Top 5 Anime Valentine Episodes

Anime Valentine Episodes

Well it is Valentine’s Day so today I’m counting down my top 5 favourite Valentine episodes. This was actually harder than it sounded because while I know I have watched a million different anime versions of Valentine’s Day (seriously, this was not an exaggeration at all) I really struggled to remember which shows they were in. And that’s because they are all pretty much the same.

My list ended up being based on which episodes stuck with me (which will explain some of the weird choices). Feel free to add your favourite Valentine episode in the comments below.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Number 5: Vampire Knight

Yuki in a memorable Valentine Episode feeding Zero chocolate.

While I’m not the biggest Vampire Knight fan (way too Twilight in anime form and I was too old when this came out to really appreciate the brooding teen romance element), I must admit the Valentine’s Day episode is memorable. Screaming fan girls, crowd control, Zero actually being kind of nice and getting punched for it, a couple of broken hearts and all and all it is a perfectly watchable Valentine episode.

Which is more than can be said for Yuki’s attempt at handmaking chocolate. Not entirely sure how you manage to mess that up but somehow she not only manages to make a disaster out of the kitchen but the single chocolate ball she creates is, if Zero’s reaction is anything to go by, unpalatable.

Number 4: Acchi Kocchi

Acchi.gif

Alright this is one of my weirder choices for best Valentine Episode and yet Acchi Kocchi definitely deserves the place on the list. It isn’t that anything particularly different happens in this episode. Its Valentine’s Day and Tsumiki wants to make chocolates for Io but he doesn’t like plain chocolates so she’s making mousse. That’s all pretty standard but the reason this episode sticks is because of Mayoi and her surprise chocolates.

Surprising because she claims she put frog meat in them after feeding them to the guys. Of course, she wouldn’t be Mayoi if she left it there. She follows this up with coating Tsumiki’s lips with chocolate flavoured lipstick and pushes her toward Io. Fortunately Io is a gentlemen (or at least smart enough not to put up with Mayoi’s rubbish) and manages to come out of the situation more or less unscathed though Tsumiki might have exploded. In short it is Valentine’s Day the way only Acchi Kocchi could do it.

Number 3: Fruits Basket 2001

Fruits.jpg

This Valentine’s Episode is pretty straight forward in the original Fruits Basket anime. Tohru decides to make everybody chocolate however when she is about to give it to everyone Kyo, who is annoyed with Kagura, declares he hates chocolate. He is then guilt tripped into eating both Kagura’s and Tohru’s chocolate. It isn’t a profound episode but I really like Kyo as a character so I kind of enjoyed this moment.

With so many super sweet moments across its run having a Valentine Episode that still stands out is no easy feat so extra points to Fruits Basket for managing that and getting the mix of comedy and sweetness pretty spot on.

Number 2: Kimi Ni Todoke

Sawako.jpg

Honestly, this should be number 1 on my list of favourite anime Valentine Episodes. The reason it isn’t is because Sawako doesn’t give him the chocolates. So frustrating (though not unusual for Kimi ni Todoke). She gives chocolates to everyone else but then questions the meaning behind the chocolates she wants to give Kazehaya and after hearing he won’t accept chocolates with real feelings she hesitates and loses her chance.

As much as I love this show, this episode is really frustrating. Certainly it is memorable and he does eventually get given the chocolates but Valentine’s Day is not a particularly happy one in this series.

Number 1: My Love Story

My Love.png

At first I thought this was going to go down the same path as Kimi ni Todoke but thank goodness Yamato from My Love Story is a lot tougher than Sawako. While the group date is pleasant it is her arrival at his house later with the most ridiculously over the top Valentine’s cake ever. It is adorable. And honestly, who doesn’t want that cake?

There they are, my top 5 Valentine’s episodes.

What anime Valentine Episode would you have chosen?


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


Top 5: Christmas Episodes in Anime

sawako christmas

I will admit, I am not the biggest fan of Christmas episodes whether they be in anime or anything else. They all kind of feel the same after awhile.

When narrowing down the list I decided to stick with shows where I just enjoyed the Christmas episode rather than found it a bit of a tag on annoyance. That said, Christmas isn’t as pervasive in anime as Valentines or New Years so trying to remember which shows actually focussed on Christmas proved a bit of a challenge.

As always, I’d love to know your favourite episodes below.

Favourite Christmas Episodes in Anime

Honourable mentions to Haruhi Suzumiya (not an episode but the movie focussed on Christmas), Clannad After Story, and the Sailor Moon second movie (again not an episode).

Number 5: Karin Chibi Vampire

Episode 19 gives us a Christmas Eve episode where both Karin and her friend Maki are trying to make gifts for the objects of their affections. It isn’t all happy news for the pair but there’s enough sweetness in this episode to make it an uplifting experience for the most part. That and it seems like another logical step in Karin and Usui’s relationship rather than an added in episode for the sake of having a Christmas episode.

Number 4: Hayate Combat Butler

Hayate.jpg

Alright, this one probably isn’t really capturing the spirit of Christmas given his parents leave him their debt and run away and then Hayate tries to kidnap someone (fairly unsuccessfully) but Santa’s dream response to Hayate asking why he didn’t get a present is pretty amusing.

Again, the Christmas element doesn’t feel like an add in because it is used to make you feel genuinely sorry for Hayate and the end result is reasonably positive (unless you truly feel that Hayate got a bad deal having to work for Nagisa) so go Christmas.



Number 3: Sword Art Online

SAO - Nicholas.png

Definitely not capturing the spirit of Christmas, I liked this episode because it tapped in to a few different ideas.

Firstly this Christmas episode consolidates the fact that death is going to be final in the game world. Sachi is dead and all of Kirito’s actions won’t bring her back. Secondly, it presents Santa in a way you never wanted to see him and visually this is one of the more interesting boss’ that show up in the series. And finally, I like this episode because there are events in games and they do tie in to holidays so this just worked.

Plus it kind of broke my heart as they gave us a promise  of resurrection, we watched Kirito fight to even get to the location of the event, Klein first trying to stop Kirito and then assisting him to get to where he needed to be, watched Kirito succeed at defeating the boss, and then the realisation that it won’t help him anyway because of the time limit. Everything about this episode was perfect (though perhaps not really within the spirit of Christmas).

Number 2: Kobato

A near love triangle resolved when one of the suitors bows out realising the girl he likes only has eyes for one guy. Using the Christmas episode as a chance to get the two together is just the great kind of excuse everyone needs. Except that the guy in question (Fujimoto) has genuine issues about being abandoned on Christmas Eve so his surly tone for the earlier parts of this episode are completely understandable even if he is misdirecting some of that angst at Kobato.

And Kobato doesn’t really get Christmas anyway and is just fluttering along as always. Still, this episode marks a change in the tone of the show and the central relationship being built and so is pretty important from a plot point of view.

Number 1: Kimi ni Todoke

Christmas episode - Kimi ni todoke

The class Christmas party that Sawako couldn’t go to because… she never got up the nerve to ask her parents? This episode was a really important one as we saw Sawako actually want something more than just Kazahaya to speak with her and we saw her genuinely struggle as she didn’t want to let her parents down. More importantly, she finally comes to the realisation that perhaps she’s been too considerate and it is okay to want things.

Good thing her parents are both alive (a novelty in anime) and actually pretty supportive and understanding. She might not get to see much of the class party but it’s enough that she did actually develop another step as a character.

So that’s my top 5 but I’ve probably missed a bunch so feel free to tell us about your favourite Christmas episodes in anime.


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


Feature: On Romance in Anime

shirayuki and zen 2

One of my first top 5 lists was a list of my favourite romantic anime. While romance isn’t my favourite genre, it has always held a warm spot in my heart as romance done well can really move me emotionally and linger with me well after it is finished. So what are some of the common features of sweet and romantic anime? And what do you like in your romance?

Romance in anime – what do we usually see?

01. For the most part they are focused on the female in the relationship. While some shows (particularly a few in recent years) have portrayed romance from a male’s point of view (or at least a male character’s point of view) the majority of romance focused anime follow the girl.

This isn’t really surprising given the target audience for most romance anime are girls and as a general rule the romantic genre appeals more to a female audience. And while there are a lot of self-insert girls out there with limited personality besides a love of cooking and cleaning, because romance is such a prolific genre what we find are an array of female leads. From the super shy and fairly stereotypical right through to the oblivious and aggressive.

But that’s what makes romance so great is that if one doesn’t work for you there are plenty of other characters and romances to follow.

2018 turned out to be a bumper year for including a range of relationships and we saw monsters in love with humans, same sex couples, age gap couples and more or less any kind of relationship you’d like to see unfold. It was fantastic to see the diverse range on offer and hopefully we’ll see this trend continue to give us great couples of all shapes and sizes so that everyone can find something to love.

02. This one isn’t in every anime but it is a common feature. The love interest starts out being kind of a jerk and the girl doesn’t like him very much. Then something happens and suddenly she sees him in a new light.



This is actually pretty standard in all romances really (and a staple of romantic comedies) and it probably exists because otherwise you have to introduce external tension and conflict early on before the characters have really been established. By creating tension between the two you can focus more or less entirely on the characters without boring the audience to death with their adoring stares.

I’m not the biggest fan of this particular cliché because I’ve never understood why the girl continues to interact with someone who is that much of a jerk, but I do understand from a narrative point of view why it works. Besides, Tomoe may have been nasty to Nanami (Kamisama Kiss) but he still ends up being one of my favourite male leads in a romance.

Of course, if we look at BL we’ll see a whole lot of incredibly horrible characters that end up being the love interest and while some work hard to try and redeem the character, it is still a trope I’d like to see vanish. At the same time, BL has come a long way and there’s a lot more variety these days.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Takato
Romance in anime

03. The epiphany moment. Despite being in a romance, the characters tend to be unusually dense about their emotions and the state of their relationship. Either one or both of the characters needs to realise they are actually in love or that the other one actually likes them or something. Usually this is accompanied by sparkles, tears, or sometimes a punch because why not.

However it is the reveal moment for the character that the audience have been waiting for forever because the character is usually the last to realise it. But hey, at least most of us don’t believe we have arrhythmia because our heart starts beating fast at the sight of the guy (Inu X Boku SS).

horriblesubs-inu-x-boku-secret-service-04-720p-mkv_snapshot_04-20_2012-02-03_22-04-52

04. There’s almost always a rival. Again, this is one of those necessary staples in order to inject some sort of tension or conflict into a story that is basically two people staring into each other’s eyes ad nausea and rivals can add quite a bit of personality to the story.

Probably my favourite rival ever is Kurumi from Kimi ni Todoke. That’s mostly because she pretty much demonstrates every characteristic a rival might have rather than just being one type. It’s kind of interesting to watch her character transition.

While I don’t like her manipulative efforts early on (and we aren’t supposed to) you have to admit, Kurumi is a hard worker and ultimately she wasn’t really a nasty person so much as someone who was very driven by her goals. What makes her truly exceptional is that when she finally does confess and get turned down, she accepts this with reasonable grace and uses it as a chance to grow a bit as a person. A little bit. She still stirs the pot occasionally but mostly she moves on.

05. In anime romance tends to only get to the confession and dating stage, again there are exceptions. The vast majority finish the final episode on the confession, the first date, or a kiss and that is as much as we are getting of that story. Then again, given how red most of the characters get just trying to say the name of the person they are in love with I guess we can’t expect much more from them and it really isn’t needed given its the emotion of the relationship that has been conveyed.

snow-white-with-the-red-hair-episode-10

There’s probably a cultural reason for this trend and it isn’t as if the romance is any worse for the lack of physical displays of affection, however it is interesting watching teenage characters get flustered over eye contact or brushing their finger tips.

Well, that does it from me today. What are your favourite parts of romantic anime or what is your favourite romantic anime?


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


Top 5: Romantic Anime (updated July 2021)

Top 5 Romantic Anime

Once again I’m dusting off the list for top 5 Romantic Anime. Will the anime already on the list manages to hold onto their position of have newcomers knocked them down. I last updated the list in 2019 and we had My Love Story, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Bloom Into You, Snow White With The Red Hair on the list with Kimi ni Todoke taking the top spot.

I’m going to be honest, in the last two years I’ve watched a lot of romantic anime, both old and new, and the list is going to be shaken up a bit as some of my preferences have changed.

As always, I’d love to know what my readers think are the top 5 romantic anime so be sure to leave a comment below.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Romantic Anime Number 5: Recovery of an MMO Junkie

I honestly don’t know why this one spoke to me the way it did but I loved this story. Maybe it was the older characters. Maybe it was seeing them fumbling their way toward a relationship.

All I know is that I found Morioka and Sakurai’s relationship utterly charming in this sweet comedy about two fairly awkward human beings. Both on and offline these two are exactly who the other one needs and I really do hope they live happily ever after.

I wouldn’t mind more romantic anime like this that just kind of meandered about sweetly before giving us some smiles at the end.

Romantic Anime Number 4: Given

Given ended up being my favourite romantic anime from 2019 and honestly, it is definitely in fighting position for best of all time, though I feel there’s still quite a bit of story to go beyond what the first season of the anime gave us and the follow-up movie didn’t focus on the main couple.

Still, given I have the main characters hanging on my wall watching over me as I type away on my laptop I’m guessing this anime left a lasting impression.

It is a boy’s love anime but manages to avoid a lot of the usual tropes associated with the genre and instead plays out as a straight forward romance between two pretty awkward teenagers (who are both boys adding another layer of complexity to dealing with their emotions).

This one is sweet and the characters will charm you and the final song will blow you away.

Advertisements

Romantic Anime Number 3: Akagami no Shirayuki

This one was one I fell instantly in love with. At it’s core it really is a fairy tale romance (hence the Snow White with the Red Hair) title but it is so much more. It has characters that feel fleshed out and real (even if they are all overly sweet at heart) and Shirayuki is perhaps my favourite female lead in any romance.

While Akagamie no Shirayuki has once again not made the top spot, Shirayuki is one of my favourite female leads in a romance ever, as she is confident and self-reliant but still falls in love and has to find the balance in herself.

Partnered with Zen (I still don’t get that name), this is a fantastic couple. Zen isn’t useless so that the girl can show her stuff. He is capable in his own right and has his own life aside from pursuing and saving the girl (though he certainly does do that as well). If you just want something sweet but do not want to see the simpering girl pining for the guy or being dependent on him, this is the romantic anime for you.



Romantic Anime Number 2: Kimi ni Todoke

This show almost defines love story. So Kazehaya and Sawako’s relationship moves incredibly slowly, but it remains the focus of the series even while we see Sawako develop her other relationships and the usual school events (sports carnivals and festivals) occur.

While the slow pace might frustrate some, it feels necessary given initially the large gap between the protagonists experiences and expectations. Besides, even Sawako’s friends agree that if she dated Kazehaya while still feeling indebted to him it wouldn’t really work out.

There is very little unexpected in this story, but the combination of characters and the way it is presented makes this a truly pleasurable watch. Well worth making it to the end of this romantic anime.

Romantic Anime Number 1: Fruits Basket Final Season

I understand that Fruits Basket is so much more than just a romantic anime and there’s a lot of other drama and character developments. That said, while watching The Final Season, while the emotional culmination of all the character journeys was great and finding out about the curse was awesome, the part that blew me away was Kyo and Tohru.

I can’t help it. Any scene with those two together was brilliant and The Final Season gave us so many great moments to choose from. Whether it was Kyo shyly giving Tohru a paper flower in the classroom, the hug through the washing, Kyo’s panicked reaction when… (well watch it) or the final, beautiful moment where the two finally came together…

Or was it when we had the epilogue that went literally forever and showed us the two still together all those years later?

I don’t know but I do know that for the right now Fruits Basket: The Final Season has emotionally blown any other romantic anime out of the water.

What are your favourite romantic anime or did I include yours on the list?


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


Up Close with Sawako Kuronuma

sawako kimi ni todoke 27672750 500 281

On first glance, Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke looks like the kind of female character I usually am either indifferent to or actively dislike. She’s shy and nervous, doesn’t speak up for herself, accepts it when others avoid her, and the early set up seems to be about the guy swooping in and saving the gloomy girl. Fortunately there is so much more to her character than meets the eyes and while the meeting with the guy might be a catalyst, it is Sawako’s own strength and endurance that sees her through situation after situation.

Though, I do like Kazehaya as a character and I’ll have to look at him at some point individually. Not to mention Kazehaya and Sawako ended up taking out the top spot for my top 5 list of romantic anime even beating Zen and Shirayuki.

Kimi ni Todoke - Sawako and Kazehaya

So how does Sawako manage to go from being the template example of a character I would normally dislike to a girl I was actively cheering for as she approached a soccer match, performed in a festival, and ultimately finally got to her confession scene (and did that take forever to get there)?

Well, Sawako won me over the same way she wins the characters in the anime over. Sawako is always true to herself. She’s always earnest and hard-working. She doesn’t blame anyone for the situation she is in but resolves to work hard to overcome it. And while not every situation can be beaten with a positive attitude and effort, Sawako’s determination and her willingness to help others slowly draws people to her once they look past her somewhat scary exterior and the rumours that have been swirling around her about her being able to see ghosts.

Kimi ni Todoke - Sawako

One of the earliest challenges we see Sawako take on is dealing with rumours spreading about her new friends. Sawako is used to being avoided and used to rumours spreading about her but it deeply hurt her when her friends seemed to be targeted. While Kazehaya gave Sawako some encouraging words, Sawako was the one who took action and confronted those spreading the rumours. In one scene Sawako maanged to set the record straight about the rumours and solidify her friendship with Chizuru and Ayane.

That isn’t to say it is all smooth sailing. Sawako is an unusually dense protagonist unable to pick up on a lot of social cues and the maddeningly slow pace of her beginning to interact with others and accept their feelings can be quite the put-off for those who just want the story to get moving. But still, Sawako’s journey is one of quiet inspiration. She shows people that just being willing to change things isn’t enough and just trying hard won’t always immediately yield results, but trying again and again without giving up might just get you where you need to be.

Kimi ni Todoke - Sawako at Christmas

While Sawako isn’t going to top any lists for being my favourite character ever any time soon, she’s definitely a character I learned to love while watching her story and I know that whenever I’m feeling a little defeatist, watching a couple of episodes of Sawako will pick me up and get me ready to act again.

Thank you Sawako for being you.


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


Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
Kimi ni Todoke : From Me to You, Vol. 1
Kimi ni Todoke : From Me to You, Vol. 1

Friday’s Feature: It’s In His Kiss

As much as I love my action, dystopian futures, horror stories, and generally violent adventures, deep down inside I have a soft spot for a well told romance story. This comes from an upbringing of watching family friendly romantic comedies with my mother on weekends while folding piles of washing or ironing or other incredibly boring chores but the laughs and sweet stories of all those girls finding their one true love definitely left an impact. Now, if I have a choice of romance or action, I’ll probably pick the action, but every now and then I’m just in the mood for something a little bit sweeter and then out come the romances.

kamisama

However, as I sought out anime romances, one thing became incredibly clear to me. There are very few romances that fall into a moderate category. Romances either present as beautiful stories of chaste characters who blush at the mere sight of one another or they present as stories with super aggressive characters who rapidly push the age rating and most people’s comfort zones. And while every now and then we’ll stumble across a story of characters who will actually just fall in love and be a couple, the more common scenario is watching twenty to forty episodes with a couple who have barely managed to hold hands.

FMP1d
Yes, it is the third season after a 13 year gap, but Sousuke and Kaname finally confidently hold hands.

What this leaves us with, however, is a story that starts reading all sorts of things into fairly mundane actions. The ‘indirect’ kiss nonsense that comes up time and again is one particular example that really makes me roll my eyes. While admittedly, characters probably shouldn’t be drinking out of the same water bottle or sharing a straw or whatever (have these characters never considered glandular fever) the sheer fuss they put up about the possibility of an ‘indirect’ kiss is just insane sometimes. These characters literally melt into puddles of stammering and half the time end up dropping or knocking over the thing they were supposed to eat or drink.

Indirect Kiss.jpg

While this sequence is cute enough in one or two stories, by the time you see it play out again and again and again (don’t believe me, check out the TV Tropes page for indirect kisses and the anime examples) and it ultimately all just gets a bit silly.

kimi-ni-todoke-2nd-season-ep-10-from-now-on-mkv_snapshot_21-11_2011-03-24_12-22-33

One of my favourite anime romances, Kimi ni Todoke, suffers from being one of those impossibly ridiculous stories. Sawako is a stammering mess of insecurities and doesn’t believe Kazehaya could ever have feelings for her. As a result, when it is first suggested she should date him she flat out states it is impossible. She doesn’t give him the gifts she makes him. She eventually can’t even meet his eyes. All and all, she does everything possible to make herself a cliche shoujo heroine and the type that under most circumstances would drive me half-way up the wall. I don’t know why she doesn’t because I do know that by the end of season one I wanted to slap her for not actually just kissing the guy at the shrine. Nope, you will have to wait until the end of season two before these two will actually kiss and even then, that is as far as their relationship is going. Thirty plus episodes and they finally manage a kiss. Two characters who have been in love with each other since nearly the beginning. To say the pace of that relationship progress was glacial would be being generous.

acchi

Now not every anime romance is quite so insanely slow or chaste. Still, it is interesting how much emphasis is put on the notion of kissing your partner. In some ways it is kind of refreshing and it feels nice to know that the emotional connection between the characters is getting more emphasis then the number of times they can get the characters into the bedroom. Also nice to know that there is a focus on the narrative behind the romance rather than just showing us the characters making out. I appreciate both of these things. At the same time, like with everything else, when there isn’t a variety of relationships and relationship types being shown, it risks normalising some behaviours, marginalising some viewers, and ultimately not providing options so the argument if you don’t like it, don’t watch it, ceases to have weight.

Because a great many people want to watch romance and anime. They may not be after the super shoujo high school girl who blushes to the tips of her ears when a guy picks up her eraser, but they’d like to see a relationship unfold.

takeo and yamato 3

Part of this was why I really enjoyed My Love Story. The protagonist was a male, rather then the girl, and the confession was over and done with four episodes in. The story was about them learning how to be in a relationship rather than getting to the relationship. That doesn’t mean they moved any faster given how long it took them to accomplish hand-holding and the protagonist kissed his best friend (with the aid of some cling wrap) long before he got around to trying to kiss his girlfriend but it still felt a bit different from so many other love stories.

Yuri + Victor2

It was also why I was so puzzled by the number of people who tried to play down Yuri and Victor’s relationship in Yuri on Ice. The ones who claim it wasn’t a kiss and they aren’t engagement rings. Given how little physical connections characters in other ‘romance’ anime have, Yuri on Ice was outright explicit in showing off that relationship. Those two were hugging nearly from the beginning and if hungry stares are the staple of most relationships, just watch Yuri before he starts any one of his skates as he meets eyes with Victor. The average female protagonist has got nothing on that look across the ice and if it was being directed at her she’d probably claim she’d gotten pregnant on the spot.

yuri-on-ice-episode-3.png
Admit it, you want him to be looking at you right now.

Although, the mis-information about pregnancy and sex that comes across in some anime is also a little bit alarming. I kind of get why it happens culturally but at the same time I don’t think girls claiming they’ll get pregnant from kissing a guy really helps get the right kind of information across to people. I’d suggest you not learn sex-ed from anime in the first place, but at the very least they should try to stamp out the more pervasive myths that get flung about.

Steins Gate Kiss.jpg

However, personal thoughts about romance aside, one thing anime does very well, is really makes those rare scenes, the kiss between the heroine and her hero, truly melting moments. Maybe it is the long wait for it, the build up, the anticipation. Maybe it is the sound tracks, the soft lighting, the sparkles. Whatever it is, one thing I know is that when a couple in anime finally get together and they finally lean in for that kiss, I know I’m usually on the edge of my seat and once or twice I’ve applauded.

Question:

Who was your favourite anime couple and what episode of their anime did they finally kiss in?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

 

Tuesday’s Top 5: Ordinary Anime Characters Who Inspire

Tuesday's Top 5

While many an anime character has inspired me, it is worth noting that a lot of anime characters have super powers, or magic, or destiny, or some other force working for them, which makes their actions a little less applicable to the everyday life that most of us lead. This list is to the heroes (and ordinary people) who have moved me to action or have given me strength when I have needed it. That makes is a fairly personal list so I’d love to know who would end up on your list of inspiring anime characters. While it hurts that I can’t add Maka to the list this time round, the characters below are all exceptional and yet completely human.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Akito from Bakuman for standing by his friend from start to finish no matter how rough things got.

Number 5: Nagisa (Assassination Classroom)

Nagisa.png

One might argue that none of the students in Assassination Classroom are particularly ordinary, but that is their most compelling trait. They are ordinary. They are the ones who are overlooked and cast aside, who have been down so long that they have forgotten that they even have the right to stand up. Watching Nagisa move from someone who accepts this role to someone who has a clear presence about him and is comfortable in his own skin is something that is greatly inspiring. Okay, most of us don’t have a yellow octopus for a teacher who we get to learn to assassinate, but most of the lessons Nagisa takes on board are strictly of the ordinary kind of valuing who you are.

Number 4: Kurumi (Kimi ni Todoke)

25395-620x-kimi-ni-todoke-02

Season One of Kimi ni Todoke introduced us to Kurumi and she was a nasty piece of work determined to get Kazehaya to look at her and to get Sawako out of the picture. After being rejected she undergoes an incredible character transformation that reminds us all that just because we don’t get what we want doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. Kurumi becomes a truly great character and by the time the end of season 2 rolls around you really want her to find her own happiness.

Number 3: Kousei (Your Lie in April)

Kousei.png

This one might be cheating given the kid is definitely a genius. Yet, much like with Nagisa, the lessons Kousei takes on board during the heart breaking journey that is Your Lie in April are strictly the ordinary everyday ones that we all could learn from. Learning to grieve and mourn, to accept what has happened, to find a purpose, and just to find who you are. These are the things Kousei discovers throughout the course of his journey and they make him incredibly relatable and when he takes the stage in the final episode you cannot help but feel moved by him.

Number 2: Oreki (Hyouka)

Oreki.jpg

While this might seem an odd choice for number 2 on the list, there’s something truly remarkable about how this character lives his life. He has his own ideal of energy conservation and yet at the same time he doesn’t want his ideals to harm the experiences of others. He doesn’t want to let his sister down and later Chitanda and so acts contrary to his own nature on more than one occasion. This is also inspiring because while some people might see that as giving in or compromising, what it really demonstrates is an acceptance of a need for community and that it can’t always be about you. Oreki is inspiring because he finds a balance where he does have moments where he refused to do things or to get involved and other moments where he acts for the benefit of others. While I’m still not sure I like the anime, I quite like Oreki’s character and he reminds me that sometimes it isn’t all about me.

Number 1: Yuri (Yuri on Ice)

yuri7d

Did we really think anyone else was going to take this spot? I almost disqualified him because being a world champion (even if he’s only in the top 6) kind of makes him somewhat extraordinary, but the only superpower he has is persistence and determination and so I let him take the top spot. His journey is fantastic and watching him stand up again and again and try to overcome his weaknesses never ceases to inspire.

And there they all are. Who would you have put on your list?

Top 5: Must-Watch Anime Sequels

Tuesday's Top 5

I tend to run sequels down a lot (see Feature Discussing Anime Sequels and Prequels), which is sometimes justified, but occasionally there are anime sequels, part 2’s, and follow ups that actually do add something to a series and are fairly enjoyable to watch.

So I decided to think about all the good anime sequels out there for a top 5 list. This is my opinion and I’ve chosen sequels that I felt added something actually necessary to a story but were entertaining in their own right. I’d love to know what some of your favourite anime sequels are.

I did however disqualify long running shows without clear divisions between seasons (Bleach etc).

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Anime Sequel Honourable Mentions

Sailor Moon, Natsume Yuujinchou (not sure if this counts as long running without clear division so left it off the list, but every season is amazing), Full Metal Panic (Second Raid is fantastic), and Noragami (Second season was amazing, but where’s the third as this story still isn’t finished). There are plenty of other amazing anime sequels I could have gone with but we don’t want to be here all day.

Best Anime Sequel Number 5: Clannad After Story

Don't tell me Clannad season 2 didn't make you cry - this is one anime sequel that knocks it out of the park.

I’d be the first to say that Clannad wasn’t really my thing as an anime. It is a beautiful story and there are some really great elements to it, but it just isn’t my type of show. That said, I watched through all of it and even cried so it works well enough and for people who like the genre it is probably an even more moving experience. After Story is a perfect follow up to the original series.

It narrows the focus to the main characters, though all the other characters are still there, and it legitimately adds to their characters. Not to mention, it finally reveals what was going on during some of the stranger moments in season one. As a sequel or follow up it does everything a show needs to and is perfectly entertaining on its own (though you’ll probably miss some of the character moments if you haven’t sat through season 1).



Best Anime Sequel Number 4: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai

Higurashi is simply a question without season 2. A necessary anime sequel.

Follow up to Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (or When They Cry, When the Cicadas Cry, or whatever other title you’d like to give it), this is a fantastic sequel. I actually watched this first, not knowing it was the second part, and while the first loop was a bit confusing due to me not having a clue who anyone was, I soon figured out what was going on and this is the part of this series that actually solves the mystery of who is behind the tragedy. 

While the first season is fine, by itself it is unsatisfying. Lots of loops, lots of violence, there are clues and character moments, but it doesn’t end. Season 2 builds on all those clues and character moments and gives us a very dramatic final confrontation. It legitimately works by itself as a story and is highly entertaining (you know, if you are in to horror).

Best Anime Sequel Number 3: Kimi ni Todoke

While season one is a frustrating slow burn, you need season two to really get to the happy end of this romance.
Anime sequels worth watching.

Now this is more just an ongoing story. Season 1 has our main character, Sawako, slowly coming out of her shell and making friends. Yes, there’s a guy involved and there’s romantic insinuations, but the romantic aspect decidedly takes a back seat to building confidence and friendships. Having already established that in season 1, season 2 squarely turns the focus on Sawako’s ongoing relationship with Kazehaya and whether it is respect or love she feels.

For someone who has only just learned about friendship, there’s a lot that can go wrong as she treads her way into romance and season 2 takes us through all the ups and downs until we finally get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for. An excellent follow up on a very cute romance.

Advertisements

Best Anime Sequel Number 2: Snow White With the Red Hair

Seriously - who didn't want more of Zen and Shirayuki.
Anime sequel so worth waiting for and please give us more.

Possibly this is a theme given how many relationship heavy shows have ended up on this list, but I really felt Shirayuki and Zen had more story to tell after season 1, and season 2 proved that right though not as I expected. Rather than focussing fully on their relationship, season 2 kind of scattered the focus giving lots of other relationships time to develop and be revealed.

It was deeply satisfying seeing various characters have their moment, while an overall narrative involving Shirayuki’s kidnapping played out, but it did kind of leave the show with little time at the end to address the main question of Shirayuki and Zen. Which of course means we’re left with a sweet but not final ending and why is there no season 3?

Still, this sequel does the job of advancing the characters and the plot logically and adding to what we know about them and the world, so it succeeds even if it still felt unfinished.

Best Anime Sequel Number 1: Assassination Classroom

The ending of Assassination Classroom - this is the way to end an anime sequel.

Much like Kimi ni Todoke, season 1 of this focussed very much on building the characters up. They were learning skills, facing themselves, overcoming past difficulties, before they had the final test when the class was put in legitimate danger. Season 2 shifts the focus dramatically to the motive for the assassination and trying to find a way around it, dividing opinions and characters.

While there’s definitely some filler in season 2, the sheer number of excellent character moments, before we get to the very final and necessary conclusion, makes this a sequel that was needed and it delivered on the promise way back in season 1. Thoroughly enjoyable watch though one could argue the end was dragged out just a little too long. Despite that, it was unforgettable.

Be sure to share your favourite anime sequels in the comments.


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


Friday’s Feature: March of the Bland Romances

fuuka2

As the first episodes of the Winter anime march before us pretty much every ani-blogger has been giving their first impressions and a lot of these have been negative. While there are a couple of shows winning people over for the most part people who watch a lot of anime have been universally eye-rolling at some of the shows coming out this season. A small number of people will take this as a sign that the anime industry is dead argument has some grounds whereas the rest of us will simply rearrange our schedules, dig out some titles from our watch lists, and wait for the next season because there is always another season coming.

Rather than look at the state of the industry, or all of the titles that I’ve had the dubious pleasure of sampling this week, I want to look just at the romantic comedies. Specifically I want to look at Seiren, Fuuka and Masamune-Kun’s Revenge (and yes, Masamune-Kun’s revenge is described as a romance and a comedy on MAL).

While the three shows are quite different, they all have one thing in common and that is that they aren’t particularly exciting or at least their first episode wasn’t particularly good. Okay, that and for some reason they all seem to follow the male protagonist rather than the female lead.

Seiren is perhaps the worst offender of the three in regard to having a fairly dull first episode. Admittedly MAL simple says it’s genre is ‘school’ and by that they’ve nailed it. We follow a high schooler about as her goes to school and interacts with people. However, that isn’t really exciting. The high school students in question don’t have a great deal of personality and aren’t really memorable in their own right. Other than his friend, who I only remember because he seemed like the only character with sense in his head, none of the other characters really had any kind of impact.

Seiren.jpg

This show has no particular gimmick unveiled in its first episode (though the Crunchyroll write up would says that “this campus romantic comedy…depicts his pure relationship with three different heroines” leading us to believe that they are hoping that the multiple heroines will be the gimmick). But if that is the cast then surely during the first episode we should have at least met three strong contenders for a romantic lead role and unfortunately we haven’t. The one girl in the class who sits on his desk is probably going to be one but really, other than being a little bit bossy, she hasn’t demonstrated much of a memorable personality and she has zero romantic chemistry with the lead so that possibility doesn’t really entice.

And while a show lacking a gimmick isn’t exactly a death sentence, what else could this story do? Romantic comedies are generally formulaic in design so they either need a clever setting, a gimmick of some sort, or really strong and memorable characters with excellent chemistry to sell their story. Seiren has none of these things. This doesn’t make this story bad but it does make it excessively bland.

Moving on to Fuuka we see this show attempt the comedy aspect of the romantic comedy by delving into some of the worst clichés anime has to offer. Girl runs into guy, guy sees her pants, girl smacks him into the middle of next week (in this case after breaking his phone), this sequence is repeated only the next time the phone goes off the roof, guy attempts to save girl (though in this case she doesn’t need it), boy has only sisters who meddle in his life or dominate him, etc, etc. Some of it is kind of amusing when they play the cliché and then change out the ending but mostly it kind of misses the mark. But, at least it is making some sort of effort.

Fuuka.jpg

After establishing the two characters and literally running them into one another, what develops over the first two episodes is a kind of friendship that might be able to develop into a romance (though the guy really needs to make her pay for the damage to his phone). The two characters actually do play off each other quite well. We then also have the other girl, the childhood friend who is now an idol and is clearly holding a torch for Yuu. This definitely gives us hints of conflict or some sort of emotional decision that will need to be made later on though it is impossible to know whether anything will come of this.

Despite having characters who are slightly more memorable and actual chemistry, this show is still fairly bland and this point. It’s checking off the clichés and while it is putting its own spin on some others are just played as they always are and the characters aren’t quite strong enough to make up for the deficit in original story-telling. So yes, more interesting than Seiren, but that show didn’t set the bar all that high.

Lastly we have Masamune-Kun’s Revenge. While I have an issue with even considering anything romantic could evolve from these mean spirited characters, I’ll overlook that and just assume that after pretending to like the girl to win her affections, Masamune-Kun may develop something of a conscience. Otherwise, this show has no business claiming romance as a genre.

Masamune.jpg

Masamune-Kun’s Revenge has a gimmick. The guy was rejected by the girl when they were young and now he is out to get even. That’s memorable and it allows clear establishment of character for the protagonist (even if that character is horrible). So why did this first episode feel so bland?

I know from reading the impressions of others, that some people really enjoyed this. They found there to be some genuinely clever moments and I’ll admit that when the story focussed on Masamune-Kun and his actively seeking revenge (information gathering, plotting, spying) there were some interesting moments. However everything else is more or less forgettable. The loli-mother and the younger sister barely have enough personality between them to make a whole character. I kind of felt the only reason the sister was there at all was so the mother had someone to comment to and so that someone could voice the audience’s disgust at the main character preening in front of the mirror. The classmates all seem like they are desperately trying to have individual personalities but none have quite succeeded. Essentially the school has guys who are desperate to be rejected by a complete cow of a female lead, and girls who are either non-entitites or are followers of the female lead. It doesn’t really draw you into the world of these characters nor does it feel like a fairly believable setting.

While I’m not a die-hard romance fan I do enjoy a good romance story or romantic comedy. However, Winter 2017 has currently served up these three bland contenders and to be honest I’m kind of sad that not one of them is really grabbing me. I’ll probably watch Fuuka through (unless the panty-shots do me in, which is a possibility) but I’m not holding my breath that it will amaze.

kimi_ni_todoke_season_2-11-sawako-kazehaya-ayane-chizuru-ryu-everyone-cast

Anyway, if I really get stuck for romance I can always marathon Kimi ni Todoke. That has enough sickly sweet in it to forget about any of these shows.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

patreon

Thanks,

Karandi James.

avatar

Top 5: Annoying Anime Tropes

Tuesday's Top 5

While we all know that there are some clichés in anime that just won’t go away (girl running to school with toast in mouth, guy falling on girl and hand accidentally landing…) we all have to admit there are some tropes that we just wish would disappear. This is my list of the 5 common annoying anime tropes me and I’d love to hear yours in the comments. No criteria this week other than personal annoyance.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Honourable mentions to weird shot types, dense MC’s, pretty much anything from a harem anime, and the skinny guy that can eat the entire pantry bare.

Number 5: The School Idol or Prince

I don’t know if this is a cultural thing or whether this is an anime thing, but having an entire school of girls fawning over one guy to the point where they make pacts and sign agreements not to date him or speak with him unless there is someone else there just strikes me as ridiculous. It’s impossible to take this character seriously or any of the fan club for that matter.

What really surprises me is how many anime this comes up in. While highschool based animes aren’t my favourites the few I can think of instantly are Kazehaya (Kimi ni Tadoke), Yuki (Fruits Basket), Kuran Kaname (Vampire Knight), and even Rem (Dance with Devils)

Number 4: Characters having lengthy discussions about their attack techniques mid-battle

Bleach embraces many annoying anime tropes.

You know what, we get that your power is awesome and amazing and that we may not quite get exactly what you are doing without the explanation but, I’m kind of certain no winning strategy in history involved giving a detailed description of your power to the enemy.

This is an ongoing annoyance for me in anime as it seems like if the audience had to know how that power worked we probably should have prior to the battle, and if it wasn’t that important all that dialogue is doing is slowing down the pace. Bleach is my main example of this one but honestly, I really would like to gag some characters in some of the fight sequences I’ve watched.


liveAlive

Affiliate Link

Live a Live – RPG Game


Number 3: The stuttered confession

I get that being too direct in Japanese is kind of rude but why are so many characters unable to express how they feel when they are alone with the person they like. Seriously? From Edward in Full Metal Alchemist, Kadoka in Haganai, to Tomoe in Kamisama Kiss, these characters avoid, use pretext, out right run-away, or divert the issue rather than just give or receive a straight confession.

Not to mention the slew of girls running around with love letters that never get delivered or are pushed into shoe lockers to be detonated (Full Metal Panic style).

Number 2: The club is going to get shut down

Club.jpg

Oh the horror. We might have to join another club or find somewhere else to hang out because if we don’t have X members by X date we’ll lose our room. While in a slice of life or comedy anime this is all well and good as something to get the characters moving it is hardly sufficient conflict to build an entire show around.

Equally irritating is the we want to start a club but we don’t have enough members. While we’re at it, why do so many clubs seem to not actually follow their purpose and just have students hanging out?

Maybe this is a cultural thing given school clubs aren’t really a thing here but I find this to be a really annoying anime trope and that so many anime plots focus on this just makes me want to roll my eyes.

Number 1: The protagonist wins the fight because they are the protagonist

protagonist.jpg

I know that this is true of all stories and not just anime but when the protagonist pulls out a deus ex machina mid-fight it really kind of kills any reason to care about any of the events up until that point. If they had this mysterious power or ability why didn’t they use it earlier? 

I know that some anime try to give their protagonists reasons for being unkillable overpowered fighting machines but really this is a bit of a contrivance and sometimes could be avoided just by showing the character build up to that point or maybe making the villain just a little less unkillable. While I don’t normally throw rocks at SAO this is probably my biggest complaint about the first arc. Yeah, they foreshadow that the game is a game and therefore is subject to cheats and that the human spirit might be able to overcome some of the limitations but I don’t think that justifies not dying when your health bar runs out.

However, Kirito is not alone in the list or protagonists who really should have just dropped dead mid-battle.

And it is a really annoying anime trope when characters who should clearly be dead, just aren’t.

What do you think are the most annoying anime tropes?

So that’s my list of annoying anime tropes. The thing is, an anime could have some or all of these tropes and still be fairly entertaining to watch. Just having a cliché doesn’t mean that the entire story is derivative or dull. However, sometimes anime leans just a little to heavily on these tropes to fill in for actual character development or plot and that’s when it become a touch annoying.


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