Friendly Talks With Arthifis: DAKAICHI Mid-Season Thoughts

Introduction:

Arthifis and I are back with the next part of our collaboration. We’re five episodes in to Dakaichi and a lot has happened (or at least we had plenty to say about what has been happening) so we recently had a fantastic conversation about the show and how it is going. If you missed our first impressions chat, be sure to check it out and remember we’ll be talking about Goblin Slayer over on Arthifis’ place so if you haven’t seen that post be sure to go and give it a read. For now though, let’s get into it.

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Conversation:

Hey Arthifis! How are you this week?

Hey there Karandi! I’m really good to be honest! 🙂 I’m cooking some secret project which is making me watch a lot of Anime… And I’m having a LOT of fun to be honest ahah what about you?

If I’m honest, I’m not in a great space at the moment but that’s just because I’ve been super busy with work and I can see the next few weeks are going to spiral out of control (to the point where I’m looking at maybe having to suspend some posts on my blog in a couple of weeks just to take a breather). Still, it isn’t all bad news. I’m off to a convention next weekend (great timing, I know). I’m really curious about this project of yours though. You’ve hinted at it a few times.

That’s a bummer to hear! 😦 I actually understand you though… My work has been getting busier and busier and I’m actually struggling a lot to be able to balance Blog with work… Well, in fact I just stopped writing on the blog for the time being completely. But, well… That convention seems to be a lot of fun! So hopefully it will be something good eheh 🙂 Eheh yeah I know, I want to surprise everyone, but at the same time I’m so proud and having so much fun that is being difficult to actually have my mouth completely shut about it xD

Okay, so we’re starting off with Dakaichi today. And we’ve both watched up to episode 5. I’m curious as to what you think of the show so far.

Dakaichi4b

Well, I have to say that I discovered in episode 5 that I have fallen in love with the characters and their romance without even realizing it 😀 But, if that’s ok with you I would like to comment on episode 5 more at the end of the post because I don’t really want to lose all the commentary about the love I have from the series until episode 4. What about you?

Yes, episode 5 does need its own kind of section because it goes in a bit of a different direction then the first 4. Still, I’m with you in falling in love with the characters and their romance. Or at least Takato. Junta still doesn’t do a lot for me, but in his defence he doesn’t get a lot of screen time and we’re almost exclusively seeing Takato’s perspective for the majority of the episodes.

Yeah, that’s true. Actually I would like to watch the same story with Junta’s perspective… Nevertheless, I do have to say that Junta is growing more and more inside of me. It’s true that he still doesn’t seem to be able to stay his hmmm… instrument (?) under his trousers. However, we can see that he is in fact in love with Takato and he cares for him deeply. Something I actually liked to watch was how Takato start falling for him… Although maybe I could pass the cheesy momentos where Takato gets teary eyes without really having a reason for it.

My real issue comes from Junta though. As you said, it is clear he really loves him, which is fantastic and what makes so many of the feel good moments of this show stick. But it is also what makes this kind of creepy at times because Junta really pushes the line on consent in a lot of scenes. And the excuse, that they are in love, doesn’t make that sit any better. Admittedly, Junta does stick just on the side of the line that is kind of okay in a story at least, but putting this into a real world sort of situation, I’d tell Takato as a friend to ditch him.

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Yeah, I can understand your perspective. However, at my point of view I think Junta just pushes Takato’s boundaries. It’s true that he is pushing himself a little too much. However, contrary to what tropes we normally deal with, here Takato does want to have the sexual relationship, he just doesn’t seem to be completely comfortable with it. For example, the bus scene. Tanako starts saying no, but it’s not because he does not want it, it’s because he is scared of being caught. However, ends up going with it… I’m not sure if that makes any sense?

It makes sense, and it is one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading the story. Takato isn’t against the relationship and while some sequences look very much like Junta is being forceful, Takato very much goes along with a lot of it, and not just goes along, but encourages in his own way. And as you said, comparing it to the tropes and outright non-consensual situations this genre  normally throws at us, Dakaichi is at least with this main couple attempting to tone it down in the anime and even reading it after the first couple of encounters a similar toning down happened.

Outside of the relationship though, I’m really enjoying seeing Takato doing his job and part of me kind of wishes we had more sequences where he was on set or doing photoshoots and the like. What about you?

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That’s actually what I was going to pick next ahah Something that bothers me a little is how Takato’s personality changes completely when he is working and when he is with Junta. I can understand why they decided to go that route (the guy who always seems to be the best ending up being the “uke” in the relationship. However, I think I would prefer to see Tanako more in his own self way that the teary kind of guy because he is going to have sex. It does not make much sense to me.

So, yeah! I agree with you. I would like to see more of this dominant Tanako since it’s his true personality. Moreover, due to both personalities in this relationship it just does not make sense to me to have a top and a bottom. At my point of view, if this kind of relationship happened they would both be more fluid in bed, meaning they would change sides since both seem to have pretty dominant personalities but also love to be embraced and “dominated” by others. What do you think?

I kind of see Takato a bit differently. I think his personality that he has on set is the cultivated ‘fake’ personality he’s had to construct after a lifetime of working in show business. He’s calculated that appearance and attitude to maximise his chances of success at work, but it isn’t really him. I do enjoy seeing that persona, but it really is just another character he’s playing (which is probably why he’s such a good actor). I kind of feel he has decided to throw aside the persona when he’s alone with Junta and while I do think he possibly becomes a little too sappy, it is kind of nice that he can just kind of let his guard down because it must be exhausting to wear that mask all day.

I can understand your point of view. However, when I was talking about the personality was more about his line of thought, instead of the way he presents to others. His way of thinking is normally in the same page wherever he is (since nobody can actually read his thoughts). And from those kind of thoughts I see someone who is calculist and likes to dominate things. But, yes it’s true that he lets himself go when with Junta.

In fact, I think that persona is what makes Junta to seem to push himself so much because Takato’s persona just can’t accept to be with other guy, I mean it would mean problems in his acting career, right?

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You’re right in that Takato’s inner monologue really doesn’t change between when he’s at work and when he’s with Junta. That’s an interesting pick up and one I’ll need to consider.

I don’t have much else to say about the first four episodes, other than I really enjoyed them. Is there anything else you want to discuss before we turn our attention to episode 5?

Let me see… *picks notes*…. Nope, I think we covered everything! Since we are going into episode 5, let me start with this question. What do you think about Takato’s character evolution in episode 5? Isn’t a little strange someone who knows the game, is over-cautious and knows that guy is basically a snake to just let his guard down?

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Yeah, I have a big issue with Takato’s character in this episode. The start is great where we see how he’s more or less completely accepted his relationship with Junta (loved the scene where he accepted Junta’s key-card), but then as you said, he lets his guard down. Now, I guess you could argue that Takato has gotten blind drunk and done something stupid before (episode 1) except that in that case he’d just lost his title of Most Huggable/Sexy Guy or whatever and then ended up the supporting actor to the guy who took his title. It kind of made sense that he’d go on a bender. Here, it really doesn’t make sense and I know that they just wanted to set up that final scene, but it really did seem totally out of character for Takato. What did you think?

Exactly the same thing as you. In this episode Takato came out as this naive and “weak” character which we already know he isn’t. It’s true that he can’t handle his drink. However, to be honest, first, I just can’t Takato giving help to an actor he doesn’t like so easily. Second, it’s hard for me to believe that he would just go and get drunk near someone who he knows that is one of those actors that play rough and dirty.

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As you, I think they just needed some kind of event to get to that final scene. At this point the romance is completely settled and they had to add some kind of problem into it so there is story to continue. However, I hated the execution. I don’t what was the worst, if the character changing completely, or if it seems that they are building a rape scene to start next episode….

We were definitely diving into uncomfortable territory at the end there (not unexpected but I was kind of hoping they’d tone it down given they toned down episode 1 a lot). But yeah, Takato’s character really suffered in this set up and it is unfortunate given I’ve really been enjoying how he’s come across and during most of episode 5 I just wanted to call him an idiot.

That said, I get why he gave the guy advice. They are going to be on stage together and if the lead doesn’t pull his weight and the show goes down in flames that is going to reflect on Takato’s career as well. Self-interest is always a fine enough motivator even if the guy is a complete jerk. One good thing about Ayagi (sorry, checking notes on that name), is that I really appreciate Junta as Takato’s partner after meeting him. Ayagi is just scum.

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That’s a way to take out something positive of this episode ahah I hope… I mean, I REALLY hope that in the beginning of the next episode Takato just pushes him away and that’s the end of it. Yes, it will bring problems since Junta will see that hickey and think he was cheated on. But, to be honest, isn’t just cliché?

I think I would probably prefer to see them just acting like a couple more than that… Work, for example, could become an issue or something like that… Or, maybe I just love these guys together so much that I don’t want to see any kind of attacks against their love ahah

Yeah, they definitely hitting the cliches and tropes this episode. I think overall, I’m still really enjoying watching this show and I really would like to see Junta and Takato get a happily ever after, but there’s no getting around the fact that episode 5 is a little bit a problem and it will all come down to how they continue it in episode 6 as to whether it is a serious red flag or just a momentary mis-step for the show.

Yeah, I agree with you. I once read somewhere something like this: It is completely ok to use coincidences and things that are just there to make a character to enter in some distress. However, it is not ok to do the same thing to take them out of that distress. So, we will see! I hope that in the next episode we will see Takato punching Ayagi’s face! I know that he won’t press any kind of charges because he is an actor in Japan and he’s afraid of losing his career and things like that. However, I do hope that Ayagi is not able to do anything to Tanaka when he seems to be passed out from drunkenness… I mean, that’s just… cheap porn story –’

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So, I really hope they are able to come back and make me love the series right away in this next episode!

I think that about wraps this chat up then, unless you have any final points you’d like to raise.

Nope, I think this is all eheh it was nice chatting with you 🙂

Thanks Arthifis for joining me on this one. I really enjoyed the chance to discuss Dakaichi and the characters and I think that I have a lot more to think about with Takato’s character now. Looking forward to when we come together again in a few weeks and hopefully we both don’t rage quit the show at episode 6.

For now though, I think we need to go over to your blog to discuss Goblin Slayer.

Thank you for having me and I couldn’t agree more! I was really looking forward for this talk since I had so much in my chest I wanted to share about Dakaichi with you, so these are always a lot of fun eheh

Well, I won’t rage quit! The most it can happen is that it will go to my Horrible Anime quest pile ahahah I look forward for our next talk in few weeks! ^^ And yes, time to come to my place and discuss a little bit about Goblin Slayer eheh

Dakaichi Episode 5 - Takato
My favourite Takato.

Conclusion:

Thanks to everyone who joined us for this conversation. We’d both love to know what you think of Dakaichi so far so be sure to leave us a comment, and remember to check out our chat about Goblin Slayer over on Arthifis’ blog.

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Friendly Talks With Arthifis: DAKAICHI first impressions

Introduction:

For those who missed the announcement for this collaboration, Arthifis and I are working together this season to have periodic chats about two anime. Over at Arthifis’ place we’ll be covering Goblin Slayer and you should definitely check out that post once you are done here because we had a lot of fun discussing that first episode as well. In about four weeks we’ll be back with an update on how we feel both series are going so hopefully you’ll join us again later in the season. For now, join us as we meander through our thoughts on episode 1 of Dakaichi (or Dakaretai Otoko 1-ni Odosarete Imasu), the events, the characters, their necks, and the music.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

Conversation:

Hey Arthifis! It is great to have you on my blog today to discuss Dakaichi – I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year (to only be referred to as Dakaichi from now on).

Hello Karandi! Thanks for having! I’m so freaking excited to start this conversation going! I just have to say that I’m surprised with this one 😀 And, finally, just only one word to refer to the Anime show ahah uff!

So, I have to ask because you went in without knowing much about this one, what are your thoughts? You mentioned being surprised. Surprised good or another WTF kind of moment?

This time it was a good surprise ahah I went into Dakaishi with the idea that I enter any kind of Shounen-Ai anime. That it would be all kind of tropes, that someone would just be basically raped and transformed into gay person, that there would be distinctively a top and a bottom (talking about relationship top and bottom, not sexual) and all those tropes that we all already know. The only one being out was the age gap, because they clearly look adults xD.

Yes, I think I’d be out of this one if they were meant to be high schoolers. While I’m not naive enough to believe high school students don’t engage in actual sexual relationships, I really wouldn’t be comfortable watching that so the age of the characters is actually something  I really appreciate.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

Yeah… I know what you mean. I’m ok with love stories with high schoolers. However, I know that this one is going to be very sex heavy, so I think I wouldn’t be very comfortable watching.

The fun thing about this episode though is that more or less until the middle of the episode I was still on the dark about some of the tropes. Then I saw “the getting drunk” scene and I though, ok this is going to follow the same tropes, and then it got a pleasant turn and… I don’t know what to think anymore ahah.

What about you, do you think this is following the visual novel / manga (can’t remember which one right now) good?

I read the manga online a long time ago and while I was excited for an adaptation because I really like Takato’s character, specific details escape me. One thing they definitely changed though is the getting drunk scene because the manga took that a lot further and dove into the no-consent trope we see in so many of these types of stories.

I think the anime made a really smart decision by having Junta show a tiny bit more restraint and that gave us the fairly pleasant moment at the end of the episode where he actually asked permission. Okay, I had a really great time at the end of the episode and really loved that scene.

Thank god the Anime changed that scene then!!! It would just kill the show for the season for me…. You did? Why is that?

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Junta

I just really liked the way they framed the scene with Junta down on his knee looking up at Takato… Okay, I’m hopeless and I fell head over heels in love with this couple and I want them to be together forever. I take it that the scene didn’t have the same impact on you?

Oh, no! It DID! Probably should have added a smile in the last phrase ahah I was just curious to know what were your reasons! I’m a sucker for romance, you know? What other way could be for me to be binge watching season 12 of Grey’s Anatomy if not for that? Ahahah.

DAKAICHI Episode 1 - Junta and Takato

However, we are already talking about the end before even speaking about the beginning xD So, let me just pull as back for a bit if you are ok with it xP.

That’s probably a good idea. Though like with most romances we get our pretty standard character introductions and initial interactions and as you said it isn’t until that mid-point with the drinking scene where things really kick off. However, I would love to know your thoughts on the OP?

Yes, maybe that’s true… And probably these are just the most bland and cliche characters from Shounen-Ai. However, since I don’t get to watch many shounen-ai/Yaoi anime shows I really liked these characters xD.

*browses anime-planet to remember the name of the guys* – DONE!

Ok, let me start with Takato. In the beginning we get this hyper mega self righteous and obnoxious character which seems to think is the best in everything. But, contrary to most Yaoi shows I’ve seen (and dropped right away) it does not take much time until we are shown that he was able to get there through hard work since an early age. Yes, he is cocky and thinks he’s the best, but, at the same time we can clearly see that he does have some small indications that he also suffers from lack of confidence. Which from there creates, from the bat, a complex character who thinks that he is in the top of the world, but, at the same time, needs his levels of popularity to actually feel confidence… Am I making sense to you? xD.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

Yes, that makes perfect sense (and just so you know, when you called Takato bland earlier I nearly declared war then and there). I really love his character because he’s got this front that just oozes control and confidence all wrapped around this mass of raging insecurity. The very fact that he needs the affirmation of keeping the ‘most huggable man’ title is hilarious when you consider all of his other achievements and yet it means so much to him. He’s really interesting and I love his internal monologues during the first episode where he’s trying to figure out what Junta is actually after because he assumes that everyone spends as much time over thinking things as he does and he assumes Junta has some kind of angle.

That said, I’m not so fond of Junta. I just see him as very much someone to play opposite Takato. What about you?

Hmmm… That’s actual a nice point you said there! Yes, it’s true… Junta is just the opposite of Takato and it can be seen as the easy way to go for a romance. But, you know what, from my irl experience, I really think that opposites attract! You just need to spend a day with my boyfriend and I to see that. And, to be honest, for me it’s not a really bad thing. It just means those 2 people complete each other.

So (And remember I don’t know nothing about what is going to happen), I think Junta will still need some time further to shine. From what I’ve seen from this episode, I feel that Junta will be the person that will Takato to grow and become a happier person. Maybe it will fall out more bland because the story seems to be told in Takato’s perspective, but I just fell in love with Junto… I mean, after there was a permission involved, of course xD.

But, well… To be honest, I’m more into the Tatako side while my boyfriend is more into the Junta side… So, of course I would love Junta ahah.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Junta

For me, I like Takato because he is someone who thinks things through and where they are going. He isn’t always a nice person and assumes other people are equally as self-interested. But he is a thinker and a planner. I really appreciate that character trait. Junta, as Takato points out, is someone who reacts to the situation and the scene and just plays on his feelings. That drives me crazy being around people like that because I can’t predict where something is going. So, I think my personal bias is getting in the way of any appreciation of Junta. Though he did look adorable asking for permission.

That and I noticed you dodged my question about the OP earlier.

Ups sorry, not so much dodged, but more got carried away ahah Well, I can definitely understand that… And know that you put it in that words… I think I’m probably Junta and Takato is my boyfriend xD Although, I overthink a lot nevertheless and he is a more happy person than me xP But, well we are not characters of a Shounen-ai, so of course we are going a little bit more complex ahah.

That said, since this OTP feels a bit like home and my relationship I would say that I loved it of course xD.

Ok… Nevermind… I read that wrong, you are asking me about the opening LOLOL Hmm… Give me a sec to check (I always pass those on because of spoilers and I forgot to watch it >.<).

I’m going to be honest, I hope you don’t start a war *gulp* I really liked the music, but the visuals just seemed generic to me xD What about you?

I don’t think I remember the visuals all that much (oh yeah, the guys were crossing the street at one point). I wasn’t paying that much attention, mostly because I had a major ASMR response to the start of the song in general. It just sent tingles up and down my spine and got me really hyped for the episode. However, that will probably wear thin after the first few times listening to it so I’m not entirely sure how I’ll feel about it after the whisper power wears off.

Then again, the ED just made me smile. It was just so boppy and silly and the dancing were all just there.

Yeah, I completely agree with you! I liked both musics, and that is saying a lot because I normally don’t like op and ed songs that much (I know, kill me now xD).

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

On another note, I would like to ask you if you think they went too far with this episode when it comes to story. I mean, of course you already know what is going to happen, but still…

I know this is something that we are seeing more and more. With so many Anime shows coming out nowadays you need to grab people attention from episode 1. However, I feel that it would be better for the Anime (looking into an all episodes kind of thing) for them to postpone the first sex scene a little bit. We can also see this in Bloom Into You. I think I would prefer a little more back and forward between the characters, have some time to start loving them and THEN have the confession thing. This way, I just can’t help it that the rest of the show will be a game of dog and cat and turning on and off relationship, which for 12/13 episodes may stop being interesting to watch. What do you think?

Normally I’d fully agree. I’m not that big on needing to show the sex for a relationship to be a relationship in a story anyway and I’m more concerned with how the characters interact than how far they get in terms of getting physical. However, going in to something like this, it kind of is the kind of story where it doesn’t get going until these characters have entered this kind of physical relationship. And, no spoilers, but you’ve got a seasoned actor and an up and coming star engaging in a same-sex relationship when one suffers from massive insecurity and the other feels he has something to prove. I’m sure they’ll find ample conflicts to keep us entertained for at least the next 12 episodes (or let’s at least hope so).

Still, it is an interesting point that more and more anime seem to be diving into more physical aspects of relationships earlier in seasons (Citrus was another example that came immediately to mind). I mean, I get we’re all a little tired of the impossible blushy couple that don’t even hold hands until episode 26 or later but I’m not sure every romance needs to dive in full speed ahead either.

In this case I was talking about in a more general way, not only sex related Anime. At least for now Bloom Into You does not seem to go portray sex scenes… But, we never know xD

However, I think you are right! I think that it will take some time until they find some kind of balance. I do know that the Romance type of Anime I loved the most had the characters to enter into a romance more or less in the middle of the season and then continuing the story from there 🙂

But, yes, please… Between episode 26 to episode 1, I prefer the later. I don’t really have the patience for the back and forward and miscommunication formula nowadays xD

But, well, that topic can be a good theme for another post since it would take a lot to write about xD

Any other thoughts on the episode before we bring this to a close?

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato

YES! I’m sorry, but I have to bring those necks! I mean, I know this is personal opinion, but why the hell did they thought doing neck shadows like that a good way to go!!! I mean, the animation overall is good, but those necks… Damn those necks really take a lot of it! What do you think about that particular aspect?

They are really hideous. My personal theory is that they are designed to stop too many fans falling love with the otherwise fairly attractive main characters. I have no other theory as to why they would do that. It is bad. Just bad.

Going to be honest, it will take some time for me to be able to accept them and not think about it while watching the series… It’s a bummer though! But, well, that’s the last thing I wanted to talk about xD.

Well, I had a great time discussing the episode. This is not my normal kind of anime because we don’t get this kind of anime released on a mainstream service all that often so I usually don’t get to see these until well after they have been released, so I’m actually really glad to be reviewing it with someone because it is helping me to think through my thoughts on the episode. I hope you enjoy episode two. I’m just going to give you one word – honey.

Me too! It was a lot of fun! I also don’t really discuss this type of Anime shows. Just because I would always be bias due to the tropes presented in the most of them, and for that, I already have one rant about it on my blog and one rant is more than enough xD.

It also brings a completely different light discussing it with you. As you said, it helps me to think through what I thought about the Anime, but also see things that I hadn’t seen for myself which is awesome!

Thank you! I’m really intrigued to see how they are going to come up after this episode so I’m probably going to watch it today XD I need to see if I catch up with all the episodes that have been coming out this week lolol.

Can’t wait to get back together with you in the near future to continue discussing the evolution of the show eheh

I’m really looking forward to it. Thanks.

Conclusion:

Thanks for joining us and if you would like to add to the conversation be sure to leave us a comment below and if you haven’t yet, be sure to go and check out the Goblin Slayer post over on Arthifis’ blog.

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Super Lovers Series Review: Not Sure About the Super Part – But They Are Working on the Lovers Part

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in June 2016 and can be found here.

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My overall impression of this anime isn’t great and that hasn’t really changed since my first viewing of it or during the second season. To be honest, this is kind of one of those shows you watch because you really want more or a particularly genre but given how little there is you just kind of watch anything that is available. While there are certainly warm and touching moments and some really interesting dialogue exchanges there’s just too much sitting around and waiting for one of the many emotionally stunted characters to say or do something that should have already happened.

Outside of the main relationships, everything that happens in the plot happens because of narrative convenience, including amnesia, success in business with very little risk, admission into school, friend appearing, mother returning to Japan. While each of these events is plausible in and of itself, they really feel forced on the characters to make them act in certain ways because the plot demands it.

Last time I reviewed this I steered away from really getting into the age gap, and to be honest I’m not going to debate the morality of it in the real world, because quite frankly it isn’t appropriate. Is it problematic for a work of fiction to establish a relationship like this? Well that entirely depends on how far you separate fictional what-ifs from real experiences and some people will find this distinctly uncomfortable and so would be better off steering clear. I will admit, I find Haru very hard to take seriously as a character because of some of his choices and general lack of impulse control but ultimately that is a minor nitpick in an anime full of other general issues.

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Starting with the problems (and that way I can end on the positives):

01. Haru and Ren’s relationship doesn’t get a fair chance to develop in a cohesive manner. The time and continent jumps, and then the other characters who distract from this central story line just mean that everything about their relationship seems forced. Okay, some people are more concerned with the age difference and the fact that Haru is technically Ren’s key carer and with the power imbalance there is a lot wrong with the relationship in the first place. As I said above, I’m not getting into that one, but asking me to accept that Ren somehow imprinted on Haru as a child and just never got over that, despite having very little reason to continue feeling that way and even after being exposed to a larger group of people, just makes no sense. Granted, people do get fixated on others, but Ren’s level of mindless devotion is at times disturbing (more so then anything else about their relationship).

02. Haru’s brothers are all but completely unnecessary to the storyline and their characterisation is inconsistent at best. Is Aki actually angry with Haru? Apparently but then somehow he gets over it, except when he forgets he is supposed to be over it. Shima is little better when at times he seems all knowing and other times is just completely dense. And while a lot of what Haru does early in the season is so his brothers can all live together there just doesn’t seem much reason for this to need to happen. Particularly as the story then finds endless ways to send Aki and Shima off to school or work and remove them from the story. Just remove them in the first place and have them drop by when the occasion calls for it.

03. Haru’s mother, Haruko. Okay, Haruko needs her own entire post focussing on truly bizarre things anime parents sometimes get away with. Playing it off that she is super smart and probably has some master plan doesn’t make her a good mother. Or even a decent human being.Haru was hospitalised after returning to Japan and his parents were killed. He was not welcome in the house that took in his brothers. Why on earth would Haruko not do something to support her child in this situation? Why is he having to work as a host to save money to send his brothers to school? And even before then, who tells their kid they are dying in order to get them to fly by themselves to another country? Wow, she is horrible. Her final return at the end of the series did little to endear her to the audience or win her any points for mother of the year, either.

04. The pacing. After the initial time jumps and back and forths this anime settles into a very slow and languid style of story telling where time just doesn’t seem to be moving at all. That wouldn’t be so much a problem if the characters were interesting enough or if there day to day had some memorable moments scattered about but essentially they go to school or work and come home. Oh, I forgot, they found a dog.

05. Finally, the visuals. Normally this is not usually an issue for me with anime unless there is something particularly unusual about character design but I found the constant disappearing faces and vacant eyes when they weren’t doing a close up on a character really disconcerting. Again, not something that normally bugs me, but in this anime, when so much of it was characters sitting around talking so there wasn’t much else to distract, this really bugged me. I’ve read a lot of reviews with people saying how beautiful this anime is, and at times it really is; but that makes the times when it isn’t stand out more.

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You might think from that I hated this series, but that isn’t actually the case. At no point did I want to drop this show even on a second viewing. I did however want it to speed up a bit and maybe have a little bit more happening in each episode. So what is good about the series?

01. Ren. That might seem odd but Ren is a character I found very interesting. The best parts of this anime were the parts that dealt specifically with the trauma Ren had encountered prior to Haru and his adjustments to Japan and then to school life. What I particularly like is that Ren’s development as a person (not his relationship with Haru) seems fairly logical and cohesive. There aren’t sudden 180’s in his personality but there are small changes that build up over time. Even Ren engaging in conversation with some of the sub-characters was usually interesting but would have been better if I’d cared just a little bit more about the other character.

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02. Haru opening the cafe. Right, so his instant success is not particularly believable (no matter how many friends offer a helping hand) when you consider how many small businesses fail, but this move was a good one for Haru’s development. It showed him growing up and having an increasing sense of responsibility and allowed him to actually be in the story rather than at work or asleep. In terms of narrative devices the career change worked really well and seemed to fit with what we knew of the characters at the time.

03. The tone. This anime plays its story seriously and while there are sad moments and dark moments, mostly it has a very sweet tone. It feels consistent without abrupt changes in the writing style or music and while this does at times make it feel a little bit flat you aren’t suffering from the emotional whip-lash some of the other shows have given us this season.

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On balance there are less positives here than in the problem list but that isn’t a deal breaker. Watching this through it flows nicely if slowly and it tells its story affectively even if there are occasional distractions and detractors from it.

That said, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend watching Super Lovers. Even after the second season, there just isn’t enough going on with the characters and the plot and progress is pretty glacial. There’s certainly better out there to watch. 


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Hitorijime My Hero Series Review: A Reflection on Love

Overview:

Masahiro Setagawa was pretty much heading to become a delinquent when he crossed paths with a teacher (who seems to spend his nights beating up punks). Impressed by his strength, Setagawa begs the teacher (and older brother of a class mate) to let him be his underling. Now a high school student, Setagawa has some hard decisions to make about his relationship with Kousuke.

Review:

I have to admit, I wanted to watch this show when it first came out but it wasn’t available on any of the services I was using. However, having recently decided to give HiDive a try this suddenly became available so I spent one afternoon binge watching it (because it kind of seemed like the perfect kind of show to watch when I was home sick with a fever). I then rewatched it over a few nights when my head was a bit clearer and the end result was that I really enjoyed this show despite a couple of glaring issues. I’m going to take a plus/minus approach to this review to try to keep my thoughts relatively organised.

Plus +

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The entire second half of this anime, when the focus shifts squarely onto Setagawa and Kousuke as they both have to take a long and hard look at their relationship and the potential consequences, is fantastic. There are a few contrived moments (Kousuke’s friends testing Setagawa’s response, a half-overheard conversation, etc) but these don’t really hurt the overall tone that this part of the show takes on. I loved that the main issue these characters were trying to overcome wasn’t that they were both male (though that is an issue discussed by the anime). The main issue was the far more problematic one that Kousuke is a teacher and Setagawa is in high school (and in the school Kousuke’s teaching in). In honesty, this was my biggest issue with their relationship from the start because the power imbalance is so wrong and I know this happens a lot in anime and manga, but seriously, teachers should not date students. So, the anime taking this issue head on and having both of the characters really considering the problems head on was nice. Admittedly, they take a happily ever after approach to the issue rather than the social reality, but it is a story and to be honest a realistic ending would have sucked, so we’ll let that one go and just be happy that they at least acknowledged the problem.

Minus –

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The first four episodes just aren’t that good. The primary focus for part fo the first episode is Setagawa and his oh-so-troubled-youth but realistically, these episodes mostly focus on Ken (Kousuke’s brother and Setagawa’s friend and classmate) and Ken’s childhood friend who has returned and has a crush on him. To make it worse, this relationship between Ken and Hasekura kind of embodies a lot of the issues with relationships in these kinds of stories with Hasekura essentially demanding Ken sleep with him or that they break off their ties entirely, leaving Ken with no options in the middle. They try and play this down later and make it seem like he was just really insecure and desperate but the emotional blackmail here is still a major issue and while the show is happy enough to let these two be a cheery and happy couple for the rest of the series looking on and even occasionally assisting with Setagawa and Kousuke, I just don’t see it myself. Their relationship remains for the most part one where Ken hangs desperately onto their friendship while conceding to Hasekura’s push for a more physical relationship. It doesn’t at any point come off as one of mutual love. Anyway, as the introductory episodes to the series, it really doesn’t set a great tone, particularly as these two are fairly minor characters in the second act (necessary, yes, but still bystanders to the final performance).

Plus +

The group of friends surrounding Setagawa and Ken feel pretty legitimate throughout most of the series. Okay, you have to wonder why none of their parents ever seem to feed them given they are perpetually at Ken’s house where Setagawa feeds them, but at least the camaraderie, the silly misunderstandings, and their day to day interactions work quite well. Even Shige’s initial hostile reaction to the news that Setagawa was seen kissing Kousuke played fairly true because he was genuinely surprised by the news and being a teenage boy didn’t react well and then found himself cornered and couldn’t back track. It adds a feeling of reality to the show.

Minus –

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The entire sub-plot with the delinquents was incredibly unneeded in this story. It added nothing (except maybe an episode of content) and really, Setagawa could have just had a crappy home-life and often wandered the streets. He didn’t also need to have gang ties. Having Kousuke be the legendary Bear-Killer literally added nothing to the story in the end and so could be scrapped without any further consideration.

Plus +

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The music and character designs are nicely done. Okay, Setagawa’s eyes are a bit creepy, but for the most part the characters are all nicely distinguishable and I really enjoyed listening to the theme. It was a little poppy and upbeat given some of the subject matter but it kind of captured the overall theme.

Minus –

Please let the characters not be drawn running ever again. This was really badly done. Distractingly, badly done. The rest of the animation was all much for muchness with it neither being particularly good or bad. Though, there was actually a minor improvement as the series went on. In early episodes when Kousuke talked his mole would stay dead still even though it logically should have moved with his mouth. That was a little distracting. Later on though, it started looking a little more natural. And no, I wasn’t just staring at the guy’s mole for the fun of it. The show makes a big deal about it and there are a lot of close ups early on of the lower half of his face so it is kind of hard to miss.

Plus +

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This one is probably the biggest one. For all the character reflections they don’t come to a ‘right’ answer. There isn’t one. They know what they want and they also know that it might not be good for the other person. They get torn becuase they desire to protect the other person even as they desire to possess them. When Setagawa says he is scared in a later episode, he isn’t scared of what will happen to him. He is scared of what might happen to Kousuke and he’s also scared that he might be the reason for it. He’s scared that being the one to blame for Kousuke’s downfall might be more than he can handle emotionally. And then he feels guilty for trying to protect himself even as he is trying to protect Kousuke. His thoughts go round and round in circles and he becomes almost paralysed and unable to act or to decide knowing that every path might lead to pain so he’s trying to balance small pain now against greater pain later. It really is great to see this kind of thought process. No one just comes out and says ‘it will be fine’. No one dismisses the problems as unimportant. They acknowledge the problems. They know they have to face them. They don’t know what the outcome will be. But this is the choice they come to here and now. It kind of works for this type of story and was almost more perfect than a true fairy tale ending.

So yeah, I really enjoyed my watch through of this and these characters were pretty fun to spend time with. Okay, another minor gripe would be the absence of any decent female characters, but it isn’t as if they had copious space in the run-time and all that would have done was cluttered a story that more or less did what it need to do. As for a recommendation, if you were looking for a boys love story that avoids too many of the predatory tropes the genre is plagued with, this one might work for you if you can get over the whole teacher/student thing and the set-up for Ken’s relationship early in the series.


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Karandi James.

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