Dreamgirls Review

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It’s time for the first musical that I’ve seen in quite a while. I don’t think it’ll ever get old seeing people debate and fire comebacks through song instead of talking about it. It’s just an interesting way to make your comeback you know? It’s definitely not my kind of film and suffers from the usual problems that come with being a musical, but the film gave it a good effort and I suppose that’s what counts.

Effie, Deena, and a third girl have been trying to make it big for a long time now. They just haven’t gotten the chance to show that their singing abilities are the real deal. This changes when a slick car dealsman named Curtis tells them that he can get them a gig as Jimmy’s backup singers. Effie is worried that they’ll stay backup forever, but Curtis knows a way to shove Jimmy out of the picture at some point. Soon he gets them their own gig, but decides to slowly phase Effie out. Eventually he phases the third girl out as well and makes it all about Deena. Thing is….will Curtis also phase her out once Deena starts to decline in popularity? She’s going to have to do something and fast!

Usually this is where you’d chat with your friends to try and think about what you should do next. The problem is that all of the main characters are too busy keeping secrets from each other and playing the rebound game. There’s a lot to keep up with as Jimmy tries to use the moves on the main characters. 2 of them don’t fall for it, but then Curtis gets together with Effie. After he’s had his fun, Curtis moves on to Deena and while all of the characters know about this merry go round, none of them really care since they all think that they’re the special one. It leads to quite a lot of drama the whole time and so I can’t say that the romance was handled well. It felt really fake on all sides. Lets face it, if someone is cheating to be with you, then they’re also probably cheating on you. It’s an iron clad rule that has been around for generations and it doesn’t just go away in a flash. It was also hard to sympathize with any of the characters when they were betrayed because it was just so expected. They were all a little too easy as well as they basically skipped the dating phase.

As a result, none of the characters are all that good. Jimmy was bad from the start as he immediately tried to fool around with the main characters. He ended up getting into drugs and hitting the Game Over moment in life. Curtis may have been a fast talker, but you always knew that about him. It helped the audience not get tricked by his shenanigans and it was just annoying that none of the others could figure it out. He went from being manipulative to totally being a villain by the end. Deena was an all right main character as she stuck up for Effie for a while, but got pretty naive by the end. It turned out to be true that she was cheating with Curtis for a while so that’s certainly not very heroic of her. Curtis even admitted at one point that he had always loved her and not Effie so that should have rang some warning bells since he still stuck around long enough to have a kid. Deena made the right move in the end, but it took her a little too long.

Effie was also not so good. She wasn’t exactly blameless in this affair as she didn’t take moving to the back row very well instead of being happy for her friend. It’s also pretty understandable that a replacement would be hired for her during the Vegas New Year’s Celebration since she abruptly vanished and skipped all of the rehearsals. You can see why she was bitter, but surely she can see how the others had to move on. She was causing a bunch of problems. The song recorder that helped the gang was all right I suppose. He was a little slow on the draw as well, but ended up pretty well off. He didn’t agree with how his music was used at times, but he did get the money. Deena’s Mom was pretty fun considering that she didn’t appear much. I wouldn’t have minded her as more of a main character since she seemed to suspect that something was off from the start.

This isn’t usually much of a problem outside of some old black and white films, but I had a tough time telling each character apart once in a while. They all kept switching their wigs and then the film would constantly jump into the future by a few months or even years at time. It just made it hard to keep them all straight and that’s why I never even learned the third girl’s name. She technically had a reasonably sized role, but the characters never said it all that much since the focus was on the other two. This is why instead of coordinated costumes where everyone wears the same thing, you should always have something different.

There are a lot of songs as you’d expect. The beet for them is usually pretty catchy, but I can’t say that the lyrics were very good. They aren’t exactly something I’d play while at home. I’m not really a big music person to be honest, but when I play music it’s typically extremely epic anime/video game songs. If I play the occasional lyrical song, it’s typically one from those mediums. Instrumental is still the best bet as you get the cool beats without having to worry about the lyrics, but both sides can be good. I think this soundtrack could have been a little better considering that it was a musical, but ironically the fact that it was a musical meant that the music was very mainstream and not quite as epic as it could have been. Look up the Attack on Titan themes and you’ll see what I mean.

I also can’t say that I care much for the competitive/professional dancing that usually accompanies the music. If anything it just makes the music feel more objectionable as they’re trying to hook the audience on them rather than the music. It doesn’t feel quite as legitimite which is why I never bought into music videos. The audience certainly ate it up, but that’s also why you’ll attract a specific crowd based on what you sing and how you sing it.

Overall, Dreamgirls may have tried its best to be an intense musical with a lot of drama, but it didn’t work too well for me. Without likable characters or a stronger plot, you just can’t sing your way out of the tough situations. I do like how the characters banter with songs though as it was extended more than in most films and they had whole conversations. It just wasn’t enough to block out all of the drama and rebounds. I can’t really say that I’ve ever loved a live action musical film though so it’s possibly just a really hard genre to succeed in. Hopefully they can pull it off someday. They just need to take some cues from Frozen. Get some better songs, cut out the dances, and build a better plot. If you can get those aspects of the film together, then I think you’ll end up with a winner on your hands. By the way, if you’re wondering who the standout character of the film was, it was certainly the lawyer. I like how he just showed up out of nowhere and took down the main villain. He probably cost a lot of money, but it was well worth it since a lawyer can save you millions!

Overall 3/10

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Bonnie and Clyde

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It’s time for another film based on true events. For once, it’s not about a moment of great importance in history or even about a heroic protagonist who helped reshape the rules and standards of life as we know it. Instead, this film is about two outlaws who were not heroic in any sense of the words and got their thrills out of robbing and committing other crimes. As such, you can imagine that it was not really my kind of film as I never care for villains as the protagonists.

Bonnie was originally a waitress who wasn’t involved in a life of crime. That changed when she met Clyde who tried to rob her mother. Bonnie was intrigued and decided to join in. While the pair initially committed small crimes that didn’t involve murder, they eventually grew bolder and bolder. Once they crossed the final line for the first time, it was relatively easy to keep going as they grew worse and worse. Ultimately this would be their undoing as they made too many enemies and got caught in a trap. You couldn’t feel any sympathy for them at this point since they were completely evil and it was a good way to remind the audience that crime never pays. You end up paying for the crimes..with your life!

I’m sure that the film is fairly faithful to how the pair acted back in the old days. Neither character is likable in the slightest. You just feel bad for their victims like the guy who was shot in the face. It’s why working in a bank isn’t exactly my favorite job in the world. It’s tough to deal with robbers and you never know how it’ll turn out. The film puts a lot of emphasis on how sketchy the two main characters are. Aside from breaking the law and all, they also smoke, drink, and do everything you’d expect two villains to do. The “romance” if you can call it that is fairly prevalent as well. The leads have all the wrong priorities the whole time.

The film certainly was on the gritty side. It had that old grainy look to it that most early color films had. It automatically helps a film appear to be more gritty and especially if that’s how the film is trying to be. You can especially see this in horror films and it’s why the modern ones are usually more chuckle worthy than anything. It’s the one time Indie can try to shine as their films are usually low budget and can still attain that grainy feeling. It’s not as if I’ll like a horror film anyway, whether it be grainy or clear, but definitely something to think about. Of course, an old grainy wild west film with two villains as leads…that was never going to end well.

I mostly don’t take too many shots at historical/documentary films like this one since they’re usually uplifting stories with good morals. As long as the adaption is on point, it’s all good. This one’s a bit of an exception since their are no good morals or stories to take from this one and I don’t even see why this story had to be adapted. Why should we honor criminals with their own film? I definitely don’t understand it and so even if this film is fairly accurate to how they would have acted, I can’t say that I’m a fan. This just wasn’t my kind of film.

As a side note, it’s always interesting to see the old style of cars that everyone uses here. I sort of like the design, but at the same time the colors always seemed faded. It’s like colors just didn’t stand out back in the day, but I don’t see why that would be. Had we not developed shiny colors at this point in history? It seems like something that would be fairly easy to do. I can see not having bullet proof windows and all of that fancy stuff, but shiny colors had to have been one of those easy inventions that just hit someone like a bolt of lightning someday. It just seems like walking around in those days with faded out colors made everything else seem fake as well. In theory all of the colors should still be sharp so maybe we had sharp colors and films just couldn’t properly see them? Like I said..it’s something to think about and you should think about it during the film since it’s more interesting than the actual movie.

Overall, You should avoid this Bonnie and Clyde film. I don’t see how any film could manage to make them likable anyway since the story is just about how they’re evil and kept on shooting people and stealing money. Switch out the names and you just have two very generic criminals in the olden times. There were many criminals in the Wild West as you can see from any old film. True, this might not be quite the same Wild West as it wasn’t that old and uncivilized compared to other eras, but it’s old enough where I just generalize and call it that. If you really want to learn more about Bonnie and Clyde, then this is probably a decent way to do so. At the same time, you could probably just watch a documentary instead and in this case it may work better. We don’t need to learn all that much about their friends and personal life. A documentary will just stick to the facts and probably be more concise about the whole thing.

What Lies Beneath Review

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It’s time to look at a horror/thriller film. This one’s about what you would expect. It’s not very good with a bunch of plot twists that don’t help its case. I’ll give the trailer some props for being incredibly misleading with a plot twist. It’s a clever misdirect. Of course, if you were excited for that plot line, it also means that you could be in for a disappointment when you watch the film. Needless to say, I didn’t mind that plot line being cut, but the actual plot in the film wasn’t any better.

Claire and Norman have been married for a long time. Norman can be a little too attached to his job at times, but he’s been a good person. Unfortunately, mysterious things begin to happen. Claire hears voices, she sees things move, her computer even starts typing MEF as much as possible. Norman thinks that she’s just being silly and tells her to cut it out. He’s never very understanding of the whole thing. Then Claire sees her neighbors acting suspiciously. They always seem to fight and the wife was crying about being terrified of something. Claire then becomes confident that she is murdered by the other neighbor and seeks to prove it. A lot of things are happening, but is Claire just making hasty conclusions?

Well, lets talk about some of the twists. We’re entering heavy spoiler land with this review so prepare for that. It’s an old movie so it’s all fair game, but I figure that I’d warn you in advance. One plot twist is that the neighbor’s wife just gets terrified and emotional whenever her husband is away. She has panic attacks, yells, and cries every time he leaves and she just doesn’t want anyone to know which is why she cries in the backyard and then runs if anyone notices her. It’s a very strange explanation and not one that you are very likely to believe. It was a red herring of course, but it’s like the writers couldn’t figure out how to add one in so they just made a very fake one. Not a great move.

You’ll be glad to know that the supernatural part of the film is real and isn’t just a hoax. That being said, it’s one of the weakest spirits in horror movie history. It figures that the one time the ghost is basically a good guy it happens to be weak. I can’t imagine the Grudge or the Ring looking like this. It can’t destroy a single person which is kind of sad. The invisible Ghost want to take him down for the count, but it seems like she needs a lot of help. It also forgets who the main target is at times and just goes wild on everyone. I can appreciate the determination on that, but it just feels very random for the sake of being a red herring once again.

So, one of the big twists revolves around Norman. Apparently he cheated on Claire and then murdered the person to save his own career. This naturally led to her turning into a ghost and vowing to destroy him. Norman also turns on Claire and tries to take her down for the count as well. It’s a very cliche’d route and one that has never worked. Norman also isn’t very thorough as picking another method would have allowed him to have destroyed her a lot quicker. Good thing he likes theatrics.

Claire is an okay character at best. Even as she puts the pieces together, she doesn’t give herself any kind of insurance in case the villain is near. To her defense, it would be hard to guess that Norman is actually evil, but she had cracked a decent amount of the puzzle so she should have thought about it more. Beyond that, Claire also gets possessed rather easily by the ghost or just suffered a nervous breakdown as she helps him relive the moment. It’s another scene that has no purpose in the film.

Lets face it, the romance in the film was poorly handled. The scenes drag on and are mostly just Norman saying “That’s too rough” over and over again during the scene. We get it, Claire’s not acting like herself, no need to keep repeating it. That possession scene was just so random. The film also has an obsession with the bathtub as we get really long scenes of the characters in there. Since Claire is nearly drowned in the bathtub while she is paralyzed, the film uses that as an excuse to keep the scene going. I don’t care for bathtub scenes in any context so that didn’t work for me. Especially not as a climax. We do have some driving at the end as well though and the ghost finally gets to make a move. Better late than never.

The film only works in the first place because of a ton of convenient elements. Claire suffers from intense memory loss because she was so traumatized that she blocked the memories out of something. If not for this, she would have known most of what happened right from the start, but then we’d have no movie. Naturally the cops never figured out the connection between Norman and the girl who went missing either. I like to think that someone would have known what was going on. The ghost was also really weak and couldn’t even help that much before the climax. She could have finished off Norman so easily in many different scenes.

Overall, What Lies Beneath is a thriller that cheats. It doesn’t have much foreshadowing for the events and makes characters act out of character when it suits its purpose. The film should have just played it straight with a vengeful spirit trying to destroy them all. We didn’t need Norman to crack and for the bathtub to be used multiple times as the weapon to destroy them all. There’s nothing really nice to say about the film. The romance is terrible and the film ends on a whimper. None of the characters are likable or even realistic. There’s not much of a soundtrack although I won’t call it bad either. The tunes that were there were likely okay. I can’t recall something sounding out of place at any rate. The film avoided all animal violence and wasn’t that violent in general so that’s a consolation. Still, if you want a good horror film, watch something like The original Mummy film instead. At least it had that retro feel and good writing to back it up.

Overall 3/10

Nisekoi Review

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It’s time to review a very different manga series. Seriously, it’s not one that you’d have expected me to read. It’s my first complete harem manga. There are some titles that can act a bit like a harem at times like Sword Art Online, but this is a full blown one with comedy hi-jinx around every corner and a lot of situations that will make you suspend your disbelief. So I can’t say that I had high hopes for this series at all. Luckily it plays up the comedy angle first and foremost. There isn’t a great deal of fanservice here as it’s pretty mild for the most part. There are some tricky moments though and it’s certainly not perfect, but it’s likely the best adaptation of this genre. I can’t imagine another one handling it quite as well.

The protagonist is Raku and he is the heir to a local Yakuza organization. He doesn’t want to lead the group though as his passion is to be a civil servant who lives in a very fair and balanced way. It’s an honorable aspiration and the gang members don’t mind this as they figure that he’ll grow bored and decide to lead the gang in the end anyway. His life changes forever when a girl named Chitoge moves into town. She is in a very similar situation and her gang does not get along with Raku’s at all. The two gangs decide to form a peace treaty by convincing Chitoge and Raku to pretend to be dating. Only the top executive of each gang knows that it is fake so the rest believe that it is legitimate and do their best not to get into fights. Naturally, this has serious social repercussions for both characters since they have to keep the act going 24/7. Raku was hoping to live a normal high school life and Chitoge wanted a great start to her school year, but neither were to be.

Quite a few more complications would enter the fray though. The main characters are all in the same class and it just so happens that most of them know Raku in some way or other from the past. Onodera was one of Raku’s best friends back in the day and Raku secretly admires her. Unfortunately for him, the Chitoge situation has shut the door on any hopes for him since he is officially taken and Chitoge has to find a way around that as well. Her best friend Ruri has decided that overcoming your rivals is necessary in a case like this and tries to push the two of them together. Meanwhile, Chitoge has a bodyguard named Tsugami who is forced to come to class as well to protect her mistress. She believes that Raku is not fit to protect Chitoge but gradually realizes that he is tougher than he looks. A rich transfer student also shows up who is a pre-arranged fiance for Raku. This hurts his reputation even more and she is the most overt with her constant advances towards Raku. Not to be out done, a transfer teacher also shows up named Yui. She grew up with Raku as she learned how to be an effective mob boss and then went her own way. Well, now she is also back to claim Raku. Finally, we also have Onodera’s younger sister. She doesn’t want to get in Onodera’s way but that becomes more difficult as her friend tries to push her into some tricky situations.

So, we’ve got quite the cast and you can see how this is clearly a harem title. There are 6 different girls going after Raku and he has to try to stop all of their advances while he chooses one over the others. While the reverse harem title Gentleman’s Alliance (I believe that’s the right name) did a cop-out by having the heroine choose 2 guys to alternate with, I can safely say that there is none here. The series wraps up with each girl getting her own story arc and one by one Raku completely rejects them tournament style. It’s pretty interesting and at least he was direct about the whole thing. Of course, the series is 25 volumes long and those arcs don’t really start til around volume 19. The first 18 are for good ole comedy shenanigans along with a plot about Raku’s pendant. See, he has this pendent which can only be opened by a girl that he promised to marry when he was a kid. The problem is that from the 7 girls, 4-5 of them have their own keys. They can’t try them out either since Raku conveniently breaks his pendent. Oh well, they’ve got a lot of time to figure it out right?
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For a story like this, the two most important aspects are the characters and the writing. Those two things are handled pretty well and the art also helps a lot. You may notice that all of the pictures in this review are from the same fight. That’s because the art for this fight was just so good and it came out of nowhere. This was the only serious fight in the whole series or at least the only one that was of a decent length. It shows what the series could have been like if the author had decided to pursue Nisekoi as an action series. It would have had quite a lot of potential. The art is consistently good throughout and I’d consider it to be fairly high end even counting all other manga titles.

If there’s any part of the art that’s weak, it’s that parts of it can seem recycled. So that’s not a quality thing, but just a byproduct of the genre. It’s something that you tend to see in comedy titles a lot since the characters always have exaggerated expressions. You’ll see what I mean if you flip through a volume. The characters make the same faces constantly. You can’t go through a single chapter without someone yelling or panicking. At least not until you’re in the climax of the series. The overreactions can definitely get old pretty quick.

All right, lets talk about the characters. First off is Raku, our lead. He’s a nice guy who wants to help everyone out, but just has a lot of natural charm so everyone wants to hang out with him. Raku does his best not to lead anyone on and is pretty oblivious to the situation as you probably would expect. I can’t say that I’m really a fan of Raku though. While he handles most of the situations fairly well, he can also make them worse at times. Other times he’s a little slow on the uptake and tends to insult other characters at inopportune times. He calls Chitoge a gorilla as a joke while she calls him a bean sprout, but often times Raku will use this insult quite randomly and it makes you wonder what he was thinking.

Chitoge is the main heroine and one of the better characters. She’s probably my second favorite behind Tsugami. Chitoge is outgoing and does her best to make a lot of friends during her school days. She helped to bring the whole gang together and is always ready to help the others out like Raku. She’s pretty selfless as well and tries not to get in the way of the other character’s goals. Chitoge can also fight to a mild extent which helps quite a bit as well. Next up is Onodera, one of the other major characters of the series. Unfortunately, I was never a fan of hers. She’s a really shy character who has a hard time talking to Raku and her friends often have to push her into action. She means well though and is also a very nice character, but the shy character type has never been my favorite. Just about all of my favorite characters are outgoing or have generally tough personalities. I feel like it makes the character more interesting.

Next up is the worst character in the series, Shu. This character had no point being in the series and it feels like he is just here to make Raku look even better. After all, Raku is heroic, noble, and treats everyone with respect. Shu flirts with everyone and is always thinking very sketchy thoughts as he tries to get everyone into sticky situations. His romance plot was also the worst since it basically exonerated everything he does. The series ends with him refusing to change his ways and his partner just deciding that she can live with that. It’s just terrible all around and I’d wince whenever he was on screen. Bad things were always sure to follow.
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Ruri is Onodera’s friend so she never really counted as one of the people interested in Raku. Things get tricky for a second, but her bond with Onodera is a lot stronger and another guy ends up appearing for her. Ruri was a pretty decent character until her romance plot started wrapping up. The series kept hinting at it whenever she would appear, but I just hoped that the title wouldn’t go down that route. Unfortunately it did and Ruri got the worst pairing possible. Anyway, she’s a nice friend who helped Onodera a lot, but the latter was just too timid to really make use of the assistance.

Another supporting character is Claude. He doesn’t like Raku and constantly makes plans to humiliate the kid or get some dirt on him that could be used as blackmail. Naturally he’ll never find any dirt on the perfect main character though and most of his plans backfire because his subordinate Tsugami breaks it by mistake. Claude gets a pretty decent action scene towards the end and he is one of the best characters. While he is really bias against Raku, he does ultimately mean well since he just wants to protect Chitoge. He makes his share of mistakes, but I can sympathize with this guy.

Back to the main characters, we have Chitoge’s bodyguard up next. Tsugami was the best character by a long shot as she’s a great fighter and makes all of the right choices. She puts her feelings behind Chitoge’s happiness and safety consistently. She can be a little too naive at times to be honest and the series really exaggerates this character trait of hers, but when it comes to being a bodyguard she is prepared for every contingency. She saves the day on multiple occasions and Raku definitely wouldn’t have lasted so long without her. She gave the series quite a few of its best scenes so it’s safe to say that the manga as a whole would have dropped without her as well.

Tachibana’s personality is one that you probably wouldn’t assume would work well but she’s actually one of the better characters. She’s the most direct and upfront about her plans for the future and she lets Raku know about this constantly. It’s a little refreshing when you compare her to everyone else who constantly ducks the questions with the classic “Don’t get the wrong idea!” lines. Her story is probably the most tragic of the bunch, but it has a fairly happy ending. Tachibana also did have the absolute best arc of the series so that was pretty cool. She also came out to help in the last part of the final arc. I’d place her as the third best character and she definitely made the series a whole lot livelier.

Honda is Tachibana’s bodyguard. She isn’t quite as skilled as Tsugami, but she comes close. The images that I’ve attached in the review are of her fighting Tsugami so you can see how she put up a really good fight. That being said, I definitely don’t like Honda. She is the opposite of Tsugami who knows when to disobey an order and where her priorities lie. Honda follows the orders no matter what and is very strict when it comes to the rules. This leads to her making a lot of the wrong choices throughout.

Haru is Onodera’s sister. She wasn’t a bad character, but I can’t say that she really added anything to the series either. You could cut her out and nothing would really change. Haru starts out as the most antagonistic character to Raku, but gradually warms up to him since he’s such a nice guy. She knows that Onodera is trying for him though and steps aside which is pretty self less of her. She wants to be a pro baker but goes through many adversities along the way. I was glad for that subplot though because I do like seeing snacks. I could use a good Chocolate Chip Cookie myself right about now.
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Finally we have Yui. She is the leader of a gang and used to live at Raku’s gang base when she was a kid. She doesn’t have any family left so she looks to Raku as a brother. We get a pretty iffy subplot where her admiration morphs into something else, but by the end they agree that this would be a mistake so they keep the status quo as it is. It’s certainly a weird dynamic when you have her as the teacher though. Fortunately she got out of the arranged marriage thing so now she has time to rethink about what she wants to do. She was also a little unnecessary to the series and didn’t bring much to the table. I think I prefer Haru so the question is who was the worst heroine….her or Onodera? I’m probably going to give Onodera the slight edge here, but it’s reasonably close.

There are a few other supporting characters of course. Chitoge’s Mom shows up a few times during the series and she’s a good character. She lets her business get in the way of family time for a while, but Raku shows her how to balance it so she can hang out with Onodera more. The gang leaders show up a few times like Raku’s Dad, but they never really do much. There are ninja, classmates, friends of friends, and more characters but we covered all of the major ones.

This goes without saying, but one of the negatives of the series is the fanservice. It’s not all that excessive or frequent, but it is around enough where it still needs to be addressed. It’s an issue that most titles just can’t seem to get away from completely. Another issue is naturally the constant romance. As I mentioned earlier, the series is at its best during the normal adventures where the characters are just having fun and hanging out. The cast is actually better than some of the Shonen action casts. Perhaps it’s because we see them hang out more so getting used to the characters happens a lot quicker than when they are fighting and we don’t get to see the development for a while. Titles like DBZ throw that theory out of the water though.
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The romance is handled well for what it is. I’d say that it’s probably better than most main stream films in that regard. The characters don’t immediately get to the next level for no reason and it’s not like a CW show where you’re rebounding from one character to the next. Since Raku is unsure about what to do for most of the series, he makes sure not to actually get together with anybody. Of course, he has to pretend to be with Chitoge, but he keeps it in pretend mode.

Since a great deal of chapters are standalone, it also stands to reason that for all of the hits there are some misses as well. For example, pretty much any chapter where all of the heroines drink a love potion and decide to chase Raku are fairly weak. On the other side, pretty much any athletic competition…or simply any competition at all are typically a lot of fun. Since the series is so long, the cast gets to go on quite a lot of adventures so pretty much every kind of situation happens. We get haunted houses, School against School competitions, trips to other states, island survival tests, etc.

I read most of the series in batches of 2-4 volumes so I can also safely say that the series is a page turner. It never gets remotely boring and I think that can be accredited equally to the interesting cast and the exceptional art. Both really help to complement each other for any series really. If a series has bad art, then it’ll be hard to marathon no matter how engaging the plot is. It was just fortunate to have both factors in its favor.

I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, but what else is new? Manga rarely have satisfying endings for me and this one had a big time skip as per usual. My main issue with it was the heroine’s final decision after being selected by the main character. It’s a choice that seems to happen a little more often now and I still don’t really get the logic behind it. It dampens what is otherwise a happy ending. There are also a few random pairings that I’m pretty iffy at, but the ending certainly could have been a whole lot worse.

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Overall, Nisekoi is a pretty fun series. If I were to rate the series based just on how enjoyable it is, it would easily get an 8. However, just being fun isn’t enough to get a high ranking since I still do have to count the negatives. It’s in the same boat as Medaka Box although less extreme in both the positives and negatives. The author definitely did a really good job of mixing up the various arcs by the end and giving each character time to shine. All of the main characters got a lot of development through the series. I can safely say that Nisekoi was a lot better than I had anticipated. At least now if anyone asks me to recommend a good romance series I can bring this one up. Tsubasa is probably still my go to example though since it was pretty much perfect, but this one can definitely be seen as more of a traditional romance. Now I can only hope that it really does get a battle spinoff manga someday.

Overall 6/10

It Could Happen To You Review

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Whenever I watch movies that are supposedly based on true stories I laugh. When I watch films that do their best to say that they weren’t inspired by true stories, I also laugh. The key point is that you should never believe a film unless it’s being straight with you. This one basically admits that they grabbed the premise from a real event and then added their own story to it which is pretty believable. This is actually what I imagine that most movies do. It’s handled pretty well and definitely has a fun premise as well.

So, Charlie is a cop, but not just any cop. He’s known as the greatest cop around as he’s friends with everyone and always gets the job done. You can count on good ole Charlie is what everyone’s always thinking and they tend to be right. He’s just a good guy who always helps the community out. One day he goes to a restaurant, but he doesn’t have enough money for a tip so he makes a deal to split his lottery ticket winnings with the lady. She agrees to the terms and then Charlie happens to win a few million on it. He honors the agreement, but his wife isn’t pleased. With both of them slowly drifting apart and rebounds beginning to happen…what will they do!?

It’s a classic story of how getting rich can drive people apart. Of course in this case Charlie and Muriel already didn’t get along very well. This just sped things up. Charlie loves giving things away and after literally giving away half of his winnings, he also makes massive donations to the local Police fund and to the beggars on the street. Muriel gets triggered by this and starts throwing money around by redecorating the house and getting into the stock market. Both of them keep trying to one up the other in terms of throwing money around. Finally, Muriel decides to go for the “Divorce to Claim Assets” combo and quickly destroys Charlie. Fortunately, Charlie doesn’t care about the money.

All right, so there are quite a few things you can have fun mocking here, but it’s an enjoyable film. Lets start with Charlie. I actually don’t really care for Charlie. Sure, he’s a nice guy and he did the right thing in keeping his word about splitting the lottery ticket. He really shouldn’t have made that deal since the stakes were so high and could have just brought a tip the next day. Once he said it though, going through with it was the right call. Now, I can understand Muriel’s frustrations with him though. Imagine waking up one morning to discover that your friend has won 4 million dollars. You’re then hit with the bombshell that it is only going to be 2 million. Then you find out that he also donated one hundred thousand to the Police…then he bought his friend season tickets and a new hat…then he gave money to everyone who asked for it outside (That line will never end) etc. I know that Charlie doesn’t care about the money as he mentions this many, many times. He needs to be a little more considerate of his wife.

Finally, the main thing holding him back is his romance with Yvonne. Even if he wasn’t getting along with Muriel, they weren’t actually divorced yet so he shouldn’t be having any kind of affair. You wait until the paperwork is complete and it’s all over before going for the rebound. It’s like the people who dash into the subway as you’re trying to get off and then the yelling starts from everyone. The fact that he was already attracted to someone else was also pretty dicey. He started with the fake “Lets just be friends” line of course as they hung out every day, but we all know how that ends. I can’t say that I ever trust the “We’ll just be friends” pitch even if I do believe that it should be possible to just be friends. People always have an angle and if you haven’t figured one out yet, then that means you haven’t looked hard enough.

Don’t take this as me saying that I felt bad for Muriel though. She’s a very exaggerated villain in this film so the movie clearly doesn’t want you to take her side. She’s mean to everyone and only cares about being rich and famous. She also wastes her money on Pyramid Schemes and plastic surgery. She constantly insults her husband behind his back and her friends give her pretty bad advice like splitting from Charlie or just cheating on him. She flirts with this really old guy for no reason, but the film gives her a sad ending to counter this. Seriously, the ending is almost humorous as everyone who got in Charlie and Yvonne’s way end up bankrupt, dead, or just plain unhappy. The people who helped him out get a happy ending like the Cop who got his season tickets. The basic moral is that you better have been on Charlie’s side or you’re doomed.

The ending is a little cheesy though since a ton of people send the main character’s money. Nah, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I can see a lot of people sending them Karma on Reddit or making some snappy one liners, but the money is a stretch. Not saying that people don’t donate money to good causes as the Reddit “Build a Potato” got thousands of dollars, but it’s still a pretty rare thing and I don’t think their story would move people quite enough.

Finally we have Yvonne. She’s a nice enough character I suppose, but she is hanging out with a married man as I already stated so that gets us into very murky waters. I also feel like the two of them are going to be bankrupt very quickly as the film ends with them renting a hot air balloon and throwing a ton of paper (It better not be money!) down to a park for kicks. Sure, it may look good for a few minutes, but that’s a huge waste of money and an even bigger mess for the environment. They do realize that custodial is going to have to clean that up in the morning right?

I know that I said “Finally” but I have one more at the ready. Finally, Charlie does a terrible job in the courtroom and when the lawyers are meeting up. I know they’re trying to present him as a “Holier than thou” kind of character, but they forgot to incorporate the common sense angle. After allowing Muriel to take all of his money since Charlie is a nice guy, she also decides to take Yvonne’s money as well. Charlie will at least fight for her right? No, he’s still too nice of a guy to get in anybody’s way so he doesn’t put up a fight for her. He just lets it all go since he doesn’t care about the money. He cares about living right? Because it’s pretty hard to live when you have no money. Those scenes were just annoying to watch because being a nice guy doesn’t mean that you have to be a pushover. Charlie lets everyone walk right over him because he just doesn’t want to be mean. I felt bad for his lawyer since he was clearly wishing he hadn’t taken this task by the end.

Overall, This is a fun film though. While I focused on the annoying bits and the stretches in logic, the main reason why I enjoyed the film was the quick pacing and the fairly decent writing. The writing isn’t amazing, but it’s goo enough. Charlie may be annoying and has some dubious choices, but he was a good cop. He did a good job of ending the gunfight in the deli by showing up and taking names. He did make the good choice with the lottery ticket as well. Hopefully he will learn from this experience and get a little tougher along the way. That would really seal the deal on his character arc. Beyond that, just enjoy the ride and think about what you would do with 2 million dollars. It’s not as much of a big deal nowadays since we have so many millionaires running around, but I’d instantly throw half of it into savings and I’d use another chunk to buy a bunch of video games and maybe a small pizza store so I could walk in and get free slices whenever I wanted. It’s a tough call since they are so many variables, but it would be a good problem.

Overall 7/10

The Tender Trap Review

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Whenever someone yells “It’s a Trap!” you typically want to listen. In this case, Julie knows deep down that Charlie is not a good person and getting together with him isn’t a good idea…but she ignores this feeling. What happens next is what you would expect, drama and tragedy. What holds this film back is how unlikable Charlie is and the fact that you can’t believe him when he tries to show how much he has changed. He gives us too many fakeouts during the film for this to even be somewhat believable. It’s too bad, Julie could have chosen someone a lot more noble.

The film starts with Charlie’s old friend Joe shows up to live with him for a while. He basically showed up unannounced except for a letter informing Charlie of the new situation. Charlie’s fine with this arrangement, but Joe quickly grows jealous. Joe may be married and have 2 kids already, but he’s greedy and wants to be able to play the field again. He gives in to the temptations of the big city and quickly becomes a terrible character. Meanwhile, Charlie is using everyone that he can, but one day a girl by the name of Julie refuses to get together with him. Charlie takes it personal and decides that he’s going to change her mind.

As you can already see here, one of the tricky parts of the film is that Charlie revels in his life style. He cheats on all of his girl friends. It’s played for laughs, but that will immediately cause you to dislike him. There is really just no going back from this point on. Even after he proposes to someone else, he quickly does the same with Julie and is quickly found out. Julie may be extremely gullible and not all that smart, but even she is able to piece the puzzle together once it becomes plain as day. It was just too late for Charlie to change things.

Another plot line in the film is about the corruption of the big city. Joe was happy with his life until he fell for the “Grass is always greener” trick and began to date someone even though he’s already married. That was the first red flag. After that, he even gets ready to propose to someone and goes to call his wife to explain why they can’t be together anymore. He is shut down by the person that he proposes to (Sylvia) so he ends up keeping the marriage but it makes you wonder how real it is. The wife will never know what a backstabber Joe is which is unfortunate.

I can’t say that Sylvia or any of the other people who hung out with Charlie were any good. The argument that Sylvia made is that they had no prospects left so they didn’t mind being the 2nd or 3rd choices, but that’s a really low standard to set for yourself. It makes it less personal when Charlie cheats on them I suppose, but it doesn’t help their cause. Julie is the only one with real personality and backbone, but the plot just doesn’t go well for her. At first, she does a good job of explaining why she shouldn’t bother eating out with people she’s not serious about. That’s an argument that I can buy into. Next, she explains that she has a very specific plan which even has a deadline on when she has to be married. That’s when she lost me.

Julie has planned out the rest of her life which includes how many kids she’ll have, what schools they’ll go too, when she’ll be married, etc. She has to follow her plan by the book and it doesn’t allow for any debate or alterations. The obvious downside of this is that she’ll have to rush and find someone if the deadline is close, even if it’s not the ideal person. The plan is essentially what makes her choose Charlie and it’s not the greatest way to pick a husband. After he tricked and cheated on her multiple times, I was kind of hoping that she would do something about it. Like you know…..breaking the whole thing off? Instead she apologizes for getting in the way of affairs and decides to settle for being one of them. They break up again after Charlie does more of this, but they get back together again so you have to wonder what the point of it all was.

The film is fairly well written, but that’s not enough to save it. You can have the best writing in the world, but if the characters are unlikable, then it is all for naught. Of course, you can make the case that a well written film would automatically make the characters likable, which is valid I suppose. It could have been better, but the script wasn’t that bad. The themes were just the main part that I could not agree with. I differed with the film quite consistently. Otherwise, the film didn’t do much wrong. It had a few humor moments scattered in and the living room setting gave the film a retro Odd Couple sort of feeling. It made the film more personal and laid back. It’s no thriller of course, but that would have just meant that the director had mixed up the genres.

There are a few songs in this film since Frank Sinatra is in it, but they don’t play as much of a role as you might expect. The tunes definitely weren’t bad, they weren’t the greatest, but they’ll do in a pinch. A little music can go a long way as long as it’s quality and the actual songs are certainly better than what you may hear nowadays. I could go on a tangent about the state of the music industry, but this isn’t really the time or place for that debate.

Overall, The Tender Affair is a pretty misleading title. There’s nothing tender about this one as you could call it something more appropriate with ease. “The Rebound Affair” “The Artificial Affair” “The Planned Affair” etc. There wasn’t anything tender about it, both Julie and Charlie needed the affair for personal reasons. They weren’t very noble either. Julie let her idealistic version of romance cloud her judgment and Charlie had been through many affairs before. He just likes the attention. If you want a real romance film…then I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head. If you want a film about the bonds of friendship and making the tough calls, watch Madoka Magica Rebellion. That’s a film that you won’t regret checking out!

Overall 4/10

Beauty and the Beast Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the old Disney films. Seeing as how it just got a live action remake with as goat version of the Beast, this was the perfect opportunity to look at the original. It’s a solid film all around with no real weaknesses to drag it down. While it may not be the greatest of the classics, it may have the best pacing and most engaging plot. I’ll have to think on that one a bit before giving a definitive answer, but there really wasn’t much to slow it down.

Belle is stuck in a very old town. She is the only lady who reads and the town is scared of her as a result. How can they hope to stack up against someone who doesn’t go to the local bar and get drunk with the rest of them? The people’s champion, Gaston shows up to set things right, but he is rejected. Unfortunately, Belle’s crazy father runs into the woods and gets kidnapped by the Beast. Belle is forced to take his place as a prisoner while her father gets himself into more trouble and gives Gaston a legal opportunity to try and steal Belle away. Can she enlist the help of the Beast or is all hope lost?

I imagine that everyone already knows the plot to this film, but I just put that up as a formality. As you can probably tell, I don’t like the Dad. He just gets the family into more and more trouble the whole time. He’s pretty scatter brained and even once Belle is taken as a prisoner he is slow to act. It takes him forever to actually do anything about the situation. You’d think that he would have a lot more urgency about the whole thing when you consider the circumstances. The cast is pretty small so he’s one of the only supporting characters with a role. The other would be Gaston along with his follower. The follower spends the whole film getting beat up and knocked around. It’s safe to say that he had to endure a lot of pain in this adventure as the characters just wouldn’t let up for a second.

Gaston’s naturally not a likable character since he spends the whole film flirting. I do like his grandiose nature and excessive bragging, but it would be great if he could be more productive about it. Stealing candy from a baby, dining and dashing, those are the feats that I would have been expecting him to perform. He’s not totally full of hot air though as he actually does put up a good fight against the Beast. He lands a lot of devastating hits in their battle and while the majority of them were cheap shots…we take those. I could definitely take him more seriously than some of the other classic villains like Jafar.

The Beast wasn’t likable though. I couldn’t sympathize with him at all. Especially when he just tried to act friendly so Belle would fall in love with him. It seemed like he earned his fate as a Beast as well so I just never got to be on his side. He didn’t make things easy for Belle and actively sabotaged his chances every opportunity that he got. It’s why the goat design in the new film suits him even if it makes him look even more evil and nonredeemable. It’s just the table that he has set for himself. Now he has to live in it. He had a few minions who would help him out like a candle stick, an alarm clock, and a tea kettle. The best member was easily the Alarm Clock as he kept it real the whole time and did his best not to get in trouble. The Candle Stick seemed to purposely seek out trouble while the Tea Pot had the best manners. They were decent enough and never got to be too annoying.

Finally, we have Belle. It’s safe to say that she is the best character here by a long shot. She doesn’t really have any flaws as she’s a nice person who always does the right thing and helps others out. She volunteers to be a prisoner to save her father and also doesn’t succumb to peer pressure when the “cool” crowd approaches her. She did fall for the cheesy romance parts at the end, but that’s hardly a negative so much as it’s a “shakes head” moment.

The film has quite a few songs of course since the films back in these days were part musical. They go over pretty well and the music is catchy. While the lyrics weren’t memorable enough for me to remember the names, I believe Bell’s opening song was the best one with Gaston’s probably being the worst. Still, it was a good soundtrack and lyrical songs can definitely be good when handled well. That’s something that 2010’s and beyond have struggled with in some cases. Luckily we still have Frozen to save us and the animated films have mostly been immune. It’s just that in the 90’s, even live action films could have good lyrical themes if they tried. I could diverge into how music was a little better back in the day than currently when it comes to mainstream (So not counting anime ost and video game soundtracks) but that’s neither here nor there.

The animation looks good and is consistent as you would expect. The characters stand out and the designs are really colorful. The action scenes are pretty fluid and while the characters may literally punch each other out of proportion at times, it’s done in a cool way. It’s intentional as opposed to a Dragon Ball Super scene where they just forgot to do some drawing. It holds up really well and the animation wouldn’t look out of place next to a more modern film.

If there’s any real negative here, it’s naturally the wolf scene. It was handled fairly well as this kind of thing goes and the Wolves really took it to the beast so that was good. I was rooting for them to really knock him around. His near lethal injuries show that the wolves weren’t playing around. It’s enough to warrant a mention and is the kind of thing that can also solidify the film’s 7 ranking as opposed to trying for an 8. If this is the worst mistake that the film made, then at least you can be sure that it was mostly good.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a good film. It’s something that you can recommend to anyone since it’s just a nice story. The romance is very cheesy and unbelievable so that can be a bit of a weakness, but it’s not as if you expected it to be anything else. The film will fly by in an instant and there aren’t any painfully drawn out scenes to make you look at the wrist watch. The new film seems like it’s pretty faithful to the old film so hopefully that’ll be good as well. So long as they don’t add extra character development to drag characters down in its attempt to be super deep or extend the wolf scene and make it more realistic to drag it down a few stars…I’d expect it to be of comparable quality. Hopefully that will be the case and if you’ve never seen this version you should hurry. You want to know what everyone’s going on about when they compare this to the remake since that inevitably happens. I’ll be doing a bunch of comparisons myself when I watch it.

Overall 7/10

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown Review

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It’s time for the third Charlie Brown special in a row. The main plot in this one isn’t that bad and may be the most entertaining, but we also got the worst subplot of the trio. Yes, Linus actually got the worst plot for a change and it was a little surprising since you’d expect his story to be pretty interesting most of the time. I suppose it just wasn’t to be, but at least we got to see Snoopy pranking people and just making the day more fun in general.

It’s Valentine’s Day and Charlie is hoping that he’ll actually get one for a change. The problem is that the system is rigged against him as it involves students each writing Valentine’s to the other kids and then someone hands them out later. Since Charlie has no friends to send him Valentine’s, this means that he has to sit around and wait as they slowly show him all of the letters that are for everyone else. I’m surprised that Charlie was surprised at this result, but I guess you have to be in a state of denial sometimes or the school will overwhelm you. The main plot sees Charlie get down about this, but he must hang in there. Surely someone will give him a card before the day is over…right?

As for the Linus subplot, he buys a chocolate for his teacher. The problem is that she’s always dashing around so he can’t find an opportunity to give it to her. Can he make it in time or will he have to start looking for a refund. I’d say that it was an emotional trip, but it really wasn’t. The subplot didn’t really add anything to the special except for an opportunity to see Sally chase after him for the chocolate. I’m definitely in the mood for such a large quantity myself. It looked pretty filling although assorted chocolates usually don’t end up taking away your hunger all that much. The pieces are just too small.

The end of the special has a pretty tough choice. Would you accept a used valentine? That’s the question that you’ve gotta ask yourself. I’d definitely say “Lol no” but maybe I’d say that I appreciate the sentiment if I didn’t feel like it was intended as an insult. It just seems like you’d be better off with no card than to get a fake one. I guess Charlie was pretty desperate at the end though. Once again, his imagination takes off with him though as he starts to believe that he is actually really popular all of a sudden. It’s a little hard to take seriously, but everyone has to start somewhere right? Maybe Charlie’s time has finally arrived.

A decent interlude during all of this was Snoopy’s live puppet show. It really reminds you just how intense the dog could be. He deliberately used the play as a ruse so he could attack Lucy and laugh about it. Charlie didn’t seem to mind much so I guess Snoopy already had him on the payroll. The scene wasn’t too long which prevented it from dragging on or getting obnoxious. It’s always good to have a change of pace as long as it is handled well.

The animation is consistent as always. The chocolate box looked pretty good and all of the character models were on point. It’s nothing to write home about, but there are no real flaws either. It’s a tried and true recipe to success. This special didn’t really have any songs though and it feels like the specials just ditched the concept of a soundtrack all of a sudden. Where’d all the music go? I always like to have some music as it makes the whole special more endearing.

Overall, The special was decently good. The Linus part could have been left out, but Charlie’s plot had the right mix of tragedy and comedy. You never felt too bad for him because this was probably one of the most minor sad events to ever happen to him. Seriously, it’s usually a lot worse. Not getting a Valentine on Valentine’s Day is like not getting a turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s sad, but you’ll live so long as you have Mash and a bowl of Macaroni and Cheese. I’m not sure when I’ll see my next Charlie Brown special, but there are always more out there so they shall return. In the meantime, prepare for some more intense reviews coming up.

Overall 6/10

You’re in Love, Charlie Brown Review

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This Charlie Brown special was definitely a lot more true to what the series is all about. It’s another story of Charlie Brown trying to win the red haired girl’s attention, but getting embarrassed along the way. However, it’s certainly not as personal as in the last one. Everyone is mean to him, but that’s to be expected at this point. It was just more enjoyable and this special was even older so it makes sense. Peppermint Patty has her first real role here since the Chuck gimmick happens for the first time based on Charlie’s reaction and it just feels retro.

Charlie tries to impress the red haired girl quite a few times or to at least stand out, but it keeps backfiring. You can appreciate his effort as he was able to write some really cool equations on the whiteboard, but it turned out that he didn’t know how he got there. It was still impressive that he knew them in the first place though. Hiding under a paper bag when the girl approached was a little harder to sympathize with though as it showed that he lacked the nerve when it counted.

The ending is a little on the cheesy side to be honest and I like to think that the letter was written by one of Charlie’s friends so he wouldn’t be moping during the entire summer vacation. If it was real then at least Charlie got some attention for once and hopefully she wouldn’t forget him over the summer vacation. Charlie will also have to stay on his best behavior since he’s now on the school’s naughty list for yelling at a teacher. It’s definitely not something that you’d expect from Charlie, but he was wound pretty tight by this point. Eventually he was definitely going to crack after all of the pressure.

Peppermint Patty and Linus are really the only two people that Charlie can count on. The former may have let him down with her plan to meet on the baseball mound, but at least her heart was in the right place. Linus also offers words of encouragement even if they turn into subtle insults at times. He certainly made things worse by telling Lucy and the others about the red haired girl. Snoopy is around as well although he doesn’t do much. His shenanigans are always cool though and help the special pass by. It was another romance centered one, but the special was still layered. We got to see the whole cast and the comedy was handled well. It was just far more entertaining than the last one.

The animation is as consistent as ever. This special is even older so it’s all the more impressive to see how it’s held up over the years. That really speaks to how good the overall style is. You can easily glance at the special and immediately recognize all of the characters and what’s happening. It’s changed a little over the years, but by and large it is the same style that we all know.

Overall, I’m one step closer to watching all of the Charlie Brown specials. I can definitely see their appeal as it’s easy to watch these. They’re just nice, light hearted fun. Now, whether a happy ending makes up for a sad beginning and middle for Charlie is another question altogether. In this case, I’d say that it sort of does since Charlie doesn’t take it personally and the stakes were a lot lower. It really depends on how it’s handled since this kind of thing can easily turn mean spirited if the writers aren’t careful. It has already happened a few times after all, but by and large the franchise has always been good with that. This one is winning as of now, but next up is the final special that I’ve seen at the moment. Can the special with Valentine’s Day in its title take the win or will it fall into the trap of the former? Time to find out!

Overall 6/10

Ouran High School Host Club Review

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It’s time to look at a long running comedy/slice of life/romance series that I finished a while back. The plot took quite a few volumes to actually start, but it did give us a glimpse of what the series could have been like. Unfortunately, the pre arc was completely terrible and doomed the series to a failing grade regardless of its improvement by the end. It’s a lesson to all other titles to not drag out your introductions too long or you’ll miss the boat.

Haruhi was ready for a nice high school adventure when she accidentally broke a very expensive vase.The Host Club wanted her to pay them back for this, but she doesn’t have that kind of money. She found her way into this extremely prestigious school somehow, but she is rather out of her depth. Everyone here is obscenely rich and that goes for the objects like the vase as well. She couldn’t hope to pay it off in a life time so the club gives her an alternative. She can spend her high school years pretending to be a guy so she can work in the club and pay off her debt that way. It doesn’t sound too promising, but it’s not as if Haruhi has much of a choice. So begins her time at the club.

Most of the early volumes are just about Haruhi experiencing how crazy the club is. The concept of the Host Club itself is rather demeaning. Essentially, they pretend to be various characters and spend their time flirting with everyone. You go to their club so you can be flirted with and it supposedly makes the girls who go there feel special. The whole thing seems rather fake though and I don’t see why people would keep on going back. It’s something that should get old quick, but the club continues to have a lot of support and so we get whole volumes to seeing this done. This plot in particular is what destroyed the series.

The fact that the club exists to give out fake love confessions and messing with people is pretty sinister. To an extent the customers know that it’s all fake of course, but they still have over the top reactions throughout and totally act as if they don’t know this. One of the “acts” that the club puts on also features Hikaru and Kaoru as a forbidden pair. Keep in mind that they’re twin brothers so this plot is the diciest of all the Host Club plays. They have to keep the act going consistently throughout the entire series. It’s pretty wince worthy to watch and the fact that it is supposed to be a funny subplot is really something. The whole pre arc was rather distasteful.

As I mentioned earlier, the series does get a little better once the plot starts. It also turns into a full blown romance drama though so you have to take the pros with the cons. Just about everyone falls for Haruhi at some point or other. Eventually, it whittles down to Tamaki, Hikaru, Kaoru, and Kyoya. Kyoya just decides that a romance isn’t worth it and Kaoru steps aside for Hikaru. Finally it is Tamaki and Hikaru and this drama goes on for many volumes.

It’s a shame because the Host Club had been very close for a long time. As always, romance is one of the only things that can drive close friends apart. Hikaru and Tamaki end up bickering quite a bit and while Tamaki always takes the high road and tries to keep their friendship alive, Hikaru doesn’t make it easy. Haruhi doesn’t make it easy either by basically playing the field by never making many decisions and being half hearted about everything. She makes a choice by the end of course, but certainly took a while.

While the romance wasn’t great, it did give us a break from the Host Club. It doesn’t get to appear almost at all during the second half of the series and that meant we didn’t need to see the Hikaru/Kaoru plays or the endless flirting in general. The school was definitely better off without the club and I actually agreed with Tamaki’s father the whole time about how it should have been disbanded ages ago. We had different reasons for it of course, but the end goal was the same. Also, actually having a plot is almost always an improvement. It at least gives the characters something to do besides the same old same old.

The art is fairly good and the author certainly had a lot of experience drawing everyone by the end. There are rarely any action scenes so that also helps ensure that the author doesn’t have to worry about the pages getting cluttered. At the most, we just had a few action scenes with Honey as a running gag is that he’s actually a top notch fighter. He’s shown to be the toughest guy in the whole series and his rival is never really able to match him. The fights were handled well enough.

Haruhi is the lead character in this series and unfortunately she is not all that good. Not only does she have a very bland design (It’s intentional, but that doesn’t exactly help her character) but her personality is more of the same. She’s not energetic, outgoing, witty, or likable in general. She’s meant to be a very quiet, but sarcastic character who gets a lot of burns in, but I feel like she takes more Ls than most leads. She’s one of the most uninteresting leads in recent memory and never got all that much better. I think pretending to be a guy for so long ended up hurting her quite a bit.

Tamaki is the main guy and is easily the most reasonable member of the host club. He just wants everyone to be together and for the status quo to never change. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option and eventually he is forced to move on. He does make a pretty bad decision towards the end of the series though as he betrays everyone and falls into the 9-5 work life. There’s no real reason for his sudden betrayal and even after he joins up with the gang again it’s hard to just forgive and forget. He was pretty extreme for a little while there, but at least he did grant Haruhi her freedom from the big debt before leaving.

His father is one of those fake characters though. One character type I don’t like is when someone’s fairly laid back and nice for the most part except when they suddenly get serious and mean. You’re meant to overlook this and remember the good ole times, but it’s not so simply. Tamaki’s Dad showed his true colors even if he’s meant to be a good guy by the end. I will admit that his plan was really well thought out though, even if it was pretty ruthless. IT was probably the most unexpected part in the whole series. Tamaki’s grandmother was even more annoying. Honestly, it was hard to sympathize with her even after the Dad made his move.

Kyoya was the next big member of the Host Club and he’s supposed to be the smart member of the group. He makes a lot of plans and always acts as if he doesn’t care about the others all that much. He’s supposed to be a nice guy deep down though and while his motives are selfish, he does stick around with the main cast. He’s a good character and the second best in the club.

Hikaru and Kaoru are pretty annoying. Their Host Club gimmick aside, they both end up going after Haruhi which was another sad subplot. Hikaru’s more unreasonable about it though as he’s willing to damage friendships and overturn everything just to prove a point. He really wanted to change the status quo if you ask me. Kaoru was mostly just around, but wasn’t all that much better. Especially since he realized that he wasn’t 100% serious about the romance, it makes the whole thing look more petty.

Honey’s all right, but I never found him particularly funny. His fight scenes did help though and I was always glad to have them around. This title could have definitely used more action as that can help any title. His partner Mori is one of the worst members of the club. He has absolutely nothing to do in the series and is just around as a side character the whole time. His role is easily the smallest and he never adds anything to the series. I certainly could have done without him.

Tamaki has a pet dog so that guy’s always fun to see. He brought a little joy into the series. One of the tricky parts for comedy titles is they have to get you invested into the series or just be hilarious in general. This series was never all that funny or humorous so then it really needed to have a fun cast of characters. Unfortunately, that never happened either. To put it into perspective, Nisekoi and School Rumble had far superior casts than this series. That ends up helping a lot because you need to have a good cast for a comedy title. An action series can get away with an unlikable cast because it doesn’t matter as much while they’re fighting. A series that’s all about talking doesn’t have the same luxury. Even more so when the romance kicks in because if you’re seeing two really unlikable characters get together, you start to wonder what the point of it all is.
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Overall, Ouran High School Host Club doomed itself with its own premise. I don’t think a series about a Host Club can ever be successful if this series is a good example of how they operate. I can’t say that I’m a fan of the club on principle. Without it, I suppose this title could have been a decent romance series, but it’s not as if those rank all that highly for me anyway. You’re better off reading a series with a little more heart like Tsubasa or Liar Game. Those titles will help you understand what a proper romance is or at least brush up your analytical skills. On a side note, this series is pretty close with Fruits Basket in terms of quality so I can see how they both got really popular. At any rate, it’s another big hit that I can’t really be a part of. If you see a bunch of guys who’ve been forcing you to act as a guy for so long show up at your door as your new neighbors, follow Haruhi’s example above of how to deal with this.

Overall 2/10