Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Duos of 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

There’s only one thing better than a great character and that is a great duo. A pair of characters where the chemistry just works, the timing in their dialogue and reactions are spot on, and seeing the two interacting is enough to carry any scene they are in. This is my list of top 5 anime duos from 2018 and there are some incredibly great pairings here. My only real limitation was the characters in the top 5 couldn’t be part of my favourite couples from the year. As always though, I’d love to know your picks so please share in the comments below who some of your favourite duos were.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mention for Ash and Eiji from Banana Fish. After taking out best couple I couldn’t have them on this list as well, but let’s be honest, they really deserve a spot. The only question would be whether I think they could have beaten the number one on this list and that’s a tough question. Also, an honourable mention to Keika and Tanmoku from Spiritpact who were fantastic together, however the introduction of a third character into the mix in season two kind of disrupted the duo for a bit so they ultimately didn’t get a spot in the top 5.

Number 5: Ryuichi and Kotaro from School Babysitters

It is a slightly unusual choice for a duo list but these brothers are fantastic together. Kotaro is awesome as the toddler younger brother and Ryuichi is a delight as a concerned older brother. Neither of these characters comes off as too clingy but their scenes together are always sweet and heart warming and they are just adorable.

Number 4: Kirito and Eugeo from Sword Art Online Alicization

While Asuna may be left fairly high and dry this season, Kirito isn’t flying solo. No, he’s working side by side with Eugeo who has turned into a surprisingly fun character and the interactions with Eugeo and Kirito remain my favourite part of this new instalment of SAO. This is kind of what I think they should have done with Klein way back in the Aincrad arc but I can kind of understand why they didn’t. Looking forward to more Kirito and Eugeo moments in the new year.

Number 3: Banba and Lin from Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

Your typical odd couple, these two work beautifully and are an absolute delight in a show about hitmen and murder. Individually, both characters are fun enough and fine, but when you put them together with their opposing views and contrasting skills you get something really special. Banba brings out the best in Lin and Lin certainly helps to keep Banba fairly level. I know this anime flew a little under the radar for some viewers so if you haven’t checked it out, and you don’t mind a bit of violence, then this one might end up being great fun. It is certainly worth checking out for these two characters.

Number 2: Red and White Blood Cell from Cells at Work

Alright, you knew these two were going to make an appearance. They are adorable and every moment when they are together is delightful. Whether White Blood Cell is rescuing Red from a germ, Red is telling White about her day while they drink tea, or even seeing the young versions of them in training, these two characters are just pure bliss and they work perfectly together.

Number 1: Sakuta and Mai from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

They had to be the number one. From their very first episode together, the interactions between Sakuta and Mai charmed their audience and in an anime full of strong writing and interesting characters, nothing beats scenes with these two together. The back and forth dialogue, the give and take nature of their conversations and barbs, and just their general awareness of one another make these two an unbeatable duo from 2018.

That’s my list of best duos from the year and I’d love to know who some of your favourites were.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support 100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
NENDOROID NO. 1053 MADE IN ABYSS: REG
NENDOROID NO. 1053 MADE IN ABYSS: REG

Advertisements

Spiritpact – Bond of the Underworld Series Review: An Improvement In Every Way on Season 1

After season one’s fairly atrocious start, Spiritpact slowly grew into a semi-decent story. Then season two came onto the scene and it is almost as if this story has finally found its place.

Review:

I really didn’t think much of the delivery of this story back in season one. In fact, my review of it pretty much points out that most of season 1 is pretty tragic:

Despite everything wrong with this show from a production and writing point of view it is telling a really compelling story (it just isn’t doing it well).

But that compelling story that was hidden under the mess that was season one’s delivery was enough to make me go back to season two when so many other shows (The Silver Guardian and Hitori no Shita I’ve just left on hold to binge at some point when I get really bored). Because underneath everything wrong with season one, the characters really won me over and I wanted to see their story.

Spiritpact8g

And that is where season two – Bond of the Underworld – has excelled. It cut out so much of the clutter and the unnecessary. The comedy elements that were almost a complete failure on every occasion barely appear at all. The focus is narrowed down to three central characters and their interactions and while the background of the complex inter-relationships between these families and their roles are still there, it really doesn’t matter. Not to the main characters and not to the audience. The fact that two of the characters we’re focusing on are actually already dead doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference to how well crafted these characters have become (and believe me, I didn’t see myself claiming You Keika was a well crafted character in any capacity during season 1).

Spiritpact10a

This focus is expressed clearly through the OP. While the music isn’t great (not bad just not particularly good), the connections between these characters are made clear and this is the focus of what is explored in these 12 episodes with an antagonist in the form of the brother of one of the dead characters who at times seems to want revenge, at others power, and at the core just seems really ticked off about his brother’s fate.

Spiritpact11c

For those who like a little bit of shounen ai, this season will deliver a fantastic relationship driven drama as You Keika attempts to understand Tanmoku who in turn is trying to come to grips with the death of a former body-guard/friend/potential love interest. These characters interact in the present world as well as walk through the memories they have of the past and learn to see each other in a different light and also learn more about themselves.

Spiritpact8e

What that means is not a lot actually happens given we spend multiple episodes just memory walking, but those memories are integral to how these characters have been forged into the people we met in season one and facing these memories helps these characters to find who they are going to be and to reaffirm their place and purpose.

Spiritpact9d

Visually this season has stepped it up a lot. While there are still the very occasional chibi moments, with the vast majority of the stupid comedy cut out and the focus on character driven drama, there seems to be far more effort in making these characters actually look like characters. There are also a lot of close ups of faces in this season. Still, fight sequences and spiritual powers are quite adequately done. They have been better portrayed in other series, but compared to season 1, there’s a massive improvement here.

Spiritpact6b

Basically, if you endured season one but decided not to go back to season two, I’d urge you to reconsider. This season is superior to the first in so many ways and the story it tells is moving and sweet. I really hope there is a season 3 of this at some point as I’d love to know what the story has in store for these characters next.

Episode Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2          Thoughts on Anime           74iz

Tuesday’s Top 5: Reasons You Should Watch Season 2 of Spiritpact

Tuesday's Top 5

Spiritpact season 2 has finished, with some very weird timing, and I can’t help but note that very few people have been talking about it. That’s not very surprising given how season 1 started and usually I don’t really like the argument that something gets better, but in Spiritpact’s case, the it gets better argument is pretty solid. In fact, season 2 is actually a pretty amazing character drama with some shounen ai moments that will make fan-girls pretty happy. So, while my review is still a week away, for now I’ll give you 5 reasons why you should go and watch this anime (though I guess technically it isn’t anime given it is Chinese and not Japanese but let’s leave that point alone for now).

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mention: Keika’s magical girl transformation sequence. Tragically it only gets shown once, but it is still pretty funny.

Spiritpact1d

Number 5: The attempted break out.

Spiritpact7c

Tanmoku Ki is apparently crazily powerful and yet we so rarely see him do anything particularly note-worthy with that power. Fortunately teenage Tanmoku was a lot more impulsive and when Shouken was locked up he took action. That said, it doesn’t exactly end happily ever after, but it is still an incredibly cool moment and at least it now makes sense why Tanmoku is so incredibly reserved about taking action.

Number 4: Keika taking his role seriously

Spiritpact4a

In season one, it was difficult to understand why Tanmoku wanted Keika around and Keika really didn’t contribute much to anything except temper tantrums and really stupid moments (the second half was better but not by much). Right from the early episodes of season 2, we see Keika taking his role as Tanmoku’s spirit-shadow very seriously even if he isn’t the most effective at keeping Tanmoku safe. It leads to some incredibly touching moments early on and also sets a far more serious tone for the season and allows Keika’s character to be re-evaluated and moved away from the frivolous portrayal we were used to.

Number 3: Shouken and Tanmoku’s Relationship

Spiritpact6b

Seeing the memories of first Tanmoku and then Shouken meant we got two different takes on their relationship and the events that defined it, but both ways gave us an incredibly sweet and tragic tale and one that was actually worth seeing twice because of how it positions us to see Tanmoku then and now and the impact that changing his perception of some of those events is going to have. Shouken’s impact on Tanmoku was enormous and seeing the two of them together was definitely smile worthy.

Number 2: Tanmoku Redefining His Relationship with the Family

Spiritpact8b

There are so many obligations and nuances that guide life in the Tanmoku family, and seeing Tanmoku Ki finally take some time to figure out who he is and what he wants, even if it took most of the season to get there, was a pretty satisfying experience. But he isn’t the only one trapped by the family and the traditions. Jiun, basically a cardboard cutout of a character in season 1, really finds her feet this season and plays a pivotal role. I’m glad she finds a path for herself by the end of the season and I look forward to seeing what happens next to this character.

Number 1: Tanmoku and Keika’s relationship

Seriously, this was brilliant. Watching these two characters move beyond a contract, from being a necessity to one another, and actually forging a real and incredibly close relationship was pure joy. Listening as Tanmoku explains why Keika in the final episode is one of those moments that can just melt your heart as it redefines the idea of selfless love. Certainly these two characters both still have a long way to go, but the journey they took us on in season two was extraordinary.

If you watched Spiritpact, what are some of your favourite moments from the series? I’d love to know so leave me a comment below.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2           Thoughts on Anime            74iz

Special A Series Review: Rivals, Friends, More Than Friends?

At a school that for some reason there is a special class with the top seven students in it who hang out in a green house drinking tea all day and here Hikari and Kei challenge each other continuously, but Hikari just can’t seem to beat Kei and it drives her absolutely angry.

Review:

I’ve often wondered when anime are set at schools with ridiculous set ups such as a class with seven students that don’t actually need to go to class, why? Is there some reason why these characters need that kind of flimsy excuse to hang out together? They couldn’t just be some sort of after school study club and do more or less the exact same things without the absurdity of that premise?

Admittedly, there is some tension during one episode in the series when a normal student challenges one of the seven to take his place in the class. But really what does this set up accomplish? The students in the class are either admired or looked at enviously by the other students, the students in the class are either oblivious to others or genuinely look down on them, and essentially it fosters a sense of elitism that makes it hard to really connect with any member of the cast.

Special2

However, if we put that to the side and look at the rest of the anime, we end up with a fairly run of the mill story told with massive exaggeration. Hikari was the best at everything and then she met Kei. She cannot beat Kei but he takes great delight in taunting her and getting her riled up (it must be love). They aren’t children anymore but their basic relationship hasn’t changed even a little bit partly because Kei, who seems aware that a change needs to occur doesn’t ever actually say anything, and Hikari is the standard oblivious protagonist who at the first hint of anything resembling a romantic relationship either blushed ridiculously or gets angry.

Again, it makes it hard to really care about the cast when they are acting out poor stereotypes and doing them in a grossly exaggerated manner.

Special4

Despite everything standing against this anime though, it does actually have quite a bit of heart to it and the interactions between the students within the class are sometimes quite sweet. So while watching this I kept moving back and forth between being annoyed at it and genuinely wanting to like it.

Where did I end up? Mostly in the camp of realising that for people who like high school comedies, this one works well enough, but also realising that I probably won’t watch this one again.

Special3

That said, visually it is looking dated and it’s only ten years old. But the character designs and animation look a little older than that and I can’t see it having a lot more longevity as it is going to look seriously aged fairly soon. The soundtrack is passable but nothing all that remarkable, though I probably could have done with less shouting from Hikari at times.

Still, if you are looking for a high school comedy, you could do far worse than this. As I said, it has quite a bit of heart in it so even the poorer aspects of the show seem slightly better and if you like the cast a bit more than I did you will probably have a great time with it.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2          Thoughts on Anime           74iz

Spiritpact – Bond of the Underworld Episode 12: A True Pact

Why did this have to end? Are we going to get a third season?

Spiritpact12b

There is one major advantage of this show running at a slightly different time to Japanese seasonal anime. The season final occurred when most other anime are in a mid-season slump or still getting their momentum, so a final right now stands out and has even more impact than it might have had if it had to go up against a plethora of other season finals.

Spiritpact12a

That isn’t to say that this isn’t a really great final episode in its own right, but with so many loose ends screaming for a season 3, it isn’t the most satisfying either. Essentially the Tanmoku family turn things on their head fro the Shinryuu family and Tanmoku Ki and You Keika make a real pact which apparently gives them some amazing powers but we’re not actually going to get to see them use it right now.

Spiritpact12d

The confrontation itself ended in a fairly ordinary fashion and it is the emotional connections between the characters that are the real heroes of this episode and fortunately the show delivers. Whether it is the Keika and Tanmoku’s ongoing relationship, Jiun finally coming to terms with her jealousy and finding a new path to walk or the relationship between the brothers in the Shinryuu family, everything comes to a head and it does so in a glorious, if creepy in the case of the last one, fashion.

I’ll be doing a full series review of this shortly.

Episode Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2          Thoughts on Anime           74iz

Spiritpact – Bond of the Underworld Episode 11: Confrontation

Time for final revelations and the show-down. Things are coming to a fairly exciting conclusion.

Spiritpact11a

On the one hand, I kind of get where Shouken’s brother is coming from. The Tanmoku family did keep his brother’s body and bind his soul and really that’s kind of wrong and distasteful. On the other hand, Shouken was in fact betraying the family by sending out information and ultimately Shouken took his own life. He wasn’t killed by the family. He made his own choice. So it is a little hard to be overly sympathetic to the brother as he binds a whole bunch of spirits and tries to drive Tanmoku Ki to his death.

Spiritpact11c

Fortunately, Keika is showing the amount he has grown over two seasons of this show and is finally stepping up as a spirit-shadow. While it probably isn’t going to be enough, he’s managed to keep things together long enough for the sister to show up and maybe that will be enough to turn the tide of the fight.

All things considered, this has been a pretty dramatic second season and the conclusion seems to be doing a good job of bringing things to a satisfactory close.

Episode Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2          Thoughts on Anime           74iz

Spiritpact – Bond of the Underworld Episode 10: Clarity

Finishing Shouken’s memory walk and it seems things are about to get very intense in the present. This show continues to get better and better.

Spiritpact10a

I really appreciate that this anime managed to show us Tanmoku’s past from his perspective with Keika looking in, and then showed us nearly the same sequence from Shouken’s perspective with Keika and Tanmoku looking in, and at no point did it feel repetitive, unnecessary or dull. It feels like every scene has added to our understanding of these characters and their relationships both then and now and realistically it has really helped to make me love them.

Spiritpact10c

Admittedly, it kind of looks like we’re going for a spiritual smack-down type ending between families and meanwhile Tanmoku’s heart is just a little bit broken and Keika is probably still being manipulated, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was really having fun watching the drama play out. Looking forward to next week and what happens next.

Episode Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2          Thoughts on Anime           74iz