Watch or Drop? Is Blue Period Worth Watching?

Watch or Drop Blue Period
Blue Period - Yaguchi

Blue Period is the story of second-year high school student Yatora Yaguchi who is studies hard but spends a lot of time playing around with his friends but he’s really just jaded with life. And then he sees an artwork by one of the art club members, has a chance conversation, and has his own first attempt at using art to convey an idea.

He’s discovered a real love of art but still isn’t sure what he can do with it in the future and he knows his parents aren’t necessarily going to understand his sudden desire to go to art school. These first two episodes have him really discovering art, starting to learn how much hard work and study is needed, connecting with the art club and really trying to speak with his mother about his future.

Blue Period is on Netflix and as of writing only two episodes were available.

Watch or Drop? Rules

Rules modified for the Autumn 2021 season.

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. I’ll watch as much as it takes to make a decisionas to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.
Blue Period

First Impressions of Blue Period

Blue Period kind of caught me by surprise. The opening sequence with Yaguchi and his friends watching a soccer game before spending the night out didn’t do much to grab me but I kind of felt we were supposed to feel disconnected as the character they kept focussing on didn’t seem to excited by what was happening either. Watching more, the opening episode does an excellent job of establishing Yaguchi as a character and where he currently is in life through a range of visual choices as well as his expression and language.

By the end of that first episode I was thoroughly hooked and watched straight on to episode two. This ended up being far more emotional than expected and honestly my biggest disappointment is that there isn’t another episode already available to watch.

Blue Period Series Positives:

Pretty much everything about Blue Period could fit into a positive. Each scene and sequence so far has served a purpose for either fleshing out the characters or progressing the story (though given the slice-of-life nature this is more just exploring the character and his choices rather than any kind of driving plot).

Nothing has outstayed its welcome as we’ve moved between Yaguchi with his friends, trying art, conversations with the art teacher, interactions with the art club, sequences at home, images of Yaguchi working hard on his art, and so on. That every scene seems beautifully put together and has some purpose has just made it a delight to be immersed in.

Blue Period

I think one of the best things in Blue Period is Yaguchi isn’t instantly brilliant at art. Sure he is decent but he doesn’t have the knowledge or techniques and isn’t necessarily familiar with all the tools so he’s really having to work for every improvement. It fits in nicely with both his complaint (and Mori’s) when he was called a genius in episode one for getting good grades at school when in fact he’s studying hard. Mori, the third year art student who inspires Yaguchi inadvertently, also has an issue with being called talented when she’s also working so hard at her art.

Equally the scene where Yaguchi really talks with his mother about art and why he wants to do it is just emotionally moving and I hadn’t actually expected him to speak with her so honestly.

But pretty much everything in these first two episodes is solid so picking a favourite moment or scene would be really quite hard.

Blue Period Series Negatives:

There really aren’t any clear negatives to Blue Period other than perhaps the slow pace (which it is a slice-of-life so viewers had to be expecting).

Blue Period

Yaguchi’s ‘friends’ at the start are probably a low point in that they don’t really seem to connect with much else that is happening, but I think that was kind of the point. They aren’t really supposed to.

It’s kind of clear I’m stretching for bad things to say as Blue Period has given us a pretty well executed opening.


Karandi Excited Transparent

Blue Period is definitely one I will continue with this season though given it is on Netflix it will be a wait for a few episodes and then binge rather than a weekly watch. That will also probably help me stay hooked given I know my own impatience for slice-of-life stories when I watch them episodically.

Still, Blue Period is perhaps one of the better series I’ve tried in the Autumn 2021 season so far.

Images from: Blue Period. Dir. K. Masunari. Seven Arcs. 2021

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

The Daily Life of the Immortal King Series Review – Romance and Cultivation

Karandi Great Idea Transparent

When I came across The Daily Life of the Immortal King or Xian Wang de Ri Chang Sheng Huo I was kind of intrigued by the synopsis but a little cautious once I saw this animation came from Haoliners Animation League. While I ended up being quite the fan of Spirit Pact, stories like Hitori no Shita and Gin no Guardian had long convinced me not to expect too much from them.

Click here for more anime reviews.

The Daily Life of the Immortal King – Better than expected.

However, sometimes low expectations help because honestly if I’d expected a lot from the Immortal King I’d have probably been disappointed whereas I was instead pleasantly surprised by a low key story of an over-powered character trying to more or less just go about his daily life. I was getting serious The Disastrous Life of Saiki K vibes from this only found most of the characters less annoying and while the humour wasn’t laugh out loud worthy there were a few chuckles along the way.

Karandi - pleasantly surprised by The Daily Life of the Immortal King

The Immortal King is about a character named Wang Ling who is pretty much born overpowered and even as kid defeats a demon-king but leaves someone else to take the credit. Now entering high school, he’s looked down upon as weak but its pretty clear he is over-powered.

Throw in a rich girl trope of a character with a whole bunch of assassins after her and a romance that makes little logical sense but somehow manages to end up being kind of sweet and feel rewarding, plus some inter-school rivalry and a whole bunch of flying swords and you basically have a sense of what Immortal King is going to offer.

By the way, they really aren’t kidding about the whole Daily Life thing in the title as you will watch Wang Ling searching for, ordering, and eating dry noodles a lot.

Karandi reacts to slice of life.

At 15 episodes this didn’t quite wear out its welcome but I’m not so sure about the whole second season that’s potentially coming because I’m just not sure what is left to tell in this story. I mean, we already took The Daily Life of the Immortal King to world ending level danger in this season and his character growth felt pretty satisfying but it doesn’t feel like this set-up has much left to offer.

What I will say is that this story does get better as it goes. Largely this comes from the small changes in Wang Ling’s character as he becomes closer and more invested in Sun Rong (the love interest) and the two students that he kind of becomes friends with. Also, the green, spirit dog thing is pretty funny.


The ending of Immortal King takes a turn for the more serious that feels fitting given the character changes at that point and honestly I was pretty happy with how this wrapped up.

Karandi - happy enough with the Daily Life of the Immortal King

If you are after anything sensible though, you probably won’t find it here. This one is cliché driven with spirit swords, assassins who declare themselves amazing and spectacular right before they get taken out by someone opening a door, and obvious punch lines to set-ups such as the exploding cauldron while trying to craft pills but provided you are in the mood for something a little on the absurd side it all works well enough.

Visually, it isn’t amazing animation but it all works well enough with fight sequences feeling suitably flashy for the powers being splashed about.

The Daily Life of the Immortal King isn’t unmissable but it is quite watchable and available on Netflix so there’s worse ways to spend a day than binging this one. It is in Chinese though so even if you’ve watched enough anime that you aren’t as reliant on subtitles, this one is going to require you to pay a bit more attention.

If you’ve checked out The Daily Life of the Immortal King let me know what you thought in the comments below.

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

Days Episode Thoughts – A Viewer’s Journey In Watching A Non-Athlete Learn Soccer

Days Episodic Thoughts

Days is pretty much the story of two characters playing soccer together. One is supremely talented and the other has never played before and isn’t all that fit. That said, apparently all it takes is heart and effort because this is a feel good kind of story.

I think if I had to describe this series as a colour that colour would be beige. It is all pretty average but works.

You can read my full series review here.

Days Episode 1

I’ll admit it, I read nothing about this anime and didn’t do any further investigating after watching the episode.

It’s a sport anime so it isn’t my usual thing but I watched the first episode of Days out of curiosity (plus I’ve had one or two surprises even though the vast majority of shows in this genre just don’t work for me). I was pleasantly surprised.

Our two main characters contrast quite nicely (though there seems little reason why they are interacting) and the pace of this episode was quite well done. It didn’t feel like an extended commercial for soccer (football). Don’t know how many episodes I’ll watch but this definitely made me want to at least try one more so well done.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 2

Days Episode 2

There is something really sweet about the main character in Days and that’s about the only draw this show still has for me. I kind of want to see him succeed and they have just the right ratio of failure and idiocy to success to string you along and make you keep watching.

That said, the short cuts in animation and storytelling make this episode of Days significantly less compelling than it might be. Why animate all the guys running up a hill when you can pan over still images of guys who might be running up a hill? Plus, there’s only so many running scenes and people huffing and puffing after running you can take in an episode.

Days Episode 3

Well, they finally played an actual game of soccer and it went as well as can be expected for Tsukushi.

Despite the usual training camp setting, the boys with clashing with boys from other schools, and the random moments of philosophy thrown in that you usually get with sports anime, this one is still kind of winning me over because I just can’t help but smile. I’m actively disliking the genre but the characters and the general uplifting feeling I’m getting while watching this is making it pleasant.

This was close to dropped after episode 2 but I kind of feel like I’m committed now as I do genuinely want to see where this team goes (even though it is probably the same place every anime team goes).

Days Episode 4

Days Episode 4 - you're living wrong?

I’m fully committed to this show now. I love Tsukamoto as a character. Yeah, he is incredibly lame and overly earnest and all of those other things but somehow he is carrying it off well and making me really want to see him succeed. The other members of the soccer club are also interesting and the introduction to the girls in his class this episode was entertaining.

This episode of Days is full of clichés and the ending is predictable but it is a very nice ride to get there. I also like that Kazama is still present in this episode but has definitely taken a back seat. Tsukamoto isn’t being endlessly protected by his presence anymore but they haven’t just made him disappear from the story.

Days Episode 5

The first half of this Days episode is slow but helps build things up to the tournament. We kind of get introduced to a new character but it doesn’t really feel like he is going to be sticking around and he was more of a stepping stone in the whole plot. I could be wrong though.

There are a few cringe worthy moments as Tsukamoto cheers from the side-lines and as usual he misconstrues a lot of what is happening around him, but by the end that seems to have washed away and we’re back to just being kind of sweet. All and all, a satisfying episode but not quite as charming as the previous one.

I still think it is weird that I actually care about the outcome of a soccer game but this anime has done a great job of making me want to see the team succeed.

Days Episode 6

Days episode 6 - philosophy about winning.

There isn’t that much more to say this week than any other. Tsukamoto continues to learn various parts of playing soccer, we have a firmly established rivalry between two school soccer captains, and we get to see how one of the seniors on the team is having a hard time playing with an amateur.

I actually kind of enjoyed the futsal game with the rival school captain and liked how we saw Tsukamoto internalising some of what he was watching from the other players. All and all, it continues its move forward and work hard philosophy. This episode was pleasant and enjoyable but not a lot else.

Days Episode 7

We finally met a mean-spirited soccer team. It seems insane that none of the players ended up with serious injuries after a match like that but otherwise this was actually really fun to watch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed that, despite Tsukamoto’s short comings, most people have been supportive, but it meant there was little tension in each episode. Having an actual conflict to overcome was a nice change of pace. Plus, the captain finally took the field which may not have been the smartest move but was certainly entertaining. 

And early in the episode, Kazama finally has a revelation of value. Overall, this maintains its feel good kind of mood with an overloaded message about teamwork and trying your hardest.

Days Episode 8

Cheering for your own opponent?
Days Episode 8

Sport takes a bit of a back seat as we spend a lot of this episode with Tsukamoto and his mother. This episode of Days is adorable as we have a chance to really see how joining a team has affected Tsukamoto’s entire life and outlook. Then of course we get right back into prep for the finals as the team get pumped up and ready to go.

From a plot point of view, this Days episode is all set up and reflection, but it’s the good kind that feels like it is going to make the payoff worth the effort and not the kind that feels like they were trying to stretch the run time unnecessarily. Looking forward to the match next week.


Days Episode 9

The final game is on and we finally get to see some of the better players actually playing well. That said, that’s about all we get other than a few flashbacks and a heartfelt message that was kind of obvious from the get go. There’s also some good rivalry between the teams. It isn’t that one team is full of jerks tearing down our favourites, it’s that both teams are competitive and in it to win.

It’s a reasonable episode but without the outcome of the game clear, it really is just marking time. Looking forward to what happens next week with the team though.

Days Episode 10

Days episode 10 - it isn't anything to cry about.

Must be the season for protracted final battles. This game continues on (in fact we’ve only just passed the half-way point).

Part of the problem is that they are trying to give each of the players a few moments in the lime light and while this is great for actually giving some of these names and faces a bit of personality, it is stretching this game far longer than I would like and makes this episode of Days feel a little drawn out.

That isn’t saying the game itself hasn’t been exciting. In terms of watching a soccer game, it is interesting enough. Kazama’s self-realisation that he hates losing was definitely entertaining. And I’ll admit, I was probably cheering the wrong thing when Tsukamoto got head butted on the side-lines.

Okay, next week here we come. Will we resolve this game or are we going to stretch it one more week?

Days Episode 11

Alright, when you’re one game of soccer needs a five minute recap at the start of the episode there’s a little bit of a problem with your narrative pacing.

That complaint aside (and it is a big complaint for this Days Episode), I was hooked for the rest of the episode to the point where I was actually surprised when the end credits started. And of course, we don’t know whether he got the last goal or not. I’d like it if he did but given everything else I kind of feel they’ve set it up for another case of Tsukamoto sending the ball flying off the field.

I guess we’ll know next week. The game certainly got more interesting once Tsukamoto took the field though I feel bad for all the other subs on the team because they don’t seem to have been given any field time.

Kazama is a bit emotional.
Days episode 11.

Days Episode 12

So after excessively long game watching, Days decided this week to just jump to after the match and allowed us to see the fallout. Turns out, nobody likes losing. There’s a revelation for us.

That said, I didn’t much mind following the characters around and watching them deal with their loss as well as coming to terms with what it means for them personally. Ubukata and Tsukamoto are particularly adorable in the second half of the episode.

The question then become, what next? Where do we go from losing this match? Hopefully next week will start pointing us in the next direction because this week chose to wallow rather than move us on.

Days Episode 13

There are times when you could almost forget that this anime is supposed to be a show about soccer.

The Days episode this week goes to a festival and then a study session and other than a little bit of running and conversation the sport fades well into the background. That said, at least we are getting some more time with the first year team members which is something we haven’t seen in a long time and realistically as a viewer I was starting to forget who some of the characters were.

This week continues to show us Tsukamoto as he tries to overcome the failure at the tournament and it really is show-casing that even though outwardly things have changed a lot for this character, on the inside he really hasn’t progressed that much but the little progress he has made has been for the better.

Days Episode 14

Days episode 14 - feeling self-loathing.

And we’re off on soccer camp and back into playing games but now our first years are getting a chance to play. This transition is nice and we’re learning a lot more about both the seniors and the first years by seeing them seek their motivation and trying to secure their position in the next tournament.

That said, mid-episode hit a slightly depressing note before they did their usual feel-good turn around. Hopefully next week can continue and we can get some more character development in amongst the kicking the ball around the field. Days continues to be a pretty even note anime. Each Days episode feels much the same as the last and the quality hasn’t noticeably gotten better or worse. It’s a nice consistent watch each week.

Days Episode 15

I’m starting to feel a little bit worn down by Days.

Not surprising really given it was never the kind of anime I’m really interested in. I still do like the characters and I don’t intend to drop this because I do want to see how they develop right until the end but I did find this episode of Days in particular a little tedious.

From the opening gag with the boys finding a bra to Tsukamoto’s excessive emotional outbursts and self-doubt (not really new to the series but this episode it just felt a little too much). Not to mention this episode individually accomplished nothing, though lay the ground work for future developments.

The only real shining part of this episode was finally getting to know Haibara. Up until now he’d very much just been in the background and this episode gave him a bit of a moment though it felt like the writers new we didn’t have a clue who he really was given they had almost every character say his name in about a five minute span (slight exaggeration).

All and all, this series is continuing as it has been going and I know it is only my attention that is starting to waver that made this feel like it was less than previous episodes.

Days Episode 16

Days episode 16 - focus.

After feeling like I’d hit my limit of this last week I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. I complained that Tsukamoto hadn’t really developed and they show us in the game this week that he is finally putting everything together in his own weird way.

I was annoyed by the general lack of tension or anything to really keep you interested and so this week we set up a whole series of rivalries both within the team and with the opposition. So after this episode I’m looking forward to the next one again.

Whether this is an ongoing change or whether this is just the last hurrah before this show falls into the forgettable realms of mediocrity still remains to be seen. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode this week and now I want to know how the next game goes.


Days Episode 17

Okay, I was ready to call this series dead in the water after we had over 3 minutes of recap from the previous Days episode before the opening song. 5 minutes in and we only just started with new material. However, that’s when things got better and didn’t stop.

The game this time is actually quite intense and the events at half-time (the end of this episode) leave you wanting more. You also see some of the results of the journey each of these characters have been on throughout this series which is something we’ve been wanting for awhile.

This episode doesn’t make this series a must watch again. This show has been fairly hit and miss in terms of tone and pace right from the start and once the novelty of something different (for me at least because I don’t normally follow anything sport related) wore off what I was left with was a fairly generic story about someone who felt they were useless gradually finding out where they belonged and working hard to achieve a goal.

All and all though, this episode was kind of exciting to watch.

Days Episode 18

Days Episode 18

My opinion about Days as a series is unchanged.

There’s a number of issues with pacing and characterisation going on. This episode, however, I loved. From start to finish I was absolutely engrossed. It helped that the main focus of this episode were the characters on the team we’ve spent the most time with.

It also helped that they continued their development as characters and players that was kicked off last episode. Kimishita and Tsukamoto particularly come out of this episode quite strong and even Kazama has an off-field revelation spurred on by the team manager, Ubukata. It’s a great way to finish off this two part game and it really feels like all of the episodes up to now have had some ort of purpose.

I am starting to think that part of the problem with this team’s lack of consistency is that no-one really gets what the Captain is thinking because he’s a really poor communicator. Great soccer player or not he really isn’t a great leader and that leaves his players at loose ends far too often. That said, compared to some of the other Captains we’ve encountered in this series he isn’t too bad.

Days Episode 19

Days doesn’t do all that much this week and yet kind of does what it needs to. The summer camp ends (and amazingly Tsukamoto and Kazama are just over their conflict so that was a plot thread that went nowhere) and they are now in the preliminaries fighting for a spot at nationals. Events kind of blip past and we don’t spend a lot of time on the field but more watching how the players are getting read to deal with this new challenge.

Of course we spend time watching Tsukamoto freak out and question his own abilities. We end the episode 1 game into the preliminaries with preparations for the next game but of course its pouring rain so there’s our new challenge ready to go. It isn’t that this wasn’t fun to watch but it is definitely a bridging episode so by itself doesn’t amount to much.

Though, if you ever want a lesson on how to have an awkward conversation with a parent, just ask Kazama. He’s nailed this as an art form.

Days Episode 20

Days episode 20 - yep, mindless cheerleader.

Days continues into the tournament and we injure yet more players before the semi-finals. Of course, we only make it into the first couple of minutes of that game before it is episode over.

So what did we do for the rest of the Days episode? Well, we spent a lot of it with the team they are facing in the semi-finals and I still haven’t figured out the point of that choice. Either they are about to win and knock Seiseki out, in which case that’s the end of the road for Seiseki. Or they are about to lose, in which case we won’t really see these guys again so why do we care about them starting up a soccer club?

So yeah, I didn’t see the point of a lot of this episode but generally I’m still enjoying Days and I’m looking forward to the last few episodes this season.

Days Episode 21

The game from the last Days episode continues and we see both sides make some mistakes and we also get to see the team’s first years struggle to deal with the pressure of suddenly being forced into a high pressure game. At the centre though is Tsukamoto who has finally genuinely found a love of the game and not just of being included as part of the team.

For once we see him playing with a smile on his face and not crumbling under the pressure or fear of letting the team down. This is a fantastic step forward for his character and it was great fun to watch. I also liked the commentary from the characters who’ve been sidelined in this match.

All and all, a fun episode in this series but nothing really amazing. Of course ending the episode with a ball flying toward the goal but not knowing if it lands or not is just kind of annoying. We’re 21 episodes in, we don’t need bait to come back next week.

Days Episode 22

Days episode 22

After two full episodes of Days the game still isn’t over and I must point out that the animation definitely took a downward turn again this episode. Normally that doesn’t bother me but the sheer number of still images this week, plus some really terrible faces on background characters, kind of ruined the overall tension of whether or not they’d win this game.

I like how the benched players are still being kept involved in the game and are offering their thoughts as we go. I like that most of the players on the team, even those that usually take background roles, have all been involved. However, this week offered a lot more on field bickering for both teams than what we’ve been used to in Days and it was a welcome relief when Usui (as acting Captain) got Seiseki back on track.

Days Episode 23

So this Days episode surprised me as it made me care time and again about the outcome of the game even if it feels this week like it was a foregone conclusion. The ride getting to that final goal was definitely exciting.

Of course, once again, we spent the entire episode watching the game and in honesty I didn’t much care for the other team and those characters so those moments were a little less than satisfying. Looking forward to next week and how this season concludes.

Days Episode 24

Days episode 24

Well, if you made it this far through Days you won’t come across anything surprising in this final episode of season 1.

Basically if you have enjoyed the ride to here you will smile, reflect, remember the journey the characters have been on and generally just be happy to be a part of the Seiseki experience. There’s no added depth here, no surprises, no last minute twists in the story.

Days, as it always has been, played this last episode straight focussing on the characters we’ve come to love and then it left us wanting to see how they go in this final game and whether they go to Nationals. Thanks. Season 1 review is available here an I’ve not watched the OVA so don’t know if they go any further or not.

Images from: Days. Dir. K Uda. MAPPA. 2016

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

Cheer Boys!! From Beginning To End – A Viewer’s Journey Into Male Cheerleading

Cheer Boys Episode Thoughts

Cheer Boys!! or Cheer Danshi!! with its multiple exclamation points for no reason (I’m guessing it is just really excited about its content) is an anime series released in 2016 based on a novel about a group of college boys who decide for various reasons to start a cheerleading team. There’s 12 episodes plus a recap episode after episode 5 (not sure what was going on in 2016 but this happened a lot).

As cheesy as that sounds, the series ultimately had quite a bit of heart to it and while it isn’t going to rival anime sports giants such as Haikyuu anytime soon, Cheer Boys!! wasn’t bad viewing. Below are my thoughts from each episode of the series from my first viewing.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 1 – The Curtain Rises

Bandou’s family are into Judo but he was never all that good at it. Now he has injured his shoulder and finally has an excuse to quit. His best friend sees this as the perfect opportunity to start a male cheerleading squad.

Queue a whole lot of speeches about the power of cheers and positivity. Okay, this was actually a reasonable first episode but you get more or less what you would expect given the premise of Cheer Danshi!!.

The characters are introduced in a reasonably sensible manner, they discuss events that they probably shouldn’t need to in order for the audience to know what is going on, and then they hand out fliers to start a cheerleading team. There are some funny moments but mostly this one has had a slow start.

My biggest complaint is the jerk who came up to them while they were watching a cheerleading team and berated them over wanting to start one. Who does that? Even if you think they have no chance, just laugh and move on. Why set yourself up as an antagonist when there is no need for it at all?

Anyway, Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab for those in Australia and New Zealand and this one is a wait and see.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 2 – Your First Cheerleader Smile

Bandou speaks with his sister.
Image from Cheer Boys Episode 2

Cheer Danshi!! is moving along slow and steady. Last episode they formed the team, now we’re recruiting members and setting goals. I like that they didn’t become spectacular after a training montage and that the small improvements feel genuine, though I still question whether an injured shoulder would be any more useful in cheerleading than Judo.

The dynamic between the boys is great and the new additions are keeping it feeling fresh. I’m not going to drop this one for a bit even though it isn’t my usual style of anime because it’s light and enjoyable without too much thought required.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 3 – The Seventh Squirrelurai

Philosophy and sport - just play.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

Yep, Cheer Danshi!! is light and enjoyable and not too much thought is required. That’s the perfect summation of this anime. This week we get the standard messages about perseverance over talent while we’re introduced to another male soon to be member of the club.

Like most the other members he’s coming with his own motives and baggage but the show doesn’t seem to want to dwell on this but rather continues to focus on the boys developing into a cohesive team and that’s pleasant enough if not particularly exciting. It was nice to see them actually start to develop some tumbling skills though the speed at which they succeeded kind of makes me want to question whether the writers have ever tried actually tumbling.

If you want something light and easy, watch a couple of episodes of this.


Cheer Boys!! Episode 4 – What We Want To Break

Almost a team.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

There’s something to be said about a show that just goes about it’s business quietly. Cheer Boys!! has a likeable cast of boys slowly learning the ropes of cheerleading. Some of them have personal baggage, they don’t always get along, and they sometimes don’t succeed. Otherwise, it’s just your usual never give up and keep trying anime with a power of teamwork motif thrown in because that’s what these shows do.

Haru’s fear of heights has been coming for awhile so it wasn’t a particularly stark revelation and the boys watching an experienced team train and realising their current limitations was a kind of necessary next step. This show is pleasant, amusing, doesn’t fall into the so little tension it is dull category, and continues to entertain but it isn’t particularly exciting.

This one also has a pretty cool opening song. It’s a little infectious and kind of fits the show nicely.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 5 – Let’s Go, Breakers!

Eating is a test of courage.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode of Cheer Danshi!! just flew by. I got so caught up in the team prepping for their first performance and then the performance was on and the credits were rolling. This episode just feels right, like the culmination of the past four episodes and all of their effort.

Yeah, they still aren’t perfect and clearly the team is still growing (given how many boys we see in the opening) but this core group are finally getting things together and progressing and it is really satisfying to watch. My favourite moment this week goes to Haru’s outburst on the roof. For a normally quiet character when he let’s loose everything just comes out at once.

This show isn’t going to wow anyone but it has been a really pleasant ride so far and so if you haven’t picked it up it is well worth checking out the first 5 episodes.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 6 – Restart

Well that cheerleading team grew fast.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

So we now have a full team and a shiny new goal (though personally I think a national competition only a few months after assembling a team is probably overly ambitious) in Cheer Danshi!!.

We also finally confronted Sho’s predictable trauma but by the end of the episode he’s ready to move forward. I kind of get why we went from 7 members to 15 this quickly but it means that our new members are difficult to understand and remember (admittedly they clearly thought about how to visually differentiate the characters but their personalities for the most part remain a mystery).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and it maintains its positive and upbeat tone.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 7 – Strain

Different goals and approaches cause friction.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Well this episode of Cheer Boys!! is certainly an excellent case study on what happens when a team lacks a shared vision. It’s kind of hard to watch the inevitable break down of communication and the half-hearted and doomed efforts to patch over the problems rather than address them.

That said, it is kind of exactly what this show needed because the feel good and everybody just pulling together thing was really starting to feel a little artificial, particularly with so many new team members joining for so many different reasons. Kind of hoping they find a genuine way to deal with these issues next week.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 8 – The Dawning of a Bond

Unproductive conversation is more or less how we built society.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode brings the in-team tension to a head, has Hisashi try to quit, and then has a touching resolution before we go to a New Year’s training camp for a training and cooking montage. It’s fun to watch and we finish on a nice positive, but I can’t help but wonder why the rigid guy has to loosen up to fit in and why it isn’t the irresponsible guy who never quite get’s it that doesn’t have to pick up his act.

The brocoli guy is seriously irritating and as a team member he kind of sucks. I would have definitely preferred an outcome where he started to take something a bit more seriously. Or maybe both characters realising they’d need to meet halfway. Though, Hisashi definitely needed to learn how to give criticism without being offensive.

Cheer Danshi!! remains an enjoyable, if fairly pointless, watch. I am however concerned about the fate of Kazu’s grandmother.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 9 – Tears of the Sun

Kazu having a moment of reflection.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Kazu’s grandmother doesn’t remember him. I don’t know whether the lead up to this episode was good or bad. It’s been clear for awhile that Kazu’s grandmother is not going well and that Kazu is hiding that from Haru. So it wasn’t a revelation of any sort. That said, at least it didn’t come completely out of left field to add artificial tension to the story.

I really feel the issue was that this episode just didn’t hit the emotions I felt it wanted to get across. Which, given Kazu is a main character, is a shame because his episode had so much less impact than some of the other episodes of Cheer Danshi!! we’ve already watched.

Anyway, we’re moving onto the competition and we’ll see what our team have managed to pull together in too short a time period to actually make a team of novices competitive. Hopefully it will be inspiring because realism left awhile ago.

I know that sounds like I don’t like this show but that isn’t actually true. It’s an enjoyable watch. It just doesn’t offer anything else of substance to go with that so will be fairly quickly forgotten by me.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 10 – What I Wanted To Tell You

I'm sure that wall loves the attention.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

I think they made some smart decisions this week with the focus on the characters prior to and after their qualifying performance and leaving out lengthy scenes of various teams performing. We’ve seen enough cheerleading throughout this show to know what is happening and this way the story kept up its pace and didn’t feel dragged down by extended pretty animations.

Even a mistake in the routine was mentioned after rather than seen. Though realistically that is also probably because they haven’t really got the animation budget to bring these routines to life. So smart choices all round then.

I also liked the dual focus on Haru and Sho throughout the episode. All and all, this episode was more satisfying than anticipated because I was worried we’d be sitting through rounds of routines and the story was going to get stopped in it’s tracks.


Cheer Boys!! Episode 11 – Bittersweet Valentine

Hmm yum.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Let’s put cheering on hold and deal with all those pesky relationship issues that continue to remain unresolved. That seemed to be the theme this week and while everything here felt a little bit contrived it also felt like they were wrapping up loose ends nicely before the competition.

I do feel that the whole making a cake for Valentine’s Day thing was kind of needlessly silly as was the ‘twist’ but realistically it was obvious the girl was never making the cake for Haru. However, the resolution of the conflict between Haru and his sister felt needed even if it turns out they just needed to talk and then he just needed to go watch her match.

All and all, Cheer Danshi!! remains pleasant but superficial and I’ve enjoyed watching the season, however as they essentially wrapped up any existing plot point except the finals there doesn’t seem much left for these characters to do but either win or not next week.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 12 – Cheer Boys!!

While I liked that the focus of the episode was on self-reflection and the journey travelled rather than winning a national tournament after less than a year as a team, the note book gimmick fell kind of flat. It just felt like if they actually tried this someone would have grabbed the book and walked off and the team would have had a few more falling outs and misunderstandings the day before the competition which just isn’t productive for generating team spirit.

I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the routine uninterrupted and instead we had flash backs and quotes from the note books over the top. For a show about cheerleading we’ve seen very little (thankfully, because otherwise it would get dull) but we’ve now watched the final episode and still not really seen a full routine.

All and all, this series has maintained its tone and ended satisfyingly enough but other than being reasonably enjoyable to watch it has also remained reasonably forgettable.

Cheer Boys the full team.

Find the full series review here.

Images from: Cheer Boys. Dir. A. Yoshimura. Brain’s Base. 2016

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Karandi James

Horimiya Series Review – Fascinating Anime Romance

Horimiya Review

Will Hori and Miyamura get their happily ever after in Horimiya?

As much as I am a fan of great action and horror, I must admit I’m also a sucker for romantic comedies, provided the comedy lands its mark and doesn’t take away from the sweet ‘awww’ inducing moments; so Horimiya seemed like an interesting anime to pick up.

This is definitely a by-product of many a rainy afternoon spent bingeing rom-com movies with my mother growing up and I will admit these stories are still great, feel good, popcorn entertainment. Sure, the genre relies heavily on coincidences and far-fetched overly dramatic moments but if the personalities work the emotional high when the end credits begin rolling is very real.

Basically, I jumped into Horimiya not necessarily looking for narrative depth. I was looking for characters I could care enough about that I wanted them to get to a happily ever after and I wanted to connect with enough to get taken on the emotional journey they are on. As such, Horimiya works pretty well as a romantic comedy and manages to mostly hit the right notes.

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Hori getting flustered (you'll see this a lot).
Image from Horimiya anime 2021.
Hori on the other hand gets flustered by everything.

Horimiya primarily follows the relationship that develops between popular pretty girl (at school), Hori, and the loner kid, Miyamura and the changes that both go through after they see beneath the surface of each other’s personas. The transformation is a lot more noticeable in Miyamura who comes out of his shell significantly and even does that standard symbolic hair-cut mid-season which coincidentally also reveals his heavily pierced ears to his class mates.

However, Hori is also changed by Miyamura’s presence in her life and the relationship between these two sets off a chain of effects within the class and across a number of groups within the school so while the majority of the time focuses on the main couple we’ll see a number of characters navigating relationship drama across the 13 episodes.

Honestly though, I think Horimiya suffers from a little bit of clutter. The student council members, particularly Remi and Kakeru add little to the overall story and mostly just eat screen-time that could be better spent else-where. The love triangle (quadrangle) formed around Hori’s friends Ishikawa and Yuki definitely stretches coincidence thin and again adds a bit of bloat that the story didn’t really need.

Admittedly, I was a little more invested because Ishikawa and Yuki were at least closely involved with Hori and Miyamura’s story but again, it all just felt like a bit of distraction from the main plotline.

I’ll tie up my other negative observations about Horimiya and then we’ll jump to the positives, because there are a lot more positives than negatives for this series. In my watch-or-drop post after watching three episodes, I made the comment that some of the comedy didn’t quite land and that continues to be an ongoing issue for the anime.

The majority of the humour works relying on the reactions of characters to things and for the most part fits in with the story and adds a few laughs. Occasionally though there will be a set-up or joke that just leaves you wondering why it was left in as it clearly breaks the overall flow and adds nothing.

Don't mess with Miyamura - Image from Horimiya anime 2021.
Perfectly sound reasoning really.

The other minor negative, and it will depend on your view, comes from some of Hori’s requests as her relationship with Miyamura progresses. They could have actually explored this a lot more in a serious relationship story but in a romantic comedy, her requests that Miyamura speak badly to her and at one point he hits her, really didn’t sit well with me.

I think this was largely because these moments were played for laughs and also because it kind of came out of nowhere and about an episode later that part of their relationship disappeared altogether so they didn’t explore it at all. It just felt like a lost opportunity or as something that wasn’t really well thought out, thrown in for a laugh and then abandoned.

Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting a deep exploration of relationships from a rom-com but then why include it at all if you do nothing with it?


With those points out of the way though this anime is pretty charming. The chemistry between Hori and Miyamura is solid and scenes which focus on these two, particularly on Miyamura’s many visits to Hori’s home, are all pretty brilliant. The developing relationship from forming a friendship, to dating, to getting physical, through to being engaged and then graduating high school together all feels pretty natural because these two work so well together.

I also genuinely loved Miyamura’s interactions with Hori’s family as they essentially accepted him as one of the clan from the beginning.

Feel the serenity - Miyamura in Hori's living room. Image from Horimiya anime. 2021.
Miyamura remains the star performer and I’m thinking he’s going to be my pick for best male character this year (bold claim, I know).

Likewise Miyamura’s developing friendship with Ishikawa feels relatively natural, particularly after they get into a fight and then get over it. Other characters, like Sawada felt a little less natural as they intruded on the plot line, but still had some solid character moments throughout.

And while I may have found some of the other relationships stole time away from the main couple, the story does make an effort to give closure on most of these by the end. This is helped by the plot finishing with the graduation of most of the characters from high school as it gives a natural end point to part of their lives, but it is effective even if we’ve seen this kind of thing many times before.


Visually this anime is great to look at with solid character designs and great colour palettes to set the tone for each scene. It isn’t an animation heavy weight and there will be a lot of still background characters and lots of scenes with characters sitting and talking, but the focus here is on the relationship and not the action. That said, it doesn’t look cheap and nasty and most of the time scenes are animated rather than stills even if animation is minimalised.

Hori is not impressed - image from Horimiya anime (2021).
Don’t mess with Hori.

The music is fantastic throughout and definitely ties the story together. The final episode definitely used this to its advantage and drove a lot of the farewell emotions through the background music. Again, for those feeling critical, it is a ploy to tug at your emotions, but it was effective and given the use of music throughout the season, it didn’t feel like a sudden add on but more part of the overall production. I loved the OP to Horimiya and didn’t skip it throughout my watch.

While there are definitely a couple of points I think could have been improved, Horimiya was a fun rom-com to watch with a great central pair. It doesn’t offer anything too new as we’ve seen characters finding out who they are, connecting with others and opening up through the final year of high school through an unexpected relationship before, but what it does offer it serves competently and entertainingly in a bright little package.

For those who like rom-coms with happy endings, Horimiya is one to watch. That said, I wouldn’t object to seeing more from these two in the future if the anime were to continue.

Images from: Horimiya. Dir. M. Ishihama. Cloverworks. 2021

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Karandi James

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun Series Review

Hanako Review

Legends and Rumours Hide A Greater Story in Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun

At some point I feel I need to write a post about studio Lerche. It is a studio that when you look at their catalogue superficially you will see a number of similar titles where they aesthetically combine cute or bright characters with horrific realities and supernatural elements such as Assassination Classroom or Danganronpa, though even Gakkougurashi! (School Live!) wold definitely fit into this niche that Lerche seems to be carving out.

Yet at the same time there’s a range of other anime in the list that seem to entirely break out of this mould and do something totally different (Given).

Click here for more anime reviews.

Either way, while there’s a some anime in Lerche’s line-up that I’m not particularly interested in, they’ve also managed to produce quite the catalogue of anime during the 2010’s that actually managed to just hit the right note for me with a number of them being among my favourite anime of the decade.

All of which is a long-winded way of me saying that I wasn’t actually all that interested when I read the premise of Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun however I did try a few episodes while it was airing after reading some positive reviews. What made me go back to it and complete it in 2021 was a curiosity about what this studio had produced this time around.

Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun image
Yep, curious.

Right off the bat I am going to say that this isn’t going to be topping any of my favourite anime even lists, not even in the supernatural category. There’s a definite charm to Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun and the jarring juxtaposition of over-the-top comedy and almost cartoonish visuals with some of the darker subjects and events that Nene and Hanako get themselves into with Kou often just along for the ride actually kind of works.

There’s a few genuine creeps along the way as well as a few laugh out loud moments as Nene learns about the seven wonders of her school and their fairly complex relationship with rumours and gossip.

Now, this isn’t the first ghost story that has manipulated supernatural elements through manipulating rumours, myths and legends, however the concept remains an interesting one to explore. Supernatural beings that exist only through the way they are remembered opens up a range of nasty story possibilities particularly when antagonistic characters are most definitely using the laws of this reality for their own nefarious (if reasonably undisclosed) purposes.

Hanako 5
Well, that doesn’t look like it is going to end well.

However, while in principle, I really like Hanako-kun and the world established in this anime, and I also loved the visuals and use of colour, and the music was fantastic (really that OP is exactly what this premise needed) and there’s even a lot of moments along the way in the story that managed to hit the right emotional notes, overall I have to come back to the fact that while I wanted to like this and at times did, a lot of it really just felt like I was detached from what I was watching.

Arguably, this isn’t something objectively wrong with the story in Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun but rather I just never felt like things came together for me and that feeling is only heightened when the series ends on a relatively inconclusive note between the main pair.


If I had to pin down the parts of Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun that really just didn’t click quite into place for me, I’d probably start with Nene, our central character who kicks off the story by making a wish to Hanako-Kun before circumstances push her into becoming his assistant. Again, not a lot new in that set-up as we’ve seen characters dragged into supernatural occupations before working alongside or beneath either a more knowledgeable character or one that actually is of supernatural origins.

With Nene the reoccurring jokes about her romantic fantasies, her appearance and lack of self-confidence really undermined her likeability for me and while she did have a few moments where she seemed to rise about bumbling human-plot-device who stumbled into any supernatural situation that existed in the school, these moments were few and far between.

And with not particularly enjoying Nene, Hanako’s attachment to her and relationship throughout the series wasn’t quite as interesting to watch as it may have been. I ended up finding Kou, an exorcist who ends up working alongside the other two, the more interesting character of the three and even then he takes a fair while to feel fleshed out and like a real person rather than a trope that exists to make the jokes happen.

Hanako 2
Hanako is all business – when it suits him.

While many of the episodes feature a wonder or ghost of the week, the story is actually an ongoing one that explores Nene learning more about the supernatural world but feeling a distance between herself and Hanako. Unfortunately just when we learn enough to actually be a bit curious about Hanako we hit the season end point. The antagonistic characters of the series have so far been impressive only in-as-much as they seem to be mostly getting their own way but personality-wise there isn’t one in the bunch that has actually made me want to know more about them.

As a point of curiosity, AnimeLab listed Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun under it’s horror genre whereas MAL plays up the comedy and school aspects as well as supernatural. The reality is it definitely gyrates between these two positions. I bring this up because there’s definitely death, dismemberment, suicide and abuse sitting behind a lot of this story. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of young ghosts in it and what we learn of their lives and deaths isn’t exactly pretty. Not to mention what some of these ghosts are doing to the current students as their legends get warped in fairly hideous ways.

Now, as a fan of horror, this doesn’t both me and actually was part of the appeal of Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun, but for those expecting a school-comedy while there is definitely a school and comedy in this anime you are going to get some dark subject matter as well.

The end result here is one that is a bit mixed. This is an entertaining anime that works and should we get another season is starting off a pretty interesting story in a world with well thought out supernatural lore. It didn’t personally work for me (at least not enough that I’d turn-cartwheels over another season being announced) largely because of the characters and that is a little disappointing because I really did want to like this as I watched it.

Images used for review from: Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun. Dir. Y. Higa. Lerche. 2020.

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Karandi James

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Series Review

Villainess Review

These Violent Delights Are Usually Inspired By Food

Let’s get it out there to begin with: they need a character count on anime titles. Seriously, even the Japanese title is massive. Also, the English title, My Next Life as a Villainess, isn’t really a translation of the Japanese given it doesn’t mention otome games at all or destruction flags.

Perhaps they thought the more niche vocabulary would limit the audience in the English speaking world. Or maybe it is just that whether you go with the Japanese, the directly translated Japanese, or the actual English title, this one is a mouthful. By the time you finish giving the title of what you’ve watched to someone you’re too worn out to even describe what it is about.

Oh, I guess the title did that part for me.

Catarina and Keith at the party: Hamefura Episode 3
My Next Life as a Villainess.
I think a lot of us worry about her, Keith.

One of the things I spent 2020 doing was kind of mass consuming online manga as a means of shutting out more or less everything else, and one thing that occurred to me was that the stock standard isekai story about the non-descript man getting hit by a truck and waking up in a light-medieval fantasy setting is still pretty prolific.

That said, female isekai stories about girls ending up in novels or games they were playing, and being placed into the role of a ‘villain’ or rival within the story seem to be gaining some real momentum in terms of oversaturating the market. And there are some decidedly average offerings in this particularly niche market.

Largely the problem comes from the fact that otome games are pretty formulaic with trope type characters and overly familiar situations so having a self-aware character navigating their way through them gets old pretty fast. There’s also a general issue of the absolute wish-fulfilment of assuming that having prior knowledge of an event somehow allows you to know what the correct option is and that everything will end up rosy just because it is different from the original.

That isn’t to say that some of these stories haven’t managed to be entertaining (and clearly there is a market for them given they continue to appear) but in an already fairly narrow genre this seems a particularly narrow field to mine for new material.

So how was My Next Life as a Villainess?

Which is why I was kind of pleasantly surprised by my first taste of My Next Life as a Villainess. Really, I picked it up because while someone had recommended it to me it was more that I was looking for an anime that would be significantly lighter viewing after the fairly sombre Noblesse and the more mentally involving Gleipnir where simply switching off and watching the pretty characters go about their business wasn’t really an option.

I was even more surprised when not only did My Next Life as a Villainess deliver the brain break I was after, it was also ridiculously charming in its delivery.

Catarina's internal council - "No Objections" - Hamefura Episode 1
The council of Catarina’s hard at work – for imaginary characters these guys are super cute.

Catarina Claes is the kind of non-descript self-insert character you would expect from this type of story. She loved playing otome games and reading romances, had a tragic death at a young age, and after receiving a bump on the head as a child regains her memories of her previous life, realising she was facing doom if things continued on the path of the game.

Where My Next Life as a Villainess managed to ooze charm though was in the depiction of the young cast members. Nearly all of the first three episodes depict Catarina and her cohort of soon to be love interests getting to know each other and getting into various hijinks, lead by the irrepressible reincarnated girl who has no intention of being a lady. She’s energetic, motivated, really not that bright, but kind hearted in a somewhat calculating way. Her internal council convenes fairly regularly to comment on the current developments and determine her next course of action, and we realise that one Catarina was never going to be enough when we could have 5.

Seriously though, I was actually a little miffed when toward the end of episode 3 we transition to Catarina being old enough to go off to school, beginning the game properly. Not that the characters don’t retain their charm, but those younger versions really did win me over. Any episode with a flashback to when they were children was definitely a smile inducing moment.


The plot, such as it is, progresses as you would expect with Catarina going out of her way to befriend anyone who might potentially lead to a doom ending, and going out of her way to eat every sweet at every party. Honestly, she stuffs her face so often full of the most delicious cakes and cookies. Not to mention she gets literal sparkly stars in her eyes at the thought of eating something sweet. You could almost write a whole spin-off to this story that just had Catarina finding new and delicious things to stuff into her mouth.

Catarina, Alan, Geordo and Mary at school - Hamefura Episode 7
Yes Alan, I agree. We should all worry about Catarina and wonder how she’s avoided dental work.

They do manage to actually raise the stakes in the final few episodes as an unexpected twist occurs that even Catarina didn’t see coming due to her lack of knowledge about a hidden route in the game and this leaves the whole anime with a sense that there was some purpose and climax to the story. Not sure how that works with a sequel announced given the basic premise of Catarina knowing what is coming is now over but I can’t say I’m not a little curious about what these characters will get up to next.

My Next Life as a Villainess is a brightly coloured affair, and despite the existence of magic in the story there’s actually only a handful of moments where that actually seems to matter. The focus is entirely on the core group of characters and their interactions, and for all that they fit the basic tropes you would expect there’s a real chemistry and connection.

The shared frustration of Catarina’s fiancé and his rivals for Catarina’s affections (including his brother, his best friend, her adopted brother, and a trio of girls including his brother’s fiancé, the would-be heroine of the story if Catarina had left things alone, and his best friend’s little sister) really causes the group to bond in a way that doesn’t seem like it should be possible and yet really just kind of works.

Catarina and Sophia saved by magic - Hamefura Episode 7
Yep, I was surprised given this is about the second time in the anime that magic is more than just a concept.

From the boppy and smile inspiring OP to the couple of interesting reveals the anime brings out toward the end, My Next Life as a Villainess did its job of letting me just sit back and let the episodes roll by me. After a long work day 3 or 4 episodes in a row was the perfect wind-down and a much appreciated break from reality. While this one isn’t going to be considered a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, for those just in the market for a bit of fun, you will certainly find it here.

Images used for review from: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom. Dir. K Inoue. Silver Link. 2020.

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Karandi James

Watch or Drop? Is Vlad Love Worth Watching?

Watch or Drop Vlad
Vlad Ep1 6

Watch or Drop? Rules

Rules modified for the Autumn 2021 season.

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. I’ll watch as much as it takes to make a decisionas to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.

Just so we’re clear – I didn’t actually watch episodes 1-3. Episode 1 was enough.

Vlad Ep1 1
So this woman apparently works in a school. While they try and turn their own censorship into a joke it doesn’t actually make the thought of this person working in a school any better.

First Impressions:

Look, unlike Sleepy Princess, I did get to the end of episode one of Vlad Love and realistically I could watch more. It isn’t as though it was totally painful or overly offensive, although the nude nurse definitely makes you wonder what exactly the writer’s sense of humour is based on. If I had to sum up my thoughts while watching episode one I could do it with one word: dull. And for a school comedy featuring a starving vampire and a girl obsessed with blood donation (which is one weird obsession but I guess we’ve seen weirder in anime) to manage to be dull is perhaps the best merit I’ll give it.

Series Positives:



That probably isn’t fair.

Actually, Banba, the lead character, could actually be a pretty interesting character if they were a side character in a different anime with better writers. Conceptually I like Banba. Watching her here however she just doesn’t have anything to work with.

Vlad Ep1 4
And what is with the constant use of panels throughout the episode. You aren’t distracting me from the poor writing here.

Also, Mai, the vampire newly arrived from Transylvania after her shipping container got lost is also on paper a pretty interesting character. her desire for blood is at war with her desire not to actually bit or enslave people and all things considered exploration of that could be quite fun. Again, this wasn’t enough to make me stick around through any more of this anime but there’s certainly some potential there.


Series Negatives:

I covered the biggest one in the first impressions and that was that I was bored. They blow up a blood donation van, have a nurse strip, and we meet a Transylvanian vampire and I still wasn’t in any way interested in what I was watching. Part of this was because it is visually one of the least impressive anime I’ve picked up so far this year. However I think a lot of it is just down to delivery of the material. In more adept hands there isn’t anything overly wrong with the concept but it failed to get me even mildly curious about where it intended to go – and honestly given the people behind this one have some real credibility in making anime, you have to wonder just what has gone wrong.

Vlad Ep1 7
Trust me, this one is a snooze fest.

This anime seems to want to be bizarre and off-the-wall and not care but it just hasn’t got the zany energy to pull it off. Also, episode one introduces characters that with a bit more effort could have been interesting but instead has them become one-note memes even before the episode ends. You kind of hope that maybe in the following episodes they expand their repertoire but the damage is already done and any desire I may have had to see more of these characters was already thoroughly killed before the episode came to a halt.


Karandi Bored Transparent

Well at least Vlad Love has the privilege of being my first official declared drop in this new series of posts. For me to be this disengaged by a vampire story is a bit weird and I would claim it was the comedy angle except that I loved Karin and quite enjoyed Rosario and Vampire. So I have a clear history of actually kind of enjoying school based vampire comedies.

Honestly, I really found this one to be dull and just not worth even the small amount of time it would take to watch the next two episodes. Still, I’d love to know your first impressions if you gave Vlad Love a go.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Vlad Love. Dir. M Oshii. Production I.G, Drive. 2021

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Karandi James

Watch or Drop? Horimiya Anime

Watch or Drop Horimiya
Hori-san to Miymura-kun

Watch or Drop? Rules

Rules modified for the Autumn 2021 season.

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. I’ll watch as much as it takes to make a decisionas to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.
Yes, we are playing for keeps around here.

Horimiya Anime First Impressions:

The Horimiya anime is a high-school romance slash slice-of-life anime with characters that are actually fairly well written and interesting (at least so far). Hori and Miyamura have some fairly good chemistry as these first few episodes take us through friendship and into somewhat stronger emotions and with the exception of the members of the student council, most of the supporting cast have so far been pretty delightful.

The student council members may be taking a few clichés too much to heart. So far the pace has been pretty good and it never really feels like we’ve come to a halt and visually it is pretty pleasing.

Series Positives:

Miyamura has been fantastic. When I first saw him in the classroom in the standard outcast otaku mode I had a moment where I was almost ready to just accept that this was going to be as standard as they come. However, from the moment he first makes Hori’s acquaintance in casual mode on he’s proven a fairly entertaining lead character. Hori has been a little less impressive so far because she’s currently stuck in the dense romantic lead trope, however there’s plenty of scope for her character to grow and I’m hoping the series utilises this as it continues.

The visuals in the first 3 episodes have been spot on. While this isn’t an animation marvel full of dynamic action, the use of colour and framing in this anime has so far been very nicely composed and it really adds to the overall impression of the characters and the story.

Finally, as I mentioned in the first impressions, the pace has been well used. We’re not rushing but we go from the characters meeting to a decent friendship within one episode as well as introducing the supporting characters and have Hori confessed to by one of the supporting characters. From there we just keep flowing forward and it feels very natural and is keeping me interested in where things are going.


Series Negatives:

Alright, it is a little generic. If you’ve seen boy and girl who both are a bit different at home to the way they appear at school who meet and become close before then this anime isn’t exactly treading new ground. Admittedly, it is doing its own version of this story and doing it well, but if originality is what you are looking for you probably won’t find it here.

The only other negative I have so far is Ayasaki who is apparently a member of the student council but is being shoved into some kind of role as a rival/antagonist even though there’s really not a lot of room or need for one in the story so far.

Maybe she’ll grow as the series continues or maybe she’ll remain the low point, however first impressions of her aren’t great as she resorts to tears in one scene to avoid accepting responsibility for her actions and then pretty much declares she’s going to ‘take’ Miyamura like some kind of possession even though she’s had like 2 encounters with him. With some more thought and better writing she could be a half-decent character but as it stands she’s the weak link in an otherwise pretty solid opening 3 episodes.

Ayasaki - She's starting something here.
Please leave, Ayasaki. Just get up and go away.

Fine, if pushed I’ll also mention that there’s a joke in episode one that just lands completely flat due to the subject matter and the fact that it is a comment from a teacher to a student that just seems completely out of place. However, outside of that mis-fire most of the humour lands provided you don’t dislike the usual anime girl slaps or flicks boy in face when she’s embarrassed or annoyed.


Karandi Excited Transparent

This was probably a super easy one to start with given it charmed me right from episode one. I am actually disappointed it isn’t finished already because I’d have loved to just binge the whole lot in one sitting. So yes, I’ll be watching the rest of Horimiya once the season is over and I’m looking forward to reviewing the whole series.

Update: Series review of Horimiya

Other Impressions:

Images from: Horimiya. Dir. M. Ishihama. Cloverworks. 2021

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

Noblesse Series Review

Noblesse Review

So Are Vampires Who Protect Humans Just the Norm Now?

I love a good vampire story. The Dracula mini-series on Netflix was pretty awesome to watch and I’ve long been a fan of Buffy. Even spoofs such as Dracula: Dead and Loving It and the more recent Lesbian Vampire Killers manage to charm me despite my usual aversion to obvious humour. With that said, I wanted to like Noblesse. I really did. And ultimately it was watchable enough. However, much like the 30 minute OVA, Awakening, I was left feeling just a bit disappointed overall by what Noblesse didn’t do.

Eye Catch - Noblesse
Noblesse Eye Catch: There’s only about two moments in the whole series where Raizel looks this badass.

Noblesse, according to MAL at least, is the story of Raizel who has woken up from a 820 year slumber and is the titular Noblesse (though what that means you need to wait most of the series to find out and even then it is a bit fuzzy). Naturally he’s attending high school in Japan but there’s a secret organisation called Union who is causing issues around him. The problem with that is to understand why Union are continuing to be involved you kind of need to have watched Awakening and even then, it isn’t as though you get much in the way of their motives.

It also doesn’t help that Union’s involvement really only acts as a catalyst for action in the first 7 episodes, with modified humans apparently being a big deal, and then that arc kind of resolves and we move on to an arc focused pretty much exclusively on the Noble vampires and their issues with Raizel and the modified humans, while they still appear in the story, are pretty much side-lined.

The school element and Raizel’s school friends are kind of shoved into the first of these arcs, with his two human friends somehow managing to befriend members of Union by sheer coincidence and then ending up being designated damsel’s-in-distress, if for no other reason than Raizel’s housemate and a noble vampire being kidnapped wasn’t sufficient cause for Raizel to actually get his power out.

Actually, this story arc is reasonable except that they set it up in the first three episodes, leaving out several pertinent back story points that you either know already or you just kind of have to nod along with what they are saying, they give us no time to really care about the Union team who largely consist of psychos (and how do we know they are psycho – one of them licks blood off his blade as an introduction), and even the relationships between Raizel, the humans, and the noble vampires who have shown up have zero time to really connect for the audience, before we are launched into what ends up being essentially a three episode action sequence.

Frankenstein - Noblesse episode 6
I don’t think we really want Frankenstein’s interest – it doesn’t look healthy.

Don’t get me wrong, the action is pretty solid and some of these characters have some awesome powers. Now if only the visuals didn’t look like something escaped from the late 90’s/early 2000’s era and they might have been able to sell this show on the action alone.

In terms of getting to know the characters, it doesn’t help that all the vampire type characters, with the exception of Regis who seems to be in perpetual pout mode, seem to be having a context to see who can sound the most bored and disinterested. I kind of get they are trying to distinguish the long lived and disconnected vampires from the short lived and more capricious humans, but particularly in the second arc where the majority of characters are vampires, it quickly becomes tedious as you really just want the characters to actually sound like they in any way care about the outcome.

Actually, I’ll take that back. The Lord of the vampires also sounds like a petulant child and her motive is suitably lame.

So now that I’ve essentially bashed the anime to pieces, why did I say it is watchable?

Because for everything wrong with Noblesse, there are hints of a somewhat more brilliant show buried here. Raizel, despite being the King of the bored sounding characters, actually does a brilliant job of balancing detached ancient vampire with a character who seems to genuinely want to reconnect with the world. Episode 1 gave me a brilliant laugh when Raizel asks Frankenstein to get him a phone without actually saying that he wanted one but describing the functions of it in abstract detail.

His habit of watching his human friends go about their business, not really connected but clearly fascinated, works as do his few attempts to step into their world that don’t go so well (such as the basketball game and Raizel’s attempt at making a paper airplane). Throw in the fight sequence at the end of both arc 1 and 2 and realising Raizel is a really awesome guy and his character really just deserved a much better anime.

Keep in mind, I am a huge Kaname fan.
Raizel shows up for the fight - Noblesse Episode 5
You are in trouble now – this scene very much reminded me of Kaname going on a rampage against his own vampiric council.

The other shining moment really comes from Frankenstein’s back story. Usually giving a supporting character a two episode flash back would be a point against a series, but in this case, Frankenstein’s meeting with Raizel that changed both their paths and really the path of all the Nobles actually warranted the two episodes given to it. It also helped that his backstory was pretty interesting and that his was a character I’d been wanting to know more about from the beginning. It felt really satisfying.

One flaw that kind of occurred to me toward the end was the whole 800 years in a coffin thing. The flashback really didn’t look like it took place 800 years ago and yet Raizel was there, pre-coffin. I mean if you look up European fashion from 1100 – 1400 which is the era it should be, not one character even vaguely comes close.

Admittedly, they live in a fictional kingdom ruled by a vampire lord so historical accuracy isn’t that important, but it really feels like it would have made more sense for Raizel to have only been in the coffin a couple of hundred years. It might ultimately be a minor point for some people, but it was enough for me to be broken out of suspension of disbelief during a few key moments of the series.

Noblesse and the Lord - colour contrast? - Noblesse Episode 9
Which era were these characters supposed to be from again?

Ultimately, Noblesse is watchable. You get two story arcs, both kind of self-contained though you definitely need to watch Awakening first, and at least the series feels ended even though clearly there could be more added if they ever decided to make a sequel. The fights, once they get going, are entertaining enough, despite not visually being all that flashy and enough of the characters leave an impression even if there are a few too many throw away ones.

Then again, if like most anime fans you have a watch list that’s starting to overrun your desk, it would make sense if Noblesse wasn’t your first pick. There’s a lot better out there. Also a lot worse which is worth keeping in mind.

Images used for review from: Noblesse. Dir. S Tada. Production I.G. 2020.

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