30 Day Anime Challenge

Greetings everyone!

Just posting an announcement as to my inclusion into a popular challenge going around called the 30 Day Anime Challenge. Apparently there’s a list of 30 prompts asking the person to list and explain their answers to the prompts mostly in regards to that person’s favorite so and so in anime but some other entries such as saddest death and best animation. You’re supposed to come up with an answer to one of the questions, in order, once a day over the course of 30 days. Looks like a difficult yet fun challenge, so I ACCEPT YOUR CHALLENGE, PERSON WHO STARTED THIS.

I decided that I will start this on November 1st because it’s nice enough to have exactly 30 days in it.


Here’s the challenge listing as reference and if anyone else wants to pick this up, but I will update with an official page to archive the links as well.


Tsumi to Batsu: A Falsified Romance (Chps 1-69) Review

Plot: Inspired by the book Crime and Punishment, Miroku Tachi is college dropout who has spiraled into depression. He holds no job, barely leaves his apartment, has poor social skills and no hope for his future. His mother and sister, mostly his sister, have been supporting him financially while believing he is still in college studying to be a teacher like his deceased father.

In what Miroku believes to be an effort to marry into money to support Miroku’s ‘dream’ further, Miroku’s sister announces that she’s marrying a man that Miroku despises. He concocts a plan to become financially stable so she won’t need to marry him – a plan involving murder.

Breakdown: This was one of those manga that I really got into and had to keep reading chapter after chapter. It is an incredibly interesting read that gives us a take of the old tale of a regular guy eventually being lead to murder in a fairly different way.

It’s hard to say that Miroku’s really likable. He’s actually pretty much an asshole, but the weird thing is that he’s an asshole for seemingly good reasons. He hates that his family has all of these expectations for him, yet feels like he can’t reach these goals. He really doesn’t seem like he wants to either, because his mother is fixated on him becoming a successful teacher like his father, but he deplores his father because he cheated on Miroku’s mother with one of his students and ended up committing suicide alongside his lover.

He eventually falls into a deep depression and becomes a NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) with the only people he really sees or talks to being a neighbor girl who has a crush on him and occasionally his sister.

Miroku’s sister Yoshino is the only one in the family with a stable job, and she provides Miroku with money to help with school and his everyday needs. However, it seems like she may not make enough to support herself, Miroku and possibly their mother.

She announces that she plans to marry a successful businessman, and Miroku believes she’s doing this purely for his money so she can support them all and Miroku’s supposed ‘dream’. Miroku despises this engagement and his suspicions about the reasons behind the marriage, so he becomes hellbent on becoming financially independent so she won’t have to marry him. The problem is that he has to do it in a short amount of time, and he won’t find financial success so easily in his actual dream of becoming a writer.

In comes Hikaru Baba, one of the most sociopathic bitches this side of Japan. She’s evil to the core, and runs a prostitution ring at that. She manipulates young girls into joining the ring and is even perfectly fine with setting up rapes in order to hook in girls and drum up business. Despite not even being out of high school, her business is incredibly vast and successful even tying into the yakuza.

Realizing how horrible of a human being she is and the money that she has, Miroku believes it to be justified and in his best interest financially to kill her and take her money. He’d be doing the world and possibly the girls a favor, and he’d be able to at least get enough money to be stable for a little while.

He eventually does succeed in murdering Hikaru, but before he even leaves the apartment things start unraveling fast. He has blood on his hands, the police on his tail and his sanity continues to fall apart every day.

The main reason this seemed more interesting to me than most murder stories is that this isn’t some master murderer who knows he can get away with it. He researches Hikaru and her routine extensively before he even finally decides to kill her, but every step of the way is filled with doubt and confusion about his actions, and this gets worse and worse after he does the deed.

There are many steps along the way where you can see flaws in his operation, especially if you have a thing for procedural dramas like yours truly. He wears gloves, he takes some precautions with the cell phones, but he still makes various mistakes, and you know that within those mistakes will eventually lie his undoing.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about this manga is that Miroku is incredibly weak and a total wimp. It’s obvious that Miroku must have some psychological issues, but what exactly he has I am at odds to figure out.

He definitely has depression, I know that much, but that alone doesn’t explain his other behaviors. Sociopathic tendencies as well? Schizophrenic? He doesn’t meet a lot of the criteria for the latter, but maybe some for the former. It’s a difficult area to analyze. I don’t want to straight out say he’s a ‘wimp’ or a ‘loser’ or whatever other insults were flung his way over the various comment boxes I read because it’s obvious that there’s more to it than that.

That’s not to say that these factors don’t make him annoying. They do, especially when he gets into a monologue, but there’s reason for it. The tone does get a bit overbearing because there’s hardly a person in this manga that’s likable. There’s about….eh two maybe three people who are likable in this manga, and even some of them get on your nerves. The odd thing is that the tone makes you get used to that fact and even strengthens the dark and psychologically stressful air about the entire book.

The manga has a bit of a slow start as it takes quite a few chapters before we even get to the murder, but I am more or less forgiving about that since they really wanted to firmly establish the background behind the murder instead of just explaining it later. I’m cool with that, but they still could’ve shaved off a chapter or two.

The real kicker in the pacing is in the title. See that? A Falsified Romance? Yeah, well, they only barely get into an actual romance at around chapter 65. Even though I haven’t read the rest, the manga is a full 93 chapters long. That means that two thirds of the book are over before we get into any romance at all let alone a ‘falsified’ one, so it makes you wonder why it’s titled that to begin with.

The way the investigation is handled is also quite interesting. By all intents, Miroku shouldn’t have much problem getting caught. The fact of the matter is he mixed his decent intelligence with incredible luck on whom he chose as a target.

Hikaru was a high profile murder victim because of her parents, so the police had complications from the get-go in investigating this murder, especially given that Hikaru was running the prostitution ring.

If that wasn’t enough, the yakuza being involved made it even more complicated, and eventually they even gave Miroku an out by purposely sending one of their lambs to the slaughter and forcing him to confess to the crime so the investigation would stop.

In addition, there are only two people in the police department who really believe Miroku is connected to begin with so that already starts off the investigation on rocky shores.

This manga seems to be unfinished in English with new translated volumes coming out arbitrarily. However, if I can determine what would be the best end, Miroku really just needs to be caught or turn himself in and go to jail. I don’t want him to get away and live happily ever after, he’s still a murderer after all, and he doesn’t seem in the least bit interested in pursuing psychological help with this either, so I really think his best end would be to go to prison. I hope to see if the story heads this way in the future, but for now I can only surmise.

I don’t really want to see Miroku die at the end, but if it had to end that way, it would probably be understandable.

Art: The art is very detailed and sharp. Everyone has a very distinct and easily recognizable character design, and the backgrounds are great. I think Miroku’s expression gets a little tiresome. The guy always looks like he’s going to vomit, pass out or reveal a supervillain outfit, but it’s nothing too annoying.

Bottom Line: It’s an interesting look into the mind of a murderer. There are various flaws from story to characters and even pacing that can gnaw on you, but it was never overly irritating for me to stop reading.

Recommended Audience: There are graphic depictions of murder and sex. There’s a rape scene, implied gang rape, prostitution, nudity of course, uncomfortable atmosphere altogether, creepy situations. 17+

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Zekkyou Gakkyuu (Manga) Review

Plot: An anthology horror series also known as ‘Screaming Lessons’, a mysterious girl named Yomi introduces us to many short creepy and frightening horror stories.

Breakdown: I love this manga. I love horror anthologies as a whole, but this one is really great.

It’s difficult to explain this series in a review format since it’s a collection of (usually) separate stories, but most of the stories are incredibly interesting, thought-provoking and scary. That’s not to say that all of them were gems. There were some stories strewn about that were either just plain weird and not particularly scary, cliché or boring, but there was never a shortage of excitement and surprises in nearly every story and volume.

Another great thing about these stories is that not all of them end with the whole ‘everyone dies’ trope. While many people do die in this series, some survive their ordeals and it’s actually interesting to be on the edge of your seat for these stories because Emi Ishikawa, the author and artist of the series, really does a great job of making many of the characters likable and interesting, which just makes the stories all the more frightening because she shows time and again that she’s not afraid to kill off characters that are meant to be likable.

Surprisingly, the series does have a few stories that actually have happy endings. I won’t name which ones, but a particular story involving a couple was one of my personal favorites because it just ended so nicely yet believably.

Yomi is a really cool and creepy girl who is given her own backstory in the series and even shows up a few times in various stories. She does a magnificent job playing our narrator, and she sets the mood perfectly.

Art: The art has a bit of a shoujo slant to it. It’s not cutesy by any means, but it has that sort of style to it. The art as a whole is wonderful. Emi Ishikawa does a great job on everything; the character models, backgrounds, monster visuals and blood and gore.

Bottom Line: It’s a great series for fans of short horror stories, and I definitely recommend it for horror and short story fans.

Additional Information and Notes: Zekkyou Gakkyuu was written and illustrated by Emi Ishikawa. It was published by Ribon Magazine.

Volume: 20

Year: 2008-2015

A sequel series titled Zekkyou Gakkyuu: Tensei was produced almost immediately after the series ended, but it seems to be very rare and discontinued.

Recommended Audience: While not being overly gory, there are still various instances of blood, gore, murder and death. No sex that I remember, or nudity, swearing’s also not a commonality. I’d say at least 13+, maybe more for the scarier/bloodier chapters.

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Book Club (Manhwa) Review

Plot: Eun Sae has a crush on a boy named Kyung Do, but he is only interested in books. As a way to get closer to him, she agrees to clean up and take care of the school’s horribly disorganized and creepy library. As they spend time in the library, Kyung Do finds a creepy old book and becomes enveloped by it. However, there is much more to that book than meets the eye, and it only brings bloodshed to every reader.

Breakdown: This series really surprised me because it’s somewhat uninspired in the first few chapters and even comes off as a bit of a shoujo with Eun Sae’s attraction to Kyung Do, but this definitely was a pleasant surprise in terms of horror and story.

There are several very creepy moments as the two get more ensnared by the powers of the book. In addition, the ending was handled extremely well and resulted in several plot twists that I never saw coming.

I really enjoyed how they made every single character integral to the plot in some way. Sure, some were seemingly just bodies to add to the pile, but most of them were pieces to the puzzle and important aspects to the story.

The ending was sad, though that’s to be expected from the horror genre. I sorta wish the series had ended a few pages earlier, mostly because the ending was just somber mixed with hopeful before those last few pages….

I guess the issues I had with this series was that the main characters weren’t horribly interesting in terms of personality. Eun Sae likes Kyung Do, she’s kind and doesn’t ditch him when things involving the book get bad. Kyung Do’s definitely more concerned/obsessed with the book and books in general than he seems to treasure any connection with Eun Sae. If anything, the two detectives were more interesting in that regard. The pasts of Eun Sae and Kyung Do are very interesting, but they don’t have very strong personalities to back it up much.

The art is very well done. There are several visuals that, while not being horribly original, are still very creepy, especially towards the ending. The details on the characters are pretty well done, even if proportions seemed off sometimes.

Bottom Line: It’s a very enjoyable and pretty original horror manhwa with likable characters, interesting plot twists, creepy atmosphere and plenty of suspense. It’s not groundbreaking, but certainly worth a read.

Recommended Readers: There are many instances of death, references to killing and torture, and some instances of gore. Being a supernatural horror story, there are also various visuals that wouldn’t be advised for young readers either way. No sex, no nudity that I recall, and minor swearing if any. 14+

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Haibane Renmei Review

Plot: A town surrounded by walls that cannot be passed. Beings with white wings born from giant cocoons with no memory of who they were before they emerged. Named for the dreams that they have while inside of the cocoon, destined to one day leave the confines of the walls surrounding their city on an occasion called the Day of Flight. Some bound to sin that makes their wings a charcoal black, there to remain until they are forgiven of their sins.

This is the story of the Haibane.

Breakdown: I had heard of this anime before, and it’s never gotten anything but good word-of-mouth from what I’ve seen, so I was really excited to watch it. I wasn’t disappointed as this is a beautiful anime with a great story, wonderful and original plot, amazing scenery and awesome characters.

A new Haibane is born from a recently sprouted cocoon. She is named Rakka for ‘Falling’ after revealing that her dream was of falling through the sky. The series follows her and her new friends in a place where many Haibane live called the Old Home.

While much of the series is rather lighthearted, following Rakka as she learns to be a Haibane and find her place in the community, the rest of the series gets slightly dark once one of the characters realizes it is their Day of Flight. It’s made even darker when one of the characters becomes sin-bound.

One ‘bad’ aspect about this series may be that it’s a little confusing. Much of the story is left up to interpretation, but I’ve heard the most commonly accepted theory of this show is that the Haibane are actually spirits, perhaps ‘reborn’ spirits, that are trapped in purgatory for one reason or another.

To be honest, though, this doesn’t entirely make sense as the town is also populated by regular people who aren’t Haibane. Their Day of Flight is really them going off to heaven. Those who are sin-bound are said to be spirits of those who have committed suicide in their past life (Which does make sense to the characters who are sin-bound once you realize their cocoon dreams.)

They have great difficulty obtaining their Day of Flight, and if they’re not forgiven before their Day of Flight comes, they either stay in Purgatory forever or they go off to hell, I couldn’t really interpret that well. The person loses their wings and halos and are forced to live away from the society within the town, but that can still be interpreted as hell. We never see it, so I can’t be certain.

Also, slight detail, but I love the holiday that they made up for the new year. That seems like such a fun tradition.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are wonderful and the scenery is beautiful. It’s very unique while not being too far in your face with stylization. Everything is animated and colored in such a way that seems really genuine and real. The character design work is also done by the writer, Yoshitoshi ABe. You may recognize his style from other anime such as Serial Experiments Lain and Welcome to the NHK.

Music: The music is gentle and great with both the OP and the ED being fitting and beautiful to listen to. The ED sounds like a gentle lullaby.

Voice Acting: Japanese – The voice acting was wonderful. Everyone was very fitting in their roles, they acted amazingly and I can’t think of anyone who was subpar.

Bottom Line: I really did love this anime. It was a refreshing change of pace from what I’ve been watching, and I can’t think of anything that I’d change about it. I fully recommend it.

Additional Information and Notes: This anime was based on a doujinshi, but the interesting thing is that, unlike most shows where the manga inspires and then builds upon the anime, the exact opposite is true here. The doujinshi started, the anime came quickly thereafter and the manga never concluded while the anime did.

The writer of Haibane Renmei is Yoshitoshi ABe, and yes the B is capitalized. It’s meant to be a throwback to his old pen name which was AB. He was also the author of the original doujinshi, so it’s really just the series shifting from one medium to another instead of being a downright adaptation.

The director of this series is Tomokazu Tokoro, who is known for directing Hellsing Ultimate and NieA 7….He also did some work on White Album…..

Habane Renmei was produced by Radix and is currently licensed in the US by Funimation.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2002

Recommended Audience: While there’s nothing inherently objectionable in this series, some of the tones are really dark, especially when we get to the middle, and the story may be a bit heavy for younger viewers to understand. 10+

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