Sirius The Jaeger Series Review

Sirius The Jaeger

Things that go bump in the night should watch out.

It isn’t all that often that I watch a Netflix anime (or I should more accurately say it isn’t often that I finish one) and there’s a lot of reasons for that, however having read some mixed reviews about Serius but seeing it was a bit of an action story featuring vampires, I decided to take the plunge. I watched a handful of episodes one afternoon and was hooked. Clearing my schedule the following afternoon, I binged the rest of the series.

And it turns out, Sirius the Jaeger is actually great fun. We have a group called the Jaegers hunting down vampires and trying to exterminate them, meanwhile the vampires are conspiring with political activists and the like to get some shady and nebulous plot off the ground. It is a great set up and the pre-World War 2 setting really helps to allow some credibility for some of the goings on here.

That said, it isn’t as though Sirius the Jaeger is a perfect anime series. We’ve got a lot of cliché characters, some plot points that don’t really seem to make a great deal of sense, a villain who seems kind of together but ultimately makes stupid choices just to make things more interesting and as a direct result gets seriously burned, and just some general moments where if you applied any kind of real world physics to a situation you could write most of the characters off. Yet, none of that really gets in the way of the story because the story doesn’t really let it. It isn’t taking itself all that seriously as it powers through introducing ancient tribes, vampires, vampire hunters and building in a subplot about nations arming for war. It just wants us to enjoy the ride as we see Yuliy first work to kill all the vampires and then to try to find out about his tribe and the Ark of Serius.

Sirius The Jaeger - Yuliy

Where some anime might get very exposition heavy while trying to balance all of that, Sirius the Jaeger limits talk time between characters and information about all of these different aspects comes to us over time and fairly naturally. It’s built into exchanges between characters in small bite size chunks with only a few longer more focused conversations to flesh out key points. There’s only one point where the Professor stands with Yuliy and essentially information dumps and it’s about three quarters of the way through and is a fairly significant reveal that directs the final turn of the series. Given it comes on the tail of a fairly impressive battle between the Japanese military and the vampires, the down time isn’t too much of a problem.

However, what really drives this story is the action. We will be taken from one action set piece to another and be prepared for lots of jumping over roof tops, a car chase sequence, a battle on a train, fighting in the woods, and finally fighting on an airship because why not. Each fight is fairly distinct and while Yuliy is at the centre of most of them, the conditions are vastly different as are the other participants and potential collateral damage and so it continues to feel fresh.

Sirius The Jaeger fight

There’s also a sense of urgency around a lot of the fight sequences. While it never gets to a point where you actually fear too much for a main character, it always feels like losing a fight will cost the characters something and even if they win the fight there is always damage. The near destruction of the house they were staying in while in Japan and the company having to pay compensation to the owner is one example but in every fight it felt like there was a lot potentially riding on their decisions.

I really enjoyed how the series dealt with Yuliy. Even though we ultimately get a standard chosen one fantasy plot where he’s lost his family, last survivor, needs to take control of the shiny powerful thing, his character manages to feel reasonably fresh as it treads this fairly standard path. While his surly revenge driven opening isn’t exactly a breath of fresh air (think Eren from Attack on Titan only competent and less shouty), Yuliy actually manages to have quite a well developed personality and his interactions with the other characters are usually entertaining.

Sirius The Jaeger

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same about Ryouko, the daughter of the family who host the vampire hunters (Jaegers) in Japan. Her character is kind of a love interest for Yuliy only she’s utterly unnecessary. Though at times she delivered crucial items or got herself into trouble at particular points, realistically her character brought nothing to the table and honestly her following Yuliy around into increasingly dangerous situations just struck me as slightly stupid so I couldn’t really get behind her character.

They did far better with Mikhail (Yuliy’s brother) who we encounter throughout the story, despite Yuliy thinking he died when the vampires attacked his village. The interactions between Yuliy and Mikhail, while at times pushing at the boundaries of logical, always have a good chemistry about them.

Sirius The Jaeger Yuliy and Mikhail

However, this is a vampire story so how are the vampires?

A bit hit and miss. The royals are very entertaining and classic kind of vampires (other than the whole able to deal with daylight thing). The control older vampires have over those they’ve turned is a feature that I really like in vampire stories as is the fact that turned vampires retain their memories of being human but at the same time aren’t any longer. The slave vampires and their monstrous form was a bit less likeable because it essentially turned a lot of the fights into waves of red bat things that had very little to distinguish them and none of them were really strong enough to be of note anyway.

One interesting bit they threw in was that the vampire race was dying because of a sickness that had no cure. That was an interesting addition to the story and actually worked as a good catalyst for moving the immortal vampires with a sense of urgency.

The Jaegers

So overall, a pretty fun action story. Definitely not a horror despite the presence of vampires. It move along at a nice pace, has some good fight sequences and largely decently realised characters. While it isn’t going to be anime of the year or anything like that, this one was certainly an entertaining romp.

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Karandi James
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Tsurune Series Review

Tsurune Episode 8 Minato

Overcoming challenges together; Tsurune takes on the emotional scars of its cast and shines.

There’s something just a little bit special about this latest sports anime from Kyoto Animation. The studio is known for being good at handling solid emotionally driven stories with the likes of Clannad on its line up and its also dipped its toes into boys doing sports before with the fan-service laden Free. That perhaps set the bar very high for Tsurune in some viewers’ minds and I do recall seeing a lot of first impressions that went along the lines of ‘as expected from Kyo-Ani’ or ‘nothing special compared to…’.

Tsurune Episode 2 Minato and Who

However, that seemed a little harsh given is something is done well it is done well even if another anime made by the same studio perhaps surpassed it or the studio has done something comparable before. While I’m not going to make the case that Tsurune is some sort of hidden master piece, I will put forward strongly that Tsurune is well worth the watch for those who like getting invested in emotionally driven stories with the back-drop of a sports tournament to keep the plot on track and to ensure that we have an ongoing sense of direction.

Tsurune Episode 1

Tsurune is beautiful. There’s no denying that fact and while I’m certain we could screen cap some less favourable moments, almost every scene is beautifully composed and the use of colour, light and movement are purposeful and interesting. The choice for the majority of Masaki’s scenes early on to be bathed in blue tones (a colour scheme we return to at the end) was very well done and played nicely into a narrative twist in the early episodes. The portrayal of wind and movement as the arrows flew was gorgeous and was taken to its extreme during the final where each shot set a flurry of sparkling leaves flying (okay, they may have taken some liberties with reality but it looks great). And each of the characters, yes the heavily male dominated cast, look fantastic.

The music and sound design also deserve a special mention as these are truly used to enhance each and every scene. While it might seem to some too calculated or artificial, I found it absolutely complemented the visuals and the narrative and particularly during competitions I found myself waiting for the sound of the arrow being released, the wind, and then the impact as the arrow either hit or missed its target. It was very affective and adding greatly to the overall enjoyment while watching.

On the surface we have a basic story of a character who used to be good at archery who quit after developing target panic (essentially couldn’t hold his draw and released the arrow too soon throwing off his aim). His friend who followed him to high school wants him to get back into the sport as does a childhood friend who has reunited with them. After some resistance, Minato does decide to get back into archery and works to overcome his target panic.

Tsurune Episode 8 - Minato

That story alone could have worked beautifully and yet while that is the frame for the story, Tsurune explores so much more. With five boys coming together (the group of three friends and another two characters), there are plenty of personal conflicts and emotions to deal with as they try to form a team and overcome their own short comings. Where Tsurune surprised me was how well in dealt with Seiya’s story as I had thought he was more of a support character but ultimately he had an incredible arc. The coach, Masaki, also had plenty of solid development and was portrayed as a real character rather than a token adult figure. Even the characters at the rival school began to be expanded upon toward the end and while their arcs seem cut off in the middle it created the feeling that this story and these characters were more real.

Tsurune Episode 11 Masaki

However, at only thirteen episodes and with so many characters not everyone can have their story told. Nanao, despite having some excellent supporting moments, is still largely a mystery as was Ryouhei, despite his childhood friend status. The three girls who were also in the club had a couple of excellent scenes but were largely ignored by the narrative getting to stand on the sides of scenes and really just got used by the plot when needed rather than being fleshed out in their own right. These are small complaints and without more episodes it would be difficult to address these issues, but given the excellent progress so many other characters made it just feels like a shame that others were almost benched.

Tsurune Episode 7

From a plot point of view this is about as standard as it comes as the team overcomes personal conflicts, struggles to qualify and then slowly comes together toward the end of the series. That doesn’t make it less satisfying to watch but if you are after something unpredictable or something that throws in a few unexpected twists and turns Tsurune probably won’t do it for you.

Tsurune focuses instead on maintaining its pace and tone. The focus remains on the characters and their growth. The competitions are the setting which allows that growth to happen and provides complications and set backs, but the story never forgets what its core is.

Tsurune Episode 2

While this isn’t the single most spectacular anime I’ve ever seen, it was an absolute delight to watch each week bringing a bit of calm bliss as I watched the next episode. I grew to care deeply for these characters and loved seeing them rise up and overcoming challenges. All and all, I would recommend giving it a go. While it may not work for you, and if slow pace isn’t your thing it probably won’t, there are certainly worse anime you could try than Tsurune.

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Voice of Fox Series Review

Voice of Fox Episode 1

Singing, Lies, Rumours, and Social Media – You’re Always On Stage

Voice of Fox is one of those short anime that comes out that very few people seemed to pay attention to. And it kind of makes sense. The Autumn anime season was full of some amazing titles and you can’t watch everything. A short anime that adapts a Chinese Manhwa about a kid wearing a fox mask and wanting to make it as a singer probably isn’t high on people’s watching priority list. Still, there was something about the first episode that drew me in and I’m really glad I strapped in for the ride. While Voice of Fox isn’t a ground breaking masterpiece that must be watched, it is a solid effort at telling a reasonably interesting story in a fairly short run time given episodes are only around ten minutes long.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

Where Voice of Fox works is the tight focus on a very small pool of characters who interact within a larger social setting. With idols and stars making up a large part of the cast, social media and the internet play a huge part in this story as public perception sways and changes with events, rumours, apologies, and performances. While at times the public opinion seems to veer far too strongly too quickly, it is a good look at the pressure of anyone living in the public view and who relies upon fans and an audience for their livelihood. Hu Li also explored the idea of being independent or being part of an agency and the difficulties in getting yourself out there alone vs what a large company can achieve.

Where it falls down is that too many of these characters are either good people with poor luck getting trod on by an uncaring system or they are ruthlessly ambitious with very little in the way of actual human emotions. The characters who are set up as the antagonists don’t get to be anything other than star hungry and while the anime does attempt to give Kong Que (the guy who Hu Li is the ghost singer for) some sort of angsty back-story, it is one of the moments that is a bit rushed and the emotional impact is minimal. It also is quickly forgotten when you realise that despite what has happened to Kong Que he is still pretty ready to throw Hu Li or anyone else under a bus for just a scrap of fame so he’s not exactly a nuanced character.

The story largely focuses on the events around a reality idol show searching for the Rising Star of China, at least for the first half. The filming is rocked by scandals as singers get sick, power outages occur mid-performance and Kong Que is revealed as a fake and Hu Li as the real voice. This section of the story is really quite focused and driven and while there are some comedy moments that don’t quite stick their landing, by and large it is highly entertaining.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

The second half, where we explore the characters and their motivations a bit more and wait for their final decisions, is a little less well handled. It does come back to the competition and we do get a satisfying ending, but there’s a little loss of momentum in the second half.

There’s also a lot of singing in this. I really enjoyed the music including the OP and ED but I also really just liked the performances. If the music doesn’t work for you, that is possibly going to be a deal breaker because all of these characters are on stage at some point and singing.

Voice of Fox Episode 3

I’d recommend giving this one a go. It was one of those pleasant surprises of the Autumn season and I really wish more people had watched it because it would have been fun to discuss it more each week. Not a perfect show by any means, but one that I could definitely get lost in and just go along for the ride.

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Anime Kitsune no Koe -Voice Of Fox- Original Soundtrack
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Goblin Slayer Series Review

He’s Not Trying To Save The World – He Just Wants To Slay Some Goblins

If you were on any kind of social media during the last months of 2018 then you probably caught some of the Goblin Slayer rape/infant killing controversy after episode one aired. Fortunately, after the storm died down and more thoughtful posts and commentary started coming out, most people seemed to agree that largely the problem could have been solved by the various streaming services providing sensible classification or warnings prior to the show airing and only a few extremists were still calling for the entire show to be trashed and calling those who enjoyed it degenerates.

Wow, I love it when people make a judgement over your entire existence based on your preference of fictional stories. That said, I don’t want this review to turn into a debate about censorship and I kind of covered my thoughts on this whole thing in a feature about triggers back when episode one first aired so I’m just going to get on with reviewing the anime now.

Still, the need for a warning label on this anime does exist because it does have content that some people will find distressing. I’d strongly recommend not watching it if you know that you don’t like shows where female characters are subjected to sexual assault or if buckets of blood flying about the screen in fight sequences is going to make you feel queasy.

The problem with that though is that while these things are in Goblin Slayer, it isn’t really what the show is about. Quite a few reviews I’ve read have criticised Goblin Slayer for not being as dark as Berserk or for being toothless. While Goblin Slayer does explore some of the darker aspects of adventuring and the less noble side of killing creatures most other consider merely pests rather than facing off against demon kings, the story is essentially about the two main characters: Goblin Slayer and Priestess.

In the first episode we meet the Priestess as she joins up to become an adventurer, gets recruited into a party of rookies and more or less lead to her death by the overconfidence and cockiness of youth and general perceptions about the weakness of goblins. It’s a solid opening encounter that sets the tone for a world where adventurers can and do die particularly early in their careers and goblins might be individually weak but in a dark cavern with numbers on their side if you aren’t prepared you are in for a world of hurt. It’s also pretty confronting in that the fates of these nameless rookies are pretty tragic. Fortunately we haven’t spent enough time with them to feel we know them, but basic empathy for humans and knowing none of these characters were actually bad people, just inexperienced, makes the whole encounter leaving you with a slightly sick feeling in your stomach, which is more or less what it intended.

Goblin Slayer Episode 1

Fortunately, Priestess is rescued by Goblin Slayer and the two then form a partnership of sorts. The story follows the two as they learn from one another, the Priestess learning how to use her miracles to best effect for a party and about the tricks goblins use and how to beat them, and Goblin Slayer learning slowly how to interact with others and to trust others even if just a little bit.

Goblin Slayer Episode 9 Goblin Slayer and Sword Maiden

What this means is the story seems to sway back and forth between life and death encounters in dark dungeons and slower moments where the two go about their days in the guild and town preparing equipment, eating and drinking with others, and generally living their lives. It is this two toned approach that seemed to annoy some viewers who stuck around after episode one. I think they might have expected the violence just to keep going and not let up, but the point of the story isn’t to be violent. Violence happens in the world being constructed but it isn’t all there is to life. That is what Goblin Slayer is needing to learn and his removal of his helmet in the guild in the final episode is a good sign that he is finally starting to realise he doesn’t need to be the armed Goblin Slayer 24 hours a day.

That might seem like a small step but it is some massive character progress for him and it builds on dozens of small exchanges peppered throughout the series.

Priestess is no slouch either really stepping up in the final fight to both immobilise the final boss and to heal Goblin Slayer. She uses his plan and her own decisions to get the outcome she decides is best.

However, in case it seems like I just keep heaping praise on this series, I do have to point out the biggest problem with it. The series works best if you’ve read the source (either the manga or the light novels will do).

And that’s a problem.

Goblin Slayer Episode 5

An anime adaptation should stand alone. It should show the story in anime form for fans of the source who want more of the characters, but should also be accessible and make sense on its own.

Goblin Slayer fails in that regard in that a lot of the decisions and ideas are kind of hinted at in the anime but don’t make sense without the additional knowledge the source gives you.

One example that stands clear from reading episode reviews was when High Elf Archer asked Goblin Slayer not to use fire and a whole bunch of other things on the goblins under water town. And he agreed. That was all there was to the exchange in the anime.

From reading the books there was a lot more behind both her request and his acceptance. Namely the whole town being above the sewers and potential collateral damage. Now it makes sense why she’s being fairly specific with her limitations (other than she doesn’t want to get set on fire or poisoned) and why he actually listens and agrees. More importantly, it makes sense that in the next episode, when he is about to set off an explosion he checks first that they have travelled beyond the borders of the town before he puts his plan into action.

Now, the sequence makes enough sense in the anime in that you aren’t completely unable to follow it, but it also feels like you are missing something. That isn’t how a story should make you feel and this was only one scene out of many that had anime only viewers tilting their heads and wondering just what was behind a decision.

So while I will recommend this anime, it is an average anime. It isn’t great or amazing. There are definitely issues with how this has been adapted from its source.

Still, I thought it looked great, I enjoyed the characters, loved the sound design, and all and all had great fun following along with these characters and adventures. While it does get dark, there’s also plenty to balance it and from a narrative point of view it makes sense that those moments are as dark as they are.

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Karandi James
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Release the Spyce Series Review

Spies Eat Spices And Look Cute Doing It!

Release the Spyce was an anime that from its first episode grabbed my attention with its cute girls doing spy antics but even then there were a few warning flags that made me wonder where this would go. What followed was a series that awkwardly attempted to balance high stakes spy scenarios with a story about cute girls doing cute things at school kind of story and the mix just didn’t work. It isn’t that it couldn’t have worked, however Release the Spyce didn’t have the strength of writing or characterisation to pull it off.

Release the Spyce Episode 5 Mei and Hanzo

Not to mention the logic in the story just never worked no matter how you looked at it. While I get anime, and fiction in general, doesn’t need to be totally true to life (in fact as a fantasy/horror fan I prefer it when it isn’t), I do need to be able to suspend disbelief. Between a training sequence that utterly turned the main character into a nearly unstoppable powerhouse in a matter of weeks, the ‘spyce’ only working on teenage girls for reasons that will never be adequately explained, the villains targeting the one city where they know the opposition are hiding despite being able to carry out their plan more or less anywhere, and the really terrible explanation that the words spy and spice are somehow related (solid no on that one), this anime really worked hard to push me out of the narrative at pretty much every opportunity.

Release the Spyce Episode 3

Persevering in the hopes that we’d get to some decent spy and espionage kind of moments, the results are kind of mixed. On the one hand, the visuals are pretty good. Bold and bright colours dominate and it is all a bit sharper than a lot of the pastel colour palettes that seem to be dominating a lot of the anime I’ve been watching. Every screen cap really stands out in the folder and it isn’t garish (outside of the OP).

Release the Spyce Episode 12 Momo

The action also works reasonably well with fight sequences being pretty tightly controlled in time and scope. There’s a few too many girls fighting hordes of mindless robot fights, but for the most part the actual action sequences deliver decently. Now, I’d like to know why our spies spend so much time in direct combat rather than sneaking about, but that’s probably another one of those questions I just shouldn’t ask.

Release the Spyce Episode 4 Mei and Fu

Interactions between each of the apprentices and their mentor are fairly solidly constructed. Now, this is a blessing and a curse. It means in the episode focusing on that pair, the two get great moments to shine and there’s some solid character work. On the other hand, that pair may not necessarily interact well with the others (or in interesting ways) and in episodes where they aren’t the focus sometimes it is difficult to remember if they actually have a personality. This anime didn’t balance things very well and couldn’t move the spot light from one pair to the next without totally sidelining the rest of the cast. Then it had to awkwardly transition back to the whole group facing a threat and it just didn’t do a very good job of it.

Release the Spyce Episode 10 Momo

Finally, the season ending. It ends. It hits all the usual notes for spy stories. It just isn’t compelling enough. I have nothing against generic stories that follow their genre beats. But you have to give me something and here we had average characters going about an average final mission with no surprises because all the twists were exactly what you were expecting and delivered with very little fan-fare or anything else.

Release the Spyce Episode 1

As I said, not bad, just not really worth the time or effort. Still, you could certainly do worse than this piece and provided the opening song doesn’t give you a headache (it really is flashy for those with light sensitivity), there’s not a lot that this anime does that is actually worth criticising. It just doesn’t manage to do anything particularly well either and given it potentially could have been so much better there was definitely a sense of disappointment as week after week this one seemed determined to be at best average.

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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

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.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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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