Heartfelt Moment Undermined By ‘Humorous’ Conclusion

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Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 12 Review

For the first half of this episode I thought this was an absolutely brilliant way for this series to go out. Really was loving it. And then… well, then we got to the second part. See the whole way through this series I’ve really loved the moments where the characters have been allowed to just be characters and interact rather than the contrived matches between the main pair, so seeing Shinomiya genuinely upset by not being allowed to go to the fireworks and Shirogane and the others rallying to help her was really a great emotional moment with a lot of pay-off.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Shinomiya crying

This was each of the characters at their best. No forced humour or awkwardly intrusive narration. Just a girl upset and the overly dramatic solution with her escaping her house and then her frantic rush to reach the wharf in time, only for it to end in failure. That was so incredibly sad and they held that moment just long enough before Shirogane turned up and delivered such an incredibly overblown line and yet it was utterly perfect for the moment.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Shinomiya and Shirogane running

Watching them run together, meeting up with Fujiwara and Ishigami and getting in the taxi. Even the taxi driver going all out and probably breaking multiple road rules in order to get them to their destination in time all just worked. It was a well paced, well executed, fun and emotional climax to a series that I’ve found very hit or miss.

And I haven’t even talked about how on point the music was during this episode or how beautiful the fireworks were.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Fireworks

And then…

Well then we go back to school.

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The president is freaking out because he thinks that he acted foolishly in the moment. Shinomiya is all nervous because she wants to say thank you. The narration is back. The forced conflict is back. Its all just awkward and painful to watch and really about as far from amusing as you can get without actually just sitting in a room full of socially awkward people avoiding eye-contact for ten minutes.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Shinomiya and Shirogane crossing paths

For a brief span I thought episode 12 was actually going to be the episode that made me think overall I liked the series more than I didn’t. But that second half reminded me of everything I find irritating about the entire set up and mostly while there are some great moment overall I’ve mostly found this one misses the mark for me. I’ll be going back through my episode notes and thinking about my final review of this series a lot, but the bottom line is going to end up being that this just isn’t my kind of show.

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Foolish Hearts and Foolish Choices

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Domestic Girlfriend Episode 11 Review

The drama continues in Domestic Girlfriend but as each of these characters insists on making fairly short sighted decisions I’m more at the point of just kind of watching to see what wrong turn they take next. Rui, for her part actually gets out of this episode fairly unscathed making a number of reasonably sensible choices. The biggest one being to simply push Natsuo away from her thoughts and not hold a grudge against her sister. That could have gotten ugly and certainly would have strained the family relations and so Rui is actually acting the most sensible of any of these characters right at this point.

Rui - Domestic Girlfriend - Episode 11

Unfortunately, Rui being reasonably sensible doesn’t help Natsuo and Hina who are apparently just born to be stupid in love.

Still, before I tear Natsuo down too much, he did do one smart thing this episode (which if I said he’s stupid in love but not actually stupid). Shaken when Rui wins an honourable mention in the writing contest, Natsuo decides he needs to start taking writing seriously if he ever is going to pursue a career as a writer. Fortunately he’s more than determined enough and actually willing to work for it, so the progress made on this front is actually kind of pleasing to see this episode.

Advisor - Domestic Girlfriend - Episode 11

While I still find the adviser guy a little creepy and honestly hard to get a character reading on given he seems to fluctuate in whatever mode they need for the scene, his offering Natsuo advice is actually kind of nice to see and you could actually see these two developing a nice mentor/student relationship. Assuming of course he doesn’t flick back into creepy mode.

Natsuo and Hina - Domestic Girlfriend - Episode 11

However, Hina and Natsuo together are a terrible idea because they both just stop thinking. On a school trip, Hina invites Natsuo to her room to talk. There’s a whole lot of stupid just in that decision. Then Natsuo declares he wants to get more serious with her at the same time that she says they should break up. She then outlines some fairly clear and logical reasons why they should and he just rejects them out of hand. Why worry about reality when you have true love on the table, I guess is the reasoning but it just sounds so dumb. And she accepts it.

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Next thing they are making out and discussing when they fell in love and he even reveals he saw her masturbating that one time… This is while they are on a school trip and she is there in the capacity of the supervising teacher.

But it is all sunshine and roses because he asked her to marry him one day. It really is just a disaster you can’t look away from.

Natsuo and Hina fireworks - Domestic Girlfriend - Episode 11

By the time the end of the episode rolled around you’re just waiting for it and when Hina is called to see the head-teacher you more or less know what’s about to happen. Of course they end it there and I know I’ll watch it next week anyway because this is some great pop-corn worthy melodrama. It’s just terrible and yet unmissable all at once and the only question left is what stupid choices will they make next week?

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Natsuo, If You’re Going To Lie, Cover Your Tracks

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Domestic Girlfriend Episode 10 Review

Getting caught in a lie seems to be a theme this episode. First we have the literature club adviser away ‘sick’ for multiple days prompting his oh-so-concerned-students to go visit him at his home. Turns out he’s not sick. He’s actually an author, one that Natsuo is a fan of, and he’s just behind on his deadlines. He openly tells his students this while puffing on a cigarette and blatantly says he hasn’t told the school that he’s working on the side.

Um…

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 10
Model Teacher

Are any of the teachers at this school actually going to have any kind of moral or ethical standard?

However, that isn’t really a drama. It is more just foreshadowing lies coming apart which Natsuo, being a wannabe writer, should have paid more attention to given he’s been lying to Rui about where he’s been going for dinner and it is going to bite him.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 10 Natsuo fall down stairs

The next day at school he’s teasing the girl who like the literature teacher a little bit and she elbows him in the ribs, at the top of a staircase, sending him flying in a way that defies any kind of physics unless Natsuo actually launched himself backwards at the same time as she elbowed him, but let’s ignore that part of the story for now. After falling down the stairs he breaks his leg and so begins Rui in care-taker mode.

Do we even need to discuss how breaking a leg doesn’t prevent his hands or brain from working so why he really doesn’t need his step-sister to share a bath with him? This story has gone for a lot of contrivances in order to create drama and fairly uncomfortable situations like the one we get where Rui is reaching for the soap in the dark bathroom (yeah, you can see where they go with that already). While usually these aren’t too intrusive, the way they blow a broken leg out of proportion here is insane.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 10 Rui
Pouting Rui is still pretty cute.

Yet, despite how many things he apparently can’t do on his own in this scene because of a broken leg, later on his father apparently has no issue with his son going out in the rain and one crutch to find a missing step-sister.

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Anyway, Rui ends up at the cafe and finds out that Natsuo hasn’t been going to his friend’s place and so calls Natsuo on it, and he lies again. Not only that, at the next opportunity he lies to Rui again saying he’s going to apologise to his friend and off he goes to Hina’s house, where Rui later finds him having confirmed he isn’t at his friends house.

So, drama.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 10

Despite how idiotic the plot is here and how overblown everything is, I can’t say I actually dislike it. Outside of the bathroom scene, I actually quite enjoyed watching the train wreck that is Natsuo’s life right at the moment. Still, wondering how exactly this one will wrap up.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 10 Anime Maids
Also, random maid montage at the beginning as part of the school festival because why not?

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Is It Terrible If I Call This Episode ‘The Cold War’?

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Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 9 Review

Well, turns out Shinomiya is just another anime girl. I guess we kind of knew that already, but Kaguya-Sama Love is War have really worked at making her slightly different from our standard romantic heroine. But, here we go. She gets a little wet in the rain (okay, she got drenched) and suddenly she catches the most horrid of anime woes, a cold.

I will never fully understand the over-reaction anime characters seem to have to colds and fevers, nor the ridiculously fast turn around recovery. From death’s door to physically booting someone out of the room in about two seconds. That said, such is the plot of many an anime episode and it is almost as much a staple as the ‘beach’ episode or random fireworks moment.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 9

So the question really becomes whether or not Kaguya-Sama manages to portray a fairly overdone plot in an interesting manner?

For the most part I’d have to say yes.

While the initial set-up with Shinomiya refusing to actually just ask Shirogane to get a lift with her was pretty much same-old-eye-roll-worthy antics, after Shinomiya gets soaked the plot decides to stick with this set up for a bit.

Jumping to the following day, Fujiwara is excited about visiting Shinomiya at home because apparently when she’s sick she gets super cute. For some reason that turns into a game of concentration to see which student council member will visit her and after Fujiwara is caught cheating once, and then outsmarted by her own trick, Shirogane wins the ‘privilege’ of visiting a sick Shinomiya.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 9

Sick Shinomiya is kind of exaggerated to the point of insanity but it does lead to a couple of cute and almost honest moments before the episode draws to an end, she wakes from her fevered state and throws the President out.

Still, favourite moment of the episode comes early on when she describes Fujiwara as an ‘element of chaos’. That line actually did make me laugh because it is such a beautifully accurate description of the role Fujiwara has played so far in this story.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 9

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

Making Choices and Hearing Truths

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Domestic Girlfriend Episode 8 Review

For some reason, this week Domestic Girlfriend has added in a new character. A male student at Natsuo’s school who has returned from overseas and intersperses English amongst his fairly over the top dialogue. Not sure what his purpose going forward is but he didn’t serve much purpose in this episode other than to kill some time before Natsuo spotted a rumoured underwear thief and the two of them chased him down.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 8

Then again, he did manage to make a reason for Rui to get annoyed at Natsuo. Alex asked Natsuo to set him up with Rui and when Natsuo tentatively started trying to get Rui to meet him she slammed a knife down on the counter and stormed out of the room. See, communication is a wonderful thing.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 8
Awkward

Anyway, that then allows Natsuo to take food to her room which leads to them making out before being caught by Hina.

And all of this drama is simply leading to Natsuo finally having an actual conversation with Hina at the festival they go to, after Hina announces she’s moving out on her own, and the two of them more or less admit they like each other. You know, the whole teacher/student sister/brother thing aside. I love how they didn’t even try to address those issues but we get a hand holding scene at the end so I guess we’re supposed to think its all sweet.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 8

I’m just waiting for Rui to lose it.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 9 Review

Unexpectedly, this episode begins with Rui running into Hina’s former flame and the two end up at the cafe, accompanied by the literature club adviser. I keep wondering what ethics or code teachers in Japan are supposed to be following because anime does not do a great job of showing much of a line between teachers and students.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 9

Keeping going with that same kind of idea we have Hina leaving Natsuo a key to her new place. After a hard day of moving, Natsuo returns and the two have a bit of a kissing session before Hina puts the breaks on the whole thing. It seems really weird that she’s accepted that she is going to be involved in a relationship that is questionable from a number of points of view but she doesn’t seem to want to dive in.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 9

Not sure that kissing a student at school is a particularly good move mind you if the idea is to keep the breaks on the relationship.

Anyway, Alex joins the literature club so apparently his character is going to keep hanging around. I still don’t get the point of his character mind you but there he is.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 9
This however sounded and looked delicious.

I will admit I was a little underwhelmed by the developments here and while that is kind of to be expected given this has always been a melodrama, previously I was a lot more caught up in what each of these characters were doing. Now it is kind of going through the motions as we set up for the next train wreck.

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NO GAME NO LIFE ZERO B2 WALL SCROLL: SCHWI
NO GAME NO LIFE ZERO B2 WALL SCROLL: SCHWI

Domestic Dramas and More Mundane High School Problems

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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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When In Doubt, Just Pile On More Characters and Stir

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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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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