Dakaichi Series Review

Dakaichi Episode 6 Junta and Takato

What Could Go Wrong When The Two Sexiest Guys Get Together?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. MAL lists this one as a shounen-ai but honestly this one pushes it a bit further than that. While it doesn’t go as far as the source material for this one went and avoids the actual rape in the first episode, there’s still some problematic aspects to how these two guys end up together and Takato gets nearly sexually assaulted by more than one character. If that doesn’t sound like your kind of anime then I’ll thank you for clicking on my post and recommend you check out one of my other series reviews.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

For those still with me, I really had a lot of fun with Dakaichi. Another rare case where for whatever reason I actually read the source material of this one a while back (though it turns out my memory of it is a bit hazy). I was very curious as to how this would work as an anime and even more curious as to how it was airing on Crunchyroll given it seemed a little more racy than their usual fare (then again with the Goblin Slayer explosion this one just flew straight under the community radar – or the people who chose to watch it just knew what they were getting into and weren’t all that worried about it).

Dakaichi Episode 6

I reviewed this one at four week intervals with Arthifis and I will admit those conversations greatly added to the fun of viewing what might have otherwise been a reasonably mediocre anime. As much as there are aspects of this I loved, I can’t deny that from an execution point of view there are a number of miss-steps and parts that are just plain average. But, it is one of those titles that is better to watch with someone. Being able to discuss your favourite scene or moment, or ask what someone else’s take on a particular moment was, is one of those really fun aspects that you lose when you watch anime alone. There were also a few others on Twitter that were following this one and I will admit there were more than a few fun screen caps and fan arts floating around. Throw in Cactus Matt and Irina’s collaboration posts week to week and this was a really fun seasonal viewing experience.

Dakaichi Episode 4

Right, so I just admitted it isn’t that great an anime but the social aspect of watching this one was fun. Which makes me wonder what this will be like to people picking it up after the season is done and binge watching it.

And realistically this one comes down to whether or not you like BL. If you are into Boys Love, this one is actually a pretty good title for the genre. Then again, given the limited number of actual Boys Love titles that don’t just tip-toe around the are they/aren’t they aspects being good for the genre isn’t exactly a glowing recommendation.

Dakaichi Episode 10

But there are some fairly strong points for this in terms of being a decent BL title.

Firstly Takato as the protagonist is an absolutely fantastic character. Sure, every single guy he meets (almost) tries to eat him for some reason, but he’s not a push over (for anyone outside of Junta). He’s also really great to watch in his daily life. Honestly, I’d happily watch this show devoid of the relationship aspect and just watching Takato rise up as an actor and hold his own on the set. Seeing him on stage, filming, at photo shoots, and just seeing how he dealt with relationships and roles in different studios was fantastic. This really helps elevate the show when the main character doesn’t just exist to be in a relationship but has an actual life that the relationship has to fit into.

When you pair Takato with Junta, outside of Junta being creepily pushy early on and practically a stalker (standard BL tropes that are definitely being employed), the two actually work really well together. By the time we get an episode from Junta’s perspective showing how he viewed the start of their relationship, his character had kind of grown on me and I actually ended up liking him.

Of course that made me wonder why I found Junta kind of charming compared to Usagi from Junjou Romantica and partially the answer is found in the comparative positions of the two characters. Junjou Romantica has Usagi taking advantage of the student he is supposed to be tutoring and then more or less being the one taking care of Misaki once his brother leaves and it creates a fairly dodgy power imbalance which means that the relationship always sits awkwardly. While Junta starts off as creepy as Usagi, both Takato and Junta are adults who are more than capable of being independent and Takato is actually the older and more successful of the two so isn’t dependent on Junta in the slightest. It is just enough of a difference to help take some of the creepiness out of the whole situation, though this is still not a great model of how to build a happy relationship (so you know, don’t pay a guy 1000 yen while he’s drunk in order to call him by his name and film it because, creepy).

But wait, I was on positives. So let’s discuss the music. I love the OP to this one. It doesn’t really work for everyone but I absolutely loved listening to it. The visuals are kind of meh but just close your eyes and listen and that’s kind of awesome. The ED is great fun and I love watching Takato and Junta dance around the studio. It’s a great way to end each week. The rest of the soundtrack is kind of forgettable but at least it isn’t bad.

The conflict they bring into the relationship is mostly decent. Okay, there’s a lot of drama for the sake of it, as there is in any romance anime, and of course a lot of the issues could be cleared up by the two characters actually having a conversation, but again that’s kind of ordinary. I did like the final real conflict of the story where the two get caught by a photographer and while the resolution to this is way too neat it really just made me want to get behind the characters and their relationship.

Basically, if you can overlook some of the less savoury aspects of how the relationship starts, there’s a lot to enjoy.

Still, even ignoring the sexual assault aspects, there’s a few other issues this anime faces. Visually it isn’t that impressive. Sure there are plenty of screen cap worthy moments of the two main guys (and why wouldn’t there be given they are both apparently sexy actors), but backgrounds, support characters and action are all kind of dull. Not to mention the neck beards (as Arthifis put it). Okay, they are hideous and totally unnecessary.

Dakaichi Episode 7 - Junta

We also have the ‘filler’ episode at episode 8. Sending the characters to Hawaii could have been fun and given the nature of the show it could have been the opportunity to push the envelope. Instead we got very little in the way of fan-service and the plot and actual execution of this episode was all manner of dodgy. Mostly it was just a terrible episode.

Throw in the fact that the series climax really occurs at episode 12, and while episode 13 is better than episode 8, it also watches like filler, and you have to wonder why they didn’t just make this an 11 episode series.

And actually, that raises an interesting question about the sex in this. Given the characters are adults and they do in fact engage in sex, this anime kind of keeps it relatively off screen but doesn’t leave a huge amount to the imagination. But the problem with this is that people who don’t like sex and fan-service won’t like it, and people who want sex and fan-service won’t feel it goes far enough. It isn’t catering to either audience and while it hit my comfort zone perfectly without going too far for me, I know there are a lot of people disappointed with how tame it ended up and other viewers who were creeped out by how far it went. Well, I guess you can’t please everyone.

Still, this show features cute, adult aged, anime guys falling in love and to be honest, I enjoyed it. This was one I had a lot of fun with during the Autumn season and while I get it won’t be for everyone I certainly think there will be plenty of people who will have fun with this one.

And I just wrote more about this anime than Bunny Girl Senpai so I’m pretty sure I’m done.

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Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu. Heart Can Badge Azumaya & Saijo
Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu. Heart Can Badge Azumaya & Saijo

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Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Series Review

Bunny Girl Senpai - Episode 1 - Mai Sakurajima and Sakuta Azusagawa

He’s Met His Dream Girl Just As She’s About To Disappear, And That’s Just The Start Of Their Problems

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is one of those incredibly weird series that seemingly come out of nowhere and captures the attention of an incredibly fickle community. As the series progressed, more cracks appeared in what was a fairly solid narrative beginning and more mixed reviews began to appear, however by and large this one swept a wave of positive buzz as it aired in Autumn. So, did it deserve all that praise?

Absolutely.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6 - Sakuta

While I won’t even try to argue that this series is perfect (I doubt such a creature as a flawless anime narrative actually exists), nor will I say this series will work for everyone, Bunny Girl Senpai is a fascinating look at adolescence and the emotional problems that plague individuals. While thematically it doesn’t really do a whole lot with this idea other than provide supernatural analogues for the usual high school drama, what it does do is provide characters that connect with the audience, dialogue that enthrals, and for the most part provides bite size arcs that are easily digestible and very palatable.

And now I’m hungry.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 12 Kaede

The first arc, that introduces us to the titular Bunny Girl, Sakurajima Mai, is undoubtedly the best the series has to offer and outside of being a little bit dialogue heavy (so those who are after fast paced action are out of luck), there’s very little to fault in these opening three episodes. Mai and main character Sakuta quickly develop a chemistry few anime can even dream of presenting and every scene with these two on screen together becomes a delight to watch. Whether it is Mai offering to shove Pocky up Sakuta’s nose or friendly banter between the two, watching these two never gets old.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 2

It also helps that Mai’s problem and supernatural mystery is pretty compelling and the ‘scientific’ explanation provided for it is solidly linked enough to at least make for an interesting thought experiment. Basically, there’s nothing to complain about in these opening episodes and by the time the first narrative draws to a solid close most viewers will be well and truly on board with wherever these characters choose to take us.

Which is probably a good thing. Because while each of the stories that follows is interesting in its own way, the writing remains pretty tight, and the characters fairly delightful, none of them manage to quite strike the same gold that the opening does.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6 - Sakuta and Tomoe

Part of the issue, outside of the bunny girl outfit not making much of an appearance (though I’m not sure I was watching for that anyway) is that the supernatural/pseudo scientific phenomenon are never quite click or are as clever or compelling as the first arc. I was particularly disappointed with the second arc when they introduced the idea of Laplace’s Demon and then more or less utterly ignored the possibilities of that and gave us a basic time loop story. Admittedly, it was a well done time loop story but they could have done so much more with that concept. Every arc after watered it down further until Kaede’s story didn’t even get a vague scientific explanation or comparison and so it was more just weird and inexplicable things happen and Sakuta tries to fix them.

If that sounds like I’m complaining, I’ll take it back. All of the stories remain very well executed. Comparing even the weakest of the arcs, which was probably Nodoka’s story toward the end, with most other anime that aired in 2018, and it is still a very well told narrative. However, when a series feels like it is in a slow slide downward in quality, it does leave the audience feeling a little disappointed as they see diminishing returns.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10 Mai in idol performance

While we’re looking at flaws though, I’ll throw in the usual issue with high school anything and that is the absent parent syndrome. They go to a lot of effort to make adults in general pretty absent from the narrative. They appear enough so at least they aren’t completely gone from the story, but as usual we have teenagers with remarkably little adult supervision in their lives. I find this narrative conceit quite frustrating and it is a trope that endlessly repeats in anime.

Anyway, let’s look at the positives, of which there are many.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 8 Fireworks

The opening song is fantastic and distinctive. I’m not the biggest fan of how it starts visually, but it ends up being quite the entertaining opening. Though the sheer number of sequences from the opening that end up appearing in the final episode in one form or another is a little heavy handed. Still, it is hard to complain about a song that is that great.

Visually, the whole anime works very well. There’s the occasional animation that doesn’t quite work, but for the most part this one is gorgeous to look at. I already mentioned the dialogue is solid and the chemistry between the characters is amazing.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 3

Basically, this one was a solid anime from the year and one that I had a great deal of fun following week to week. The announcement of a movie to follow excited some but mostly just made me accept early on that it probably wasn’t going to resolve things solidly in the series, which is more or less what happened. I’m not the biggest fan of anime series that go with follow up movies (probably because I’m not the best at actually following up on movies when they come out).

Still, I’d highly recommend checking out Bunny Girl Senpai. There’s certainly some fun to be had here and the characters are fantastic to spend time with.

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SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI
SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI

Conception Anime Series Review

Unrestrained Power Fantasy Involving 1 Guy, 12 Girls, and 1 Tanuki

Every season there is that one anime that I know I’m not going to like, that it isn’t my genre or there’s an annoying character or idea, and yet there’s something about it that manages to catch my attention and I’m unable to just walk away. After watching 12 episodes of this, I’m convinced that I need to learn to drop shows early on even if there is that small carrot of potential. Conception was that title in the Autumn 2018 season

Conception Episode 3

I’ll admit, I watched this through to the end when other shows were dropped along the way. So it isn’t unwatchable. But that is more because of the sheer weirdness of some of what happens. And I’m not just talking about the premise of Itsuki having to make children with 12 maidens and that changing to 13 before the end in order to save a fantasy world.

Conception Episode 2

Conception does a couple of things right. Things that make viewing a poorly scripted, comedy that relies heavily on innuendo and smut jokes to carry episode, something that still seems to hint at being better than it actually is.

One thing it manages is pacing. Just when the comedy elements or the dating the star maiden parts became a little too much, this anime would dangle the story about the labyrinth and fighting the impurities in front of the viewer. By cycling through the different aspects of the show and making sure they never stayed absent too long, no matter what drew a viewer to the anime, just when they got to a point where they might drop it that part of the story would come back.

Conception Episode 10 The Star Children

The other thing that saved this anime from a complete drop is that despite the premise and the incredibly borderline visuals, Itsuki technically doesn’t actually have sex (on screen) with the maidens (maybe Mana, not sure). It is probably just as well given the age of some of these characters and just how weird that would be for all the maidens to happily get along, but the anime does everything but actual sex and it sure implies intimacy so for some people there will still be more than enough reason to walk away.

However, these minor positives can’t overcome the overwhelming negatives that this series is carrying with it.

Because there are 12/13 girls to be seduced and only 12 episodes, we barely get to meet some of these girls that Itsuki seems to woo some of them in an instant. The few that get a whole episode devoted to them are interesting enough but they essentially get seduced, go through the ‘ritual’, produce a child and then they more or less get forgotten outside of group shots.

Conception Episode 3

There’s a lot of fourth wall breaking ‘comedy’. Some of it is kind of amusing but most of it is the eye-roll worthy kind of humour where the writing seems to think it is more clever than it is. The episode that more or less spoofed ‘The Bachelor’ really was the low point for me though if the humour hits than it might work better for you.

Conception Episode 8 The Bachelor

Itsuki himself is about as bland a protagonist as any isekai power fantasy protagonist. Though, he seems even more dense at times. His acceptance of his role, or Mana’s advice, and the way he just plays whatever role is currently assigned means his own personality is pretty much absent for the vast majority of the series. He’s very clearly a blank-slate waiting for self-insert.

Conception Episode 7 Mana

But, the worst part of this anime goes straight to Mana as a character. Wow, I don’t know how many times I wished death on her during my episode reviews. She most definitely gets the title for the single worst character and most annoying creature of the entirety of 2018.

All and all, I really regret not dropping this. It wasn’t really a genre I am fond of and the small elements that could have been interesting just didn’t get enough time or development to really deliver. While I won’t say this is the worst anime ever, and it isn’t even my worst anime of 2018, it is an anime that you would have to be a very specific audience to enjoy and for everyone else you’d be better off steering clear.

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CONCEPTION ORE NO KODOMO WO UNDEKURE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
CONCEPTION ORE NO KODOMO WO UNDEKURE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

The Final Draw of The Match But Not The End

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 13 Review

If I was to have one complaint about this final episode of Tsurune, other than the fact that my weekly bliss and chill session has finished, it would be that this final episode seemed so incredibly dense with character moments. For something with such a languid pace and calm nature, there was so much to walk away from in this final episode and yet nothing felt rushed or forced but it makes processing the episode complicated.

Tsurune Episode 13 Minato and Shu draw the final arrow.

It isn’t just Minato or Shu who have their moment, we have the twins finally getting some development outside of being twerps as one of them begins to buckle under pressure and we with have a continuation of the Seiya and Shu conversation from earlier in the season where we see clearly the impact of Seiya’s growth. There’s the general team dynamic including how each of the boys deals with the pressure of the finals, and there’s the support from the girls. Tommy Sensei reflects on his role as their teacher and in making Minato shoot during the briefing to Masaki paralleling Masaki’s earlier worries that he’d made a mistake with Seiya. And lastly the anime comes back to Minato and Masaki and also returns us to the first scene where Minato first fell in love with archery and we see the Masaki was there during that scene as well connecting all the threads of this story beautifully.

That’s a lot going on in one episode. And to handle each of those characters and moments without feeling rushed or forced, and to give each moment the consideration it deserves, is a narrative feat well worth applauding even if the tone and subject matter isn’t to your taste. Everything in this anime has come together superbly in this final episode even though it felt like they’d reached that point last week when the team got their act together. For an anime that isn’t really about sensationalism in sports but rather quiet contemplation, they managed to up the ante with this final competition without compromising on tone, and again that was an impressive feat to behold.

Tsurune Episode 13 The Girls

Yet despite the sense that things have all come together what I don’t get a sense of is that these character journeys are at their end. For each of these boys their journey is ongoing but it doesn’t matter if we see that or not (though for the record I’d love a second season). What it means is that over thirteen episodes all of these characters became real to me and they feel like they have a life before and after this story and that again is something of an achievement.

Tsurune Episode 13 Minato lines up his shot.

I’ll do a full series review of this but if you didn’t give it a shot this Autumn season I’d strongly recommend it.

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DRAGON QUEST SMILE SLIME MONSTER PLUSH: BODKIN ARCHER
DRAGON QUEST SMILE SLIME MONSTER PLUSH: BODKIN ARCHER

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Series Review

Their Fight Isn’t To Save The World – Just Their Corner Of It

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary was one of those odd titles that comes out each season where I haven’t heard of it, haven’t seen any promotional materials, and just kind of go in blind. A fantasy-action, according to MAL at least, it seemed like it could be quite fun. And I was pleasantly surprised to find a fantasy that wasn’t isekai and instead had a faintly historical setting though the inclusion of mechas and ultimately flying armour kind of threw any basis in reality right out the window.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 6 Cheng

Now, I am going to end up recommending this title, mostly because very few people watched it while it was airing and I feel it really got overlooked in a strong season. However, that recommendation comes with a caution. The animation goes from average to terrible and remains that way through most of the run time. So if you are someone who expects modern anime to have high quality or at least reasonably consistent animation, I’d suggest not even trying this one because you are not going to enjoy it. For those that don’t mind the slightly shoddy visuals, there’s a pretty decent story to be found here.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 4

The setting works very well in Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary. The Taibai Empire is expanding and wants to conquer the world and does so by brutalising the inhabitants of small villages. It is more or less the expansion of China though don’t expect historical accuracy here. Yin and Ning are two sisters whose lives are destroyed when their village is attacked. Yin is waiting outside the village at the time and escapes mostly unscathed but Ning loses both arms (in what becomes an ongoing trend in this story – seriously, how many sets of arms does she go through?).

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 6 Yin and Ning

With this backdrop we follow Yin and Ning as they join up with the rebels fighting the empire. However, their scenes are interspersed with Zhao (Yin and Ning’s childhood friend) and Cheng, the Empress. We see both sides of this conflict and the personal dramas of these four young people all propelled into a war they didn’t start but are now just kind of destined to get caught up in. It borders on melodramatic at times, but each of the characters is interesting in their own way.

Yin and Ning, despite being close as sisters, are changed by the events in different ways. Yin just wants to keep her sister safe and out of the war but Ning is far more violent and wanting revenge for Zhao’s ‘death’ as well as the loss of her arms. It is probably telling that Ning’s fate isn’t exactly wonderful given her motivation rides from one hatred to the next. Yin on the other-hand suffers ongoing heartache as she tries and fails to keep the war away from her life.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 4

Zhao’s transition to serving the empire seems really odd at first but ultimately his character begins to make sense as he consistently chooses the path of least resistance. He’s someone who just wants to get a little ahead in the world and find a small piece of strength for himself. But it is his wavering between his various allegiances that ends up costing him.

Lastly, we have Cheng who is torn between being a very young girl who lost her father and being the Empress of a vastly expanded nation. I really liked that Cheng got treated as a human throughout all of this rather than just being the face of the enemy. Her relationship with Zhao is complicated and interesting to watch unfold even if you know early on there is no way it will end well.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 4

With a cast that all hold their own ground and a setting rich with potential, it is almost a shame that the animation wasn’t up to the challenge. We have sword fights, magic, burning villages, explosive death machines, and impossibly awkward mechas. The story choosing to focus in on the young cast members caught up in events makes things feel more personal and allows there to be some resolution within the thirteen episodes but a lot of the plot is implied or occurs off-screen with plenty more to happen after the end of the final episode, should there ever be a continuation.

As I said at the start, I do recommend this one for people looking for a fantasy or action story though it isn’t without its problems. Still, despite it not being that great, it was a little different and certainly interesting enough week to week.

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DIABOLIK LOVERS OFFICIAL VISUAL FAN BOOK
DIABOLIK LOVERS OFFICIAL VISUAL FAN BOOK

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San Series Review

Skull Face Bookseller Honda San Episode 5

A Skeleton in A Bookshop? I Have To See That

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San is an anime series that has one idea and that is we have a skeleton working in a bookshop. Everything that happens after that is either delightful or groan inducing depending on your tolerance for situational comedy.

It’s kind of well-known that I’m not big on comedy anime. Or slice of life anime. So a comedy/slice-of-life short form anime shouldn’t have ever appeared on my radar and certainly isn’t the kind of thing I would normally follow week to week for episode reviews. Yet, Honda-San had two very important attributes that drew me to it.

Firstly, it featured a skeleton in a bookshop. Seriously. That idea never stops being visually amusing no matter how many episodes we have. And then episode 12 puts the skeleton in a Christmas hat and that image is just perfectly hilarious by itself.

Secondly, it is set in a bookshop. More specifically, a Japanese bookshop where our main character works with manga. Playing spot the reference is a delightful way to pass the time in this series and more importantly, what book-lover hasn’t thought at some point of working in a bookshop (until you remember that it is retail and working with customers).

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San Episode 10

Both of these aspects were actually enough to carry me through the whole twelve episodes of this anime, even when some of the comedy didn’t quite hit its mark.

Part of the problem is that this anime relies very much on exaggeration, particularly exaggerated reactions from characters, as its primary form of humour. And while this works well enough and some of the facial expressions (although that isn’t quite right given all the characters wear masks) are fantastically done and the timing works beautifully. Other times, you just kind of sit back and wonder why the characters are freaking out so much. For instance, the episode where the characters were thinking about one of the workers who actually manages to keep their stock organised and how amazing that was. I just kept wondering why they didn’t all keep their stock organised and spend less time freaking out.

Skull face Book Seller Honda San Episode 8

The best moments for Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San are far and away Honda’s interactions with the customers. These can be positive, negative or just weird, but each time a customer came to the counter or approached Honda in the shop there was a sense of anticipation. These encounters were great mostly because there was a ring of truth around each one as anyone who had worked in customer service had probably encountered someone just like that at some point.

Skull Face Bookseller Honda San Episode 7

I am going to have to mention the visuals though. Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San is very much a basic anime in terms of its animation and visuals. There’s a heavy reliance on simple backgrounds or no background. Character reactions are repeated. The character designs, while distinct, are pretty basic and there is limited character movement. This anime stands out from others of its season and is recognisable, but it isn’t pretty, sophisticated, or even particularly well done.

However, the OP, “ISBN ~Inner Sound & Book’s Narrative~” is pretty distinct and fairly amusing to listen to. Likewise, for the most part the voice work by the characters serves its purpose and gets across the tone very well. They aren’t heavily nuanced performances, but given the material they don’t really need to be.

I’d certainly recommend giving this one a go. It gets a little repetitive as the season wears on and depending on how well the humour works for you will really have a big impact on your relative enjoyment, but this one is an interesting title from the Autumn season and one that has enough positives to recommend at least trying it.

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JAGGED ALLIANCE: RAGE!
JAGGED ALLIANCE: RAGE!

The Fleeting Life of a Flower In Bloom – Excerpt

Bloom Into You Episode Review Title

Bloom Into You Episode 13 Review

Bloom Into You has given us some truly exceptional direction and visuals, as well as a powerful story of youth and growing up and navigating the thorny path of romance. What is doesn’t really give us is an ending or a resolution. Now, the more open minded part of me would like to say that this is because life goes on, but the realist in me knows that it is because they ran out of episodes and this is where we got up to. Still, how is this final episode?

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