Three Big Lies We Tell Ourselves in the Face of Love


Bloom Into You is full of characters who tell themselves lies – but are these lies we tell ourselves?

Watching Bloom Into You, despite finding Yuu’s struggle to reconcile her rational mind and her feelings fascinating and beautifully nuanced in the way it is presented, really makes me frustrated. I’m watching a character who is clearly genuinely in love with another, who has opportunity after opportunity to act on her emotions with few genuine obstacles, and yet time and time again, she creates a barrier between herself and the object of her affection.

Bloom Into You Episode 5

It almost makes me wonder how they’ll play it at the end. If the end up together, Nanami probably deserved better than being strung along by Yuu for so long before Yuu finally accepted what was true from nearly the beginning. If they don’t end up together, than Nanami will be Yuu’s one-who-got-away and she’ll have nobody to blame but herself and her own self-deception and indecision. Either way, while it might seem sweet and it certainly keeps the story moving, the reality is that if this romance were not a fictional construct, this would be a really bad place for the characters to be in.

While it might seem fine to see it as only a work of fiction and to dismiss these characters as exaggerated for affect, these characters, like many others in anime, really do seem to echo their creators and when it comes to love, you have to admit, people do some pretty silly things.

Bloom Into You Episode 3

So Yuu represents the first big lie that people tell themselves. It isn’t love. Yuu is hardly the first anime character to convince herself that what she is feeling isn’t love. She joins a long list of anime characters who insist that they just like the other person, or worse, that they are just playing around. For Yuu, she’s convinced herself that she admires Nanami for all of her outstanding qualities, but that is normal. It isn’t love.

We see a more extreme case of this in Ririchiyo Shirakin who not only doesn’t really she is feeling love (or at least strong like) but manages to self diagnose herself with potential arrhythmia. Now, I’ll admit that most people are at least aware enough of their own emotions to understand that they aren’t genuinely feeling ill when they get that tightness in their chest or their heart goes doki-doki, but Ririchiyo is a fairly special case in terms of being unaware of how to deal with emotions.

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And when we ask why do characters do this and make statements about how dumb it is and why can’t they just be honest… You start to think why don’t people in real life. Why aren’t people honest about how they feel?

Which actually brings us to the second great lie that people tell themselves. I’m fine the way things are. This one is illustrated through Sayaka in Bloom Into You. As Nanami’s friend she wants more but for various reasons has decided that she’s fine with things the way they are. She isn’t honest at all about what she wants from Nanami but still feels jealous when she sees how close Nanami is getting to Yuu.

Bloom Into You Episode 6 Sayaka

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So why wasn’t Sayaka just honest about how she felt? 

Because, like most sensible people, she was afraid of losing what she had. It wasn’t so much that she was fine with things, but more the loss of what she had was more than she was willing to gamble. If she’d thought she’d had a sure chance, she might have made a move, but there’s no certainty in love. And with Sayaka’s background, can you blame her? Dumped by her former senpai who then made her feel twisted and wrong about her sexual preferences, Sayaka isn’t exactly wanting to dive head first into another relationship. She’s got plenty of reason to doubt and more than enough reason to try to hold onto what she has.


But, Sayaka isn’t alone in this. In fact, she shares this trait not only with many anime characters and people, but she also shares this trait with another Sayaka. Sayaka Miki from Madoka Magica who uses her one wish to save the one she loves and allow him to play his violin again but in all the time he was hospitalised, despite visiting him, talking with him, being with him, Sayaka never once confesses how she feels. And then her friend announces that she’s going to confess and Sayaka is left in an absolute state of turmoil which more or less leads to her downfall. 

So could Sayaka Miki have confessed? Was she fine the way things were? It is kind of too late to know but these characters represent the very real fear people feel about being open and honest with their feelings and the very real potential downside of holding off too long.

Bloom Into You Episode 1

Finally, Nanami gives us the third type of lie people tell themselves in the face of love. Even if you don’t love me back, I’m fine just loving you. One sided, unrequited love makes for excellent story fodder but the reality of it is pretty crushing over time. No matter how generous a person is, pouring love and affection toward another and receiving nothing back is exhausting and for most not something that can be sustained (most, not all). Nanami tells Yuu it is fine if she doesn’t fall in love. Later she tells Yuu not to fall in love with her. Yet despite that, Nanami keeps pushing the relationship forward wanting more and more from Yuu.

No matter what Nanami says her actions speak louder than her words. Her request of Yuu at the sports carnival, that Yuu initiate a kiss, speaks volumes. Nanami wants Yuu to reciprocate. She doesn’t want to be holding up a one sided affection. While she rationalises and says that she’s fine just being in love, ultimately what she wants is more than that.


Looking at another anime character, Linda from Golden Time tries very hard to wish Banri the best. She loved him but because of his accident he forgot her and she left to let him move on with his life. Reunited, she tells herself that she honestly wants Banri to have the life he chooses but deep inside it is killing her to see the boy she loved not know who she is and with Koko. Admittedly, the amnesia aspect of that makes it somewhat less relatable to the average viewer, but it is still an interesting love story.

Bloom Into You is a beautiful anime. The direction, the music, the characters are all beautifully put together. But where it gets a lift beyond just being another pretty anime about high school love is in its exploration of people in love and the lies they tell themselves. This is what makes this story and the characters compelling and brings us back week after week. That and it is just really pretty.

Bloom Into You Episode 6 Nanami and Yuu

Well, if you made it to the end of this ramble, I’d love to know your thoughts on love in Bloom Into You or in anime in general.

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Karandi James

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 26: An Emotional Bomb



This episode is pure and simple emotional manipulation, however it does it so incredibly well. Actually, probably as close to perfect as any individual anime episode will get. If it doesn’t get you crying in the first part where we find out the circumstances behind Hina’s tears at the end of the previous episode, or after Rei runs after her and heals some of his own trauma from her words, or after they go to the library together, then the scene at the end where they return to the house and the Grandfather gives Hina’s actions the validation they needed (her situation still sucks but at least someone told her she had done the right thing), will get you. It is a fantastically orchestrated emotional rollercoaster that in twenty minutes will take you through sadness, empathy, reflection, grief, loss, calm, and then release.


Though it is more how this is delivered that works rather than what. This isn’t the first show to deal with middle school bullying, nor will it be the last. However, March Comes in Like a Lion finds the perfect images to reflect each of the emotions it is trying to craft and matches them beautifully with sound and movement. There’s a real understanding of emotions at work here and it is on display for all to see.


The choice to cover three chapters of the manga (most episodes only cover 2 and the only reason I know this is because the episode titles tell us where we are up to), was a very good call. The episode begins, narrated by Rei, the outsider. He is looking in on Hina’s pain and hearing about it and in the process reflecting on his own pain. We then shift to Hina’s narration, which personalises the issues but gives us glimpses of hope because she isn’t broken. She’s definitely feeling down but she is not out. Just a bit lost and looking for a lifeline to carry her through until she can find her own feet again. Lastly, we shift back to Rei to conclude the episode. Again, it really reflects the tone of the story, creates a compelling emotional journey and the switching viewpoint just drives home the emotions the show wants to convey.


So yes, two weeks in a row March has made me cry. Last week was more because of where my own emotions were about life but this week the show itself just hit hard. I held out until the final act of the episode but seeing Hina’s face as her grandfather told her how proud he was of her actions did me in.

I still get that this show won’t be for everyone but if you’ve never tried the first season and you have access, I seriously recommend at least trying it.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 21



21 episodes and finally we have this:


Rei felt connected and was happy. And you know what? This was an incredibly quiet moment buried in an episode but right there was the moment I felt absolutely satisfied having watched this show. Rei hasn’t done a complete 180 as a character. He isn’t completely set up now and ready to face the world. But he’s made the vital change that’s been needed and because we’ve watched him agonising as he’s worked toward it and every step of the way his emotions have been put front and centre, this one breakthrough actually beat out watching any shonen protagonist take down a final boss.

I am glad however that there is another episode to go as I’d like to know more about how Rei is planning to move forward from this point. On the brightest side though, he returned to the sisters’ house at the end of the episode which really did feel like a step forward. Speaking of the sisters, they managed to make a large chunk of the episode about food again and reminded us just how adorable they can all be sometimes.


Anyway, I’ve loved this series and the ending is not disappointing so far. Looking forward to the final episode.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchryoll.

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Karandi James.


March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 8


March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 8 Review:

The shogi lesson continues in March Comes in Like a Lion and we see more of how Rei responds to Nikaidou’s presence in his life. I love how Rei says he feels suffocated when he spends time with Nikaidou but it didn’t seem to be directed at Nikaidou himself and more the way Nikaidou makes Rei feel about himself. It was a great scene (though I’m not entirely sold on listening to the cats sing about Shogi again).

However, the final part of this episode has Kyouko (Rei’s older sister after he’s adopted) visit ad this is where I really got interested in the episode. So many questions about the history between these two characters and there are just so many layers to their relationship.

Ultimately we’re left with Kyouko essentially trying to rattle Rei before a match and the question of whether or not he will actually be able to play his best or whether he will crumble under the pressure, but that was kind of just the icing on the cake of the emotional currents that ran through this entire segment of the episode.

Anyway, still loving this series. March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.

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Karandi James

Feature: A little too real (or why I’m putting Free on hold)

free promotional image 1

A little while back I started watching Free. It was an anime that I’d heard all the hype about and utterly and completely ignored. Good looking guys swimming. Whatever. Anyway, given over the last 12 months I finally started giving sports anime a go, and given I’ve found quite a few anime that didn’t normally fit into my preconceived notion of their genre, I finally decided to give Free a look. Unfortunately, I won’t be finishing Free this year so I won’t be reviewing it as a series, but I kind of felt I needed to explain why. So not so much a feature today as a brief explanation.

I’ve gotten to episode 6 and this is where I’m leaving this series for the time being. And it isn’t because it hasn’t been interesting or engaging. In fact, I’ve really loved the episodes I’ve watched. The characters are actually surprisingly interesting and have a lot more depth than I would have assumed from anything I’d seen prior to watching the series.

The story is pretty basic but it is the characters driving the show. It’s pretty to look at (and I’m not just talking about the guys) and the music is fantastically well suited to the show. All of this means that if you were sitting on the fence about watching Free, I’d recommend at least giving it a go. Maybe it won’t grab you but it certainly isn’t the vapid viewing experience I assumed I was getting into.

So why am I putting Free on hold?

My reason for putting this on hold is personal. I have issues with water and particularly with drowning. Normally, this doesn’t interfere with my viewing experience.


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Watch Another. Characters go to the beach and start messing around. It’s a horror anime and nobody died yet that episode. Of course this was going to end tragically. The biggest surprise in that sequence was that it wasn’t actually a drowning. That sort of anime doesn’t try to get you emotionally invested in the characters and the deaths are sensationalized to the point where you don’t really feel it as a death. No issues watching that.

Going into Free, particularly once I realised there was a character who couldn’t swim at first, I expected them to have a near drowning encounter. I kind of expected this to be quasi-dramatic and then maybe we’d get the start of a mouth to mouth sequence that would lead us into a typical anime moment of blushing or whatever. I expected that and I expected to be just fine with it when it happened.

Then they go to the ocean. Taking a character who has only just learned to swim into the ocean? Right. Now I’m concerned.

And then that character chooses to go in alone, at night.

While I like that anime can given an emotional response, anxiety is not the emotion I’m really looking for. I did get through the sequence and I did watch the next episode just to confirm that all the characters are in fact fine, but right now every time I think about finishing series I just kind of see him going under, the first rescuer freezing, the others coming in, and it all just is too much for me.

I’m going to give Free some credit for actually making me care about the characters and their situation enough that nearly drowning someone had that much impact on me. And I am going to go back and finish this eventually. But for now, I’m giving myself space from it so I’ll probably pick it up again next year sometime.

Not much of a feature, sorry, but I do have to ask: Were there any anime that hit too close for you?

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Karandi James