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

The Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts


Definitely a unique premise for this one. It’s sort of like Beauty and the Beast to an extent. I’m going to need to see this manga go further to see if it really has potential. I’ll have a review for the series up once I finish it.

Overall 5/10

Queen’s Quality


I got to start the sequel to QQ Sweeper. I’m still not sure why the series just ended and re-started almost immediately, but it is what it is. It’s off to a decent start so far. The art isn’t amazing, but so far the rest of the manga keeps the series in the green. I’ll have a review for it when I’ve finished the series.

Overall 6/10

Arisa Review


To think, I started this manga all the way back in 2011. It’s been 9 years and so I decided to re-start the series from scratch and marathoned the series all the way to the end. It’s definitely a very solid mystery thriller as I remembered from my earlier visits. It does sputter a bit during the end though. It was close to getting a solid 8 but I just had to take away a star by the end because the cast were starting to all shoot themselves in the foot by the end. You’ll definitely be glued to each volume as you await the ending though.

The manga starts by introducing us to Tsubasa who is a pretty good fighter. She’s so strong that the guys think of her as one of the gang and the other classmates end up being scared of her. It’s a fun life though and Tsubasa is excited to finally be seeing her twin sister Arisa for the first time in years. After their parents split up Tsubasa stayed with her Dad while Arisa went with the Mom. Tsubasa and Arisa have a great time chatting with each other, but then the next morning Arisa jumps out the window and falls into a coma. Tsubasa decides to impersonate Arisa and find out what was going on at school. The only hint she has is that it has something to do with “King Time.”

King Time is a period every Friday where the class gets together and they all make a wish on their phones. A mysterious being known as the King will then grant one of those wishes. While it started out as harmless fun like granting a good test score or baking a cake, the wishes have become drastically more dangerous since then. With people being bumped off one by one, Tsubasa has to put a stop to this. As you can see there is a lot of plot going on.

Arisa does a good job of throwing a lot of red herrings at you so it’s hard to figure out just who the villain is. I’m thinking you’ll probably have it figured out by volume 4-5 but if you double guess yourself then maybe a little later. There are a lot of credible suspects here after all so you really have to think long and hard about who you want to pick. Part of why I was able to throw myself into the series so fullly and just blast through all of the volumes was because the story is just so good. As I mentioned earlier, it’s just a very engaging series and that’s one of the reasons why this is a terrific series. It’s easily one of the very best Shojo titles that I’ve read.

The art is very clear and the character designs are unique which is always a good thing. The twins look similar but that makes sense of course. There is only one panel in the series where I wasn’t sure exactly who was talking in the final volume. I think it was the mother, but it’s a little hard to say. Hopefully it wasn’t because the scene would make her look pretty bad to be honest. This is definitely top tier art all around though and the author does a good job of keeping the mystery fresh for 12 volumes. I was wondering how it would last all the way to 12 pretty early on because it always felt like the series was pretty close to wrapping up. Granted, the ending volumes did really hurt 2 volumes so they didn’t all get away without injury.

Lets talk about the character cast. First up is Tsubasa who is definitely a very solid main character. Without her determination in finding out what was going on things definitely would have gotten very dicey for the rest of the class. She has to do a lot of the groundwork on her own and in the process she puts her own academic career in jeopardy. Despite these real threats and knowing that she is in personal danger, Tsubasa never wavers. She really just makes one main mistake and the series missed the boat with her on one thing. For her mistake, it’s the fact that Tsubasa falls for Midori and doesn’t try to shut down these feelings for very long.

Keep in mind that Midori is dating her twin sister Arisa. Under no circumstances should she even entertain the thought of getting together with him. Look, you can’t stop yourself from falling for someone entirely if that person is simply your type. What you can do is stop yourself from actually pursuing such a desire though. Just accept that it will always be a one way crush and keep the feelings buried until you get over it. The instant Tsubasa lost sight of this she did in fact betray Arisa and someone even calls her out on this. Tsubasa is sorry for what she did, but it was a massive mistake all the same.

Where the series missed some opportunities here is in the fact that Tsubasa is a good fighter. She’s portrayed as being very strong and yet when it’s crunch time she ends up losing without much of a fight like any other Shojo heroine. She is defeated numerous times in the series and never fights back when it really counts. The series could have dropped the whole storyline of her being a fighter and nothing would really change. I would have liked to have seen her get out of some of these situations on her own without assistance. The only moment this was handled well was against Kudo. It’s not a huge deal, but it is noticeable and does limit Tsubasa’s character. This review is basically spoiler free, but the next paragraph may still hint at things that you would rather not know. If you want to be absolutely sure to avoid spoilers then skip the next 3 paragraphs. Then skip the next 2 paragraphs after that which are total spoilers. So skip 5 paragraphs total or just look for the next image. It’s safe to start reading right after that. I figured that by putting the spoiler warning at the end of this paragraph it would give you time to get out and not hit the spoiler by mistake. You out? Last chance…..here we go!

Then you have Arisa. Now she is a pretty complex character and after thinking about her opening scene again the ending does mesh to an extent. Arisa really has 3 personas. The first is the one we learn about from Tsubasa and through everyone else. She is a very nice character who always does her best to help everyone out. Arisa is nice to a fault to the point where everyone only has nice things to say about her. She just seems like the perfect character. Then you’ve got the Arisa we got to see for one chapter with Tsubasa. She seemed to live up to this image but then we get the scene where she throws herself out of the window to despair while saying that Tsubasa is the one who had the perfect life. This does hint at some resentment since she waited til Tsubasa was around to do this which would mentally mess Tsubasa up for life. Then we have Arisa from when she wakes up.

Arisa is a lot meaner than you may expect. She gives everyone the cold shoulder and sides with the King the whole time. Even after she explains herself later on it doesn’t really excuse her. She is complicit at the very least to putting Tsubasa’s life in danger by making the wish to get rid of her. She makes things very tough on someone who is already dying of a heart condition and is generally an obstacle getting in everyone’s way. I really didn’t like Arisa which was surprising and part of why I didn’t care for the last few volumes. She comes across as short sided and needlessly mean. Arisa doesn’t even have a plan to justify this so Tsubasa is forced to step up once again and fix things. It’s just a shame because Arisa seemed like such a great character in the flashbacks. At the end of each volume is a short story and I read pretty much all of em. In one of them Arisa ends up pretending to be Tsubasa for a day to help her sister’s school rep and saves the day. That’s the Arisa I was expecting to see and she never showed up.

It is clever from a writing standpoint as it does follow the theme of the series. We saw the part of Arisa that everyone else saw and were then hit with the rude awakening of her real personality. Again, part of it is to keep everyone else safe and Arisa is never portrayed as being a total villain, but she just makes a lot of bad decisions. Maybe the old Arisa was never truly real or maybe she was buried after meeting up with Midori. Either way I missed that version of Arisa and if I could change anything about the manga I would just make it so that she didn’t wake up until the final volume. Maybe have a few chapters with her explaining to Tsubasa that she tried to end King Time and after not being able to think of anything figured that by eliminating herself that would stop Midori’s plan. We could have at least salvaged her character that way. I just don’t think Arisa waking up so soon was a good move.

Then we have Midori who I definitely wasn’t a fan of. The guy has a sob story of his own which is pretty sad, but still not an excuse for turning into a total psycho. He wants to free Arisa from her mother since Arisa apparently would confide in him a lot about how she was feeling insecure. It’s too bad that he takes everything to the extreme. In the most zoomed out of lens point of view you can see how he had a good intent to protect her, but then it totally morphed into something evil. He openly manipulated her so I don’t buy any kind of justification that he was trying to help her. Then even if it was part of his plan he does flirt with Tsubasa and cheats on Arisa so you can’t cut him any more slack at that point.

The guy tries to murder people many, many times. There’s just no goodness in him so it’s hard to buy the ending of the series. He should be serving hard time for a very long time and Arisa shouldn’t be so quick to forgive him. It’s great that they can forgive him of course, but it’s easy to do so when they got out okay. What about all of the students who had their lives permanently crushed thanks to him? There were quite a few victims before Tsubasa was able to step in and they don’t have the fortune of being a main character with plot armor.

Along the journey of trying to solve the mystery Tsubasa ends up helping a few other characters through their plots. One such character is Mariko who is supposed to be Arisa’s best friend. It’s hard to imagine how they got together though since Mariko is an incredibly obsessive character who is not very heroic at all. Mariko enjoys tormenting others and I would argue that she goes so far down into villain territory that she never truly returns. I wasn’t able to buy into her redemption arc and just didn’t like her. As a villain you could make the case that she was more sinister than the others. Even in the bonus story that takes place after she was supposedly redeemed she ends up being rather menacing. Fortunately it was to another villain but otherwise things were going to get out of hand again.

Then you have Shizuka who blames Akira for the loss of her legs. Now this is a tragic backstory that I can buy into because she was viciously hazed and nobody helps her. I have to blame Akira and Arisa a lot on this one. This is a case where Arisa seems to be completely complicit in what was happening. Maybe she was also tricked or maybe not, but the fact remains that the outcome really sucked for Shizuka. She had to put up with more pain than anyone else in the series. Sure, she did get tricked but the circumstances were pretty believable compared to the others and I did feel bad for her. Shizuka fortunately gets a happy ending because she’s already been through enough.

Kudo is a transfer student who arrives later on in the series. Unfortunately he is one of the most gullible characters in the series. The guy believes whatever he is told and just obeys orders. I want to like the guy since he has a good character motivation and origin story but he really should have questioned what he was hearing a little more if you ask me. He’s also like Mariko in that he falls into the purely evil territory. The guy knew what he was doing and actually did try directly murdering Tsubasa so that’s that.

Then we have Tsubasa’s supporting characters who don’t get to appear all that much. It’s too bad because they all seemed to be solid characters. In particular Tsubasa’s best friend gets a very small role and I was expecting him to be a major player at some point. The other guys in Tsubasa’s gang are all very loyal and I was glad that she had some friends who could fight. If anything she should have leaned on them a little more to help her through the issues that were going on. We really only get to see them more in the bonus stories.

Then there is Akira who is the main guy here. He’s solid and isn’t a sucker like the rest of the class. He’s at least trying to solve the mystery of the King. He’s not perfect and I do blame him for Shizuka’s fate, but for the most part he makes the right choices. Unlike Tsubasa, he likes Arisa who is already taken but has enough resolve not to actually try and make a move. He ultimately learns to appreciate her as a friend which is the right thing to do. Having Akira along for the ride is really helpful since it makes it more difficult for the King to try and bump Tsubasa off. Akira still does get knocked out pretty easily but he’s probably the only character aside from Tsubasa who actually digs up some clues so that’s good.

While Arisa/Tsubasa’s Mom doesn’t get to appear all that much I have to say that she was a character who was really mis-handled. I always got the impression that she was a pretty nice person even if the manga never outright stated that. I guess the parents did get divorced so they may not have been the best people or they just didn’t mesh well. Still, everything we saw indicated that the parents were good and yet at the end she appears to be pretty defensive and distant. Arisa didn’t have as happy a life as we thought. Then there is one panel where she seems to be downright rude, but that’s a panel where I couldn’t be 100% sure that it was her. Regardless she didn’t believe her daughter when it counted so she loses points there. She’s another character who probably just shouldn’t have appeared at the end if this is how her plot was going to go down.

There’s a lot to talk about with this series and I think that’s due in part to the fact that this is a mystery series. There’s just a lot to unpack as a result. I think a good amount of credit also needs to be given to the writing in the series. It’s just so engaging that you want to talk about what you just read. I’d be down with a sequel series at some point, but this is really the kind of title where it’s really hard to make a sequel. Either it’ll have a new threat that feels a bit redundant or it’ll be more of a classic slice of life. The latter makes more sense and could be a lot of fun just to see the old characters, but I suppose it isn’t really necessary.

Overall, Arisa is a very solid series. I just questioned a lot of the final decisions in the manga. The ending isn’t too satisfying for me, but it’s always hard to make an ending that pleases everyone. You will also have to throw logic out the window to an extent for a lot of the series as the grown ups never find out what is happening or step in to stop the chaos. After a certain point you would just expect some kind of investigation or a way for things to move forward. Well, I’ve seen bigger leaps in logic. Definitely check this series out either way and be prepared for a fun time.

Overall 7/10

I Am Here Review


It’s time to look at a pretty short romance series. It’s a fun little read that I could recommend. At the same time, some of the characters can get a little tricky which I’ll get into in a moment. I’d say that the main takeaway here is that you can’t always trust the advice you get, but some of it will be legit. You gotta then act on it or the whole thing will have been a waste. It’s a tough situation for the lead for sure, but at least she has supportive characters at the ready.

So Hikage has never really stood out in school. People don’t notice her which makes her sad since she would like to have some friends. However it isn’t that everyone at school is mean, they just don’t notice her because Hikage is always hiding. It’s a bit of a loop as Hikage is too scared to approach anyone and nobody can approach her because she’s always hiding. Fortunately Hikage has two online friends who are always cheering her on. They encourage her to go and make a friend. Hikage takes a chance and actually manages to catch the attention of the two most popular guys at school. This leads to troubles with their respective fanclubs, but Hikage is determined to finally become a more pro-active person.

The message here is pretty good about escaping your shell and joining the rest of the world. Hikage is also less exaggerated in this regard than you would expect from most other leads. It’s handled pretty realistically and she seems like a nice person. Perhaps a little indecisive but that’s also something she tries to improve on as the series continues. While she’s not going to be a scene stealer nor is she my favorite character in the series I can’t really say that there is anything wrong with her. She’s just not really my kind of character.

Hinata is the main guy and his whole gimmick is that he’s really nice. He’s also the most popular kid in school because of how oblivious he is. The guy just wants to make everyone happy and fortunately for Hikage they seem to have a connection. He’s a little too oblivious though which holds him back a little. He really doesn’t notice what is going on around him and as a result is left in the dust at times. He should really have a clue as to what’s going on considering what he knows of Hikage but I suppose I should cut him some slack.

Then you have Teru who is Hinata’s best friend. Naturally that means he shouldn’t even try to start anything with Hikage because best friends don’t do that…right? It would be pretty sketchy and unfortunately the manga goes down that road which is unfortunate. I would have loved for Teru to have stayed as just a loyal friend to Hikage. It would have been a much nicer dynamic as well as a fresher one since the two main guys always happen to fall for the same person. This inevitably leads to a falling out between them which is unfortunate. I have to put all of the blame for this on Teru though. He gracefully chose not to pursue Hikage so to go back on that is basically a betrayal. I was disappointed in his character for doing something so underhanded.

As for Hikage’s online friends, they’re pretty reasonable. You’ve got Black Rabbit who is the nice one. He’s always encouraging Hikage and tries to keep her spirits up. Black Rabbit even gets a spinoff story at the end of the series where we see his point of view. Then you’ve got Mega Pig who is a little more direct and to the point. He wants to help Hikage as well, but speaks his mind and doesn’t beat around the bush. In general Mega Pig gives better advice even if it isn’t quite as calming. He tells you what you need to hear vs what you actually want to hear.

I Am Here isn’t a very subtle series though so you can probably guess most of what is going to happen right away. From all of the twists I’d say that only one of them really worked. One character’s plot didn’t end exactly like how I expected it to. For the rest this one is really going by the books which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d say that the writing is pretty good here for the most part. You’ll be engaged enough to keep going and will want to see what happens next.

I also enjoyed the art for the series. It looks pretty clear and the artist doesn’t draw characters too similar in appearance so you don’t have to worry about mixing them up. That’s always the kind of thing that will make me drop the grade of the art. As it stands you won’t really have a problem trying to understand what will happen next.

The weakest part of the manga is definitely the romance though. First we have Hikage’s side of the story. She’s already with Hinata so as soon as Teru tries to get into the picture she should shut him down right away. In this case she was oblivious for most of it, but once she realized what was happening she should have flat out declined him. It may have made him sore for a while, but it was the right move. Then you have Teru who knew what he was doing from the start. He should have simply gave up on Hikage since he made his move way too late. Once the girl is taken that should be it. You can’t try to steal someone away. Even if you succeed you have to live with the fact that if you stole her away so easily then someone else can do the same. The only innocent one here is Hinata even if he’s fairly bland.

The plot of Hinata and Teru getting into it is also a bit iffy. They’ve been friends for ages so I like to think they should have figured out the plot a lot quicker than they did. I guess they were blinded by their emotions and all that but I feel like they still shouldn’t have jumped the gun this quickly. I suppose I should mention that there is a villain here. She tries her best to mess up Hikage’s life after being knocked out of the inner circle. It gets a little cheesy by the end, but I suppose she was a decent villain. Her plan may not have been amazing but it worked pretty well so you gotta give her some credit there.

Another thing I liked about the manga is that the classmates are actually realistic this time around. When they see that people are messing with Hikage later on they step in. They may not have done anything at first, but later on they are at least active participants. That’s a big upgrade from the usual guys who just stand around shaking their heads as things happen. These guys would actually talk even if they were super gullible during other scenes.

Overall, I Am Here is a decent manga. The romance definitely isn’t all that good, but otherwise it’s a decent story. It’s pretty short since there are only 2 volumes, but they’re large ones so a lot of content is still covered. I think the story would have been more interesting if it had gone in different directions but it is what it is. At the end of the day it still had an interesting dynamic with the online friends and there are enough unique aspects here to separate it from other Shojo titles. If it ever gets a sequel series I expect Hikage to take charge and be the confident lead she was meant to be.

Overall 6/10