That Time I Decided To Take An Adventure-Comedy Anime Too Seriously

That Time I Decided To Take An Adventure-Comedy Anime Too Seriously

As Rimuru sits down at the table with the other demon lords, his friends and followers battle it out against armies, skeletons, and whatever else this anime is going to throw their way, I can’t help but wonder if the reason I’ve never gotten as into That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime as some other fans is because, despite it being an adventure-comedy, I keep trying to take it seriously.

That Time I...
Am I taking That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime too seriously?

I mean, I know I’m not the only one who has found this second season a little lacking in… well everything that I was kind of hoping for from the follow-up season to be. Just read the one star review by perfectEveryTime on MAL and it becomes quite apparent that the lack of tension and the sense of episodes wasted hasn’t exactly sat well with all viewers despite the series overall still maintaining a score of 8.3.

If you’ve followed my episodic coverage of Tensura 2 Part 2 then you kind of know I was more or less ready to walk away from this series after repeated episodes of characters having meetings. It was like watching the Blue Exorcist Kyoto Arc all over again where previously fun characters who used to do exciting things decided to sit around tables sipping tea and discussing things that might be exciting rather than doing them.

That Time I...
Am I taking That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime too seriously?

Overall, fairly disappointing.

However, I had to wonder if the overall problem is that I’m just taking is all too seriously.



That Time I Decided To Sit Back and Take Another Look At Something.

Covering seasonal anime is always an interesting prospect, largely because you are forced to take a week to reflect between each episode. This means conversations that probably don’t even last fifty minutes in real time feel like they take forever as they stretch out over three weeks of viewing.

For some stories, this type of pacing does it no favours whatsoever and when I initially dislike an anime, sometimes a binge watch at a later date proves that with a different flow a lot of the problems are actually strengths.

But, is that true for That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime?

That Time I...
Am I taking That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime too seriously?

I guess the real problem I have overall with Slime is that it has never been quite the anime I want it to. See, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime could be an epic adventure. You have some serious powers with the protagonist and his group, you’ve got built in racial and political tension, there have been enough genuine threats presented that the drama and excitement could be dialled up to eleven without even trying.

Yet, the anime isn’t trying to do that. That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime is happy kicking back, having characters meander about their business, chill in the hot-springs, and when they fight they tend to end the conflict in one or two moves so dramatic duels or matches are well off the table.

That Time I...
Am I taking That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime too seriously?

Also, nobody ever dies from Rimuru’s group since Shizue in season one. Nobody. Even when they do; don’t expect them to stay dead.

This disconnect between my expectations (or at least what I would kind of like to see) and what the anime actually is means that while I don’t dislike what That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is presenting I always feel just a little disappointed in. I feel there’s wasted potential, only it isn’t wasted. Instead the anime pours its efforts into that chilled and laid-back tone it has going and it likes being there.

Slime isn’t Goblin Slayer, wallowing in the darkness of adventuring and the horrors that may befall the unwary.

Goblin Slayer Episode 7
Image from Goblin Slayer. Dir. T Ozaki. White Fox. 2018

It also isn’t something like Ascendance of a Bookworm that is really looking at an adult struggling in a new life and trying to find purpose and using their knowledge from our world to succeed.

Despite its more epic trappings, That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime doesn’t take itself anymore seriously than something like Cautious Hero.

As a result, it relies on the chemistry of the cast, the occasional moment of absurdity, and an overall feel to win the audience over.

And if I was just binge watching I can see how season 2, part 2 kind of works for just sitting back, eating some pop-corn and waiting for all the characters to have their moment to shine.

That Time I...
Am I taking That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime too seriously?

But as a seasonal viewer, and someone who probably is taking this whole thing too seriously, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime feels like this season has lost some of the charm that made its plot and tension short-comings forgivable. Instead of finding it fun to spend time with a lovable cast, I kind of keep hoping this current conflict with Clayman wraps up soon so they can get back to doing something fun.

I’ve already more or less assumed nothing will actually come out of the fight (and if the next few weeks proves that wrong then so be it). So if I’m not drawn to tension or excitement then I at least want each episode to be full of characters who bounce off one another and are just a pleasure to spend time with. And this current arc isn’t delivering.

So I’ll admit, I’m taking this adventure-comedy anime far too seriously, but even if I don’t, I’m still thinking this season has hit a low point and hasn’t recaptured the magic of the first season. But I’ll hand it over to my readers. What do you think?

Images from: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 Part 2. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8bit. 2021.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Feature: I Am Human – But What Does That Mean?

human4

Anime does a lot of things. It shows us amazing places and takes us on wild adventures. It can make us laugh or cry or wince or groan. It can make our eyes widen in shock and it can bore us to tears. However, what it does every now and then is really make us think. So when a character declares, “I am human”, anime can really make me question what that statement even means.

This is part of why I love stories. Even stupid comedies sometimes hold a much greater truth than we might realise and thinking about those themes and messages, while enjoying a great show, is really rewarding.

I am human!

This week I want to look at anime that look at what it means to be human and have characters declaring, metaphorically if not literally, that “I am human”. And the list is huge and there are plenty of amazing quotes and gifs out there that deal with this and I’m sure that people will tell me I missed some of the most obvious in the discussion below.

I will say I deliberately have avoided Evangelion. At some point I’m going to get into that anime on this blog and I’ll leave that discussion for that later.

Now, some anime are pretty heavy handed when making a statement or delivering a moral message. One that immediately springs to mind is Parasyte. This is a really enjoyable anime but the conflict of our main character, Shinichi, as he wonders whether he is human or not after his arm is taken over by a parasite and his ongoing moral dilemmas about killing people, fighting and the like is anything but subtle.

Ultimately Shinichi does make his metaphorical declaration: “I am human” though his definition of human ends up being somewhat realigned.

Shinichi - Parasyte
I am human - right?

Basically Shinichi wants to protect people from the parasites but is too weak to do this by himself. So he is forced to cooperate with Migi (the name he gave the parasite that is his right hand) in his attempts to protect his friends, family and occasional random stranger. However, Migi isn’t all that cooperative. He doesn’t see the point in risking his own existence for another. Cue long conversations about right and wrong and the value and meaning of life.

While it might sound like I’m belittling it, I’m not.

I really loved Parasyte and at least it didn’t try to be smarter than it was. Both Shinichi and Migi evolved as characters through gaining insight into the others point of view. The blending of what is originally a clear binary opposition and what the compromise looks like really is the take-away from the show and leaves you wondering where you would have ended up if placed in a similar situation.

I Might Be Human

Then we have Gundam, a franchise that is so heavy handed with the morals and messages that at times it is difficult to see individual characters as anything other than the voice of whatever moral viewpoint they have been appointed at that point in the plot.

But really, all these characters want the world to realise: “I am human”. They suffer and die but they fight for what they believe and they want to be acknowledged.

While most of these revolve around war and the futility of fighting and dying while also trying to acknowledge the necessity of these things, they also sometimes dive headlong into the overall discussion of what it means to be human and what motivates us to act.

Weapons or humans. I am human - but I hurt others?

Asking why sometimes seems incredibly futile but it is these questions and reflections that actually make up the stronger emotional side of several of the Gundam series (you know, the parts that aren’t giant robots shooting or stabbing each other).

Similarly, asking what it means when someone claims “I am human” is a question that cannot be so simply answered.

The strength of Gundam is the sheer number of characters which gives more or less every audience member someone to agree with in terms of how they feel about the essential weakness of the human character.

I Forgot but I am Still Human?

Yet life and death aren’t the only elements of what it is to be human. Golden Time tackles several questions about the human experience including a sense of self and personal identity as well as how we define ourselves through relationships. And it is on how we create and maintain relationships with others that Golden Time really manages to shine.

I experience the human experience - I am human for sure.

The other questions the show asks always feel a little forced given most of us aren’t an amnesiac with a dual personality caused by the soul of our past self trying to bump out the soul of our present existence. It kind of makes it hard to relate to.

However, the romance and the heart break and how we deal with others, that we can watch and understand and really feel for some of these characters even as we wonder how we would cope in such a situation.

And the statement “I am human” becomes so much more important to this character as so much else is hidden behind a veil of mystery and confusion. What else do they have to cling to if their humanity is denied?

I Will Know Who I Am Even If I Don’t Yet

But if you were after an anime that decided to tackle identity, Charlotte gives it a good go, though you may find this theme hard to follow as at times it confronts it head on and at others it leaves you to fill the gaps in how the characters respond. That and the story itself more or less derails (though still worth the watch).

Who am I? I am human.

Although, reading the quote above I’m always reminded a little bit of Alice In Wonderland and begin wondering, “Who Am I?” Though the answer here is: “I am human.”

I am not human.

Then we have the sheer number of ‘inhuman’ characters who cast their judgement on the human race. Which of course leads to the I know that this character was actually created by a human so it’s a human pretending to be a demon/ghost/arbiter/god/whatever speaking about their views of humanity.

When done poorly this comes off as cliché and a little inane. But, this trope can actually be done well. Sebastian from Black Butler makes numerous observations about human nature, usually in comparison to himself. He generally views humans with disdain and so lumps most of humanity into very overly generalised groups but at the same time, it is difficult to argue with his conclusions at times.

I am not human - but I will judge you.

Though demons and devils in anime are regularly used to make us wonder who the real demons are as we frequently have human characters acting far worse than the demons within particular stories. Works symbolically but one has to wonder where all the good, old-fashioned demons have gone.

However, I don’t want this post to get too caught up in the ins and outs of philosophy in anime. Keep in mind, mostly it is a form of entertainment. So sometimes, even in anime that seem like they are working very hard to have a serious message, you get a comment so off the wall it just kind of sticks with you. Hence, Potato Girl from Attack on Titan.

To be human is to eat potato.

So what anime have made you think about what it means to be human? Or just made you laugh with an incredibly obvious observation (such as people die when they are killed). I’d love to know.

And remember regardless of anything else (unless you happen to be a space alien or inter-dimensional traveller) you can always declare: I am human!


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Why Do We Criticise Main Characters For Being Overpowered?

Overpowered Feature

I know right from the start of writing this article that I’m going to step on some toes but the argument about main characters being over powered and whether that makes them less interesting comes up time and time again and I decided I wanted to discuss this.

Why are overpowered main characters considered a bad thing?

Admittedly, I do like anime where the underdog comes forward and finally overcomes the seemingly unbeatable peril, but that doesn’t mean every main character has to be a wimp or a developing hero. It’s nice sometimes to have someone competent, in control, and at times even confident to follow along on their quest. In those instances, it isn’t tension that you are wanting to experience but rather the satisfaction of seeing someone overcome a challenge in a fairly capable manner. So, different emotional payoff but still entertaining, right?

Only it seems there is a very vocal group on the internet that seem to think that an overpowered MC exists only as a plot device and can’t possibly be an interesting character. While they are entitled to their opinion, and if an anime that features a strong main character isn’t for them, so be it, why do they feel the need to berate anyone who feels differently or to tear down these anime?

The king of overpowered main characters - superman

Before we get into anime characters that seem overpowered, I would like to point out the most overpowered character of all time, Superman. Seriously, there is only one thing in the entire world that can even slow him down and its ridiculously hard to come across (unless you are a B Grade villain living in Metropolis in which case it seems you will find it every time you sneeze). And with nothing that can actually harm him, let’s be honest there is very little reason to ever feel concerned about the outcome of a battle. His girlfriend died and he turned back time to save her (didn’t worry about all the other victims though).

One of my favourite characters in anime is Sebastian from Black Butler, but by every definition he is overpowered. At no point in the series do you feel he is actually in any danger, and by association there is little that will actually endanger the protagonist of the series, Ciel.

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Does that take any fun out of the series? Does it mean it is pointless to watch because you know Sebastian is going to win the fight and finish with s smug smile, usually while polishing something, and then give a cheesy line about being “one hell of a butler”? I didn’t think so. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the series and the fact that not every conflict could be solved simply through pointing Sebastian at it and saying ‘defeat’. Sure, the outcome of any conflicts were inevitable, but the process of getting to that victory was usually quite amusing to watch and it made for a very satisfying experience.



And Sebastian never complains. Or cries. Or pleas for more power. There are no training montages, no wise advisers showing up, or even friendly rivals (at least not in the first season). All of these clichés that occur in anime where the protagonist is still developing and not overpowered can be removed because what on earth will our character learn from them? They are already strong so most of their learning comes about themselves or other people rather than combat.

Another character who seems to take hits for being overpowered all the time is Kirito from Sword Art Online. Firstly, why is he considered overpowered? He nearly dies in every single battle and fails fairly regularly to protect those he is trying to save, which takes a fairly heavy emotional toll on him. The fact that he manages in most instances to save his own life doesn’t make him overpowered.

Kirito_Dual_Blades

While some haters argue that knowing Kirito will win a fight makes it pointless to watch. Unless you seriously haven’t ever watched or read any kind of story before, of course the main character is going to win. They only ever lose if it serves a greater purpose in the plot. So knowing he’s going to win doesn’t make him overpowered either.

Kirito isn’t always confident of victory, and he doesn’t walk needlessly into danger or expose himself to harm. He trains hard and he works with other characters – who admittedly get sidelined in critical battles to show off how amazing Kirito is but that’s a whole other discussion – and lastly, he continues to grow and develop as a character (which is another key criticism of him that he doesn’t develop). While his growth is subtle, it most certainly is occurring.

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Remember back in the very first episode of SAO when Kirito realised that the game was real and that he could die. The fear he felt and the way it nearly overwhelmed him. And that emotion led him to the conclusion that he had to get strong and had to survive. Then as the series progressed he realises that mere survival won’t be enough. He has to find a way to live. And then he helps other characters realise that they can find a way to live as well. Kirito may become an exceptionally strong character, but he doesn’t just blink and get that way. And I personally found his journey very interesting even knowing he wouldn’t die.

Then again, if you really hate Kirito you can watch SAO abridged and that is pretty funny regardless.

Lastly, I’d like to bring up Tatsuya Shiba from The Irregular at Magic High School. He is totally overpowered in almost every conflict he is involved in. And even though that is blatantly apparent to the audience the rest of the cast that inhabit his world are a little slower on the uptake. Does that make him boring to watch? Not at all. Tatsuya is fantastic to see in action.

tatsuya.jpg

Here is a character who exudes calm and confidence in every situation. I would say the issues come more from his lack of personality than from him being overpowered. And once again, it isn’t as though he is never in any danger or never injured. And it isn’t that the people around him aren’t put in danger or injured. The fact that he is going to win a fight doesn’t make it any less exhilarating to watch.

So, while I will admit that an overpowered main character can cause some plot problems (for instance the increasingly ridiculous ways they will try to make villains or situations that do challenge them), having an overpowered MC is not an instant sign that an anime is flawed, terrible, or without a story.

I guess it all comes down to why you are watching the story and what you are after. If you want nail biting tension and uncertainty in a battle’s outcome, certainly these overpowered main characters won’t be for you. But if you are after something else, there may be quite a bit of enjoyment to be found.

Share your thoughts. Do you like or hate overpowered characters? Who are your favourite/most hated overpowered characters?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Why Is It So Hard to Find A Good Female Lead In Anime?

Friday's Feature
https://www.crowsworldofanime.com/

I know already some of you are shaking your heads because you can name a dozen or more female lead characters in anime. Possibly it is because of the genres I prefer, but finding a female lead in action, horror, science fiction, or even fantasy, is actually quite challenging. Finding a good female lead in anime, particularly in those genres is even harder. Though isekai lately seem to be making an effort at least in having more female leads.

There’s a reason so many people praise the Major from Ghost in the Shell. She stands out because she stands more or less alone in terms of a solid representation of a female character in the genre within anime (there are others but I’d challenge people to think of them off the top of their head and I’m sure more than a few of you are trying).

Major as portrayed in Scarlett Johansen.
Not the major most people talk about.

Hard to find a good female lead in anime – though some steps in the right direction.

Admittedly, this problem isn’t entirely unique to anime. There are arguments across almost every entertainment medium for better representation of women and more diverse leading roles and certainly we can then extend that same argument to pretty much every minority group.

Still, given there are some truly brilliant female characters in anime, I have to wonder why in my preferred genres they get shuffled to romantic interest, emotional support, angry girl who occasionally beats up protagonist but comes through when needed, etc. Very occasionally they get to be the strict person in charge and get to chastise and talk down to the young male protagonist giving us the illusion that we have a female in a position of authority.

Usually right before the male protagonist goes and does whatever he wants regardless.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these characters shouldn’t exist. There are some quite entertaining female supporting characters out there. I’m just wondering why we don’t have more well written leading females in these stories. And to be honest, it will largely come down to percentages. With less female leads in general if the same percent of female leads are good or memorable as male leads (lets be real, there’s a lot of poorly written male leads), that will result in very few memorably well written female leads.

Without looking it up, name 3 female
leads from popular anime.

Honestly, I would struggle with this. I can think of some great supporting characters from dramas, like the Kawamoto sisters in March Comes in Like a Lion. Seriously, Hina is just this side of a perfect supporting character with an incredible character arc in season two and she’s just amazing. Incidentally, go watch March Comes in Like a Lion.

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But when going through the top 10 anime by popularity on MAL what I find is some truly great female characters but almost no female lead characters. I mean, Death Note… While Misa has her fans she’s not even close to a lead in the story. Skipping a few we get Sword Art Online and FMA Brotherhood. I would never be mean to Winry about her character, she’s awesome, and Asuna is one of my favourite female anime characters (at least in the first season of SAO). She’s actually a character I have a proper figure of, poised with her sword ready to strike. Amazing. But neither Winry or Asuna are actually a lead character.

At number seven on the list we get Steins;Gate and the amazing Kurisu Makise and the adorable but slightly less impressive Mayuri Shiina. However, no matter how you slice it, these characters exist around Okabe Rintarou and they aren’t leads (though they are highly enjoyable characters that should be celebrated in their own right).

steins microphone

In fact, it wasn’t until I got to number 10 on the list and saw Angel Beats that I thought we had any hope of finding a female lead. I mean, there’s Yuri in the centre of the promotional art holding her gun and looking for all the world like a leading character. But whose story does Angel Beats really tell? Almost the whole narrative is filtered through Otonashi’s experience and while the female characters certainly offer diversity (and one of the few that isn’t a harem in the process) it would actually be difficult to claim that Yuri is a leading female character.

Angel1

Actually, I found that a lot. A story that seems to revolve around an interesting female character that is actually entirely filtered around a male character’s experience of the story. So Elfen Lied at 23 might count as a female lead in a horror, but I guess it depends if you think the story is Lucy’s. Certainly the opening few episodes are but then the story seems to get a little hijacked.

This begs the question:
with more female viewers watching anime
should there be more female leads?

Honestly, the answer to this, much like the question of should there be more diversity in general in entertainment, would be a resounding yes. At the same time though, creating a character just to check a box for diversity lends itself to pretty stale characters. Or characters that just miss the point of what the audience wanted when they asked for such a character.

Beasts7g

Also, just because someone is a female viewer, does that mean they necessarily want a female lead? While I would certainly ask for a few more in my watch list, by and large I’m not concerned if the lead character of a show is male. I’m more concerned that they are an interesting character. If they are well realised and well developed as well we’re onto an absolute jack-pot of a character regardless of which box they’ll get placed in.

Female leads are scrutinised
within an inch of their life.

It is seriously tough being a female lead character (or a representation of any group that doesn’t get frequent representation). The audience that wants that type of character is frequently super critical of the way the character comes across or constructed. Doubly so if the person who wrote the character isn’t actually a representative of the group.

grimms6d

Poorly written female characters endless get criticism about existing only for fan-service, for being stupid or comic relief, for having no clear goal of their own… Yet there are so many more male characters who behave in the exact same way. We’re almost immune to these characters because we see them so often and we don’t bother to call them out, but when a female character comes along with the same flaws somehow this ignites the inner critic.

Criticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing mind you. Better written characters in general would make for more enjoyable stories. Very few people would say we need characters written with less integrity or care. Yet it seems counter productive to always focus on the negative when anime, or any entertainment medium, does try to branch out in their characters. Sometimes they deserve it when they are truly poorly researched or written, but when there’s a genuine attempt, should the positive not be noted? Or should we start lambasting all the terrible male leads out there and demand better representation for them as well?

It is difficult to understand what
the audience wants in a female lead.

Does the audience want strong women? Real women? Emotional women? Super women who can do everything? Vulnerable women? Stoic women? Do we want them all at various points and none at others?

Ririchiyo4

Just making your lead character a female doesn’t mean that the anime is going to satisfy an audience seeking a female lead character. Just like not every male protagonist clicks with every male viewer. Again, having a range would be nice because statistically if there enough different kinds of female leads surely one would work for the member of the audience in question.

In short: The Key To Better Female Leads
Is Having More Female Leads

I’m kind of hoping this didn’t come off sounding like a rant against male leads or arguing that lack of female representation is the only representation issue in anime. If it did, that wasn’t the intention. I was just starting to short list my draft for top female characters this year and realised that other than Emma, from The Promised Neverland, I was coming up fairly short on leading female characters. I know that if I watched more CGDCT anime or school comedies or more slice of life I would probably encounter more female leads.

maka and soul

Anyway, I’d love to know your opinion on female leads in general and who your favourite female lead character is. Incidentally, mine is Maka from Soul Eater.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Would Bofuri work if the protagonist wasn’t a cute female character?

Feature Bofuri
https://blackandyellowotakugamers.com/

I’m no stranger to discussing the appeal of cute or kawaii characters in anime (previous posts including “Just Add Cute” and “Is Being Kawaii Enough To Make You Watch an Anime?“) however today I really do just want to discuss the Winter 2020 anime Bofuri also known as “Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu” or ” BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense”.

At the time of drafting this post, we are two episodes in and what I know about Bofuri so far is that it is about a girl named Kaede who, at the invitation of a friend, decides to play a VRMMO for the first time and without knowing anything about character construction she decides she would be sensible to stack all of her stat points into defense. And that’s about it. It is perfectly delightful viewing but would it still be so delightful if the protagonist wasn’t a cute female character?

Bofuri1b

Kaede isn’t trapped in this game unable to escape.

The game isn’t glitching and trying to kill the players.

The other players aren’t trying to kill one another either in the game or in real life.

There’s no mysterious secret hidden in the game or some family legend or some angsty back story to uncover.

And there’s no one dying who has a last wish of conquering the game.

There really is zero tension or drama in the story so far. Kaede is a complete newb and because her friend is banned from playing games until after exams she starts out on her own. Happily she asks some random players for advice about where to start and then off she trots (very slowly because she has no agility points) into the forest where we learn that her build is pretty much invincible and she can literally just let things hit her until she builds up a resistance and then squish things to death with her shield.

Bofuri1e
Strong? Maple laughs in the face of danger (and then hides behind her shield).

Even soloing a dungeon isn’t a problem for our intrepid adventurer. Trapped in a boss room and out of weapons? No problem. Just eat the boss gaining skills in the process and then a very sweet new set of armour and a shield.

The second episode brought along a tournament where players tried to fight each other but again Kaede’s character build is just unbeatable but there were no claims of cheating or bitterness. Nope. One comment about the build being broken and then a lot of admiration for the new shield user who owned a whole bunch of other players.

Bofuri2b

We also finally got to see her playing the game with her friend and her friend has decided to go for an unconventional character build as well. And that’s the state of the story after two episodes.

Normally, if someone pitched a story like that to me for an anime I’d have to ask them, “What is the point?” If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know I’m very easily bored by anime that I don’t feel are ‘going anywhere’. I don’t mind if it is a character journey or a plot driven journey but normally I need to feel like something is going to be accomplished somewhere along the way.

Bofuri literally has nothing that would indicate there’s a greater story at play. Kaede has no goal outside of enjoying playing her new game with her friend. There’s no goal for either of them outside of playing and levelling up and having fun. While I’m sure they’ll go on quests, encounter other players, maybe join some more tournaments, there’s no end game in sight.

Bofuri2d

Neither character has some deep flaw or trauma that needs to be worked through. They are both perfectly pleasant people who seem pretty well adjusted. So character development doesn’t seem to be the goal either.

Yet despite this lack of tension, purpose, or depth of character, Bofuri is fairly delightful to watch for the sheer joy Kaede seems to have at playing the game. The characters are cute, Kaede’s reactions when she succeeds at something or even when she’s startled, are adorable, and now that her friend is playing with her we have a second personality for Kaede to bounce off of and that only added to the enjoyment of watching the anime.

Bofuri2a

All of which made me wonder if I would forgive the story for being practically non-existent and the characters for being generic and the only real thing the anime has going for it being the practically invincible gimmick due to Kaede’s own misunderstandings about how to build a character, if the anime wasn’t cute?

What if Kaede, our central character, was a surly, teenage boy who for shits and giggles decided to build a broken character to play the game. Would I be as delighted traipsing through the forest with him as he shield bashed rabbits to death? Would his eating of a boss have been an adorable epiphany moment where the character comes up with an unconventional solution or would it have been just terrifyingly gruesome?

What if Kaede was not in school but actually in her thirties or forties and a mother who decided to try a game for the first time but was relatively inept? Would the story still fly or would we want more information about why this mother suddenly decided to play a game other than her friend invited her? Would it still be relaxing to watch or would I be more judgemental about all the things the anime lacks?

Bofuri1d

It’s all just hypothetical of course because Kaede is in fact a cute, female anime character. Her character design is relatively ordinary but they’ve made some lovely choices in her clothing and the fact that she’s a shield user helps her stand out. The rest of the cast are so far pretty cute to and the whole gaming world is just nice to look at. Generic for an in-game world as depicted in an anime, but perfectly pleasant.

I really have enjoyed the first two episodes of Bofuri. I think it is great fun to watch so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what Maple and Sally get up to next inside the game. However, the question remains whether or not this anime would work without the cute factor and that’s really quite hard to answer. I’d like to think it would, but I also know that objectively there’s little else as a claim to the appeal of the anime so far.

If you’ve tried Bofuri, what do you think? Would Bofuri work if the protagonist wasn’t a cute female character?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Anime: Does It Matter If A Show Is More Style Than Substance?

Feature Style

As we launched into the Winter 2020 anime season viewers saw the return of the Madoka franchise. One that is either beloved or seen as overrated depending on which side of the debate you choose to sit on. However one of the common arguments I heard against the original Madoka TV series from the detractors was the it was a visual spectacle or a caricature of the magical girl genre but lacked substance. Basically it was a case of more style than substance.

I kind of disagreed as I felt the series had enough substance in Madoka’s choice for the run time, but it is one of those arguments that leaves you wondering whether it would even matter if the anime didn’t have any substance and was just stylistically interesting.

madoka

Which of course made me wonder when Magia Record popped up whether this newest side-story had anything new to say. As much as I am a fan of the Madoka TV series I’ve never gone on and watched the movies, though I’ve been told they are good. The reason was that I was deeply satisfied with the story the series gave and where it concluded for the characters. I didn’t feel compelled to watch on as I felt that they had made the point they’d set out to make and the story was done.

madoka

Yet here we were 9 years later. Magia Record most definitely caught the visual style of Madoka in both the characters and the settings. Yet that first episode felt like Madoka lite. Part of the reason was probably because there was no shock factor to be had in the story with the appearance of the witches or the darkness underlying what it means to be a magical girl.

However, even in the decision to send the protagonists’ family away takes away from an opportunity to show the impact the events in the magical girl aspects will have in the grounded life of the character. Madoka’s family, while given minimal screen time, added to her character arc and made her decisions even more weighted.

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However, Magia Record wasn’t the only new release anime in 2020 that had me wondering about whether style over substance was actually a problem. ID:Invaded was a very nice looking anime and it oozed style. Both inside the world of the killer’s mind and in the office the rest of the team works in. Functionality took a back seat to appearance. I mean, we could simply say the detective is a psychic and can meditate his way into the killing intent of murderer and the rest of the characters could just be ordinary police set in the modern world and realistically the opening two episodes wouldn’t have changed much outside of the visuals.

ID:Invaded - More style than substance?

That’s not actually a black mark against the story. Let’s be real, anime is a visual medium. Those cool and compelling visuals are necessary for broader audience appeal and even if we could have the same story set in the normal everyday world it might not be as fun or distinct so why worry about it overly much. Except that it would be nice if all that style served a purpose.

Like I always wondered in Madoka why the classroom walls were transparent as clearly that just opened the possibility for distractions. I mean, it looked cool but it didn’t feel practical. Similarly, the layout of the office in ID:Invaded looks great, but not exactly functional.

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However, I am not just poking fun at 2020 anime. Both Magia Record and ID:Invaded had the potential to really do great things with their narrative and characters though neither one ended up being anime that stuck with me much beyond the initial viewing. Of course, they also might not and we might get a visually interesting walk through nothingness and then I’ll have to wonder whether or not that was worth the time.

Even if they turn out to be more style than substance they were interesting at least.

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But it isn’t as though this is a new debate or argument. When I watched and reviewed the K anime series I asked then if being cool and looking good was enough for a series. In the case of K, it really was. It was a delight to watch and while the narrative and characters really didn’t make a huge amount of sense if you gave any of it too much thought, the anime was very good at keeping you engaged and distracted enough so that you didn’t sit and pick at some of the finer points. While it might not make for a great work of literature it certainly works as entertainment.

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I opened this article by asking whether it matters if an anime is more style than substance and honestly the answer comes down to, ‘it depends’. It depends on the viewer and what they are looking for in an anime at the time. It depends on whether the style is engaging in and of itself. It depends whether the story promised more depth and then chose not to go there and instead frolicked in delight at its glorious visuals. It also depends on what you actually count as having substance.

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Going back to Madoka there are a lot of people who don’t feel it has much to say and yet I found it a very interesting look at the transition between the normal world and the extraordinary and one that is usually overlooked by magical girl stories because the story is in such a rush to have a protagonist who is a magical girl.

That transition phase being extended and having Madoka exposed to the world she was going to enter if she made a wish and seeing the impact that world had on those she met was fascinating and opened up the magical girl genre to trying new things. Admittedly, in the wake of Madoka all we really found were grim-dark rip-offs that didn’t quite understand what made Madoka interesting.

madoka

As a viewer, I like things to have some substance but honestly if substance does take a back-seat to style then I guess I’m fine with it as long as I’m still entertained in some way. However, I’d love to know whether you feel it matters or not.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Am I Being Too Judgemental Or Is My Hero Academia Season Four Just Not Good?

Feature Academia

The answer here is that there’s probably a bit of both going on. I am being incredibly judgemental of My Hero Academia Season Four and that’s because it gave us two phenomenal seasons (season one and season two) and a third season that had an emotional peak that deserves to be remembered and season four just hasn’t stood up to the predecessors.

However, given the high quality of some of those early seasons, is season four actually a pretty alright show that is just being judged harshly? Given I’m still watching Darwin’s Game, would I argue that My Hero Academia Season Four is actually worse? I decided to step back a bit and take a more objective look at the situation and why I’m finding season four so hard to feel interested in.

What is it about My Hero Academia Season Four?

MHA S4 Bakago and Todoroki

Note: I will only be discussing anime in this article. I have not and probably won’t be reading any of the manga for these anime.

The Problem With Long Running Shounen

I’ve previously made it clear that the only long running shounen I’ve ever really gotten into was Bleach. I love Bleach. Partly that was because it was one of the earlier anime I watched as an adult and the thrill of being able to find the next part of an episode on YouTube with English subs that made sense was always pretty great.

I also started watching it once it was well on its way so was able to binge most of the earlier seasons though did have to skip parts of some episodes just to not being able to find them. The whole ten minute maximum video length on YouTube at the time was not particularly friendly to anime episodes that were 23 – 24 minutes in length and so various people cut the episodes at various points and fan subbed them in a variety of languages.

Bleach also exemplifies a lot of the problems with long running shounen. The first three seasons are fantastic and have a wonderful character arc for the protagonist as he goes from ‘average guy who can see ghosts’ to the guy who fights his way through Soul Society to save the shinigami who gave him her power from being executed.

It’s nicely done, though even those three seasons have an excess of characters, long running fights, and padding in the form of cuts to Ichigo’s sisters and other side characters that break up the flow of the main narrative.

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From the end of season three on, the filler becomes the main story at times meaning there are entire seasons that can be skipped because they actually add nothing to the overall narrative and the fights become more overblown and prolonged, the character count keeps escalating, and ultimately you aren’t really sure why any of the characters have any stake in the matter other than bad things happen and good guys get to work beating the villain who caused them.

Keep in mind, I really like Bleach. I own the box sets of the DVD’s and regularly binge whole seasons of the show over a weekend just to relax. That doesn’t mean I’m blind to its flaws, just that for me it was the first of its ‘type’ that I watched and so it holds a special place for me.

The other big shounen titles have largely been misses for me. I never finished season one of Naruto. One Piece barely got a few episodes before I just kind of shrugged. I have watched segments of Dragon Ball but I’ve never been a fan. It’s watchable and if someone else wants to watch it I’ll join in.

Somewhat ‘shorter’ stories like Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and Soul Eater fare a great deal better as they tend to demonstrate the characteristics of that first arc of Bleach. They tell a story, bring their characters to a nice resting point and then let things come to a close. We know there’s more to their stories but they don’t just stretch on and on adding further complication upon complication just to try to engage an increasingly jaded audience.

maka soul

Hunter x Hunter is perhaps the one other long running shounen series that I’ve made significant headway through. After repeated recommendations I started watching it and for a time was reviewing episodes two at a time when I found the time, but it’s now been twelve months since I watched my last episode of it (that sounded almost like it belonged in an AA meeting).

I haven’t finished it, though I’m close-ish. I actually enjoyed various bits of the story, but again, it started to feel like it had said everything it had to say and now we were just going through the motions.

So let’s bring this back to My Hero Academia.


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My Hero Academia’s Diminishing Returns

Back when season one of My Hero Academia was airing, I originally didn’t start watching with everyone else at episode one. It was another shounen title and I was already aware they weren’t my favourite kind of show. Worse, it focused on super heroes and with the plethora of Hollywood movies even back then coming out on the topic (not to mention the various TV series) I was just kind of over it. The rave reviews of those first few episodes though made me want to give it a try at around the episode five mark and so I binged all the available episodes and was hooked.

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What worked in My Hero Academia was that it was a beautifully animated show with a central character who exemplified the underdog trope while still holding onto that can-do shounen spirit and, as the story progressed, it seemed to have a lot to say about how we define and view heroic acts and those who commit them.

Outside of the story being very generic in that we have a bunch of would-be super-heroes attending a training school and the main character starting powerless but telling us he’s going to become the strongest, there was almost nothing to complain about in that first season. The pace didn’t go too fast but nor did it dwell on things too long. It all just flowed in a nice looking, easily digestible package. However, it was the tone and feel of the anime that made it stand out. From the beginning, I’ve always loved My Hero Academia’s energy.

With season two dipping into a sports tournament arc, my heart initially sank. Foolish really given that group of episodes ended up being amongst the strongest that My Hero Academia would deliver over all four of the seasons that have currently aired. Character growth was logical and well delivered during this sequence and so many of the characters we’d grown attached to in the first season had a moment to shine.

Also, All Might and Midoriya’s relationship also further developed as Midoriya moved less from being a fanboy to actually being a protege. They took the opportunity to identify again some of the problems with both the school and the society and then they built on that with the arrival of the best antagonist the series had ever produced (and that remains true even now) with Stain making the scene with his interesting philosophy on the heroes of society.

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Unfortunately, season three ended up being a mixed bag of ideas as the League of Villains rose up and the various characters continued their various journeys to get stronger and get their provisional hero’s licence. The mid-season peak, where All Might gave his everything in one final fight, was perhaps the best moment My Hero Academia has ever produced, but it was surrounded by a season that couldn’t meet the standards of what had come before it.

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And now we have season four. A season that manga readers kept insisting was going to get better, that we’d get to the awesome, it was just around the corner. Now that the whole fight with Chisaki has fairly generically drawn to a close without really raising an emotional response the chatter has switched to saying that what is coming next in the story will be amazing. Yet, My Hero Academia, as it stands, is perhaps at its lowest point in terms of being entertaining, well animated or well paced.

You Can’t Expect Gold Every Time

Taking a step back, My Hero Academia season four isn’t actually bad. It’s just in that weird mid-phase that a lot of long running shows go through. That peak with All Might passing the torch to Midoriya was right up there with Ichigo finally rescuing Rukia, and it is taking the show some time to set up the next big stage.

When I’m not annoyed at the anime for feeling dull, I can see that The League of Villains is continuing to work away at things, that the society is changing in how it views heroes and the occupation of being a hero, and how Midoriya is trying to grow strategically instead of just frantically running to catch up. All of these developments (and dozens of others) continue throughout season four and very likely will lead to something amazing further down the track.

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But right now, having watched 17 episodes of reasonably unimpressive fight sequences and character moments that don’t really go anywhere just yet, I’m feeling fatigued. A binge watch of this story would definitely have been better as it wouldn’t have prolonged this phase of the story over months of viewing but rather have been watched and done.

However even then, the fight between Midoriya and Chisaki didn’t have the emotional stakes of any of the previous fights so can’t be the stand out moment that previous fights have produced and that leaves season four so far without any real climatic moment for the audience to remember and just think: “Awesome!”

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When we get more critical and start thinking about the visuals of season four and the lack of screen time for so many fan favourite characters, the cracks in this franchise become more pronounced. Again, this isn’t a My Hero Academia exclusive problem. Long running shounen stories crowd in characters but they can’t all be involved in every conflict so there are large spaces of time where they get sidelined. It just feels here like that was to the detriment of the tone of the story. That energy I mentioned before.

I could also mention something about the treatment of female heroes but to be honest that deserves a whole post all on its own and I’m definitely going to get to it at some point.

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Curious though as to whether it was just me being contrary or whether my feeling that My Hero Academia had already peaked and the latest offering was somewhat sub-par I naturally turned to Twitter (you know because Twitter gives you great insight into things without any knee-jerk reactions). Over two days 147 people votes in the poll and while ‘Still Fun’ won out, the vote was a lot closer than I’d initially expected. Ultimately only 54% of respondents thought it was awesome or still fun while the remaining 46% said it was only watchable or they were losing/had lost interest.

Imagine if I’d asked that same question about season 2 or 3. I’m thinking we’d have had at least 75% of respondents being awesome or still fun and far less in the lost interest category.

So is this just a lull or has My Hero Academia had its day?

Honestly, I feel like while the story still has a ways to go, my interest in it has gone. All Might passing the torch is that significant plot moment that allows the story to rest and I would have been satisfied with that as an ending. In fact, let’s change it up a bit. Let’s have All Might point saying its your turn but let’s leave Midoriya in the scene. All Might publicly passing the torch to the still green but hard working Midoriya. While he’ll need protection and mentoring from other heroes for a time, he can continue to grow into his power and eventually take the place of All might. The end.

My Hero Academia Season 4

That there are heaps of other characters still unresolved and that there are plenty of complications that can come up and be explored is not disputed. However, if the story isn’t going to be fun while exploring them, wouldn’t it be better to let it all draw to a close and end on a high note?

But I’m aware I am biased. I felt Buffy should have ended at season three and then again at season five. That is clung on to season 7 always kind of made me roll my eyes. So many TV shows just keep stretching their ideas and adding complications to the detriment of the overall narrative but for the sake of getting another season (and I am assuming more money). While some fans may be delighted by more of the characters, for me, if there’s nothing more to say, no interesting point to add, or if what they are doing is undermining what I enjoyed in the first place, I just don’t see the point.

So am I being judgemental or is season four of My Hero Academia just not good? The answer is definitely both. There are problems in season 4 of My Hero Academia. It is in an awkward transition phase and there’s been a lot of down time and less than stellar moments. Can it improve? Sure. Will I wait for season five to do that? Possibly not. Am I being judgemental? Absolutely. And it is a judgement I’ve delivered on many a story that I felt stayed past its welcome.

However, I’d love to know your take so share your thoughts below and let’s discuss the latest My Hero Academia (anime only – no manga spoilers).


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


I’m No Anime Connoisseur: I’m An Anime Glutton

Feature Glutton

Are you an anime glutton?

I’ve always described myself as a consumer of anime but lately I’ve been looking at my diet in general and somehow my brain decided it was a good time to take stock of my anime diet… The connection made sense to me at the time but to be perfectly frank it is probably a little tenuous.

Now when it comes to my real diet, I’ve always been a major chocolate fiend. What makes chocolate ice-cream better?

A) Chocolate chips

B) Chocolate topping

C) Chocolate brownie that’s been cut up

D) Mint Slice biscuits

E) All of the above

Let me assure you, my answer would definitely always be E.

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Now, I don’t necessarily have a weight problem and my health issues are not related to my weight or diet (as some of the first things they ruled out were diet related illnesses), but I decided 2020 was the year I was going to get serious about looking after myself just a little bit better as I knew I’d be dealing with work stress and if I didn’t make an effort I’d probably end up skipping meals and just slamming down a chocolate bar to keep me going when I got busy. A month into the year and I’m giving myself a gold star (and I’m going to eat a chocolate brownie with choc-chips just because I can).



However, let’s bring this back to anime (you know, the whole point of the blog which is not my tired ramblings about things that don’t matter to anyone else). When I turned a reflective eye onto my anime viewing habits I had to draw the conclusion that I’m no anime connoisseur. Nor am I particularly concerned by that particular realisation.

Being an anime glutton has its perks.

are you an anime glutton?

Now this is working off of the definition of ‘connoisseur’ as being ‘an expert judge in matters of taste’. I think it would be hard for anyone who enjoyed watching an anime like King’s Game or whole-heartedly and un-ironically loves the original Sailor Moon series to claim that they are an expert judge of things. More importantly, I’m kind of firmly of the opinion that taste is an incredibly unique sense.

Honestly I’m mystified by people who like pineapple and tell me it is sweet. I just wonder what planet their pineapples are coming from because the ones I’ve tried over the years are sour, pulpy, and a pain in the neck to cut up in the first place (totally not worth the effort).

pineapple
Like, why?

Besides, when it comes to things being entertaining, sometimes what amuses, relaxes, or is just fun is pretty tasteless when looked at objectively and it only kind of works in the context of the actual product being consumed. Kind of like tofu really… That tastes awesome when cooked into something but by itself…

So yes, I would have to draw the conclusion that I am an anime glutton. I watch in excess (at least according any guidelines around how much screen time a person should have), I devour as quickly as I can and then with very little time to savour the previous flavour I dive into the next dish hoping for an exquisite treat but consuming it anyway even if what I end up with is a viewing experience akin to eating raw kale. That said, I most definitely draw the line at watching an anime that feels like eating pineapple.

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But whether you are the picky anime viewer, the light eater, the binger, the glutton, or a connoisseur, the question you’d have to ask yourself is ‘are you having fun?’. And if you’re anime consumption habits are giving you endless joy, then by all means continue to do your anime, your way.

What does come up a lot from anime reviewers though is a sense that they are falling out of love with anime. That they find each season increasingly devoid of inspiration. That nothing really calls to them anymore. That they are just tired and need a break from anime.

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When your entertainment leaves you feeling drained and like you are losing your passion for a medium you love, it is definitely time to take stock of your viewing habits and whether they are causing part of the problem. I may be in love with chocolate but I don’t eat it for every meal (okay, I don’t usually eat it for every meal).

If you are finding yourself losing your love of anime, it might be time to take stock and determine what kind of consumer are you?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Is There A Right Anime To Watch Right Now?

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Undeniably I’m the kind of person who over-thinks things, which is part of the reason why I don’t give a numeric score or use a star system or the like for my anime reviews. So thinking about what the right anime to watch I usually spend far too long going through options and then default back to what I know or what I’m already watching.

When someone asks me for a recommendation for something to watch, my first impulse is to internalise and start sifting through everything I know about that person and every possible anime option that might apply. Needless to say I end up either listing dozens and over-whelming them or draw a complete blank as I mentally cross out each and every title.

A recent experience at New Year’s when going through my collection we went through the whole thing twice before settling on Yuri on Ice because making a decision was just too hard. Not that I minded. Yuri is awesome.

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You want me to recommend an anime? But there are so many. Oh, but what if you don’t like it? What if you do? Ahhh!

I decided I’d like to stop that practice and actually just answer the question and so I started wanting to break down some of the issues with answering this question. Keep in mind, this isn’t the same as trying to select a watch list for the purpose of review, which is something I’ve looked at previously in a feature. In that case the assumption is that the person wanting to select the anime already watches a great deal of anime and is simply trying to narrow down their options, rather than someone new to anime who is trying to pick something that might actually make them want to watch more.

Does making an anime recommendation
stress you out?

For me, making an anime recommendation is stressful. I start thinking through all the what-ifs. What if the person doesn’t like the anime? What if they think I deliberately got them to watch something they hated? What if they really like it and want another recommendation? And round and round in circles the argument goes. It is worse when I know I’m going to watch the anime with them because I end up watching them more than the anime and try to gauge how they are responding to it. Nothing is more disheartening than seeing someone pull out their phone and start to text during an episode of a show you absolutely love.

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But even when you think you’ve gotten it right, there’s always those moments you forget about. Recently I had to explain why a character’s nose started spurting blood mid-episode in an anime and I realised just how many things I simply accept without even noting them at this point because of how many anime I have viewed. For someone new coming to anime so many of these seemingly incidental moments are actually quite extraordinary and can be a little off-putting.

Am I recommending an anime
for me or is it for you?

There’s also the question of whether I have an ulterior motive when recommending something. Did I recommend that anime because I thought the person would genuinely like it based on what I know of their viewing experiences, or am I recommending it because I like it and I want to talk about it. Admittedly, if I’m close enough to someone in the real world that they actually take an interest in the various anime I’m watching and ask me for a recommendation, there’s a fair likelihood we have similar tastes and something I like will work for them, but that isn’t always the case.

Is this the right anime for you?

Most recently I talked someone into watching Astra Lost in Space with me. Partly this was because I genuinely believed the person in question would enjoy it, maybe not as much as I was but enough, but part of the motivation was definitely that I wanted to rewatch the first couple of episodes to confirm a few points that I needed confirmation of in order to think through where the story was going.

Fortunately, the person did end up really enjoying the episodes and we’re now working through the rest of them and he should be up with the most recent episode by the end of this weekend, but I definitely think that recommendation was more for me, even if it was a valid recommendation.

Perfect ingredients don’t
necessarily make a perfect anime

The other complication here comes from the subjective elements of entertainment. There are countless examples where something is the right genre, has great characters, good visuals, and is a solid production in general and yet for whatever reason ends up missing the mark for some viewers. Even taking into account everything you know about a person and thinking through what kinds of shows they like, just because the show you recommend might tick all the boxes it still might be a swing and a miss.

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This makes the entire process of choosing an anime even harder. Let’s be honest: you want the person to like it. You want them by extension to then like anime, or at least be willing to try more. Otherwise, there’d be no point to the entire exercise. And yet, just because an anime is objectively great doesn’t mean someone it is actually the perfect choice.

I’ve introduced many a person to anime via Sword Art Online, and while the anime community is heavily divided on that and some will still insist it is the worst thing ever, that anime is ridiculously easy to get new viewers sucked into its story and they end up genuinely wanting to see Kirito escape the game (admittedly, with new anime viewers I tend to stop once they wake up from SAO because Fairy Dance is a whole other story).



How to know what anime
to recommend

So how do you know what anime to recommend?

Honestly, there’s no right answer. Over time, through trial and error, I’ve learned that Sword Art Online works well for fans of action and fantasy but DanMachi doesn’t if the person is less familiar with anime in general. Snow White With The Red Hair works great for fans of romance and Disney but My Love Story seems to be a bit harder for the same audience to get into. Psycho Pass almost never misses with fans of Dystopian, Sci-Fi, or Psychological stories however Death Note depends on whether the viewer finds something interesting about Light or not.

snow white with the red hair episode 10

You have to match the recommendation to the person, and you also have to think, weirdly enough, about how ‘anime’ the anime is. While you still might not get it right, at least you can learn which shows are definitely off-limits until the person has a bit more anime experience.

What happens when your anime
recommendation is wrong?

If even after thinking it through your anime recommendation is wrong… well, maybe the person won’t pick up anime viewing as a hobby, maybe they’ll try another title you suggest, or maybe they’ll find something else on their own anyway. It isn’t the end of the world.

Attack on Titan - explosion

This is something I need to keep reminding myself of and just answer the question when asked what anime should someone try.

But the questions I have for my readers are: How do you feel when someone asks you for a recommendation and what anime do you recommend to someone who hasn’t watched much anime?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


How Long Is The Romantic Anime Drought Going To Last?

Friday's Feature

It might seem odd to ask how long a drought on romantic anime will last at first. Largely because each season there are many anime tagged romance that come out and so many cute romantic couples appear for people to swoon over. Yet, I’ve found myself yearning for something from the genre and I decided to really think about what was missing.

It wasn’t an easy task. But ultimately I came to the conclusion that what was missing was the sweet and pure romances, the Hollywood fairy-tale so to speak, and while there were plenty of delightful couples, both canon and fan-shipped, I really just wanted another Zen and Shirayuki (Snow White With The Red Hair) or Sawako and Kazehaya (Kimi ni Todoke).

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All of this made me ask the question:

Does pure romance not sell in anime?
Tada Never Falls in Love
Tesresa says no.

ow there’s not a particularly easy way to answer this question. Thinking back, the last sweet romance I watched was probably Tada Never Falls in Love and that anime, while cute and pretty fun, was hardly a stand out for the industry. But even then, a lot of the criticism I came across of the series involved the story being too predictable or the characters too cliche.

And really, with the exception of Teresa’s origin which isn’t much of a mystery, there isn’t much to distinguish Tada Never Falls in Love from many another story, and it has been done before.

That in turn made me wonder though whether a romance anime needed to actually have a gimmick in order to grab the audience’s attention in this culture of seasonal viewing and mass consumption? Do we need our romantic leads to be super-genius’ playing mind games before we’ll given them the time of day? Do we need an angsty back story and a potential same-sex couple before we’ll give something our full attention? Or do we need the female lead to literally be disappearing before we’ll tolerate a romance?

Dakaichi Episode 6 Junta and Takato

For some the answer will definitely be yes. They aren’t big fans of romance but will watch a romance when it is blended with another genre provided something catches their attention. However, what about fans of the genre? Those who were happy to watch romantic comedy movies about high school girls getting a new haircut and suddenly being super popular and weepy confessions sometimes with a song and dance thrown in just for fun seem to be getting the raw end of this deal.

Then there are these other cases.

Sure I can watch Domestic Girlfriend and I can’t deny that there’s romance at the core of that story, but it isn’t the uplifting and feel good story that I go into a romance for. It’s a fantastic melodrama to be sure (or at least a reasonably one) but ultimately it doesn’t leave the happy buzz of a romance.

There’s nothing inspiring about the premise of Love is War and certainly doesn’t make my heart stir. Even from reading the reviews of people who enjoyed that anime far more than me, it was the comedy and amusement that drew them in rather than warm and fuzzy feelings.



Even Bloom Into You, a very nicely made romance, isn’t one that is about to lighten your heart. There’s a very real character drama going on in that series and given the anime hasn’t brought us to a conclusion we’re largely left without the cathartic release one would normally seek from watching a romantic story.

In short, I miss a sweet romance anime.
Ouran High School Host Club
That’s the feeling I’m looking for.

I miss a story of simple boy meets girl (or you know, boy meets boy, girl meets girl, alien meets time travelling war lord) and they end up thrown together for whatever reason before they grow to fall in love. Something will cause a hiccup in the relationship but they overcome it and we end with a beautiful scene of the two together. Simple. Predictable. Beautiful.

That said, I certainly don’t want any of these other stories to disappear. They all have their place and their strengths. Whether it is biting humour and commentary, explorations of taboos, or a search for identity in a coming of age narrative, they all provide something of value to the appropriate audience. Maybe I want to have my cake and eat it too but is it too much to ask for a straight romance in amongst all the gimmicky ones.

Then again, the way we’re going we are going to end up with an edgy vampire lord who was reincarnated as a piece of cheese falling in love with a Princess from an alien moon who somehow found herself transformed into a housefly however the vampire lord has vowed not to fall in love with anyone until he’s learned to walk in his new cheese body.

Zero and Yuki - Vampire Knight
I could see Zero being reincarnated as a piece of cheese.

Again, do we really need so many distractions from the core story? Is it not enough to tell the story of two people falling in love?

While some would ask for novelty, I would ask for competence. Crafting characters that we dare to care about and building a relationship that has genuine chemistry. Using direction and music to set the scene and great dialogue to draw us into their story and their experience. Sure, we may have seen all the events before but that doesn’t stop them from having impact when told right.

Which is why all I want from the Autumn Anime season this year is a romance.
Sawako and Kazehaya - Kimi ni Todoke
Yes, I want sparkles and awkward smiles.

Not a comedy that happens to have romance in it. Not a melodrama or a coming of age story that uses romance as a catalyst or a complication. Certainly not an adventure or isekai that just happens to have a main character that falls in love.

While all of these would be great in their own way, what I want is a straight, pure, romance anime.

And that makes me want to ask you, if you made it to the end of this somewhat rambling post:

What was your last good romantic anime?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James