Which Isekai Anime Is Superior At Handling Character Death?

Handle Death Feature

Between Season 1 and Season 2 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime something changed with how the story handles death. But is either approach superior?

Spoilers Ahead for That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 and how it goes about handling character death.

You know, I started with a really clear impulse to write when I began this post. I’d watched a lot of season 2 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and I mostly felt just a little bit annoyed at the drastic shift in the way they chose to address death in season 2 compared to their efforts in season 1 and compared to an anime like Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. Then I let time do its magical thing and started thinking through the situation a bit more. Ultimately, I realised that while death was handled differently, the purpose was also different.

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Good luck. He has the protection of being a protagonist in a long running comedy anime.

Here’s where spoilers will get fairly serious for those who haven’t yet watched season 2.

Rimuru is ambushed and almost killed by Shizue’s friend who is no mood to listen to a monster. However, at the same time as Rimuru is being waylaid, his nation of monsters has come under-attack by the combined forces of a nation that is ticked off because they are losing trade and the holy church because the church doesn’t like monsters.

The motives are pretty stock-standard and poorly explored and while the balance between nations being disrupted was a theme built up over more than one episode, ultimately the story just kind of throws any complexity this plot line may have had away and goes for setting up a table of near-moustache twirling villains who are evil because they aren’t on the same side as the protagonist.

What is a little different this time around is that because Rimuru isn’t around to more or less instantly over-power these enemies (and because of some interesting choices in terms of exploring Rimuru’s choices being influenced by his former human life which are actually really well handled), the monsters actually take a number of losses including a whole bunch of background characters, one peripheral character who we knew enough to be sad over their death, and one actual main character in what is a relatively well built up revelation when Rimuru arrives back in town.

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Comically over-the-top bad guy and soon to be forgotten villain.

The revelation to Rimuru that his orders for the monsters not to fight humans, set out in season one, and his emotional distress at seeing the cost to those who have followed him is a poignant and really well-handled moment.

For about two seconds.

Then a minor character runs up and tells Rimuru a fairy-tale from their homeland about someone becoming a demon-lord and undoing the death of a friend.



I remember on first watching this sequence feeling like I’d just been kicked in the teeth.

Season one of Slime had shown that while for the most part this anime was laid-back Slime shenanigans with a lot of humour and bright colours and a few epic and over-the-top fight sequences thrown in to spice things up, it also could handle the meatier emotional moments.

Shizue’s death was a slow, quiet moment given the time it needed to sink in and having the right impact on Rimuru for the audience to really experience the full emotional spectrum that comes with death and remembering life. It was one of the best death sequences not for spectacle or blood splatter but just for facing the enormity and absoluteness that is death.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 6
I’m glad we met you too.

What season two did seemed to undermine that in almost an instant. If death could be conquered why did Shizue die? What does it matter if anyone dies if it can all just be turned back? Admittedly, there were a lot of catches to the potential resurrection and only a minor chance of success, but even that felt like it was trying to have its cake and eat it to. The story wanted us to think characters could die and wanted us to experience the emotions of parting, but also didn’t want to lose a fan-favourite character by actually consigning them to death.

How does another anime go at handling anime death?

One of my favourite isekai anime ever is Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (I’ll wait, go watch it). While it isn’t a perfect story by any means, and reading on in the light novels it has actually done a similar thing that Slime is now doing in that the basic idea that death can’t be overturned ends up being overturned, kind of, in one instance, Grimgar set itself apart from other stories early on by giving a very real view of the danger and fear of living in a fantasy world as an adventurer where death could literally come at any moment and from the smallest of mistakes.

I really appreciated this narrative for not having super-strong and invincible characters who overcame anything. Every time they won anything it felt earned and they lost, a lot. And those losses always came with costs.

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Ouch!

So if I were simply to look at the three, Grimgar, Slime 1 and Slime 2 at how the death itself was played out, I’d most definitely find season 2 of Slime wanting. Grimgar absolutely nailed it with the early death of a character that seemed like he should have protagonist plot armour but unfortunately it wasn’t his story. And even Slime season 1 gave us something that was quite special in a season that I was otherwise in two minds about because while there were aspects that felt like they were really amazing, a lot of season one felt like down-time.

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But that makes little sense. See, after getting some time to think about my initial reaction and how I felt death had been cheapened, I thought more about the overall story and what the actual point of this particular moment was supposed to be. Slime had already done an emotional look at death and loss. We don’t need a rehash for season 2 of the same plot notes and if they’d left the scene without the other character interjecting we would have very much had a more or less same situation with different character.

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We do not do re-runs.

Instead, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime season 2 (Tensura 2) chose to use character death first as a catalyst for Rimuru’s self-reflection on the fact that he is no longer a human. His human trappings had continued to drive his thinking and reasoning throughout the narrative so far and as the nation of monsters seeks to stand on its own he really did need to move on from that. This sequence most definitely put that into action.

More than that though, the character deaths served as a catalyst for Rimuru’s next actions and his decisions which deserve an entire post all on their own to discuss the morality of those choices and why it has been so interesting to see play out as it raises a number of not-very comfortable questions.

Really, it has seen Slime rise to its best yet.

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Everyone should underestimate you. You were useless and then thrown away in more or less an instant.

While I won’t forget that I felt annoyed that they almost instantly undermined the permanence of death I can’t help but be excited by where this has pushed the story and Rimuru’s character. So ultimately my initial question of which series did the better job of dealing with death was flawed to begin with. Death wasn’t the point here. It was merely a means to an end and while I’m drafting this I haven’t seen the end of the season, I’m really thrilled by how the final episodes of this series have unfolded so far and the possibilities being opened.

Images in this article from:

  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8bit. 2021.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8bit. 2019.
  • Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. Dir. R Nakamura. A-1 Pictures. 2016.


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


Why I Think Given is a Better Anime than A Manga

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I feel like a lot of viewers may be sleeping on Given. It’s a surprisingly good character-driven drama. I am enjoying a lot and I enjoy neither drama nor romance. It’s just well written. It’s also really well adapted.

I’m currently reviewing the season with Karandi and you can check out our reviews below. After the first episode, we both had a faint idea that we had read the manga at some point but neither of us remembered much and we had both dropped it before getting too far. As the episodes wore on and my love for the show grew, it kept gnawing at the back of my brain. Why would I drop a story I like so much? This is obviously my type of fiction. Was I just not in the mood?

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I didn’t want to spoil the anime, so I stayed away from the manga for a while until curiosity finally got the better of me. I quickly found it once again and after physically restraining myself to not read the final panels of the final volume (available), I started back on volume 1. I read the equivalent of episode 1 and 2, then jumped a bit ahead to the events of episode 5 and then promptly dropped it again….

I like the anime better. Much much better. And I really want to talk about it with you because you see, it’s a very faithful adaptation of the manga. Almost word for word and in the same order. But I take it in completely differently.

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Part of that is simply due to the type of person I am. I am a fan of animation. The way light and colours shift. The way pictures come together to simulate movement or depth. I’ve Always loved that and therefore, it’s no surprise that I would enjoy anime more.

But it’s not just that. I’m also impatient. I noticed it a bit when I was reading Natsume but it’s really obvious in Given. A Lot of manga fans will tell you they prefer the written format because it allows them to go at their own pace. To take in every panel to the fullest before going on to the next. I understand that I really do. Because I NEED anime for that. I am the type of person whose brain would be tremendously improved by the addition of a dimmer switch. Like a small child I always want to know what happens next, where do we go from here, are we there yet?

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I fly through manga. I look at those stunning panorama panels, think to myself “pretty” and jump right into the next bit of dialogue. It was a bit of a waste in Natsume and robbed the story of it’s atmospheric and ethereal nature. It’s tragic for Given. You see, for whatever reason (I’m going to wager partly alternative distribution, partly budget), given doesn’t really have any transition panels – i.e. manga panels in which nothing happens. It had a few glamour panels to show the characters in all their detailed glory, and I deeply appreciate those! But otherwise, the action just flows from one square to the next without break.

A full episode of the Given anime can be contained in a single chapter of the manga which is only a few pages. The anime has added so many little quiet moments. Thinking time between replies, or just solitary moments for each character. Just the way people speak if changed because of the pacing. There is a scene where Ueno is writing a song. We see him listening to the music on his headphones and scribbling something down then scratching a bit out. There are papers strewn about and his sister bursts in to tell him dinner is read. He looks up startled while she’s absolutely bemused.

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It’s a sweet scene that takes up the opening tag of an episode. It shows us just how much Ueno has recaptured his drive for music. In the manga, it’s two panels. His sister bursting in on the scene, then asking what he’s doing. It’s all the same information, you still see the scattered papers, you still know exactly what happened. But you don’t feel it in the same way. You don’t get that quiet second with Ueno, bobbing your head along and retreating into your own little world. For me, that was a big loss.

Another way this affected my viewing experience is that it essentially transformed the character of Mafuyu altogether. Mayu (as I call him – we’re close that way) is a bit of a space cadet. In the anime he’s a withdrawn young man, obviously going through something difficult. He barely speaks and when he does it’s generally slow, hesitating and in a low monotone. That’s why his excitement about learning guitar really stands out and whenever he actually gets visibly psyched, it colours the entire scene. In the manga, the panels he’s in are usually the ones where he’s reacting. As such, he ends up seeming like he’s suffering from serious manic depression as he goes from completely passionate one second to utterly disinterested literally the next panel.

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We don’t give anime enough credit for the moments between the panels. They are way more important then we think, even if technically nothing happens in them.

Sometimes, though, things do happen in them. In episode 5 of Given, there’s a scene where Kaji more or less passes out on his friend Haruki who’s harboured a one-sided crush on him forever. There’s a second where Haruki is completely overwhelmed, he slowly reaches out to hug Kaji before realizing the other is already snoring and bitterly leaving him the bed. He then sits next to it for a few seconds, reflecting on the situation.

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The scene in the manga is almost identical. There’s that moment of panic glee where the author even points out that the background should be “the universe”. But the hand motion is missing. It’s just not there. It happens between the panels. But that small move was so full of hope and then disappointment. It wordlessly conveyed all of Haruki’s feelings. It was a great moment and the story is weaker without it. And there are countless small gestures or stray looks like that throughout a series. They add up to mere minutes of the total anime, but they can make a tremendous difference in the atmosphere and character building.

In the same scene, as I said, Haruki ends up sitting on the floor thinking about his circumstances. I just read that scene in the manga. I also just saw it in episode 5. It’s the exact same scene. Same position, same context, same words. And it was completely different for me. I read a dramatic young man giving in to a bit of self-pity. It’s a pretty pitiable speech. But what I heard was an exasperated young man both pitying and making fun of himself. Laughing at a situation that has gone a bit out of hand but also a little happy about it. I am not as good an actor as the cast of Given. I do not inject the characters with as much nuance and complexity. Masatomo Nakazawa has created a better Haruki than I could. A wittier and more likeable one.

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There is no way I can surprise myself with my own character interpretation, but voice actors and directors are professionals at it. Of course, even the best can be kneecapped by a horrible script, but the good ones can guide and open up dialogue to become so much more than the words on the page. We all know this intellectually, but I always manage to be surprised at just how big a difference it makes.

I’m not even going to get into the obvious stuff like colour theory or soundtrack. Fact is,  adaptation is difficult. You can easily screw it up. I’ve no doubt many stories are better in their manga form because of it. Time and budget restraints can seriously hamper an anime and I’ve regularly bemoaned shows trying to do “too much” or being “underdeveloped” and often, that’s due to an expansive story and universe being told over several volumes of a manga, having to be reduced to two episodes for time’s sake.

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But when it’s done right, there is a myriad of little things that can make the anime experience transformative in unexpected ways. Ways that I had forgotten. The Given manga isn’t bad. I’m sure there are some out there that prefer it. But to me, the Given anime just brings so much out of the story that I couldn’t do myself. And it reminded me once again why anime is magic.

Do you have an anime you prefer to the manga? If so, why?

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

Why I’m Enjoying Senryuu Shoujo More Than Hitoribocchi This Spring Anime Season

Friday's Feature

I don’t usually directly compare two anime, largely because each anime needs to be viewed on its own merit. Whether the story is similar or a character follows a comparable arc, if an anime is enjoyable in its own right, let it be enjoyable. And yet there just seems to be a reason to discuss Senryuu Shoujo and Hitoribocchi as the two share some remarkable similarities.

From that point of view, I’m not going to argue that Senryuu Shoujo is the better of the two anime I’m discussing today, simply that I’m enjoying it more. However, I’m certain there are other viewers out there who feel differently and I’d love to hear your take on either show in the comments below.

For those who haven’t followed either show this season here’s a brief break down.

Senryuu Shoujo

Senryuu Shoujo is listed on MAL as a Slice of Life/Comedy about a girl who doesn’t speak but communicates through poems and hangs out with another poetry lover, ex-delinquent Eiji as part of a club at school. It currently has a score of 7.34 and is a short anime format with each episode only lasting 12 minutes.

Senryuu shoujo

Hitoribocchi

Hitoribocchi is also listed on MAL as a Slice of Life/Comedy and this time we’re following a very shy girl who has gone to a different school to her friend from middle school and now, for reasons, has to make friends with everyone in her new class. It currently has a score of 7.53 on MAL and each episode is a standard 23 minute length.

Hitoribocchi

From the description you can tell that neither anime sits in my comfort zone of happiness. They aren’t the kind of thing that by nature I find entertaining. Yet each season I try a handful of comedy or slice of life anime and add a few to my watch list, because every now and then you end up with something like My Roommate is a Cat that just utterly charms me and I’d miss out entirely if I didn’t watch a lot of shows that are just fine for those who like the genre, but don’t do much for me.

Keep in mind that ‘March Comes in Like a Lion‘, an anime I regularly rave about, is in fact a Slice of Life. So while I don’t click with the genre as a whole, when it grabs my attention it really draws me right in.

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That said, it should be fairly clear if you’ve been reading my episode reviews of either Senryuu Shoujo or Hitoribocchi that I’m not exactly loving either one. To be honest, both will be forgotten almost the minute the last episode airs with just enough lag time for me to write my whole season review. But, in the rank on MAL, number of viewers, and just the amount of blog coverage, it seems Hitoribocchi is the preferred show out of these two.



Why do I prefer Senryuu Shoujo?

There are two main reasons why I prefer Senryuu Shoujo.

The first comes down to the run time. With both anime being limited in scope and content and being reasonably formulaic in their approach of setting up the scenario or gag for the episode and then running with it, I find that Hitoribocchi stretches each moment that little bit too far. I’ve mentioned it before in an episode review and on Twitter, but if the episodes were half the length and more tightly paced, I’d enjoy the content a great deal more.

Particularly as I find my tolerance for Bocchi waning the longer an episode runs, if it ended at the 12 minute mark I’d probably find her sympathetic and adorable whereas by the 23 minute mark I’m more annoyed at her.

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Senryuu Shoujo with its 12 minute run time perfectly hits the mark. The episodes are bite sized. Not much happens but nothing overstays its welcome either. As a result, the episode always ends when I’m pleasantly in the groove of an episode and so leaves me wanting the next one. They say timing is everything in comedy and to be honest a lot of my preference on the two anime comes down to this factor.

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Then we have our two female leads, Bocchi and Nanako.

In a recent review of one of the Hitoribocchi episodes, I was pretty scathing of Bocchi’s character. She whines and whimpers her way through almost every encounter. While her shyness and awkwardness began as relatable and a sympathetic character trait, as the series has progressed there’s just no other aspect to Bocchi. She has no hobbies or likes or dislikes. She has friends now, who she is grateful for, but has no trouble abandoning them in pursuit of making another friend.

She’s also incredibly self-centred and rarely thinks about the feelings of others because she’s so wrapped up in her own anxious worrying about how people see her.

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Now, if her character wasn’t being played for laughs in a school comedy, possibly I would be more sympathetic toward her. Given I was that incredibly shy person who struggled to speak in the company of strangers, who felt sick at the thought of having to speak in front of people, and most definitely avoided encounters that I was not comfortable with, I might have really connected with Bocchi’s character had they made the tone somewhat more serious. Instead though, I mostly see her start to tear up and feel she’s just a little bit pathetic rather than sympathetic and I’m finding it hard to really connect with Bocchi or any member of the cast.

That said, for viewers that do find Bocchi sympathetic, or just like her or the supporting cast, the viewing experience of Hitoribocchi will be considerably more entertaining.

Nanako from Senryuu Shoujo is a little less relatable but a lot more interesting as a lead. She doesn’t speak at all but expresses herself through facial expressions, body language, and through her poetry. While the gimmick is definitely gimmicky, and you do have to wonder sometimes where she pulls the board out from to write a poem, and how she wrote it that fast, she is by and large adorable. More than that, she’s positive about things and it pursuing a ‘romance’ with Eiji while enjoying her high school life.

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I did like that when we met her parents and got a bit of backstory, it was pointed out that Nanako was in fact bullied for not speaking when she was younger. While I would actually like the anime to delve into the drama a bit more and look at why she doesn’t speak and how this actually impacts on the day to day when she isn’t with those who accept her weird quirk, I get this one is a light comedy and wasn’t planning on being a deep dive into dealing with difference. Still, Nanako is an intriguing character but one who brings cuteness and light into most scenes and her interactions with Eiji are off the charts adorable.

While it might seem like splitting hairs, the shorter run time plus the more compelling, or at least less annoying, female lead makes Senryuu Shoujo my preferred slice of life/comedy anime from the Spring anime season.

However, I get this is an entirely subjective opinion based on my own preferences and interpretations of the characters and story (as is pretty much everything on my blog so business as usual). Which is why I would love to hear from my readers whether they are preferring Senryuu Shoujo or Hitoribocchi this season. Or is there another slice of life/comedy anime that got your attention this season? Let me know in the comments below.


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


They Can’t All Be Natsume – Nor Do They Need To Be

Friday's Feature Banner Image

As a reviewer I try to avoid comparison where possible between one story and the next (and previously wrote a feature about it – comparing apples and oranges), but it is kind of inevitable that comparisons will be made. But I’ve had to realise they can’t all be Natsume (Natsume’s Book of Friends). Even if they are a supernatural drama featuring a teen who can see yokai.

But comparisons are still going to get made. Partly that is because similar characters or stories will remind you of the previous one though other reasons for comparing are to make a point clear, to point out the strength or weakness of a story, or to help your audience to really get a feel for what you are talking about by linking it to something they are likely more familiar with.

Still, comparisons aren’t always all that helpful. I recently went looking for some reviews of Kamisama Kiss online and found comparisons everywhere (I was curious about what people had said at the time it came out because that was pre-blogging days so I hadn’t really read any reviews of people who watched it when it first came out). On several occasions I found it compared to Fruits Basket or InuYasha and it seldom came out favourably.

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While as a shoujo, the comparison to Fruits Basket kind of makes sense, the overall tone and feel of the stories are entirely different. I watch Kamisama Kiss when I want to just have a bit of a laugh and soak up some cute yokai vibes. Sure, it doesn’t really manage character drama all the deftly, but there is the occasional moment where it hits the spot, but realistically, you kind of watch Kamisama Kiss for the weird antics as Nanami learns to be a land god and the supernatural reverse harem that forms around her.

Fruits Basket on the other-hand I watch when I want to go through a bit of an emotional journey. I usually watch it when I’m feeling low and don’t know the reasons for feeling that way. Watching Fruits Basket and watching Tohru help others really helps process your own emotions and there’s definitely a cathartic effect as you see each of the characters she touches slowly come to terms with themselves.

About the only complaint for the original series, other than the dated visuals, would be the lack of ending, which is why I’m super excited about the upcoming rebooted series. Whichever way, I wouldn’t have even thought of comparing it to Kamisama Kiss because in terms of why I enjoy it, it couldn’t be more different.

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I can’t really comment on its similarity or dissimilarity to InuYasha because despite that one being on my watch list for a very long time, I’ve still yet to actually watch it.



So as the title of this post suggests, recently I found myself comparing The Morose Mononokean to Natsume Yuujinchou. Actually, worse than comparing, I mostly pointed out that The Morose Mononokean couldn’t hold the emotional weight of something like Natsume. And that’s actually really true but it is more or less true of the vast majority of anime and not an actual complaint about The Morose Mononokean.

Now when watching these shows, comparisons do seem more or less inevitable. They both follow teenage boys who have the ability to see yokai. More importantly, the first season of The Morose Mononokean and Natsume Yuujinchou more or less follow the yokai of the week format where a new yokai is introduce, the main characters encounter it and it is either threatening or friendly, there’s a little bit of misunderstanding or a problem to resolve, then someone we fix things and we learn and grow from the situation. Rinse – repeat. Yokai of the week.

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However, Natsume Yuujinchou, for all that it really is a monster of the week kind of story, has managed subtle and continuous character growth and built an impressive supporting cast that all feel like fully developed characters in their own right. Admittedly, it is now six seasons in, but it is still impressive how you barely notice the character growth until you go back to the beginning and then you realise just how much ground each character has gained.

It is such a natural drip feed of growth and development that you really don’t even notice it but the results are there to see in how each season Natsume is that little bit stronger than he was and his relationships with those around him are that little bit deeper and more interesting.

Natsume Yuujinchou

In short, Natsume is pretty brilliant and you should definitely watch it.

The Morose Mononokean is not.

And that isn’t actually slapping it down. The Morose Mononokean season one was decidedly average in every way. It used the yokai of the week format well enough. The characters were entertaining and the back and forth between the two main characters was actually pretty entertaining. Visually it was okay, but they really did a great job contrasting the mundane world and the yokai world through the use of colours.

Everything about it functioned, though it never delivered much in the way of an emotional punch and the characters remained more or less as they began, though a bit more of an understanding was forged between the two main characters.

They can’t all be Natsume – nor should they try to be.

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In fairness, I don’t think it was really trying to pack much of an emotional punch. There are more ‘comedic’ moments dotted throughout, and Ashiya, as the protagonist, is quite the loud and reactive character responding to things with over the top expressions and shock rather than calm deliberation. The yokai frequently aren’t really given a voice and other than fuzzy, Ashiya isn’t really developing much in the way of a relationship with them and he wasn’t shunned or outcast so he doesn’t have to go through the emotional growth Natsume needed at the start of season one.

While that makes The Morose Mononokean a somewhat less compelling watch, it works as it is. Season two expands on the world building and the characters and it has become a much stronger story in its own right. It still has a vastly different tone and feel to Natsume, despite the surface level similarities in premise, but it really is its own show.

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But telling someone The Morose Mononokean isn’t as good as Natsume Yuujinchou isn’t exactly helpful when it comes to reviewing, however true I might personally feel that to be. Nor is telling someone that it is similar to Natsume overly helpful because if someone starts it expecting another Natsume, they are surely going to be disappointed.

I think as a reviewer I am going to continue to strive not to overly rely on comparisons to convey my feelings about an anime. They certainly will happen and sometimes fairly thoughtlessly, but I hopefully won’t use them as my main summation of a show. In the case of The Morose Mononokean, through season two I have definitely come to appreciate it for what it is on its own and I’m no longer really looking at what I feel it is missing. Hopefully when it ends and I write my final review my thoughts on it as its own entity come through loud and clear.

Now here’s a question: The Little Fox or Fuzzy? Which is the cuter yokai?

In the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts on comparisons in reviews and whether you find them helpful or not. Please leave a comment below and get the conversation started.


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


Feature – Comparing Apples and Oranges

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With the new season of anime starting, I’ve found myself doing a lot of episode 1 impressions and trying to write a basic overview of a lot of different shows. The number of times I found myself falling back on the “it’s like …. with a bit of ….” in order to describe a show kind of got me thinking. Is it fair to compare one show to another?

In honesty, when I write a review of a full series, I generally avoid comparing one anime to another. Occasionally it seems necessary to make a point about one particularly aspect. Whether it be a character, a bit of music, or a particular plot point, sometimes drawing a comparison can be really helpful in order to explain where you are coming from. However, I avoid falling back on this as my main form of review for the simple reason that I feel things should be taken for what they are and not what other things are that might be better.

Are you comparing apples to other apples or apples with oranges?

erased

Erased is a good anime to look at when we think about whether or not we should compare anime. If we look at Erased as a mystery, even taken by itself you can see that the mystery itself is flawed due to the lack of viable suspects. This makes the guessing who the culprit is pretty easy and takes away any dramatic reveal that might occur later in the series.

So even without a comparison Erased isn’t going to stand up very well as a mystery. But if we then played it against a mystery (something like Blood C or Paranoia Agent which leave you guessing until the reveal) Erased starts looking even worse.

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Is that fair? Admittedly, if I were doing a Top 5 list of best mystery anime, Erased wouldn’t be on it, but when I reviewed Erased I was looking at more than just the mystery component. So comparing it to something else only as a mystery takes away from what Erased actually is as an anime.

My review of Erased focussed very much on the characters within Erased and their reactions to the situations. I looked at the characters I liked and didn’t and the events that shaped them. Are the characters perfect? Not really. If I compared Erased to other character driven dramas would Erased be the best? Probably not.



But Erased is a character driven drama with mystery and supernatural elements thrown in. It is the combination of all of these things (working together) that make watching Erased a reasonably entertaining experience.

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But if we start classifying things like that I may as well say that Taboo Tattoo was the most interesting anime about princesses trying to rewrite the world via the power of sentient tattoos. I’d be right (at least I hope there aren’t any others), but that doesn’t make it a good anime either.

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Another anime that I really liked recently was Alderamin on the Sky. I really enjoyed each episode and getting to know the characters, however I found myself regularly pointing out that this anime wasn’t trying to be the most exciting thing in the world. Looking back at my weekly thoughts, I said this a lot.

Why? Because when you do a surface comparison of Alderamin to any of the big anime, Alderamin is going to come off second best. Not because it isn’t a good story with good characters but because it just doesn’t have any of the flash of some of the big names. Any kind of comparison is going to go badly for Alderamin but I would still say you should watch Alderamin.

I also remember a lot of people comparing Shirayuki (from Snow White with the Red Hair) to Yona (Akatsuki no Yona). Yeah they were both red-haired heroines who appeared at around the same time and both ended up being quite independent, female leads. It seems natural to compare them. Except that does it matter if Yona is more active than Shirayuki and learns to shoot a bow?

Does that make Shirayuki any less of a positive, female character in an anime? Does it matter that Shirayuki has far more self-determination right from the start of the series than Yona does in hers? Does that make Yona less of a heroine because her direction was chosen for her by destiny at first?

I’m not actually criticising comparisons. They do work well at highlighting similarities and differences and make you really consider stories and characters. I just wonder what the purpose of some comparisons are and whether there has to be a better or a worse option when things are compared?

What is your view on using comparisons as part of a review?


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Karandi James