Koikimo Series Review – The Depicted Relationship May Not Be Healthy But This Wasn’t Terrible

Koikimo Series Review

Koikimo straight out admits that ‘it’s too sick to call this love’.

I will admit that when I first went in to taste test Koikimo, or Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui, I was very much expecting not to ever finish this series. As I made clear in my watch or drop post, I don’t particularly like age-gap romance stories. Regardless of how well written the premise might be, there’s always an underlying creepy factor when watching someone in their late twenties romance a teenager and Koikimo takes it a further step and plays it for comedy.

Honestly it shouldn’t work and there’s definitely moments where I really did just want the characters to thank each for the weird experience and walk away.

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Ryo harassing Ichika.
Image from Koikimo 2021.
Nothing creepy about an older guy asking a near perfect stranger who happens to be in highschool for a kiss.

If you just watched the first episode you would probably be justified in tearing this one apart for being another anime putting unhealthy relationships on display and calling it a day. Plus, trying to make Ryo’s stalkerish and persistent behaviour come off as comedy was probably the worst choice in the early episodes.

Though to say Koikimo ‘gets better’ is also kind of a lie. The premise isn’t going away and Ichika isn’t suddenly going to be older. Ryo’s past as a playboy also isn’t disappearing. For those who can’t get past that initial premise, there’s little to be gained from continuing on into the story.

For those who either don’t care about the premise or who found it a bit creepy and off-putting but decided Ichika was an interesting enough protagonist to continue on, what follows over 12 episodes is a surprisingly sensible look at the problems a couple might have with this difference in age and experience. Whether or not that justifies the cringe factor of the premise is something each viewer will have to decide for themselves.

Ryo and Ichika meet for Christmas.
Image from Koikimo 2021.
Standard rom-com meeting under the tree moment.

For me, I don’t necessarily need to like or support a premise. As long as it doesn’t push so far beyond my limit that I quit watching and provided they then build on that premise and the characters, I’ll usually stick around. And romantic anime have a reasonable history of providing us with terrible starting points for relationships (particularly if you watch any boy love anime).

I’ve mentioned before in a post but I’m not necessarily seeking reality in my romantic anime. Koikimo in reality would probably not end up being anywhere near as sweet or endearing as the anime makes it out to be.

Let’s be real: very few mothers would simply smile knowingly as their daughter contemplated pursuing a relationship with someone ten years older when they were still in high school. And for safety reasons, they probably shouldn’t. Equally, a number of people including friends of Ichika and a work colleague of Ryo learn of the growing relationship throughout the series and not one of them actually really calls it out.


It is almost as if they all just accept that this twenty-something year old is pursuing a seventeen year old and that’s perfectly normal. Which probably explains why a lot of reviewers really didn’t like Koikimo given it is very much normalising this situation.

Even when, at the very end of the anime, we get a public display of affection, other than a few looks from passersby, nobody actually reacts to the image of a businessman kissing a highschooler. But let’s move on.

Ichika and Ryo at the movies.
Image from Koikimo
The movie must be really dull because they both look bored.

Where Koikimo works as a romance is that it doesn’t rush the getting to know the characters part. While Ryo might ask Ichika out in episode one, she firmly denies him and what follows is an extended courtship over six months of time. At first it is one sided with Ryo pursuing Ichika, but it does become a mutual interest and over time.

During that period we learn a lot about both of the characters and both characters have another, more age appropriate and fairly viable, romantic option presented to them. Which leads to individual soul searching about what they actually want.

In that regard, I feel a little bad for both Tamaru and Matsushima. Both of these were great characters and both actually were a good match for Ichika and Ryo respectively. They would have made for a solid romantic interest and one that would have come with less complications. That both Ichika and Ryo consider this option and ultimately choose to walk away from it really helps their own relationship feel a lot less artificial and contrived and more a choice.

Tamaru couldn't be more disappointed with friendship chocolate.
Image from Koikimo 2021.
Poor Tamaru – in a high school romance you would have got the girl for sure.

It was nice that Koikimo presented love rivals of appropriate age but didn’t make these characters villainous and seemingly forcing the characters together. It would have been too easy for the writers to make Tamaru secretly frustrated with being turned down and have him attack Ichika leading to a rescue from Ryo. I think if Ichika had fallen in love with Ryo in that scenario it would have felt less endearing and more like momentary admiration than a romantic choice.

Instead, Ichika seriously considers Tamaru’s confession. She even refuses advice from those around her to really consider what she wants. When she turns him down, she does so in a straight forward manner and even acknowledges she might be making the wrong choice.

I kind of have to give Koikimo credit for treating even the rival characters as decent human beings.

Matsushima wants Ryo.
Image from Koikimo 2021.
Matsushima is a bit more devious.

While Matsushima’s character in Koikimo plays with the idea of being a genuine villain and forcing her way between Ryo and Ichika, ultimately she’s also a decent person. She knows Ryo’s in love with a high schooler and gives him plenty of reasons to doubt that relationship while presenting herself as an alternative. But once rejected she accepts it and remains on good terms with Ryo.

The other two characters of note in the story are the main character’s best friends.

Rio, who is Ichika’s best friend and Ryo’s sister, is either a loyal friend and younger sister or an enabler depending on your overall view of the story. Honestly, Rio is perhaps the worst written character because outside being her brother’s supporter and advice giver to Ichika, I honestly know nothing about her. Oh, she wants to be a lawyer because lawyers are awesome.

She’s the kind of friend that is written just to be a soundboard for the main character or just to push the plot forward. You can’t imagine Rio existing outside the confines of the narrative of Koikimo and its kind of sad given how much screen time she has.

Equally, Masuda, Ryo’s friend, gets a bit more personality but we still know practically nothing about him. He listens to Ryo at the bar but never contributes any of his own stories or problems to the conversation. What sort of friendship consists entirely of one person listening to the other list their love woes without sharing any part of their own?

Ryo, Masuda and Rio go flower viewing with Ichika.
Image from Koikimo 2021.
Why look at the flowers when there is food?

Koikimo definitely dropped the ball with Masuda and Rio which is a shame when the Ryo and Ichika both end up being relatively interesting protagonists and even the two rival characters both felt fairly fleshed out. There aren’t many other characters present in the story so it kind of feels like these two could have been given a bit more to do outside of being the cheer squad.

Beyond the standard romance plot with the age-gap premise and the characters, Koikimo doesn’t offer a lot. The opening theme is entertaining enough but relatively forgettable and the visuals are pretty average. While the animation isn’t bad, there’s also not a lot of animation on display with a lot of scenes of characters sitting and talking or talking on their phones.

One thing I did notice and I probably only paid attention to it because I recently finished watching Army of the Dead but there’s a number of scenes that use a shallow focus on the characters and blur the background altogether.

Shallow focus in Koikimo.
Okay, we can refocus now.

I kind of found these visuals a little distracting, though again that’s probably because of my recent viewing, and to be honest probably isn’t a criticism of Koikimo. For the most part this effect was used in touching and sweet moments and I guess were supposed to have us focus in on the feelings the characters were experiencing rather than wowing us visually. Not overly effective but it is hard to feel warm and fuzzy while being reminded of Las Vegas Zombies.

Ultimately I enjoyed watching Koikimo. It isn’t without its problems, though few romances in anime are without problems but for the most part the character journey is solid, the decisions made by characters as the story progresses feel like they have weight, and if the point of a romance is to bring us to the happy fairy-tale ending, Koikimo succeeds. Just jettison reality at the front door.

Images from: Koikimo. Dir. N Nakayama. Nomad. 2021.

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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

Kemono Jihen Series Review – Missed Opportunities Aplenty

Kemono Series Review

Kemono Jihen is one of those anime that has a lot of elements in it that I like. There’s some darker moments, some supernatural threads, a bit of mystery along the way, and the main characters seem to have a personal investment in most of the events making them feel a little more interesting than if these kids just kind of stumbled into a random encounter.

However, after getting to the end of season one I find myself neither particularly invested in Kemono Jihen and whether it will ever continue nor did I particularly dislike it. All these good ingredients didn’t quite come together and the story itself barely feels like it started after watching 12 episodes.

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Kemono Jihen doesn’t do a great job of selling it’s world building.

Kemono Jihen - I wanted to like this, I really did.
Got to watch out for slime from sewer creatures.

It isn’t as though there’s anything terribly wrong with the material deliver in Kemono Jihen.

After Inugami solves the mystery in Kabane’s village and takes Kabane with him to Tokyo, things kind of settle into a series of arcs where the agency, or some of the agency members, go to investigate something that usually ends up being kemono related and then Kabane beats something up until it dies. Meanwhile, Inugami continues to withhold information from the younger members of the agency and Inari continues to plot against Inugami but avoids direct confrontation.

Each little arc or mystery takes an episode or a couple of episodes to run their course and the three kids in the agency build on their relationship throughout the story.

So, it all just kind of works and each story has a satisfying conclusion to the immediate concern. If this had decided to be a mystery of the week kind of gig without any grander aspirations, it would probably be a more enjoyable ride.

The problem is that the adults in this story all seem to have their own plans and agendas but the audience is kept more or less out of the loop other than knowing that eventually this might amount to something. By the end of the series though, it hasn’t gone very far at all.

Kemono Jihen - Inari might not give up on the lifestone but she isn't doing much about getting it either.
And yet Inari-sama is being maddeningly passive about this whole thing and so the story really isn’t going anywhere.

Honestly, Inari and Inugami and their ‘rivalry’ or whatever it is, is perhaps the weakest part of the narrative overall. It is slow, spread-out, feels like it is distracting from what is actually happening, neither character is particularly interesting and other than Inugami being the one who hired the kids he doesn’t do all that much in this story, and while I know that if this anime had continued this would eventually go somewhere, so far it has gone nowhere.

Basically it is a disappointing preview of a story that may or may not ever get told and it is just unnecessary clutter for the current anime.


Because when Kemono Jihen focuses on Kabane learning about the modern world or interacting with Shiki and Akira, the story is very entertaining. Even Kon kind of grew on me after awhile because largely she only really interacts with Kabane and their different volume levels kind of balanced out nicely.

Shiki confronting his past was excellent viewing even with Inari’s minion dropping in lame hints about future conflicts throughout. Even the plot focusing on Akira’s reasons for coming to Tokyo, the weakest of the little plots, was pretty entertaining and would have been better without Inari’s presence.

Kemono Jihen - Inugami
Inugami eating screen time.

Though, while we’re on characters, perhaps my favourite inclusion was Mihai. Admittedly, he only shows up sporadically, but a little goes a long way and his overall personality and the way he interacts with the kids is pretty entertaining even if he really is just personifying the internet troll here (and he’s a vampire).

I don’t think Mihai needs more screen time, because too much would become a little hard to take, but I certainly appreciated his appearances and the mission he accompanies the kids on (through a remote control car) is one of the more entertaining moments as he throws a number of spanners in the works for the kids.

However, even this mission is soured by the ridiculous visuals used for the monsters. Imagine a giant mosquito head on top of a normal sized woman. See, giant mosquitos aren’t scary – they look kind of stupid. Any kind of tension in the otherwise tight plot of the kids infiltrating a facility while being hampered by Mihai because he wanted some entertainment kind of went out the window as soon as the monsters appeared.

Mihai - favourite character from Kemono Jihen
Mihai for favourite character of the series.

Part of me also kind of wonders if the move from Kabane’s village to Tokyo was a good move as the atmosphere from episode one isn’t really replicated again. The closest they get is the story involving Shiki’s background when they travel from Tokyo to investigate.

It is a shame, because I really enjoyed the atmosphere of that first episode and that arc, but most stories were more urban fantasy with a bit of action and comedy rather than feeling like real supernatural mystery. That’s a personal preference, but I’d have enjoyed the supernatural mystery story more.

All and all, I did enjoy Kemono Jihen, but I’m left feeling it never quite did enough to really be memorable. Sure, there are a few visuals that won’t let go after it is done and there’s one or two moments that just perfectly hit the mark. But there’s a lot inbetween that feels like fluffing about and the series ends when it feels like the story is really just kicking off.

With no announced sequel, and no real indication that this anime will continue, it all just feels like it could have given us a bit more closure in the final episode.

How did you find Kemono Jihen?

Images from: Kemono Jihen. Dir. M Fujimori. Ajia Do. 2021

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Karandi James

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Series Review – My Feelings Are Mixed On This One

Jobless Review

I’m not sure if Jobless Reincarnation really earned some of the criticism it received. I mean, certainly if you really look at every action and decision in the narrative in the worst possible light you could end up believing that this anime sets out to endorse child molestation. However, while there’s most definitely some questionable content here, it didn’t seem any more objectionable than a host of other anime and more importantly, while various characters engage in questionable behaviour the story doesn’t seem to advocate that this is an appropriate way to behave.

That said, I’m not exactly going to mount a defence of this anime either. Firstly, it doesn’t need one given it still has a score of 8.4 on MAL despite a number of reviewers giving this a 1 rating and this anime has been one that has had a lot of positive buzz from the community.

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And secondly, the content is there. This isn’t a case of viewers creating an entire issue out of a throw-away line or single action. There are repeated behaviours in Jobless Reincarnation that are going to cause some viewers to walk away, and that is their decision. No defence needed. Either the content bothers you enough to not watch or stop watching, it bothers you a bit but you enjoy the rest of the story, or it just doesn’t bother you.

Jobless A 9
Rudeus gets taken down a few pegs quite often in this anime so it isn’t as if everything goes his way.

What is Jobless Reincarnation about?

Well, like most modern isekai anime based on light novels the plot is more or less summed up in the title. The longer English title being: “Jobless Reincarnation: I will Seriously Try If I got To Another World”. And there we have it. Another shut in, victim of bullying, who ends up being a burden to his family, dies in one of the few occasions when he ventures outside and in the heat of the moment attempts to rescue someone else before having a close encounter with truck-kun (the isekai anime’s go-to method of knocking of protagonists).

He then becomes a baby and grows over the course of the series but has the mind of an adult so learns quickly though still has a number of things he has to overcome from his past life.

Way to give the story some impact, Roxy.
Good idea Rudeus. You might be a talented youngster but Roxy will smack you down.

One of the real positives of this series is that the reincarnation aspect remains meaningful through the entire story. It isn’t just a starting point and then quickly forgotten. Rudeus Greyrat is constantly haunted by his past demons and it takes a number of years before he even ventures out of his own yard due to fear of the outside world.

When learning sword-fighting, his general timid nature and attitude that will have him retreat in the face of attack hinders his progress quite a bit and a lot of his decisions later in the series are based around an understanding of a world he’s no longer living in (which in one case has quite disastrous results but leads to a good growth opportunity for Rudy).

Another part of this story that I found quite interesting was in the narrative structure. We progress through stages of Rudy’s life with each stage essentially getting its own setting and mini-narrative arc. There’s his younger days as he trains with first Roxy and then Sylphiette in his home village. Then he gets sent to his relatives where he is to work on his sword-craft and tutor Eris. Finally the series sends the two young Greyrats to another continent and gives them the challenge of trying to find their way home, accompanied by Ruijerd, an outcast due to his race.

Jobless A 1
That’s an understatement, Ruijerd.

Now this anime series ends before that final arc is concluded but a second season is already set to air in July so we won’t have to wait long for a continuation, should we want one.

And I find that I do. As much as some of the weaker elements of this anime leave me feeling a little hot and cold on this series, I found that each arc was stronger than the previous one and the final arc really did have Rudeus growing up and learning and while he maintains some of the creepier aspects of his personality, they were less prominent and the anime seemed to finally find some balance with knowing when to inject some of its version of humour into a scene and when to just play it straight.

The final couple of episodes were actually really great and if the whole anime had been in a similar tone I’d be singing this one’s praises more or less unconditionally.

Outside not so scary anymore.
No. Come back. You were just getting interesting.

So now that I’ve covered some of the highlights of Jobless Reincarnation, lets address the elements that have caused concerns for some viewers.

Fan-service is more or less a staple in anime and isekai anime having male characters living out some kind of fantasy with various girls around them is pretty much what you expect going in to this kind of escapist power-fantasy narrative.

When done well, while you could object that the character is not acting in a manner that is 100% morally acceptable to all viewers (and what action is?) the situations and scenarios are usually played for laughs, exaggerated to a point where they don’t really connect with reality, or are depicted in a way that makes it seem more or less like the other characters accept what is happening, which kind of mitigates the creepy factor of scenes that if portrayed in a different way would in fact be off-putting.

Jobless Reincarnation moves between the cute power-fantasy and occasionally funny side of fan-service into the somewhat creepier side on a number of occasions. Rudeus himself makes it hard to really get into his story of growth and overcoming past traumas because of his fairly lecherous actions which could have been played a little more on the light-hearted side but everything from his facial expression, internal monologue and his chuckle make it actually feel really just make it hard for me to want to empathise with his character journey.

Add in a couple of incidents that cross my individual line (the trying to remove underwear from a sleeping girl definitely fell into this line because reincarnated or not that’s just creepy) and Rudy becomes a character that while in his better moments has some fairly admirable traits and an interesting character arc but returns again and again to being cringe-worthy.

Jobless A 3
I know Zenith was directing this at her husband but she really should have included Rudy.

The general discomfort I felt with Rudy’s character, particularly in the earlier episodes until just after the half-way mark in this series, isn’t aided by other male characters, such as Paul and Phillip seemingly encouraging Rudy’s more lecherous behaviour even from quite a young age. Even in the later episodes there’s a male character who is now being tutored by Rudy’s former master who seems to have a reoccurring joke of groping Roxy’s chest before she sets him on fire and while it is played for laughs, on top of the other subject matter it all just feels a little excessive.

While it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, after three episodes I only had this one as a ‘maybe’ for whether I should watch or drop it. The mix of tones felt unbalanced and while there were definitely fantasy elements I enjoyed and seeing Rudy overcome some aspects of his past life through studying magic and bonding with his tutor worked, the intense focus on some of the more ecchi elements felt at times intrusive. Other isekai anime include similar elements without them feeling like they break us out of the overall narrative and don’t feel so excessive.

In my watch or drop post I actually compared this to How Not To Summon a Demon-Lord which did have over-the-top fan-service moments and yet it managed to make most of it pretty entertaining and while objectively it actually showed more explicit situations it almost never pushed it to a point where I felt too uncomfortable (there’s a lot of modifiers in that last sentence).

And basically, that’s my issue with Jobless Reincarnation. There were multiple moments where I felt uncomfortable as a viewer and that kind of put the brakes on my general enjoyment of the series.

So, Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is actually a pretty decent isekai anime. There’s a pretty solid story and great character journey to watch unfold here. Whether you get into this or not will entirely depend on whether those other elements put you off or not and that is going to be an individual decision.

You can read the full review of Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation part 2 here.

Images from: Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. Dir. M. Okamoto. Studio Bind, 2021

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Karandi James

Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies moved to a starter town? Series Review

Last Dungeon Review

Here, in Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town?, we have an adventure slash fantasy story based on a light novel that isn’t an isekai.

However, if we wanted that fish out of water experience we instead have a kid who has lived in a mythical village in the middle of nowhere his whole life moving to the kingdom in order to become a soldier, which is apparently a dream of his due to the one book he read as a child and because he considers himself the weakest person in his village. Basically we have a character with no knowledge of the kingdom or its problems stumbling about and being ridiculously over-powered so not so different from the standard isekai plot really.

Last Dungeon - Lloyd
Lloyd is so wholesome… that and a little bit naïve, ignorant and very oblivious.

Is Suppose A Kid from the Last Dungeon enjoyable?

If I had to say whether I liked or disliked Last Dungeon (etc), I’d probably land on the side of enjoying it more than anything else. That isn’t actually indicating that this series is particular good at anything but it does avoid making any unforgiveable missteps and it is following a basic formula that works well enough provided you are into that kind of thing.

Lloyd arriving in the city with his dream and having it dashed pretty readily early on before a weird set of circumstances allow him to move forward before the next obstacle arrives and so on and so forth means we’re always kind of moving forward and Lloyd’s over-arching goal of being a hero keeps the plot from feeling stagnant even as they trot out the same jokes and story beats again and again.

And because this is an anime based on a light novel, pretty much every character Lloyd gets close to or interacts with is a cute girl of one type of another. Whether it is the infatuated older sister type in the form of his house mate (who serves a fairly important purpose in the first arc and there-after just becomes the butt of the loli-character’s jokes), his village chief (the loli), the first girl he meets and saves in town who has instantly fallen in love with him and as built her own delusion around their relationship and so on and so forth.

There are a few male characters sprinkled into the cast but largely this story is all about the different girls who clamour and position themselves around Lloyd despite his absolute obliviousness even when they outright declare their intentions to marry him.

last dungeon 5
Why yes, this crazy girl who just pushed someone into a wall is the girl you met the other day.

Most of the girls are actually pretty fun to spend time with. I kind of liked the pre-existing relationship between Marie and Alka and Marie’s small attempts at rebellion against her former master that were always fairly quickly shut down. Riho ends up being delightful and really I would have loved to have seen more stories revolving around her and Lloyd. Phyllo who comes in later doesn’t offer a lot but she’s largely inoffensive.

The weak link in the harem is Selen who unfortunately gets the majority of screen time as well as the love-struck maiden saved by Lloyd. Honestly, Selen really just ate screen time and her ongoing, loud delusions were most definitely the low point of the story. That they ultimately use her particular brand of crazy to amusing effect during the climax doesn’t really make-up for all the episodes before where you were just kind of hoping that someone would squish her flat.

Last Dungeon A 9
Oh yeah, that’s healthy.

The other fairly weak part of the story comes in the form of the antagonists. While there’s a decent enough build up to the various villains throughout the series as they move in shadows, set up their schemes and seem to actually be quite decently suited to challenge the protagonist, when we finally get their motives out in the open it all just kind of falls flat. Less was definitely more and unfortunately what little hope there was of elevating ‘Suppose a kid’ from absolutely mediocre and forgettable got squashed flat as you realise just how poorly thought out the villains’ plots actually were.


A final point of weakness is in the entire male cast. Lloyd serves well enough as innocent protagonist but every other male character seems to exist only to be evil or to be the butt of some kind of joke, usually of the physical humour kind. Whether it is Alan being injured in order for the girls to practice healing magic, the former soldier who ends up falling in love with agriculture or just girls kicking guys just because they can, none of the male characters actually gets to be fleshed out as a character.

I get the story isn’t going for being deep and meaningful but it would have been nice for one of the male characters to not be villainous or a punching bag.

Last Dungeon A 3
Just not sure that was called for.

Where I did enjoy the story was in Lloyd’s absolute ignorance of the events going on around him. Despite everything that happens in the first four episodes, he still remains completely clueless as to how strong he actually is. Watching him do that absolute extraordinary and genuinely still have an inferiority complex actually remains fairly amusing for the duration of the anime and is given just enough nuance so that when he falters in the final fight of the series you actually do feel a little bit for this kid who just wants to be a hero.

Likewise Alka’s casual use of extraordinary magic for petty reasons as well as her absent minded-ness, while a repeated gag in the series, mostly hits its mark and remains amusing enough.

Visually, this one is pretty unimpressive with action sequences being very simple and lots of scenes where backgrounds disappear altogether. The characters are cute enough and distinct enough but they don’t move all that much and get used to scenes of the characters eating or drinking tea because they do have a lot of ‘chats’ for an adventure-fantasy story. The monsters, particularly the giant tree thing, are almost comically poorly done and clearly it was intentional, but it doesn’t make it any more interesting to look at.

Last Dungeon A 8
Motion lines let you know there is movement happening here.

Basically, there’s no real reason to rush in to watching Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town. Likewise, there’s no reason to avoid it. If you aren’t in the mood to overly think something and actually just want a sweet protagonist and a few kind of lame fight scenes with a plethora of cute girls thrown in, then you could do worse than this anime. For me, I had enough fun here but I know I will very quickly forget about this anime and may very well end up rewatching it in the future just because I forgot I watched it the first time.

Images from: Suppose a Kid From The Last Dungeon Boonnies Moved to a Starter Town. Dir. migmi. LIDENFILMS. 2021.

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Karandi James

Watch or Drop? Is Koikimo Worth Watching?

Watch or Drop Koikimo
Koikimo Ep2 3
Age gap romances with a pushy older guy – not sure comedy is the right tone here.

Koikimo may tread on some uncomfortable territory for some viewers. But is it worth giving a go?

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.
Koikimo Ep 1 5
I’m wondering who that line would actually work on.

First Impressions:

Right, so I went into this expecting to hate it. I know, very open minded of me going into a show thinking I’m going to hate it. Largely because I don’t like age-gap relationships, but I’d get over that. I really don’t like guys being persistent toward a girl when they’ve already been told no and stories that somehow reward characters for pressuring someone and ‘wearing them down’. Taken in a real world context, it is just creepy. Add in the age gap factor here and it is really creepy. Throw in the friend who is siding with her older brother and actually enabling the whole thing and in any real world context there would be serious issues to deal with here.

So, we’ve established I hate the premise here. And yet I watched all three available episodes and actually didn’t hate it. The creep factor isn’t going away if you logically think about the story so for those who can’t distance themselves from the fact that the premise is built around a behaviour that in the real world really should not be accepted given how it makes the recipient feel, this story is going to be an instant drop. If you get through the set-up though, is there enough to keep you watching?

Realistically, the set-up here is no worse than Dakaichi (or plenty of other boys love anime) and I really loved that anime once we moved beyond the set-up and into the story (actually one might argue Dakaichi is actually worse in terms of its set-up because at least here there’s no alcohol or sex involved).

Series Positives:

Ichika, the main girl involved in this story, is actually a pretty good character so far. Her blunt reactions to Ryo’s earlier advanced and her general caution in dealing with him there-after are relatively sensible. Less sensible is her continuing to answer his calls and not block his number, but he is her friend’s brother and that could make her friendship a little awkward so you can kind of let that go. She also has genuine enthusiasm for anime and manga and really she comes across as a fairly interesting protagonist in general who has more going for her than just being a romantic lead.

Koikimo Ep 1 6
Plus, she calls it like she sees it.

Likewise, I found Ryo’s friendship with Masuda came off as fairly genuine as the two drink together and Masuda’s reaction to Ryo’s current situation was nicely handled. Ichika’s classmate, Tamaru, who may actually have a crush on her was also a decently interesting character. Actually, so far the only cast members I don’t like are Ryo, and I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to like him in episode one but they are gradually turning down the creep factor in the subsequent episodes, and Rio, his sister, who seems to exist just to keep stirring the romance.

I’d definitely have to point out that a positive is that while in episode one, Ryo comes across very much as unbalanced, stalkerish, and generally an incredibly unlikeable character in a story described as a romance, however over episodes two and three, while he doesn’t do an about face, there’s a genuine effort being made to reduce his off-putting traits and to focus in on his strengths. He also seems to take on board some of Ichika’s critiques and isn’t quite as pushy by the end of episode 3.


Series Negatives:

I kind of covered the main negative in my first impressions. This anime is definitely not depicting a solid foundation for a healthy relationship. If you can’t put that aside, this anime is going to crash and burn hard for you because it is the basis of everything that comes after.

Otherwise though, the weakest link in the cast is Rio, Ryo’s sister. She’s supposedly Ichika’s friend, but really her only role in the story has been to enable Ryo. She gives him Ichika’s number, delivers gifts, and gives him intel. Without Rio, Ryo wouldn’t have had an in to meet Ichika again. However, despite her being essential to the plot, they haven’t really bothered with giving Rio much else to be other than plot device so far. It would be nice if her character was a little more fleshed out.


Karandi Excited Transparent

That might be a weird verdict but while I found the first episode almost as obnoxious as I expected to find it, by episode 3 I was getting more drawn into the story and characters and I kind of want to know where this will end up. I think what saves it is that Ichika does call Ryo out on his behaviour and his behaviour is toning down so we might get to a point where it actually does feel more natural and less forced. Of course, I definitely think the English title: “It’s Too Sick To Call This Love” kind of got it right. Then again, I’m solidly on team Tamaru even if he isn’t interested in Ichika. I could listen to those two geek out quite happily for the rest of the season.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Koikimo. Dir. N Nakayama. Nomad. 2021.

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Karandi James

Otherside Picnic Series Review – A Brilliant Premise with Shaky Execution

Series Review Template

I’m not going to lie – by the end of 12 episodes of Otherside Picnic I was getting serious Annihilation vibes, particularly when we introduced the soldiers who were lost in the Otherside. Whether that comparison is favourable or not will really depend on how you liked Netflix’s Annihilation.

For me it was a beautiful movie that made absolutely no sense and even after a rewatch and thinking it all through, it still makes no sense and a lot of the weird things that happen seem to happen without rhyme or reason and a lot of the time without even a real connection to the overall plot. They just kind of happen.

Urasekai Picnic isn’t quite so random in that most of the events do link to the character story being told, but there’s still a lot that a viewer just has to shrug and accept in order to get into this narrative. Here are my thoughts as I moved beyond my first impressions of Otherside Picnic.

Otherside 3
That said, Kozakura is definitely the best character and the one who has the most logical reactions to things. I just wish there was more of her in the story.

As is clear from that first paragraph, Otherside Picnic has some issues with its narrative and world building. None of which are fatal to the enjoyment of the story but certainly may put some viewers off, particularly if another season isn’t forthcoming and all the potential connections and half-hints never actually end up going anywhere.

I think my main issue with the plot is that we really never progress beyond the nebulous MacGuffin of find the missing Satsuki as a reason for the girls continuing on their adventures as a whole. Sure we get mini-quests along the way such as saving Akari from the ninja-cats and again from being stuck half-way to the Otherside.

They also pull out a fairly dramatic final arc with the girls returning to a previous location to save a group of soldiers they’d encountered. That makes for an excellent set-piece for wrapping up this season and gives the story a nice dramatic conclusion and yet ultimately I’m not sure what it does for the overall narrative other than perhaps mark the beginning of Sorao acting more for others and tightening the relationship that had been developing between Toriko and Sorao.

Not to mention, the quality of the final encounter the soldiers have in the otherside is pretty lame when you consider that the enemy they were fighting mostly just sat there and waited for someone to figure out how to destroy it.

Otherside 9
Girls with guns.

For those not particularly concerned with overall narratives and who are happy enough just kicking back and enjoying the various adventures and dangers the girls encounter along the way, this won’t actually be a negative at all. For me, it felt like a missed opportunity for what I felt could have been an excellent anime.

Similarly, the Otherside that has been constructed is a vast and potentially interesting world. However, in the course of 12 episodes we learn pretty much nothing about it. Sure we encounter various dangerous creatures and the girls learn to avoid the glitches in the world.

But what it is and why it is there and how it came to be connected to our world (and why punching elevator buttons might open a door) all remain unaddressed. For the most part I can just roll with it because it is a fantasy. Where I started seriously questioning the world building was when entrances started just being wherever the writer seemed to feel they were needed.

Rather than characters returning to the elevator we found passageways at shrines, through other doorways, using a hat, and just wherever was apparently convenient at the time. It ultimately makes it feel less like a real place the girls are passing into as the story goes on.

Otherside 2
And if you want to know who this guy is… Don’t ask the anime series because the answer is not here.

But those are definitely the smaller disappointments while watching the series. There’s absolutely a lot to like while watching starting with the central characters. Toriko and Sorao just have great chemistry, which is probably really important given the Shoujo Ai tag this anime has.

The anime covers around three months from their first encounter and does a decent job of building up their friendship and definitely suggests that their connection is moving deeper the more they explore together. Certainly their teamwork, communication, and trust has deepened significantly by the time we get to the final arc of this series and it makes their final discussion, where they actually address one of my main concerns (Sorao’s motivation in continuing to accompany Toriko) head on.


It definitely made me feel like the series really understood these characters and while we’re clearly still early days into their story they were starting to feel like real people who were going to continue to grow and develop beyond this final episode. That doesn’t mean there weren’t a few questions about these characters along the way, such as why does Toriko enter the Otherside while wearing high-heels given she knows how rough the terrain is going to be, but I at least genuinely enjoyed spending time with these girls and watching their encounters.

Otherside 10
Best use for a beach episode.

The central duo are supported by the snarkier Kozakura, who I definitely wanted more of in this series. She really does come across as the voice of the audience and most definitely reacts the most appropriately to the weird and dangerous situations they come across when she’s dragged from the safety of her house.

Less welcome was Akari, a supporting character who got dropped in for the weak ninja-cat story that felt really out of place in this series and then kind of hung around. While Akari did provide a bit more of a push toward the mysterious Satsuki, but that ultimately didn’t go anywhere in these episodes and so Akari largely felt like a tacked on extra.

The girls from Otherside Picnic
Our brave and adventuring heroes?

I absolutely loved the sound design of Otherside Picnic. I’ve read some tweets and one particular review on MAL that really disliked the audio of this anime, but for me, from the opening music all the way through each episode to the ending theme, the music was kind of spot on. Sure, it isn’t exactly easy listening, but it perfectly sets the mood of each sequence and definitely helps support the mystery aspect of the story. I also liked that characters falling, guns shooting, everything just sounded like it had some weight behind it.

The final episodes, where the girls are helping the soldiers out, really make the most of the sound and music design and it absolutely brings the sequences to life and makes you really feel the danger and urgency of the situation as well as the tension Sorao is under as she is forced into a more commanding position than she usually takes, even if the visuals aren’t really holding up their end by this point.

Otherside 8
Um… No idea what that is but pretty sure it is scary.

Visually the anime has done a great job of keeping the Otherside and the normal world distinct and even the effects used to show transitional moments are nicely placed. The bleak world in the Otherside with its broken buildings and dead looking trees, while still filled with wild grasslands and strange and dangerous life-forms does exactly what it needs to do. While the animation isn’t quite as polished as some modern anime, it does well enough and largely these girls aren’t action heroes so it isn’t as though they are looking for a stand-up fight sequence anyway.

Ultimately, I had fun watching Otherside Picnic. It isn’t perfect and without a continuation and some actual answers this isn’t an anime I’d buy on DVD or really jump into a rewatch of, but if we go with the idea that the journey is more important than the destination, the journey these 12 episodes take you on is worth watching.

I’d love to know your thoughts on Otherside Picnic so leave us a comment below.

Images from: Otherside Picnic. Dir. T Satou. LIENFILMS. 2021.

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Karandi James

Watch or Drop? Is Kemono Jihen Worth Watching?

Watch or Drop Kemono
Kemono Ep1 3
There’s a weird, weird world out there.

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.
Kemono Ep2 3
Definitely an authentic reaction.

First Impressions:

The short synopsis given on both MAL and AnimeLab of Kemono Jihen largely leave the viewer with little to go on as they both more or less detail the events setting up episode one without giving much in the way of an indication of how this story will develop. Still, it sounded interesting enough and it was ticking off a number of genre boxes that I quite enjoy with its claims of action, mystery, demons and the supernatural.

I will admit though that Inugami’s initial introduction more or less made me want to put this one down to a nice try and move on. With his ridiculous hair and fairly cliche position as a supernatural investigator, I honestly wasn’t all that impressed. Fortunately, once he took an interest in Kabane, a young outcast villager, things picked up and the first episode ended up being quite an enjoyable ride. That said, we then immediately transition away from the rural setting to the city and I’m not sure that the next two episodes have finished really establishing the new setting. With only 12 episodes in the season, it seems unlikely that this one will manage to tell a whole story in its run time, which will be a bit of a shame because there are some very interesting elements at play here.

Series Positives:

An absolute ten out of ten to the dead-pan Kabane in these early episodes. While a lot of the other characters are either pushed so far into their trope they’ve more or less become caricatures, he’s actually managing to pull off a nice combination of dulled emotions, inner strength but odd vulnerability as a child more or less alone in the world. His interactions with the other characters have all been pretty solid so far and when the story focuses on him it gets an immediate lift.

Kemono Ep2 6
Yep, tragic backstory involves either dead or missing parents.

I’m also really loving the world that is being crafted here with the supernatural characters slotting into the modern world either subtly or through brute force. The different approaches to modern existence at play in episode three when the kids under Inugami’s care clash with Inari was really interesting and I’d love to see more of how this develops as we meet more characters and learn more about this supernatural world. It’s the right mix of fascinating, magical and yet dark and dangerous. It is a setting you want to learn more about and you look forward to seeing the characters delve more deeply into the world around them.


Series Negatives:

So far Inugami hasn’t impressed. It wasn’t just the first episode. Even after that he seems to deliberately withhold information from the kids for the sake of being mysterious and it is really difficult to get any kind of read on his overall motives. I’m sure they’ll reveal some purpose later on for him being like that but really we’ve seen this type of character before and done better, and to be honest sometimes it isn’t so much mysterious to withhold facts as it is annoying. Certainly giving the kids a heads-up before sending them in to deal with Inari might have been wise given how many ways that situation could have ended badly. Characters making bad choices is one thing if it makes sense for the characters; but writers who force characters to do silly things for the sake of a bit of drama just bring down the viewing experience.

Kemono Ep3 4
You probably shouldn’t be arguing with a head inside a police station.

The other negative probably comes from a number of the supporting cast with the other characters seeming to be trying to make up for the fact that Kabane is a pretty quiet and reserved character by being excessively noisy and boisterous. They have their charm and they work playing off Kabane but I think too much of Shiki and Kon simultaneously could definitely lead to eye-rolling unless they both develop a bit as the show goes on.


Karandi Excited Transparent

Despite the negatives, I really quite enjoyed the first three episodes. There’s enough intrigue here to keep me wondering and the setting has a lot of potential. Also, despite some gripes about the characters, mostly these first three episodes were pretty enjoyable to watch. I’m very much looking forward to more, though I kind of think it would have been better to remain in the village because there was some great atmosphere there. As much fun as urban fantasy settings are there’s just something a bit more thrilling about the isolated village.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Kemono Jihen. Dir. M Fujimori. Ajia Do. 2021

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Karandi James

Watch or Drop? Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies moved to a starter town?

Watch or Drop Last Dungeon
last dungeon 7
Yep, that is one terrifyingly ordinary looking kid.

Is ‘Suppose a Kid From the last Dungeon Boonies Moved To A Starter Town’ worth watching?

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.
Suppose a kid from the last dungeon boonies.
I’m kind of glad the belt around the head thing didn’t last all that long. She looked really quite ridiculous.

First Impressions:

On the surface level this ridiculously titled anime is pretty blunt and in your face with over-aggerated reactions standing in for actual comedy and seems to have the fairly stock-standard storyline of kid from country moves to city with big dreams which are quickly shattered before he does something great and blah, blah, blah.

Honestly, three episodes in and there really isn’t anything remarkable here about any of the ingredients and a lot of them seem like a fairly bad idea. What I actually can’t say though is that Suppose A Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town is bad; because there is something about the combination that fundamentally works and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t moderately enjoy these first three episodes even if there are questionable choices in writing and character development and the setting is screaming generic fantasy (though it isn’t an isekai).

Is it good enough to keep watching?

Series Positives:

This is kind of hard because while I kind of enjoyed the first three episodes, it is more because of a culmination of factors rather than any one thing. Not one character has really distinguished themselves as they are all pretty tropey in their own way and one or two of them are actually quite obnoxious.

What I will say is that the cast as a whole kind of complement each other and with the number of characters introduced in these first three episodes very few of them out-stay their welcome (though I could probably do with less Alka). They are however all fairly distinct in their design and certainly colourful enough. Even if you are in danger of eye-rolling while watching them they aren’t boring.

last dungeon 6
Wow, only in the city a few days and he already has a fan club.

I think the other positive I’d like to highlight is the potential here. While the set-up is pretty standard, it will be interesting to see where (if anywhere) they take Lloyd once we get over his initial introduction in the city and through the first crisis that has cropped up by the end of episode 3.

I kind of like the idea that Lloyd’s ancestors were some sort of saviours that were super strong and ultimately decided not to involve themselves in human conflicts but will assist against external threats such as demon lords (and as soon as they dumped that bit of exposition you knew exactly what was going to be threatening the city – at least early on in the story). Part of me really wants to see what they will do with this bit of world building or whether it was just a random background fact that will get forgotten in a haze of Lloyd reacting to different situations.


Series Negatives:

Nice guy protagonists are a dime-a-dozen and Lloyd, while aggressively inoffensive, is so bland in terms of personality outside of being nice that I’m almost certain that if he were a food he’d be an uncooked grain of rice.

I mean, he is nice. Very nice. He bows to people and introduces himself nicely and he cooks. He likes to be helpful and is incredibly modest (or clueless) about his own strength and abilities in comparison to others. However, ultimately he’s really just there at the centre of the story but there’s nothing else to say about him other than nice guy who is super strong.

last dungeon 8
Normal/boring – time will tell as to which is the better descriptor.

The other negative is more just how over-the-top some of the character reactions are. Marie has some incredibly over-blown reactions in these early episodes which makes it hard to take her overly seriously as they move the story to her being the lost princess who has to save her father and the kingdom from war. Selen was cursed and saved, almost incidentally, by Lloyd and has since become feverishly obsessed with him. She could be an interesting and nuanced character but instead she’s just hitting the fan-girl switch in every scene she’s in.

Admittedly, this isn’t a show killer, but it doesn’t really suit my preferences and while there are some moments where these characters are kind of amusing there are more moments where they definitely push too far and ultimately I’m left shaking my head.


Karandi Excited Transparent

This might be a weird verdict but despite the mixed impressions, I did enjoy these three episodes and the anime met my number one criteria for things I will watch through: It made me curious. I’ll sit through all sorts of things if they manage to make me more curious than frustrated and this one certainly did that. Not to mention, while all the individual pieces aren’t much, the combination is actually better than it should be and these first three episodes just kind of slid by in an instant. Maybe I’ll regret adding this to my watch list but I’m still going to go for it.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Suppose a Kid From The Last Dungeon Boonnies Moved to a Starter Town. Dir. migmi. LIDENFILMS. 2021.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James

Watch or Drop? Is Otherside Picnic Worth watching?

Watch or Drop Otherside
Otherside Picnic - Sorao stares at a Wiggle Waggle
Covering your eyes doesn’t work if you leave gaps.

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.
Otherside Picnic - Sorao and Toriko
I doubt any of your decisions have really been good – but if you don’t go we won’t get to see what happens next.

First Impressions:

There’s a definite excitement about going into something and having no clue what to expect. I had no knowledge of the source here and largely managed to avoid reading any posts about Otherside Picnic prior to doing my three episode run. Which is weird considering after I watched it I realised that lots of bloggers have been talking about this anime and I’ve just somehow avoided any mention of it.

That said, these early episodes kind of give you a feeling that the smart thing for these characters to do would be to stop crossing into the otherworld and leave things well enough alone given if they did they’d be perfectly safe and the story would essentially screech to a halt. While they’ve made some effort to give Toriko a plausible reason for not taking the safe path, the same can’t be said for Sorao and so I’m left largely just questioning her basic decision making skills.

Outside of that, I’m fascinated. The Otherside is both bleak and yet beautiful; feels empty and yet is filled with dangers and perils. I want to see more of it even while I want the characters to stop putting themselves at risk for very little reward. They have at least set up a potential plot point where someone (who may or may not have been crazy) suggested that creatures from the Otherside were already on Earth so maybe walking away isn’t actually an option going forward. There aren’t a lot of answers in the first three episodes but there’s definitely some potential for interesting exploration.

Series Positives:

I absolutely have to praise the music here. Both the opening theme, Minikui Ikimono by CHiCO, and the ending, You and Me by Miki Satou, are absolutely brilliant and very much frame the viewing experience and set the tone. Sound and music are also used really well within the episodes even if most of the time it is creeping you out or helping you experience the franticness of a particular situation.

There was something very final about the sound the glitches make when the turn rocks into ash and between the sound effect and the stunned expressions of the characters they manage to drive home the danger of walking unknowingly into a glitch without extended exposition.

Otherside Picnic - Sorao and Toriko freak out.
That’s it, keep calm.

Outside of the sound, the chemistry between Sorao and Toriko, while at first a little rocky, has found firm footing over the first three episodes. As the two have gotten used to working together and started to establish a fairly good rhythm in their interactions. Sorao’s more reserved and cautious personality makes a good comparison to Toriko’s more easy-going and adventurous spirit.

That said, there are definite questions about Sorao’s motivations going forward and why she knows about some of the things in the Otherside and why she ventured there at all, let alone allowed Toriko to talk her into going back. Still, the two are a bit of a joy to watch as their relationship is developing nicely in these early episodes and it will be fun to see how these unfold.

I also have to give absolute credit to the atmosphere of the Otherside as it feels like a real world that has opened up to explore. While some of the rules and why it even exists have yet to be established, it is just a fascinating setting and again contrasts nicely with the scenes that are set in the ‘real’ world. Definitely has me wanting to know more.


Series Negatives:

So far other than a few eyebrow raising decisions made by the main characters as well as a general incredulousness that anyone would name something a wiggle-waggle, I’m mostly not finding much negative here. There is, of course, the standard concern when an anime is setting itself up as mysterious and that is that we’ll either never get to a resolution because the anime won’t cover the whole story and won’t continue past a first season OR we’ll get an answer and it just won’t be worth the build up. Still, that’s a risk with any mystery story so hardly unique here.

Otherside Picnic - Trsanslucent hand.
Not sure she did it by choice.

I think my main gripe would be the fairly nebulous character motivations presented. Toriko claims she’s looking for someone but doesn’t really have a plan and doesn’t appear to have a real sense of urgency about it. Meanwhile, Sorao’s motives are really unclear. This may not be a negative in the long-run but it kind of makes me wonder why she is putting herself into a world that has already nearly killed her multiple times.


Karandi Excited Transparent

Curiosity is definitely a powerful motivator and by and large I really enjoyed these first three episodes. The characters are fun to watch together, the setting is interesting, and hopefully the mystery will pan out as the series continues. For now though, this one is definitely on the watch list.

Other Impressions:

Images from: Otherside Picnic. Dir. T Satou. LIENFILMS. 2021.

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