Category Archives: Anime Review

Ancient Magus Bride – Anime Review

Over the last couple of months for me, Sunday morning has been the following routine. Wake up, make a pot of earl grey tea and make whatever it is I feel like having for breakfast whether that be toast with mulberry jam, a simple bowl of cereal or something a bit more complex. Put my breakfast and pot of tea and milk on a tray and take it back into my room, boot up my PS4 and open Crunchyroll and watch the latest episode of Ancient Magus Bride. In the time of this anime airing, I have only not done this routine once and this was because I was away from home. Watching this show became a weekly routine for me and I imagine many other anime fans around the world and there is a reason for this, there is a warmth magic to this series beyond its supernatural themes.

Beginning in the Fall 2017 anime season and completing in the Spring 2018 anime season, Ancient Magus Bride is a slow burn of an anime that gives you information about its world bit by bit each episode. This can be infuriating to some viewers who may have come into this show expecting something like Little Witch Academia with its flashy animation and out there and loud characters, but Ancient Magus Bride is not that kind of story, if I was to match its tone with any other anime I have watched I would say it has a tone very similar to that of Black Butler during it’s more serious moments. Not to say there are no funny or amusing moments within this series, there are some very cute and funny moments especially when the fairy folk turn up in the series.

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The fairy folk and other magical beings throughout the series are something you do not see in a medium like anime and manga very often. Quite often within the realms of anime and manga when the supernatural comes into the story it is nearly always from eastern mythology, which of course makes sense because these would be the stories that would most fascinate the writers of modern tales in Japan. Seeing the western lore throughout the series was a very welcome change, I became especially excited when the Queen of the Fairies herself Titania and her husband Oberon king of the Fairies made their appearance within the story of this series. If you are a fan of western mythology and love tales of witches, mages, and dragons you need to check out this awesome anime series.

But the biggest draw for this series for me when it came to this series, the relationship between Chise and Elias had me hooked from the start, this could be because I have a bit of love of the beauty and the beast love story, my love of Okane Ga Nai should be enough proof of that one. But this is not your typical story of that type and I love that it breaks that mold! Yes, the beast of this story buys the beauty of the story but she does not see herself as a beauty. Chise at the beginning of the series is a very broken woman and the strange world of magic and mages that Elias pulls her into slowly brings her out of her shell and things also become obvious early on that Chise is no ordinary human and her potential is almost unlimited. We also get to learn a lot of Elias throughout the series and get to see behind the proper mask he seems to hide behind, underneath his scary appearance and deep voice he can actually at a lot of times be very immature but as we learn more about him it becomes obvious why he is this way.

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If you are looking for an anime that will be a fun slow burn that will hit you over and over again emotionally I highly recommend this series enough, though I suspect if you are a hardcore anime fan you have already watched this, in my opinion, this is also a good anime to show a friend who is a fan of supernatural stories but not anime. This would make an awesome gateway anime to share with friends!

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Forgotten Love Letter to Final Fantasy Fans – Final Fantasy Unlimited Review

An anime originally scheduled for a two seasons which would have equaled fifty two episodes was cut short. It was planned to be a grand gesture to the fans. So what happened? The box office flop of a movie called Final Fantasy Spirits Within is said to have resulted in a major budget blow to the series and this can be seen a lot in the final five episodes of this twenty five episode anime from 2001. This is the tale of Final Fantasy Unlimited an unfortunate dark horse of potential that could not bare it’s own ambition with such a high handicap and the fans that judged it so cruelly.

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Final Fantasy Unlimited is an original story with the trappings of a Final Fantasy tale. It has Chocobo, familiar monsters making appearances, summons and a mechanic genius named Cid. The story follows twin children Ai and Yuu as they travel on the mysterious ghost train from their home in the real world to the mysterious Wonderland in search of their missing parents. On their journey they meet new friends in the mysterious Lisa, who can fight monsters and dangers with her strange martial arts. Lisa becomes a sort of guardian for the children as they journey through Wonderland. Yuu upon entering Wonderland befriends a chocobo which joins them on their journey. They also meet a strange man named Kaze, who has the power to summon powerful beasts to help fight the bad guys of this world. Each time he is about to summon he must activate his weapon the Magun and each time this happens we see a sort of transformation sequence for the gun that reminded me of the kind of sequences you see in magical girl anime. This sequence happens at least once every episode and can at times feel like a Deus Ex Machina answer to when the adventurers are in a tough spot. Though it does not stay this way for long, for there are many dangers within the world of Wonderland. As they are chased through the strange world of Wonderland the travelers come across both friends and enemies. They find friends in the resistance group known as the Commodeen to the cruel Earl Tyrant and his Lords of Gaudium.

This series has so much potential which is the cruelest part of this review. For I cannot judge a series for what it could have been. To put it bluntly the series as a whole is a cluster fuck of a mess. Countless interesting story points are brought up from episode to episode and they seem really cool and where this comes in the most is with the silent hero of the series Kaze. We are given hints throughout the series that there is something more to this man and every time we get answers for him all we are left with it more questions. For viewing pleasure the series is a fun ride but if you are hoping for the deep and dramatic levels of story telling that the Final Fantasy franchise is known for you are going to be very disappointed.

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Hitorijime My Hero – Boys Love Review

86825It has been a long time since I have seen a new boys love anime that has made me sit and think, this is a perfect starting point anime for a new generation of fujoshi. I also think my family might be sick of hearing the opening theme song Heart Signal by Wataru Hatano from my bedroom. It’s upbeat rhythm and lyrics are the perfect accompaniment to this most recent boys love anime. But what is it about this series that has me and so many other fujoshi falling in love?

The anime tells the story of Masahiro Setagawa a very jaded youth who learned early on in life that there are no heroes in real life. His home life is not the best as his only parent seems to never be around and when she is home it is often with ‘clients’. Because of this he does not spend much time at home and has fallen in with a bad crowd simply so he has something in his life that he can latch onto. This falls apart for him however when this bad crowd is taken out by a local vigilante. From there Setagawa life spirals in a new direction with him making his first real friend and then finding out that that vigilante that took out his ‘friends’ is his new friend’s older brother. Has Setagawa found a real-life hero? Or is real-life more complicated than that? It is and that is where the drama of this series comes from.

We see the relationship between Setagawa and his friends older brother Kousuke bud, bloom and even begin to wilt as the series goes on. It becomes very obvious that the two care for each other very much and watching them come over there personal struggles whether that be the fact that Kousuke becomes Setagawa’s school teacher or how those around the two friend and family alike will react to their relationship. There is also another boys love relationship that takes center stage at the beginning of the series between Kousuke’s younger brother Kensuke and his childhood friend who he lost contact with after the other boy moved away and this adds some very sweet moments to the story. I really liked this part of the story because it showed two different relationships throughout the story and the differences between the two relationships adding some very interesting contrast to the series.

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My biggest worry when this anime came out was the lack of it being on any legal anime streaming sites, but in the last couple of weeks I have found out that it is streaming on one of the lesser known streaming sites! HiDive is a newer player in the anime streaming game and if you have been putting off watching this series simply because you could not find a legal stream I cannot recommend checking these guys out enough! Any streaming service that offers boys love or yaoi has my vote to use it! This is why I was so happy when AnimeLab, an anime streaming site here in Australia and New Zealand added shows like Dramatical Murder and Junjou Romantica to their roster.  If we want to see more boys love anime released in our regions we need to support when they come to these platforms.

I’m curious, what anime did you keep up with this past season? Also stay tuned to Yaoi Playground for a special announcement tomorrow!

 

Kiss Him, Not Me – Anime Review

One thing I have always found fascinating within anime is the meta-joke of an anime fan within an anime series and this is probably why I have had so much enjoyment in the past from anime like Genshiken, Lucky Star, Oriemo, and the more recent Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu. There is a cathartic satisfaction in seeing characters enjoying the medium we love within that medium we are enjoying ourselves. This brings me to this weeks review of Kiss Him, Not Me – a reverse harem series with a die-hard fujoshi right there in the center of all these pretty boys.

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^This right here is my biggest issue with the series. Keep reading to find out why.

Premiering in the Fall 2016 anime season, Kiss Him, Not Me opening episode is what made me stop watching it at first if I am completely honest and a lot of it had to do with how the main character Kae Serinuma was presented to us as the audience. The stereotypical, not so pretty fujoshi girl and then I found myself rather annoyed with her quick transformation to a hottie as well. As someone who has struggled with my weight for the better part of the last decade, it was infuriating to see this transformation in her. That being said I found it amusing how quickly the attitude of the boys around her changed when she physically changed because this reaction from them did very accurately show the difference in how people of different weight and treated and seen by society. The only thing I really liked about this physical transformation in the character was that it was only physical. Even after she changed her appearance she was still the same hardcore, anime loving, boy shipping fujoshi.

Now I have stated before that I am not a huge fan of the harem genre of anime. I find many of the protagonists in them, one dimensional and boring, luckily Kiss Him, Not Me does not completely fall into this category, but I could be biased on this with this one series because I did at times find her more relatable than other harem leads. Unfortunately, all the other problems I have with the harem genre were present in this series. The boys side of the harem I found incredibly dull and predictable and the same went for a lot of the humor in this series for me, that being said I get the feeling that if this anime had come out a decade ago I would have lost it laughing and have been able to get a lot more enjoyment out of this series.

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If you are a fan of the harem genre and want to check out something a little different but not completely groundbreaking then I can recommend this series to you. I can also recommend this series to fellow fujoshi who enjoy laughing at themselves because a lot of younger fujoshi will most likely find our main lead very relatable. What’s your favorite anime featuring anime fans? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Orenchi no Furo Jijou – Anime Review

From the monster girls in Monster Musume and Interviews with Monster girls to the more recent Centaur no Nayami which is currently airing this anime season, there has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of anime involving demi-human characters and the genres of yaoi and boys love is of no exception to this growing trend. From looking at a manga like Selfish Mr. Mermaid and the anime This Boy Caught a Merman it becomes pretty obvious which demi human species is popular amongst the fujoshi fandom, that being the character of the merman. I find myself wondering if this love may stem from the mermaid arch type of character many young girls love as children seen in stories like The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan. In this review, I will be writing about one series that focuses on a demi-human, fish out of water story with some hilarious comedy.

Orenchi no Furo Jijou is a short form anime from 2014 with 13 episodes with each episode lasting a little over 4 minutes. The series tells the story of Tatsumi, a boy who lives on his own who one day while on the way home from school finds a man washed up on the shore of a river near his home. He decides to help the man but upon helping him finds out he is a merman. What follows is an amusing slice of life series about Tatsumi trying to figure out what exactly to do with the merman Wakasa who now squats in his bathtub and the merman’s various friends who come to visit the two of them.

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Tatsumi’s deadpan reactions to the merman and his various friends that include an octopus, a jellyfish, and a sea snail (yes I said sea snail) are what make the comedy of this series for me. There are also quite a few lewd innuendoes in the conversations between the characters that will have any hardcore fujoshi laughing. This makes for an anime that is good quick fix when you are having a bad day which is why I love these short run time anime so much. Also if you enjoy the anime you should definitely check out the manga it is based on which introduces even more characters to Tatsumi’s already packed bathtub!

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Do you have a favorite anime featuring demi-human characters? What do you think of this modern trend? Let me know in the comments down below!

 

Is Boku no Pico an Allegory on Child Sexual Abuse?

Throughout this post there will be several hyperlinks within the text, these links will lead to further information about the subjects discussed in this post. I have done this because many of the themes discussed within this post are of a difficult nature to write and talk about, that being child sexual abuse. This will not be a review for everyone to read and I know this, but at the same time, I feel this review needs to be written because these are subject matters that need to be discussed more often. We can not as a society just stand by and pretend that this kind of abuse does not happen because ignoring a problem does not make it magically disappear. An obvious trigger warning is needed for this one, but if you think you can handle this subject matter you may continue reading ahead, if not well I thank my followers now for their continuing support and don’t worry the next review will be something a lot lighter in nature I promise.

From the abuser normalizing sexual behavior to an underage child, the child acting out inappropriately / sexually around other children and finally entering into a world of escapism and fantasy this cycle of abuse and copping can be found within the three episodes of the infamous ‘Pico’ OVA anime series. Dubbed by some simply as Boku… I think we have all have seen the meme by this point and know it’s warning of ‘Don’t watch an anime called Boku’ and in all honesty, you really should not watch this anime. In many countries around the world, anime fans are walking a knife edge when it comes to child protection laws and anime which in other words means in many countries just viewing this anime is illegal. That being said I hope this review piece of the anime will be enough to satiate any curiosity you may have about this anime.

Throughout the first episode, we see disturbing and downright predatory behavior from Tamotsu who the young Pico nickname’s Mokkun, the scariest of this being how normal and good-natured his behavior towards Pico can seem. DuoReview goes into great detail analyzing the mindset of Tamotsu in their video Anime Theory: Pico’s Love is a Lie. In the video, he theorizes on Tamotsu’s state of mind and gives the reason behind his actions throughout this first ep. Going into themes of not being able to cope with his own latent homosexuality as well as his own desperation for sex and willingness to get it however he can. Though valid points I do believe there is more to the story than this. I will, however, say this, no matter what the reasoning behind Tamotsu’s actions at the end of the day he is a predator and nothing can excuse his disgusting behavior with Pico. The word to describe his actions towards the young Pico throughout this first ep is  ‘Grooming‘.

From what starts as slight teasing in front of Pico’s grandfather in the cafe, to subtle touches like innocent hand-holding while walking down a pathway, to holding and sniffing Pico when the young boy is distracted and looking through a pair of binoculars, all of these to an adult looking in could be seen as somewhat questionable behavior especially the sniffing.

And then there is the infamous car scene.

The first shown act of sexual assault in the anime is that infamous scene. During the entire act, Tamotsu continues to tell Pico that it is OK and ‘it does not hurt right?’ a common tactic it seems to be used by predators. All these steps are there to normalize this sexual behavior to Pico and the proof that this becomes a normal feeling to Pico is shown in a later scene where the two of them are caught in the rain. Tamotsu comments that he should have brought the car to which Pico calls him a pervert and laughs because ‘you always do that in the car.’ What this tells us is that the first incident in the car has happened many times again and to Pico, this ritual of abuse has become a normal routine for the boy which is shown in an earlier scene when Pico was excited to see Tamotsu pick him up from his grandfather’s cafe.

As the story of this episode comes to a disturbing ‘climax’ it becomes obvious that the level of abuse on Pico is becoming progressively more depraved, from introducing Pico to the fetish of cross-dressing (I have no issue with cross-dressing as fetish, what I have an issue with here is the sexual fetishization of the act with a child, I myself enjoy a lot of non sexual cross-dressing) and then finally the act of anal intercourse with a child a scene where it is obvious Pico is in pain and once again his abuser tells him it will be OK. It becomes obvious by the end of this scene that Pico has picked up that there is possibly something wrong with what is going on between him and Tamotsu and upon the young boy asking what he means to the older man, the awkward expression from Tamotsu speaks so much and yet once again like every other moment of turbulence between the two; the victim and the abuser once again the adult of the situation talks his way out of it with the young boy.

The relationship that grows between Tamotsu and Pico throughout this first episode is on so many levels of disturbing. It is a systematic abuse of power on Tamotsu’s part and he can only be described as a manipulative monster towards Pico, but he is also the catalyst for the dark road Pico goes down with the following episodes of this OVA series. For if Pico had not had contact with Tamotsu it is unlikely that the other two stories would have happened.

The audience does not exactly know how much time has passed between the first and second episode of this ova series, however, the change of location can be seen as a sign that a stop has been put to Pico’s interaction with Tomatsu. The fact that throughout the rest of the series Pico does not at all bring his ‘special friend’ up in any conversation can tell us that Pico could be actively trying to suppress his memories of his time with him. That being said it becomes obvious upon Pico meeting a younger Chico that a lasting effect has been left on Pico. Though it does not always happen studies have shown that children who are sexually abused themselves are more likely to become predators. This does not mean however that all victims become abusers and should be remembered, but there is also a greater risk of children who have been interfered with acting out sexually with themselves or others there is also the chance that the victim will downright reject any form of intimacy later on in life whether that be sexual or otherwise. Though two completely different outcomes it is near impossible to predict how a child with react to the trauma of abuse and it is important for adults around these children to keep a close eye on them but not so much so that the child feels smothered and fearful.

Pico is clearly not given any proper supervision or guidance during this time as he is never shown around a responsible adult. This, of course, does raise many questions as to the boys family life and relationships but these are never explored within the anime. The only family of Pico’s we see throughout the series is his grandfather who outright handed the boy over to his abuser. Could this perhaps be a hint that Pico does not have a stable home life? If this is the case it would most definitely explain to us a few things about Pico’s personality around others. He very quickly grows attached to new people, which could be a sign that Pico is looking for some sort of comfort or acknowledgment because he is not getting this at home.

In his first encounter with the younger boy Chico, he simply watches him swim naked in a river. We can not tell at this point what is going through Pico’s mind when he see’s the other boy, but it becomes very clear early on that Pico feels comfortable around this other child who seems to enjoy frolicking naked in the countryside whether this is Pico taking advantage of Chico’s naivety and innocence one cannot be completely sure. The two become close very quickly and as soon as the opportunity to act out sexually with his new friend arises upon the two spying on Chico’s older sister masturbating one night Pico goes from victim to abuser himself.

The only other noteworthy moment of the second OVA is the final sexual act between the two boys being caught in the act by Chico’s sister, her own reaction to the situation is as disturbing as what Tamotsu’s was in the first episode. Though she does not herself have sexual contact with either boy, she does bring herself to sexual gratification from watching them.

There is an odd atmosphere to the third and final episode in this series, it feels like it is far from grounded in reality and here is why. Throughout this final episode power lines in the background appear and disappear almost like someone losing track of there own thought processes. The story also takes place in Tokyo one of the most densely populated cities in the world and yet other than Pico, Chico and their new friend CoCo no one else is seen in this city. It is almost as if the characters in this episode have lost touch with reality itself and this is because they have. Much like how many have theorized that Alice in Wonderland is a tale of an acid trip (though many argue against this because there has been little evidence that Lewis Carroll was an abuser of drugs) I believe that this final episode is Pico finally losing touch with reality and I theorize that perhaps CoCo was the one to get Pico and Chico hooked on some kind of drug. Of which I cannot be sure but i believe that that final infamous sex scene on Tokyo Tower is one last drug trip that the three of them never wake up from.

One last side note before I close this review, you may think that I have reached the pinnacle of the depraved when it comes to the darker side of yaoi. Well, I can tell you right now my readers, there is one manga out there that has topped Boku no Pico for disturbing, but that will be a post for later this year, perhaps October even…

Am I reading too much into an anime that does nothing more than sexualizes young boys? Perhaps, but that does not make this theory any less true for real victims of abuse out there. Child sexual abuse is a problem worldwide, from child brides and church cover-ups to the real-life monsters that many children have to face on a daily basis. We are doing more today than ever before to help the victim’s of these atrocities and we as the adults of this world need to protect the next generation of children and those beyond so that we can hope for a world in the future where every child can feel safe.

My Sexual Harassment – Boys Love Classic Review

5688-677013817Junya Moshizuki has landed an amazing entry-level job at a big company and what makes it even better is one of the managers, one that he looks up to and admires has taken an interest in teaching the ropes of the business world. Little does he know his manager is grooming him for a darker underside of the corporate ladder. A side where sex is used as a negotiating tool between not only companies but higher-ups in the company as well.

With a title like ‘My Sexual Harassment’, one might expect an anime filled with very little plot, countless moments of dubious consent and of course lots of rape. The last two are definitely there in all three episodes of this yaoi OVA from 1994 – 1995 but it is not the main focus of this infamous yaoi title. One element from the second episode has even reached meme status not just in the yaoi community but the anime community as a whole, though a certain scene from the Adult Swim cartoon Aqua Team Hunger Force that has also become a part of that meme and skyrocket it even more into popularity online. Joking aside however this anime does tackle some very sensitive subject matters, so for some a ‘trigger warning’ may be needed.

tumblr_lqedu0ly4q1r0bp02o1_500From the obvious themes of workplace sexual harassment, this anime also extends into themes of not only dubious consent and emotional manipulation but also the toll it can take on a characters self-image and personality, something many modern boys love anime don’t seem to want to explore. What do I mean by this exactly? Well, sexual assaults seem to happen in many modern boys love series but are not treated as such. From the scene between Misaki and Usami in the first episode of Junjou Romantica to the first sexual encounter between Izumi and Ryouma in Love Stage!! Both these scenes have one thing in common, they are both sexual assaults. In both cases, Misaki and Izumi are touched without consent by the other, and this is the start of a happy relationship? It is because of scenes like these that give people the idea that yaoi fans have a fetish for rape. I’m not against depicting these kinds of scenes in a story but there need to be some bloody consequences for these actions! Though I will give some credit to Love Stage, Ryouma does feel bad afterward and Izumi is scared of Ryouma afterward as well, so that is something and they have to work for the trust.

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My Sexual Harassment’s ending, however, feels like a proper ending to the situation with everything that happens throughout the episodes coming to a head with a conclusion that, though not a happy ending is a realistic one to the situation. You see real growth with Moshizuki throughout the series as he pretty much loses not only his own innocence but grows into a cynic by the end of it all.

If you have been putting off watching this yaoi classic simply because of the title, I must say you are missing out on an anime that treats its subject matter with respect and that will open your eyes to the in-depth stories that can be found in the yaoi genre. To those who are only curious about the corn thing – episode 2, but there is more to this anime than just a meme I can assure you on that one.

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