Horimiya Review

I finished Horimiya up quite a while ago but now it’s time to really dive into this one. The romantic comedy manga lasted quite a long while and it’s always impressive to see since you just tend to associate long running titles with the classic Shonen Jump action. Well this one had a fairly big cast so they got to set up a lot of romances here. Mainly what holds the series back a bit compared to other romance series is that the main two are rather weak next to other Shojo heroines/heroes and their dynamic might just be the weakest out of any pairing within its own series. Well we’ll have time to tackle all of that in a minute.

Hori is a very popular girl at school. She’s outgoing and doesn’t back down from any challenge but the big secret she hides from her classmates is that she has to watch after her little brother Souta after school. She transforms into a completely different person once she’s home since she can relax and it’s almost like a disguise so nobody recognizes her. One day she is caught though, by the really quiet, timid guy known as Miyamura. Nobody really approaches that guy because he keeps to himself but in private he actually enjoys tattoos and piercings. The guy looks completely different and rather fierce outside of school but it turns out he’s actually a real softie but doesn’t want to hurt his image. So the two agree not to say anything and now they can actually be good friends who are relaxed with each other. This will also make it easier if Hori needs to sneak out since Miyamura can cover for her. That said…can they really remain friends??

Yes! Not a chance! This is a romance series after all but that would have been a nice change of pace. That said, the series does have a lot of actual boy/girl friendships that don’t transform into something more so I give the series props there. For example Hori’s best friend Yoshikawa is very outgoing and gets along with Miyamura pretty well once he’s a part of the friendship circle and the two have a fun dynamic that never has to become anything more than that. I would include Hori and Ishikawa but he actually did like her and just ended up losing out so not sure that counts. At least they stayed on good terms though.

So lets jump into two of my main issues with the series before we go into the positives. The first one is the art which I think can be really hit or miss. Sometimes the pages will really pop out with a great double spread or a really detailed shot of the characters. The artist can clearly do a great job when needed but it’s the average panel where things get tricky. I constantly would mix up Sengoku and Ishikawa because their designs are so similar. Then once the cast expanded to include other students it got really confusing. All of the girls are distinct but the guys feel like they all have the same look and only the hair can help you tell them apart. Even that isn’t easy since the series is in black and white after all. Having distinct designs for all of your characters is a must for any series and this just felt like a big weakness as a result. You should never be in a position where you are regularly mixing up characters or I always have to say that goes squarely on the artist.

Then my other issue is as I mentioned before of the dynamic between Hori and Miyamura. The problem is that it’s never all that funny and they seem like better characters when they’re apart. So Hori has this whole thing where she gets real excited when Miyamura is upset and constantly encourages him to hit her. Because he is a pacifist and also a decent person he never wants to do this so she’ll end up sulking for a while. It’s a rather bizarre dynamic and of course part of the point is that Hori is a bit strange when she’s not putting on her school mask but even for her it’s a bit much. I’m thinking the attempt is to be like a reverse tsundere where you have the guy constantly blowing up at the girl but it just doesn’t work.

It also makes their relationship a bit one note since that gag is a constant. Ironically Souta helps out since at least when he’s causing trouble you have Miyamura defending him while Hori gets upset and that can always be more entertaining. The series absolutely has good humor throughout but it just lands better when they’re apart. Whether it’s Hori threatening the rest of the student body or Miyamura having to try and choose the option that causes the least amount of trouble when debating with friends, there’s a lot to enjoy there. The romance is just a weak link which is a bit rough considering that this is a big romance series at heart. You have shipping being done constantly throughout the series after all.

Where I will give the series some points is that it does have the characters talk about a lot of normal everyday stuff without always having to throw some drama in there. This could be boring for some but I think it makes sense to emphasize that this is a fairly small city where not much happens. So Hori and Miyamura will sometimes just hang out at home doing nothing except talking about nonsense or watching a movie. In that way they’ve already been together long enough where it’s not like every day has to be some kind of big event. Just being in each other’s company is calming enough and it’s a fairly mature take on how the relationship would be like.

Additionally, because they get together fairly early on in the manga, that gives more time for the relationship to develop. They go from being good friends to dating and keeping that same vibe. So while their dynamic may not be my favorite, I can’t say that the author rushed it. For some positive things about the dynamic, I like that Hori is a super direct person so there’s never any beating around the bush in their conversations. There’s no arc about her getting jealous and tailing him across the city to see if he’s cheating or trying to see if he’s interested in going out by asking a series of Jeopardy style questions. When she wants to do something she just blurts it out and if she wants to eat something she just does. Miyamura works at a family bakery so he’ll just bring along some good snacks and she’ll eat them. Being direct like that is definitely a plus.

Now the series is 16 volumes long so with the main romance out of the way, what else really happens here? Well, you have two other main pairings with Ishikawa and Yoshikawa as well as Remi and Sengoku. These were sort of set up early as well, maybe less so for Yoshikawa but the end game pairings are clear from the jump. This just gives them more of a chance to set things up and think about their next steps. For the most part is works well enough. You should be suitably engaged in what’s going on. You may not be on the edge of your seat like with Nisekoi or Kaguya Sama but you won’t be bored and that’s the important thing.

So I’ve already talked about Hori quite a bit. She’s a really fun main heroine although with how outgoing and direct she is, I do wonder in hindsight why it was really a big deal about the others seeing her with Souta. Honestly I get the feeling that they really wouldn’t care at all. Her best friend certainly wouldn’t and her childhood friend used to hang out with her all the time so he wouldn’t have a problem. Outside of the inner circle the rest probably wouldn’t bother her much. It’s the kind of thing that you question a bit more in hindsight but hey school reps are really important for people so it could just be that simple. Could just be a quirk of hers like how she can get real possessive of Miyamura even though she completely trusts him. She’d still just rather he not be hanging out with anyone else too often although in this case the gag is that she doesn’t care when he hangs out with other girls but other guys for too long is a no no.

The series does have a lot of annoying “guy talk” at times though so they probably aren’t the best influence around him anyway. The characters can be rather desperate at times and that’s why Miyamura needs to keep them at arm’s length. In a way he already does which some of the characters don’t like but you gotta do what you gotta do. Miyamura’s a good main hero. I do think that he goes a bit over the top with the tatoos and piercings though. He drops that entirely as the series goes on which I’d say was a good thing since his character design is much better without them. Ultimately of course fashion is up to the wearer so if he prefers that look then he should go for it but it just felt like something more out of a horror manga when he would pop in at times.

I was always glad that he held firm to his ideals and wouldn’t relent to Hori when she wanted him to get upset at her. I like how chill the guy is. It’s hard to get under his skin but if he is upset then he would let you know . He can be firm with the other friends when needed like if they took things too far at any point. It’s also cool that he works at the cake shop. It had to be so convenient to be able to bring home a cake whenever you want. Would be easy to start gaining weight of course but that would just be so convenient.

Then we have Souta who in a way does a lot of matchmaking since he is one of the main reasons why the two get together. He’s just young enough to still be oblivious about all of this though which is nice since a kid trying to interfere is always annoying. Soura’s too young to do much of anything really but he’s okay. As far as kids in these titles go I didn’t find him super annoying or anything like that.

Next up is Yoshikawa and she’s another quality character. She’s always got a brave face on even when things aren’t going her way and that’s commendable. She’s someone that Hori can lean on and vice versa when things are going tough. Her romance gets a little less time to really develop here though and she was on good terms with everyone so just ending p as a good friend would have been a solid end for her character arc. Either way she added a lot to the school dynamic and her character arc about being more confident was one of the most serious ones in the series.

Then there is Ishikawa who is a bit of a punching bag for a while. The guy isn’t super talented and definitely has confidence issues with how Hori had him in the friend zone for so long. The guy liked her for a while but she barely even sees him as a guy which is rather sad for him. Of course that’s why his next romance would be an automatic rebound since he only moves on because she made it clear that he would never have a chance. That’s pretty tough to handle when you think about it. I’m glad that things go up for him though because otherwise it was just a sad adventure for him.

Remi is a lot of fun and almost feels out of place among the other students because she’s a lot more gimmicky than the other characters. She talks about herself in the third person all the time and definitely cries a lot. Remi really gets super emotional at times which makes her really contrast with the very serious Sengoku. Naturally you can probably guess who gets paired here. Ultimately I did like Remi though. She was fun to have around but even though she was a main supporting character, I felt like she didn’t interact with Hori quite as much as you’d expect. I guess it’s a case of their both being in the same room a lot but never really having much to do at the same time.

Finally Sengoku is your classic by the books kind of guy who is really strict and has no fun. Naturally I don’t have him anywhere all that close to the other characters. I prefer characters who just have fun and go wild. I suppose you need a by the books guy sometimes but very rarely and Sengoku usually was more of a hassle to everyone than an actual help. That’s why he ends up lagging behind the others.

Honoka shows up later on as a fun little side character. She’s a bit younger than the rest of the characters so Hori and Miyamura tend to treat her like a kid which annoys her. She doesn’t mind when this ends up resulting in free food though so she’ll be a kid when it’s convenient to her. She adds some extra energy int the series so I appreciated having her around. Then you have Shindo who was Miyamura’s only friend back in the day and he’s one of those characters where you feel like the series is mean spirited against him for some reason. The guy is always just trying to be nice and helping out but gets treated like dirt most of the time.

Miyamura never wants to acknowledge that they were friends and is the only person that he bullies. Miyamura is typically super nice all the time but Shindo seems to bring out the worst in him. The worst part is that it rarely even starts off because of Shindo doing something wrong. In fact Shindo is usually just being a nice guy when Miyamura attacks him for no reason. This is another one of those comedic plots that just didn’t land for me since I would feel bad for Shindo in the end.

Yanagi was more on the forgettable aside. Apart from constantly breaking his glasses I’d have a tough time telling you much about his personality. He was around and nice enough but yeah he definitely got overshadowed. Then you have Hori’s parents. Her father gets more of a role and he always takes Miyamura’s side. In that sense the good part is that Hori doesn’t have to worry about her parents not liking him. That’s probably a huge relief when you think about it, but of course it does also mean that Hori will always be outnumbered in debates. It evens out since Hori is easily the toughest person in the room though as her father will usually shrink in the corner when challenged.

In some ways the manga is best when it’s just letting the two main characters just be cute for a while. A solid hug goes a long way compared to any shenanigans and one thing the manga shows a lot of is that Hori is a very clingy person. Once she is together with Miyamura she will end up grabbing him all the time for no real reason except to feel contact. It’s the little things like that which are fun and they both get a lot of inner monologues about how much better their lives are now that they have met each other. It also helps the comedic moments by extension since you know the characters more. Like Hori asking for Miyamura’s phone to do an inspection.

In another series that may feel like a bit of a jaded move. She doesn’t trust him or something but instead you know it’s just because she’s curious on what she’ll find and to mess with him a bit. They both trust each other but Hori being the aggressive heroine she is always likes to push things to the max. Then Miyamura is always calm enough where he will say yes to any of her demands/requests. No matter how inconvenient he would say yes to anything she asked him to do and so that makes for a good bond between them.

Overall, Horimiya is a good manga. I’d say what really keeps it from being a very good/great one is the character cast is a bit weaker than the other big Shojos and it’s just not as funny. For a long series like this of course there will be plenty of good jokes that land as well but there are also some more dull kind of lines that don’t really work. The manga has a bit more dead time than other similar titles and of course my mixing up characters from time to time doesn’t really help matters either. These aren’t the kinds of things that will feel too bad while binging though and ultimately the test of a manga is if you had fun and I’m confident that you will here. It’s still a very wholesome series throughout so if your local library or bookstore has the series then you should pick it up and give it a read.

Overall 6/10

Behind the Scenes!! Review

As a romantic comedy manga each series faces a lot of tough calls in terms of who will get paired with whom. Often times the romantic rival is cooler than the main heroine or main hero depending on who the lead is but you sort of can’t deviate from the main path. Then for the one who loses out you have to have a rebound ready and that’s usually where things get tricky. Well you don’t “have to” and in face you shouldn’t have a rebound ready but most series do and this one goes for one of the worst possible final ships possible. It is right there on the level of God of High School and it’s hard to see which one is worse. They’re neck and neck…I guess the other one is probably a little worse but it’s tough either way. It does hurt this title’s momentum.

The series revolves around a character named Ranmaru. He’s rather timid and doesn’t really like to be around people. Ranmaru is very detail oriented though and that helps him a lot when it comes to noticing things that most people would usually miss. He ends up joining the special effects art club led by Ryuji though. Ryuji is a fairly bold character who is the outgoing type and while you’d think that he may not get along with Ranmaru as they’re so different, it really works out. This is sort of a safe space for Ranmaru to really get used to being with people and becoming more confident in himself.

Timid main characters like this usually aren’t my thing so I wouldn’t say that Ranmaru ever ends up being one of my favorite characters. His romance is mostly tragic as he likes Ruka but is too shy to actually speak up about it. So for the most part he just ends up being good friends with her and can only watch as she gets farther and farther away. It’s an emotional plot for sure but one where you feel like if he just spoke up a bit then it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Instead he’s digging a bigger and bigger hole for himself that will be difficult to get out of.

It’s only in the final volume or two really where he starts to truly get out of his shell so this is a series where the side characters really have to take control but I wouldn’t say that they really do. This isn’t the strongest cast all around. The main standout character here would probably be Ryuji. He’s the tough character a series like this needs to push everyone along. He does really well in that role to be sure. Ryuji also has his own tough backstory to get through and he’s really just putting up a tough front.

It adds some good depth to his character as he isn’t actually past everything and just does his best to move forward. He isn’t someone who is trapped by the past and makes no excuses for himself. Still, he just keeps on moving forward no matter what happens. By far he was the best character here. The main heroine Ruka is also good. She’s great at arts and crafts. Ruka likes Ryuji but is unsure of how to let him know about this when they have such a good friendship and then she has a lot of pressure from her family which makes it difficult for her to hang out with the crew a lot. That’s probably the toughest situation to get past since the others mostly just have to fight their inner selves to move on but she has actual people to deal with.

I feel like the series doesn’t spend as much time on this as you would expect but it still makes for an intense storyline. Ruka is also the main focus of a lot of the series in other ways with how she is connected to Ranmaru and Ryuji so you will have no shortage of screen time for her. If anything Maasa is the one who loses out here as she really wants a boyfriend but is mostly reduced to that one character trait. Well, I suppose she really loves slasher films which tends to scare the guys off.

As you go through the series you absently think she will probably be paired with one of the other guys but that’s about it. You never figure that she will be an integral focus in the series and well that is exactly what happened. Maasa seems like a fun character but doesn’t get much to do. Then you have Izumi who is really talented and tends to stick out for his good looks but he doesn’t really know about his past. This is probably the most serious plot in some ways. It ends up being connected to Ranmaru’s cousin Soh as she wants to be there to help him recover and lead into a romance subplot.

I give the series a lot of credit for how this plot goes. Izumi is flattered of course but he still treats Soh as more of a kid and doesn’t take the whole thing too seriously. He basically just tries to help her get past her infatuation and keep it moving. She is a bit younger than him so it would be hard for that to work out but additionally he just doesn’t see her in that way. Additionally the memory issues have also affected his ability to actually have real emotions so that was another thing to consider. He got some good points for that and also for generally being a nice guy even when he is being absolutely crushed by not even knowing who he truly is. That’s something that’s hard to simply deal with.

Finally you have Tomu but he never really got to do much. He’s always around as one of the main members and we know that he used to be a bit of a delinquent before falling in with the right crowd but that’s about it. He doesn’t get any big plots or shocking reveals so it feels like he’s just along for the ride. Maybe it’s good to have a character like that but I feel like you could cut him out and nothing would change. If that can ever be said about a character then usually it means that he should have been scrapped.

Finally you have Soh who deals with a lot of confidence issues like Ranmaru. She has carefully crafted a public image of being the really cool girl though in a way to avoid attracting attention to herself. That may sound contradictory but it actually does work really well. Put it this way, if you seem popular and are always surrounded by a few friends, strangers won’t approach you and you can just head home without worry. If you stick out for being anti social or quiet then people are probably going to walk up to you. Either to bully you if they’re mean or to try and talk to you if you seem lonely.

I thought Soh’s strategy was really good and she was actually being proactive in handling her weakness which is something that boosted her past Ranmaru. I just didn’t see Ranmaru putting in the same level of effort. Not saying he had to match her but this is why she was ahead for me. It also makes for a fun dynamic between them at home where they can be more open with each other but you still see how they are awkward at talking in general. At least having someone you can talk to is always a huge relief and that helps both of them keep going.

I would say where the series succeeds is that the angle of being a special effects group is really unique. It’s cool to see them help with the designs for different movies and shows and you get a lot of fun facts for setting up different practical effects. You may not be able to put most of them to use because you’d need specialized equipment to start with but it is shown quite plainly so you can try this at home if you do get the materials. It’s a fresh take as you would usually be focusing on the movie stars.

Additionally the series may be laidback but it makes for an easy read. Even if the characters may not stand out, you’ll be entertained all the way through which is important. I had a good time with the title. It feels a bit short by the time it ends and I didn’t think every plot got to be wrapped up (Like the ex delinquent not really doing anything) but as a result it also doesn’t drag out.

Now for the series issues, the ending really hurts it quite a bit. There will be spoilers for this paragraph and the next one so don’t read on if you haven’t read the series yet. As this is a romance series the final pairing is quite important after all so you don’t want to know about this before the right time is here right? Okay so here goes. Ranmaru ends up with Soh. Now to go into more detail on this, Ranmaru moved in with his cousin Soh and her folks as the series begins but he wasn’t always around there. Japan also treats that dynamic a little differently but either way it is the worst possible ship you could go with. I don’t care if they’re 5 times removed, it’s still a bad look. Even in series where they aren’t related but lived together for a while as a pseudo family like in Attack on Titan I tend to vent on that because it’s not a good relationship.

If you’re family or treated as family then that’s a no go. Do not pass start, don’t collect your reward. It’s just a non starter right from the jump and it felt like the series needed some rebound for Ranmaru since he was doomed with the main heroine due to how timid he was the whole time. This wasn’t the answer though and it was such a bizarre ending. A bad ending is one that you remember forever and so unfortunately this is now the legacy of the series. I don’t see how it can really come back from this and of course it hurt with the score for me as well. Definitely one of the weaker endings I’ve read in a bit. It’s no Attack on Titan of course but definitely a weak ending either way.

The art here is okay but not great. I remember having a hard time keeping character straight at some points and anytime I can mix up any characters (Unless there’s a narrative reason for that) I always take it out on the art. It can also get a little cluttered during some of the set pieces and design moments. It’s not bad but the art is below the average of what you tend to see from the Shojo titles for me. Maybe if the series went on longer that would have helped the artist clear things up but as it stands I wasn’t impressed.

We get a lot of good inspirational quotes and moments in the series as Ryuji tries to help Ranmaru stand strong. Part of Ranmaru’s character arc is about getting braver on his own as opposed to waiting for someone else to help him. I thought this was sound, you won’t always have someone out there to back you up. That being said, you absolutely can and should seek out advice and use any available resources to get past your fears but the final decision will be on you. Ryuji may be a tough character but he never held back on the advice and his tough love approach worked really well with Ranmaru. He would also let the kid have a break when he needed it and gave him space during the tough times.

In a way what this series lacked was more humor. I mean there are jokes and such as this is a fairly light hearted series but for the most part I would rarely find it funny. I liked the faces that Soh and Ranmaru would make when they were being timid as the author gave them really great facial expressions but that was it. Those visual humor moments were really the extent of what the series would throw at you. You had the really strict member of the movie club who had his dynamic with Ryuji and such but those scenes wouldn’t typically land as being quite as funny. As a result this series goes through the motions and is reasonable about it but I find that being funny can help a series and its replay value immensely. Every time you laugh or crack a smile is when the series has just risen up even if just a little more for you. It’s no surprise that all of the best romance titles are the ones that are part comedy like Nisekoi and Kaguya Sama. It just makes sense because when you laugh with the characters it is another way of truly connecting with them and so you naturally get more invested in the journey.

Overall, Behind the Scenes!! lives up to its name as sticking behind the scenes with the crew for the most part. This worked really well and it is part of what made the series solid in that area. It’s really just the romance that holds the series back but since that’s a major part of the series it is not something that’s easy to ignore. A sub par ending just doesn’t help matters at all and this has no real replay value. Without a lot of humor to stick up for the series or some grand climax, it will be lost in the wave of Shojo titles and can be safely skipped. I’d be interested to see another series try to tackle this angle. It’s probably not one that most should try for as it is more limited in how many fun situations you can craft around it but at the same time for a non action title, what really matters are the characters and interactions. You can make any backdrop work with good enough writing.

Overall 5/10

Tangled Review

It’s been a little while since I saw the Tangled movie. It was a pretty solid film and it actually had some real danger with characters getting stabbed and everything. The manga does a good job of readapting the events and so you do get the movie experience here. You won’t get to fully experience the songs of course but if for any reason you can’t find the movie, this will fill you in on the details pretty well.

The story starts by explaining how there was a magical flower that could be used to cure any illness and so this was given to the queen once she had grown ill. As a result her baby Rapunzel inherited this ability through her hair and so she was kidnapped by Gothel who had been using the flower for many years to stay immortal. Gothel would just cut Rapunzel’s hair and be done with it but the power goes away when that happens so her best plan is to trick Rapunzel for the rest of her life into working for Gothel so Gothel can keep using the power to stay young. This plan works out for many years but Gothel was a little too possessive in keeping Rapunzel in the tower.

So one day Rapunzel decides to leave and her opportunity comes when a thief named Flynn barges in with a crown he stole. Rapunzel hides the crown and says that he won’t get it back until he takes her sight seeing around the kingdom and specifically, she wants to see the mysterious lights that go up once a year on her birthday. (Gothel messed up by not giving her a different birthday) Flynn agrees since he wants his crown but as their adventure goes on he learns valuable lessons about friendship and what it means to value someone over normal jewels and riches.

It’s a fairly straight forward story and you can pretty much guess how it plays out but the execution is on point which is the important thing. This is a very low key story but one that will keep you interested. The characters are good and we do still have some danger here as like in the movie Flynn does get stabbed at one point. Gothel makes for a very solid antagonist here. Sure, she may not be the smartest in some ways as she creates a lot of problems for herself but she did keep the ruse up for many years so she gets some props there. She can also fight and isn’t above getting her hands dirty. In some ways that may be the most impressive part of her character.

As for Rapunzel, she is a solid main character. She took matters into her own hands in beating up Flynn and had a nice plan for escaping. While her hiding skills may not be the best, she is able to keep on winning until she gets things right. She’s a very determined character and that’s a good trait to have in any main character. Rapunzel also sticks up for herself when she knows that things aren’t right. When you add that all up I dare say that she is more likable than a lot of the more classic Disney princesses.

Flynn is less heroic than most of the main guys in these Disney adventures but that does mean he gets to learn more lessons. He goes from being someone who will easily betray his friends to someone that Rapunzel can count on. I do think he looks rather unimpressive in the fights though as Gothel easily takes him out and he loses a lot of fights here. He will have the rare moment where he looks tough like when he fought the villains off with his frying pan but that’s about it. Usually it’s still game over for him but he gets some decent banter with Rapunzel.

The art here is okay at best. It’s pretty much what you would expect from a movie tie-in. It’s not going to get the high quality art of a classic ongoing but it does its best to look like the movie so that’s a decent start. Think of this like a Shojo one shot for an artist that’s just starting out. I will say that the paneling is good though and it’s easy to read through the volume. It feels really short by the time you are all the way through it and that’s always a good sign.

One of these days what they should really do is grab one of the movies but instead of ending where the movie ends, just keep on going. Have the series surprisingly become an ongoing where the adventures continue. Now that would be extra interesting and there are a lot of ways that this story could have kept on going naturally. They certainly won’t run out of threats to the Kingdom and having Rapunzel return could make a lot of thieves think about an easy pay day once her powers return. (Because you know that they would!) It could easily be a fun action adventure story.

Overall, Tangled is a very safe manga I would say and that plays to its strengths. It’s very low key and you won’t think about it all that much but at the same time it’s still easily able to achieve a high score because there’s nothing bad about it. It’s just a fun adventure that you read through in no time and have no regrets over. The core story is a solid premise that always works well with good writing. I would recommend reading this manga if you haven’t seen the movie. If you’ve seen the movie then I don’t think there is a whole lot of point to reading the manga but hey if you want to relive the adventure then this is a good way to get a different spin on it. It’s effectively the same but reading will always feel a bit different than watching something.

Overall 7/10

Snow White with the Red Hair

This is a fairly low key story so far about a girl who wants to be a master herbalist. It’s a fairly unique goal so I’m ready to see how it turns out. The series is off to a good start and the prince is solid right now as he could pass off for the main character in more of a Shonen title.. I’ll have a review up for the series as soon as I’ve finished it.

Overall 7/10

D.N.Angel Review

I remember starting this manga well over a decade ago. It may have even been close to 20 years ago at this point so it’s been quite the journey. Well, after a long hiatus it finally came back and actually got an ending so I figured I’d take it back from the top and read all the way through. It’s a fun title but one where the plot is actually the least interesting part. I was just way more engaged with Daisuke’s day to day life and comedic hijinks compared to the actual story which is the only thing holding this one back a bit.

The story starts off by introducing us to Daisuke who lives in a house that’s a bit out of the ordinary. His Mom is always building a ton of traps for him to get through, some of which are quite lethal and he has to get around them to leave for school. This is because he is training in order to be the next in line to house the Phantom Thief Dark as part of the Niwa family tradition. See, Each man in the Niwa family eventually takes on the role and they have to go around stealing a lot of treasures. Typically they focus on stealing artwork from Hiwatori’s family throughout the ages.

Daisuke isn’t thrilled about this but there also isn’t really anything he can do to refuse. Dark just appears in his soul at one point and now it’s time to start the party. Whenever Daisuke’s heart rate speeds up, it triggers his transformation into Dark and then he won’t change back again until Dark’s heart speeds up or if he just chooses to cancel the transformation. This will be difficult for Daisuke since he has a crush on Risa. Will he be able to get close to her without his heart rate going crazy or is he doomed to be forever alone as long as Dark is here? Also, can he keep his double life a secret without any of his friends finding out?

There’s a whole lot of rules to the body swapping part and it keeps on changing as the series goes on so it’s really rough for Daisuke. He doesn’t even care about the whole stealing art thing and just wants to be a normal kid but his mom is super enthusiastic about it. She’s always encouraging Daisuke to steal the artwork and will even put up signs and notices for him to alert the authorities. This all must be done by the book after all and Dark puts in a notice so the cops have a fair chance to try and stop him. Daisuke’s dad doesn’t care as much and in fact he never got possessed by Dark back in the day but he does his best to help out. He makes up for his lack of physical abilities by being great at finding research and ancient scrolls to help the heroes out.

The end game for Daisuke is that Dark should eventually fade away and in the past that has happened if both Dark and his human host fall for the same girl. The issue this time is that they’ve fallen for different people this time as Daisuke likes Risa and Dark likes Riku. Both of them are twins and this complicates things because then Dark may never leave which would make things really difficult for Daisuke. Another wrinkle is that Risa likes Dark while Riku likes Daisuke. As this is a romance manga first and foremost, expect those pairings to change quite a bit as the adventure goes on.

Now you may be wondering, why would the rom-com moments beat the actual plot? Well, the story tends to be very repetitive when it happens. For example, one arc may have Daisuke fall into a painting where he is now in a what if universe where there’s another kid who likes Riku. Another time he’ll fall into a painting where he has to confront his confidence issues. Each arc tends to feel like a bit of a retread of the last one and the arcs can be a bit long. So it can just feel like nothing is really happening the whole time and you want to get back to the real world to move the story along. Typically you do get a lot of lore and sometimes you will get a new supporting character but that’s about it.

The arcs aren’t bad or anything but the just aren’t as interesting. It feels like the real world is where things are going on. As for the characters, I’d say we’ve got a reasonably solid cast here. As the main character, Daisuke definitely has to be strong enough to hold the story and I’d say that he pulls this off from an interest standpoint but he’s not really my kind of character. The guy isn’t very confident and gets pushed around throughout the whole series. He tends to be a little too forgiving even when someone is trying to murder him.

He can also be a little flip floppy. As mentioned earlier, he likes Risa at first but gradually changes to Riku. This is exactly what I would call a rebound romance since it was clear that Risa was not interested in him. The same is true of Dark who ends up switching sides so only Risa and Riku followed the person that they actually liked from start to finish. Daisuke is a nice guy and he will ultimately make the right calls in the end but I just wish he had more confidence. Even by the end of the series you can say that he still isn’t very confident yet so he hasn’t gotten the full amount of character development that Yugi got.

As for Dark, well I like his confidence but he is definitely more of a flirt. He’s fallen for many different girls and so as a result it’s hard to ever take his romances seriously. Does he really love Risa or is he just going to move on again? That’s how I always feel for characters like this. At least in a fight you can certainly count on him though. This series doesn’t have too many action scenes but Dark is consistently shown to be one of the more powerful fighters in the verse. He can definitely hold his own and then some.

Then there’s Risa who is my favorite member of the twins. Risa ultimately steps up when the going gets tough and she is also quicker to realize when something isn’t right. While Riku is still fumbling around and unsure of what’s going on, Risa is always 5 steps ahead and still making plans of her own. She doesn’t get discouraged as easily as Riku does and still looks out for her sister all the time. Risa plays a big role in at least one of the dream adventures and she comes across as being more understanding. She certainly takes more risks as well which isn’t always a good thing but it all tends to work out for her.

She just does all of the right things each time. Riku’s fun enough too though. She does her best to uncover the situation behind Daisuke always running off. She does suspect that he might be Dark but the whole concept of that is just so out there that she has a hard time convincing herself of that. In fairness to her it can be hard to believe but she needs to trust her eyes more like Risa. Risa ultimately just took a look at the facts and it added up so then she connected the dots. Riku takes a bit longer to get to her destination. Risa and Riku definitely end up working well as the two heroines though.

That said, while I have my issues with Daisuke and Dark, they do have a fun dynamic as well. Naturally they are complete contrasts to each other and Dark will occasionally try to be helpful. Sometimes he’s clearly just there to get in the way and make Daisuke feel bad but other times he’ll do his best to help the kid out. It just ends up being frustrating for both of them since only one person can use the body at once. That makes going out difficult on both of them, especially since the other is always watching so it can be a bit awkward.

Then you have Hiwatori who is a big detective and the latest in the lineage of the family that Dark robs from. Naturally that means that he is a very big character here and with Daisuke not always being very clever about hiding his secret, Hiwatori is always right on his tail. Hiwatori does have some honor so he won’t just attack Daisuke at school or anything like that. If not for that self imposed rule then Daisuke would have been really doomed.

I’m not really a fan of Hiwatori though. For starters the manga tries to build up a bit of a romance with him and Risa but it starts off way too late for it to work at all. He needs to stay in his lane there especially since he’s trying to destroy Dark and he knows how she feels about him. Hiwatori is the kind of guy who tends to follow orders most of the time and doesn’t question them. He is dealing with a lot as his alter ego Krad isn’t as nice as Dark. So you do feel bad for him and things rarely go his way. That said, he just doesn’t make the right choices most of the time and is certainly not someone that Daisuke can rely on. I don’t blame the mom for being really concerned whenever Hiwatori is around. I’d say he has earned that distrust from how he acts in the manga.

I never really ended up becoming a fan of that guy. His alter ego Krad doesn’t appear as often as you’d think. At first you would expect him to appear almost as much as Dark but that’s actually not the case. Krad makes the most of his brief amounts of screen time and is one of the only people who can actually fight Dark in close quarters combat but I still didn’t care for him much. His goal isn’t great at all and he just feels desperate since he knows that he can’t actually beat Dark in a fair fight. It’s impressive of Hiwatori to hold him back all the time but it’s also a bit of an anti feat for Krad.

After that we get into the art characters. So you’ve got Towa who I completely forgot from back in the day and she’s a nice enough supporting character. She knows a bit about the supernatural stuff going on in the series and can usually provide insight to the characters not trapped in the mirrors. Ultimately her function is more as a guide/informant than as a fighter but she adds to the dynamic reasonably well. The cast was really small without her there so she helps to round things out a bit.

Then we have Argentine who is the first big villain. The guy starts off rather whiny though and so he never got to be all that good. He just wants to be loved and all of that which is pretty deep for a painting, but in the end it’s never going to be one of the best character motivations for me. He tries to be helpful later on but I can’t really think of any really big moments where he contributed. He’s around a lot but just doesn’t do much of anything so that doesn’t help his case either.

Then you have Manisumea who ends up being one of the biggest threats in the series. I’ll give him props for having a painting arc with more personality than the others. Seeing Daisuke have to fight with a new kid for his romantic dreams and Risa actually getting her own plot was nice. None of that really helps Manisumea though who comes across as rather desperate. It seems like the only way for him to get his own identity in the real world is to replace Daisuke which is definitely a rough deal but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. He’s less memorable than Argentine but I suppose he’s a better villain.

Outside of the paintings you’ve also got Saehara who is Daisuke’s best friend. The guy serves his role as the comic relief character but doesn’t actually do much beyond that. He’s a big Dark fan and also wants to catch him someday so the guy has spirit but you almost forget that he exists half the time. He just doesn’t tend to leave a big impression and I don’t think the series gives him a ton of screen time either way.

The final main character in the present is Hiwatori’s dad- Elmroot. So that guy is an interesting figure because the whole time you’re waiting for him to make some kind of grand move. You know it’s going to be really epic and then you see that the series is almost over and he hasn’t done anything yet. He’s a little more on the ruthless side compared to Hiwatori but ultimately he does have a pretty good backstory. By the end I thought he was an interesting character. Definitely an underused one without a doubt, but I was glad that he was around. It would have been nice if he could have met Daisuke’s Dad at some point though. I think that could have been a lot of fun with how different they are. Daisuke’s dad always had a lot of good moments even though they were low key. You’ve also got Wiz who does his best to help Daisuke out. He’s like a little winged rabbit who initially can’t talk or anything but can gradually talk a bit. This is perfect for helping Daisuke’s cover when he has to be in two places at once. He’s also Daisuke’s wings most of the time so yeah this little creature is absolutely a crucial member of the team and should not be overlooked!

Finally we get to the 3 flashback characters. Near the end of the series there was a quick mini arc about one of Daisuke’s predecessors and I thought it was handled pretty well. In fact you could probably say that it was the best arc out of the big story ones. So Taize was considered a rebel in the family and he refused to steal anything. He got along with Dark well enough but the issue was that Taize was also a big flirt and so he didn’t actually feel a special way about anyone. As a result Dark couldn’t come out. Well, one day Taize runs into a girl named Fukami who works for Yuu and that’s when his heart speeds up for the first time.

It’s a very dramatic story for sure with a lot of drama but the big 3 had a better dynamic than the main 3 in the present timeline. I think what helps a lot is how confident Taize is. He’s certainly not about to get pushed around here and he also has a lot of skills even without Dark stepping in. Taize ultimately worked on his own terms and left in much the same way. He was just a very interesting character through and through.

Fukami made for a good heroine as well. She was insecure about her voice and so initially she would only speak to Yuu. She only made an exception when Taize stole Yuu’s painting so that she could get it back. She succeeded in getting it back but Yuu was super petty and upset that she talked to someone else. Throughout it all Fukami always took the high ground and would even talk using paper after that so as not to upset Yuu. She was a very considerate person and I’m glad that things went well for her. A tragic ending would not have felt right there.

Finally there was Yuu and I didn’t care for him. You can see how the whole thing is tragic for him since he clearly liked Fukami a lot but basically lost her in an instant. I just lost my respect for him when he was upset at her about the whole thing. He only has himself to blame for not making a move and he needs to keep that in mind. From there it continued the eternal rivalry between the two families on an even more intense level. It was a nice way to see further into the rivalry and the arc was just really good.

Now after all of that you may be thinking, this review seems pretty negative eh? Can it actually achieve the positive score in the end? Wel, I’d say that this one is able to do it. It’s true that I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters or the story but I was always engaged with seeing what would happen next. The series is a good page turner and that’s because the dynamics are solid.

Dark and Daisuke always have a lot of fun conversations. Riku and Risa also have a nice bond going and the series is definitely at its best when it is focusing on the comedy. It has a lot of charm to it and the adventures are nice. In a way the stealing things element is just the backdrop for these school adventures. If you cut out the actual arcs of falling into a painting each time then the series would excel even more. Perhaps it would run the risk of being too low key but I think it could pull this off.

As for the artwork, it definitely changes a lot as you go through the series. It makes sense when you consider how long this series had to wait until the final arcs. There is something nice and retro about the original art but either way I would say it looks solid throughout the series. You can definitely follow along with no trouble at all. The character designs are all unique and at most you can just have trouble when Daisuke is turning into Dark sometimes. You aren’t always sure if he’s in the hybrid form, the faux form, or if he actually is Dark now. In fairness to the art though, sometimes the mystery is intentional by the manga since you aren’t supposed to know how it is. The transformation rules can be a little complicated as I said earlier.

Unfortunately I was not a big fan of the ending at all. I thought they kind of fumbled the ball there a bit. It reminds me of the ending for a series with a dynamic very similar to this one and it made the same mistake. When you’ve been together for so long and become best friends, you want both characters to be able to have a satisfying end. When that doesn’t happen then it just feels like a really big shame. Especially because the journey was so long. There is still more to like than to dislike here of course but a nice ending would have been a good cherry on top for the experience.

As for the romance, I touched on it a bit earlier but I wouldn’t call it particularly strong. Mainly because both characters are on their second choices in a sense. Not saying you can’t change your mind or anything but it’s always a bit of a trickier sell as opposed to going for the main pick. That’s when you can really get behind the romance and it all works out nicely. There’s no room for doubts or anything like that.

Overall, D.N.Angel is a good series. I’d say the best way to describe it is as a very peaceful manga. You can easily blitz through 20 chapters or more at a time because you are always eager to see what will be happening next. The story knows how to keep you at the edge of your seat even without any action as you wonder how Daisuke will get out of revealing his secret identity this time. The series just tends to stall a lot whenever it enters a story arc. While that may seem like it should be reversed, it is the slice of life moments that feel a lot more important. I think a better cast could have helped it turn around to the next level but if you’re looking for a solid romance type manga then this is still a good one to check out. The phantom thief element shakes things up a bit and there’s nothing really crazy here. This is the kind of title you could recommend to someone who hasn’t read much manga before and they’ll be able to follow along real easy.

Overall 6/10

Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Review

Time to check out a manga about voice acting. It’s a fairly unique premise to build the series around and works well with your classic rom-com setup. If anything I thought this series really could have been quite a bit longer. I’d have liked to see Hime get to progress more so we could see her in the bigger productions. The series really seems to end just when she has broken out of her shell with the inevitable big time skip. 12 volumes is nothing to sneeze at but something like 16-20 would have been good. All in all, this is a fun series with a satisfying conclusion.

The series focuses around Hime who is a girl that really wants to be a talented voice actress. She attends Seiyu Academy for that one goal but she does have a big weakness. The problem is that her voice…makes her sound like a gorilla. The higher pitch she tries to use, the deeper and rougher the voice comes out. It’s all frustrating for Hime because she has been practicing for so long but has not even come close to her goal. Ultimately she wants to be a “Lovely Blazer” which is what the fighters in a popular anime/music group/vocal group are called. Meeting one in person was what inspired her as a kid.

Still, dreams are only dreams until she can get close. At the school she meets up with the popular boy at school known as Senri. Senri is the opposite as he is extremely talented in any role and is seen as a prodigy. Unfortunately they don’t get off on the right foot so he really dislikes her now. (His fault because he starts off by insulting her) When a play reading for Snow White goes wrong, Hime discovers that she does have exceptional voice acting talent…for male characters. This isn’t exactly her dream though and she wants to keep it a secret. She meets up with a voice coach who makes a deal with her. She has to keep performing as a guy in secret by dressing up as a guy and living a double life. If she can pull this off for a while then he promises to make her a big star as a girl too. Hime’s double life has now begun, but how long can she keep up the act!?

Double lives tend to be fun because it just opens up so many possibilities for story telling. It’s part of what makes superheroes fun as well. Hime has to keep on deceiving everyone as she pulls off her skills to the point where she has to even live at a different place temporarily so nobody knows what’s going on. She has some family issues at home though so this is easy. (Everyone has family issues in this series) Ironically enough, she gets along with Senri really well in her alter ego but the longer she keeps up the secret, the harder it will be to tell him the truth.

So there’s a ton going on here which is part of why I said it could have been longer. For starters, she’s in her boy form so long that “Hime” can vanish for whole volumes. It becomes very rare to see her at all sometimes to the point where you get used to her other design more. Each plot also has its own set of characters. As Hime she hangs out with the dropout group where the voice actors/actresses were just not big enough to be popular. At school they all help each other to be better. As “Shiro” she hangs out with the expert music stars and directors and also meets Mizuki, a guy who ends up liking her and is quite possibly the worst character in the series although I do not think this was intentional by the series.

So lets go through each side here. I would say the Shiro plot was the strongest one since it’s really the meat of the series. Having to assume a whole new identity and keep the bluff going allows for a lot of shenanigans to occur but also shows how versatile Shiro is. She is still able to make friends quickly and everyone respects her work ethic. She is still a newbie to all of this after all but begins to improve very quickly. Even the tough director gives her a pass after a while.

While I don’t like him, Mizuki will also stick up for her. This storyline also allows us to learn more about Senri’s situation which is certainly complicated. You know that this alter ego will have to end at some point but it’s fun for the duration of the series. I think Hime should even have kept that as something to use if she’s ever in a tough spot trying to find roles as herself. Or maybe reveal it by being in a show where she plays both roles but I’m not sure how feasible that would be long-term. The more the years go by the more her Shiro disguise likely wouldn’t work. It’s the kind of thing that mainly works because she’s still a kid, well I guess teenager at this point but still on the younger side.

As mentioned, Mizuki is just a character I didn’t like at all. The guy’s a big star who is really timid after things didn’t work out with the first girl he liked. He tried his best to help her out at every corner but ultimately this caused her to think he was stifling her development and she had an outburst before dashing off. Honestly I wouldn’t say he did anything wrong there and the girl just should have spoken up. Regardless this traumatized Mizuki so with Hime he is really trying to have a balance where he helps out but lets her do her own thing.

So that’s good but then he ends up trying to make some moves on her and this is where he faltered badly. He’s the kind of character who is nice one second and then quite rude the next. You were never rooting for him to win with her at any point. His origin was sad so you want to cut him some slack but he didn’t make the double life any easier on her when he starts up with the drama. At least he gave her the glasses which could help her get into the prince voice easier.

Senri gets a big role in both sides of the plot. While he doesn’t get along with Hime at all, he does form a quick bond with “Shiro”. After all, for him it’s just easier to hang out with another guy since he at least has some experience there. Senri easily has the biggest character arc in the series and it’s one that was handled well. He slowly breaks out of his shell and learns how to live normally. I thought his plot was usually the most engaging so I was always ready to see what was going on with him.

He also has the most tragic backstory of the group. So his mother Sakura is the world’s greatest actress. She didn’t start out that skilled but had a drive like no other. She ultimately had Senri as a kid but had stopped being an ordinary person long ago. So she raised him as if they were in a movie. Every action and moment was according to the characters they played and so she didn’t see him as her son. Senri grew up with this rather twisted view of the world where everyone was faking their actions and playing roles. This led to a lot of friendships being broken and his becoming a loner.

It’s easy to see how he doesn’t know how to connect with anyone in the present. It’s not like you pick up social skills automatically. How you’re raised plays a big role there and so he was completely broken since he was raised in a way where he didn’t know what was an emotion and what was the role. In the present it makes for an interesting character trait since he really can’t tell if he is in a role or not. That’s definitely a high level of trauma.

So while Sakura’s skills are very good, this hurts her as a character quite a bit. You like to think that she would have been able to raise Senri a little better than she did but he never ended up becoming her top priority. She would always choose work first and of course work is important but Senri’s life was very nearly ruined as a young age. Without Shiro he would have only grown worse.

Shuuma is Mizuki’s friend and he wasn’t very good right from the start. He jumps right towards bullying Shiro from the start to drive him away from Mizuki. It’s the kind of petty tactic that you can’t really come back from. So while this was short lived, it’s not like he had any great moments after this to improve his character further. Fujimori is another character from the agency plot and he’s much better. The guy is rivals with Mizuki but doesn’t randomly go after Shiro to make himself feel better.

In fact, he quickly learns that teamwork is good and is very supportive the whole time. He does end up getting caught in the romance crossfire between the other characters so they’ll randomly attack him but the guy meant well. He’s a rather minor character overall but he was always entertaining.

That’s about all of the characters from the Shiro plot. Before going over to Hime’s story, just a quick reminder that Hime = Shiro. Shiro is just the cover for Hime when she has to work as a guy for a while and using the separate terms in the review is an easy way to keep the two plots separate. For the most part the storylines and characters don’t interact nearly as much as you would expect. There is some overlap like how Senri is at school and in the business but for the most part he’s more of an exception.

Hime and Shiro have the same personality so there’s no sense in talking about the character twice. Hime is a solid main character. She may not be particularly talented at the start but she doesn’t let this get her down and just keeps at it until she can be the best. We actually do get to see a lot of chapters where Hime is training and practicing various steps. I would say it’s very rare that we see this level of training so the author really did a good job in showing just how much drive she had. If any character deserved to get good then it was her.

This is also what helped Haruka to be a likable character. So in the Hime plot, he has given her the mission to pretend to be a guy for a while to get her networking experience, connections, and basically because that’s the only kind of voice she can use at the moment. He acts tough on the outside but he really does this to help her out. So when she gets bullied or talked down to, he always has her back. There was one scene in particular where they go to Hime’s house because they needed permission from her mother for something.

In the scene Hime’s mother keeps talking about her other daughter and dissing Hime the whole time. Haruka was quick to take Hime’s defense and publicly support her there. I thought it was a really pivotal moment and you always want to have an ally like that. When Hime gets sick, Haruka helps make sure she gets peace and quiet. He ends up feeling like the parental figure that Hime never had.

While Hime’s mother looks bad the whole time, none of the blame can be put on Hime’s younger sister Akane. Akane is still just a kid and while she is super talented and successful, she is never mean about it. I get the feeling she’d like to be closer to Hime but it just isn’t possible in this toxic household. Between Hime and Senri’s mothers, the series certainly has a lot of broken households where the characters weren’t raised well. At least you’re glad that Akane was able to have a successful life so far.

Then you have Hime’s friends at school who are all in the delinquent/lower class because they struggle with one form of voicework or another. First is Tsukino and her issue is that her voice is just really low. It’s hard for her to use her voice more since she got bullied for it a whole lot. Part of Hime’s role in this group is to get everyone past their fears though and gradually Tsukino gets past hers. I wouldn’t say she gets a lot of moments in the series but everyone got something to do and this was a nice enough plot.

In general I just liked how close knit the group was and how they would all have each other’s backs during the tough times. Shou is the tough punk of the group and basically isn’t doing well because he can seem like a bit of a delinquent. This comes in handy though because he doesn’t let anyone mess with them. Additionally he’s able to be friends with Ume who had a tough time being with others. Ume could be a little stuck up at times and with her talent for writing scripts, she wouldn’t take the voice actors/actresses into account. Gradually she is able to fix this.

That really wraps up both sides of the adventures here. The cast is fairly large here and they’re all balanced well. It does go back to what I was saying about the series being a little short though. With all of these characters I really think it could have been really good to have just had a few more volumes. It feels like there is still so much to do when the series ends. We didn’t really get to see everyone’s reactions to finding out about Hime, her journey into being more successful, etc. You just have to try your best to fit in the pieces when the time skip jumps in.

The artwork here is good. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the stronger Shojo titles that I’ve read in that area but the writing is able to hold it up. You’ll be blasting through each volume because it just ends up being a real page turner. The humor works well enough and balances out the more serious moments here. I suppose the romance wasn’t bad. Any scene with Mizuki in it was always annoying but the rest wasn’t super dramatic nor was it usually the focus so that helped. This way the title got to be more about the various friendships with the characters and how they all help each other to succeed. An academy where you train to be a professional should be a place like that where you can count on others to have your back.

Overall, Voice Over is a series that I would certainly recommend. It’s a fairly unique premise and it’s always fun to see the inner workings of how the voices go. Changing up your voice and doing a lot of roles always seems like something that would be difficult to do. Naturally it’s best when people just like your default voice so you can keep using that but I want to say that most won’t be so lucky. You’ll need to be able to play many different roles. So if you’re up for a light hearted adventure then this is a fun one to check out. Where else will you get a fun comedy with the main character living two lives right?

Overall 7/10

Tokyo Mew Mew Review

I read Tokyo Mew Mew a while back and it was fun enough. I preferred the manga to Sailor Moon by a large margin but would the same be true of the anime version? Not in this case as the gap between the manga and anime for Moon is like night and day to the point where I would say the anime is really quite good. In Mew Mew’s case I would say the anime does enhance the manga as well but it’s still not quite topping Sailor Moon. This is a fun show all the way through so you should have a good time here.

The show starts by introducing us to a happy girl named Ichigo. Her life has been rather ordinary so far as she tries to balance her school life while also trying to build up the courage to tell Aoyama how she feels about him. Well, that will have to wait as she is blasted with a strange ray along with a few other girls. They are now destined to be the Tokyo Mew Mews. A fighting force of epic proportions that must defend the world from aliens who seemingly wish to destroy it. These powers come with some unfortunate side effects like how Ichigo will gain cat features if she gets too excited. That will make her confession to Aoyama rather difficult. Her only chance is to save the world quickly and put these powers behind her. Will she be able to do this?

At first the show is mainly a monster of the week format. Ichigo will fight a monster and then we move on to the next adventure. Along the way she meets the other fighters in the group and then once the team is assembled we really start to learn more about the villains and their motivations. It’s not quite so simple as just destroying the world and they have some interesting reasons for attacking. You’ll never stop rooting for the heroes but at least you can see where the villains are coming from.

The show does tend to use the same kind of plot cycles like Saint Seiya for a while though. For example, if one character gets a power up, you can bet that the next 4 episodes will be about the rest of the team getting power ups. If one character gets an adventure then the others will each get an episode in turn. It may make things predictable to an extent so I’d like the show to have changed things up more. Fortunately the adventures are all fun though and you’re not really expecting the show to veer off into a crazy direction so it works well enough. The whole episodic kind of experience is one that can always work as long as the writing is good.

One of the reasons why I preferred the show to the manga version is it felt like each of the characters got more personality and development. I usually feel that way for anime adaptions and consider it a strength of the medium. For example I did not like Pudding very much in the manga but thought she was a lot more likable here. Her antics would actually be funny and she did her best to help out. I’m still not a big Lettuce fan in any version but I never tend to like the timid member of the group as much as the more intense ones.

The animation here is solid. In fact I would say it’s surprising just how good it is. The colors are very sharp and the show looks a lot newer than it actually is. I suspect it’s because of the bright color pallete that makes all of the characters stand out at all times. Or maybe this show just got a bigger budget than I thought. The fight scenes that we do get are quite solid too even if they aren’t really the focus here. I definitely had no complaints on that end. Of course there is a ton of recycled footage here for all of the transformations. That always feels like a lazy way to save budget for the show though. Imagine if we got a redrawn transformation every episode. That would take more effort but it would be neat. I’m not a big fan of long transformations though so I wouldn’t mind if you did the DBZ instant change version instead. It’s cool to have a long transformation for the first time though to show what a big deal it is. The soundtrack was also solid. It had quite a few tunes as well so there was a lot of variety here. The theme song is only okay though, I didn’t find it to be too memorable. The best soundtracks tend to be the character themes when they transform and enter battle.

With 52 episodes this means you’ll be seeing a lot of monsters but the show does a good job of not really reusing those. You’re also having fun throughout so it never feels like the show drags on. In fact, I would make the case that it is always good to be a very long show if you’re a slice of life because it lets you get used to the characters. For example Cardfight G may have been one of the weaker seasons for me for a while but it had almost 60 episodes of the characters just hanging out and so when the plot stuff started you were already invested. Perhaps the new Cardfight season could have been better with more than 12 episodes.

So with 50+, you get to know the Mew Mews very well by the time we’re entering the climax. They are all solid characters for the most part too which is important. The writing here is solid from start to finish. Now, I may give the dub the edge slightly because I love how they made all of the characters extremely overconfident and aggressive but this review is really of the subbed version where I saw the whole thing. The writing is still good there as the characters have good dialogue and the episodes don’t drag on. If an episode drags on that usually means either the writer or director did not do their job and that never became an issue here. The show has good humor and dialogue at all times so you’ll be feeling good after each adventure. Now lets talk about the characters.

Ichigo is the main heroine here and she does well in carrying the show. Ichigo has a lot of energy and is a hero through and through as she sacrifices her social life to fight the monsters. She has a bit of the Parker luck at times as things usually don’t work out for her. Fortunately Aoyama is probably the most understanding guy I’ve ever seen in a Shojo series as everything bounces off of him. Ichigo stands him up for 3 different dates? He shrugs and figures she was busy. Ichigo avoids him at school for a few days? Must be a coincidence.

I mean he does get sad at times but he pretty much always gives her a pass. It’s nice to see him be so understanding but at times it feels like he has no real character. He’s just standing around to be the love interest and that’s about it. It’s why I was glad he got some twists and character development since he needed that. Ichigo does well in her spot as the leader here and also appears to be the most determined Mew Mew. So I definitely liked her quite a bit and would even put her above Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon as far as the Shojo leads go.

Since I already talked about Aoyama a bit, lets wrap up his part of the plot. He does have one episode where he has a really good character arc which is when he has to fight Ichigo’s dad in order to date her. The episode wasn’t always played seriously but his resolve was and it’s the first time he really seemed to step out into being his own character. It was satisfying in that respect and it was his best episode. Ichigo’s dad is also cool. The guy doesn’t get to do a whole lot but I do like how protective he is of Ichigo. The guy is absolutely going to make sure she doesn’t get mixed up with the wrong crowd. I also like Ichigo’s mother and how she is always cheering the father on. They have a really good bond going there and it makes for one of the more wholesome relationships I’ve seen for parents in anime.

Next up we have Mint and she is sort of like the rival or Sailor Mars of the group. She is rich and can be rather stuck up at times. She isn’t going to be quite as selfless as Ichigo but she does want friends. Mint is just one of the tsundere types who can’t really admit this. Ichigo helps her reconnect with her family and make more friends so they have a strong bond by the end. Mint also gets a good fight with Zakuro at one point which was really hype. Mint seems like one of the stronger Mew Mew fighters and I liked her tough personality. She’s certainly a standout.

Then we have Lettuce and I never quite warmed up to her. She’s one of those characters who seemed a lot more powerful when she was “evil” than when she formally became a Mew Mew. She has a hard time expressing herself and is really timid which holds her back in fights. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being timid but usually that means that you won’t end up being one of my favorite characters. I tend to like the bold characters and that’s really not her style.

Pudding is a character I usually wouldn’t expect to like very much. She’s the youngest member who can’t really take everything seriously. So Pudding tends to goof off even when things are tough and doesn’t understand that the villains are evil. I think what separates her from some of the other characters though is how she does still have a lot of responsibilities and appears to be a mature character when it counts. She looks after a bunch of orphans and in one episode we see how she has to take care of all fo them in between missions. Throw in the fact that she works in the Mew Mew cafe with the others and she is very likely the busiest member of the group.

I’d still like it if she was a little more serious during the fights or not being oblivious to how the villains are fighting against her but by the end I was a fan. The episode with the orphans is the one that ultimately won me over. Finally we have Zakuro, the most powerful member who is also on the shady side at first. Her character is really impressive here. She gets a lot of powerful imagery like when she appears in the church initially. Now that was a great way to introduce her and she has an aura of mystery that no other character in the show was able to attain. Zakuro gets a lot of cool poses and fights to herself as well which is rare for a supporting character. She seems to be the only fighter who can really take care of herself without Ichigo having to come in and save the day.

I also thought the show was fairly consistent at showing her as the most powerful member. (Aside from Ichigo of course although I do think Zakuro is more skilled but Ichigo has the 1 hit KO moves) Zakuro is the oldest member and likes to play the bad cop routine to get everyone focused. At times she goes a little too far with this though like her attack on Mint and the crew. That felt completely unnecessary and the plan just never ends up justifying that. Should have just stuck with the heroes and attacked the villains from the start. Regardless, she was certainly my favorite character in the series. Definitely a winner through and through.

Then we have the mysterious Blue Knight. The show does a pretty good job of keeping the mystery of who his true identity is. It adds a little mystery to the series and he’s effectively the Tuxedo Mask of the group. He’s strong and makes for a very good ally to the group. He comes in handy on more than one occasion and I like his design. This guy’s certainly someone you can count on to always deliver in his scenes.

I haven’t talked about them much but the Mew Mew girls have two benefactors who set this all up. Their named as Shirogane and Keiichiro and they’re responsible for the alien rays. Basically they needed a fighting force against the aliens and so the girls were chosen. These guys aren’t super apologetic about what happened from the lab experiments but I guess deep down they get worried. Shirogane is your classic tough guy who always keeps an attitude up while Keiichiro likes to appear as a really nice guy. Keiichiro was rather boring for me though and I never liked him much.

Shirogane gets a good character arc though and we learn about the big risks he had to take. He even gets a very emotional backstory that ties into one of the monsters that the group ends up fighting. Shirogane probably had to endure the most before the series starts. I forget what the male version of a tsundere is, but that’s basically him as well. He hides his feelings behind the constant insults but you can always count on him to help out. So he’s a fun character and even Aoyama gets intimidated by the guy and runs off at one point.

I should mention there is a little robot named Masha who helps the heroes by finding Mew Aqua fragments that they need for saving the world and also detects monsters. I wasn’t a huge fan of Masha though as he fails absolutely every time when it counts. By the time Masha senses any incoming monsters they have already arrived so there’s no real point. The heroes are getting absolutely devastated in their home base and this guy’s quiet as a whistle. I will say that episode was really cool though because it makes sense that the villains would eventually attack the Mew Mew home base. It’s hardly a secret and everyone knows about the cafe as it is. Surprisingly the villains never attack after this though despite the overwhelming success of the plan.

It makes so much sense to attack this place directly but maybe it’s against the villain honor code. Not that they all have much of one but at least Kisshu seems like the type of guy who would have unwritten rules. He’s certainly the most popular villain but I was not a fan. His first scene is of stealing a kiss from Ichigo which is always a super annoying shojo trope for villains. How do you end up liking that guy after such a moment? He becomes more and more desperate to be with Ichigo from that point on to the point where it becomes his complete motivation.

It’s not written horribly like in Tokyo Mew Mew Au Lait, but it’s still not a great villain motivation. Especially once we learn his full backstory and what happened to the aliens you feel like he should be staying focused here. He has some good fights and is always ready with the insults but I’d prefer if he had kept his romantic feelings out of this. It ends up completely taking over his character by the end but at least he does get some quality fights in the mean time.

I didn’t care for Taruto either. This villain’s more of a rival to Pudding as he’s the youngest villain who also messes around. He has his whole emotional character arc and all but I just didn’t like him. His romance is even more unbelievable than Kisshu by how much he despites the heroes at first and tries to murder Pudding only to have a change of heart. Nah, I wasn’t on board with this guy. Finally we have Pai as well and he’s also an annoying villain. Ultimately he’s the kind of guy who will follow orders without thinking about it. He’s supposed to be the smart villain of the group who thinks this through but it’s not like he has any big plans either.

Finally you have Deep Blue sama who is mentioned a lot. He is the ultimate leader of the villains after all but rarely appears. For most of the series he is a disembodied voice that just zaps the other villains or reminds them that he won’t give them a 300th chance to beat the Mew Mews. When he finally gets to do something he makes for a deep villain but I admit that for most of the series I only liked him ironically. Your villains can only defy and fail you for so many times before I stop respecting the guy. He did leave Kisshu in a critical state at one point though so he did do something there.

Well that wraps up the characters. So it’s a pretty fun cast overall. As you could tell I much preferred the heroes to the villains here. None of the villains really clicked with me all that much. They could fight which is good but most of the time they let their minions do all of that so it’s not like they are even on the front lines all that much. When they did go there they could usually stalemate or buy some time but they weren’t exactly getting any big wins or anything like that. The heroes meanwhile were putting in the work right from the start.

Overall, Tokyo Mew Mew is a fun show. I had a good time with it and each episode will entertain you from start to finish. It’s the kind of show that could have run for several hundred episodes and you would still have a good time even if the plot didn’t move much. It’s a credit to the writing and characters which were handled well. I can see why the series has such a big fanbase. I’m not going to call it great or boost the score further for being entertaining but at the end of the day an anime’s job is to give you a good time and keep you engaged. This show completely succeeds at that and makes for a very consistent experience. With no real weaknesses to speak of, I can recommend this show to anyone. Whether you like adventure, action, or slice of life, this will tick off all of the boxes.

Overall 7/10

La Corda d’Oro: College Arc Review

After all these years, it is time to take a look at the sequel to the first La Corda De Oro. This one doesn’t really bring the supernatural elements back though so say goodbye to the magic fairy that would help Hino play her instrument. He does appear briefly in the story but those adventures ended up just being filler in the end since the story wasn’t impacted. I want to say the original one was better than this sequel but I suppose it wasn’t a bad continuation. It’s always interesting to see the reverse harem style where everyone is desperate for the main heroine and she has to make her choice. There is a choice here which is good so even if we are getting bonus routes in the next few chapters, I would consider this ending as the main canon one. (I wouldn’t mind if more titles started having alternate endings though. It’s an interesting concept and a good way to stretch a series out for a bit longer.

The series starts off by explaining that Hino is still not together with Tsukimori yet. He ended up moving out to Vienna to improve his musical skills. They keep in touch through mail but neither one of them really seems to be able to reach out to make their status official. As a result, Tsuchiura, Kaji, Hihara, and Yunoki all figure that they still have a shot at Hino. Perhaps they can seduce her away from Tsukimori while he’s abroad. There’s even a new student named Kamata who may be interested in her as well. Can Hino stay strong and wait for Tsukimori or will she ultimately choose someone else?

Now from the start you’re probably going to be blaming Tsukimori here. Moving out to go practice his instruments is all well and good but he should have taken Hino along with him. Leaving her alone for such a long period of time with no return plan is really asking for trouble. You get the feeling that they will end up being together anyway but it really doesn’t make things easy on their relationship. Mix in the fact that he’s not great at communicating and it only makes sense that they would continue to drift apart.

I also thought that he does a horrible job of handling the situation when he appears. The series loves to get dramatic so of course he is super jealous of the other guys and says some hurtful stuff to Hino. He has no reason for this other than that he was envious of the others who got to be with Hino this last year but it was his choice to leave. I’m sure Hino would have gone with him if he asked. Also, you mean to tell me that he didn’t travel back to hang out with her a single time? That’s just a bad look on him. It’s been a while since the original series but the fact that he’s made no improvement is concerning.

As you can probably tell, I wasn’t exactly rooting for him and his romance to take off. Hino doesn’t handle all situations great either but at least she has been working to improve her own abilities throughout. The characters are all impressed at how she has improved and she has done all of this without any fairy to help her out this time. It’s pure skill and that’s good because she is in a music school surrounded by geniuses so it makes sense that she would improve. My only real issue with her character is how indecisive she is.

Each of the guys are able to cause her to be flustered at one point or another. They’re constantly flirting or threatening to make a move and she just acts shocked each time. They always end up leaving her alone and instead of reflecting on this or rejecting them she will head off to the next guy to be woo’d again. She doesn’t keep up any defenses around them like when she goes to one of the guy’s places to take a nap. It’s great that she trusts them all so much but it’s hard to believe that she hasn’t noticed how they’re all completely obsessed with her. She needs to be a little more self aware here and start friend zoning each of them so this isn’t up in the air.

By the end of the series the characters all start to give up on her one by one. It’s just annoying that they have to give up on their own as opposed to Hino telling them off. I would have liked if it was Nisekoi style where one by one the guy would have a heart to heart with the girl and explain why they had to stay as friends. Hino having a conversation with each of them like that would have been really nice and a solid way to give everyone some closure. They each got their own little mini arcs/adventures with her so that really could have worked.

Lets talk about each of the guys now. As you already know, I didn’t like Tsukimori. There’s not much more to say about him so we can skip the guy. Next up we have Tsuchiura who is the classic “Nice Guy” of the group. He can’t make big bold moves the way that the rest can. He treasures his friendship with Hino which is also what stops him from asking her out. He had the best chance to be with her at one point when she’s in a vulnerable spot but decides to help her get back with Tsukimori. He’s a good guy through and through but you know that he is doomed right from the start. In a way it felt like he was never in the running as a result. He’s easily the best out of all the guys but that’s not saying a lot I suppose.

After all, I was never going to like these guys much because they’re all trying to get together with Hino even though they know that she likes Tsukimori. I mean, I suppose it’s fair game until they are actually together but then they needed to be up front about that. Since she trusts them so much, it’s only right to do so immediately. Next up is Yunoki. He’s the rich one of the group who always tries to impress Hino with flashy displays. The guy has an edge there for sure since he can make her biggest wishes come true. That said, it also feels like he never had a shot here since he seems a bit older than the others. Might just be the way that he carries himself though, I assume they’re all around the same age. The series even plays into that later on as he acts more like a father figure.

He can be nicer than he acts but I still wouldn’t trust the guy too much. Shimizu is probably the most serious rival out of the group. He’s more straight forward about liking Hino the whole time and also does so in a mature way. He has his own character development as he learns to accept his feelings and he even gives her some pep talks. The guy isn’t really as friendly as some of the other characters but he knows how to behave around Hino. From the guys he would easily be the best aside from Tsuchiura.

Hihara likes Momo as well but has the hardest time really getting close to her. The guy just isn’t really ready for romance which is one of the main reasons he has to give his feelings up. He would have needed a lot of help from the other characters to make a move and so it was just too soon. If Tsukimori blows it later on then I guess he’ll have another shot. Hihara’s a nice guy and someone you can find on so hopefully he will stay as a dependable friend. There is a random new student named Kamata who seems to like Hino but he only appears for a chapter or two and promptly vanishes so we don’t need to talk about him much. I don’t even know what the point of his character was.

Lili returns briefly, but as mentioned earlier the whole fairy part feels like filler here. So Lili randomly shows up to wrap Hino into the past where she is able to meet up with all of the characters before they actually met her. It’s interesting and doesn’t seem to have been a dream but it literally doesn’t change anything. Hino doesn’t treat the characters differently and the event didn’t change her so it is really filler. There’s another time Lili appears which causes the characters to all be warped to a remote island along with their past selves. Again, this has nothing to do with anything so it was really filler. It’s interesting that we have some time magic going on but Lili could have really been used in a different way. The fairy affecting Hino’s music skills was a fun plot in the original so I’m not sure why it was completely ditched here.

While the series is mainly episodic, I should mention that the plot line which connects this all together is that there is going to be a big concert soon. So the characters are prepping for it and that’s one of the excuses for Hino to be alone with each guy for a chapter. Each one gives her some advice to further hone her skills and make the Vienna guy jealous since he couldn’t help out. The actual concert barely appears and is mostly off screen though which is why I would consider it as more of a plot device than an actual sub plot.

As for the art, it’s pretty good. I thought each of the pages was really clear in pure quality as well as layout. It’s always easy to tell exactly what’s going on and it makes reading the series really easy. You’ll be breezing through the pages. I would occasionally mix up the characters as a lot of the guys look so similar but fortunately their personalities are very different so as soon as they start talking then I’m good. The more you read the easier it gets in that respect.

The sequel had a fairly decent run with several volumes out. If the alternate endings each get a volume or so then this will really have a good run. I decided to do the review now though since I consider those to be bonus chapters as opposed to continuing in the main series. This ending feels like it’s the proper one after all. I may not be a big fan of the pairing but the whole series seemed to be leading up to it. It’s why I’m curious how they’ll play out the alternate endings. At what point does the manga diverge and how will they have Hino end up with each character? At the very least it’ll be interesting to see how it’s played out.

The writing in the series is good but as expected, the romance is really what holds the title back. It’s what keeps me from saying that the series is good. Hino is just way too passive the whole time. She lets each character drag her around and I’d have liked her to have taken a more active approach. If she goes with someone it should be her pick, not that everyone just gave up and helped her find the right guy. Tsukimori is also just such a jerk the entire series. There’s no way to root for him as a result and his excuses get pettier and pettier throughout.

A lot of the characters clown on Tsukimori for his decision and instead of feeling bad for him I just agreed with them. Here you have a guy who has a girl who is super devoted to him and he just ghosts her for long periods of time. Then whenever we cut over to him in Vienna he tries to say that she means a lot to him and he just doesn’t know how to contact her. That’s just not a good excuse and running away to Vienna for a second time made him look even worse. The only reason why their relationship works at all is purely based on her efforts. I can’t give him any piece of credit.

Overall, La Corda d’Oro is a very serious romance. You won’t really find a lot of humor here at all. It’s not dark in the slightest, it’s a light hearted series but you won’t find a lot of gags or anything like that. I’d call it a serious romance because each guy is doing his best to win Hino over and the manga plays it straight. It makes for a suspenseful read as a result but you probably won’t be smiling much. It’s like reading a chemistry textbook or something, you might be interested in what you’re seeing but there’s no time for laughter. I think the series could have used a bit more levity. Throw in the fairy and have some more adventures. Instead with all the romance chapters back to back, there was never any room to really rest. Off the top I would say the original series was better although it’s been ages since I’ve read that one. If you want to revisit the cast and see how things have gone along for them then this is the sequel you’ll want to check out. It’s not bad but I wouldn’t say it’s good. It’s interesting to say this but you won’t really have strong opinions about the series one way or the other. Not to say it’s boring but there isn’t a whole lot to talk about. Ultimately it’s a series of romantic adventures and Hino chooses one as we cut to the ending. I don’t think you’ll be thinking about it the very next day you finish it. I can’t think of the last time a manga just felt empty like that for me after I finished it. Again…it’s not bad but it sorta leaves you a bit empty. Hmmm….that’s the best way I can put it.

Overall 5/10

Tokyo Mew Mew Au Lait

I’m now caught up with the Au Lait spinoff. That said, it doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing the fun of the original Mew Mew series. None of the guys have any self respect or control and the heroine just lets all heroes and villains have their way with her. The manga’s been on a steep decline for a while now but maybe it’ll recover in time for the ending. I’ll have the review up for this series once it finishes.

Overall 1/10

Anonymous Noise Review

It’s been a little while since I reviewed the Anonymous Noise anime so it’s time to take a look at the manga. The events between the two titles are pretty much the same except that the anime stops a whole lot earlier while the manga throws in all of the extra drama. Anonymous Noise is one of those titles that’s surprisingly long so prepare for a whole lot of rebounds and constant romances. Nobody ever ends up with their original pick.

I’ll never not find it a little humorous how Nino effectively has two origin stories here. So first she has a next door neighbor named Momo as a kid and together they sing songs and hang out. He is always ready to stick up for her when the bullies show up and enjoys her company. Well, one day he just vanishes out of the blue and Nino gets depressed. Fortunately she meets a boy named Yuzuriha who starts writing music for her. Perhaps if she sings loud enough she will be able to reach Momo some day. Unfortunately one day Yuzuriha vanishes as well so Nino gets depressed all over again.

Fast forward a bunch of years and Nino is now a teenager who always wears a face mask since it contains her need to scream. She has been psychologically scarred by her childhood at this point and so that’s her last safety measure. At her new high school there is a music club so naturally she intends on joining. It turns out that this group is also the secret metal band that has been taking the world by storm. Nino will need a disguise as well and shall be called Alice while performing.

Both of her old friends have really come a long way over the years. Momo is a super successful music writer who works with another band and is acknowledged as a prodigy considering that he’s also still in High School. He no longer wants anything to do with Nino though and treats her quite harshly. Then you have Yuzuriha who also tries avoiding Nino but to no avail as they attend some of the same classes and are in the same club. Nino needs to find out why they are avoiding her and in the meantime she will have to improve her singing voice. Ultimately that is how she will reach the top. She wants Momo to be with her but is it possible that she may like Yuzuriha as well?

The classic love triangle is a plot as old as time. Momo is the mean guy who’s always insulting Nino and yet you know that he has a great chance of winning in the end as a result. Then you have Yuzuriha who is the nice guy in comparison and who gets to spend the most time with Nino. As a result you feel like he is doomed from the start. Who knows maybe the series will surprise you in the end with who Nino chooses….

As a main character I would say Nino is decent. One part of her character that is fairly unique is how she completely ignores the other characters even when they’re talking to her. Deflecting is her chief conversation tactic so if things are starting to get serious she’ll bring up some nonsense to throw the conversation to the side. While you may think this is coincidental, I think it’s far too exaggerated for this to be anything but intentional. Nino knows exactly what she is doing the whole time.

She gets quite a bit of character development as the series goes on. For starters, while she always had a lot of volume, her actual singing ability wasn’t all that great until we got to near the end of the series. She had to approve a lot with different coaches but always put in the work. Where she falters though is in the romance. You really need to be decisive in this kind of thing. Can’t have two guys fighting over you forever. While she does make a choice at the end of the series, it feels like both guys are in the mix for way too long.

She has moments and affairs with both of them at times and while Momo is the only guy she’s ever serious about, she is never fast enough to stop Yuzuriha when he makes a move. He manages to get her while her guard is down several times and it’ll just make you shake your head. Nino always does her best to try and act normal afterwards but she really should have shut the guy down a lot earlier. It’s something that deducts points from all 3 characters throughout the series. It’s one of the reasons why some of the supporting characters tend to be the real hype members.

As for Yuzuriha, well you’ve already heard why I don’t like that guy. The ole Shojo trope of stealing a kiss from the heroine and playing it off like it’s no big deal definitely doesn’t work. He pulls this several times even when he knows that Nino already likes someone else. Sure, you can keep trying to win someone over until they actually start dating someone else but it’s got to be with good discussions, not with just making a move like that.

Yuzuriha also handled their initial reunion rather poorly. I don’t think he or Momo had good reasons for avoiding Nino and being so antagonistic at first. Yuzuriha has an extended plot with his mother as well which at least gives him something to do besides chasing after Nino. Their father died in a crash a long time ago but his mother never truly accepted that fact. So the home situation is a little rough and they’re still trying to battle through that. It’s a pretty serious plot to be sure.

Then you have Momo who is basically an antagonist most of the time. He goes really far with insulting Nino as well as her music. There’s no way to actually sympathize with the guy even after we learn his origin. He also has a situation with his mother but in this case she doesn’t oppose music the way that Yuzuriha’s does. She enjoys it because she wants the money. Basically she uses Momo as her piggy bank to get rich. This doesn’t really cover the Nino aspect though. Effectively Momo wanted to keep her at a distance so his Mom wouldn’t try anything but that always seemed like an overreaction at best.

Momo is also quite successful in his own right and is supposed to be some kind of genius. If he really wanted to then he definitely could have found a way to talk with Nino and explain things. He also chooses the worst possible moments to throw big twists at her like a certain break up scene during the concert. His rivalry with Yuzuriha with Nino thrown in the middle can be a bit much as well.

They fight over her throughout as they keep bragging that they will be the one to claim her voice. It’s certainly a unique dynamic as they both want her to only sing for them. It’s different than the usual fights you would have for the heroine but at the same time I wouldn’t say it puts either one of them in a positive light. I should say this isn’t in a literal sense as they still want her to do concerts and such but they want her to only think of them during the songs. That’s a rather tough order to fulfill though.

Technically the three characters are actually friendly with each other at times by the middle-end of the series but you can never think of it as a true friendship. How can it be when both characters have already told Nino that they don’t see her as a friend? As a result they are quite envious of each other as well so it ends up being more toxic than anything.

Miou is one of the main supporting characters and while her role was greatly diminished in the show, she does a whole lot in the manga. She originally liked Yuzuriha but of course that didn’t quite work out so well for her. Miou ends up rebounding with Haruyoshi with the added twist being that they both acknowledge this is a rebound. Haruyoshi is just confident that he can eventually get her to like him for real.

So they go along with this as an experiment but despite Haruyoshi’s tough talk he is soon not satisfied with being the rebound which causes him to be upset a lot. I didn’t care for his character in the end. He likes goofing off and messing with Miou a lot while hiding his true feelings inside. The guy is often a lot more serious than he appears but the contrast just didn’t work for him. I may have liked him more if he had more patience with Miou but considering that they both knew the terms of the deal, I didn’t think he was very consistent.

Back to Miou, one aspect of her character that was particularly strong is how she would tutor and assist Nino throughout the series despite knowing that Nino was effectively taking over her spot on the team and even stealing her man. It proved that Miou was really a good person as not many people would have been able to do that. She always took the high road and had a very consistent character arc. I wasn’t on board with the rebound plot at all to be honest but at least she was someone you could root for.

Kuro is another member of the band but he definitely has the worst plot out of the whole group. So basically he and his brother both liked the same girl back in the day. Kuro was slow to make his move though so his brother confessed and they got married. Fine, good show. Well played by the bro. Kuro should now move on since the girl is no longer an option right? Wrong and that’s the cringe part. Kuro still likes her and even asks her out at one point and confesses his feelings.

That’s a big no no. One of the most basic rules of romance is that as soon as someone is married that’s game over. Honestly, even while dating that person should be off your radar but even more so when marriage has occurred. This was easily the worst romance in the entire series and I couldn’t wait for it to be gone. Of course that inevitably means it had to be replaced with a rebound story arc.

A new girl joins the band near the very end of the series who ends up liking Kuro. It’s certainly convenient for the guy since he needed a rebound at this point. She doesn’t have a lot of character beyond just being added in to finish the romance plots. Her personality is that she tends to play things very cool and not show much emotion but bottling it in like that ends up hurting her on quite a few occasions. A running theme in the series is definitely not to hold everything in and to cry as needed otherwise the characters always end up breaking down.

There are also two adult characters who get a decent sized role here. First is Yana who is the manager for the main band. He’s definitely very good at his job and is always busy booking lots of different gigs for the heroes. Without him they would definitely be quite lost. He’s also got a competitive streak against him and always responds when Momo’s team challenges him. Then you have Kuze who effectively has the same role for Momo’s team. She’s always ready to psychoanalyze him and stay one step ahead of Momo. She’s the only one who consistently flusters him because everyone else is too scared of the guy to talk tough.

There are a few side characters as well like a group of up and coming music stars who also get involved. They made for decent rivals even if I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan of them. We did have a fun duel between Nino and one of the singers near the end of the series as she tries to keep up with them in a pretty meta battle about proving that she could sing with the best. She has the volume for it but this is in more of a tempo sense. She can’t just sing loud but has to be able to create an opening and take the lead.

Anonymous Noise definitely treats its music very seriously. It was fun to hear the actual songs in the anime while of course the manga is limited by trying to visually show what it would sound like. You can picture the metal aspect though based on the costumes and how her voice is always supposed to be eat splitting. Quite a few times her voice ends up breaking down so she is simply shouting into the audience but the fans seem to love this so it works out.

Now while the series is very serious, I should mention there can still be light hearted moments and some humor now and again. These scenes are just easy to forget with all the drama going on but this is still a light hearted series at its core. The main characters laugh a lot and get to really enjoy their youth. They make the most of their experiences abroad with the singing careers and even develop solid bonds with each other. By the end of the series everyone is really on good terms with each other.

The series probably could have just lost a few volumes in order to cut out some of the extra drama though. Some characters seem to go back and forth a whole lot before settling down so you could easily cut out a few of the fake outs and that would get things to the point quicker. A certain break up involving the main heroine always comes to mind since it still feels like that was completely unnecessary. So the weakest element in the series is the romance itself.

Now you may be wondering, was this a good series overall though? I would still say yes, the writing is on point and you are engaged with what is going on. While I wasn’t on board with the romance, it also wasn’t bad enough where I would deduct serious points away or anything like that. Kuro’s plot is the only one that would be enough to shave a star off because that was just crazy. You’ll still be blasting through each volume as you arrive at the end of the series. The competitions are always a blast and if anything you wish we could have had more of those. Battle of the Bands is always worth the wait. So in the end, Anonymous Noise is a journey that is worth experiencing. It isn’t the best Shojo or anything like that but it holds its own.

The artwork is also pretty solid. The artist is good at giving everyone a lot of expressions and from letting the characters look too similar. The only time it can be hard to recognize the characters is when they’re in the disguises since a lot of those look so similar. It’s part of the point of having the disguises in the first place though so I’ll cut the series some slack there. I would say the art does the job.

Overall, Anonymous Noise is a good series that gets bogged down by some unnecessary plot lines. We really didn’t need nearly as many romances as what we got. There were rebounds all around so I wouldn’t trust any of the characters. You would never know if you were the first choice or just the runner up. Just about every character in the series had to settle for their second option which is not a very satisfying place to be in. I will say that the final pages of the series were solid though. At least one character dynamic was really solid there and it’s the kind of closing relationship I’d like to see more of in these titles.

Overall 6/10