Barakamon – Review – I Love Calligraphy! だいすき!

“投桃报李,千里鹅毛,

                       相逢恨晚,礼尚往来;

先生小姐别生气,明天带你去看戏,

             我坐椅子你坐地,我吃香蕉你吃皮。 ”

-施海梁 上

The title above is a click bait, and plain bullshit, because I hate calligraphy. I don’t care, alright?

Do you know just how irritating it is to a 7 year old kid to write good calligraphy? With a calligraphy brush?? With “proper” technique??! For goodness’ sake I can’t even hold my pen steady at that time! I just can’t appreciate calligraphy,

Hhhnnnnnnnnggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!
Hhhnnnnnnnnggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

I’m sorry. I know, it’s somehow shameful for an Asian like myself to not do proper calligraphy after 8 years of school syllabus featuring Chinese calligraphy, but I don’t care. I have since thrown away my bottle of ink, destroyed my calligraphy brush (Ah, sweet vengeance…) and burned the limitless amounts of calligraphy training books. I sincerely apologize to my teachers who taught me calligraphy, but nope. I don’t care if we Chinese use to write on bamboo stalks or papyrus paper hundreds of year ago.

And 3 – 4 years after smashing my calligraphy brush with a sledgehammer, I will now be reviewing an anime…about calligraphy.

*Rage intensifies*


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Handa Seishuu is an up-and-coming young, talented calligrapher. He is also handsome, charismatic and unfortunately, a complete klutz. His brash attitude and emotions get the better of him one day, when a critic calls his work “conformistic” and “unoriginal”. He punches the critic and as punishment, he gets exiled to a rural island, far away from his home in Tokyo. Now far away from the comforts of his home while being surrounded by new faces: weird, energetic villagers, he must overcome his own flaws while rediscovering his drive for the art of calligraphy.

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Now, in this review, I will have to ditch my usual plot, settings, characters and, animation and sound format, as I feel it will obscure me from properly explaining the pros and cons of Barakamon.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s begin.


First off, this is a slice of life anime. Slice of life is a phrase used to describe depiction of mundane, everyday lives of characters. What all good slice-of-life anime should have in common would be slow pacing, quirky comedy and most importantly, entertaining settings. However, in recent years, the entertainment value of slice-of-life anime decreases as writers conjure up more and more ridiculous settings in an attempt to keep things fresh, while forgetting the ultimate purpose of entertainment itself in the first place. In fact, some even resort to ecchi, or cute girls, just to keep the sales ratings up. While this phenomena isn’t exactly new in anime, I still find this tactic terribly distasteful nonetheless.

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In that light, Barakamon is in my opinion, the best slice-of-life anime to date. (Tanaka-kun Itsumo Kedaruge being a close second, review here) Why, you ask? Allow me to explain.

1) Entertaining Premise

The majority of Barakamon is set in the rural Gotou islands, away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. The islands are inhabited by old-fashioned people who are sheltered from modern society, thus they do not have the same character traits we would come to expect of our characters. The characters are friendly, very lively, unlike our main protagonist, and have an air of innocence around them. For example, towards the end of the first episode, the villagers go over to the main protagonist’s house to help with his settling-in at his house, much to the surprise of Handa himself. These characters live idle and carefree lives, set the tone of the story, and play a part in the anime’s narrative about life and idleness.

Not only are the characters carefree in nature, the accompanying art style and the backdrops are done with mild watercolour colours with smearing effects, giving off a really tranquil and serene vibe. This artstyle is a breath of fresh air, when compared to the bright, contrasting colours in anime today.

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2) Great, Believable Characters

Barakamon is a slice of life anime, therefore unlike shows of other genres, the characters in this anime don’t have interesting backstories or elaborate narration to explain their motives. Normally, these characters would serve as simple plot devices or comedic relief that don’t really feel like real people. However, most of the characters resemble real people, despite some of them having limited screen time. Take for example, one of the non-recurring characters, Yasuba, an old lady who appears just to deliver a few lines of profound insights on life. Despite her limited screen time, her character design and development feels so real as her actions dictate who she is. The show doesn’t only rely on quirky character traits to draw the audience in, but use subtle hints like actions and narration to help develop the character.

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One standout character would be Kotoishi Naru, a 7-year old child who befriends Handa, the main protagonist, in the beginning of the show. She is a child, through and through, therefore she acts like a child. Brash, loud, naughty, everything you would come to expect from a child. Despite her childish nature, she still plays an integral part to the story. She is what I would call the personification of the carefree nature of the Gotou Islands. She barges into people’s lives without second thoughts, is highly energetic and lively, and provides the unpredictability of a child in the story. There is never a dull moment when Naru is around, which is why this 7 year old child is undoubtedly the best character in the anime.

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The main protagonist on the other hand, feels the most unrelatable in the beginning. He is personification of modern society: shut-in, unsociable, selfish and cold. However, as the story progresses, he is able to grow as a character too, eventually becoming the Sensei the rest of the cast know and love. The only problem I would have with this character though is that sometimes his motivations is not understandable, especially towards the end of the show. At times, he says one thing and yet, does the other, and that kind of ruins the show a teeny bit for me.

3) Good Writing and Pacing

While most slice of life anime these days tend to wander off into nothingness, this show didn’t feel like it was meandering. In fact, it had a slight sense of urgency as the show gives us a glimpse into the life of a calligrapher. He lives and breathes calligraphy, and when he is unable to produce a decent work of art, he becomes desperate. In a sense, that tiny detail in the mostly irrelevant plot is able to give the show it’s drive and propel the story forward.

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I also enjoy the one piece of art per episode format. By the end of each episode, Handa produces a piece of calligraphy which summarizes the events and his emotions throughout the episode, which makes the calligraphy part of the show a lot more enjoyable then I thought it would be. However, towards the end of the show, the writers ditch this format in favour of the plot. The last two episodes quickly loses steam as the show becomes something new altogether. I understand this sudden change in pacing is required to move the story forward, but I felt it could have been a lot better if it was tweaked and modified a little.

Conclusion:

All in all, Barakamon is a masterfully done slice-of-life anime with enjoyable settings, entertaining comedy that didn’t always relying on quirky character traits and an eye opener into the world of Japanese calligraphy. And of course, how can I end a review about Barakamon without mentioning the best child character ever: Kotoishi Naru. Seriously, I would say the show is worth watching just because of this 7 year old child. Despite a few minor setbacks in the writing department, Barakamon is still one of the best, if not THE BEST, slice-of-life anime in the world.

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I’m going to give Barakamon a rating of:

8.51 (Great)


I started watching this show because Handa-kun came out this season, but to be honest, I’m don’t see much of Barakamon in this prequel. The comedy feels somewhat forced and I find the lack of interesting characters really saddening. Is it going to be another slice-of-life comedy anime set in high school? ‘Cause I feel like that’s going to be boring.

Anyway, I’m halfway through rewatching Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, so I can finally give a decent explanation as to why I thought it is the most underrated anime of all. Also, this season’s Alderamin in the Sky is also pretty underrated too, though that’s to be expected because of it’s long name and seemingly bland character design.

Anyway, till the next review, cheerio~

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ReLIFE – Review – Fruitful Second Chances

The world of adults are terrifying. As a grown-up, you have so many things to deal with: societal pressures to conform to, seemingly insurmountable living expenses, and most horrifying of them all, the complex and evil human nature. You no longer can call people out for things you think is wrong, nor can you be free and do whatever you like. In other words, you have to grow up. To survive the world of adults, you must become an adult yourself. But, must you really change? Can’t you just be yourself? Is it really a good thing to be an adult?

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How’s that for something to think about when you go to work today?


ReLIFE is an anime adapted from the ongoing webcomic of the same name and all 13 episodes were aired on Japanese national TV on the 1st of July. It is directed by Tomo Kosaka, who has been a episode director on Axis Power Hetalia, and is produced by TMS Entertainment, which incidentally also producing Orange which premieres this season. It has been quite widely anticipated by Western fans on the Internet, and after finishing the show, I now know why. (Please don’t read it up on Wikipedia, there are a lot of spoilers there.)

Summary:

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ReLIFE revolves around a jobless 27 year old man named Kazaki Arata, who is struggling to make ends meet after quitting his job just after 3 months. Due to him quitting his job after such a short period of time, society do not think highly of him and thus, he is unable to acquire a job easily, so is forced to take up part-time jobs to make ends meet.

However, his job predicament soon ends when he is greeted by a mysterious man, Yoake Ryou who claims to be from the ReLIFE experimentation program. This experiment is aimed to reestablish NEETs (Not in Education, Employment and Training) and shut-ins into society, and to reinvigorate people who has lost faith in society. Yoake offers Kazaki with a second chance at life: a pill that will make him look younger by ten years and a contract to attend highschool for one year as a student. In return, his living expenses will be reimbursed in full by the program and depending on how things go, he may even be offered a job after that one year period.

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Down on his luck and failing to find a job, he hesitantly accepts the offer and attends the third year of highschool as a normal 17 year old student. Along the way, he makes new friends, relive his highschool life and maybe, even find out what went wrong in his life.

Plot:

Have you ever had the feeling that something is terribly wrong with the society? First of all, how is it that our one and only life becomes secondary to earning money? Why is it that our happiness, our life becomes dependent on numbers in your bank account? In the corporate world, hardworking individuals can become tools to be used to achieve a certain goal, and when that goal is achieved, people get brushed aside like they don’t matter.

In the face of society, we need to wear a mask to hide our feelings from others, because somehow, our happiness has become dependent on society’s perception of us. What’s wrong with that, though? Everyone does that, so why shouldn’t we do that too?

This show explores the root of this sort of crowd mentalism which dates back to the later years of our school life. It doesn’t depict adulthood as a utopian, happy world, but a dark and grim reality. In the show, as Kazaki relives his school days, with the experience he gained from adulthood, he draws various parallels to his own adult life and provides the viewers with some commentaries about larger-than-life topics like bullying, faith and even suicide.

However, the show isn’t just all serious, because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. (Pardon the Shining reference)

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This show has a lot of lighter moments especially in the beginning of the show, and approaching the end of the show, it becomes heartwarming as we watch these youthful highschoolers live their lives to their fullest, thanks to the constant, subtle meddling of Kazaki.

So is the plot any good? It is, in fact, it’s great. I really enjoy the exploration of much mature and hardhitting themes in these shows, as well as the comedy in the show. The innocent nature of the plot contrasts with the darker, more gritty themes, and the result is thought-provoking and at the same time, heart-warming.

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But if there’s one thing I could complain about this show, it’s that the writing of the show tends to meander from time to time and the transition from one perspective to another isn’t as smooth as it could be. For example, when we are watching the show from the eyes of Kazaki, the show may switch pace abruptly and the viewers need to switch perspective to that of a highschooler or risk not getting the full picture. I was watching the fourth episode and to the end, I noticed I was missing out and I had to rewind to 8 minutes earlier to rewatch things.

Settings:

The hyper-realistic themes of ReLIFE would normally requires some hyper-realistic settings, right? Actually, that’s not quite the case, in fact, the writers of the show have made it very clear that this show is a fantasy. They do not intend to talk about nor explore how the pill from the ReLIFE lab can change the anatomy of the body to make it look younger. That’s because there is no such thing and is an excuse to bring the main protagonist into the world of highschool.

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The fantasical setting may tick some people off, because “it’s not real”, but then again, hey, this is TV we’re talking about, right? When is it supposed to real, aside from National Geographic and the History Channel? The show doesn’t try to sell you the idea of a magic pill, but rather focuses on the themes of friendship, adulthood and growing up. So, in a way, it’s effective enough to give the show a sense of urgency, but not ridiculous enough to throw you off the show altogether, in which case I think is good thing.

Characters:

For this show to work, first and foremost, the characters must work, and they work, to some extent. Kazaki, the main protagonist, is a highly relatable person. He is an ordinary person who is hardworking, sociable and generally a good person, but due to a traumatic experience, he loses confidence in himself and loses faith in the world. He constantly questions himself and tries to look for the “correct” answer, even though he very well knows there is no certain correct answer. He is the character that anyone who has experience adulthood can cast him or herself into. He is by no means dumb or insociable, but he is unwilling to open himself to others, though as the story progresses, he begins to open up his emotions to people surrounding him.

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The next most interesting character would be Hishiro Chizuru, a honour student who tops her grade academically but lacks social skills. Her chemistry with the main protagonist is likable and as the show progresses, she begins to change due to her interactions with the main protagonist. The duo easily carry the show, and their chemistry is also the best in the show.

Despite these two good characters, the rest of the characters lack depth. The most obvious would be Rena Kariu, as she is just plain stubborn and at times, downright annoying. She is extremely competitive, stubborn but actually just plain confused deep down inside. However, her stubbornness is unreasonable most of the time, and no clue is offered as to why she acts in such a way. She is also given the most screentime compared to most of the supporting cast but honestly, I just couldn’t relate such a character.

Though, the rest of the characters may not be good, intriguing characters, but they do serve to move the story forward so, it’s okay to have them around.

Graphics & Soundtrack:

This is easily one of the most departments that I have a problem with. For such a character driven show, it is paramount that the characters themselves be well-animated. However, the details given to the show’s characters are limited especially the facial expressions. They have little variations and the character animation is kind of stiff. Aside from that though, the visuals themselves are bearable and are quite good in fact, especially the backdrops.

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Music is not one of the show’s strong points. The soundtracks have little to no variations, resulting in somewhat cheap sounding soundtracks, they are very limited. Most of the tracks use keyboards and strings, and one or two tracks have drums in them, but that’s it. They aren’t simple enough to be considered simplistic, but definitely don’t have the complexity of other, more musically-capable shows. I do enjoy the opening theme “Button” by Penguin Research quite a bit though.

Conclusion:

A show that has a gripping plot, intriguing settings and hard-hitting themes, only to be bogged down by meandering focus, mediocre visuals and less than stellar supporting cast, ReLIFE is the show everyone is and should be talking about. It perfectly illustrate how well anime, as a medium, can tell great stories. However, I would have preferred it if ReLIFE is made into a real life drama. It would have made more sense given its larger-than-life themes and people would take it much more seriously.

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Even though I say this anime is not the best thing ever, it is, at its core, a great story about adulthood, change and the societal worries we all face in our daily lives.

After meticulously calculating the points awarded for story, settings, character development, graphics & soundtracks, and of course, my personal enjoyment, I shall award ReLIFE with a rating of:

8.32 (Near Great)


After watching a compelling show like that, even I am forced to reconsider myself, am I living my life to the fullest? To be honest, I don’t know, though although it would be meddlesome, I would ask that you watch it too. It’s not like you’ll cry or anything, but it will make you think. Hard.

Have you watched this show? What do you think about it? Comment below and I will see you in the next review. Ciao~

Koutetsujou no Cabaneli – Review – Rail Wars! (Literally)

When Studio WiT announced Koutetsujou no Cabaneli, everyone was thinking that this show is another Attack on Titan rip-off. But, in actuality, it is not. It is actually a…

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Highschool of the Dead rip-off…

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Guilty Crown rip-off…

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and most importantly, a Train Simulator 2014 rip-off, complete with $3000 worth of DLC, sold separately from the game itself.

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Oh…Tetsuro Araki…how far you must have come…


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Koutetsujou no Cabaneli is a 2016 anime directed by Tetsuro Araki, famous for his work with Guilty Crown, Highschool of the Dead, and the most famous anime to date, Attack on Titan. If you ever watch anime aside from long running shounens like Naruto or One Piece, chances are that you have watched his work at least once. And this show is his second anime work that gives him free rein, Guilty Crown being his first. This means that this show is essentially Tetsuro‘s brainchild, and boy, can you see it clearly more than ever. So, is it a good thing, or a bad thing?

Let’s talk about it.

Summary:

A mysterious virus began infecting industrial revolution era Japan and transforms ordinary people into undead creatures known as Kabane (lit. corpses) with increased regenerative abilities and superhuman strength. The only way to kill these undead creatures is to destroy their hearts. Either that, or you can just behead them, or flatten them with trains. Um…more on that later.

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Unfortunately for the survivors, it is not an easy task since the technology they possess do not have the necessary firepower needed to penetrate the steel cages surrounding their hearts, and most melee weapons and the steam powered rifles are not effective in dealing with Kabane. Enter Ikoma, a lowly steamsmith who is hell-bent on ridding the world of Kabane. In order to do so, he and his pal, Takumi, began doing their own research on these Kabane and even invents a more powerful weapon, the piercing gun.

One day, an armored locomotive called the Kotetsujou docks at the fortified station Ikoma and his friends are residing in, a day earlier than expected. Something happens along the way and soon, Ikoma and company board the Kotetsujou to escape the station under siege.

Plot:

If you have watched Tetsuro Araki‘s work, namely Guilty Crown and Attack on Titan, you will have known what to expect. This show is by no means original, in fact, if you have been watching anime for sometime, it will not be a breath of fresh air for you. There are a number of recycled plot points and feel somewhat disjointed at times. At one point, it feels like Attack on Titan, then the next episode, it feels like Highschool of the Dead, then the next episode Guilty Crown. I don’t quite mind if the plot has been recycled or unoriginal as long as it’s a more refined version, Koutetsujou no Cabaneli is a more polished version of all of the aforementioned shows.

But, it is none of those shows. Attack on Titan has amazing action set-pieces and intriguing lore about its settings, HoTD is a fun, ridiculous ride that doesn’t take itself seriously and Guilty Crown is a gloriously, well-animated and spectacular mess.

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For one, KnC doesn’t try to establish its own identity, but tries to achieve a goal that wasn’t really there to begin with. It tries to deal with the clutter-filled plot of AoT, except that it’s plot is different from the plot of AoT. It tries to right the wrongs of the questionable main protagonist from Guilty Crown, but it itself is not Guilty Crown. It tries to bring in themes of fear like HoTD, but at the same time, tries to talk about family bonds and political stability.

The plot is way, way too ambitious that it left way too many blanks for the audience to fill, and that leads to unrelatable characters, a plot riddled with plot holes and a show that strives for the best but didn’t quite reach the height it aimed for.

Oh, can I talk about the ending? It was rushed, anti-climatic and so uninspiring that it made me wanna cry. Is it trying to build up for another sequel or something? What happened?

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Settings:

Same problem here. There are way too many blanks left for the audience and we are left to our own imagination most of the time. First of all, what are Kabanes? In the first few episodes, we are told that they are drawn by blood, so technically speaking, if you don’t spill blood, you will have no problem, right? No? Okay, so they are very difficult to kill, right? But, you can run over them with trains, decapitate them, shoot them with guns that will kill them with three or four shots. You don’t need a piercing gun like Ikoma‘s that has a very limited range to kill them. So, they’re not scary? Plus, I’m sure by the Industrial Revolution, we are advanced enough to understand the anatomy of the body to know that viruses travel through the blood stream. So, how is it that no one but a steamsmith realized that you can still live even if you have been infected? What about gunpowder? Gunpowder was invented in the 9th century in China, so why didn’t they come up with cannons and whatnot?

So many questions, but no answers. In short, the settings are riddled with so many holes that the possibly interesting lore gets bogged down entirely.

Characters:

*Sighs* So much potential wasted.

Ikoma is a good character, at least to me. That’s because I recognized his motives and understood how his mind operates. However, the show doesn’t explain that to viewers, not even briefly. For example, in the first episode, Ikoma was trying to stop the bushis, the soldiers from killing a supposed infected person. I was watching with a friend, and that scene drew two different responses from the two of us. I was rooting for Ikoma while my friend was literally screaming for the bushis to hurry up and kill the infected person. I’m sure many people have the same reaction as my friend, and if your reaction was like him, chances are you didn’t quite enjoy this show.

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There are too many things left unexplained to the viewers, and it relies on a matter of perspective as to whether or not you will enjoy this show.

But, if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the rest of the characters had next to no character development. No backstories, no depth, and as the story progresses, they all get sidelined and nothing interesting happens to them. Even Mumei, easily the best character in the show was, by the end, sidelined to being a mere damsel-in-distress just because the plot requires it.

Graphics & Soundtrack:

Now, if there’s anything you should watch this show for, it’s for the visual spectacle and the awesome music. The show delivers in the visual department, and boy is it amazing. The visuals team use an unorthodox contrast of bright colours and shades of grey to deliver stunning backdrops, as well as to capture the haunting, steampunk version of Industralized Japan. A lot of effort has been put into this show to make it this beautiful and I have to say, this show is absolutely stunning.

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Oh, have I mentioned how much I love Aimer? No? I love Aimer, how about that? Her style of music and the songs she sings normally have a really melancholic and atmospheric feel to it. Add Sawano Hiroyuki to the mix and you will have a really awesome soundtrack. In fact, I can go out on a limb here and say this is better than Guilty Crown‘s soundtrack and if you’ve watched Guilty Crown, you know how high a standard GC’s soundtrack has. Though, Egoist’s opening theme wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.

Conclusion:

A show that essentially bit off more than it can chew, Koutetsujou no Cabeneli is not necessarily a bad show, it’s just that it didn’t exactly reach greatness like everyone thought it would. It does have a few plus sides, like good pacing, intriguing characters and great visual effects. However, don’t expect another phenomenal Attack on Titan, in fact, it would be better if you prepare yourself for another Guilty Crown.

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After meticulously calculating the points awarded for plot, settings, characters, graphics & soundtracks and my personal enjoyment, I present to the rating for Koutetsujou no Cabaneli:

7.92 (Good)


So, there you have it. I am still looking forward to the spring season with– wait, ReLife released all its episode yesterday?? Wait, where can I watch it?! I’m gonna watch it and enjoy it (I hope).

Either way, what do you think about Koutetsujou no Cabeneli? Did you like it, or not? Also, what do you think about the new spring season? What shows are you hyped up for? Let me in the comments section below and I will see you in the next review! Ciao!

Ben-to – Review – A Nihilistic Atomic Love for Packed Lunch (Gone Sexual)

Disclaimer: If You’re Underaged, It’s Best That You Stay Out Of This

In a land far, far away…

Saitou, the peerless Muscle Detective has discovered the mystical, divine food, known to mere mortal men only as…

bento

 

“BEN-TOU”

But, right now, standing between Saitou and the mystical food, known only as bento, is Orthrus, the fierce two-headed guard dog from Greek mythology and his long time nemesis, The Security Guard Serial Killer!!

“You will never get past me,” said the serial killer. “I have already won!”

“What are you talking abo–”

Suddenly, Saitou felt a chill ran down his spine and his whole body began tingling. His vision began to blur and the sight of his arch-nemesis no longer invoke a feeling of dread but a pleasurable feeling.

“Haha! How do you like this new aphrodisiac of mine?”

“You…treacherous…”

“Hahahaha! Your body betrays you! Behold, the Muscle Detective, trembling before me, ready for some training!”

As his vision fades away, Saitou began dreading the lecherous things the serial killer will do, and fearing for his own sanity, he started to plead: “Please…insert…gently…”

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Oshiroi-san will be proud of this review.

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Summary:

Satou Yoh, (not Saitou) a high school student walked into a supermarket to buy dinner, but somehow after he came to his senses,  he was bloodied, injured and lying on the supermarket floor. He had no ideas as to how he was injured and all he remembered was an unknown kuudere/girl wearing a school uniform looking at him from outside the supermarket. Later the next day, he went back to the same supermarket trying to regain his memories, only to beaten unconscious again. This time, it was revealed to him by a supermarket employee there that he had unknowingly tread upon a battlefield among Wolves for half-priced bentos (boxed meals).

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Wolves, a term used to call people who fight over these half-priced bentos, gather at supermarkets nationwide in Japan to test their wits and hone their skills for the ultimate price: the half-priced bentos. One particular Wolf, known as the Ice Witch is the strongest of them all in the Western territory, and it turns out that the supermarket Satou frequents is the hunting ground for this Wolf. And for some reason, he is recruited into the Half-Pricers Association by the Ice Witch to train as a Wolf himself.

Plot & Settings:

Okay, I want to get this out of the way: The plot is garbage, and delightfully so. Seriously, did you read the summary above? I can spot 3 or 4 cliches right off the bat and I haven’t even gotten to the part where they fight over cold, half-priced packed lunch yet. I mean, seriously, what the heck is going on? The writers know the plot is complete garbage, from the premise to the cliches and nonsensical plot elements, and delightfully emphasizes on it. The best thing about this show is that it doesn’t take itself very seriously, casually inserting bundles of jokes up the show’s alley. *wink*

That said, if you’re in it for the plot, you had better just leave. There is nothing mind-boggling, nothing thought provoking, and sure as hell, nothing interestingly sophisticated. If you’re looking for complexity, I suggest you leave.

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The show often attempts to increase the melodrama of the plot to unbelievable levels, then all at once crashes it with its humour (mostly sexual). Running gags, illogical situation and casual inappropriate sexual jokes are run-of-the-mill elements of the show, and alongside the overly melodramatic rubbish plot, it makes for a rather awkward but enjoyable show.

The first half show of the show was quite enjoyable, in fact, as a comedy, it even made me laugh out loud quite a number of times. But, when in the second half of the show, the serious plot elements started to kick in and the show starts taking itself seriously. As a result, the later half of the show becomes rather preachy, annoyingly drawn out and downright ecchi just for the sake of it, making it seem like a very long, awkwardly sexual advertisement for supermarket chains.

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Tch-hhahhahahahhahaha

The action in this show is decent. Some diehard fans say this show’s action is phenomenal, but in my opinion, it is pretty bland. Aside for two breathtaking fight scenes involving the Ice Witch and another Wolf (ves) (keep your eyes peeled for those), the other action sequences were very short and not well-choreographed at all. Most of them were too short and aside from a few close up shots of the characters fighting, nothing really interesting happens at all. The most disappointing one of all is the finale fight sequence, cutting right to the end and just showing us the result of the fight. Come on, man, it finished right before it started!

Characters:

Like the plot and the settings, these characters are also garbage, most of them in a good way, some not so much. Let’s start with the good ones.

First of all, the main characters. Satou, is your typical main character, dumb, dense and a very obvious plot device. No backstory, no sophistication required, just him being dumb would be good, because due to deus ex machina plot elements, everything bad that happens, happens to him. A banana peel? He slips on it. A train ticket? His to lose. A maniacal, even comical security guard with a penchant of inserting 9V batteries into people? Well, I think you get the point. Basically, Satou is the butt of jokes. In a way, he is an integral part of the comedy, and his dumb antics and (sexualized) commentaries are quite funny. However, at the end of the day, he is what he is: a plot device.

Ben-to 1

And basically, everyone in this show is a plot device. You have the Ice Witch, a kuudere type character who is awfully strong, but from time to time, displays a weak (read: cute) side to the viewers. Then, you have Shaga, the mischeivous cousin type character who is borderline annoying but actually a thoughtful person. Of course, we have the comic relief characters like the fatso, OshiroiShiraume Ume etc.

Then, you have the supporting cast. They are there for no purpose whatsoever, aside to provide the usual exposition on the past. Then, there’s the twin sisters, Sawagi Kyou and Sawagi Kyou, introduced in the later half of the series. These two, especially the elder one, are incredibly annoying. Their actions do not justify their long ass screentime at all, and the show becomes unbearably annoying when these two are on screen.

Graphics & Soundtrack

The graphics are decent to say the least, it’s not the best but it’s not too bad either. David Productions, known for their work with Inu X Boku SS and JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken, shows a level of consistency throughout this show and some (read: SOME) of their fight scenes were exhilarating. Credit should be given where it’s due, and I think they did a pretty good job at animating this show, at least for a small production studio like theirs.

The soundtrack, for me, was the cherry on the cake for me. It had a wide variety of genres and the most memorable ones were the ones when they complimented the show really well. The soundtrack was, by no means, like Yuki Kajiura or Sawano Hiroyuki, but for a comedy show like this to offer such a ingenious platter of soundtracks is surprising. The hilarious opera soundtracks during comedic scenes complimented the scene really well, and the techno soundtracks that go alongside the fight scenes were gripping too. Now, if only we had more good fight scenes to begin with.

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Conclusion:

I have heard quite a number of people on the Internet saying this is the best show in anime. I beg to differ, as I have seen quite a lot of good and great shows, and this is nowhere near greatness. I must admit, it is pretty good in the beginning, but it was ultimately bogged down by the dredgingly slow later half of the show. However, it is a bite-sized piece of comedy anime that is quite enjoyable and is the kind of show to watch if you are feeling bored.

That said, this show’s humour cannot be appreciated by everyone, and some might find it unappealing. The lack of complexity and coherent plot may tick some off, but overall, this is a pretty decent comedy action anime.

So, after meticulously calculating the points awarded for plot, settings, characters, graphics & soundtracks, and of course, my personal enjoyment, I present you the rating for Ben-To:

7.66 (Decent)


I hope you guys enjoy this review and next week, we will be seeing the end of the masterpiece that is Koutetsujou no Cabaneli, so, you can bet I’ll be praising the heck out of it. Sakamoto desu ga is also on my hit list, although technically we still have to wait for the Blu-Ray for the final episode.

So, thanks for reading, and as always, I will see you in the next one. Ciao~

Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless – Review – Still Waters Run Deep

Sorry about the previous Tanaka-kun is Always Listless review. That was flat-out a troll.

Sorry not sorry.

AND TO THE BATCAVE- I MEAN, THE REVIEW! ->


Tanaka-kun Itsumo Kedaruge

This comedy, slice-of-life anime revolves around the life of Tanaka, a highschool boy known for his incredibly listlessness towards everything. He is in fact, so listless that he proceeds to avoid any possible event in his life that could possibly potentially force to budge from him being lazy. He is everything a lazy bum is, lazy and weak.

Thankfully for him, he has his trusty companion, Ohta, to provide assistance whenever it is needed. This would include situations like when Tanaka falls asleep during lunch break and never wakes up even if the bell rings. Even though he is so lazy, everything turns out smoothly for Tanaka. But, his lazy peaceful highschool life is interrupted when…

Plot:

…nothing happens. Well, technically speaking, something did happen. Tanaka meets new friends along the way, including a potential love interest. Various events that you would come to expect from a high school slice of life comedy happens in the show, like the cultural festival and a fire drill. These events set up for comedic situations where characters interact with one another.

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In a sense, nothing of consequence happens by the end of the show. Tanaka doesn’t change in any way, Ohta and the rest of the supporting characters do not change at all. Which brings me to what I believe is the show’s main appeal.

Settings:

High school may not be the most original setting ever. Over the years, high school in anime has been portrayed as this extraordinary place where miracles happen. Be it meeting a love interest, joining a sports club and entering the finals, or even uncovering the truth behind an age-old myth about the school, high school is the place where things happen.

Tanaka-kun Itsumo Kedaruge strikes a contrasting portrayal of the anime high school by showing us a high school in which nothing really happens. Sure, there are the usual events like the festivals, but in contrast with other shows, nothing really dramatic. By the end of the day, nothing worth mentioning really happens. The writers also took note of this trend and subtly sneaked in a few meta-commentaries on issues like that.

Well, even if you can’t appreciate such things, fret not, because this contrasting setting paves the way for the main draw of the show: very uneventful, yet entertaining situations.

Characters:

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The characters provide the color and the vibrance of the show. If the show’s settings is the canvas, then the characters will be paint. Tanaka will be sky blue, Ohta will provide various shades of green and the rest of the cast introduced later throughout the show will introduce more and more colour in the picture. In the beginning of the show, it may feel kind of dull and uneventful, but gradually, by the end of the 12th episode, you will see the completed painting: a vibrant landscape painting with peaceful skies and lush, colourful meadows.

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Despite this show being a comedy, there are not many moments where you actually laugh out loud. In fact, I don’t think I laughed much throughout this show. However, it is not the humour but the charisma and the laid-back atmosphere of the show that is the main draw for the show. In a way, after every episode, I was left with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and a smile on my face.

Graphics & Soundtrack

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Visually, this show is not strikingly beautiful in any way. Like the purposefully bland setting, the visuals in the show use very simply colour palettes. In most cases, they use lighter colours, with white serving as the main backdrop. Even the title is simple, the words written in black and blue with a white backdrop. The soundtrack is also very simple, with a few main songs used repeatedly for every episode, most notably the simple, upbeat piano piece. The sound design team cleverly uses timely stops and deharmonized chords to indicate a change in tone, making the tracks sound familiar but not repetitive.

Conclusion:

Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless is a self-conscious, self-referential and relaxing but unorthodox slice-of-life anime. It’s entertainment value in the end, still relies on the viewer’s perspective. While I myself enjoyed this show quite a lot, some viewers may see this as an uneventful and boring show.

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And so, with everything said about this show, I now present you the rating:

8.22 (Near Great)


And now, the end of my reviewing spree. I’m currently finishing up Ben-to, the anime and I’m enjoying it, to my surprise. I think a review is in place, and I’m looking forward to review because reviewing it would prove to be a challenge.

So, till the next one, ciao!