12 Days of Anime Characters – Goro

12 Days of Anime Title Image

We’ve almost made it to the end of the 12 Days of Anime and as we enter day 10 I’m really kind of sorry to see it end. I’ve had a lot of fun, even if the posts ended up taking a lot longer than expected, participating in this. It gave me something a bit different to write about. So yesterday we looked at Akari, the source of so much warmth in March Comes in Like a Lion. Today, however, we turn our attention to Goro from Darling in the Franxx (patron only post link).

Darling in the Franxx - Episode 23 - Goro

For me, watching Darling in the Franxx, Goro was the unsung hero of the story. No matter how silly the other characters seemed to act or what the plot was doing, any scene or plot that turned the spotlight on Goro ended up being sheer delight. The worst part was, there wasn’t that much of it.

Darling in the Franxx Episode 3 Goro and Hiro

As Ichigo’s partner, and childhood friend of both Ichigo and Hiro, Goro was very much the third wheel as he supported Ichigo’s crush on Hiro despite Hiro’s reasonable indifference to Ichigo. Still, as they say, actions speak louder than words, and Goro certainly took action to try to keep Ichigo safe, even if that did result in him nearly dying and then needing to be rescued.

Darling in the Franxx Episode 9 Goro

Goro’s calming influence on the group as someone trusted by almost everyone, can’t be overlooked. Where the others struggled to communicate, Goro managed to find the way to open channels between them again. He was a steady character from start to finish and while that doesn’t make him the most exciting of characters, it did make him someone who I felt a connection with while watching.

Darling in the Franxx Goro

It was also nice that eventually Goro got over his Hiro worship. Seriously, needed to claim independence earlier and just go his own way. 

So, to Goro, who needs his own anime in order to show off how amazing he can be when not hampered by Hiro’s love triangle, here’s wishing you better luck if there’s ever a sequel.

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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 987 DARLING IN THE FRANXX: ICHIGO
NENDOROID NO. 987 DARLING IN THE FRANXX: ICHIGO

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Couples from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

This week’s top 5 list counts down my favourite anime couples from 2018. They don’t need to be canon, they don’t need to actually end up together, they just need to be super-adorable and make my heart melt. I’d love to know which anime couples you fell in love with this season so be sure to leave me a comment below.

And apparently I haven’t previously done a list like this at the end of 2017 or 2016, so this is the very first couples list for a single year. I’m definitely going to have to make this an ongoing thing next year because this list was super fun to write.

Honourable Mentions:

I never thought I’d see the day that Kirito and Asuna weren’t on my Top 5 couples list but with what little we’ve seen of Alicization and only one episode with the two of them actually together I just couldn’t justify having them in the top 5. The same goes for Okabe and Kurisu from Steins;Gate 0. I love those two together but they just didn’t show up that much together this year. The last honourable mention is Mitsuru and Kokoro from Darling in the Franxx. Those two were actually pretty adorable together despite my misgivings with the plot of Franxx.

Number 5: Siluca and Theo from Record of Grancrest War

As much as there are some big issues with Record of Grancrest War, and as much as I feel Siluca’s character progression hit the skids as soon as Theo and Siluca became an actual couple, this was one of the most adorable pairs from earlier in the year. Theo may have seemed like a passive protagonist, but he certainly didn’t waste any time or the opportunity to confess his love to Siluca. These two characters could have really carried a very different show if they had chosen to focus on their relationship a little bit more and it would have been fantastic to watch.

Number 4: Nanami and Yuu from Bloom Into You

Okay, Nanami and Yuu both have issues with relationships and I’m honestly not sure if I’m hoping for these two to get a happily ever after or not after everything that’s happened, but I cannot deny I love watching these characters together. The way they gently poke at each other, move the other to see things differently, offer comfort and support, as well as mock when the occasion calls for it, is just all kinds of adorable. I’ve really enjoyed watching their relationship progress even if it is progress of the one step forward several steps back kind.

Number 3: Syaoran and Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card

Another great couple from a not-so-great anime. Then again, Syaoran and Sakura have been one of my favourite couples for a very long time and Clear Card just confirmed why. Seeing these two together is truly a joy. Now if we could just stop Syaoran from trying to keep secrets from Sakura, and if Sakura could share her power more often because watching the two of them flying together was the single most squeal worthy moment ever.

Number 2: Takato and Junta from Dakaichi

It won’t be for everyone but I really enjoyed watching the relationship develop in Dakaichi. Part of the appeal is Takato as an individual character, however the longer you watch, the more you realise that everything that is great about how Takato changes as a character comes about because of Junta, and he’s no slouch either in the character development department. These two guys have found each other and while their relationship is riddled with issues and ego, it is an so much fun to watch and I just keep hoping for their happily ever after.

Number 1: Ash and Eiji from Banana Fish

This one isn’t going to surprise anyone who follows me on Twitter. Seriously, every Friday I’ve been spamming the retweets of fan art and screen caps of these two because they are so worth it. And you know what, they don’t need to kiss on screen, they don’t need to actually confess their feelings, and we don’t even need a ring exchange. Every scene with these two together shows their relationship and feelings and seeing them interact is the sweetest and simultaneously most heartbreaking thing to watch and most definitely gives this one every reason to top my list here. Ash and Eiji are beautiful together and bring out the absolute best in one another.

That’s my list, come to an end. Right now I’d love to know which couples made your list and why so be sure to leave me a comment.

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Karandi James
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Visually Interesting Anime from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Continuing my lists of anime from 2018, I am now looking at the most visually interesting anime. Notice it does not claim the best visuals or animation. To be honest, as long as something is watchable I generally don’t pay a huge amount of attention other than to decide something looks pretty or not. For instance, Angolmois managed to have me complaining about how ugly it looked almost every episode so I knew it had to be pretty bad for me to pay that much attention to it (that and Devils’ Line – what was it with weird filters this year). 

Still, there are some requirements for an anime to be on my radar for visuals. I need to like the look it is going for. It needs to feel slightly different from the other shows I’ve been watching. Some good choices in direction usually help. And, let’s be honest, the animation needs to be pretty smooth. Now, some of my choices on the list won’t have all of those things, but that’s kind of what I’m going for. And that term ‘interesting’ is in the title for a reason. I need to have found the visuals interesting, as in I thought they were worth mentioning and discussing on more than one occasion because they grabbed my interest.

Which is kind of how 18if made it onto the top of the list for 2017 and March Comes in Like a Lion took out second place in 2017 and top place in 2016. These anime demanded that I pay attention to their visuals and gave me imagery that stayed with me well after the episodes had ended. So what made my list in 2018? 

Honourable Mentions:

This year I’m giving an honourable mention to Run With The Wind and Darling in the Franxx. Franxx’s animation was gorgeous and the character designs were really cute. Even if I’m not a big fan of Trigger in general, it is hard to argue with those visuals. Run With The Wind has moments of spectacular direction and aesthetics and then large stretches where it feels pretty ordinary. If it could harness those moments where visually it just nails the scene, it would definitely have made it on the official list.

Number 5: Cardcaptor Sakura – Clear Card

While there were many parts of this reboot/sequel that didn’t quite work out as well as I would have liked, visually this was everything I could have ever wanted. Cardcaptor had always been beautiful but the update to the look of the show was spectacular. The magical moments sparkled and did everything they needed to, but it was the attention to detail on the everyday aspects, trees, leaves, flowers, cooking, background characters, that really sold me on the visuals of this one. While the story ended up being kind of meh, there is no denying how pretty this anime turned out.

Number 4: Tsurune

I will admit, this one has some wavering quality with some sequences being outstandingly pretty and others being more ordinary, but it never looks bad. The archery has so far been beautifully animated, the characters are lovely to look at and differentiated enough that you don’t get confused, and there’s just a general care and attention to detail here that is truly pleasurable to watch. I accept that some of what makes this work is how the visuals and sounds are paired together, but ultimately this is one very pretty sports anime.

Number 3: My Hero Academia Season 3

Right, it would have been just plain wrong to leave this one off of the list. For all that I didn’t find season three as enticing as seasons one and two, this season really did bring some spectacular animation to the mix of the already fairly amazing character designs and general distinct look of the show. For all that My Hero Academia is pretty classic shounen, everything about the look of the show has managed to make itself feel unique and the ongoing impressive quality of the action sequences where it never feels like lazy or reused imagery means this anime remains one that should be praised for just how good it manages to look.

Number 2: March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2

So, yeah, this one is on the list for the third year in a row (because it is awesome). I’m kind of sad that once again it has lost out on first place given it is still a truly amazingly beautiful anime to watch. Even in its most mundane moments, March Comes in Like a Lion manages to use an impressive combination of visual symbolism and interesting direction to draw the viewer’s eye to whatever they wish us to focus on. They are crafting an amazing character journey and the reason it works so well is very much because of how they present each stage. However, what really impressed in 2018 was the scene where Rei returned to his foster parents’ house. The awkwardness of that scene and the emotions both characters were feeling came through beautifully. It was something really simple and yet it worked spectacularly well. Wait, why didn’t I put this at number one again?

Number 1: Bloom Into You

Oh right, March Comes in Like a Lion couldn’t quite beat this one for direction in its second half of season two (which is all that aired in 2018). Now, if you want to see something that feels like it has been carefully constructed with love and attention to detail in every single frame, Bloom Into You is the anime for you. I love the direction, the use of colour and contrasts, the character designs, quite literally everything about this anime is beautiful and it works to construct a story that emotionally takes the audience on a ride. It is a truly amazing thing to see in action and there isn’t a single sequence that isn’t worth rewatching just to think about how it has been put together and why it is so amazing.


And that brings us to the end of my list of visually interesting anime for 2018. However, as always, I am dying to know what the rest of you thought this year. Please share your favourites in the comments below.

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Karandi James
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Friday’s Feature: Baiting the Hook

There’s been a lot already said about the proliferation of anime, seasonal watchers, and the general idea that there’s just too much content so I’m really not going to get into that. However, in that sea of content, creators know they have to get the attention of their very fickle audience and then they have to catch us and reel us in. Mostly because seasonal watchers tend to demonstrate a number of common traits: a short attention span and limited tolerance for ‘filler’.

While previously shows have had episodes to build a world and characters, now many viewers make snap judgements with some cutting episodes before the first scene is done. Where the three episode rule used to hold true, and current narratives seem to be well aware of such a rule with more and more shows either moving a mini-climax to episode two or making episode 3 a two-parter to draw their episode back (How Not To Summon A Demon Lord), less viewers seem to actually hold to this rule these days. To be honest, they just don’t want to sink an hour of their lives into something they are ultimately going to drop.

DemonLord3e

As such we are getting more and more first episodes and more and more characters with quite distinct traits designed to draw the audience in with the hope that then the rest of the story will hook the in for the season. While sometimes this works beautifully as the audience is dragged along on a wondrous adventure before being cut loose to go and bite some other line, other times it leaves the audience feeling like they got reeled in and left high and dry.

This isn’t exactly new. Entertainment has always been competitive and most shows have always realised they needed something to distinguish themselves from other titles. Yet in the age of streaming and simulcasts this has become more important than ever and it is starting to show in the way first arcs are feeling more and more compacted and rushed and mid-seasons are feeling a little bit empty before we escalate toward a climax.

Now, there are some obvious baiting moves. If we look at Darling in the Franxx, well we already know how they baited their hook, the glorious Zero-Two. She was such an energetic enigma of a character in the first episode. Throw in some nudity, a bit of danger, and a sense of her rebellious nature, and you have the perfect bait for a community to go crazy on social media. And so they did. I also really loved Zero-Two’s initial characterisation particularly the way they built up the idea of her being a partner killer. However, this was definitely a case of bait and switch as little came of the partner killer idea beyond the first arc and Zero-Two became a progressively less interesting character as the season continued.

Franxx14b

Clearly the writers knew how to grab the audience’s attention but then they didn’t know what to do with it. They’d created this perfectly researched, tantalising character, but had no message, point, or even solid arc for her to travel on. By the time she literally became a hollow shell before turning to stone while staring at the sky a lot of the love for Zero-Two had worn down and many viewers realised that they’d been hooked onto a show that ultimately didn’t suit them and what they wanted from an anime.

Other obvious baiting moves include the flash forward or flash back to some kind of massive conflict that may or may not become relevant later. The issue with this is it has been done to death and when done poorly, it mostly just eats up screen time with characters no one knows running around or shouting and there’s little reason to care what is going on (Lord of Vermilion – looking at you right now). However, this can be highly effective bait.

Vermilion1b

Look at the opening sequence to season one of Attack on Titan. The birds slowly flying over the city to the wall where we suddenly see the titan emerging. The close ups on the character’s eyes as they widen in fear and horror. This sequence is brief enough that it doesn’t feel like wasted time and yet sensational enough to have an impact. The audience wants to know. When is this going to happen? What happens next? And fortunately, Attack on Titan knew what to do after baiting the hook. It delivered the titan by the end of the episode. No waiting an entire season just to get back to the original bait. For all that Attack on Titan might be criticised for some of its narrative choices, it knew exactly how to capture an audience and that really explains why its popularity exploded the way it did, even if the longevity of that massive fan-base wasn’t so set in stone.

Titan-Wall.png

However, bait isn’t limited to first episodes. Supporting characters introduced later in their series need bait as well otherwise they get crowded out or forgotten. There are many shows where viewers would struggle to name any of the support characters even a month after the show finished its run. Yet a memorable support cast can really elevate a viewing experience.

That word memorable might be a bit of a double edge sword though with some shows simply giving characters insane designs or making them needlessly crazy but forgetting to actually characterise them in any meaningful way. The Musicians from Caligula would fit this bill. They were definitely visually distinct and yet their characters rang very hollow and ultimately I couldn’t tell you anything about any of them, except one of the guys had some complex about another guy being prettier than him. That isn’t exactly leaving an impression.

Caligula9a

My Hero Academia excels at building its support cast and baiting their individual story-lines so that when the main narrative turns its attention to one of these characters it doesn’t feel like filler but rather like a much anticipated story thread. Who didn’t want to know the story behind Todoroki’s scarred face? Who isn’t curious about Tokoyami’s dark shadow? And let’s be honest, if Twitter is anything to go by, Tsuyu is a character who has captured all the fan’s attention and the filler episode of season 2 was entirely a show about everyone’s beloved Froppy. These characters each have something about them that makes the audience want to know more and feel satisfied when they finally get it. They are talked about almost as much as the protagonist’s, and they are an intrinsic part of what makes the show feel like more than what the basic narrative of Midoriya becoming a hero really should warrant.

Hero25i

When a show does baiting right the audience feels satisfied and happy with the experience. When the baiting is just that and there’s no substance to back it up, then the audience feels cheated. When the baiting is poorly done the audience looks at the hook and then turns away looking for something better.

Of course, that does leave us all with the question of whether or not this is going to have a positive impact on how stories are told? While grabbing a reader’s attention has always been an important goal for a story, usually there was more time to do this. As we get increasingly more gimmicky, more violent, more zany and more over the top premises clamouring for our attention (and longer and longer titles on light novels) you have to wonder where it is all going and whether we’ve already gone too far. Has narrative integrity been abandoned for a series of point in time sensational moments that will be shared on social media?

The more cynical would say yes, but that is ignoring some fairly fantastic stories that have come out in recent times. However, there is definitely a shift occurring in the way stories are presented and as always it is the audience driving this shift, whether we’re doing it intentionally or not.

Over to the readers then: What is the worst bait an anime has used to hook its audience?


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Karandi James

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Protected: DARLING in the FRANXX Episodes 23 + 24: Forget it, We’ll Just Reincarnate

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And Now… The Results of the Worst of Spring Reader’s Poll Are Here!

If you missed it, the best of the Spring 2018 season reader poll results can be found here.

For those who are new to my end of season awards, I’ll just remind you that worst of the season is a slightly misleading term given I ask people to vote for a show they didn’t drop but was the worst thing they actually watched. That means there are plenty of anime out there that never get voted for that are significantly worse because people have simply dropped them without completing them.

First up, my choices for worst of the season.

Worst Story – Tokyo Ghoul: Re

Tokyo2b

It seemed mean to give it to Record of Grancrest War considering it already won this ‘honour’ at the end of the Winter season, and Tokyo Ghoul Re has it coming. No explanations, no attempt to link the previous anime season to this, and just abandoning the anime fans to muddle their way through was a really poor move. Worse, even when you look up all the things you need to look up, we essentially spend 12 episodes gaining very little ground and it is hard to see much point to most of this. There’s the ongoing issue of Haise finding his memories but that’s about three episodes worth of content stretched out and then there’s a bunch of stuff with side characters I was never made to care about. Basically, this one was a bit of a mess but if you just want some ghoul fight sequences, it might deliver that for you.

Worst Visuals – Devils’ Line

Devil6c

There was never any question on this category. Devils’ Line is ugly to watch whether it is the weird filter they put over scenes, the terrible effect used to make the vampires seem faster or whatever, or just the drab looking everything, it is hideous. While I appreciate not every vampire needs to be an Adonis existing only to draw the female eye, this show is just bad to look at.

Worst Opening – My Hero Academia Season 3

Hero47c

Yes, I hear your complaints and yet I’m standing by this choice. After some truly thrilling OP’s, My Hero Academia has delivered one that neither gets me fired up, nor visually interests me, outside of the final image of Midoriya standing with All Might. Basically I’ve taken to skipping the OP and am hoping for a mid-season change.

Worst Character – The Cast of Caligula

Caligula10b

This was probably a cheap call, and yet I knew my least favourite characters existed in this series and yet when looking at each one I can barely remember their names let alone distinguish one from the other in terms of which was a more poorly introduced, fleshed out or developed character. This cast is way oversized and not one of the characters pictured above does a single thing of consequence in the entire series (watch it, remove each of these characters, note how that makes no difference to the plot at all). So yeah, it is an entire cast but this is my choice for worst character this season (they even beat some of the choices I had from Grancrest).

And now…

Worst Anime of the Spring 2018 Season – Doreiku The Animation

Doreiku8e

I was really torn on this one. Caligula was a great contender for worst of the season as was Devils’ Line. But ultimately both of those had some redeeming qualities hiding deeply beneath layers of poor choices whereas Doreiku is just a concept thrown out there and then used by someone who doesn’t have a clue what to do with it. The first episode presents what could be a rich world of exploration about human desire and morality and ultimately the story barely manages to remain coherent and certainly doesn’t explore anything. It routinely shows us that the characters are horrible but that isn’t really exploration so much as just piling more mud onto what is already a mess. So despite having what arguably could have been one of the more interesting concepts this season, Doreiku has managed to be the anime I really wish I hadn’t stuck with.

Finally, Reader’s Choice

There was some tight competition for worst anime of the season that people actually watched and we ended up with a tie for third place. See the results for yourself.

Worst of Spring 2018.JPG

And so, with 9 votes, Darling in the Franxx won worst anime that people actually watched this season. I think the show’s popularity worked against it here because as bad as some of the other shows were, more people were watching Franxx. Still, you have to admit it became quite a mess as the series progressed.

Franxx20d

Devils’ Line therefore took a comfortable second place as worst anime closely followed by SAOA: GGO and Doreiku the animation in third place.

It seems like it has been a long season but now we are about to move into the Summer Anime season and begin it all again. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for some amazing stories, and for those anime that disappoint us, there’s always the chance to vote for it in the worst of Summer poll.


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Karandi James

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