Plot: Nene longingly yearns for love. She’s so desperate to tell the boy she likes about her feelings that she seeks out a wish-granting ghost in the girl’s bathroom. The ritual summon him – yes, him – works! But Nene has to face the reality that sometimes what you wish for most isn’t what you truly want.
Breakdown: While I had flitted around checking this series out for a while, it wasn’t until GlitterInformer suggested I check it out for Animating Halloween that I finally decided to sit down and watch it, and I’m glad I did.
Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun isn’t technically a horror show, but it is supernatural, is a ghost story and has some really interesting visuals that come off as horror-esque.
Overall, however, it’s a comedy show, and pretty funny one at that. Hanako is funny and sweet, and Nene was…..tolerable. She had some funny moments, but she was pretty annoying a good chunk of the time.
The setup was kinda cliché, but I like how Hanako was more about helping her confront her problem than just granting her wish. I also thought it was interesting for Nene to realize that she was more concerned about getting a cute boy to like her than it was that she was in love with that specific boy.
We do get a kinda scary interaction with a ‘mermaid’ who is summoned because of Nene’s mistake and insistence on getting her crush to like her, plus we get a glimpse of a slightly creepier Hanako and a fight between the two.
I really love the art for this show. It’s very sharp and stylistic with some amazing shots. I adore the gorgeous colors. It has a very manga-esque style to its animation, if that makes any sense. Lots of panels appearing on screen and intersections.
The music was alright, but nothing really stuck with me so far. The OP was the best of it all.
Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun is definitely a lot better than its crappy (pun intended) name would suggest. I had a lot of fun with it, and I look forward to watching more.
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Picking up where we last left off, Keiko was in the hands of the thug, Daisuke, who brought her back to some seedy bar to show her off to his friends. She doesn’t go quietly, however, especially when they start trying to do pervy things to her. They beat her up and knock her unconscious, leaving them open to sexually assaulting her. However, Yusuke, who comes in wearing a mask he won at a pachinko parlor, rescues her before they do anything.
Kuwabara, who got the news when Yusuke did, arrives on scene to save her, but Yusuke hands over the unconscious Keiko to Kuwabara so he can pretend he saved her – making it so she won’t ask questions or realize he’s alive for a day.
I don’t know why Yusuke is allowed to talk to Kuwabara but not Keiko or his mom. Also, Keiko is just faking being unconscious right now, she woke up a little earlier…so…what are the rules there? She’s allowed to acknowledge that he’s temporarily alive, touch him and hear him speak, but as long as he doesn’t speak to her and vice versa….it’s fine?
Keiko continues to fake being unconscious for several more hours, I guess to force Yusuke to not go traipsing around town and risking his body like that. When she leaves, Yusuke realizes she put a little kissy mark on his face.
This was…a fairly okay little arc. It was cool to see Yusuke back in action, and his ridiculous masks were hilarious. Plus, this was a cute little moment between Keiko and Yusuke, but this is just one of so many instances of Keiko being a damsel in distress. And the continued aspect of threatening sexual assault is uncomfortable.
Not to mention that I just find the whole aspect of him being able to see and converse with literally anyone else BUT Keiko and his mom is a grade A plot device that doesn’t even function logically. Yusuke put on a mask so Keiko wouldn’t recognize him, but it turns out she can acknowledge everything about his existence except communicate with him. And if he wrote that note to Keiko at the end, the one where he acts as if he’s Kuwabara, doesn’t that count as communicating with her?
I can definitely see why they didn’t put this in the anime.
Chapter 10: Forbidden Games
Another manga exclusive story, this chapter returns us to Shouta, the boy from a few chapters back who was dealing with confidence issues and the loss of his beloved dog, Jiro. Now, Shouta is doing pretty good in life, but he’s haunted by the spirit of a girl named Sayaka. She’s dragging him out of his body every night to play with her because she’s so lonely, as she was also very lonely in life. Shouta doesn’t remember these encounters after he wakes up, but when he’s in spirit form he resists going with Yusuke and abandoning Sayaka because he doesn’t want her to be lonely.
This is the first spirit Yusuke actually fights in the manga – and he loses pretty badly. Sayaka’s loneliness has created a deep darkness in her heart, and it’s granted her incredible power that Yusuke just can’t stand up against. If Sayaka continues to take Shouta’s soul out of his body night after night, she’ll eventually weaken his soul enough to drag him to the afterlife with her, but since her soul is so corrupted by loneliness, she’ll only be entering a world of darkness and despair with him.
After a few days of being Yusuke being unconscious (how that works as a ghost, I don’t know) we discover that Shouta is becoming pretty weak, though still not realizing what’s happening at night. Yusuke goes to confront Sayaka once more, but she refuses. She wants to finally bring Shouta to what she believes is heaven, but when she goes to force Yusuke away again, she finds her powers to be entirely diminished.
It seems that hanging out with Shouta so much has quelled the loneliness in her heart, and her powers have greatly weakened because of it. She still doesn’t want to leave Shouta and vice versa, however, so Yusuke happily offers to be a big brother to her and play with her until she’s finally ready to pass on for real.
She agrees, and Shouta returns to his regular life, healthy as a child should be, but it seems Sayaka is sticking around for longer than they thought.
I really liked this story and, truth be told, it’s better than the anime version of Sayaka.
Yes, Sayaka exists in the anime, but she’s basically changed so much that she’s not even the same character outside of the design. In the anime, she’s a one-episode character, taking the role of a spirit investigator sent to determine if Yusuke is really worth saving. She evaluates Yusuke’s friends and family as well as Yusuke and his relationship to them. Most notably, she investigates the relationship that Keiko and Yusuke have. She’s uncertain about her findings until Yusuke willfully sacrifices his spirit egg, his one chance at returning to life, in order to save Keiko’s life.
Sayaka’s report on the matter impresses Koenma, who agrees to bring him back anyway since he showed such selflessness.
Sayaka just always seemed like an unnecessary character. Isn’t Botan doing enough investigating and reporting on Yusuke’s attitude and relationships that Sayaka’s role is redundant? I never disliked her in the anime or anything, but she wasn’t really made interesting and, like I said, her presence seemed pointless.
In the manga, her story is much more interesting, and even somewhat heartbreaking. I absolutely loved that Yusuke offered to be her big brother and play with her without any hesitation. He knows she’s not a bad kid, she’s just lonely and sad. It was also nice to see Shouta again. It’s good that he’s still doing well and is turning into such a sweet kid, even if it is slightly implied that he’s becoming a bit of a ladies man….as much as an eight year old can be, anyway. I dunno why they needed that implication. Can’t he just be a nice kid to both genders without implying that he’s being nice to girls to impress them?
I was a bit sad that Shouta didn’t even mention Jiro, but Yusuke brought up his promise to Jiro, and that was really sweet. We’ll have to wait and see what Sayaka’s continued presence will bring to the series.
Chapter 11-12 A Broken Friendship/Demonic Hand
This is a two-parter story involving two best friends, Emi and Natsuko. They’re both top of their respective classes, and they’re competing for the lone spot offered by their school to go to N High School – a very prestigious school that everyone’s pressuring them to attend.
Recently, Emi has been having very ominous feelings, as if something is watching her or causing her to suffer misfortune. Yusuke spots the seeming culprit, the spirit of a boy who used to attend the school five years ago. He committed suicide, and I quote “due to some setback” but very much regrets his decision.
He’s not really the problem, though. He was attracted to Emi due to a dark power resonated from her because of an amulet. Natsuko had placed a curse on Emi to cause her to slip up in her studies and stop being competition for her for the spot in N High School. Natsuko was pressured even more by everyone else, especially her family, to get the N High School spot. This pressure was compounded by the fact that Natsuko was consistently second place to Emi throughout their entire friendship. She resented her for it, but those feelings would usually quickly dissipate after saving Emi from bullies or spending time with her.
Evil and corrupted spirits were attracted to the amulet, making it more powerful. However, the boy’s evil energy started fading when he kept seeing what a kind person Emi was. He didn’t fall in love with her or anything, but she showed him a light that drove back the darkness.
Meanwhile, Natsuko started regretting her decision after hearing Emi talk about not wanting to bother Natsuko with her worries, especially since Natsuko believes in the paranormal and may freak out.
Natsuko rips up the ‘amulet’ which I think is moreso a talisman, but okay. However, she’s shocked to find the mark of the amulet now tattooed on her wrist. At the same time, Emi is being pulled across the railroad tracks by a dark entity right as a train approaches.
The boy vanishes before the second half of the story. Yusuke asks if he’s moving on now, and Botan says suicide is too grave a sin to move on yet. He has a lot of repentance to do before he can do pass on properly.
Sayaka, who alerted them to Emi’s problems in the first place, notifies them of Emi’s current situation. However, they can’t do anything about it since spirits can’t really interfere much with human matters, and this evil entity is too powerful for any of them to take on. That’s not enough for Yusuke, however, as he rushes in and tries to bite the entity into submission, but he’s literally chucked all the way into space as a result.
The boy’s spirit returns and manages to bring Natsuko to the tracks to save Emi. That’s all he’s able to do before he disappears once more.
Natsuko pleads with the entity to let her go, and after a touching speech, the entity finally vanishes, as does the mark, and Natsuko saves Emi.
Later, at school, Natsuko and Emi tell their respective teachers, who have been pressuring them a lot since the class of the student who goes to N High School will get a lot of respect and adoration (and Natsuko and Emi are from two different classes), that they want the school to take them out of consideration for the N High School spot. They’ve both decided to not listen to anyone who is pressuring them anymore. They want to make their own decisions from now on. They’ve decided to go to S High School together, much to their teachers’ dismay.
This story was pretty good, even if I’m not sure it warranted being a two-parter. Emi and Natsuko have a very realistic friendship. Even the best of friends can have hidden resentments and anger amongst them while still being very strong friends, and such massive pressure on the both them could easily make them do crazy things, especially if they believe it won’t actually work. Despite believing in the paranormal, Natsuko didn’t believe her silly spell would work until she realized something was actually troubling Emi, and when she realized it was real she almost sacrificed her life to make things right.
My two main problems with this story are the boy spirit and the roles of Yusuke, Botan and Sayaka. The boy spirit, who is never named, mind you, seems like he could have an interesting story. He’s a kid who committed suicide at the very school the girls are currently attending, but we get an almost insultingly pitiful amount of information on him. Not only do we never learn his name, but we never learn of his story or why he committed suicide in the first place. “Due to some setback” is so vague it’s almost irritating. It was only five years ago. Why is he so unspecific about it?
And even though I get that suicide is taboo in a lot of religions, it does bother me that even in YYH suicide is apparently so grave a sin that you can’t go to heaven once you do it. They never imply he’s in hell or anything, just that he has to do god knows how many good deeds as a spirit before he can move on, but still. The kid was suffering so much that he killed himself and now, as a ghost, realizes he lost everything and regrets it. Isn’t that bad enough?
He does come back and help Natsuko save Emi, but then he vanishes and is never even brought up again. It’s a sad ending to an already sad story and it’s pretty much glossed over.
In regards to Yusuke, Botan and Sayaka, this is another story where they might as well have not even been there in the first place. You could completely remove them from this story and everything would have been exactly the same. The trio basically just acted as audience surrogates – creating an avenue for the characters to give exposition without it being narration or something, and that wasn’t necessary because…yeah, just have it be narration.
It’s not like Yusuke did any Spirit Detective-ing either. He literally just talked to the ghost stalking Emi and asked what’s up. The boy ghost was even the one who found out it was Natsuko who cursed Emi.
Yusuke attacked the entity, and that was a little funny, but it did absolutely nothing and the girls weren’t even able to notice he did it.
So, in conclusion, decent story but it didn’t have to be a YYH story nor a two-parter.
Chapters 13-14: Prerequisites of a Loved One/Inside the Flames
As I mentioned before, Sayaka is not a spirit investigator in the manga as she is in the anime – she’s just the spirit of a little girl. She has grown extremely attached to Yusuke, and she and Botan basically follow Keiko around so Sayaka can see if Keiko and Yusuke’s relationship is true love.
Everything else in the story is exactly the same barring the very ending. In the anime, Yusuke was told that the only way to save Keiko’s life was to use the power that has been stored up in his spirit egg to create a pathway in the fire. This would mean sacrificing his one chance at coming back to life, but Yusuke does it anyway since Keiko’s life means more to him than his.
After the ordeal, Koenma appears. He’s so impressed by Yusuke’s selflessness that he agrees to bring him back to life anyway.
In the manga, Koenma appears during the fire and explains to Yusuke that he’ll have to agree to a deal for Koenma to use his power to save Keiko. Yusuke doesn’t let him explain what it is as he’s far too impatient to wait for Keiko to be safe. Koenma uses his power and opens a pathway in the flames. Later, Botan explains that, in order for Koenma to make a miracle, like saving Keiko, he needed to use human virtue. Since Yusuke was the other half of the deal, he used the virtue that Yusuke had been saving up in his body to use his power.
However, unlike in the anime where this meant he sacrificed his chance to come back to life, in the manga, this simply means that it will take longer for Yusuke to build up more virtue and return to life. And he really doesn’t care, so this doesn’t seem like nearly the same kind of massive sacrifice as Yusuke made in the anime, which is disappointing.
Granted, the anime also doesn’t make a lot of sense because it’s revealed later that, despite the egg being destroyed in the fire, his spirit egg hatched further down the line and became Puu. Still, you lose a lot of the emotional impact when you replace ‘You can never be resurrected’ with ‘it’ll take a bit longer to be resurrected.’
The manga also goes a bit further in the story. Kuwabara shows up and takes Keiko and Yusuke’s body to his house to help cover up Yusuke’s secret. His sister, Shizuru, loans Keiko some clothes to replace her burned ones, and she cuts Keiko’s hair since it was singed. We also learn Shizuru wants to be a beautician, which is something I don’t believe was ever conveyed in the anime.
Shizuru, having even stronger spiritual powers than Kuwabara, can actually see Yusuke’s spirit around Keiko. She comments that he seems to be a good guy and asks if she likes him. She says yes and Yusuke looks a little embarrassed.
Meanwhile, Sayaka also bids her farewell. She accepts that Yusuke and Keiko are a great pair. She doesn’t like the idea of relying on anyone else’s boyfriend, so she decides to pass on and find her own boyfriend in the afterlife. She even suggests Koenma is kinda cute and might seek him out next. She tells Yusuke to have two kids with Keiko, a boy and a girl, before finally departing.
There’s also a small part where Koenma shows back up after Sayaka leaves. He tells Yusuke that, since he had to save Keiko’s life and interfere in real world matters, he took a body part from her. Yusuke freaks out and rushes to Keiko and Koenma giggles and points out that he took her hair (since she just got a haircut.)
You’ll notice that another scene is missing from the manga, and that’s the scene after the fire is put out. Keiko stands by with Yusuke’s body in a wheelchair, believing he saved her from the fire. Atsuko, in a kind of annoying ‘I’m not really taking this seriously’ tone goes on about how sorry she is that she wasn’t there, but she’s thankful Yusuke is alive and will do better for him from now on.
I do kinda wish the manga had some scene with Atsuko, because this is literally all her fault. Like I said in my review of the anime episode, I almost feel like it was originally planned to have Atsuko accidentally set the fire due to her negligence but they decided against it to not make Atsuko too unlikable. Instead, she left the windows unlocked and covered her son in dust and garbage, giving the arsonist easy access and allowing the fire to spread easily.
This was definitely a sweet story in both versions, but I can’t help but prefer the anime’s retelling a little more. Yusuke knowingly and willingly sacrificing his one shot at being brought back to life is just better than him needing to be a ghost for a while longer. He didn’t know what he was agreeing to in the first place, and he didn’t care at all when he found out the cost.
Yusuke, in the anime, after everything was said and done, had a bit of a blowup. He yelled out to his mom, Keiko and Kuwabara to stop talking to what was now an actual dead body. He yelled at his mom to stop apologizing because he’ll never be around to say it’s okay, and he accepted that he was dead for good. He even started crying a little before telling Botan to just take him heaven or hell or wherever he was supposed to go now.
This blowup doesn’t mean he regrets saving Keiko, of course he doesn’t, but it’s very genuine to also show that the cost deeply affected him. A sacrifice isn’t really much of a sacrifice if the loss doesn’t hurt you.
Chapters 15-16: Target! A Victory/Victory Depends on Guts
As he’s floating around town, Yusuke spots an old classmate of his, Suekichi, being bullied by a group of thugs. Back when they were kids, Suekichi was always being bullied and Yusuke would save him from the bullies….for a fee, of course. He was so spineless and weak that the other kids had nicknamed him Suekichi the Idiot.
Yusuke couldn’t stand watching Suekichi be ruthlessly beaten into the ground anymore, so once he was knocked unconscious Yusuke jumped into his body, ignoring the warnings of Botan. Yusukichi easily flattened all of the thugs in one fell swoop, but Yusuke became locked in Suekichi’s body.
Meanwhile, Koenma appears before Botan and explains that a decision was made on Yusuke’s revival. They will allow Yusuke to be brought back to life even without him regaining the virtue he lost earlier. They explored Yusuke’s heart and found that he wasn’t evil, but he wasn’t entirely noble either. He very much acts without thinking, but many of his acts lead him to noble deeds….and some not so noble.
They’ve concluded that he’s a ‘bubblehead’ who can’t be accurately judged in his spirit form, so they’re taking the opportunity to see what he’ll do in a regular body..
Once Suekichi’s consciousness was reawakened, he freaked out at the invasion of Yusuke’s spirit, but Yusuke explained that he wished to help him. Suekichi is an aspiring boxer and he’s loved the sport of boxing since he was a kid. However, he’s never won a single match, which is really all he wants to do. Being bullied his whole life, he has a nasty habit of closing his eyes when the opponent is about to strike, so he always loses.
He does have a wealth of knowledge on boxing and great technique, but when it comes to applying it, he’s a total mess. However, he was chosen to partake in a competition as a representative of their school’s boxing society. He was one of only two candidates with the other being a thug named Itou who lost the position due to skipping too many practices. Itou’s cohorts were the ones beating on him in the start of the story, trying to get him to relinquish his spot. Itou himself starts wailing on him to get him to give up, but once again Yusuke takes over and beats the snot out of him.
Yusuke keeps trying to get Suekichi to believe in himself and have fighting spirit, but no matter the situation, he always folds.
One day, they bump into Tachikawa, who is meant to be his opponent in the match. He’s a dirty fighter who is known for purposely breaking bones and blinding his opponents in order to win. Yusuke took over his body and stood up to him for Suekichi, but when the time came for the match and he tried to get Suekichi to rise to the occasion, Suekichi simply couldn’t do it.
Yusuke finally got fed up and punched Suekichi (and by extension himself) in the face. With one final…let’s call it a pep talk Yusuke-style, Suekichi bites the bullet and heads out, which allows Yusuke to leave his body.
During the match, he does quite well. He doesn’t close his eyes and he has a newfound confidence. Even after he takes a hit, he’s able to power through because Yusuke’s punch was a lot worse. Tachikawa then aims to elbow him in the eyes to blind him, but Suekichi blocks with his head gear and socks Tachikawa in the face, laying him out and winning him the match. He cheers to Yusuke, even though he’s gone from his body, and Yusuke looks on with a smile.
I gotta say, if this was the main crux they were using for Yusuke earning his right to be revived….what a shitty story to do that with. It’s not a terrible story, it’s just largely uninteresting and not worth being so important. And haven’t we already had a story when Yusuke helps some bullied kid be brave? Nothing is riding on this competition besides some vow he made to himself several years ago, the outcome is entirely predictable, Suekichi is not an engaging character at all, and Yusuke was able to help him by beating up a dozen people and punching Suekichi in the face? Are you kidding me? THAT’S the act that instantly shows the higher ups in Spirit World that Yusuke’s worth bringing back to life?
Why couldn’t they have just made it so him sacrificing his ‘life’ for Keiko was the big act that convinced them? Why did he need to do something in a human body to show this? Didn’t he also do good deeds the few times he possessed people? Hell, just look to the brief period he was brought back to life and how he saved Keiko from that gang, even risking losing his chance at coming back to life if she spoke to him. It’s so backwards. This should have been one of the first ‘Yusuke proves he’s an alright guy’ stories not the final one.
Chapter 17: The Golden Awakening
Ah, we’ve finally reached Yusuke’s awakening, and it’s pretty much exactly as it was in the anime. The only real change I saw was that, at least in the English dub, Yusuke claims Atsuko had good insurance and that’s how they got such a good apartment after the fire. In the manga, a text box explains that Atsuko got money from pimps to pay for it…..I don’t know if they’re insinuating that Atsuko’s a prostitute or she just knows pimps who would give her money, but….there’s that.
Speaking of Atsuko, another thing that stayed the same was Atsuko going out and getting plastered, leaving Yusuke’s body all alone AGAIN. I know I’ve already complained about that when talking about the anime, but REALLY. She nearly loses her son AGAIN to a house fire because she was out getting shitfaced, and she decides it’s a good idea to yet again leave her son alone while she goes to get shitfaced. Bloody hell….
As a few final notes, the anime did add a scene where Yusuke tries to corral Kuwabara while he’s at the arcade, but his efforts fail, and the anime’s shot of Keiko kissing Yusuke was just plain better in the manga. The actual kiss is covered, but the angle is a lot better than the weird sideways kiss she gives him in the anime.
….Oh and also, the previous two chapters were even more pointless if he was just going to be revived immediately after.
And that was volume two! Quite the long road to Yusuke getting revived, but we’re finally getting him into Spirit Detective mode.
As for this volume’s journey to getting him there….Eh. The filler was okay, but I didn’t feel particularly impacted to the point where I was like ‘Whoa, I’m sad they never adapted this to the anime.’ The arc with Suekichi only gets increasingly frustrating the more I think about it. It’s boring padding that definitely didn’t deserve to be the defining moment for proving Yusuke’s worth as a person.
The manga just seems to have a problem with making stories that otherwise don’t really need Yusuke and Botan around. It doesn’t feel like Yu Yu Hakusho – it feels like an anthology. A Yu Yu Hakusho anthology-esque section could very well work if they focused more on giving Yusuke and Botan more stuff to do instead of reacting to what’s going on around them.
The arc with Yusuke’s temporary resurrection was okay, and the ending with Keiko was a little sweet, but I still find the conditions of this temporary arrangement to be bunk. It really just felt like a forced plot device to ensure Keiko and Yusuke don’t have some sort of reunion before he actually revives.
When it came to storylines that were adapted into the anime for this volume, everything seems in order, barring that one moment at the end of Prerequisites for a Loved One where the anime just did it objectively better all around. The manga did Sayaka’s role a lot better, but in comparison to the ending changes, it’s not much consolation.
Hm…..I feel like it’s a bit of a close call, but, ultimately, I’d give this round to the anime. If the anime had omitted more memorable stories and moments, I’d definitely give it to the manga, but they just made too many missteps here.
Volume 3 coming soon….
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Plot: The world is riddled in curses – demon-like creatures that consume humans and other curses in order to become stronger. They’re usually invisible to the human eye, leaving most people completely defenseless against them. However, certain individuals with the power to see and combat these curses, known as Shamans, are sent out to dispatch the curses and cursed charms in order to protect the world from harm.
Yuuji Itadori is not one of those people….Yet. He has insane levels of strength and speed, making him a much sought after asset to all of the sports clubs in school, but Yuuji would rather hang out in the occult club with his friends. Being in the occult club is not only more fun and less stressful than the sports clubs, but it also allows him to regularly leave school at 5PM. Yuuji needs this time open in order to visit his ailing grandfather in the hospital everyday, much to his grandpa’s annoyance.
His grandpa suddenly tells him to not live his life as he did – with no friends and hardly anyone around during his final days. He tells Yuuji to live a good life, make friends and die surrounded by people. As he utters these words, Yuuji’s grandpa passes away.
Fueled by his grandpa’s dying words, Yuuji becomes determined to ensure everyone has a proper death, even risking death himself to save others from a terrible fate. His newfound mission in life leads him to making a reckless decision that forces him to become the host of the curse, Sakuna.
Breakdown: “Twix! Another series that debuted very recently?! Please seek medical attention, for you are surely ill!”
Ahhhh, hate to disappoint anyone who thought I was starting to keep up with current series, but someone just asked if I was going to do this series for Animating Halloween and I had never heard of it before, but I was still like ‘Okay!’ So here I am. That’ll show you for thinking I’m hip and hoppity with the current anime the youth today is jamming with.
Jujutsu Kaisen does a very good job at drawing you in from the get-go. It starts with a scene in which our main character, Yuuji, is tied up and someone is telling him that he’s set for execution before we get our theme song and flashback to how we got to this point.
Outside of that it’s…pretty much standard shounen fare. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it runs through a lot of shounen fantasy/fighting tropes. Super kind, goofy and optimistic main character who is also brave, heroic and self-sacrificing? Check. Born with super physical traits like speed and strength? Check. Deeply impacted by the death of a loved one? Check. Deuteragonist who dresses in black is stoic and cold? Check. Bonus points for the wolves being part of his powers. Fighting monsters? Check. Main character getting some sort of insane super power as a last resort to save his friends? Checkaroo.
I was going to argue that maybe him housing a demon/curse in his body was kinda unique, but it’s also…not. I very quickly remembered that that’s basically a shounen/seinen trope too – either housing a demon, being a demon/monster or having dark powers. Naruto, Yusuke, Ichigo, Yugi, Ken, Inuyasha, Eren, I think Asta from Black Clover also qualifies, though I’m not that familiar with the series – hell, you can even argue that Goku kinda falls under this trope too because of his uncontrollable ape form.
They also don’t do much in the way of making memorable monster designs or names for the things. Curses and shaman?
Again, none of this is particularly bad as long as they can package it in such a way that draws my attention and leaves me wanting more, and it did.
I really enjoyed Yuuji. He may be kind of a stock shounen protagonist, but he’s easily lovable and a lot of fun. He’s one of those characters I’d love to have as a friend. He also has a great relationship with the two members of the occult club, though as far as I’ve read on the series they don’t stay on as regular characters, which is a bummer if true. I liked them as characters on their own. They were endearing and really passionate about the occult.
Fushiguro was alright. He was the most flat of the characters, at least so far. Unlike Yuuji, he didn’t shine through enough on his own to bypass his tropes, but he didn’t make me angry or anything. Hopefully, after some time, he’ll shine a bit more.
As a first episode, it does well. It establishes the world and characters decently enough and gives us just enough information to make a solid episode without being a big exposition dump while also ending on a good cliffhanger.
The art and animation are pretty good. Got some nice character designs and interesting shots.
I also enjoyed the music quite a bit too. The OP is particularly catchy.
As for whether this is good Halloween fare so far…well, it’s more simply supernatural than it is horror, but for lighter Halloween fun, this seems to work just fine.
I had quite a bit of fun with this episode, and I’m interested in seeing where it goes. Not sure it’d stick with everyone who’s a bit over all of the normal tropes, but I think it has enough style to continue working itself out.
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Plot: Inspired and reliving the stories of old 60s and 70s horror stories that used to be told in magazines, Sekai no Yami Zukan presents several of these stories as short animations.
Breakdown: Hey, it’s October again! That means it’s time for Animating Halloween! The month-long event at The Anime Madhouse where I load up the month with Halloween and horror-based reviews! I’m ready and raring to go, so let’s start! (Cards on the table. I meant to post this review last October, but it slipped through the cracks. Sorry. :x)
I had been a bit sad when I finished the last season of Yami Shibai, so I looked up series that were similar to it.
I didn’t really expect to find a show that was a damn near clone of it…
Sekai no Yami Zukan basically is Yami Shibai, with the only real differences being the art style (though the animation is still the same extremely limited slideshow-esque style), the bookends being….well, a book instead of a kamishibai show, and the subject matter focusing much less on supernatural pieces of folklore and more on things like….aliens, ancient civilizations and alternate dimensions. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and considering the time period it’s taking from, it’s understandable that these topics are being covered.
Also, I should mention that the director of Yami Shibai 2, Noburo Iguchi, directed this. Considering Yami Shibai 2 was largely meh, that was a little worrying right out the door. This guy has absolutely no other crew credits to his name besides directing Yami Shibai 2 and Sekai no Yami Zukan.
I didn’t feel compelled to give a specific post to each episode like I do with Yami Shibai, so let’s just go down each episode quickly.
Episode 1: The Black Shadow of Temptation – In this episode, a man is incredibly suspicious when he realizes his wife is sneaking away at night. One night, he decides to follow her. She, in a daze, walks through the woods, getting cut up and wounded by the trees and rocks, yet not feeling or noticing a thing. She meets up with a strange figure of a man, and her husband jumps out demanding to know what she’s doing.
The man’s an alien, she and her husband get abducted, the episode ends ambiguously with them as well as several other people in pods being experimented on in the alien ship.
I don’t get it.
Literally any story could take this turn. A man was eating his dinner and got abducted by aliens. A kid was putting gum in his sister’s hair when he was abducted by aliens. What the hell does this turn even have to do with the plot? Was she being seduced by the alien? What did jealousy have to do with it besides getting him abducted too?
Episode 2: The Fairy in the Snow – Quite a bit better than episode one, especially in regards to the ending…..but holy crap, one scene had me literally, not lying, laughing out loud for a solid minute.
The story goes that a boy named Michael was lonely and starved for love since his father was constantly chastising him and his parents were always arguing. He had no friends, but made himself a friend one day when he built a snowman.
Michael’s father destroyed the snowman and told his his son to stop making such pointless things when there are more serious matters, such as an impending snowstorm.
As the snow starts, Michael sees the snowman come to life and beckon him from outside his window. Michael, against his father’s orders, goes off to join his only friend, tired of his miserable life with his father. Michael’s father grabs his gun and runs after him, but the snowman pushes him off a cliff.
That was the scene that had me rolling. The simplistic animation coupled with the silly visual of a snowman murdering someone was just a perfect mixture of hilarity.
Michael hugs the snowman and thanks him for saving his life, claiming he’d gladly give his life for his friend. The snowman asks if he’s sincere in his statement and reveals that he’s really a monster under the guise of a snowman. Michael gets sucked into the snow and the bigfoot-esque creature escapes into the blizzard.
The monster idea, while predictable, was well-executed, except I really think they could’ve come up with a better monster design besides bigfoot.
Episode 3: The Reaper Racing Across the Plain – Still getting better, but ehhh. This story is about a hitch-hiker named Noel who gets a ride in the middle of the desert from a beautiful woman. After a while, she starts acting strange, and Noel wants to be let out, but the woman won’t let him.
It’s suddenly revealed that the woman was being used as a puppet by robotics within the truck. She is a lure to get unsuspecting men into the truck. It was a man-eating truck that uses humans for fuel, and now Noel is being absorbed.
This one was predictable on one hand because there’s obviously something wrong with this woman, and hitchhiker stories never go well. On the other hand….sentient robot car that eats people for fuel. I honestly can’t tell if that’s silly enough to ruin the story. Maybe if the narrator hadn’t flatout said this was a man-eating car that used people for fuel? The fact that it used the woman as a puppet and as bait was really clever, though.
Episode 4: What the Mysterious Circle Really Was – Getting better still, but what is with that title?
A farmer and his son see a strange circular light above their cornfields one night. The next morning, they discover that there has been a crop circle-like design cleanly cut from their cornfield. The boy surmises that it was aliens, but the more logical father believes it was a thief. To combat the thief, they stakeout their other cornfield that night. Right as they’re about to leave and go to sleep, they spot the same circular light again – this time it’s coming closer to them.
They realize that the light is not a UFO or even a disk, but a tornado-like swarm of massive insects the size of cars. They have razor sharp wings and massive mouths like sharks. They were devouring the crops and now they were targeting the farmer and his son, but they survive.
I adored the art in this one. The monsters were nothing special, but I really liked the details and the style. Also, I like that they went away from the predictable and silly alien explanation. Wasn’t very scary, though.
Episode 5: The Mechanical Men Come – Robots!…..Obviously.
This one is terrible on all grounds. A man is in a restaurant and notices that the waiter hasn’t been serving anyone for over an hour. When another patron complains about it, they realize that most of the patrons and the waiter are robots…..Why they’re in the restaurant when they don’t need to eat, and why one has a minimum wage occupation, I don’t know.
The man panics and runs out into the streets to make it back to his house to save his family, but the city and subsequently the country/world are already being overrun with robots. Survivors try to flee, and the man spends six months fighting robots and living on the streets while trying to make it back to his family, who are, from all I can tell, in the same general area. Why it took him over six months to get back, I don’t know. Luckily, his family never left the house that entire time. Yay!
He becomes leader of a survival group with his wife and daughter, they flee, and it’s revealed that the father was really a robot the entire time….his whole life. He thought the best way to annihilate the human race would be to become one and infiltrate them.
I have….so many questions.
First off, why? Why? For all of it. Why? If the main aim of these robots is to kill all humans and basically assume human identities that will inherit earth for whatever reason, why not just kill them all and be done with it? Why spend decades in a human skin trying to infiltrate them when you have a massive robot army who could wipe them out with no issue?
Second, how did he create a daughter if he’s always been a robot? How did his wife never find out?
Third, why did he freak out in the restaurant if he already knows of the robots and is one? Not just in his actions but the narration gives us his thoughts.
Fourth, why did he stay ‘in character’ during those six months if he’s a robot? If the robot apocalypse was already happening, what is the point? Join them and kill all humans.
Fifth, why bother saving his wife and daughter from the robots if he was planning on trapping and killing them anyway? This whole six months+ ordeal seems to be for the sake of leading a small group of survivors, including his family, into a fatal trap, but if he wasn’t helping them this whole time, they’d already be dead.
Sixth, how did his wife and daughter survive that whole time in their house? It’s not even barricaded.
Seventh, why did he go to the restaurant in the first place? He was alone. Robots don’t need food.
But the episode isn’t even over yet. We see that this whole thing is a virtual reality simulation that the dad bot is watching in the future – basically a recreation of historical events kinda thing. In all of its expositiony glory, his now robot wife explains that humans have been wiped out for years and they enjoy their future with their robot daughter.
Even the art was the worst for this segment. It’s all craggy and yellow with weird details. And the childish manner in which it’s drawn sucks out any horror the episode may have had.
The music was a little cool, but that’s about it.
Episode 6:The Nightmare that Disappeared into the Sand – A monster washes up on a beach and, surprise, it’s really a monster. Three dumbass self-absorbed teenagers get eaten by it.
I have nothing else to say. It’s really boring.
Episode 7: The Innocent Clown – PBBBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTTTTTT AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Oh my god! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oooh….*sigh* Congratulations – you are one of very few pieces of media to actually make me laugh at clowns.
First and foremost, the ‘animation’ of this episode completely ruins any semblance of horror, because the ‘animation’ is just photographs. Nothing drawn here, just photographs ‘animated’ in quick succession.
Second, this one is cheap enough to use jump scares, because no one ever likes to see clowns suddenly appear.
Third, because this isn’t animated, we can clearly see that this clown is just a guy in a cheap clown costume.
Fourth, the story goes that there’s an urban legend about cloudy days. If you stay inside on a cloudy day, a clown will appear from another dimension and kidnap you. Don’t laugh yet, that’s not what I’m nitpicking at the moment. When we see outside, it’s clearly sunny…..Just sayin’….we’re not blind.
Fifth, what the hell is that urban legend? If that were real, nearly everyone would get kidnapped.
Running down the story real quick, a girl and her younger sister are inside of their home during a sun—cloudy day. The younger one has her back turned to us the entire episode…..so she’s obviously a jump scare. As the older one is brushing her hair, she sees a clown appear in the mirror. It disappears and reappears on the patio to jump scare the audience.
The older sister finds that she is paralyzed and the clown is actually targeting her sister. The older sister uses all of her strength to cover the mirror with her body, which seems to deter the clown, assuming the mirror was the portal to the other dimension.
The sister is safe, the older sister is now able to move freely, but the younger one still won’t turn around. When she does, jump scare, the clown’s face is photoshopped onto her…..pbbbtttHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh and the older sister is kidnapped by the clown and dragged through the mirror, only to be discovered by the real younger sister when she returned later that day. Apparently the younger sister was the clown the whole time? How does that make sense? She was there long before the clown entered. And, what, does that mean he was just dicking around that entire time? For what purpose?
Eh, who cares? This episode is only remotely creepy if you’re deathly afraid of clowns. Pretty good for a hearty laugh, though.
Episode 8:The Mysterious Natives Who Never Get Sick – Stupidest one yet, in my opinion.
There’s a tribe of natives that never gets sick. A research team went to investigate why they’re able to stay so healthy, but they went missing. Concerned about his wife, the leader of the team, a man named John, went to the area to find the tribe and locate his wife. They say they’ll show him to her but only if he agrees to learn their secret too.
John agrees, and they knock him out with a weird gas animation. When he awakens, he finds his wife, Mary, and the research team dressed as cavemen and he’s now in his shorts. Mary states that the secret to their health is people. They shrink them down to microscopic levels and force them to combat pathogens entering their system, otherwise they’ll die.
Why the caveman outfits? Why is John the only one in normal shorts? Why are humans more adept at combating pathogens than your own white blood cells? How are they surviving in there? Poking at them with a stick probably wouldn’t do much. Humans are covered in germs and microorganisms and you’re injecting them into your system. You’re essentially loading yourself up with pathogens to fight off pathogens. How are they shrinking them? Do they have an endless supply of research teams to inject themselves with or do they sacrifice their own people sometimes? Why don’t the people just die? It’s morbid, but surely you’d die anyway from a lack of food or water. If I had to choose between a lifetime of battling germs with sticks in someone’s blood stream or dying, I probably wouldn’t hesitate too much, especially considering that battling the germs just helps the people who did this to you in the first place.
Episode 9:The Cursed Box that Brings Misery – One thing this series kinda has going for it is the ridiculous plot twists it throws at us. Even if they’re stupid, the audience typically doesn’t expect the turn the story takes. Here, it’s just a cursed box. When you look at it, you’ll either die or get possessed and kill people. The end.
The narrator makes it seem all spooky by saying ‘Now you looked at the box’ so now I guess everyone who watches this will die. Better tell everyone in a Youtube comments section.
Episode 10:The Strange Mask that Sees the End – Got a pretty good one here. It’s an original premise, though the ‘supernatural mask’ is one that’s been done time and again, and they do some pretty creative things with both the story and the animation to make it seem creepy and unsettling. This is one episode I won’t spoil for you.
Episode 11: The Call from Beneath the Earth – These people are insanely stupid. The story’s stupid too, but these people in particular are stupid.
A couple goes to an island that is covered in creepy statues. There, they meet a creepy woman. She tells them of a legend where couples would swear their love to each other in a different location where there are more creepy statues out in the middle of the jungle. The idiots follow the creepy woman, continuing to find creepy statues along the way. She leads them to a creepy cave where they find a creepy altar and, surprise surprise, it was a trap.
The cave is filled with eyeless cave dwellers who have lost all of their senses from living underground (I’m pretty sure they only lost their sense of sight considering they can have conversations, but whatever. Also, she navigates above ground very well for someone with no senses) They want their ‘light’ which is their way of saying they want their senses so they can live above ground again. Seeing as how the woman can function just fine above ground, I don’t see what this is about. Why are they even underground to begin with?
The cave dwellers spew some liquid onto the couple, which turns them into stone. The statues were really people the cave dwellers have attacked this whole time since the liquid not only seems to petrify them, but also mutates them I guess?
The narration then says they turn regular people into these statues because they hate them so much for their senses and ability to live in the light. They thought that giving the light dwellers as offerings to…whoever, they’d get their light back. The end.
This one only got a little lenience because the petrifying liquid thing surprised me a little and is kinda creative.
Episode 12: The Red Eyes at the Bottom of the Sea – This just reeks of a low budget B movie.
A mad scientist kidnaps a guy vacationing with his wife at the beach and performs an experiment on him that turns him into a humanfish: A human-fish hybrid….the end. I was starting to crack a smile at how silly the whole thing was, but, ultimately, it was just boring.
Episode 13:The Tree Shrouded in Fog – This one is alright, but bittersweet.
A girl is walking through the foggy woods trying to reach her grandmother’s house. Three handsome young men try to stop her, warning her of the dangers of the foggy woods. She proceeds anyway since she must reach her grandmother’s house. As she walks, the fog gets incredibly dense, and she soon sees shadows which take the form of her grandmother, who abuses her, and the students and teachers who used to bully her for being an orphan.
She runs away from the visions and meets the three young men again. They tell her that the fog takes the form of whatever she fears most, but they’ll lead her to a tree where all of her sadness will dissipate. She finds her deceased mother welcoming her with open arms as she reaches a clearing. The young men explain that they’ll gladly give her this happiness, but she must give up her body. A tree appears in place of all five of them with knots in the shapes of their faces, happily together forever. They say that new knots shaped like faces are added whenever the fog lifts.
Bottom Line: As a whole, this series could’ve been much worse, but it’s still very hit or miss. The source material lends itself to being mostly goofy over being interesting or scary, and that hurts it a lot.
They have some nice art styles here, and they do some clever things with the animation sometimes, but the art can also be terrible with weird animation choices that actually harm the story more than help it.
Like the art and stories, the music is also hit or miss. Some selections are really cool, catchy and haunting while others are incredibly silly or annoying. The ED is the one consistent song that kept being praised in the comments, and while I agree that the song is good, it’s also repetitive and not great.
It’s an alright series to sit through if you’re itching for something in the same realm as Yami Shibai, but, while there is one really good story in here, it’s definitely one of the biggest mixed bags I’ve ever watched.
Additional Information and Notes: Sekai no Yami Zukan was produced by TV Tokyo, who also produced Yami Shibai, and it was animated by ILCA, who also animated Yami Shibai….Starting to believe this was meant to be an actual off-shoot of Yami Shibai but they opted to have it be its own thing while also seeming very similar to it. It is not currently licensed in the US.
Recommended Audience: There’s some violence and a little bit of blood as well as ‘scary situations’ but no nudity or sex. 10+
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Plot: Yusuke Urameshi is a punk. He frequently skips class, doesn’t try in school, gets into street fights all the time and has run-ins with basically every type of authority figure that exists.
His home life is no better with a drunk lazy mom who seems to pay him no mind at all while loafing about the house. He does have friends, the model student, Keiko, and the fellow street punk, Kuwabara, but they seem to have just as poor of a view on Yusuke as everyone else does.
One day, Yusuke sacrifices his life to save a little boy by pushing him out of the way of a speeding car and getting hit in the process. Yusuke appears near his body as a ghost and is quickly greeted by a flying girl on a boat oar named Botan.
She is a shinigami or grim reaper, but she’s not greeting Yusuke to take him to the afterlife. She’s there to give him one more chance to live. He was not set to die that day, and no one in the other world believed Yusuke would ever risk his life to save a child – one that would’ve, ironically, not have died or even been hit in the first place. So Yusuke is getting a second chance to live due to the error.
Yusuke, however, is not sure he wants to return to his life since he believes everyone dislikes him and everything seems to dump more crap on him. In an effort to get him to see the true value of his life, Botan gives him some time to think about the decision.
In the meantime, Yusuke visits his wake and sees how utterly devastated most of the guests are – from his mother to Keiko and even to Kuwabara and one of his teachers. He even sees the grief of the mother of the little boy he saved.
After visiting his wake and taking everything into consideration, Yusuke meets with Botan again to agree to her offer, and Botan starts setting everything up to bring him back to life.
Breakdown: This has been my favorite pilot episode to an anime for a long long time. It is just so wonderfully written, so heartbreaking and so gripping that you can’t help but care deeply for each character, even Yusuke, from the get-go.
It’s also a shining example of how English dubs can really be just fantastic. There’s so much passion and emotion put into their line-reads here that it is one of my favorite dub jobs ever.
The only negative I really have about it is the fact that two of Yusuke’s teachers really seem like they’re over the top. I mean, one has a character design that just screams ‘weasel,’ the other looks like a serial killer and they’re both such complete assholes that they’re at Yusuke’s wake being thankful that he’s dead and even making jokes about how he probably died on accident while trying to steal the boy’s lunch money.
While Kuwabara makes the most impacting scene here, you really have to appreciate the subtleties of Yusuke’s mom’s short scene. She’s just sitting on the floor not saying a word or even showing any real emotion for much of the scenes, almost like she really didn’t care, and then suddenly she simply says Yusuke’s name and bursts into sobs.
Even the short scene with the little boy and his mother was very well done. It reflected the kid’s inability to really process the death of Yusuke and the gravity that the entire situation had on the mother. She’s both incredibly happy that her boy is alive yet devastated that another kid had to die to save him.
I will say that, while this is just an amazing opening episode, they don’t delve at all into the actual plot of the entire series yet, that being Yusuke eventually becoming a Spirit Detective and this show becoming essentially a tournament fighter.
The main characters were all very well-established from the start, the atmosphere was great, and this really does seem like a pretty original story.
The art basks in that lovely ’90sness that makes me smile, and while the animation isn’t amazing it’s still pretty damn nice for its time, the music is wonderful, and the OP and ED for this season stay very near and dear to my heart.
This was a great way to start off this awesome show, and I definitely look forward to going over this series again.
Next episode, Yusuke is brought to the spirit world to meet Koenma, ruler of the spirit world, in order to get him started on the task that he will need to complete in order to be brought back to life.
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Plot: Hirose Takuma has recently moved to a small village to live a more restful life due to his blindness. He soon meets a girl named Hayami and wants to befriend her. However, she rejects him. He is confused by her rejection until he learns that everyone in the village treats Hayami like garbage and no one bats an eye at it. She’s regularly mocked, bullied and beaten by her classmates while none of the adults do anything about it – some actually partake in it. Why is this? And why does Hayami feel that she deserves it?
Breakdown:WARNING: I AM GOING TO BE SPOILING NEARLY ALL OF THIS SERIES. SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM LINE IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN UNSPOILED.
Wow. Just wow. I haven’t seen an anime blow it so badly since….I can’t even come up with an example. I was somewhat excited about this series because I had heard that it was even better than Air. I was also somewhat dreading this series because the THEM Review shot this down to their lowest rating for the final four episodes due to a drastic change in the series….And I can pretty much understand why.
But let’s rewind a bit because the final four episodes are more about Hirose. Let’s tackle the Hayami angle, first shall we?
Like the plot synopsis says, she’s treated like garbage by the entire village. She’s regularly called a monster, a roach, and a lot of other vile insults. She’s constantly the target of terrible bullying like ruining her lunch or pouring toilet water on her head, and she’s regularly beaten by her fellow classmates. In addition, she lives in two cable cars up in the mountains alone. It’s so bad that I’m really left wondering why she doesn’t just leave….That’s never answered, by the way.
The reason for the bullying and the reason why she thinks she deserves all of it is because her family had a lot of power in the village and they caused a lot of pain and suffering for many of the villagers. Eventually, the village got sick of it, torched their house and drove her family out of the village, leaving her as the sole survivor. Why she stayed and didn’t leave with her family is never explained. I didn’t really understand if her parents were dead or ran out of town. They never make it clear.
Then Hirose comes into the picture and stirs up the village by standing up for her every now and then. And when I say that, I mean he stands up for her when boys are bullying her. When girls are, he never pipes up, which is annoying.
This plotline is solved rather suddenly. The kids suddenly stop abusing her and even become good friends with her just because Hinata told them to stop. The other villagers take a lot longer to stop, but it was so jarring that they went from turning their heads when she’s being beaten and bullied to going shopping with her in mere days.
This whole thing is somewhat stupid. She can’t control what family she was born into. She did nothing whatsoever to cause any heartache. Are the villagers really so stupid and cruel that they’d abuse a young girl just because she’s related to the family that was so terrible? They don’t see it at all hypocritical that they’re being no better if not worse than her family was by treating her like that? It’s a wonder anyone in this show grew up partially normally with parents who all have that mindset.
Hinata’s plotline is that she’s scared to death of her grandfather who is the village elder. I won’t spoil much of her plotline because it’s the best plotline in the series, in my opinion, but let’s just say her grandfather is really messed up.
Hirose’s plotline is where things really start unraveling. The THEM reviewer said that episode seven was the perfect ending to the series and that they would easily give the show a moderate rating if was left at episode seven, which finishes up Hinata’s storyline, but leaves a chunk of Hayami’s and all of Hirose’s in the balance.
To its credit, episode seven does seem like a series finale. It had credits over actual scenes and included a vocal song, a big reveal, a big inspiring moment, a bunch of tie-ups, it’s almost like that was the series finale, but they realized they still had to do four episodes by contract or something.
Episode eight was criticized by the same reviewer as being a big chunk of randomness. Otoha, who had been seen throughout the anime as a spirit that only Hirose could see, was suddenly a magical girl and everything around them was going nuts due to something in the spirit world. In order to gather magical energy, Hirose had to take charge of the situation and try to literally smack everyone back into reality. In the end, this is revealed to be an illusion that Otoha made for Hirose to see a book world that Hinata had made up when she was a child. Due to the connection between Otoha and Hinata, she thought that would be a good way to say farewell.
I wasn’t bothered by that episode. It was a final tribute to Hinata’s book that Otoha wanted to share with Hirose. Despite the randomness, it was kinda sweet.
Then we get to episode nine, which solidifies a relationship between Hirose and Hayami. That episode was also pretty sweet and cute, so I have no real problems yet.
Then we get to…….episode ten. Let’s backtrack – remember how I said Hirose was blind? Otoha grants him sight in the start of the series. No one questions why he suddenly has sight, but there it is.
In episode ten, since the Village Elder doesn’t want Hirose with Hayami, he reveals to Hirose that the Kohinata family, Hayami’s family, is the reason that Hirose’s mom killed herself.
The Kohinatas had set up an arranged marriage between his mother and a member of their family, but she met someone else, ran off, eloped and soon had Hirose. However, the Kohinata family soon found her and started pressuring her daily to divorce her husband and marry into their family. Details on what exactly ‘pressure’ means is beyond me. She couldn’t take the pressure anymore and jumped in front of a train one day when she was out with Hirose.
It is never, ever adequately explained, but I guess the emotional and mental trauma from that event caused him to go blind?
After Hirose learns of this, things seemingly go back to normal, but it’s soon obvious that Hirose can’t separate Hayami from her family. He begins having nightmares and hallucinations of Hayami dragging his mother in front of the train. This causes a few spontaneous emotional outbursts toward Hayami, which is unlike his gentle and quiet nature.
He drives Hayami away, and she becomes so angered that she starts beating a dam that was made to stop the water during the current rainstorm. Two of the harsher bullies from her school walk up, and she eggs them on saying that she’s going to destroy the town just like their parents said she would. The two bullies beat the crap out of her, and she continues to egg them on until one of them tries to strangle/drown her in the water.
She’s saved but walks away from the scene before she can get any medical attention.
She runs into Hirose, who doesn’t even ask her if she’s okay when she’s obviously been beaten to a pulp. He tries to apologize for what happened and says that he doesn’t blame her, but she prods and says that she is responsible. He snaps and starts beating the crap out of her while blaming her for his mother’s death. He stops his frenzy when he realizes that she’s unconscious and he faints as well.
This is where I fell off the wagon.
Hirose yelling at Hayami and having nightmares would be partly understandable. It has to be confusing to find out that your girlfriend is related to the people who drove your mother to suicide, so that might drive up bad memories and maybe a nightmare or two, but she had nothing to do with it! Just like she had nothing to do with anything else that she’s taking abuse for. In addition, it’s not like her family actually killed her or anything. They just pressured her to marry into their family.
Hirose’s a gigantic hypocrite. He was on everyone’s asses for blaming Hayami for the pain and suffering caused in the village when she was just a child who had nothing to do with it, yet here he is doing exactly that.
This entire show is built around the premise that Hayami is and must be a martyr. She must pay for her family’s sins and take all of the flak from the villagers despite being innocent for everything. It ridiculous.
Hayami wakes up and, despite being badly hurt, she is not in any life-threatening danger. Hirose, however, has yet to wake up. When he does wake up, he tells them that he’s gone blind again.
But hold on! We have a plot twist!
It turns out that Hirose had never regained his sight to begin with, and that he had fooled himself into thinking that he had. This is proven by mistaking details in a photo that he’s supposedly seen and showing drawings and writing he made that are scribbles.
So, yeah…..Hirose’s insane. He eventually gets so bad that he believes Hayami is his mother and that he’s a small child again.
After a big climax in which Hirose saves Hayami’s life from the villagers (They were going to kill her because she was going to leave…Yeah, that makes sense), he says he’ll protect his mother, Hayami.
Hirose’s uncle decides that it would be best to move him back to the old apartment that he and his mother used to live in back in Tokyo. Hirose’s father is never seen, by the way, which is incredibly weird. He’s all you have left now, he’s blind, yet you can’t even visit him? His uncle suggests that Hayami go with Hirose to act as his mother until he gets better.
Hayami and Hirose move, and they go through a few months with Hayami working as a paper-girl (those still exist?) and Hirose just hanging out because he’s so mentally ill.
One day, as they’re out shopping, Hayami tells Hirose that he has to believe that his mother loved him and didn’t abandon him like he thought. She had actually sacrificed her life for him after he tried to catch his ball that bounced across the railroad tracks.
To push the fact even further, I hope you’re sitting down for this, Hayami kills herself by throwing herself in front of a train just like his mother did. And just as she does that, his blindness is cured and he’s mentally sound.
No, I’m not kidding. In essence, to help someone get over a traumatizing event, just traumatize them again with something else. It’ll even clear up their physical disabilities!
He gets over his blindness AND gets over his crazy-ness by watching his girlfriend kill herself in the same way that his mother did? Just….just….wha–it….
Wouldn’t that just make him crazier?? Also…..hey, wait a second… If Hayami knew that, why did she let Hirose believe that her family drove his mother to suicide? Ugh, nevermind.
I’m not a doctor, but I believe I could find it plausible that someone could lose their sight after watching something particularly terrible and traumatic. At the very least, in an anime. I can even believe that he tricked himself into thinking that he had his sight back when he really didn’t, even if that does raise a multitude of questions (Like, how was he walking around town just fine? Why didn’t his friends think it was weird that Hirose was acting like he could see if he clearly couldn’t? If he never got his sight back, was Otoha just screwing with him? Just how?!) But him being cured of his supposed blindness AND mental illness by watching Hayami kill herself?
Oh and that’s not all. The end credits show everybody about 6-7 years in the future where Hinata is now the village elder (Where are her parents exactly?) and a baby is there too. (No, it’s not Hirose’s kid. It’s actually Hamaji’s, but it’s a long story. Dunno why they had that weird plotpoint in there. Hamaji was a really minor character…)
Hirose, full with sight and mental soundness, and his uncle have built a windmill where Hirose met Hayami because she loved pinwheels and windmills. All’s fine and dandy until a little girl runs up to Hirose while being chased by a boar. She looks, shockingly, like Otoha and is even named Otoha. She was reincarnated as a little girl and said that she pulled a lot of strings in the spirit world to pull ‘it’ off for him. When she runs off, he sees, yes, you guessed it, Hayami.
She was brought back to life thanks to Otoha. Because that won’t shock the living hell out of everyone in the village, will it? Then again, seeing as how his blindness being cured by Otoha wasn’t real, she could be an illusion for all we know too.
They could’ve completely avoided this if Hayami hadn’t been stupid enough to do that. The train sounds and alarm were enough to shock Hirose back to reality. She could’ve just pretended to kill herself, and that probably would’ve worked to get him back to normal. Gah!
I could’ve said “give this show a higher rating if you stop at episode seven” like the THEM review, but I can’t do that because episode seven would just leave you hanging on both Hirose and Hayami’s stories, so I’m kinda stuck.
The tone changes are also jarring. We can go from goofy and playful to sad and depressing to dark in mere minutes.
Hirose is a welcome change from your average harem main guy (even if we do have the mandatory beach episode where every girl is all over him and making him uncomfortable.) but he’s such a pushover when it comes to the girls. He’ll let them all push him around and he won’t say a thing about it. And like I said, if girls are the ones doing the bullying to Hayami, he won’t say a word. He just watches with a frown.
It’s really difficult to like any of the other main or side characters beyond Hirose and Hayami because, despite how they seem all cheery and happy, there’s this constant nagging in your head that these supposedly nice kids treat Hayami like complete garbage and don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. How can you like any of these characters when you know that they’re like that?
Art and Animation: The art in this series was fairly good, but the girls are designed oddly. They have normal sized heads, but insanely thin stick bodies. It makes you wonder how their necks support their heads.
Music: The music is wonderful and fairly unique. The OP is good and the ED has become one of my personal favorites.
Voice Acting:Japanese – The voices and acting are all wonderful. Hirose in particular has a very fitting voice. It’s very kind and gentle, much like what I would picture for Yuki from Fruits Basket.
Bottom Line: I enjoyed this anime for a while, but the ending really does kill it. Like…beat it with a shovel and set it on fire killed it. The main characters, by that I mean the main three, are usually likable, but I must reiterate that it’s really hard to like any of the side characters considering how they act around Hayami. The story, at least up until episodes seven and eight are great, if not somewhat frustrating at times, but the ending three episodes were so bad, it’s almost impressive.
It’s a ball of wtf wrapped in huh? and dipped in are you kidding me? It’s not a complete waste. The story between Hinata and Hayami, while being somewhat stupid at points, is nice. Hinata’s story is actually very interesting, and there are some heartwarming moments to be found there. If you’re a big fan of visual novel dramas and want something different than your usual fare, go right ahead and be very wary of the ending, but for anyone else, I’d say skip it.
Additional Information and Notes: H2O Footprints in the Sand was based on an eroge visual novel of the same name by Makura. The anime adaptation was produced by Zexcs and was directed by Hideki Tachibana.
Recommended Audience: There is some predictable blindness fanservice in episode one (Whoops I can’t see, I’m gonna fall down a lot while girls fall with their butts on my face. I still don’t get how that would ever happen, logically. How would you have to fall in order to achieve that kind of position?) and mild fanservice throughout. There’s also some heavy themes and ‘scary’ moments. I’d say…..13+
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Plot: Two ninjas, Marou and Hikage, are best friends. However, one day, in the wake of war, Marou suddenly turns on him and his ninja clan, injuring Hikage with a shuriken in the process. Hikage sets out to find him, but soon finds out that he is the leader of newly respawning Yoma who have been awakened and empowered by the blood, death and hatred of war. They call him Kikuga no Miko, and he plans to destroy the world with his army of Yoma. Hikage is the only one with a chance to save him or kill him.
Breakdown: This is a pretty ‘meh’ feature for the bulk of the first half. Two ninja are best friends from childhood. At least I assume as much. Quite literally the only evidence towards this is constant clips of them running through a field of flowers as children. One of them betrays the other and their ninja clan with only the other best friend able to stop him. Really a cliché plot point, even in the 80’s, but the show does a pretty good job of keeping you interested and entertained throughout it all.
Hikage’s a bit of a bore. Another common trope of ninja shows are main characters who are stoic and silent. While this can be fine and badass, Hikage gives off a more ‘not talking because I’m rude’ and ‘I’m very boring’ vibe. He’s not an awful main character as we can see that he does truly care about the people who get close to him, but for most of the OVA he’s pretty boring. His English dub voice actor doesn’t help at all. He sounds so bored most of the time.
Marou’s also a bit of a problem. Like I stated, we get no real insight into his and Hikage’s friendship outside of a constant scene of them running through a field of flowers as children. While they do a fairly good job at making us more emotionally connected to this character towards the very end, you feel no real emotion about his and Hikage’s situation for most of the show because we don’t know Marou outside of him being evil. The first scene in the series is him attacking Hikage and leaving the village.
Inuyasha did the same thing. The very first scene in Inuyasha is of him wreaking havoc in the village, stealing, possibly killing people, pretty sure he maimed Kaede, and basically painting the picture that he was a bad guy and Kikyo was the hero. Despite starting off rocky, through character development and backstory, we learned why he did this and that he is actually a good guy at heart. The whole mess was just a big misunderstanding. This OVA didn’t care enough to bother showing such background or development. He’s evil but we’re supposed to care about him because Hikage basically tells us to.
As another means to get us emotionally connected to his character, we have a bit of a plot twist near the end of the movie. Her name is Kotone and she was Marou’s wife before she was slain by Marou. She wanders the earth as a spirit and meets another character named Aya. We can emotionally connect with Kotone because her story is quite sad, but she does come right out of nowhere. She also serves as a bit of a weird plot device at the end of the OVA that I won’t spoil but it doesn’t make much sense to me.
Aya is actually two different characters over the course of the OVA. She’s a woman that Hikage meets in the first episode. She takes him to a village made up of travelers who live their lives getting drunk, partying and pretty much just ignoring the harshness of the world around them.
It’s later revealed that she, along with everyone else in the village, had horrible pasts that made them want to commit suicide. A Yoma created a village where travelers like her who have lost the will to live get to live relatively peacefully until the Yoma decides to eat some of them. I would suppose the other villagers don’t question this either because of the spell of the Yoma or because they’re all travelers and don’t find it odd when someone suddenly disappears. Hikage develops a bit of a thing for her, but she’s not the character who meets Kotone.
Aya #2 is a konoichi from a ninja village that Hikage meets in his travels. She’s being chased by ninjas from her village claiming that she killed their master. She denies this, but we never find out the story behind this accusation nor whether or not she actually did it. I’d say ‘no’ considering her demeanor and the fact that she doesn’t seem all that skillful as a ninja to kill a master, of all people, but we never learn for sure.
Aya’s….okay. While she has an interesting weapon (razor sharp wires that she can shoot from her hands) she doesn’t get to do a lot with it. She accidentally blinds one of her comrades and manages to hit a demon horse, but her attack actually ends up backfiring on her.
She’s not….annoying, per se. She does fall in love with Hikage faster than a Disney princess, but I do give her props for being practically the only one with a voice actress who seems to actually give a crap. She does get slightly annoying when captured, though, and seems to suffer from the same speech impediment as Miaka, Kagome, Tamahome and Inuyasha. She constantly yells Hikage’s name and can’t seem to save herself for the, no pun intended, life of her. Damn shame too, since she’s the only female fighter in the entire OVA.
There is plenty to like about this OVA, though. The atmosphere is fairly creepy, and there are some moments that are legitimately frightening. The Yoma, while having a very common theme of bugs such as spiders (okay, arachnids) and moths along with snakes, as the enemies were pretty good in design and fairly intimidating. Oh and did I mention there’s a werewolf-centaur in this movie? That’s either incredibly awesome or Mad Libs Yoma edition.
While you really only watch this for creepy scenes and fairly cool fights for a bulk of the OVA, the relationships are usually fairly sincere. I just wish we had gotten a bit more development for them to feel more emotionally connected.
Art and Animation: The art and animation are pretty dated. It was never distractingly bad, but it definitely showed its age. While many of the visuals were creepy and the character designs were okay, it still seemed quite rough and not very fluid.
Also, it kinda bothers me that Hikage wasn’t injured more than he was. He wears an eyepatch for the bulk of part one and we see that he didn’t even lose his eye – he just got a small cut under his eye from Marou’s shuriken. It wouldn’t bother me as much if the scar were actually noticeable. For a good chunk of part two I kept forgetting that he had that scar.
Music: Ehhhhhh. While not being particularly bad either, the music is also dated. And when I say that, I don’t mean it’s old traditional Japanese music to fit the era, I mean it’s really energetic synthesizer music. Sometimes the music does get distracting, but, for the most part, the score is okay.
Bottom Line: It’s a short, fairly decent watch for any fans of the genre. I see that people are actually quite mixed in their opinion of this show. Some say it’s awful, others say it’s okay and some say it’s awesome. I guess it’s not a taste for everyone, but you be the judge.
Additional Information and Notes:Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma was produced by JC Staff and Toho.
It was directed by Takashi Anno, and it was based off of a manga written and illustrated by Kei Kusunoki.
It is/was under an English dub license by ADV Films.
Runtime: 80 minutes
Recommended Audience: LOTS of blood, gore, guts and dead bodies. A couple of scenes are pretty damn gross in their graphic nature, and there’s never a shortage of blood flying around in battle. In terms of sex, there is none, no nudity either (well, there’s a naked baby at the end if that’s really offensive to you) some swearing peppered throughout, Aya #2 has a swearing streak for a bit. 16+
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Plot: The 13 Club is a website run by a mysterious man named Kudan and his associate Kasuka. The website is dedicated to exploring and spreading weird stories from true events to urban legends to possibly supernatural tales. The manga is a collection of various stories making up a sort of anthology.
Breakdown: While I did really enjoy this series both for its intriguing stories and the plot twists, I do have have to say that it felt very disjointed.
The first chapter, for example, is much more detailed in in its art style. It goes for a much more realistic look only shifting to a more traditional anime style when it came to the girls. It was also most notably fully shaded, offering a feeling of great depth and detail in the scenes that I adored.
However, after that, the realistic style and deep shading were gone and we shifted back to a more traditional style, which isn’t that bad considering that the manga is still very detailed, but why make the first chapter so beautiful when other chapters weren’t going to stand out as much?
Next, while this is an anthology of sorts, the third story goes on for way too long in my opinion. It spans over six chapters in this eleven chapter long series – over half the series is just this one story. It’s a good story, but it definitely didn’t need to go on as long as it did.
Finally, there’s no real theme with the stories. Some are supernatural based though we’re given no explanation as to what is going on with the stories, magic-wise, some are merely urban legends, and one’s a murder mystery. I guess that fits with the fact that their website covers all of these, but reading the stories in succession makes for a slightly weird read.
All of these factors made it sometimes feel like I was reading a different manga. For instance, the final story feels so much more different, almost a Zekkyou Gakkyuu vibe over the murder mystery.
I also don’t know who or what Kudan and Kasuka really are. They obviously have some form of supernatural capabilities, but they’re not explored at all.
Those complaints out of the way, as an anthology/short story lover, these stories do have a lot going for them on their own. Kudan is a pretty interesting character that I wish we got to see more of, and while the twists for some of the stories were predictable, they were still really fun rides. Even if the execution could use some work and I feel like it should’ve gone on for longer, especially since there’s no real ending, it’s still a fairly short and pretty cool read that I’d recommend to pretty much anyone.
Additional Notes and Information: 13 Club was written and drawn by Tatsuya Shihira and it was published by Ultra Jump.
Recommended Audience: There’s some brief nudity and some pretty damn freaky concepts. One little tidbit by Kudan actually made me pause my reading to cringe….Uegh….god, why did he have to say that?
There are some mentions of sex, but none actually shown. The language is also a bit coarse. 14+
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This one was pretty interesting because I have shipped many pairings in my day. Most canon, some not. Obviously I’m not including non-canon couples here, but my decision ultimately rested with who I most enjoyed seeing on screen and which relationship I think works the most.
In the end, I had another tie on my hands, but I’m justifying it by separating the two choices into a romantic couple where the show focuses on their romance and a romantic couple where the show has nothing to do with their romance (but they obviously remain main characters).
Overly specific cheating justification engaged!
My first choice is in Isaac and Miria from Baccano!
This is one of my favorite shows, as you’ve probably guessed by now, but it does get pretty dark and insane. Some good and consistent comic relief is needed, but it definitely shouldn’t be annoying. Cue Isaac and Miria, the best comic relief duo ever.
It takes talent to do comic relief correctly in a way that’s not stupid or grating over time, and these guys pass that test with flying colors. These two are crazy, but in a funny sense. Their banter and shenanigans are just so unique and enjoyable to watch, and who doesn’t love seeing these two get all dressed up in various costumes that don’t really help them with their crimes, when you think about it. They obviously love each other very much, and if not in a romantic sense, despite the fact that they’re canon lovers, then definitely in the vein of the best of best friends.
Not to mention that they’re just overall really nice people. They may be thieves, but they don’t really have malicious intentions. Their influence on the rest of the characters in the cast also can’t be ignored as they tend to bring out the best in everyone that they meet. These guys aren’t just one of my favorite anime couples, they’re also two of my favorite anime characters ever.
In more of a focus on romantic anime, I chose Chihiro and Renji from Ef: A Tale of Memories.
I have a bit of a love/ha–….err, alright, dislike with this show because while I love this pairing, the show also shares its focus with an annoying as hell and stupid love triangle, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to the actual review. For now, let’s focus on Chihiro and Renji.
For the most part, they have a pretty cut and dry relationship at first. He meets her at an abandoned train station that he likes to frequent and they hit it off pretty well. However, the drama starts the next day when he discovers that she doesn’t remember who he is or what happened the day before. See, Chihiro only has a 13 hour memory span due to an accident she had when she was a kid that also took her eye. She goes through the day relatively normally, but forgets the events of the previous day when she wakes up in the morning.
And before you say anything, yes and no to this being like 50 First Dates. It is in the sense that….well, its basically the same concept, but it’s not handled in a comedic manner at all. It’s just as tragic as it seems.
To combat her memory loss, Chihiro makes entries in her journal every night about the day’s events, and Chihiro reads these entries when she gets up in the morning. So, in a sense, she is aware of certain things that happened the previous day, but she doesn’t remember them.
Renji grows to care about and love Chihiro so much that he’s more than willing to stay with her even through this debilitating memory problem, but their relationship is still tried severely in various ways. Despite this, they do their best to stick together time and time again, and I loved watching every minute of it.
Honorable Mentions: Keiichi and Belldandy from Ah, My Goddess! (Very nearly made it), Yuki and Tohru from Fruits Basket (isn’t entirely canon, so blah), TK and Kari from Digimon (Completely unclear whether it’s canon)
I don’t keep up with new anime, and I hear great stuff about new shows all the time like Kill la Kill, Space Dandy etc. It’s not that I’m some anime hipster who refuses to watch new stuff, it’s just that my method of selection in terms of my watch list is almost entirely random so I can watch a good variety of shows both old and new.
There are both older shows and newer shows that I’m excited to watch, but I think the one I’m most looking forward to is Durarara!
After enjoying Baccano! So much and knowing that this is both a spiritual successor and takes place in the same universe, I am really looking forward to watching it. Plus, the clips I have seen of it are just insanely awesome. The art is great and really stylized, the animation is very fluid and the characters look very interesting. Plus, it just looks like just as much crazy and dark fun as Baccano! Was, so I can’t wait until I finally get a chance to watch this. Plus, there’s a guy who seems to rip stuff like street signs and cars off the street like they’re pillows and fights with them.
As some runners-up, I’d say Code Geass, even though practically all of the show’s been spoiled for me in one way or another, Kanon, Clannad and the Black Jack series.
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