comedies for a while since I had the opportunity to see many interesting ones since watching my first what arguably drew me to the Quints was not just the genre but also the unique premise that came from the combination of the school-based setting and the romance between Futaro a young man who apart from his skill at studying has almost no definable traits whatsoever and the Nakano sisters who despite being rich and popular and having many friends face increasingly dire straits as their exam scores plummet exam by exam. While the first season did an excellent job at introducing Futaro and the sisters and forging the bond that serves to both define and act as the foundation from which each would grow as individuals it also served to introduce the spark that will serve to ignite the passion of romance within their relationships when given the right opportunity aspects that served to draw me back to the series once season 2 was greenlit.
The first episode I felt did an excellent job of not reintroducing us to the cast but also serve to highlight an important memory that served to not only allow us to see how much different Futaro was in the past as well as a link that was forged between him and his mysterious crush that served to tie his heart with the girl that he met all those years ago and giving the episode an air of intrigue which when working in combination with his interactions with the sisters served to keep me hooked until the end as it served to introduce the core question of whether one of the sisters was that girl from back then who had so effortlessly captured his heart.
Futaro Uesugi portrayed by veteran voice actor Yoshitsugu Matsuoka of SAO and Daimachi fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. A sophomore high school student and later a senior over the course of the series Futaro from his initial appearances was shown to be a calm, intelligent if a quiet person by nature that while having an excellent memory and study skills that enabled him to attain the best possible grades within school was seen to have little to no social skills that would have defined a teenagers life in school at that stage in their lifespan. However, while having few if any friends within school as a result of his relentless drive to attain the highest grade possible in order to support his family by getting a decent job Futaro was shown to have little ill effect from it and indeed was seen to approach each new day and task that awaited him with fierce determination and a desire to complete each task as best as he can which showed well the sense of responsibility that he had that defined him as a person. However Futaro’s life of endless studying and trying to ensure that his beloved sister will have the best that he can provide her will soon change after a fortunate encounter with one of the Nakano siblings in the form of Itsuki who in turn will lead him to being offered the lucrative if rather stressful job of becoming a tutor for not just one but five girls who are in danger of failing their life as high school students.
As a result of not only meeting the sisters but also bearing witness to the many physical and mental struggles that lay unknowingly within their life Futaro’s personality gradually starts to change. From the onset, while Futaro was shown to be largely a loner that had among his priorities his earnest desire to study and attain the highest possible grades to allow him to better support his family was impressive displays of focus and determination that if combined with a likable personality would have marked him out as an honor student within the class this intense desire to study served instead to create the opposite effect that instead marked him out as a loner that caused him to be shunned by his classmates and treated as an outcast among his classmates which served among other things to create within Futaro a curious lack of social experience with both his peers and with girls in particular. Though for the most part, these were of negligible concern to Futaro in his desire to attain the best grades possible this lack of social skill served to create a formidable obstacle when he becomes the personal tutor of not one but five girls in a gig that would have earned him enough money to support his family for a time if he were successful in his role.
As the series progresses and as Futaro over the course of his role as tutor slowly bonds with the Nakano sisters this aspect of his gradually starts to change. While Futaro’s blunt nature remains consistent within his interactions with others were seen to change greatly with Futaro placing not just more trust in others but also showing for the first time a side that he had largely kept hidden from others which is one that was not only kind and caring but also one that had impressive levels of perception and an eye for detail when needed. While in the beginning Futaro only saw the role of tutor for the girls as a means to achieve his goals gradually as he not only befriended them but also saw the many unique problems that existed within them this sense of motivation gradually began to change and be replaced by both a determination to teach them to not only achieve their aims of passing their exams but also prove to their overbearing father that they are no longer children that need be constantly cared for traits that not only allowed him to break through the wall that stood between Futaro and society as a whole but also showed well just how much both he and the sisters had learned from each other as tutor and student. While serving well to introduce to Futaro not only the kind of power that can come from having genuine bonds with others and the need to maintain them in order to maintain the friendships that existed between them the many fun and often frustrating interactions that Futaro had with the sisters also served to show him the many things that he had been missing in life when he had been focusing his life entirely on studying a fact that while he does find somewhat hard to accept was something that he was thankful to the sisters for a fact that is shown well in his determination to show to others just how much the girls had grown both academically and as individuals as part of their gradual overcoming of the personal struggles that had restrained their lives.
While certainly an aspect of his pride this belief can also be seen as a means to help the sisters be recognized by their peers not simply as being the well-known Nakano Quintuplets but as individuals that have earned their place in class by virtue of their hard work as well a quality that I felt did well to further reinforce just how much meeting the sisters had changed Futaro as a person. Overall as a character Futaro as a result of not only meeting the Nakano sisters but also bonding with them and aiding them in overcoming the myriad of issues that had existed among their ranks had in my opinion really grew as a person as a result of not only forging tangible and increasingly strong bonds with them and those around him but also through this realized just how much more fun his life would be if he was to spend them not only learning together but also in interacting with others outside the confines of a classroom not as tutor and student but as friends a concept that prior to meeting them was as much alien as his life will be without studying.
Itsuki Nakano portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Inori Minase of Daimachi and School-Live fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the famed Nakano sisters being the fifth sister among its ranks. From her initial appearances Itsuki was shown to be an intelligent, diligent, kind, and caring person by nature that when combined with her calm, considerate and perceptive nature made her a very well-rounded person that would have earned her plenty of friends and active life within the high school had her grades not been slipping rapidly like her fellow sisters. While she like her fellow sisters was shown to be stubborn in her early days of meeting Futaro she unlike her sisters was shown to be willing to take the tough steps needed to help secure their future even if it meant having a fellow classmate tutor them even one as rude as Futaro was. At the beginning of the series Itsuki while certainly thankful and receptive to not only the idea of having a tutor but also having Futaro teach them both the knowledge and the methods needed to prepare for their exams was also shown to have a lack of central direction within her life which normally would have been the responsibility of her parents to nurture and guide. As a result, while certainly trying hard to avoid failing her exams Itsuki was also shown to have a lack of any kind of aspiration and careers that she wanted to aim for after graduation from high school.
However, while serving to learn much about studying and the tips needed to use the learned knowledge to the best possible effect from Futaro Itsuki’s interactions with Futaro when combined with her unique knowledge of Futaro’s personal circumstance and motivation for studying as hard as he does as well as her own gratitude towards him for being the savior that she and her sisters needed the most served to create within Itsuki the kind of person that she until that point in her life had yet to encounter which was that of a role model that can introduce her to a path that can use what she treasures most within her heart and define a path for her future with this being the role of a tutor a role that not only Futaro is currently taking the place of but also one where her much-cherished mother was formally one as well something that Itsuki was forever grateful to Futaro for.
However, it wasn’t just the career aspirations that meeting Futaro had served to create within Itsuki but also in the way that he interacts with her sisters as well. From the onset as the one that both approached Futaro first to act as their tutor and also the one that tried to sell the idea to her sisters Itsuki can be seen to be the one that introduced the concept of change within the family which while were receptive to the more open-minded nature of the sisters in the form of Ichika and Yotsuba and viewed cautiously by moderates like Miku were firmly opposed by traditionalists like Nino a situation that only worsened as time went on and culminated in her fight with Itsuki that caused both to leave home after Itsuki’s utmost attempt to defend Futaro from Nino’s scathing attack on him. While showing well not just Itsuki’s innate stubborn nature this development was also significant because it also arose from not only meeting and befriending Futaro but also from the fact that Itsuki like Nino was trying to preserve the family but unlike Nino, Itsuki was doing so in a way that enabled the sisters to develop and mature as individuals rather than simply let things remain as they are and in doing so showing Itsuki’s determination to act as the mother of the family and guide them in the best possible path just as she was in turn guided by Futaro.
Miku Nakano portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Miku Itou of Adachi to Shimamura fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the members of the Nakano sisters being the third sister within their ranks. In her initial appearances, Miku was shown to be a quiet, calm, composed if a standoffish person by nature who while getting on well with her sisters was shown to prefer the company of books and games rather than her peers within her class. In line with her love for books, Miku was shown to be an avid reader with her specialty being Japanese history that she was shown to have great pride in. However, while an intelligent and a kind, and gentle person by nature Miku similar to Futaro was shown to lack the most standard of social skills which when combined with her easily embarrassed nature made her more willing to live her life as a recluse within class than face being possibly embarrassed in front of others.
However, after meeting Futaro and becoming his student Miku gradually began to change. While never completely abandoning her interest in reading and in Japanese history Miku thanks to her meeting with Futaro gradually becomes braver and while not overly forceful as her sister Nino was also started to show a far more assertive side to her willing to press on issues that either concern her or interest her. While never completely letting go of her quiet and reserved nature Miku as part of this change was also noted to have become much more talkative not only willing to express her own views and feelings but also more proactive in pursuing her affections for the person that she admires and loves in equal measure. Arguably the greatest change that came about from meeting and interacting with Futaro for Miku was the revelation that in order to both be better use to her sisters and to the person that she had fallen for she not only needs to have more self-confidence in herself but also a sense of determination to not only improve her academic skills but also gain the many skills that are needed in society not just as a student but as an adult that’s on the verge of entering society. Only after graduating from being a student will she be able to freely pursue the one that had so easily captured her heart and at the same time act as one of the pillars that hold the family together.
Nino Nakano portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Ayana Taketatsu of SAO and Citrus fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the Nakano sisters being the second sister of that group. From her initial appearances, Nino was seen to be a confident, determined, positive, and friendly if competitive person by nature that most would consider being very queen-like. Strong-willed, independent, and loyal of the five sisters Nino can be said to be both the glue that holds the sisters together and its mother being the one that’s also responsible for their cooking and medical needs. While serving well to allow her to take effective care of her sisters these traits while doing well in allowing her to deal with any threats to them also created within Nino a sense of wariness towards both strangers and to new ideas that they may bring along as shown in her reaction and subsequent responses to Futaro’s entry into their family as their new tutor when she used all available means to force him to leave them much to the dismay of her sisters that culminated in perhaps one of the worst fights that had resulted between the sisters.
On the surface, while it's easy to see this behaviour as a physical manifestation of her competitive nature and a desire to solve everything by herself this can be said to be the opposite of what was occurring here for in Nino’s case, she viewed Futaro as a threat because he in her eyes was a disruptive force that was affecting the sense of unity that had long united the sisters a fact that is demonstrated well in the argument that broke out between her and Itsuki over Futaro. However, while these were indeed her base feelings at the time beneath them and at the heart of the turmoil that lay within her heart, Nino was also trying in her own way to change herself and striving to not only be able to stand on her own feet but be independent of her sisters in order to protect them better as the second eldest sister. At the same time while she grudgingly accepts that her actions towards Futaro in his first weeks were horrible her motivation for doing it was just in her eyes.
Although the relationship between Nino and Futaro can be said to have started off on the worst possible way possible as Nino through her observations of Futaro gradually learned more about him and his motivations she slowly began to realize that Futaro while being offered a relatively large salary by her father for his role as a tutor was not simply teaching them because of that but rather he unlike the previous tutors was trying to genuinely help them not only by providing them with the best possible ways to study and use that knowledge to pass their exams but also in helping them resolve any personal issues that may be affecting them a fact that Nino had first-hand knowledge of having reluctantly accepted his help on a prior occasion events that soon served to make Nino realize just how much she had misjudged Futaro but also how much she needs to change herself so as not to make that same mistake again. This sense of wanting to repay Futaro for her treatment of him when used in combination with the gradual thawing of her ice queen like persona and her desire to forge stronger bonds with her sisters I felt was used excellently to not only showcase the many events that forced the change but also show the kind of determination that she possessed to not only change herself to better support her beloved sisters and build stronger bonds with them but also allow her to fully focus her herself on securing the heart of the boy that had caused her to develop such a change and in doing so sever the links of the past that had long kept her constrained and allow her to forge a better path towards the future.
Ichika Nakano portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Kana Hanazawa of the Irregular at Magic High School and 3 Gatsu no Lion fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the Nakano sisters being the eldest among that group and at the start of the series being the only one that has an actual career in the form of a professional actress in her case. From her initial appearance, Ichika was shown to be a calm, graceful and composed person by nature that while kind and caring to all she meets also had an air of mischievousness and cunning about her that made it difficult to pin her exact feelings down traits that served her well as much as it did on screens as it did in school. As the eldest sister of the Nakano sisters Ichika from early on was forced to shoulder the burden of balancing not only her interest in acting and her career as an actress but in taking care of her sisters as their eldest as well. While it can be inferred that the sisters had no sense of financial worry on account of their fathers rank within the hospital in which he worked Ichika would still have needed to take care of issues that result from school and their day-to-day life an aspect that can be said to be a fine balancing act for Ichika that for a less capable person would have caused trouble for them. It is in the midst of this delicate balancing act that Ichika comes to encounter their new tutor and classmate in the form of Futaro.
From the onset, Ichika’s relationship with Futaro can be said to be a unique one. As the first sister of the Nakano sisters, Ichika was someone that always strived to provide the absolute best for her sisters whether it was care for their well-being and day and day activities or leadership when things got serious. But while serving as an effective leader for the sisters for when it was most needed this large sense of responsibility was also seen to place much pressure on Ichika due to the fact that she had to balance both her role as the elder sister, her school life and her slowly budding career as an actress a balance that a lesser person would have stumbled if there had been even one mistake in timekeeping but not Ichika. However despite this impressive feat Ichika while doing well in hiding it from her sisters so as not to cause them undue worry was also shown to have tiredness to her that was exacerbated by the fact that she has no one that she can turn to for either advice or to vent to that is until she met Futaro. For Ichika Futaro proved to be someone that while enigmatic and one that proved difficult to affect with her usual charms at first gradually become someone that Ichika can choose to rely upon both as a person that she vent to while also being someone that she can drop her guard around with the latter being an early indication of her increasing bond with him as well.
As a result of meeting Futaro, as well as a person that she can comfortably drop her guard around Ichika, can be seen to have been granted of reprieve of sorts that over the course of the season was used by her to great effect to both change herself but also change how she supports her sisters as well. While Ichika never completely loses her mischievous and calm nature over the course of the season she gradually becomes more mature both in dealing with situations that she encounters whether they are related to her professional career, social life, or romance related matters aspects that showed well her renewed sense of determination to not only help her sisters but also allow her to pursue the one person that had managed to break through her guard and find the real Ichika. However, while this sense of maturity served to allow her to significantly mature her growing feelings for Futaro also served to create the unfortunate effect of having to compete with her sisters that pushed Ichika to try and forge a path towards the future that will allow her to take without harming others a route that finds itself sorely tested in the face of Futaro’s honest kindness that draws herself increasingly to him despite her best attempts to resist.
Yotsuba Nakano portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Ayane Sakura of Charlotte and Boarding School Juliet fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of the Nakano sisters with Yotsuba being the youngest among their number. From her initial appearances, Yotsuba was shown to be a positive, cheerful, and talkative person by nature that while direct to a fault was someone that can be relied upon to always tell the truth when needed. Though when compared to her sisters Yotsuba can be seen to be a rather simple-minded girl that often gets her thoughts mixed up Yotsuba was able to compensate this by being diligent, responsible, and showing a level of determination and perception that one would often overlook when looking at her. Arguably what served to define Yotsuba as a person was her kind and caring nature and her desire to make as much friends as she can and help everyone as much as she can possibly can a task that while easy to say is a task that’s supremely difficult to action but yet is something that Yotsuba will endeavour to do day after day without fail.
As the season progresses however and Yotsuba’s character is not only expanded upon and bonded with her developing bonds with her tutor and dear friend Futaro it can be seen that beneath her smiles and friendly nature that Yotsuba was also someone that had struggles of her own that she kept from her loved ones. While Yotsuba’s talent at sports when combined with her almost unlimited stamina was unmatched and served to make her a formidable talent for the sports clubs that were present within the school and served to allow her to help many of them via her joining them this was also offset by the fact that among her sisters she was the slowest at learning new knowledge which though can be compensated by her diligent nature also served to create within her a sense of low self-esteem and regret that she among her sisters was the slowest at learning and was the one that was slowing their overall progression down. While these were grave issues that served to affect Yotsuba’s heart greatly these were but minor issues when compared to the core issue that lay at the heart of Yotsuba’s heart which was the lack of the sense of self within her. While it is a given that as a member of society that you have an obligation to help others that require it Yotsuba was seen to be someone that took this to the next level not only running herself ragged trying to help as many people as she can but asking nothing for in return at all. While this itself is admirable in a sense when helping those that genuinely need it in this case this aspect can easily be taken advantage of by others a fact that was shown well when the track club tried to take advantage of her goodwill to make her a semi-permanent helper that thankfully was managed to be put to rest quickly by her sisters and Futaro before things could escalate further.
In the aftermath of this turn of events Yotsuba was not only able to realize that while her boundless amounts of kindness and a desire to help people were not wrong, she also needed to be able to set conditions that defined the level of help that she can provide and not instead be relied upon to provide it as and when it is needed. Paired with this was the stronger bonds that she had managed to forge with both her sisters and with Futaro as a result of how much she had seen their concern for her as a result of her nature. While Yotsuba never loses her sense of kindness and desire to help others in the aftermath she was seen to have become much more assertive when responding and always ensuring that any decisions that she makes regarding them is followed through rather than letting things run their course as she did in the past and in the process also gaining a sense of confidence that she attributes to someone that’s dear to her heart. As a character Yotsuba though getting less romantic opportunities and focus than her sisters I felt was a well-rounded character whose development while just as drastic as her sisters were ones that were not so easily visible due to the fact that they largely lay within her heart an aspect that I felt resonated well with Yotsuba’s core personality traits of being someone that always followed her heart in every decision that she makes and ensuring that every moment that she shares with her sisters and Futaro as they laugh and have fun together is one that is strong, heartfelt and magical with her time at the park in ep10 being a notable favourite of mine.
In terms of animation while the character designs for the girls have largely remained the same I felt that in this season there was far more detail and colour variation within both their existing designs as well as in the new environments in which the cast visit. This extra detail I felt was used well to complement the many romantic and sister bonding moments that were present within the series with the sister's revelation of not wanting to not have Futaro as their tutor, their save of him from the river, and their time at the hot springs being the most notable. Music-wise the series made use of one opening and ending theme which was Gotoubun no Katachi and Hatsukoi which were performed by the veteran seiyuu singers Kana Hanazawa, Inori Minase, Miku Itou, Ayana Taketatsu, and Ayane Sakura who portray the Nakano sisters. Both of these songs while excellent in their own right I felt gave off contrasting feelings and emotions with the former doing well to not only reintroduce us to the quints and Futaro but renew the sense of trust and bonds that they have managed to forge with him over the course of the first season bonds that they hoped will continue for a long, long time while the latter song I felt was subtly different in tone and feelings and emotions generated in that it showcased not only the renewed bonds between the sisters that have only grown stronger since meeting Futaro but also the fact that they unlike how they were in the past had now grown strong enough to no longer be the caged birds that they once were as seen by their father and instead be strong enough to walk their own paths in life and find their destined loved one with this being supported well by the visuals for the ending.
Voice acting-wise overall I felt that the series main voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether they were main or support ones. In particular, I felt that Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Inori Minase, Miku Itou, Ayana Taketatsu, Kana Hanazawa, and Ayane Sakura all did an excellent job at portraying the characters of Futaro, Itsuki, Miku, Nino, Ichika, and Yotsuba respectively. Ayana Taketatsu’s portrayal of Nino, in particular, was especially impressive with her transformation from classic Tsundere to lovesick maiden that’s determined to conquer her crush with all her might being especially praiseworthy.
In overall the second season of 5- Toubun no Hanayome I felt was an excellent anime that had among its main strong points in my opinion being its excellent premise, story, characters, music, and voice acting and served to not only make effective use of the foundation that the first season established but also expand upon it by leveraging not only how much the quints had improved themselves academically but emotionally as well via not only the stronger bonds that exist between the girls but also their sense of determination to not only find a path that they want to walk upon but also walk it with the one that they have wholeheartedly fallen in love with and in doing so take the first steps out of the cage that while necessary in the past in the eyes of their father is no longer so in the new lives that the girls now reside in for now they not only have each other but also something and someone that they can all work towards as they look towards the future.
Overall as a final score, I would say that 5- Toubun no Hanayome’s second season easily deserves a final score of 9/10.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Mar 24, 2021
Please note this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching Re Zero’s second season entirely and while care has been taken to minimize story-related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
This review has slight spoilers regarding the movie Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World – The Frozen Bond.
Based on a popular light novel of the same name Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd season is the second season of the critically acclaimed first season of the series that premiered in the spring of 2016 and allows us the excellent opportunity ... to once again follow the lives of our heroine the beautiful but stubborn half-elf Emilia and Subaru Natsuki her saviour/would-be knight in shining armour as they upon their return to their home after surviving a deadly attack by the dreaded witch-cult are forced once more to retreat in the face of sudden powerful assaults and forced to seek refuge within the realm known simply as Sanctuary. Though the realm true to its name is one that is a place of refuge for its many inhabitants the realm unknown to them both is also one that holds not just many mysteries regarding the world as Subaru and Emilia see it but also ones that pertain to trials that are linked to the mental struggles that both struggle with deep inside their hearts trials that both must be able to face down and overcome if they wish to triumph over not only the machinations of the witch-cult but also save some of their dearest of friends and allies from the delusions that chain them to the past. Only then will they be able to face down the true challenge of facing down the enmity of the people of a kingdom and try and change their views by the virtue of their deeds.
Back in the spring of 2016, the prequel of this season was broadcasted and while the series started off relatively slow gradually got increasingly interesting and tense as the story expanded and more and more characters were introduced that served to create many new fans among its viewers including myself. While on the surface the premise for Re Zero can be said to be a typical Isekai albeit one that features a grand fantasy setting and an extensive array of characters what served to draw my interest to it and ensure that I will be a fan of the series for many years to come is Subaru and Emilia’s shared sense of determination to not only face down the many challenges that bar their way but also learn to master not only the many unique powers and abilities that they wield but also learn to snuff their sense of pride and learn to work effectively with their allies, friends and rivals and face down the bigger picture.
This potent combination when used in combination with Emilia and Subaru’s own personal struggles as they sought to find the courage to face down the innermost fears that they hid in their hearts I felt really made that first season unique and helped set the stage for the premiere of the long-awaited second season which not only expanded greatly on the lore of the world but also reveal to us the truth about Subaru’s powers and the truth about the nature of Emilia’s painful past as well. The first episode of the second season I felt was an excellent one that while doing well to welcome us back to the world of Re Zero by reintroducing us to the main cast also served in true Re Zero fashion to create an episode that was easily able to enthrall its fans once more via its skilful usage of the potent combination of sudden attacks by powerful new enemies, overwhelming sense of loss and a sense of overwhelming despair that threatens to once more overcome them a fact that I felt it succeeded easily and ensure that this is a series that I will watch till the very end.
Subaru Natsuki portrayed by veteran voice actor Yuusuke Kobayashi of Darwin’s Game and Fuuka fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the primary protagonist of the series. A human being from his earth who after purchasing daily consumables from the local konbini and embarking on his journey home was rather than reaching home safely to continue his life of being a shut-in was instead reincarnated in a brand-new world with a most peculiar ability. In his initial appearances, Subaru was shown to be a kind-hearted, considerate and intelligent person by nature who while preferring to sidestep troublesome problems when encountering them was shown to have an interesting knack for solving them in unexpected ways that will serve to allow the best outcome possible for him and his allies which is perhaps best shown in the alliance that he managed to forge between the Emilia, Crusch and Anastasia camps during the hunt for the white whale and his attempt to break through the long closed-off heart of Garfiel that had been borne out of the mistrust that he had of the outside world that he viewed as being responsible for stealing everything that was dear to him. While these accomplishments showed well his quick thinking nature, determination, and stubbornness to never accept defeat unless all avenues of approach had been attempted this ability to forge bonds and negotiate with others on an innate level also showed well both his bravery at interacting with dangerous characters and situations as well as the loyalty and care that his displays towards his friend's people that he despite wanting nothing more than to live a carefree life with the girl that he loves will ensure that he will do his utmost to help no matter what.
As a result of the many trials that Subaru had to face and overcome in the previous season, Subaru was shown to as the series progresses gradually mature both in terms of personality as well as in how he interacts with others. In the beginning of the series Subaru due largely due to the circumstances that surround his arrival in this world was shown to have a degree of selfishness in his actions and indeed was shown to have an innate desire to help others to achieve a sense of self-satisfaction in the progress a fact that served to strain his relationship with Emilia when this becomes apparent. However, as a result of the many struggles that he had managed to overcome over the course of the journey this sense of selfishness was shown to have been largely replaced by a sense of humility and a genuine desire to help those that he sees as genuine friends. At the same time while never completely mastering the sense of fear that comes from facing down both the fearsome foes that bar their path as well as the sense of dread that comes from interacting with the powers that are associated with the feared witches Subaru though still feeling it was shown to be able to control it better and indeed unlike before was shown to be able to not let it dictate his actions and instead be able to bounce back from sudden situations faster and much more effectively than his past selves and in the process be able to provide much more emotional support to his friends and allies when they require it. When used in conjunction with his newly gained traits of humility Subaru as an individual was shown to have become a much more steadfast and reliable person a fact that allows him to easily take centre stage when his allies require his help. However, despite being able to control his fear better Subaru is not immune to the sense of despair that he experiences when facing down terrible enemies and revelations which when used in combination with his reluctance to involve his friends for fear of losing them can have the effect of causing lockup within his psych a fact that is shown well in ep14 within part 2 of the season in which Otto had to remind him sternly what his primary motivation was. Largely as a result of this rather stern lecture from Otto who he initially pegged as a minor supporting character that Subaru was able to realize that in his stubborn desire to protect everyone by himself that he had made the cardinal mistake of not only not respecting their wishes but also not allowing his friends to actively take part in his plans and thus demonstrating that he does not trust them enough with his plans.
As a result of this sense of revelation, Subaru was finally able to realize that by trying to do everything by himself he was not only worrying his friends greatly but also not letting them share his burden as well something that I felt was ironic considering the lengths that he was going to achieve that. Though willing to place his trust in his allies and friends with his plans in the aftermath Subaru was shown to maintain a degree of his stubborn nature and prefer to take to the field personally when dealing with the most critical of plans. At the same time, his newfound trust in his friends with his plans also served to awaken within Subaru a desire to be rather direct in his methods of persuasion bordering on disrespect when saving those that he deems necessary for his plans as shown in his saving of Beatrice from a fate that she had long accepted an encounter that showed well not just how far he was willing to go with his words but also how far he will go to drag them back into the reality that is the real world. As a character, I felt that Subaru Natsuki was one that over the course of the season was developed excellently with much of his initial traits that I found to be annoying in the first season be largely replaced by traits that served to remake him into not only a reliable and confident person that while lacking in combat ability was able to make up for it by having excellent intelligence, quick thinking and a knack for forging unexpected alliances thanks to his innate sense of cunning and by doing so reshape the field into one that’s more suited to his skillset being the most notable that within the series was shown well in the many bold and ambitious plans that he had created to help his friends and allies heedless of the risks that he exposes himself too which is shown best in his determined attempt to save Betty from her fate.
While Subaru’s famed ability to return by death is one that has served to allow him to create and enact many interesting plans thanks to its unique ability that allowed him many opportunities to gather useful intel it was also one that was seen to place a heavy emotional burden on him due to not only the effects that being killed provides but also of the sense of dread that comes from having a power that was granted to you by one of the famed witches of the land. While an ability that was powerful when used for its intended purpose it nonetheless was one that took an equally heavy toll that one must pay for making use of its power in the form of loss of memory which for Subaru who had since entering this beautiful but equally deadly world has plenty of was still a heavy one to pay. But to both Subaru’s credit and the brief but powerful support he received from the witches Subaru was able to realize that crazy as his powers are that it can also be used to change the fates of his friends and allies if correctly used a revelation that served to make him even more determined to use it as a means to protect the one’s most precious to him even if it costs him his life in the future. Overall, I felt that Yuusuke Kobayashi did an excellent job portraying the character of Subaru Natsuki with his effective displays of the different kinds of emotion that Subaru encounters within the series as a result of the many trials that he faces being especially praiseworthy.
Emilia portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Rie Takahashi of Comic Girls and School-Live fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main heroine of the series. A half-elf and one of the candidates of the country’s succession race for its new queen Emilia from her initial appearances was shown to be a kind, calm, caring, and determined person by nature that treated everyone around her with respect and humility. Due largely to the rumours that surround the feared witch of Envy Satella and her own uncanny resemblance to her Emilia was exposed to many displays of hatred, fear, and distrust that served to make her life within the kingdom of Lugnica an uncomfortable one. However, despite these displays of hostility towards her Emilia did not deviate from her base nature maintaining her kind and caring nature while being considerate and polite towards all she meets regardless of their social standing within the kingdom showing well not only her honourable nature and the traits that define her foundation as a person but also the views of the world that she hopes to create within the kingdom.
As the season progresses however and Emilia not only manages to overcome the trials within the sanctuary but also make peace with the painful past that she had kept bottled up within her heart Emilia’s personality gradually starts to change. In her initial appearances back in the first season Emilia while showing well her base personality traits was shown to only see the succession race as a means to accomplish her wish rather than try and forge that into a life path that she can follow, unlike her rivals. As a result of her earnest desire to save her frozen family, Emilia was forced to largely dismiss the feelings of others and where possible avoid showing her true feelings to others both as a means to protect herself and also protect her position as a candidate for the succession.
However, as a result of not only meeting Subaru as well as the people of the nearby village and her fellow rivals within the succession Emilia was gradually able to realize that while closing off her heart and not interacting with others does indeed serve to protect her from harm it did so at the expense of weakening her as she knew not the kind of bonds that can be forged between friends and allies and neither can she rely on the support of those that she grows close to with certainty. As a result of this harsh revelation, Emilia was not only able to realize that by opening her heart to others and actively helping out others in need that she was not only able to understand others better but also for the first time in a long time forge a bond of friendship with people who will support her not for political reasons but rather because they want to support her because they consider her a dear friend. Perhaps more importantly she was finally able to realize the kind of strong bonds that had existed within both her heart and Subaru’s own that she had until now been bottling up within her heart a revelation that served to finally allow her to openly rely upon Subaru not only for his ability to achieve the impossible but also for the sense of emotional support that he brings to her heart a development that served to create a solid foundation from which Emilia can rely upon to grow as a person and use this to confront the many trials that this season throws at her and overcome them together.
Overall, in terms of character development, I felt that Emilia as a person was able to not only grow significantly as a result of her revelations in the present day but at the same time also be given much more character and emotional depth as a result of the insight into her painful past that we were afforded to via the trials within sanctuary both elements of which I felt synergized well with each other and allow her to become a much stronger character within the series both physically and mentally. Overall, I felt that Rie Takahashi like her fellow co-star Yuusuke Kobayashi also did an excellent job at portraying the character of Emilia especially in portraying her younger self and in vocalizing the sense of pain, fear, and loss that came from seeing her loved ones be cut down in front of her.
In terms of animation while the character designs for the existing main cast of the series remained unchanged I felt that the designs for the many new characters within the season were one’s that were both well designed and developed with the new archbishops of Gluttony, Greed, and Pandora the witch of vainglory and the designs for the various witches being the notable ones. In particular, I felt that the designs for the witches of sloth and lust while certainly impressive had a degree of an oddity in their design as I felt that the design for the witch of sloth Sekhmet was far more suited to Camilla the witch of lust that Carmilla’s current body.
In terms of location while the season only featured a handful of locations these I felt were both well designed and animated with the sanctuary, the witch’s tea party as well as the past version of the forest where Emilia and Mother Fortuna lived being especially noteworthy with both being well animated and really beautiful as well. One location that I felt deserves special mention was the replica of the real world that Subaru visited as part of his first trial. While the location itself was not one that was not as breathtakingly beautiful as the others were what made this setting so special was because this space allowed us a rare opportunity to meet Subaru’s parents Kenichi and Naoko and see the kind of relationships that existed between them and Subaru as well as the amends that Subaru made to them as a result of the life lessons that he had learned as a result of overcoming the many trials that barred his path. When used in combination with the mental image of Subaru’s lament at never being able to see them again in the flesh and their perceived grief at not being able to find one trace of their missing son in the real world this setting served to create quite the emotional effect within me that made this scene truly stand out.
In terms of combat animations, I felt that this season featured a fair number of battles between the main cast and the various antagonists of the series that served to showcase not only the stakes that came about from encountering and overcoming the trials but also of the increasing attention that the witch-cult was casting in their direction as a result of recent events. Notable fights that I felt deserve special mention were Elsa’s fight with Frederica, Beatrice’s fight against Elsa, Ram’s fight against Garfiel, Mother Fortuna, and Petelgeuse’s tragic fight with Pandora and Garfiel’s fight against Elsa. Beatrice’s fight against Elsa I felt was especially impressive as I was under the impression that she had no combat ability outside of her library for which she greatly surprised me with her attempt to stop Elsa. While the season had many excellent fights my favourite one was arguably Garfiel’s fight with Elsa within the burning mansion that not only featured a tension-filled fast-paced fight but was also one that served to expand upon both Elsa and Garfiel as characters as well particularly with regards to the former. However, while these fights were well designed and animated I felt a number of them were one’s that ended up being off-screen which I felt were a shame as I would have liked to see them take place on screen.
In terms of music the series as a whole made use of two opening’s and three ending themes which was Realize that was performed by veteran singer Konomi Suzuki, Long Shot by veteran singer Mayu Maeshima, Memento, Believe in you that was both performed by nonoc and Door that was performed by Emilia’s seiyuu veteran seiyuu singer Rie Takahashi. While all of these songs I felt were excellent ones I felt that my favourite ones were Realize whose dramatic vocals combined well with the visuals of that opening to showcase just how determined Subaru is to help his friends even if it meant dying countless deaths to achieve it and reflecting well on Subaru’s fierce defence against the despair that threatens to envelop him. Long shot on the other hand I felt was a similarly strong song with excellent vocals and visuals to match but the feelings that I got from that song were the polar opposite of what we saw in Realize as that song to me represented not only a stand against the myriad foes that surround and threaten them but a stand that was no longer being conducted alone but instead in the company of allies that you can trust wholeheartedly representing well the many connections that Subaru and Emilia had managed to forge as a result of the many trials that they have managed to face and overcome together. While the series animation’s breathtakingly beautiful animations have already been stated I felt that within the series this was complemented nicely by the series OST that while providing excellent situational music also reserved the best tracks for the more heartfelt moments within the series such as in Subaru’s rescue of Beatrice from her library and Ram and Puck’s fight against Roswaal being the best examples.
In terms of voice acting, I felt that overall, the series main voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their characters whether they were main or support ones. In particular, I feel that Yuusuke Kobayashi and Rie Takahashi both did an excellent job of portraying the main characters of Subaru and Emilia with both being able to add much additional emotional weight to their lines that served to make their interactions within the story that much more heartfelt. At the same time, I also felt that Yuka Iguchi, Yui Horie, Satomi Arai, Kaori Nazuka, Rie Murakawa, Aimi Tanaka, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Mamiko Noto, Nao Touyama, Misaki Kuno, Mikako Komatsu, Manaka Iwami, Mai Nakahara, Kouhei Amasaki, Rie Kugimiya, and Maaya Sakamoto all did an excellent job of portraying the characters of Crusch, Felix, Beatrice, Frederica, Ram, Ryuuzu, Garfiel, Elsa, Daphne, Typhon, Minerva, Carmilla, Sekhmet, Otto, Pandora, and Echidna respectively. While only shown in a handful of episodes I felt that Kousuke Toriumi, Ryouka Yuzuki, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Haruka Tomatsu, Inori Minase, and Eri Suzuki also did an excellent job at portraying the characters of Kenichi and Naoko Natsuki Subaru’s grief-stricken parents who until this day pray fervently for their son's return, Petelgeuse when he was still a normal lovestruck man, Fortuna the guardian of the seal whose death was the main cause of Emilia’s painful past, Rem who sadly was stuck in seemingly eternal sleep over the course of the season and Meili the child turned beastmaster
In overall Re Zero season 2, I felt was an excellent series that served to not only expand upon both the lore and characters that were introduced back in the first season but also serve to expand upon both the stakes and struggles that Subaru and Emilia face as a consequence of their actions by introducing not only new characters and locations but also present a more personal take on their struggles in the form of the trials that allow us to see the kind of trauma and regrets that existed within their respective hearts. Re Zero season 2’s main strengths I felt were its premise, story, characters, music, voice acting, and overall animation all of which combined to make this season perhaps one of the best animes of this anime season.
The season’s focus on the more personal aspects of one’s heart and the regrets that they kept hidden from their friends and allies in the form of Subaru and Emilia’s trials I felt was an excellent move as not only did it allow us to see the kind of pain that had been lurking deep within their hearts that they did their best not to show others preferring instead to hide them instead but at the same time it also allowed both characters an opportunity to not only confront them and make peace with the things that they most dearly miss and allow the emotions that they had until now kept hidden to flow freely and allow both to make their final farewells to those regrets as they take their next steps forward toward the future.
In overall I felt that Re Zero’s second season was an excellent anime that had among its main strengths an excellent premise, story, characters, voice acting, music, and animation and served to not only reinforce the foundations that the first season introduced but also expand upon it by introducing new characters and events that tied in nicely with both Subaru and Emilia’s journey via its skilled weaving of emotions, revelations, and character development. As a final score, I would say that the second season of Re Zero easily deserves a final score of 10/10.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0