Voice of Fox Series Review

Voice of Fox Episode 1

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

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

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

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

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

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

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

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

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

Voice of Fox Episode 3

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

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Karandi James
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Anime Kitsune no Koe -Voice Of Fox- Original Soundtrack
Anime Kitsune no Koe -Voice Of Fox- Original Soundtrack

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Domestic Dramas and More Mundane High School Problems

Domestic Girlfriend Post Title Image

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 7 Review

It feels like this anime put the accelerating drama on hold and decided just to let all the characters ruminate on the current status quo. The end result is a far more satisfying mix of interactions between the characters even if this means a deeper dive into the potential of a relationship between the main three. However, the possible relationship between Hina and Natsuo is problematic as it is, and worse is Natsuo potentially starting a relationship with Rui in order to prove Hina wrong. All and all, this episode just kind of nailed the tension inherent in the situation, added just enough drama to make it entertaining, a bit of sex just because that sells, and mixed it all into what was an overall slow moving but enjoyable watch.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 7 Hina

I will admit, I had some real tension early in the episode when Hina began leading Natsuo into the ocean. I’m not the biggest fan of drowning scenarios having a lot of anxiety around water and I wasn’t really sure where they were taking that scene. Fortunately they aborted the situation, though I’d really like to know how Hina assumes that double suicide is the appropriate response to the confession of a student/step-brother.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 7 - Hina and Natsuo head out to see

I did however like that relationship drama, while present throughout the episode, wasn’t the only thing going on. The Literature club that they joined is looking toward its publication for the school festival and there are exams to study for. Life goes on even while these emotional hits just keep coming.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 7 Natsuo under the covers

That said, finding a happy ending here may not be possible given Hina is clearly still in love with Shuu (who, it turns out was her teacher when she was in high school – this anime loves its coincidences), Natsuo is in love with Hina though he’s trying not to be, Rui is clearly jealous of everyone who gets close to Natsuo and is pressing her advantage at home, and all and all this just seems like heartbreak is right around the corner for more or less everyone involved. At least the parents seems happily married though after actually having a presence earlier in the anime they’ve since slipped into the role of missing anime parents, though the mum did make a brief cameo in this episode.

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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 1077 BANANA FISH: ASH LYNX [GOOD SMILE COMPANY ONLINE SHOP LIMITED VER.]
	NENDOROID NO. 1077 BANANA FISH: ASH LYNX [GOOD SMILE COMPANY ONLINE SHOP LIMITED VER.]

When In Doubt, Just Pile On More Characters and Stir

Domestic Girlfriend Post Title Image

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 6 Review

Last week we added Momo to the already over-crowded list of potential love interests for Natsuo. This week we add a male teacher (who is probably more teasing than serious) and a member of the school’s literature club. Were they actually needed? Not so sure.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 6 Natsuo and Rui

Starting with the teacher, I kind just accepted with the premise that we were going to have a teacher behave fairly unethically, and Hina has certainly given us that. Whether Natsuo is her student or step-brother (and in this case he is both) her behaviour in previous episodes toward him was wildly inappropriate as the adult in the situation. So to have Natsuo run into another teacher with questionable boundaries and actions is probably pushing things beyond just being melodramatic into outright silly territory. Particularly when it looks so much like queer baiting and doesn’t seem likely to yield anything resembling an actual romantic relationship.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 6 Literature Club

Meanwhile the new literature club girl is pretty much a walking cliche of a shy girl stereotype and somehow I’m fairly certain she’s going to end up crushing on Natsuo as well. It doesn’t help that both Rui and Momo decided to join the literature club. Just makes the whole situation feel like this story didn’t know what to do for a mid-section or with its premise of Rui and Hina becoming Natsuo’s sisters and so we’re just adding drama to stretch it out. I was almost waiting for the student council president to show up and threaten to shut down the club. It would fit with the unoriginal and fairly pointless developments this episode delivered.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 6 Momo and Rui

About the only spot light in the mess of attempts to stir up new and improved melodrama, was Rui struggling with her feelings. This was probably the most emotion we’ve seen out of Rui yet and in an episode that was well below the bar set by this series so far Rui was the one shining spot to come out of it. Hoping it picks up again next week.

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Karandi James
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Kawaii Doodle Class : Sketching Super-Cute Tacos, Sushi, Clouds, Flowers, Monsters, Cosmetics, and More
Kawaii Doodle Class : Sketching Super-Cute Tacos, Sushi, Clouds, Flowers, Monsters, Cosmetics, and More

Where Will Yuuki Find Her Smile Now?

The Price of Smiles Post Title Image

The Price of Smiles Episode 6 Review

There’s a price for everything and a consequence for all actions and The Price of Smiles seems determined to hammer that point home like a blunt instrument by continuing to emotionally throttle Princess Yuuki. The fact that it is obvious what the anime is doing isn’t actually a problem because it is doing it very well and because we occasionally perspective jump to Stella and her squad on the other side of the war, it doesn’t feel like we’re constantly getting beaten down as so far they’ve been pretty successful at their missions. It has been nicely executed even if heavy handed.

The Price of Smiles Episode 6 Yuuki

Episode 6 is pretty much all about Yuuki. She’s assisted the military in evacuating her people out of the capital by delivering a heart rending speech and she’s watching the final operation and keeping her eyes open without looking away. She feels the full weight and responsibility for her people being in this position even though there was literally nothing she could have done to change anything prior to this point. Twelve years old and she is watching the Kingdom her parents lead fall apart around her as the enemy comes for the power source that was supposed to bring everyone peace. It is all kinds of tragic and yet she continues to try to hold on.

The Price of Smiles Episode 6

The one bright spot in an episode that seems designed entirely to make you feel like this is completely hopeless, is when Yuuki orders a retreat of her forces and detonates all the mines left on the field. It is actually a pretty solid tactic and one that throws us back to episode one where we saw Yuuki directing Joshua with great success. For all that Yuuki has been kept in the dark about a lot of things, she’s a solid tactician when the occasion calls for it and her decision here possibly saved a lot of lives.

The Price of Smiles Episode 6 Yuuki

Soon after though she declares that she is going to surrender and this is where things get dicey again. While everyone around her claims to follow her and respect her, they’ve conspired to keep her in the dark about the threat to her kingdom and now they trick her and remove her from the city before the surrender. It makes you wonder whether she’ll ever be a Princess in anything more than name. Meanwhile, the guy who stays behind to surrender (and who will probably die) had his pregnant wife and kid introduced this episode just to twist that knife a bit further (and why didn’t one of the older military guys stay instead).

Why didn’t the suicidal guy stay and let the guy with the pregnant wife go with Yuuki?

The Price of Smiles is definitely a flawed show and one that is relying heavily on tearing at its audience emotionally through the age and inexperience of Yuuki as well as the subject matter in general, but despite that it manages to be an interesting watch and so far seems to be holding its own quite well. I’m still wondering if Yuuki and Stella will ever actually interact but otherwise I’m pretty happy just to watch and see where this one wants to take me.

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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 1082 BANANA FISH: EIJI OKUMURA
	NENDOROID NO. 1082 BANANA FISH: EIJI OKUMURA

The Rumour Mill Surrounding The Easy Girl

Domestic Girlfriend Post Title Image

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 5 Review

With Hina’s ‘affair’ business mostly wrapped up this week I wasn’t surprised she was taking a back set in this episode of Domestic Girlfriend, though I was surprised at just how little presence she had. Instead our focus is first Rui and then Natsuo connected via Rui’s new friend, Momo.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 5 Rui and Momo

Momo is an interesting addition to the cast. Not because she’s overly interesting given we have standard nice girl/flirty persona masking damaged and lonely girl trope and so far she hasn’t really deviated off that script enough to have much of her own personality. No, what made her interesting was the way first Rui and then Natsuo interacted with her.

Rui is warned off Momo fairly quickly when her classmates realise Momo has given Rui a present. They toss the toy in the bin and tell Rui a bunch of rumours that surround Momo. While some of them seem plausible and even quite likely, others just seem exaggerated for the sake of it, but the girls spread them all with the same amount of scandalised delight. I almost cheered when Rui retrieved the toy from the bin and pointed out she’d make her own mind up.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 5

We then get a sequence of Rui and Momo shopping which is where the two run into Natsuo.

Natsuo who is still in nice guy/save the girl mode. Naturally Momo, flirty girl masking damaged girl, falls for him and while she does ask Rui if it is okay, it seems fairly obvious Momo has set her new target. What surprised me more about this was Natsuo going along with it on the second day as a means of moving on from Sensei. While rebounding with the first girl who asks you out may not be the best solution at least he seems ready to try to move on.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 5 Momo
That would probably be a firm ‘no’.

It didn’t surprise me in the least though that Natsuo pulled out of actually sleeping with Momo and ended up cooking her a meal instead. While we first met Natsuo when he slept with Rui, he kind of questioned whether or not he’d made the right choice then so I didn’t see him going for another girl he just met even if he is trying to rebound.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 5 Rui

Though the less said about the day in between when Natsuo first gave Rui a sponge bath and then gave her a suppository to deal with a fever the better. Domestic Girlfriend is still being just a little too creepy at times with the whole siblings/not-siblings and girl-I-first-slept-with/little-sister borderlines and to be honest the whole nursing the sick Rui probably didn’t need to go any further than getting her the water and maybe finding her some food she could eat.

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Karandi James
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SWORD ART ONLINE FATAL BULLET: ASUNA
SWORD ART ONLINE FATAL BULLET: ASUNA

Good Intentions; Questionable Activities: How Will This End?

Domestic Girlfriend Post Title Image

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 4 Review

Rui and Natsuo returned to the house in episode 3 with a plan. This week we see that while they are solid on the goal of the plan the execution needs a little work. While we get some adorable moments with the duo as they sneak about after Hina and try to figure out her schedule, in terms of actually achieving anything I have to say they fall pretty flat.

Which is when they take a more direct course of action and go from polite family meddling (if that is even a thing when you are stalking your older sister) to full on invasion of privacy as Rui steals Hina’s phone while she’s in the bathroom. They then try to call the cheating guy and have Rui break up with him but Rui’s just not up to the task and pretty much stammers and hangs up. Again, cute moment for Rui and Natsuo together but still not much forward progress on the grand plan.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 4 Rui and Natsuo

It does mean that we see Natsuo point out that it isn’t Rui’s fault and that he never should have asked the impossible of her in the first place while they lament about their failure at the cafe. This is when our old friend coincidence kicks in again and Hina and Shuu, the cheating guy, enter the cafe. Normally this kind of thing would annoy me but from this story that has been heavily reliant on coincidence from the get-go to keep the drama moving it was more or less expected and the timing was pretty well done.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 4 Everyone in the cafe - Awkward

I also like that they guy didn’t just give up because Natsuo and Rui insisted he break up with Hina. Like many people who are cheating, he actually had seemed to convince himself that he wasn’t in the wrong and that it just wasn’t possible ‘yet’ to do the right thing. While Hina continued to suck up his lines Rui lost her cool and flung her water in his face before bolting with Natsuo hot on her heels.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 4 Rui and Natsuo

This actually led to something I really did like about this whole situation. At this point, Hina is the one with the final choice. The guy is still trying to feed her lines and clearly is happy to continue their relationship as is, so Hina is able to maintain the status quo. However, she can also choose to finally end things. While the last couple of episodes have done a good job of painting Hina as a little bit pathetic, it was nice to see her have the final agency in this little arc before it was concluded with a saccharine sweet family moment at the end of the episode.

So, in case you are wondering, I’m still loving the drama and still think this show goes very well with popcorn.

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Karandi James
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STEAM GIFT CARD (USD 100)
STEAM GIFT CARD (USD 100)

Solid Visuals, Great Music, Average Most Everything Else

Kaguya Sama: Love is War Post Title

Kaguya-Sama: Love is War Episode 3 Review

There is no denying that Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is a very slick production. Visually it is really fun to look at with strong colour choices, great character designs, and some really interesting visualisations during the conflicts. The sound is equally well done, though I have to wonder what was with this week’s ED as that was just kind of odd.

The problem is once again a case of fans of the source over-selling everything else when this adaption started. With regular comparisons to the mind games of Death Note and the endless amount of praise for these characters and the writing in general, even with a sensible amount of lowering the expectation, they’d really talked it up.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Shirogane

But… here we have Shinomiya acting all proud and haughty having had her first time when it was obvious the punch line was going to be that she misunderstood the concept. The fact that it took Shirogane and Fujiwara so long to figure it out was just painful and to be honest I’ve never really found jokes made at the expense of a lack of sex education particularly hilarious. So there weren’t really any clever mind games going on, the dialogue was all pretty ordinary, and the punch-line telegraphed from the start with no actual twist to spice it up. All and all, the first skit here falls pretty flat.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Fujiwara

Then we move into a game of twenty questions. This one actually did have some psychological drama going on and yet still the punch line was obvious. They made an unmissable reference to the dog at the start of the skit, and anyone who has been watching knows Shinomiya’s personality at this point in time. Again, Shirogane taking so long to click and allowing himself to think otherwise just undermines how clever he’s supposed to be.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Shinomiya

Finally, the last of the segments, and this one I liked, but that’s because it wasn’t an attempted mind game falling flat or even a battle. Instead we just got to see Shinomiya walking to school for the first time and after helping a younger student she runs into Shirogane who is also running late and ends up getting her to ride on the back of his bike. It’s just a daily bit of life but both characters felt far more genuine and without the forced and strained dialogue when the anime is trying to be clever, they were both a lot more likeable.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Shirogane

This is by no means a bad anime, and from a production point of view it is pretty great. However, the hype around episode one and the expectations before it started didn’t do it any favours. The ‘war’ between the protagonists is fairly juvenile and most of the schemes are either transparent or ridiculous. Personally, I’d prefer just to see more of these two characters in genuine day to day situations rather than the contrived and forced ‘battles’ they set up in the student council room. Though clearly, that would be an entirely different show.

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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1