Up Close With Yamato Kurosawa (Say I Love You)

I’ve enjoyed February so far because it has given me a really good excuse to turn my attention to the male leads in so many romances. This week I’m looking straight at Yamato Kurosawa from Say I Love You but before I get into dissecting his character (okay, that might be a bit extreme), I’d probably better mention that I wasn’t a huge fan of Say I Love You initially. I like Mei, the female lead but the first time through I really didn’t like Yamato and it took a few viewings before I actually liked the two together. However, I still find Yamato a character I’ve just never clicked with.

In order to end on a positive I’ll start with some of my issues with Yamato and then I’ll look at his good points. He does have some good points and he does grow on you after watching the series more than once.

However…

Yamato and Mei - Say I Love You

No matter how I want to look at it, Yamato originally comes on very strong toward Mei who clearly isn’t interested in his attention. While he doesn’t push it to a point where he is irredeemable, he intrudes into her space and more than once forces a kiss on her that she clearly isn’t asking for or giving permission for. He’s also very hands on particularly when she visited his house and he practically dragged her onto his lap. With a more out going female lead, Yamato’s advances probably wouldn’t have been a problem, but here it just felt like someone who was socially timid getting taken advantage of because her usual response was to freeze rather than get out of the situation. And even though she ended up falling in love with him and they all ended happily ever after, there’s still something just a bit off putting about this situation.

The second issue I have with Yamato is that he has so little actual personality, particularly early on. He very much goes with the flow of things and the people he hangs around and the things he does are very much just to stay in the crowd at times. We learn later that he started that behaviour in middle school to avoid being bullied and he even abandoned a friend because he didn’t want to stand out, but it makes him a hard character to really get a read on when he does some really nice things for Mei and then some really stupid things like when he agrees to join some other friends for bowling while out on a date with Mei. No matter how you look at it, that situation was never going to end well.

Say I Love You Yamato and Megumi

Finally, I really hated Yamato during the arc where he was modelling. His absolute lack of ability to read the situation with Mei just felt totally wrong. All the way along Mei was the one who wasn’t used to reading social cues, not Yamato, and yet suddenly he couldn’t tell that he was breaking his girlfriend’s heart? It just struck me as a really poor plot device and while it did lead to a touching reconciliation moment, it just felt kind of cheap.

However, Yamato does help Mei get out of her self-imposed shell and to actually reconnect with others. While his methods at times might be questionable, his overall desire is one of being helpful and supportive and Mei does find herself able to interact more easily with others because of Yamato.

Say I Love You Cast

Yamato also reflects on his actions and kind of learns from them. He really regretted the situation back in middle school and part of that is the reason he wanted to help Mei in the first place. He also learns after the modelling incident and becomes a lot more open with Mei. While that doesn’t solve everything, at least he doesn’t just keep repeating the same behaviour and expecting different results.

Lastly, he is a fantastic big brother. Okay, maybe he’s an overly doting and way too easily manipulated one. Doesn’t matter. Watching Yamato with Nagi is actually kind of adorable.

Yamato and Nagi - Say I Love You

For me Yamato is always going to be one of those characters I am on the fence about, but I’d love to know what you think of him so leave me a comment.

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Karandi James
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The Animator’s Survival Kit
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Up Close With Takeo Gouda

I really fell in love with Ore Monogatari or My Love Story the first time I watched it. Certainly it had the advantage of being a little bit different from a lot of the romance anime I watched given it was from the male’s perspective. It also had the novelty of the two main characters establishing a relationship within the first few episodes so the will they/won’t they antics were kept to a minimum. This isn’t a story about falling in love so much as a story about being in love, but mostly it is a story about the characters and their lives and while falling in love is one aspect it isn’t the only thing this story is looking at.

A large part of the draw of this series is Takeo Gouda. He’s huge and towers over his peers as he enters his first year of high school but his size tends to put others off. He’s also not the brightest and tends to act impulsively which leads to misunderstandings. At one point in the series he sees a mother struggling to get a pram up a flight of stairs and so he picks up the pram and carries it to the top. Unfortunately he doesn’t ask first or let her know what is going on and it is left to his friend, Sunakawa to explain.

Ore Monogatari Sunakawa left to explain

While that might paint Takeo as a tragic figure, that isn’t actually correct. Takeo has a few bouts of self-pity but by and large just keeps travelling even when things don’t go his way. He’s supported by his parents and his incredibly loyal friend Sunakawa and as the series progresses, by his girlfriend Yamato. With a group of people who really get him and really see him surrounding him, the blows of those who take a superficial glance are a lot easier to deal with.

However, what continues to elevate Takeo as a character rather than just being a nice guy or a strong guy is his willingness to keep trying. He keeps helping people even knowing it doesn’t always work out and that he won’t always be thanked. When Yamato mentions going to a university, Takeo asks Sunakawa to tutor him to help him prepare for practice examinations so that he won’t hold her back. Takeo doesn’t like studying, and he isn’t particularly good at it, but his dedication is pretty admirable.

Ore Monogatari Takeo and Sunakawa

Equally admirable though is his loyalty to his friends. This is tested quite thoroughly when he’s made plans for Yamato’s birthday and then Sunakawa’s father goes to hospital for surgery. Torn for a fair while, Takeo ends up apologising to Yamato, handing her the birthday plan so she can enjoy it, and runs to the hospital to be with his friend. It’s a beautiful moment for a character I think most of us wish we had in our lives because friendship like that is hard to come by.

Takeo Gouda is a character who I don’t think gets talked about enough. He’s wonderful and just charming to watch. His story is well worth it so if you haven’t watched Ore Monogatari before I totally recommend it. In the meantime, if you have watched it, I’d love to know what you think of Takeo so leave me a comment below.

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My Love Story!!, Vol. 1
My Love Story!!, Vol. 1

Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Anime Characters from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

In 2016 the wonderful Allen Walker from D Gray Man Hallow topped my list – and yeah that was an incredibly biased decision because I just love Allen. 2017 saw Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion take the list (well deserved). 2018 had a plethora of fantastic male characters, though if you read my list of favourite female characters from the year you probably have a fairly good idea of who is going to end up on my list here. As always, I’d love to know who your choices are for best male anime characters from 2018.

Honourable Mentions:

It kind of hurts but Kirito from Sword Art Online Alicization has only gotten an honourable mention. While he still has plenty of episodes, his showing in 2018 was okay but not his best work (poor guy). The other character I want to give an honourable mention to is Lin from Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. He was great fun but not quite memorable enough to land a spot on the top 5.

Number 5: Okabe Rintaro from Steins;Gate 0

As much as Steins;Gate 0 didn’t quite click for me in 2018 one thing I did appreciate was seeing Okabe’s character after he had hit rock bottom and tried to rebuild his life. The Okabe who gave up on saving everyone and just tried to make the best of things. Seeing that Okabe finally find the motivation needed to fight back again despite the hardship it was going to cost was perhaps one of the most rewarding character arcs for the year.

Number 4: Takato from Dakaichi

Alright, if you’ve been following my collaboration with Arthifis on Dakaichi you will know I’ve been seriously loving Takato’s character since the beginning. While there’s a lot in Dakaichi that is easy to dismiss or would make you raise an eyebrow, Takato has been a highly entertaining main character. I love watching him when he is working as an actor and seeing him slowly get in touch with his emotions in his real life. For everything that doesn’t work in Dakaichi, Takato has been a shining character for the Autumn season (or at least one that I’ve really enjoyed watching).

Number 3: Sakuta from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Sakuta has been one of those characters who comes along who on the one hand I feel he’s pretty ordinary, on the other hand this is how you write an ordinary character and make him shine. Solid writing, great interactions with the support cast, and just enough personality and sass that he doesn’t just fit solidly into the nice guy forgettable role, and Sakuta is someone who has easily carried his show (admittedly with a bit of help from a fabulous supporting cast).

Number 2: Ash from Banana Fish

It was a hard toss up as to whether I was going to pick Ash or Eiji for the list, but Ash wins because I just love seeing him rise up time and time again. Ash may be incredibly overpowered given he’s ridiculously smart, strong, and shrugs off bullet wounds and being stabbed more or less instantly. He might be straight out of an 80’s power fantasy, but he is definitely fun to watch and when he’s with Eiji his soft and fluffy side comes out (as much as one exists). Really enjoyed spending time with Ash this year and while I might have wanted him to have more happy moments, I can’t deny that I was always entertained by his journey.

Number 1: Rei Kiriyama from March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2

It’s the second year in a row but Rei Kiriyama remains my very favourite male anime character in 2018. His interactions with Hina, his match against Souya, his support of Shimada, and just his own growth as a character, returning to his foster home to face some of the past, all of these moments have seen Rei moving from strength to strength. For a character who still has a long way to travel in regards to dealing with his own mental health, Rei continues to be inspirational and relatable and someone I just want to see more of.

That’s the list for 2018 but I’d love to know who you would have picked for your top 5 male anime characters.

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Karandi James
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CHARACTER VOCAL SERIES 01 HATSUNE MIKU 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: HATSUNE MIKU SYMPHONY 2017 VER.
CHARACTER VOCAL SERIES 01 HATSUNE MIKU 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: HATSUNE MIKU SYMPHONY 2017 VER.

Up Close with Yato

Yato is a character with a fairly strong fan base and after watching Noragami and then its sequel, Noragami Aragoto, it is pretty easy to see why. For a penniless character who spends a lot of time mooching off of others he’s incredibly charming, funny, as well as a character who elicits genuine sympathy once more of his story is revealed. In the context of who Yato is and what he’s gone through, his occasional bouts of silliness are fully understandable and mostly I just want to give him a hug.

I am however going to avoid major spoilers so there are some aspects of his character we just won’t be able to get into.

Starting off with his positive traits, Yato is an incredible sword fighter. Even though he’s a ‘stray god’ and has previously been known as a ‘God of Calamity’ who would take on any wish from anyone, his fighting ability is amazing. Even Bishamon with all of her regalia can’t stop him though she certainly pushes him to his limit.

Yato is also incredibly soft-hearted. That might not always seem like the case given some of his decisions seem quite cold, but once you understand his perspective and where he’s coming from, he’s an incredibly kind soul.

Also, despite how poverty stricken he is, he still only charges his five yen for a wish and regardless of the quest he takes his duties seriously (something you may not believe if you’ve only watched the start and watched him kind of ignore Hiyori’s request). Still, whether it is watching the counter at a convenience store or cleaning a bathroom, once Yato’s on a job he sees it through with pride and enthusiasm.

I would be remiss though not discuss his relationship with Hiyori. At first she’s a client, someone useful, someone who remembers him. However, Hiyori fast makes herself someone Yato needs, a friend. She looks out for him, worries about him, seeks him when he is missing, rallies others to help him. I don’t actually see their relationship as romantic (though it could be seen as heading that way), but I do know that there is a deep love and respect formed between the two characters over two seasons. It is through contact with Hiyori, and later Yukine, that Yato really begins to grow and those relationships are beautiful to watch form and develop.

Noragami Aragoto Yato

And even if they were his only defining traits he would still be an awesome character. However, given he is a god with a complex back story, there’s quite a bit of tragedy and darkness following Yato. While he works hard to ensure those nearest him don’t see it, they worry about their friend and want to help him. Season two particularly dealt with this side of Yato far more and the emotionally moving journey that took us on was well worth it.

So Yato, the small-time god who has big dreams, is definitely a character I respect and enjoyed watching. I’d love another season of Noragami and a large part of the reason is Yato. In the meantime I think I’ll just go and binge watch the first two seasons again because they are amazing.

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Karandi James
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NORAGAMI: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
NORAGAMI: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori Series Review: Bliss Out With Cafe Food

While Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori isn’t the most original, exciting, or beautiful anime out there, this one ended up being a surprisingly good anime just to chill out to each week during the Spring 2018 anime season.

Review:

This is another one of those shows where I genuinely went into the first episode expecting to drop it at the end, maybe write up an impressions post, and never think about it ever again. However, I think I phrased it best in my First Impressions post where I said:

…I really just fell into a happy watching coma while watching this…

And yeah, that’s more or less the experience of watching these four guys serving tea and really great looking anime food in a cafe using plates and cups made by one of the guys while serving latte art that is kind of terrifyingly bad.

Biyori10b
Exhibit A.

It isn’t as though this show didn’t have a few mis-fires. While some people really enjoy Gure’s character, I found him kind of the painful weak link in the set of four and when we were thrown an episode that entirely focused on him it kind of broke my general calm mood while watching. The other three characters, Sui, Tokitaka and Tsubaki all have their moments and I quite enjoyed watching their interactions. Even Gure was fine when diluted by the rest of the cast. It’s only when the show focuses on him for a longer period that it started damaging my calm.

Biyori2a

Visually this anime isn’t exceptional. The cafe, Rokuhoudou, is a beautiful cafe and I’d love to actually know somewhere like that to eat because just going there would be an experience. However, other than a fairly washed out colour palette for everything except the food, there’s nothing really distinguishing about how this looks. With character designs they are all pretty ordinary so a lot of the support cast and cafe guests end up blending together, not that it matters all that much.

Biyori3e

For the most part this is a slice of life and just follows the general daily business of the guys at the cafe so don’t expect much in the way of a compelling story. There is an ongoing plot involving Sui and his family but it kind of gets introduced in the first couple of episodes and then abandoned save for minor mentions here and there until the very end. This isn’t a plot driven drama so if you are looking for a story that moves, look elsewhere. Normally I would, and yet I really did have fun here.

Biyori5b
Do not watch this show while hungry.

Maybe it was just good timing because I happened to watch the first episode while really stressed and to be honest, there’s literally no way you can remain stressed while watching this. There were a number of episodes where I just completely spaced out while watching altogether and while that might not normally equal a recommendation, it was more or less exactly what I needed at the time.

Biyori2d

If you want a clear idea of what you are getting into, each episode is basically split into two parts. Normally one of the guys will mention something or be thinking about something that will somehow connect to some customer problem or issue and then everyone will band together to drink tea until the problem goes away. Okay, that is somewhat sarcastic, but really they don’t go about solving all the world’s problems and they do like to think about things, usually while sipping on tea.

Biyori12b

How much mileage individuals viewers will get out of these episodes will depend entirely on how well they like the focus character and the customer that they are helping. What that means is that some episodes will strike home better than others, but the series as a whole is pretty consistent in terms of tone and quality. The exception is episode 5 that goes off on some weird tangent that I still haven’t figured out. Just weird.

Biyori10d

Overall though, I’d recommend giving this show a shot unless you absolutely despise slice of life stories. I’m not normally a fan of anime that lack a driving plot, but this one worked for me and at the very least it isn’t another cute girls doing cute things slice of life.

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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Anime Characters With Pink Hair

Tuesday's Top 5

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a colour list and I actually struggled a bit with 5 males I liked with pink hair. The female list which will come out next week was definitely easier to come up with. That said, there are some interesting characters on the list below and as always I’d love to know who your picks would be for male anime characters with pink hair. I kind of went for characters that are important to their story and really rock the pink hair colour.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Number 5: Hikaru (Ouran High School Host Club)

Hikaru.gif

Okay, right from the start I am cheating here because Hikaru does not normally have pink hair. Yet, for one episode of Ouran High School Host Club, after a fight between the twins seemingly triggered by an innocuous comment by Haruhi, the twins dye their hair blue and pink. I have to admit, I kind of liked the look and kind of wished they’d kept it going for the rest of the season.

Number 4: Zange Natsum (Inu X Boku SS)

Zange.jpg

There’s something super-cute and simultaneously super-creepy about Zange. He see’s far too much and isn’t above manipulating others for his own entertainment. That said, he certainly marches to the beat of his own drummer and provides some of the best scenes in Inu x Boku SS so despite his more questionable tendencies he became one of my favourite characters.

Number 3: Hisoka (Hunter x Hunter)

hunter16

I still haven’t decided if I like Hisoka as a character or not. He’s incredibly creepy but he adds a lot to the story and he has some great moments. Plus, you have to admit he’s got a style all of his own and I really couldn’t imagine him with any other hair colour other than pink. He’s certainly earned himself a spot on this list even if I feel like running the other direction.

Number 2: Alice Color (Sunday Without God)

Alice.jpg

Alice Color only shows up in the final arc of Sunday Without God (though is in the OP from the beginning) and while he’s a fairly stoic character he is also very cool. Driven and determined to free his town from its endless loop, even when he believes that he’s going to die to do it, his story is one of the best in Sunday Without God.

Number 1: Natsu (Fairy Tail)

Natsu.jpg

Okay, if it was a question of my favourite character in Fairy Tail, Natsu wouldn’t get much of a look in. Despite some pretty cool dragon themed powers and a fiery personality, I don’t really enjoy Natsu’s antics in much of the early parts of the story (definitely prefer Gray). That said, when looking at distinct pink haired anime guys, Natsu immediately jumped to mind. While I think a lot of the other characters are more interesting, Natsu is definitely a bundle of energy, his interactions with Lucy are adorable, and when he gets going in a fight you know its going to be big. Plus, he has a talking flying cat for a friend so you really can’t beat that.

That’s my list this week, be sure to check back next week when I list my top 5 anime females with pink hair.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Characters with Green Hair

Tuesday's Top 5

Following on from last week’s selection of female characters with green hair, I now bring you the list of male characters. These are my personal favourite characters who have the distinction of having green hair, though in many cases I’m still not sure why given green is not even close to a natural hair colour. You have to admit though, some of these guys look great with it.

As always, feel free to add your thoughts and your choices in the comments below as I’d love to know some of your favourite male characters with green hair.

Please note: There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Rei Sagara (Love Stage) and Genpachi Inukai (Hakkenden).

Number 5: Envy from Full Metal Alchemist

Envy.jpg

Not hard to see why Envy would earn a place on the list. To start with, the hair actually makes sense when you consider the sin they are portraying, and secondly, this character was fantastic. Self-centred and with a massive chip on their shoulder, Envy stayed true to who they were all the way through the story (both versions) and was a great deal of fun to watch on screen no matter what they were up to.

Number 4: Jae Ha from Akatsuki no Yona

Jae-Ha.gif

He’s a massive flirt and playboy but also a very loyal friend and warrior, Jae-Ha initially annoyed me when he was introduced as one of the dragons in Akatsuki no Yona but it is very hard to overlook his charms as a character. Despite his frivolous exterior, he has his reasons for his actions and ultimately he is probably the dragon with the most familiarity with the ways of the world and an ability to cope with new situations.


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Akatsuki Soundtrack.jpg


Number 3: Sadao Maou from The Devil is a Part-timer 

Maou.jpg

Sadou is a fantastic character. Having fallen from being the demon king in control of a country to a part time employee of a rip-off McDonald’s, he still isn’t going to let anything get in the way of his ambitions. What I like the most about his character is that he isn’t just waiting for an opportunity or for success to fall upon him. Sadou Maou is out there every day working to make his dreams a reality and for the most part he is working within the rules of the system around him and trying hard to overcome the obstacles in ordinary ways. Anyway, he is a great deal of fun and the thought of the devil making pepper fries is always pretty amusing.


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Devil.jpg


Number 2: Gon from Hunter x Hunter

hunter15

While I’m not quite finished my journey through Hunter x Hunter yet (almost there now), Gon has been quite the joy to meet and travel with. While by himself he isn’t an overly impressive character, his interactions with the support cast bring out the best in him and in the rest of the cast making him fairly memorable. Of course, the spiky green hair certainly leaves an impression as well, though I’m not quite sure how it manages to stay looking like that given I’m pretty sure Gon isn’t using any kind of product. Any way, he is a super cute, super hard working and super loyal character and he is great fun to watch in action.

Number 1: Midoriya from My Hero Academia

Hero26d

Were you honestly expecting anyone else to top out this list? While Midoriya might be a new comer to my favourite character list, he’s certainly left quite the impression. Another impossibly hard worker and someone who isn’t just waiting for success to be bestowed upon them, Midoriya is a character I admire for his focus on his goal and his willingness to fight for what he wants to achieve. Also his genuine concern for his friends is kind of impressive particularly as he was teased most of his life which could have left him being the bitter and anti-social individual, but instead he’s just a really nice person who has a really big dream. And that is why he gets the number 1 spot on this list.

Okay, so they are my top 5 male anime characters with green hair. Over to you and who you would have put on your list.


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Karandi James

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