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

The Earl and the Fairy Review


This is one of those manga titles that I certainly had not heard about before reading. It’s sort of like an old school Sherlock Holmes title only with a lot of supernatural fairies running around. It’s a quick 4 volume read that roughly covers two arcs. There’s always a lot going on and there’s a rather big cast of characters running around although I suppose not all of them get a super big focus or anything like that.

The series starts by introducing us to Lydia. She is a Fairy Doctor. Unfortunately, most people don’t believe in fairies so she has a reputation for being rather crazy. She doesn’t let this bother her though and just continues about her business as usual. Lydia is tricked into getting onto a ship where there are a lot of different factions after her. There’s a gentleman who says he needs her help since a bunch of troublemakers are on the ship and they may even have her father captive. Then you have a guy called Edgar who was getting beaten up but admits he is actually the Legendary Blue Knight, Earl Edgar. Lydia doesn’t know who to trust.

Both of these guys seem extremely suspect and her father never really shows up in time as it is. If she chooses the wrong side she will likely end up dead. Hopefully her fairy abilities will lead her in the right direction. She does have a fairy cat named Nico but unfortunately he isn’t much of a fighter so if the humans attack there isn’t really much that he can do. The first arc is mainly about this quest which is around 2-2.5 volumes. Ultimately she does side with Edgar who goes on to become the main guy of the series.

Then you have the second arc which is a little more low key. The heroes make it to a more formal part of society where a girl is really after Edgar. His flirty nature takes over so Lydia runs off to sulk. Unfortunately she ends up losing in a battle against one of the fairies and gets her soul stolen. Edgar must now find her before it’s too late. Her body can’t live for long without a soul after all so if he is too slow then she will cease to exist. The stakes are naturally quite high here but on more of a personal level.

While the final chapter feels like it has to move quite rapidly there was enough time to tell both stories here. The second one feels a lot smaller but it’s still pretty solid. Edgar finally starts acting a little more like a good guy since even by the end of the first adventure you’ll probably be quite skeptical. Even here I wouldn’t buy into his excuses about needing to be flirty to stay in character. If he likes Lydia then he should stop messing around.

Due to that, I wouldn’t say I ever ended up liking the guy. He can be a bit rough also and was willing to sacrifice Lydia on several occasions. Those aren’t the kind of things you can just look over so you feel like there should be no way they can possibly end up together. Surely she will remember all of that clear as day right?

As you can guess, I didn’t buy into the romance here between Lydia and Edgar. There’s also Ermine who likes Edgar as well but you know from the start that she is absolutely doomed. While Lydia’s skills as a fairy doctor are good, she does make quite a few mistakes when dealing with Edgar. It’s a shame that Nico can’t fight since that would at least even up the odds. Lydia’s a nice character who means well but ends up being completely out of her depth.

The best character would probably be Raven. He’s rather emotionless so he doesn’t always know how to act but he is the best fighter in the series. When needed he can take down as many opponents as required to give Lydia and Edgar safe passage into the next room. He’s a trained assassin from when he was a kid so he’s borderline super-human in the present.

Ermine doesn’t get a huge role but she was a good character as well. Things just never really seem to go her way but from Edgar’s main team she certainly had more compassion than the others right from the start. She actually felt human while the others would focus on just doing the most logical thing at the time.

Then from the second arc you have the main princess who chased after Edgar and was cursing her friend with the fairy. Of course she pulls the whole “I didn’t mean it tho” speech but she was easily the weakest character of the second arc. You can’t just put your friend in mortal danger and then not do anything about it. Even by the end she didn’t want to go and help since it would hurt her reputation. Yeah, you definitely can’t come back from a string of scenes like that. I was surprised that even by the end she wouldn’t do the right thing. If she said it was because she was scared that would be (a tiny bit) better.

As for the art, I’d say it looked pretty good. Edgar and the other guy from the first story do look rather similar but that may have been intentional to make it a little more difficult to determine who Lydia should go with. This is hardly an action series so don’t expect a lot of fights but the action scenes we do get are pretty solid. Whenever a character brings out a gun you can bet that there are going to be a lot of intense panels around that.

The series really flies by since it’s so fast. On one hand that means we don’t really get to finish a lot of the lore and concepts brought up in the series. Don’t expect to really get to any truths behind the Blue Knight lore or meeting up with the King of the Fairies. In general the manga feels more like an introduction to the series which makes sense since there are many more novels than there are manga volumes. In theory I suppose this would help you go to read them next.

I could see this going for a Natsume’s Book of Friends kind of vibe long term once the characters mellow out. Perhaps not quite as laidback as all that but with episodic stories about the fairies and such it could have that kind of vibe. We’ve seen an evil fairy that could fight so next I want to see a heroic one that can flaunt his powers. Giving Nico a huge power up would also be great.

The writing for the series is on point even if none of Edgar’s inner monologues really help me sympathize with the guy. We do learn a lot about his past as well as Raven’s and Ermine’s. The trio definitely didn’t have a great time of it and had to commit a lot of crimes in order to get out of there. It’s part of why they won’t hesitate very much in the present either since they’ve really been hardened at this point.

Overall, The Earl and the Fairy is a good manga. It’s one of those titles where I definitely couldn’t buy into the romance though. As the “mean” guy, Edgar goes a little too far so you just can’t root for him. The art is good though and the base stories are on point. The heroes definitely live in a very corrupt world but fortunately they don’t dwell on it compared to something like Black Butler or things could get dicey. If I were Lydia I would have just gone home after the first arc but hopefully as she goes on more missions she will be able to gain more fairies and maybe even get some power ups along the way. That would definitely help her in future situations like this. If you end up reading the series and liking it then you’ll probably want to try and find an English scanned version of the novels to continue the saga.

Overall 6/10

Anonymous Noise


This manga utilizes masks even before COVID came out so it’s definitely interesting to see the main character rocking the mask ahead of time. The series is off to a good start so far with a pretty engaging plot even if the main character has a tendency to completely ignore everyone for kicks. I’ll have a review for the series up when I’ve finished it. I’m expecting a big battle of the bands to end the series with.

Overall 7/10

Fruits Basket Season 2 Review


Fruits Basket has returned and really picks up right where it left off. To the point where it can be easy to mix up events from both seasons so won’t have any trouble getting into the action. The first season was definitely pretty solid. It was a good slice of life drama with Tohru helping quite a lot of characters deal with their issues. Ultimately she helped a lot but was not able to actually fix their circumstances quite yet. In this season Tohru works even more to find out about the Zodiac curse. It does feel like we’re approaching the end here as several characters have effectively completed their character arc now. It won’t be much longer until they are all set.

It’s a bit hard to give this show a direct plot synopsis though. There are a ton of little mini arcs here and even stand alone episodes since so many characters have their own subplots at work. I suppose the basic premise is about Tohru finally deciding to end the curse but not being sure exactly how to do that. After all, all of the Sohma family members want to break the curse but it’s still around and they haven’t found out much of anything about it. It’s not the kind of curse you can just snap in an instant after all. So in lieu of a more general plot synopsis I’ll talk about some of the mini arcs in general.

In season 2 the student council gets more of a role which is fun. Their episodes with Yuki are always a lot of fun and make for a pretty solid meanwhile plot. Of the members naturally the leader Manabe is the best one but the group as a whole works well. First you have Sakuragi who gets the smallest role of the group and is probably the least friendly. He gets worked up a lot more than the others and just doesn’t appreciate all of the shenanigans going on. He thinks the student council should be working like a well oiled machine but I can say now I don’t think that was ever part of the plan.

Then you have Kimi who basically just likes flirting with everyone for fun. She’s a pretty cheerful character who gives the council a lot of energy. Kimi is pretty charismatic so whenever she is around the scene tends to be fun. Then there is Machi who is having a tough time with this gig. She’s not exactly one of the more outgoing members of the group. She tends to stay silent and keep to herself at all times. She gets her own plot in this season as we see her backstory and she starts to get past this. Machi is a solid enough character.

Then we have Manabe and that guy’s just a blast. Pretty much every scene is him proving why he should be the Council President. He’s the leader but technically Yuki has that job. Manabe is able to defuse pretty much any situation really quickly. He likes to take life on the fast lane and doesn’t really worry about things the way Yuki does. Manabe just goes with the flow and has a lot of fun in the process. He’s also around to listen whenever Yuki needs to talk about things. It’s clear that Manabe is a lot more intelligent than he allows others to believe and just acts in whatever role will help the other succeed. He has quickly become the best character in the series. The guy’s role may be smaller than most of the Zodiac members but he does well with it.

The Student Council episodes serve as development for the members but also for Yuki. While Machi is slowly going through her character realizations, Yuki is also coming to terms with his life. He finally realizes the truth about how he views Tohru which is nice. Not a lot of series deal with this but just because you think you might be in love with someone doesn’t mean you are. Now, he does mention faking it for some scenes but I’m not sure I quite buy that. I think he just didn’t really realize it until this point. It’s similar to the hero scenario where someone saves your life so you think you are in love with them now. I’d say in a lot of action movies this happens unironically with the character never realizing it. Yuki going in a different direction is likely the biggest event of the season and in a way I would say Yuki’s plot is now 100% closed. He has come to terms with his parents, his brother, Kyo, and Tohru. Even his relationship with Akito is basically finalized now. They’re not exactly friends, nor will they ever be but I’d say they have both said their piece at this point.

Naturally Kyo gets a lot of attention as well. He’s gone to the point where he has completely decided not to let anyone in his life. Kyo’s not quite as battle hungry as he was in season 1 either which also shows how he has been improving. Yuki doesn’t set him off the way he used to and Kyo’s a little more okay with acting nice to Tohru. Of course the two still occasionally fight and Tohru’s always ready to break it up. Kyo’s seeing things from a different lens now and it works well. Of course he still does have his aggressive personality such as giving everyone a tough time at the play but after all of the grumbling he still heads in to do his part. At the end of the day Kyo is someone you can count on and from the main guys I still think he’s a more enjoyable character than Yuki. Both are strong characters with deep character arcs, but I’d just say Kyo’s consistently won out.

Tohru appears constantly so it goes without saying that she gets more screen time and development here. The show is now at the point where it has enough characters that she doesn’t have to appear at all moments but she is still the lead for a reason. We finally found out who actually gave her the cap as a child even if she doesn’t know. Tohru gets to be very proactive in this season as she actively heads to the Sohma estate and does a lot of ground work for the investigation. It’s always nice to see because you shouldn’t wait for the answers to come to you. In a case like this with everyone trying to hide the truth, that means you’re going to need to ask some of the tough questions.

Shigure continues to troll everyone and hide a lot of what he knows. While I always appreciate the fact that he is the only character who ever talks back to Akito and mess with the villain, you can’t call him a good guy by any stretch. By this point Shigura’s inaction is just becoming antagonistic to the point where he doesn’t have anyone’s back. He basically gets in the way of the investigation as well. His poor editor doesn’t show up much this time but he’s not exactly reliable as an author either. At least he gives the main characters a place to stay I suppose.

Arisa and Saki don’t get to do much this time around. As Tohru’s friends they do maintain a presence here of course but that’s about it. Arisa has her whole troubled romance plot still going but it seems like that will be resolved in the third season. We do get some moments on it here though like Arisa finally breaking down and begging Kureno to come back. Kureno has a pretty big role in this season though as we see exactly why he continues to put distance between them. As a Sohma he has his own drama to deal with after all. He is the one always with Akito so as it is the guy doesn’t have a whole lot of freedom. Unfortunately I would have to say that he is one of the worst members of the group. Precisely because of the fact that he could be helping out a ton.

A lot of the Sohma are in pretty tough spaces. There’s not a whole lot they could do to help their situations. Throughout the series they get the strength needed to make their situation better but it was an uphill battle. In Kureno’s case you really can’t compare his trials to the others. He basically makes things tougher on himself but he reasonably could have done a whole lot. I also don’t buy into his reasoning for staying and being shackled. He should have at least told everyone what he knew. Kureno was also in a good position to prevent Akito from going off the deep end by using his avenue to escape as leverage. The guy didn’t do any of that so I definitely did not like him in the slightest.

A pair of characters who got a pretty big role here were Rin and Hatsuharu. Rin basically missed season 1 so this was her chance to make a name for herself. She basically starts off by dumping Hatsu, insulting Tohru, and threatening Shigure so it’s a solid start. She wants to end the curse at any cost but insists on doing it alone. She’s built a wall between herself and the rest of the Sohma. Rin does deserve some credit for getting out from under Akito’s gaze though. The villain basically doesn’t mess with her anymore which has to be great. Unfortunately Akito did catch her back in the day through a flashback which leads to Rin not doing so well. Once again, Akito just looks way too good.

While Rin has a suitably tragic backstory like everyone else, I do think she took things way too far at every opportunity. Hatsu was a great ally so just pushing him and everyone else away like she did felt pretty forced. Rin just made a lot of unnecessary steps the whole time. She would have been a much more likable character if she had pushed everyone else away but stayed with Hatsu. I feel like that would have made more sense. As for Hatsuharu, he’s definitely a very loyal guy. He’s still got Rin’s back even after all of this. He’s also a good friend to Yuki in this season as he offers a lot of advice the whole time. He tends to be more of a low key character but one who gets the job done.

Naturally we can’t forget about Akito. I have to go on a bit of a tangent here as this is the one part of the show I still can’t buy into. Akito is a seriously ill person who is on death’s door all the time. Akito can barely even more or anything for long before going down with coughs. Yet, every character is deathly afraid of Akito. They all freeze up and allow themselves to be physically assaulted without trying to resist. Tohru got her face scratched, Yuki got a glass slammed on his head, Rin was pushed off a building, Hatori got his eye cut out, etc. Even Kyo allows himself to be pushed around. Whenever Akito talks the rest of the cast suddenly act like they’re Shaggy in a Scooby Doo film with how they tremble and whimper. Akito’s just flat out not that tough.

It’s also worth noting that the Sohma family is incredibly strong politically but it’s not like they will use any physical violence against you. So the characters don’t have to worry about that. They just really overexaggerate this part. You can make the case that this is part of the curse which has power over them but I also don’t buy into that being the case. The characters will occasionally act defensive when something hits a nerve but then go back into getting wrecked mode. The worst instance of this with Akito scarring Tohru while Yuki and Kyo just watched. To date that’s the worst scene in the franchise to be honest.

I have to retroactively take credit away from Kyo and Yuki here as in my season 1 review I wrote that I’m sure they would be able to get over their fear of Akito if it was to protect Tohru. Apparently that was not the case. Akito still continues to dominate everyone but this scene was horrible for both of those characters. Just standing by while she was attacked because they were afraid is the kind of move you don’t want to see any quality character have. It’s not like I’ll say they are bad characters as a result of that but I definitely did lose a lot of respect for them there. Tohru was basically left to fend for herself and it would have been even worse if not for Momoji and Kureno. We learn Akito’s backstory here but none of it makes the character any more likable or sympathetic. Ever since Akito was a child, dealing out pain was always priority number 1. So when you consider that, it still makes Kureno look even worse for not doing anything to correct this path. If the show tries going down the road of redeeming Akito that will definitely be a tough task to accomplish.

Hatori doesn’t get much to do in this season. He mainly reminds Shigure not to do anything crazy. Likewise Kagura and Ayame already got a lot of their character development. It was nice to see Ayame help out with the costumes and such for the festival/play. Ayame is a character who always comes through so you can appreciate that. He may not have done great back in Yuki’s origin but the fact that he continues to try and improve on this is the important thing. Momoji has a quick episode where we get to meet his sister but due to Sohma rules she can never know the truth about them. It’s definitely one of those tragic things but at least if they can continue to meet and stay on friendly terms, Momoji should be able to tell her in a few years once the trouble has died down.

Two common themes in most of the character arcs here is forgiveness and redemption. All of these characters either dealt with relatives or friends who were quite cruel to them originally and have to try and let go of their grudges or starting out not being a great person and trying to come to terms with that. The show balances out the emotions quite well. While on the whole I’d always say Fruits Basket is a pretty light hearted series, it knows when to get serious. You can go from episodes of the characters smashing watermelons or visiting the beach to characters contemplating suicide or being stuck in isolation for large periods of time which permanently scarred their psyche. Sometimes you have an episode that combined both such as the beach visit where everything is super happy until Akito makes a surprise visit to attack Tohru and just embarrass Yuki/Kyo. When a character is having an important moment they are able to do so with a somber tune playing in the background and fairly downcast colors. It’s part of why a character like Manabe can really shine here since he’s great at reading emotions and acts accordingly.

The writing is on point here as well so the origin stories don’t get boring or anything like that. Of course I’ll always have my issues with the Akito stuff and a lot of the characters just not doing anything to actively make their situation better. All that considered, it’s worth saying that Fruits Basket never drags on which is really important. A lesser series would have definitely crumbled under this kind of weight. Either focusing too much on the drama or making things overly sad to the point where the characters don’t have a happy ending or it doesn’t outweigh the past. The series always addresses the past but doesn’t dwell on it which is an important distinction I’d say. For example while Yuki shares his past with Manabe, we get to cut to the present time quite a bit where a soccer game is going on and they have some nice banter. It’s a nice contrast there.

Fruits Basket has quality animation as you would expect. All of the scenery is on point and the character designs are good. The whole thing is fairly low key as the show isn’t doing anything crazy to show the animation off but it always looks consistent. You won’t be finding anything off model or low budget here. It’s just all on point as you would expect it to be. For the soundtrack of course you have a lot of emotional themes here. I would say they are pretty good although it would be difficult for me to remember specific ones off the top of my head.

Overall, Fruits Basket Season 2 continues to move the series along at a good pace. There is a ton of ground that gets covered in these 20+ episodes as every character got to have some time to shine. It’s still hard for me to take Akito seriously and everyone constantly bowing to him can really be something else. With Tohru as a quality lead throughout I can only assume that season 3 will continue the solid streak of seasons for Fruits Basket and end things off on a high note. Even though the Student Council plots all seem to be complete, I’m hoping they still get another episode. Manabe just steals the show and their episodes tend to be some of the most entertaining ones in the whole anime. Fruits Basket has definitely been a really solid adaption of the manga, making the story a lot more interesting in this format. It’ll be a shame to see it go but maybe not Fruits Basket Another will finally be able to get an anime adaption of its own like everyone has been waiting for.

Overall 7/10

Prétear Review


It’s time to look at a magical girl anime from the not so distant past. I haven’t seen a whole lot of titles from the genre but they tend to be pretty solid. This one’s no exception and makes for a good adventure. It’s not really trying to do anything particularly special and just tries to hit all the usual beats for what you would expect. So that means the show just has to execute well and I’d say that Pretear manages to do this. The show really ends before you know it and we get our good share of fight scenes.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Leafe Knights. They protect the world from demons and such that seek to suck the life out of the world. They operate in secret but have slowly been losing ground to the enemy. What they need is to find the legendary Pretear who is a teenage girl living somewhere on Earth. That leads us to Himeno whose father recently married into a rich family so now she has two step sisters and a step mom to get along with. Himeno really does her best to fit in but unfortunately her new family is not very receptive to her at all. Himeno never allows herself to get down about it though. One day a monster attacks and the Leafe Knights confirm that Himeno is their champion.

Himeno is a little reluctant to join at first but after getting insulted by Hayate she decides to become the Pretear. The only issue is that transforming is a little more awkward here as she has to merge with one of the guys to actually use her powers. Effectively which guy she merges with determines what element her abilities are. From there on she is tasked with destroying monsters as they appear but is there more to this than they are telling her? The Leafe Knights appear to be keeping quite a lot of secrets so this won’t be an easy journey for Himeno.

As the show is only 13 episodes it has to move at a pretty steady pace. While it doesn’t take a real dark turn the way Madoka did, we do get a pretty serious plot for the second half of the show that I thought was handled really well. We are introduced to the Princess of Disaster Fenrir. She is a very imposing villain and gave us a real threat. Her design was sharp and I liked her raw power output as well. I do think the series tries to go a little too hard for the emotional beats with her. It’s a little hard to buy into her backstory because she takes the whole thing way too hard. She is also quick on the rebound as well. Fenrir is at her best when she is just being an evil mastermind and messing with everyone. Her debut appearance in particular was really solid as she completely dismantled the team. I dare say that Fenrir did a lot in making the show’s plot pretty interesting.

Pretear is a very focused show which I appreciate. The episodes all tie into each other and something is always happening. There were no episodes that I would consider to be pointless/filler which is good since the title is so short. There is one character that I would consider to be pointless though and that is Yayoi. She’s supposed to be Himeno’s best friend from school but she rarely appears. When she does appear it’s just to talk about crazy ramblings and she really adds nothing to the story. Cutting her out entirely would have been fantastic because her scenes drag on and have no purpose. If you’re not enhancing the story then that’s just a bad thing.

Lets talk about the main character though. Himeno is pretty great. I like her enthusiasm throughout the show. She takes things in stride a lot better than most heroines. I would actually put her above Ichigo (Mew Mew Power), Sailor Moon (From…Sailor Moon), and Sakura (Cardcaptors) because of how resolute Himeno is. She just jumps into action and also proactively tries to get stronger. How many other leads do you see actually training between missions? I can’t think of a single time I saw the others actually training their abilities although it’s possible I’m not recalling their scenes. The point is that Himeno has a pretty tough living situation with characters actively trying to sabotage her and she never takes it personally. She has to put up with quite a lot but always ends up being the bigger person. Gradually this gets through to her new family and then they end up getting alone.

Himeno has some reservations about merging with the others but I don’t blame her there. Actually having to merge with someone doesn’t seem like an easy decision. Additionally it does lead to the show’s only real weak point in that the merging scenes are a bit fanservicey. More so than the other magical girl shows I’d say. It’s nothing too crazy but since she transforms in every episode with the same recycled animation it still does appear quite a bit. A good transformation scene shouldn’t need any fanservice. Just go for full silhouette and you’ll be okay.

Mayune is one of Himeno’s sisters and loves playing tricks on her. Most of the time they’re fairly harmless of course and Himeno dodges them all but that does mean Himeno always has to be on her guard. That’s got to be exhausting after a while. Mawata is the other sister and gets a much larger role. She has had a difficult time of it because she has always had to be the mature and sensible member of the family but that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. She’s naturally very quiet as well so the others don’t really reach out to see how she’s doing. Having this be a main plot in the show was good because we get a satisfying conclusion to it all. Ultimately Mawata doesn’t look great for parts of this but she has a much better excuse than other characters. Overall I thought she left more of an impression compared to most of the cast and she was solid. Definitely a character you can sympathize with.

Kaoru is Himeno’s father and he’s very annoying. For starters he doesn’t notice everyone picking on Himeno at all. He’s played completely for comic relief and is also oblivious to everyone’s insults. It’s great that he’s so in love with Natsue of course but I would have liked him to have been portrayed a little better. He should at least be aware of some of the things going on right? At the end he gets serious but it’s way too late. Meanwhile Natsue seems reasonable. I thought she was going to be portrayed as the extreme step mom but for the most part she’s amiable to Himeno. She may be slightly biased towards the others but it never gets too crazy. She also seems to think Kaoru goes a little too far at times but tries not to let it show.

Hayate is the main Leafe Knight so he gets a huge role. You probably know where his plot is headed the instant the show starts. He has a fun design and is definitely the “toughest” member of the group with how he acts. He’s always got a burn at the ready and doesn’t play nice like the others. In general the Knights are pretty weak without having a Pretear to merge with but at least he puts up a better fight than the others. I thought he worked pretty well. Meanwhile you have Sasami who is the quiet Knight but ends up being the worst one. He just can’t control himself very well and loses sight of what’s the right thing to do. He’s the kind of guy who lets romance end up ruining his life as he throws his morals away for a quick chance. I’ll give the show props for playing the second half straight though. Sasami completely goes in his direction. There’s no way I could forget that so he was one of the worst here but it was unexpected.

The show did a good job of throwing some twists and turns at you. For example there’s one character who is around quite a lot but in a very low key way so when a twist happens you’re pretty impressed. Sasami gets a plotline like that which is handled really well. It also gave Pretear an extra layer compared to what you would have expected and enhances the story quite well. It makes the show more memorable and when you throw in the action scenes you’ve got a solid show. It’s able to shift genres and get quite serious when needed as well.

After the main two Leafe Knights, the rest don’t have a whole lot to do. If anything the show probably had too many of them because the rest never get to do a whole lot. They show up and get their transformation episodes but otherwise they’re mainly around to get wrecked. I think the reason they are here is so we could have a whole team. I wouldn’t say any of them are bad characters though. I didn’t particularly like them much but as far as supporting characters go they served their purpose of being around for moral support. Mr. Tanaka on the other hand is more like Yoyoi in that he could have been cut out. His job in the series is to be the but of everyone’s jokes and to constantly get wrecked by everyone. The show didn’t need him as a comic relief character.

The show’s humor could get a little repetitive in that sense. There’s one running gag where Mayune constantly tries to seduce every guy she meets and this results in the exact same scenes over and over. Once or twice is fine I guess but it happens at least 3 times if not more. I feel like low key this was to save on budget but I dunno. The animation is good I’d say. It’s nothing particularly spectacular or anything but it’s not bad. It’s smooth enough where you can enjoy the fight scenes and the character designs. There’s one scene that is animated a bit oddly as Hayate tries to find Himeno though. We get a scene where he seemingly sees her and isn’t able to save her from a car in time but then later on it seems like that was a red herring and he never saw her. The whole thing was odd but that’s probably more of a directing thing than an animation error. So it’s not anything special but it works well enough.

The soundtrack isn’t too memorable but there was one theme I really liked. I guess I’d call it the danger theme or the Leafe Knight theme since it appears in one of the very first scenes in episode 1. Sadly after that it doesn’t appear much at all but it was good. It started the series off on a high note and let you know that things were getting serious right away. The villains may not have great designs but it quickly let you know that the aliens were ready to invade the planet. Fenrir may be the only big villain but she’s the only one we really need because of how powerful she is. The heroes aren’t ready to deal with someone like her.

Outside of the humor gag that didn’t work, the show’s writing and humor are solid overall. I like the banter with Hayate and Himeno. He definitely feels like a throwback to the classic Shojo hero who would always be rather standoffish with the main character. He insults her quite a lot but they still manage to grow fairly close. Now you knew this was coming but the romance isn’t particularly great though. Himeno seems confused on who she likes for a bit and there are a lot of rebounds happening here. I think you could cut out all of the romance to be sure but it could have been a lot worse. At least the tight script helps to make things work out here.

Overall, Pretear is definitely a really solid magical girl show. I haven’t seen too many in this genre so it was fun to jump on board. It develops the characters pretty quickly and gives us some nice writing and banter as well. The story is very direct and there are actually some twists and turns to keep you interested. If you’re looking for a fun little show to check out then this is definitely a good one to keep an eye on. That’s one thing that is always a lot of fun about shows that are only 12-13 episodes long. It’s easy to jump into them and more often than not the pacing is going to be fantastic because of how fast the plot has to move. Not every show has to be the next big all star and as long as you have solid fundamentals you’ll end up being a good adventure. That’s exactly how Pretear rolls.

Overall 7/10