Tag: 2014

Ping Pong the Animation

Ping Pong the Animation

Ping Pong the Animation anime series cover art
Ping Pong the Animation

Series Overview

Ping Pong the Animation (ピンポン THE ANIMATION) is both a sports anime and one of the best anime series I’ve watched. Just earlier this month, in my review of Iwa Kakeru!, I was complaining that I always seemed to watch sports anime that are okay at best. Well, that run has come to an end now that I’ve seen Ping Pong.

Along with being a sports anime, Ping Pong is a psychological drama. And for me, this is really where the anime shines. Yes, it’s about ping pong. But more than that, it’s about how various characters from different backgrounds view and develop around the sport they love.

Also, this series was directed by Masaaki Yuasa, so from the start, there was a pretty high chance of it being good. He’s directed things like Samurai Champloo, The Tatami Galaxy, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Devilman: Crybaby, and more. The only anime I’ve seen by him that I didn’t think was at least above average was Japan Sinks: 2020. But my issue with that series was the plot, not his directing.

Basically, what I’m trying to say by all of this is that Ping Pong is one of the best anime I’ve seen in terms of being able to tell a character-driven story. There’s a loose plot, but the vast majority of the series is pushed forward via the development of the characters, which I’ll go into in more detail later on.

Now, before going any further in this review, I should probably address the biggest thing stopping people from watching Ping Pong: The art style. Yes, Ping Pong looks “ugly.” Get over it. You’ll be used to the art style by the time you finish the first episode. And, the art style adds expressiveness.

Main Characters

Every named character in Ping Pong is complex and goes through development. But in this section, I’m only going to cover the basics of the five main characters. And then in the next section, we’ll go over character development.

Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto is the protagonist of the series. He’s exceptionally good at Ping Pong, but he lacks the motivation required to become one of the greats. He’s called Smile because he never smiles, and his paddle has a crescent moon on the handle because tsuki (月) is Japanese for moon.

Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino is Smile’s best friend and is the one who got Smile into ping pong in the first place. He’s a pretty good player and hopes to one day win at the Olympics. He’s called Peco because he snacks a lot. Peko peko (ぺこぺこ) refers to the sound of an empty stomach. Also, his paddle has a star on the handle because hoshi (星) is Japanese for star.

Yutaka "Peco" Hoshino from the anime series Ping Pong the Animation
Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino

Wenge “China” Kong is a Chinese player who was sent to play in Japan after being dropped from the Chinese national team. His nickname is pretty self-explanatory. I think of the five main characters, China may have the best development.

Ryuuichi “Dragon” Kazama is the top high school ping pong player in the country. The school he attends is basically a military boot camp, but for ping pong. It’s also run by his grandfather. His nickname comes from ryū (竜) being the Japanese word for dragon.

The final of the five main characters is Manabu “Demon” Sakuma. Demon grew up playing ping pong in the same hall as Smile and Peco. He went on to join the Kaio Academy team — of which Dragon is the captain. He’s called Demon because akuma (悪魔) is Japanese for demon.

Character Development

This section of the review is going to contain spoilers. You can skip down to the conclusion to avoid them.

What I really like about the character development in Ping Pong is that we have all of these very different characters who develop over the course of the series due to a shared love of their sport. For example, China and Smile really have nothing in common, but the catalyst for their development is the same.

Smile and Demon are somewhat opposites of each other. Smile originally doesn’t care about being good at ping pong despite having enormous natural talent. And Demon originally wants to be great at ping pong despite having physical limitations in the form of his poor eyesight.

Eventually, Smile wants to prove how good of a player he actually is and begins to take the sport seriously. Meanwhile, Demon begins to understand that he’ll never be as good as he wants to be. His hard work can only take him so far — and so he leaves ping pong behind despite his love for it.

Dragon vs. China from the anime series Ping Pong the Animation
Dragon vs. China

China and Dragon are similar in a lot of ways. But their development is still different. Both are originally among the best players and this distinction is what defines them. For China, he viewed himself as above everyone else. And for Dragon, he continued to push himself to be the best even after he stopped having fun.

Dragon eventually learns to enjoy the sport again — which despite sounding cheesy, was actually a great scene at the end of the series. As for China, I really enjoyed how he mellowed out and turned into a role model and teacher for his teammates.

Peco is a good character, but he probably has my least favorite development. At first, he thinks he’s good. Then, he gets beaten and gives up on his dream. And finally, he trains hard and proves that he really can be one of the best. His story is more akin to a traditional underdog story.

And the final character I want to mention here is a supporting character named Egami, voiced by one of my favorite voice actors, Kenjirou Tsuda. I think a lot of people can identify with Egami because he quits ping pong after being defeated, travels the world in search of where he belongs, and ends up deciding that he loves ping pong and that it’s where he belonged all along.

Conclusion

Ping Pong the Animation is a series that everyone I know who’s watched it loves. Because of this, I knew it was going to be a good anime. However, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it is. Overall, Ping Pong is a 10/10 for me. If you like character-driven stories, or if you’re part of a competitive community, I think you’ll really like this series.

I don’t have too much to say about them, but I did enjoy the OP and ED as well. They both have good songs and visuals. I’d put the OP above the ED, though.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to click the like button ❤️ down below. Also, follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And come join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month and for recommending I watch Ping Pong the Animation. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Girls’ Last Tour

Girls’ Last Tour

Girls' Last Tour manga series cover art
Girls’ Last Tour

The Adventure Anime I Wanted

On Tuesday I binged the Girls’ Last Tour anime from start to finish and then picked up the manga where the anime left off and finished that as well. That might not sound like an amazing feat, but I’m not sure when the last time was that I was so immersed in a series that I binged it all in one sitting.

Usually, I’ll watch an episode or two each day. And going to read the manga after finishing the anime? The only other time I’ve done that was with Attack on Titan. My point is, this series is something special for it to have been able to get me so invested.

I’m not sure how long this review is going to end up being, but based on my outline for it, it’s looking like it will be around twice as long as my usual reviews. On top of that, I already have five other articles planned around this series for the future. So as you can see, I have a lot to say about it.

But, let’s start with the basic fact that Girls’ Last Tour is the adventure anime I’ve wanted for a long time. Great adventure anime are hard to come by. There are good ones, sure, but it’s rare for them to really scratch that adventuring itch I have.

The most recent anime to almost achieve that was Somali and the Forest Spirit, but even that fell short of what I was looking for in an adventure.

Emptiness and Loneliness

The series focuses on two, young girls named Chito and Yuuri who are traveling together through the ruins of a mega-city far larger than anything on Earth today. The unnamed city’s immense scale compared to the girls is what really makes the series feel like an adventure.

Yes, the whole series takes place in a single city. But the city is so massive, so empty, and so full of varying terrain and scenery that their journey feels like an epic quest. But at the same time, Chito and Yuuri’s journey is far different from most other adventure series.

Typically in an adventure anime, our protagonist(s) would come across a wide variety of other characters along the way. Even if the journey is a solo one, there are usually so many people coming in and out of the protagonist’s life that it always feels lively.

Girls’ Last Tour is the opposite.

Chito spotting for Yuuri's target practice from the anime series Girls' Last Tour
Chito spotting for Yuuri’s target practice

Throughout their entire, months-long journey, the girls only come across two other individuals. And in both cases, they part ways only a few days after meeting one another. The vast majority of this last tour is solely made up of Chito, Yuuri, and the empty expanse of the city.

An adventure with almost no characters might not sound all that exciting, but in this case, it was extremely effective. With no side characters to distract us, the focus is entirely on the dynamic between Chito, Yuuri, and the world in which they live.

We learn so much more about the girls through their interactions with each other and their environment than we do from their fleeting interactions with other people. They’re products of the empty and lonely world in which they live. And that’s no more apparent than when they come across objects left over from the world before which they lack the context to understand.

Questions About the World

One of my favorite aspects of this series is that as viewers, we have so many questions about the world the girls live in, but they don’t. It’s not that Chito and Yuri already know everything about the world in which they live. Rather, it’s that this is the only world they’ve ever known, so they don’t see the questions that are there to be asked.

We see this towering city made up of multiple layers stacked on top of one another and ask why it was made in the first place. To Chito and Yuuri, the “why” doesn’t matter. All that matters to them is that the city exists and that they exist within it. As long as they’re able to continue surviving and moving forward, why the world is the way it is means nothing.

At one point late in the series, I believe it was in the manga after the end of the anime, one of the girls poses a question to the other. She asks why they’ve continued on their journey to the top of the city this entire time.

This question isn’t really about the world, but rather, it illustrates their lack of understanding about the world. They’ve been traveling up the layers of the city for what seems like years — months since the start of the series — and yet, they don’t know why.

They know that at the outset of their journey, they were told specifically to travel up the city and not down it. But why they were told this is unknown to both the girls and us as the viewers. It’s one of the great questions of the series. For what purpose was their journey? Why did they continue without knowing what they would find?

Life at the End of the World

I mentioned that the girls only come across two other people throughout the course of their journey. This is because, by the time we join along, the vast majority of life on Earth has been eradicated. But, this does open up some interesting questions, such as “what happened to cause this outcome?”


I’m going to begin getting into some spoiler territory in this section. And the following two sections are going to heavily focus on spoiler content. I suggest skipping to the conclusion if you want to avoid all of that.


I’m going to venture a guess and say that Chito and Yuuri are no older than 17. They’re pretty clearly still children, but based on Yuuri’s body type when we see her swim in the fish tank, I think it’s safe to assume that they’re supposed to be around 15 – 17 years old.

However, they appeared to be much younger, maybe between 10 – 12 years old at most when we see them first set off on their journey. And, before setting off, they lived with their “grandfather” in a town populated by what seemed like a lot of people. So, what happened to everyone else?

Yuuri making a snowman on Chito's head from the anime series Girls' Last Tour
Yuuri making a snowman on Chito’s head

The obvious answer is that war happened. However, it’s clear throughout the series that there have been many wars since the construction of the city. From what I can tell, there were at least two, but probably three major wars that resulted in the eradication of life on the planet.

The first of these wars was the nuclear war that plunged the world into a nuclear winter. The second war was the one that utilized the giant robots capable of destroying vast amounts of the city. And the final war was the war over the last remaining resources.

This is the war that Chito and Yuuri fled, and it explains why there’s hardly any life left on the planet. Everyone else either died in the struggle over food or ran out of food and starved within the next five or so years. Chito and Yuuri only survived thanks to their travels.

Girls’ Last Tour Anime Ending

If I had to point to my least favorite part of the series, it would undoubtedly have to be the ending of the anime. This is for two primary reasons. First, there’s the entire thing with the Nuko. And second, there’s the fact that the anime ended where it did.

To start, I should point out that the name Nuko comes from the word neko which is Japanese for cat. Neither of the girls has ever seen a cat before, so when Yuuri finds the adolescent Nuko, she assumes that it’s a cat — a creature she had only heard stories of.

The Nuko then attempts to repeat the word neko, but says nuko instead, which is where it gets its name from.

We don’t really know what the Nuko are, and that’s my main issue with them. They’re some sort of creature that eats and breaks down volatile materials. For example, when the first Nuko is introduced into the series, Yuuri feeds it bullets. And later on, we see larger Nuko eating nuclear missiles.

Along with eating volatile materials, Nuko are also able to communicate via radio waves. And, their bodies are quite unique. They can either take the form of elongated, cat-like creatures or humanoid mushroom-like figures that can apparently fly. I’m also going to assume that their white coloring is due to the nuclear winter, as we see the fish are also a pale white.

Are Nuko aliens? Were they man-made creatures designed to clean up the waste littering the world? We don’t know. And because of that, their inclusion in a series that’s otherwise fairly grounded in reality is just awkward.

As for where the anime ended, it concludes at chapter 29 out of 43 of the manga. This is a problem because it leaves the ending very open despite that not truly being the case. For anyone who watches the anime and doesn’t read the conclusion of the manga afterward, it’s a very different series.

Girls’ Last Tour Manga Ending

The ending of the Girls’ Last Tour manga is probably the most special thing about the whole series. And that’s exactly why it’s a shame that the anime ended where it did. I don’t think it needs a second season, but a movie would probably be the perfect length to conclude the story.

I plan to write another article focusing on this, but let’s quickly go over one of my favorite chapters of the series. Chapter 32 is titled “Art” and follows the girls as they explore an art museum full of famous works such as “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli.

At the end of the chapter, Yuuri draws a picture of her own and affixes it to the wall directly next to a large stone with cave paintings on it. I love this scene because it shows humanity’s first and last pieces of art side by side. It’s a perfect representation of many of the story’s themes.

Yuuri and Chito reflecting on their lives from the manga series Girls' Last Tour
Yuuri and Chito reflecting on their lives

Moving on to the true end of the series, I mentioned that it wasn’t as open-ended as the anime made it out to be. That’s because while Chito and Yuri’s adventure does continue on for a bit longer, it has a definitive end — their deaths.

Upon reaching the top layer of the city, the girls are confronted by nothing. There’s nothing above them but a starry sky and nothing on the layer other than a single, square structure with no entrance. The ground is covered in snow, and it’s clear that there has never been permanent life on this layer.

It’s at this point that the girls contemplate their lives and journey while eating their final pack of rations. After determining that they’ve enjoyed their lives, they fall asleep together against the structure and succumb to the freezing temperatures in their sleep. With that, humanity and life as we know it ends.

And before anyone says that they didn’t die because they mentioned thinking about what to do after waking up, that’s not the case. They said that as a way to reassure themselves so that they wouldn’t fear death. There’s an extra chapter after the final chapter in which it’s made clear that they’ve died because we see them in the afterlife.

Conclusion

I know I’ve been praising Girls’ Last Tour for the majority of this extra-long review. But in the end, I think both the anime and the manga are 8/10s. They’re very good, but they do still have some problems, such as the awkward inclusion of the Nuko or the magical digital camera.

But, if you’re looking for a great adventure series that focuses on themes as varied as friendship, mortality, and existential hopelessness, I can’t really think of anything better. And, once you’ve finished the anime, I highly recommend that you pick up the manga starting at chapter 30. Finishing the manga should only take you maybe an hour.

Since I usually comment on the OPs and EDs of series at this point, I’ll just say that I like them both, but that I like the ED more. However, the true best song of the series is the insert song/ED for episode 5 known as the “Rain Song.” I plan to write a full article dedicated to that song in the future, so look forward to that.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to click the like button ❤️ down below. Also, follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And come join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN and Key Mochi~ for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika and Senpai tiers respectively this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen’s Gravestone

Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen’s Gravestone

Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen's Gravestone anime movie cover art
Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen’s Gravestone

Overview

Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen’s Gravestone (Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen Daisuke no Bohyou / LUPIN THE IIIRD 次元大介の墓標) is the second in a trilogy of Lupin the IIIrd movies (chronologically, that is). The first movie is Fujiko’s Lie, and the third is Goemon’s Blood Spray.

After watching The Castle of Cagliostro, Jigen was my favorite of Lupin’s group, but that could have just been because he was the most prominent in that movie. However, Jigen’s Gravestone reaffirmed that I do like Jigen more than Fujiko, who’s currently my #2.

Jigen’s just a cool guy. I don’t really see how anyone couldn’t like him.

In my review of Fujiko’s Lie I mentioned that the movie had more mature content than I expected; the same is true for Jigen’s Gravestone. This time around, I was expecting the same amount of violence, but less sexual content.

Instead, what I got was more of both.

Arsene Lupin III and Daisuke Jigen from the anime movie Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen's Gravestone
Arsene Lupin III and Daisuke Jigen

I think the more violent tone of this movie, including the multiple assassinations, fit well into Jigen’s character. He’s gritty, and the movie dedicated to him depicted that much better than I think Fujiko’s Lie depicted Fujiko’s sexuality.

But then this movie also had that whole part with a naked, lubed up Fujiko in a glass box being attacked by a sexually suggestive death machine in a gimp suit. And despite how that sounds, I think Fujiko’s nudity in this movie felt less out of place than it did in her movie.

It still didn’t do her character any favors though. It basically just reaffirmed that Fujiko is only there for fan service even though she’s actually an interesting character in her own right.

Yael Okuzaki

One of the biggest differences between Fujiko’s Lie and Jigen’s Gravestone is the antagonist. The antagonists from both movies are genetically altered assassins created by some unknown organization. However, they’re both very different, and those differences have huge effects on the movies.

Binkam had a few supernatural powers which didn’t make much sense even after they were explained. Yael Okuzaki doesn’t have any supernatural powers, although that’s not necessarily clear from the start.

Instead, he uses some sci-fi technology, but I think that’s a better choice than using the supernatural to explain things. Yael’s right eye is connected to a device which allows him to tap into all of the security cameras around the city so he can follow his prey’s every move.

Yael Okuzaki from the anime movie Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen's Gravestone
Yael Okuzaki

Yael also uses actual weapons to perform his assassinations rather than a magical power, which is good. While he typically uses a sniper rifle, he also carries a small handgun just in case.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean he does things the normal way — there’s still some excitement and unpredictability built in. Yael is an expert in the robotic and various other engineering fields, so he has a whole host of other weapons at his disposal, including death machines and a car with a built in Gatling gun.

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem like he actually uses his robot monstrosities in his line of work — those are more of a hobby for him. But he does manufacture his other weapons, ammunition, and technology on his own.

Oh, and Yael rolls a die to determine how many bullets to use when killing his target.

Jigen’s Quickdraw

Where Fujiko had to use her sexuality, and hand to hand combat skills, to overcome the main antagonist in her respective movie, Jigen uses his gun-slinging skills.

If there was one thing that made this movie stand out compared to Fujiko’s Lie, it was the gun-slinging animation. Fujiko’s Lie also had some good animation, but it didn’t stand out nearly as much as it did in Jigen’s Gravestone. The duels between Jigen and Yael were definitely the highlights of the movie, as they should be.

Jigen’s final duel also felt like it actually had a purpose, unlike Fujiko’s final fight. Fujiko didn’t really need to kill Binkam — she had already poisoned his mind and made him question his loyalty to his employer. But for Jigen, the fight against Yael wasn’t about defeating a bad guy, it was about proving his own skills against a powerful rival.

Also, watching Jigen’s duels against Yael made me realize something about Lupin’s crew — they’re definitely the inspiration for Luffy’s crew in One Piece. Oda may have said as much in the past, but if he hasn’t, that’s definitely the case.

Lupin was created by Monkey Punch, and Luffy’s first name is Monkey. Also the two characters are fairly similar in that they just do whatever they want. Then we have Fujiko and Nami who are basically the same person even in appearance. And while Jigen wants to be the greatest gun-slinger, Zoro wants to be the greatest swordsman.

Am I going to find out in the next movie that Goemon is a chef who wants to find the All-Blue?

It’s interesting to see how the characters from this series have influenced those from more recent series over the decades.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that I liked Jigen’s Gravestone more overall than Fujiko’s Lie, I think it’s also an 8/10. The story wasn’t quite as strong, but I think basically every thing else was slightly better.

I’m interested to see what the final movie in the trilogy is like. Jigen played a pretty large role in both The Castle of Cagliostro and Fujiko’s Lie. Fujiko played a decently-sized role in Cagliostro and Jigen’s Gravestone. But what about Goemon?

He wasn’t present in either Fujiko’s Lie or Jigen’s Gravestone, and he was barely in Cagliostro at all. All I know about him is that he’s a samurai.

Anyway, if you enjoyed this review, remember to click the like button ❤ down below. Also follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And come join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun anime series cover art
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Overview

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun / 月刊少女野崎くん) is a romantic comedy series which falls into the shoujo category. And since I know most of my readers are into the shounen category, shoujo just means “young girl” while shounen means “young boy” — these are the target demographics, not genres.

But while Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a shoujo anime, it’s also a shoujo anime satire at the same time. It makes fun of the shoujo romance tropes, while also utilizing all of those tropes itself unironically. I guess it’s like how KonoSuba is to isekai, to use a series most people are familiar with as an example.

The premise of this series is fairly simple. We have a high school girl who’s in love with a high school guy, and so she confesses to him. Or, at least that’s what she attempts to do, but she actually says she’s his fan. This then leads to the discovery that the guy is actually a famous shoujo mangaka.

And that’s basically it. The rest of the series follows our protagonist as she helps the man of her dreams create his manga based on the interactions he has with other students around school.

Nozaki, Yuzuki, and Chiyo from the anime series Monthly Girl's Nozaki-kun
Nozaki, Yuzuki, and Chiyo

However, Chiyo quickly learns that when Nozaki is involved, nothing turns out as it’s depicted in shoujo manga. Nozaki’s male characters are based on females, his female characters are based on males, and he’s completely oblivious to Chiyo’s romantic advances.

For me, most of the comedy in this series came from Nozaki’s obliviousness and straightforward attitude. For example, in one of the earlier episodes Chiyo mentions how riding on a bike with someone is romantic. So in order to test that out, Nozaki acquires a tandem bike because two people on one normal bike is illegal.

Male Characters

Let’s start out with the male characters for the ladies since this is a shoujo anime. Umetarou Nozaki is the titular, male lead of the series and professional shoujo mangaka. He lives in an apartment alone, has a self-proclaimed great relationship with his editor, Ken-san, and looks to be about seven feet tall.

When I first saw his height, I was sure Nozaki was going to be a member of the basketball team, but no. He’s not a member of any club. He just creates shoujo manga at home.

Hirotaka Wakamatsu is on the basketball team, unlike Nozaki. His primary role when helping Nozaki with his manga is to erase lines — not the most prestigious job, but an important one nonetheless. He’s also a first year student and two of the side characters in Nozaki’s manga are based on his rocky relationship with Yuzuki Seo.

Mikoto Mikoshiba is a second year student like Nozaki and is also not a member of any clubs at school. Although he’s extremely popular with girls, he’s actually the inspiration for Mamiko, the female lead of Nozaki’s manga. Mikoshiba is also extremely talented at drawing flowers and effects.

Mikoshiba reminded me a lot of Kyou Souma from Fruits Basket. However, instead of getting angry at himself and everyone else, he just gets extremely embarrassed when he says cheesy lines to girls.

The final male character of any significance is Masayuki Hori, the president of the theater club. Hori is a third year student who helps Nozaki by drawing backgrounds for his manga. This is a fact he attempts to hide at all costs from one of his underclassmen, Yuu Kashima.

Female Characters

And now for the important characters — the female ones. Chiyo Sakura is the second year student who serves as the protagonist for this series. She’s a member of the art club, and because of this Nozaki has had his eye on her for some time (not in a romantic way, of course).

I really liked Chiyo as the protagonist. Even if most of that enjoyment came from seeing her dreams get crushed when things didn’t turn out just like they do in shoujo manga. Chiyo is also the cutest of the female characters, so that’s a plus.

Chiyo Sakura from the anime series Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
Chiyo Sakura

Yuzuki Seo is Chiyo’s best friend even though they have literally nothing in common. While Chiyo focuses on the fact that Yuzuki is an exceptional singer and member of the choir club, everyone else in the school sees her in a different light. She says whatever she thinks, which is usually rude, she’s a bully, and she’s overly aggressive.

Yuu Kashima is a first year student and considered the “prince” of the school despite the fact that she’s a girl. All the other girls in the school (aside from Chiyo and Yuzuki) are obsessed with her, and she refers to them all as her princesses because she can’t remember their names.

Kashima is also a member of the theater club along with Hori, where she typically plays the male lead roles. Aside from acting, she’s not exactly good at anything else.

And just to have a an even number of male and female characters listed, the final female character is Yukari Miyako. She’s a college student who lives in the same apartment building as Nozaki. Miyako is also a mangaka and is obsessed with tanuki.

Conclusion

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a 7/10 from me, which is surprisingly lower than its overall rating on MAL. I didn’t expect this anime to be rated as high as it was, but at the same time I’m glad a series like this wasn’t rated low simply because it’s not a shounen.

As for the OP and ED, they’re both pretty good, but I’d have to say that I prefer the ED. I prefer both the song and visuals of the ED.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to click the like button ❤ down below. Also follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. And, come join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier and recommending this series to me, and CaptainRainbowPizza for supporting at the Sensei tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Shirobako

Shirobako

Shirobako anime series cover art
Shirobako

Overview

Shirobako (this actually doesn’t have a kanji/hiragana/katakana name) is the definitive anime on how anime is made. Obviously a lot of the process had to be simplified in order to make a series out of it, but I do think it hit a lot of the major points — especially the fact that something can go wrong at any moment.

We see most of the series through the eyes of a member of the production desk, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only side of anime production we see. There’s story boarding, writing, character designing, key animation (both hand drawn and CGI), voice acting, researching, and more.

Ema drawing Aria for Third Aerial Girls Squad from the anime series Shirobako
Ema drawing Aria for Third Aerial Girls Squad

One of the things I was most curious about when watching the series was whether P.A. Works was actually basing this anime on themselves. For example, are the characters depicted in this series based on real people who worked on this show, or are they just characters who fill the same roles?

I’ll discuss this a bit more in my section on the characters, but I like to think it’s a mixture.

Part 1

The first cour of the series sees Musashino Animation working on their first original anime in a few years, Exodus! This cour serves to give us our introduction to the world of anime by leaving out some of the complexities that come along with it.

While we do see some of what the five main girls of the series are doing during this cour, it mainly focuses on the two which have landed jobs at MusAni. Aoi is a production assistant and Ema is an animator. By leaving out the other three girls, we can take a more simplified look at the process.

However, there are still all the other employees at MusAni who are doing their respective jobs. The director is always behind on storyboards, the production desk is always freaking out, and the CGI and hand drawing animators are at each others throats.

What I really liked about this cour was that the characters, their interactions with each other, and their feelings about the work they do all seemed genuine. It really felt like I was getting to see the inner workings of a company made up of many individuals who each contribute their own personal touch.

Part 2

Originally I didn’t like the second cour as much, but by the end of it I thought it was just as good as the first for different reasons.

This time around the other three girls, a writer, a CGI animator, and a voice actress were included into the mix to varying degrees. While I didn’t think they made too much of a difference, the end of the voice actress’ (Shizuka’s) arc was pretty touching. I wasn’t expecting it to make me feel the way it did.

In this cour MusAni are working on adapting a popular manga(?) called Third Aerial Girls Squad. Since this isn’t an original work by the studio, a whole new level of complexity and issues are thrown into the mix — such as, what if the original creator doesn’t like the anime?

But while the strength of this cour was in how it depicted some of the more complex aspects of anime production, I felt that the characters were lacking. The new characters who were introduced seemed fairly one-dimensional and unrealistic as a whole.

Characters

Our five heroines are Aoi Miyamori (production desk), Ema Yasuhara (key animator), Shizuka Sakaki (voice actress), Midori Imai (writer), and Misa Toudou (CGI animator). These girls were in their high school animation club together and dreamed of one day creating a real anime with each other as professionals.

Musashino Animation employees from the anime series Shirobako
Musashino Animation employees

There are too many MusAni employees for me to go through all of them, but some of the major ones are Erika Yano (production assistant), Rinko “Goth Loli-sama” Ogasawara (key animator), Seiichi Kinoshita (director), and Tarou Takanashi (production assistant).

Erika is the one who gets things done. She’s been in the business for a while, knows how people try to squirm out of their responsibilities, and will go out of her way to keep them on track. Tarou is her opposite and is the one most likely to mess everything up due to his laid-back and fun-loving nature.

The director may have been my favorite character. He often shirks his responsibilities in favor of eating, but when he really gets into his work nothing can stop him. He’s also constantly fighting an internal battle between his weight and his love for food.

Rinko doesn’t actually get that much screen time. I wish she got more, but at the same time I understand why she doesn’t. She represents the highest tier of employee which all others should strive to be like. She knows what she’s doing, she does it on time, and she does it perfectly.

And then we have some of the new characters in cour 2, Ai Kunogi (key animator) and Daisuke Hiraoka (production assistant). Ai doesn’t speak, she just grunts, and for that I hate her. Daisuke on the other hand is just a bully who shirks his responsibilities and should be fired. I don’t see how these two characters could be based on actual people who worked on this anime.

Conclusion

Before wrapping up I just want to mention that the final scene of the series is one in which everyone who worked on Third Aerial Girls Squad takes a group photo. I really wanted this group photo to fade into an actual group photo of everyone who worked on Shirobako, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Overall I’d have to give Shirobako an 8/10. Although I felt that both cours had their weaknesses — especially the second cour with the new characters — they were overwhelmed by their strengths. There’s also a Shirobako movie in the works, so I plan to watch that as well.

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