A Fresh Start for the Series? | Sword Art Online Alicization Review

A promising fresh start for a series that has become synonymous with goofy tropes and character flaws.

I love VR. Or Cyberpunk. Post-Apocalyptic Shenanigans…

Anything to do with encapsulating oneself in a virtual world is something I’d like to see refined in my lifetime. I’ve always been drawn to virtual reality inspired anime, watching the likes of No Game No Life, Log Horizon, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash with extreme vigor. Hai to Genso no Gurimugaru [灰と幻想のグリムガル], or Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash seemed to take a similar route as Log Horizon by showing the actual struggles of finding yourself stuck in a virtual world. It should also be applauded for its humanistic approach on taking a life, the stages of grief and how to recover from a severe trauma. If you are into highly realistic plots in your anime, this is one you should not miss.

I could write all day about how great Grimgar was, but this article will be about Sword Art Online [ソードアート・オンライン].

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but I am a huge high-fantasy and science fiction fan. I love series like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, H.P. Lovecraft’s work (despite his extreme personal flaws as a human being), Grimm’s Fairytales and anything by good old Edgar Allen Poe.  The SAO season one Aincrad Arc was like Christmas to someone like me. The medieval feel of the in-game town mixed with the real world Sci-Fi drama of having your mind trapped in a rouge technology with the risk of death was such a hook.

After that arc, however, things quickly took a turn for the worst. Between the whole incest thing, the almost-rape scene with Asuna Yuuki, and main character Kirigaya “Kirito” Kazuto’s harem I’d had enough.

Back in 2014, I made the mistake of watching a harem cleverly disguised as a sci-fi anime called Brynhildr in the Darkness [極黒のブリュンヒルデ] and have never made that poor choice since. I wanted to gauge my eyes out after completing that series. The sheer fact that a gaggle of women were borderline obsessed with a boring main character to the levels that it affected the storyline’s plot in ridiculous ways irked me to the core. So coming into SAO without the knowledge of Kirito’s harem gave me something akin to war flashbacks.

However, the core story was intriguing and I was very pleased to find out it took place in the same universe as Accel World. There is even a prevalent fan theory that Kirito and Asuna are Kuroyukihime’s parents.  This theory has been shot down regarding all the characters in question because of respective ages, but one can still dream of a connection between the three besides Nerve Gear.

I tuned in for Alfheim Online, Gun Gale Online, (or Phantom Bullet) and watched Mother’s Rosario. I skipped Ordinal Scale and now have returned for Alicization on the currents of good buzz. Other weary watchers expressed skepticism that was met with assurances that there would be none of the nonsense that plagued the past seasons.

The premiere was forty-five minutes long and had a bit of a cold opening. It set up the premise of this season’s story, which will revolve around Kirito testing a new form of VR that uses the soul. He explains to Asuna and Sinon the Soul Translator’s methods and expresses concern over the somewhat shady practices of its creation entity, Rath.

The sequence was fine, but it slightly bothered me that no one said hi to Agil while in his cafe. I’d imagine there was a quick hello while ordering drinks, but for the most part he was stoically shinning glass cups.

Either way, that’s not totally important.

Towards the end of the episode while walking girlfriend Asuna home, Kirito is accosted by the last known member of The Laughing Coffin. If you remember from the first season, they were a guild who enjoyed ‘player killing’ for sport. Johnny Black seemingly comes out of the woodwork to stab our hero with a lethal dose of a drug called succinylcholine, which causes paralysis. The episode ends with Kirito on the ground unconscious from his wounds; the targeted attack area being the implant he conveniently spoke about earlier at the Dicey Café.

Episode two has already premiered, and I’m sure Kirito is fine. He’ll most likely fall into a coma and be transported back into Underworld, the Soul Translator game he was testing. The game seems to have an “Alice in Wonderland” vibe and explores his budding friendship with a resident named Eugeo. It is unclear (as of the season premiere) if Eugeo is an AI aware of their world or remains in ignorance as a player. An interesting aspect of his character was his notice of Alice’s game code while she was being taken away after committing a taboo in their world.

It should be interesting to see how Kirito and Eugeo’s friendship develops, and the exploration of “fluctlight acceleration”. I will definitely be watching and will most likely have a season review at a later time once it concludes.

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If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad and Sword Art Online 9 – light novel by using these links. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

Did you enjoy past seasons of SAO? Do you miss Kirito’s harem? What has been your favorite VMMORPG anime to watch? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram for more updates and reviews!

 

What is Going On with The Tokyo Ghoul: Re Anime?

I at least take comfort in the fact that I am not the only one confused.

Tokyo Ghoul, or Tokyo Kushu:re [東京喰種トーキョーグール:re] is an ongoing anime series that originally began airing in the summer of 2014. It is based on the popular manga by Sui Ishida that produced both TG and it’s continuation, :re.  I initially read a few chapters of the original story, but have yet to finish due to the personal preference of waiting until the anime ends to read and compare the key differences in an adaptation.

The first season adaption of the series remained consistent according to a general fandom consensus. Season two, however, veered off from this severely. The most memorable scene for me will always be Kaneki serving Jason (Yamori) some overdue justice while “Unravel” by TK from Ling Toshite Sigure played in the background.

Tokyo Ghoul √A [東京喰種√A] seemed to have Kaneki Ken join Aogiri Tree, the organization that had kidnapped and tortured him. In the manga, he sided with the Anti-Aogiri group that was set on escaping their imprisonment by the shady group. The underlying basis in this is that Kaneki wanted to protect his friends, while in the anime he did not.

As a non-manga reader, I fully understood this season and even though finding it a bit dull, overall thought it was okay. “Glassy Sky” by Yamada Yutaka (やまだ豊) was an amazing song to listen to during certain scenes. I also really enjoyed the OP, or opening song for that season, even if I am seemingly alone in this. Say what you will about the series, but at least the OST, or official soundtrack is solid.

I caught the first cour of Tokyo Ghoul:re over the spring when it aired. I enjoyed it but was utterly confused with what I was seeing on screen. I had heard from manga readers that season two had pretty much veered off story wise and :re was supposed to essentially retcon it.

As with many things, I am very liberal with spoilers. You could “spoil” a show completely for me down to the last detail, and I would still be able to enjoy it. Sometimes with stories that have been ongoing for a considerable amount of time (ex: Naruto series, Shingeki no Kyojin, etc.) I’ll just look up certain things. Or if an extremely good episode was left on a cliffhanger, I will immediately resort to the manga before the next. I like to think of this practice in my head as ‘situational spoilers’. Plot details I normally would wait for, but just can’t seem to actually want to delay that knowledge.

After patiently sitting through the first cour of :re anticipating Sasaki Haise’s revert back to Kaneki Ken, it all paid off in the final episode. As an anime only watcher, the entire season had consisted of pointless slice of life-esque arcs with members of the CCG. Coming from past seasons, I did not care for any of these people and the anime did nothing to really humanize the bunch. The aura of cold sociopathy still exuded from these people who worked in this sterile desolate white building. The constant hidden and blatant ambitions of social climbing and backstabbing was such a turn off, especially when Kaneki or rather – Haise – would go home to more disrespect and antagonism from his team.

It really pissed me off watching Kaneki’s amnesia and how he was unknowingly interacting and working for those he considered enemies. It could be argued that was the point, but constantly shoving the organization in my face each episode did not allow me to soften to them as one would have hoped to while trying to enjoy the anime.

I especially hated all of the time spent with Quinx Squad. Yonebayashi Saiko and Shirazu Ginshi seemed like decent people, but I absolutely could not stand Urie Kuki. I also could not care much for Mutsuki Tooru, given the spoilers I read about their character.

But I powered through it, because moments with the ghouls of Anteiku made it worthwhile. The moment Haise unwittingly was drawn to the café with his old friends who silently just watched him was truly heartbreaking.

I was even excited to see Tsukiyama Shuu, despite him being a creep in previous seasons.

Then the first episode of the season’s second cour premiered, and it all went out the window once more.

Who is this guy in all black wearing glasses? Is this the Black Reaper character personality people were hype about? Why is he obsessed with arresting Takatsuki Sensei? Okay, why did Yoshimura Eto reveal her secret at the book release? Why can’t most ghouls read books without hiragana? I remember Hinami was really smart, and Touka disguised her true nature to attend high school normally. Why is Kaneki still working for the CCG, didn’t he want to die? Okay, Eto called him Kaneki so that really is Kaneki. Oh, Kaneki is going to free Hinami? Wait, where did his glasses go? Were the glasses just an act?

All jokes aside, episode one was extremely confusing. At least the op was good. TK from Ling Tosite Sigure was singing it again, and given my affection for post-hardcore I couldn’t help but bop my head to it.

Reddit user Gary4067 made a bullet point list of all things skipped in the episode, and it’s pretty tragic. Apparently, it adapted at least nine chapters from the source material.

Coming off the first cour and referencing the wiki, we left off at the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation arc. We then are just thrown into the Third Cochlea Raid without (from a manga standpoint) understanding why Kaneki is randomly going rouge. Yes, he did want to die – but the anime showed us him still faithfully working for the CCG even if he did get a little saucy by throwing things during an interrogation. I have no clue what happened to Tsukiyama or the ghouls who came to rescue him during the last cour’s end. No clue why Ayato is also coincidentally trying to raid the Cochlea. Rize is supposedly dead in the series and a figment of Kaneki’s imagination but apparently, she’s alive being held somewhere against her will.  No clue why Eto revealed her true identity to the world. Don’t know why I should care about the causal connections between the Washu clan, Organization V or the CCG but I’m sure it’s something important.

Manga wise, apparently: Eto revealed her identity as the popular author and the One-Eyed Owl at an Aogori Tree meeting or something but was overheard, so decided to reveal it to the public.  Rushima Island was being raided by the CCG, so Ayato (kinda?) decided to ambush the Cochlea along with AT members. Kaneki’s memories of being held prisoner in the facility after his defeat by Arima were not touched upon. Some background on Rize’s childhood was also missing.

If this was confusing to read, it is because even with explanations and spoilers I am still a bit jumbled as to what is going on in the series.

Animators in Japan are notoriously overworked, and Studio Pierrot has a history of questionable quality when it comes to their shows. Certain episodes of Naruto Shippuden and The Legend of Korra come to mind.  There seems to be a new director in charge of this season who lots of fans don’t seem to have a lot of faith in.

I am not sure if the production team is channeling the mangaka’s urge to be finished with the series, but for whatever reason, they are rushing it to the point of complete incoherence. Maybe it is budgeting issues, maybe there is a lack of leadership – we as watchers will never really know the true issue unless an insider spills the beans. But whatever the problems are, I wish the pacing would slow down just a bit in order to make sense and properly introduce characters. When a key character to the manga plot is introduced but on screen watchers are not given nor shown context as to why they should care, they tend to lose interest. I did not give a single damn about the man who was possibly killed while trying to defend Rize. I say possibly because the fight’s conclusion was too vague to show us his fate. Almost as vague as to why he was introduced randomly in the first place.

Either the studio needed to order more episodes to explain certain plot points, or it should have been adapted and condensed more fairly. I just wish I knew why Tokyo Ghoul Re is really this bad. Actually, Re and Root A both seemed to be a complete mess in retrospect.

I will continue to watch because frankly, I seem to enjoy scraps at this point, but I will be sure to read the manga once this season ends. For those of you also interested in reading it, Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 can be purchased legally using the link at no additional cost to yourself.

How do you feel about the series adaptation as a whole? Are you a manga reader, anime watcher only, or a mixture of both? Do you think the Tokyo Ghoul:re “Call to Exist” video game will be better than the entire tv show?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit for more anime reviews and updates!

A New Breed of Tokyo Vampire | Devils Line Anime Review

You know how sometimes you’ll watch an anime, and the beginning is kinda crap? Like you don’t understand what is going on, the pacing is weird and the animation seems wonky? But you don’t want to judge an anime by its OP, so you continue on and actually enjoy the episode and then at the very last moment – boom – the show decides to tell you to go screw yourself? That was my experience watching Devils Line. Read on.

A lot happened as I watched this anime. A churning, erratic cycle of thoughts flooded my mind within the first ten minutes. I had no clue what was going on; I could not find a cohesive link between the two seemingly different stories I viewed on screen. My mind drifted to snarky remarks of how this may be the ‘poor man’s Tokyo Ghoul’. The mental trek continued toward associations with the Twilight franchise and Oshimi Shuuzo’s Happiness. I wondered if my interest in the episode would pick up.

Devils Line [デビルズライン] is a spring 2018 anime. It is one of several shows taking on the ‘a terrible creature is terrorizing the residents of Tokyo’ theme. Does that make it bad? No, not at all. What makes it curious, is its set up.

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So the episode begins with this strange red tinged sequence of a vampire slaughtering innocent people under a full moon. I’m sure the red overlay was meant to convey the feelings of panic, fear, and anxiety in all of those being shown on screen. There were screams of agony with this sound of wind blowing through a funnel. Rewatching the scene as I write, I still can’t really tell if this is supposed to show Anzai (who we meet later) or some random vampire who is later caught in the episode. I’m sure it truly is clear, but it’s just not registering to me.

I heard that in the manga it is immediately clarified, but alas…

We are then introduced to Taira Tsukasa, a university student who realizes that she is being stalked by a man with terrible bags under his eyes. There have been ‘vampiric killings’ around their prefecture that are only covered by conspiracy websites. One person who seems overly dismissive of the killings is Akimura, a close friend to Tsukasa who also happens to be in love with her.

(In a very, very creepy obsessive Lifetime Movie way)

The two subplots of the vampire killings intertwine and culminate when Akimura is walking Taira home. They discuss his apparent off-screen confession shortly before the start of the series, and he seems to get adamant about her possibly considering him as a potential lover. No matter how long it may take. Red flags doing the hula in front of Pride Rock a la Timon and Pumbaa style aside, I felt more uneasy with their interactions than Anzai’s apparent hero-stalking.

Akimura gets a bad feeling and Tsukasa tells him about her stalker. The two decide to run away from the brightly lit, high foot traffic area with tons of witnesses to a dark, secluded back street. The gloomy background animation style seems to have taken combined pages out of Another, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia and Aku no Hana’s manual on how-to-creep-out-your-audience with a foreboding atmosphere in otherwise pleasant places.

At some point the two embrace, and Akimura decides now is the perfect time to let his freak flag fly. He seems to get overly excited and begins to sniff Tsukasa’s hair. Rightfully so, she pushes him away. Then Anzai, her other stalker, decides to show up. But since he stalks for good, it’s perfectly fine.

Anzai confronts the source of the unsolved murders. Akimura decides to say that he assaulted and murdered those three innocent women out of love for Tsukasa; she gets misty-eyed. Tsukasa tells him that he should have just told her he was an inhuman monster who may have secretly lusted for her blood. I believe she would have accepted him. I guess this is a nice gesture seeing as how they were very good friends, but the logical part of my brain can’t seem to not be creeped out by his actions.

Maybe my own past experiences are coloring my interpretation of this episode, but I just thought he was a really deplorable character.

This is coming from someone who enjoys psychological thrillers with a perverse passion. I am an avid fan of the Killing Stalking manhwa due to its exploration of mental illness and societal taboo. Mr. Robot, Death Parade, 13 Reasons Why, Pan’s Labyrinth, Alias Grace, The Red Road, Dark Mirror (somewhat – I find some episodes incredibly boring and I can’t get enough of others…It is a very mixed bag for me). Anything that is film noir or neo-noir, I will adore it. This is the case with many other sources of media that examine outliers to the accepted norms that govern our world.

I do (on some level) understand that Akimura did what he did because in his mind, he was protecting the woman he loved. I also can understand Tsukasa’s reasoning for wanting to accept a man that has never harmed her and seemed to deeply care for her. But do I myself have to accept it? Absolutely not.

The series goes completely down the drain after that (for me) when Anzai takes Tsukasa home. Since he’d been hero-stalking her, he had a broad sense of where she lived and correctly guessed her apartment number. The two have a somewhat heartfelt conversation about the nature of ‘demons’ and how humans could never co-exist with them. Anzai then notices that the victim is bleeding after he shoved her onto the hard, concrete street earlier in an effort to…urge her to run away? Which then ended with her injuring her leg and thus bringing us to the current situation.

Anzai decides to vampire it up and instead of trying to bite her neck, starts full out tongue kissing her? After we just had the conversation about how violation and murder are bad, and demons and humans shouldn’t mix? MyAnimeList seems to list him as a half-vampire, so I guess he is exempt from his own cryptic advice. As he is forcing his tongue down her throat, a hip J-Poppy love song begins to play and the credits roll. I laugh uncontrollably between inhalation of oxygen wondering what I just watched.

It seems the two begin a forbidden relationship a la Bella and Edward style. There is also a character that is the spitting image of a young Victor Nikiforov. Apparently, his name is Johannes Kleemann, no doubt he is probably from the UK or Europe.

(After writing this, I tuned into episode two based on a dulled sense of curiosity. Moreso to try and find closure after the hodgepodge of a twenty-three-minute episode I sat through. I found no such closure. It’s a bit depraved for the sake of depravity, but I won’t knock the anime based on my own perceptions of its storyline thus far. Also our female lead might have the absolute worst luck in the history of any vampire anime I’ve ever seen.)

If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Devils’ Line Vol. 1 by using that link. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

Have you watched this show yet? Or read the Devils’ Line manga by Hanada Ryou? What is your take on the ‘monster in Tokyo’ genre that seems to have re-emerged in recent years? (I mean, I know Godzilla was really the kaiju that made it popular, but anime has had a lot of creatures terrorizing big cities lately)

Leave your thoughts in the comments, I would love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram for more updates and reviews!

Would A Yokai Turn You Into A Tree?|Gegege no Kitarou|Anime Review

An obnoxious YouTuber accidentally releases a centuries old spirit who wreaks havoc in the Shibuya and Ikebukuro districts of Tokyo. All for views. He is then turned into a tree along with other helpless souls whose noses stuck to their phone screens. If only things like this happened in real life to Yt click-baiters, the earth would be a much greener place. (well, technically purple since that’s what color the trees leaves were…but you get my meaning)

Welcome to the Spring 2018 Anime Season!

Gegege no Kitarou (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 ), or Kitaro of the Graveyard is a 2018 anime based on the 1960s manga series created by Mizuki Shigeru. The opening song has a very old-timey feeling to it, reminding me a lot of an episode of Mushishi. It also has elements of my all-time favorite show, Natsume Yuujinchou, but strangely enough it reminds me the most of my favorite manga – Aku no Hana. I’m positive I am making this association due to the unsettling atmosphere and Papa Medama, who is quite literally a talking eyeball with legs.

The series starts off with a group of middle school friends. There is a set of siblings, the big sister of the group and her neighbor. They are discussing the current events and Mana-chan is defending her neighbor from callous comments made by the siblings. For some reason, I thought the nameless youngin would be our main character. I’m still surprised he wasn’t even consulted or brought along on Mana’s later adventures. His grandparents seem to frequently tell him folklore stories about youkai, and he is the reason Kitarou is able to be summoned. He could have added something to the conversation, but I digress.

Kitarou is a youkai in humanoid form. His name seems to obviously draw on The Adventures of Kintaro, the Golden Boy folklore legends. His father Medama is a small red eyeball with a body. Not sure of his backstory yet, but it would be interesting to find out if somehow his power had been diminished and that is the reason for his small stature. In Shinto culture, spirits and kami (or gods) derive power through prayer. In Natsume’s Book of Friends there is a common theme of divine kami leaving our plane or yokai losing power due to the newer generation’s lack of prayers. The deities are sustained through the older era’s prayers, and slowly as they die off their power is relinquished.

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After the inciting incident with the YouTuber, residents of Tokyo are being turned into trees indiscriminately. Well, I shouldn’t say that because there seems to be a theme emerging concerning the divide between the digital age and traditionalist era. Those who stopped to take photos for Instagram and other social media were planted with seeds of the vampire tree by Nobiagari.  Turning those addicted to their phones into vampire trees seems to suggest that modern digital culture can literally suck the life out of you and turn you into something hollow. Although trees do still have roots – a connection. In a vague interpretation, the spirit could want people to reclaim their link with the earth.

Mana seems to ask a message board for the location of the Yokai Mailbox to summon Kitarou and receives a reply. The group arrives at a street with high foot traffic and many office workers wrapped up in their own lives. Down a shady back alley is an old dingy straw mailbox reminiscent of Gassho-style farmhouses. I keep wondering if Mana saw the black cat above her on the pipes. The cat later turns into a rodent who turns into a bird who delivers the message to Kitarou. As promised, he appears to her at dusk with the “clop clop” of his geta signaling his arrival. In spirituality, dusk and dawn are attributed to sacred times; as is midnight or three a.m., which is commonly referred to as the witching hour depending on who you ask.

This kicks off Mana’s supernatural adventures and her belief in yokai, which grants her the ability to see them. Kitarou tells her countless times that there is more to this world, even if you can’t see it. Before being saved from Nobiagari’s seeds, she can only see a faint outline of the creature. After spending more time with Papa Medama while his son is incapacitated, she is able to see more than a faint outline. Although not stated in the anime, I believe spending time with the spirits also aided her new ‘gift’.

The contrast between generations is something that will definitely keep me watching this show. The technology age does have enticements with the ease of accessibility to virtually anything, but there are many drawbacks. Mana doesn’t remember or know how to write a proper letter before summoning the yokai. I admittedly cringed at this, before realizing that these kids probably were born in the early 2000s. I was born in the 90s, a time where landline telephones were still a thing and the internet consisted of AIM chatrooms and spaceship dial-up internet sounds. It makes me wonder how different our realities would be if we did remember the stories our grandparents might have grown up on. Would it change how we interact with the world? Or would things stay the same?

If you watched the first episode, how did you like it? Have you read The Birth of Kitaro? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more anime reviews. It’s a new season, and we’ll have a few more coming for you all!

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Why Recovery of an MMO Junkie Starts a Positive Discussion|NEET in Anime

I may have fallen back into hell. No, I am certain I have. It’s been over a year since I’ve watched an episode of anime, and I have finally sunken back into the familiar world that carried me through a million and one troubled times. So, do you want to know the first anime I’ve watched – now that I am back into my addictive abyss? Read on, my fellow anime enthusiasts.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie [ ネト充のススメ], or Netojuu no Susume is an anime I’d heard whispers of back when I was actively not watching anime. For reference, I was working almost every day surrounded by Japanese culture, Japanese people and Japanese food – I felt like I was in an actual anime. I was living my best life, as a shoujo maiden running for the train with toast in my mouth each morning. Okay, the toast thing is an exaggeration but the shoujo maiden thing is totally legit.

I love the ‘video game within an anime’ or virtual reality genre. It started with the first season of Sword Art Online, transcended with Accel World, fell off a bit with No Game no Life and still rests somewhere between hoping for a season 3 of Log Horizon and occasional rewatches of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. Maybe it’s because I actually love real life virtual reality; maybe it’s because I desperately wish to play an MMO with friends on Discord. Either way, I was really surprised at how fast I got invested in this show.

Have I also mentioned that I enjoy NEET characters? For those of you who might not know, NEET stands for Not into Education, Employment, or Training. It’s usually people in their late teens to even later twenties in anime, but statistics from the Japanese government suggest that those in their forties could even be qualified as NEETs. However, these individuals are usually not included in surveys – causing the overall number to be lower when it really may be much higher. These people tend to live with parents or alone in their own apartments, being supported by said parents or relatives. Some are self-sufficient, but this is not always the case. NEETs and Hikikomori share the traits of not liking to leave the house, as it gives them anxiety. They would rather order things online and have them dropped off in front of their doorstep, and do not socialize much. Many indulge in their hobbies, but some not even that. I have a demur enjoyment of learning about all aspects of Japanese culture, even the taboo bits that are usually hidden away.

We’re still getting to know one another with this new blog, but I’m really into this type of stuff. The subject of hikikomori in Japan interests me. It’s more of an interest in those people’s lives and how society perceives them, which although different from NEETs, episode two seems to focus on this subject based on the teaser preview. Our main character Morioka is a self-stylized “chosen NEET” who has retired from office work and honestly, I cannot blame her. The rat race is exhausting. I went from high school to college to internships all the while holding jobs without a break; until now that is, and let me tell you – I’ve been overwhelmed by having so much free time for the first time in literally eight years. Time to watch Netflix, time to watch my backlog list of films, anime, read manga, read books, finish reading the ASOIAF series. I think what really resonated with me in the first few minutes of watching this show is that Morioka jumps up hearing her alarm in a panic before realizing that she doesn’t work anymore. I still get anxiety anytime I hear my alarm go off…those are real feelings in our society today that I’m sure anyone reading this can relate to – whether it be an alarm for school, college or a job you’re not too fond of.

Morioka – which I am using her last name because it’s simply how I’ve grown accustomed to referring to anime characters and real-life Japanese people – reinvents herself as a turquoise haired male named ‘Hayashi’ in an MMO called Fruits de Mer. She is a newbie to the game and is kinda trash until she finds help from an angel in pink named Lily. Lily is actually an office worker, or 会社員 named Sakurai Yuuta. The two quickly hit it off, and through a somewhat nonchalant passage of time it’s almost Christmas and the Guild Master (Morioka joins a guild at some point, again super nonchalant passage of time) tells Hayashi that there is no romance allowed in the guild. Hayashi acts kind of dense and the episode ends with Hayashi and Lily exchanging gifts in a tree watching the stars at night. Romantic, but it was even more romantic that earlier in the episode the two (unbeknownst to them) met in their real-world avatars.

Maybe the camera panned in a confusing manner intentionally, but it seemed like when Morioka and Sakurai were in a discount Lawson’s together, the Fruits de Mer points card she was buying caught his attention. (Lawson’s is a popular convenience store chain in Japan, known for delicious chicken.)

The pair tries to purchase the same piece of konbini chicken, which happens to be the last. Sakurai recedes his offer, and Morioka leaves embarrassed. Again the passage of time is vague, but it seemed like she hadn’t left the house for at least a few weeks. Morioka upgraded her PC setup, but as I mentioned earlier she could have simply ordered it online. Her fridge was completely empty, but we have no determinate of how much she eats daily to calculate the exact amount of time she’s been NEET.

I enjoyed the first episode much more than I expected to, and I hope Morioka – rather Hayashi- has a supportive group of friends in regards to her new lifestyle choices. I will keep watching, but I wanted to make a first impressions post as I will most likely write more about this show.  It’s only ten episodes and seems to have an unaired eleventh episode special according to my anime list. I’ve had a habit since before film school of binge watching shows, even staying up all night to finish a season (here’s looking at you, Riverdale) but I am going to try my best to pace myself. I’ll share more thoughts on this show after I finish the series, but for now I’ll leave our conversation of NEETs here.

If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Netoju no susume. 1. and Recovery of an MMO Junkie: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] by using these links. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

Have you seen Recovery of an MMO Junkie? If you could play any game for an extended period of time, or enter any video game – what world would you choose? Leave your thoughts in a comment below, I’d love to hear from you! Be sure to follow us for more episode reviews (also analysis of NEET and hikikomori in anime) in the future!

(I will let you know which game I’d like to live in when I make my after-show post)

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Are You Living a Rose Colored Life? | Anime Episode Review

The Springtime of Youth. A Rose Colored life. These are phrases that are meant to encourage and inspire at their core. Usually found in high school anime, characters wish to write their own stories – create memories before their lives shotgun into the unknown. The Springtime of Youth also reminds me of Rock Lee’s ridiculous Naruto Spin-off show, but today we’ll discuss something different. Another show that takes this philosophy to the next level. Read on, and be inspired.

Oh, it really has been too long. Taking a break from anime for over a year makes you somewhat forget exactly why you watched in the first place. It all blends together, a huge amalgamation of jumbles in your mind. Then you see something, cliché or cheesy as it is – and deep down you feel it. “This is why I watch” you say out loud, suddenly self-conscious sitting in your room; in the library at school; on public transit.

The Springtime of Youth is something always covered in anime. Or to live a “rose coloured life” is the goal of an apathetic high school student who you know is the main character because they have a window seat in the classroom. That feeling when you’re young that anything is possible and that you only have a certain amount of time to achieve it before it all slips away. Before jobs, college and other things where suddenly it’s no longer acceptable to have fun. To be curious, to laugh, to do something crazy. It’s a common fear of working years towards a goal, only much later in life to realize it was all for naught. Regret, not taking the chances you wished you had because of fear. I felt all of this with a cliché shot of two characters who do not know one another sharing the same space. One character is preoccupied with their current task, and the other character stops to look at them. This is where I got hooked.

A Place Further Than The Universe [ 宇宙よりも遠い場所], Uchuu yori mo Tooi Basho is aptly named. The episode begins with our main character, Tamaki Mari, having a dream that illustrates her fears. In the dream she is a child, playing with a boat in a basin of water.  She’s in an empty plane of what looks like an endless, colorless beach; alone and engaged in her activities. Later on in the episode she explains that she wants to live a fulfilling life, but she is utterly afraid. Tamaki finds an old notebook of things she planned on doing once reaching high school and cries that she hasn’t completed them yet. The next day she tries to go on an unplanned adventure by ditching school and “walking opposite the usual way”, but she chickens out and goes to school. Her close friend supported her, but it just wasn’t enough.

After she chickened out, she happens to run into the girl who is about to change it all for her. The girl with the long black hair and 1 million 円. Some circumstances work out under what I’d like to think of as fate, and Tamaki is able to return the money to the mystery girl because they attend the same school. We never get the mystery girl’s name or a proper introduction, but we learn her life story. Her reputation proceeds her.  Kobuchizawa Shirase’s mother was some sort of Arctic researcher and went missing when she was younger. Kobuchizawa saved up money working part-time jobs to go to Antarctica to find her, and even tried to start a club to find support. In most school anime we find that you need at least four club members for it to be official (Free! Iwatobi Swim Team, Hyouka, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Charlotte, Doki Doki Literature Club….etc.)

 

No one supports this girl. She is a second-year student who doesn’t seem to be interested in preparing for entrance exams, has no friends, and seems too eager about going off to the end of the known world. Everyone thinks she’s crazy. She is almost bullied into giving some of her money away, but Tamaki comes along at the right time with a distraction. Kobuchizawa thought that the teachers really did find out she’s walking around with a million yen and got scared.

In Japan, many high schools see their students as a reflection of their reputation. Some schools even enforce the uniform dress code outside of the classroom. If a student, say does something unsavory like get into an argument with a jerk from another school – a person of authority (let’s say a restaurant manager) could step in and reprimand them by reporting it to their school. The school would discipline the students as would the parents most likely. I’m not sure if Kobuchizawa lives alone (we haven’t heard anything about her dad yet) or with relatives, but in a Japanese societal context you can begin to understand why she is such an outcast. Her (parentless) situation could also explain why she has the freedom to do this. This is not to say that all Japanese parents are stuffy and care about what others think, but it seems to be a dominant cultural trait to not “cause trouble” for yourself or your high school. (College I believe is much different.)

To Tamaki however, Kobuchizawa is a dream. A chance to change her life. A chance to support a fantasy that involves everything in her vague sense of adventurism. Kobuchizawa mentions that she is used to people disappointing her and letting her down, but still hands Tamaki a flyer for a boat show. It’s in Hiroshima and they live in (I’m assuming) rural Gunma prefecture.

When it’s shown that although scared, Tamaki decides to take the step forward and runs into Kobuchizawa while she’s entering a train car to look for a seat…her smile was everything. I literally felt like jumping up and cheering. They tried taking pictures of Mount Fuji and ate onigiri on the ride to Hiroshima. I’ve heard that bento are best on long train rides (they couldn’t afford the expensive ones on board), and that you should buy one before boarding.

Many bigger stations in Japan also have vending machines and sometimes small food stalls where you can purchase sustenance before your ride. I imagine that when I finally do get to Japan, I’d like to do as they did. I’d buy my bento beforehand however, with a drink from a vending machine and I’d ask a conductor which side fuji-san would appear on our ride.

The episode ends with the two girls in Hiroshima, looking at the Shirase. I wonder if Kobuchizawa was named after the ship, or vice versa. Either way, I will continue watching this show and give a review of my final thoughts in a post at a later date. It seems that the girl working in the konbini, Miyake, will join the group next episode. There was a No Game No Life poster in the store and it seems Ishizuka Atsuko directed that show as well as this one.

I feel very hopeful and inspired after watching this episode, so I wanted to share my first impressions. Too many times in my life I’ve gotten scared to try something new and later came to regret it. Or I tried something and it didn’t work out because I didn’t try hard enough. I once had a YouTube channel I loved that didn’t work out. For a very long time I thought I just wasn’t good at it, and I stopped making videos about things I loved. Now I started this blog, and sometimes I doubt myself but I want to make this work and create a fun place where people can talk about their passions and build a community. It’s going to be a lot of work, but sometimes even the smallest things can keep you going. Small things like A Place Further Than The Universe.

Have you seen this anime yet? Did you watch No Game No Life? One more question – If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Tell us about it in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to share the article & follow us for more inspiring anime!

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(I would go to Iceland btw. I’ve always wanted to see The Northern Lights. Maybe I’ll go soon…)