Tag: 2024

Solo Leveling Review

Solo Leveling Review

Solo Leveling anime cover art
Solo Leveling

Do You Like Generic Power Fantasy?

Solo Leveling (Ore dake Level Up na Ken / 俺だけレベルアップな件) is a generic power fantasy anime. The only thing separating it from the likes of Sword Art Online is that it’s a Korean series. So, if SAO is something you like, you’ll probably like this, too.

As you can likely guess from the title, the series is about a guy who levels up alone. But, that’s still not a very descriptive title. It’s not like those light novel titles that spell out the whole series. So, what exactly is Solo Leveling about?

It’s about a future (present?) in which portals to another dimension open up all over the world. These portals lead to fantasy dungeons. And, if the dungeons aren’t conquered fast enough, the monsters within them break out. However, combat in this series isn’t like combat in GATE.

Jinwoo before his second awakening from the anime series Solo Leveling
Jinwoo before his second awakening

What do I mean when I say the combat isn’t like in GATE? If you’re not familiar with GATE, it has pretty much the same premise as Solo Leveling. But, in GATE, Japan uses its full military force to decimate the inhabitants of the fantasy world. They send in tanks, helicopters, etc.

That kind of stuff won’t work in the dungeons of Solo Leveling. Instead, when the portals appeared, some people awoke special powers. Basically, they turned into fantasy classes (sorcerers, swordsmen, assassins, healers, and more). The only way to defeat the monsters within the dungeons is to use the abilities of these classes.

Let’s say you have a gun. Will that gun hurt the monsters within a dungeon? No. But, if you awoke as a pyromancer, you could cast fireball spells to hurt the monsters. Or, if you awoke as a swordsman, you could use a sword made from materials from the dungeon.

From Weakest to Strongest

It’s time to go over the whole “solo leveling” thing. You see, in this world, there’s no way to “level up” or get stronger once your ability has awoken. If you awoke as a mage with D-Rank mana, you’ll be a D-Rank mage forever.

At least, that’s what we’re told at the start of the series. But, it turns out that there are very rare cases in which a person can become stronger. Though, it’s still not by leveling up, as the title of the series suggests. Sometimes, people undergo a second awakening.

If you undergo a second awakening, you might change from a D-Rank mage to a B-Rank swordsman. How does this happen? Nobody knows. However, there’s one second awakening that’s different from all the others. And, can you believe it? It’s the second awakening of the protagonist, Jinwoo Sung.

Jinwoo after his second awakening from the anime series Solo Leveling
Jinwoo after his second awakening

Jinwoo was an E-Rank… something. I don’t actually know what his class was. He was a generic weakling. But, after undergoing an extreme situation within a dungeon, he experienced a second awakening. His second awakening isn’t like the others we’ve heard about, though. Jinwoo is able to level up and get stronger.

Now, Jinwoo still doesn’t exactly have a class. At least, not at first. And, this is one of the main reasons why his second awakening might be unique. He’s not limited in what he can do. It’s not like he’s now a healer who can only perform that role. He can do pretty much anything.

This is where things really start to look like other power fantasy anime. Think of Rimuru from Tensura or Shishou from TenKen. Like them, Jinwoo can acquire skills simply by defeating enemies. So, as he fights, he not only levels up but also gains more skills.

I’m Not That Interested in Seeing More

Solo Leveling doesn’t really do anything that hasn’t been done before. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming. But, the outcomes of those twists haven’t yet altered the series in any meaningful way.

The twists in this series tend to be related to Jinwoo becoming stronger. He might become stronger in a way you weren’t expecting. However, the end result is the same — he’s stronger in some absurd way. Oh, he doesn’t have a weapon to cut through armor? He gets penalized and receives a weapon that can as his reward for completing the penalty.

It’s generally stuff like that. Sure, I didn’t see that coming, so technically it’s a twist. But, it’s a twist that feels more like a Deus ex machina. That’s the big issue with this series. It’s hard to get invested when every conflict has this kind of resolution.

Jinwoo recruiting Igris the Bloodred from the anime series Solo Leveling
Jinwoo recruiting Igris the Bloodred

Overall, Solo Leveling is fine. I’ve already compared it to SAO, and I stand by that comparison. It’s a fine anime if you’re not looking to get much out of it. If you are, though, you’ll be pretty disappointed by this one.

I’ve watched a lot of anime over the years. Solo Leveling falls into the category of anime I have no interest in continuing. If it gets a second season, cool. I probably won’t watch it unless the rest of the season is dead. I’m not interested enough in the story or characters to keep watching.

A lot of people were hyping up this series when the anime was first announced. It seems that most of the hype surrounding this series was because it’s Korean. Well, this is the third big manhwa to get an anime and they’re all mid. Tower of God is the most interesting.

Final Thoughts

I gave Solo Leveling a 6/10. As I said, it’s fine. I don’t see this series having any staying power in the anime community. It’ll be forgotten in a few weeks, at most, when all the much better anime from the spring season begin.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

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Gushing over Magical Girls Review

Gushing over Magical Girls Review

Gushing over Magical Girls anime series cover art
Gushing over Magical Girls

Gushing over the Tres Magia

Gushing over Magical Girls (Mahou Shoujo ni Akogarete / 魔法少女にあこがれて) is one of the standout anime of the winter 2024 season. If we ignore Frieren, which began airing a season earlier, Mahoako — as it’s known — is my favorite anime of the season.

Okay, I know, Delicious in Dungeon is technically better. But, hear me out. Mahoako is an ecchi anime about torturing magical girls. That’s awesome. I don’t know what more you could ask for. It’s kind of the perfect premise for an anime if you think about it.

So, let’s talk about the magical girls. There are only three of them — if we’re ignoring the fact that all the villains are magical girls, too. These three are Magia Magenta, Magia Azure, and Magia Sulfur of the Tres Magia. They’re middle school students who transform and fight monsters, like all magical girls.

Magia Sulfur, Azure, and Magenta defeated by Enormita from the anime series Gushing over Magical Girls
Magia Sulfur, Azure, and Magenta defeated by Enormita

When transformed, the magical girls’ identities are hidden (by magic). So, none of their classmates or anyone else know who they are. And, that’s important because of the protagonist of the series, Utena Hiiragi. She’s classmates with Haruka Hanabishi, Sayo Minakami, and Kaoruko Tenkawa (the Tres Magia).

If only Utena knew who her classmates really were. Why? Because she’s a huge magical girl fan who likes the Tres Magia, in particular. However, Utena’s love of magical girls goes beyond that of being their fan. She doesn’t know it at the start of the series, but the thing she loves most is seeing them squirm.

Throughout the rest of the series, Utena explores the joys of sado-masochism. And, along the way, she helps awaken things deep within each of the magical girls she loves so much. Well, mostly Azure and Magenta to an extent — not as much Sulfur.

Enormita and “World Domination”

Alright, let’s talk about the first villain group of Mahoako: Enormita. The core enormita group has three members for the majority of the series. These members are Magia Baiser (Utena), Leoparde (Kiwi Araga), and Nero Alice (Korisu Morino).

While the Tres Magia each have different abilities, they’re pretty similar. Azure uses a sword, Magenta uses a spear, and Sulfur either uses a shield or giant fists. With the villains, however, things get more interesting. They have more specialized abilities, which makes them both more fun to watch and discuss.

Magia Baiser’s ability allows her to turn objects into monsters. Inanimate objects like scissors? Sure. Plants? Why not? Animals? Those are harder to control, but she can do it. These monsters she creates then tend to bind and/or strip the magical girls so Baiser can have her fun with them.

Utena Hiiragi as Magia Baiser from the anime series Gushing over Magical Girls
Utena Hiiragi as Magia Baiser

Unlike Baiser, Leoparde doesn’t care about “having fun” with magical girls. She wants to defeat them. And, to help her achieve that goal, she has a more combat-oriented ability. She effectively has Gilgamesh’s Noble Phantasm but for firearms and explosives. She can summon different kinds of guns and grenades via portals.

Nero Alice’s ability is the most powerful. Since she has an Alice in Wonderland theme, she can do things like control toys. And, more importantly, she can trap her opponents within her dollhouses. That second part of the ability could make her overpowered. But, her power is kept in check by the fact that she’s an elementary schooler.

Beyond these three, there are other members of Enormita. For example, there’s Venalita, the mascot of the group responsible for recruiting new members. He’s the opposite of Vatz, the mascot for the magical girls. Also, there are four older members who make up the “Lord Squad.”

The Lord Squad Shakes Things Up

What is the Lord Squad? It’s the name for the four founding members of Enormita. It’s simply a way to differentiate these four from the new members, Baiser, Leoparde, and Nero Alice. So we have Enormita and within Enormita there’s the Lord Squad.

The names of both groups come from Lord Enorme, the leader of Enormita. We don’t know how old she is. But, she appears to be in her 20s — so not a middle schooler like most of the other girls. Her ability allows her to create and control an army of blob monsters.

Sister Gigant is the second in command. She’s also older than most of the girls, either being in her late teens or 20s. She dresses as a nun and her ability lets her grow to giant proportions. Sister is also the most devout member of Enormita.

Matama Akoya and Nemo Anemo from the anime series Gushing over Magical Girls
Matama Akoya and Nemo Anemo

Loco Musica (Matama Akoya) and Leberblume (Nemo Anemo) are the lower members of the Lord Squad. They’ve been in Enormita longer than our main three girls. However, they’re definitely beneath Lord and Sister. They’re also middle schoolers, like most of the girls.

As you might be able to guess from her name, Loco Musica’s ability is music-based. She fights with music, which pairs well with her dream of being an idol. Leberblume is an assassin who can hide within and control shadows. Think of her like Shikamaru Nara from Naruto.

So, why does the Lord Squad exist? Well, they play the very important role of shaking things up in the series. Mahoako would have gotten stale very fast if it was only the three main Enormita girls vs. the Tres Magia. The Lord Squad inserts another faction into the mix. And, as an ecchi series, more girls means more fun.

Final Thoughts

I gave Gushing over Magical Girls a 7/10. It’s a solid anime if ecchi and magical girls are your thing — mainly the ecchi part. And, since I like both of those things, I thought it was good. There are some episodes that are worse than others. But, overall, it’s a good watch.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

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Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! Review

Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! Review

Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! anime series cover art
Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!

Another Generic Romantic Comedy

Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! (Dosanko Gal wa Namara Menkoi / 道産子ギャルはなまらめんこい) is another generic romantic comedy anime. Have you seen Nagatoro, BOKUBEN, or even Rent-a-Girlfriend? Well, it’s another one of those. Though, it’s more like Nagatoro and BOKUBEN than the chaos that is Rent-a-Girlfriend.

Of course, whenever you have a series coming into a saturated niche, it needs to have a twist. We see this a lot with isekai anime. And, although it doesn’t get as much attention, we see it a lot with rom-com anime, too. So, can you guess what the twist is this time?

That’s right, the girls of this series are all gals (gyaru) who live in Hokkaido — a place you wouldn’t expect to find gals. But, what is a gal? It’s a fashion subculture in which Japanese women “Americanize” themselves. They dye their hair, put on makeup, do their nails, and wear bright colors and short skirts among other things.

Minami Fuyuki glowing from the anime series Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!
Minami Fuyuki

Minami Fuyuki, the female lead of the series, is your stereotypical gal. She has blonde hair, long nails, and makeup, and doesn’t cover her legs even during the Hokkaido winter. A gal always needs to look her best, even when it’s cold out.

I guess I should also explain why Hokkaido, for anyone who isn’t aware. Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture of Japan. It’s the large island on top when looking at a map. As the northernmost part of Japan, it’s also the coldest part and gets about 15 meters of snow per year.

So, this is one of the major reasons why you wouldn’t expect to find gals in Hokkaido. It’s too cold for a lot of gal fashion. And, gals also tend to be associated with large cities like Tokyo, not the more rural regions of Japan up north.

Meet the Hokkaido Gals!

Alright, let’s talk about the gals. The three main gals of the series are Minami Fuyuki, Sayuri Akino, and Rena Natsukawa. Other gals exist, like Mai Fuyuki — Minami’s mother. But, I’m going to stick to discussing these main three.

So, I already mentioned a bit about Minami. She’s the main girl of the series, which means she’s Tsubasa Shiki’s main love interest. Tsubasa is the protagonist, by the way. Minami was the first person Tsubasa met in Hokkaido after he moved there from Tokyo. And, she became his first friend after they learned they were sitting next to each other in class.

Sayuri is the second gal we meet in the series. Though, you might not recognize her as a gal, at first. She’s not as “yassified” as Minami is. She has black hair and dresses more conservatively, wearing tights. But, she’s still a gal.

Sayuri Akino from the anime series Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!
Sayuri Akino

Have you seen Citrus? If so, think of Sayuri like Harumi — an undercover gal. She’s into the gal subculture but doesn’t outwardly express it as much as others do. She does her nails and makeup and knows gal fashion trends. However, she has other hobbies, as well.

Rena is the last of the three main gals we meet. She’s an upperclassman who’s at the top of the school in every way possible. Everyone thinks she’s the most beautiful and her test scores prove she’s also the smartest. What many people don’t know is that she loves all things traditional Japanese.

Now, there’s one last thing I want to mention about these three gals. Their family names all have to do with seasons. Fuyu (冬) is winter. Aki (秋) is fall. Natsu (夏) is summer. But, unlike in Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo, the male lead’s name doesn’t include haru (春), which is spring.

Let’s Talk About the Ending

The ending of the Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! anime was a bit of a twist. And, I don’t know if this is the case, but I’m assuming it followed the manga. The manga is still ongoing, by the way. I’m not saying that the series ended. I’m talking about the end of this season of the anime.

What was the twist? Minami reveals to Tsubasa that she’s leaving Japan. She only gives him a few days’ notice, so this comes as a shock to both Tsubasa and the viewers. But, then there was a second part of the twist.

What Minami forgot to mention is that she’s not leaving for long. She says she’s going to study abroad. So, the implication is that she’ll be away for at least a semester. However, she’s only studying abroad for two weeks. She and Tsubasa aren’t going to be apart for that long.

Rena Natsukawa in the library from the anime series Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!
Rena Natsukawa

Okay, so, I didn’t like this ending. I get why this happened in the series. It’s drama that stems from a misunderstanding. That’s nothing new for rom-com anime. It’s basically what most of them are built on.

What I don’t really get is why they chose to end the anime this way. I would have actually preferred an anime original ending that doesn’t reveal the second twist. End the anime on the cliffhanger of her leaving. And, if you want, add something after the credits about the story continuing in the manga.

The way I see it, this isn’t an anime that needs more than one season. Does anyone care enough about it for a second season to be worthwhile? Just let it exist as a standalone season. If viewers want more content from the series, they have the manga. That’s enough.

Final Thoughts

I gave Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! a 5/10. As I said at the start of this review, if you’ve seen other rom-com anime, you’ve seen this one. Unless you’re a hardcore generic rom-com series fan — or you love gals — you can skip this. Even if you love gals, these aren’t great gals.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

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Chained Soldier Review

Chained Soldier Review

Chained Soldier anime series cover art
Chained Soldier

Welcome to the Mato Defense Force

Chained Soldier (Mato Seihei no Slave / 魔都精兵のスレイブ) is an action ecchi anime series. It follows Yuuki Wakura as he tries to become a hero (not a superhero) in a world dominated by women. But, what does it mean for the world to be dominated by women?

At first, you might think this is a World’s End Harem kind of situation since it’s an ecchi anime. However, that’s not the case. Men still exist just as much as they do in our world. The difference is that, in this world, women can obtain special powers.

How do women gain these special powers, though? Well, portals to another world (Mato) began opening up around Japan. Monsters, known as Shuuki, came out of these portals and attacked humanity. At the same time, humanity acquired fruit called Mato Peaches from within Mato. And, it’s these “peaches” that give women their powers.

Shushu Suruga, Kyouka Uzen, and Himari Azuma from the anime series Chained Soldier
Shushu Suruga, Kyouka Uzen, and Himari Azuma

So, what is the Mato Defense Force? It’s an all-women arm of the military that specializes in fighting within Mato. It’s made up of women with powerful Peach Abilities who fight Shuuki and protect Japan. But, if that’s the case, where does Yuuki come in?

Yuuki ended up within Mato due to a Mato Incident. This is when a new portal opens up and people get thrust into Mato. Luckily for him, the MDF’s 7th Squad came to his rescue. And, thanks to the Peach Ability of its leader, Yuuki got the chance to become the hero he always dreamed of being.

Now, Yuuki spends his days as the caretaker of the 7th Squad’s dorm — living and fighting alongside cute girls. He’s kind of living the dream. Specifically, his dream. I’m all for the living with cute girls part, but not so much the fighting.

Peach Ability System

Let’s briefly go over the Peach Abilities of the seven main MDF girls: Kyouka, Himari, Shushu, Nei, Tenka, Yachiho, and Sahara.

Kyouka Uzen, the commander of the 7th Squad, has the Slave ability. She can turn others into her slaves and control them in battle. However, it comes with the drawback that she has to “reward” her slave afterward.

Himari Azuma of the 7th Squad has the Learning ability. It allows her to copy the Peach Abilities of others. But, she’s not compatible with every ability, so she tends to use the same one.

Shushu Suruga of the 7th Squad has the Paradigm Shift ability. With it, Shushu can resize herself, making herself either giant or very tiny.

Nei Ookawamura of the 7th Squad has the Promise ability. This ability lets Nei sense humans and Shuuki that are within 5 kilometers of her.

Yachiho Azuma, Tenka Izumo, and Sahara Wakasa from the anime series Chained Soldier
Yachiho Azuma, Tenka Izumo, and Sahara Wakasa

Tenka Izumo, the commander of the 6th Squad, has the Ame-no-Mitori ability. She can manipulate space by creating portals and black holes. And, as you can probably guess, that’s a very powerful ability. But, she’s not the only member of the 6th Squad with an ability like this.

Yachiho Azuma of the 6th Squad (and older sister of Himari) has the Golden Hour ability. While Tenka can manipulate space, Yachiho can manipulate time. She can freeze time for everyone but herself and she can even rewind time. So, yeah, the 6th Squad can control time and space.

Lastly, there’s Sahara Wakasa of the 6th Squad with the Crazy Sheep ability. This ability is a little more complex than the others. Sahara First chooses a time limit between 1 and 60 minutes. Then, she gets powered up for that time limit. The shorter the limit, the more powerful she becomes.

Yes, This Is an Ecchi Anime

So far, I’ve stayed away from discussing the ecchi content in this review. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is an ecchi anime. It’s not as ecchi as Gushing over Magical Girls. But, it’s ecchi.

The majority of the ecchi content in Chained Soldier comes from Kyouka’s ability. Remember how I said that she has to “reward” her slave after using her ability? Well, when that slave is Yuuki, those rewards tend to be pretty lewd. And, Kyouka doesn’t have a choice — she has to follow through.

Additionally, Himari can copy Kyouka’s ability, leading her to also have to reward Yuuki. But, what about the other girls? They don’t have abilities that compel them to reward Yuuki, right? That’s mostly correct. Technically, Kyouka can loan Yuuki out to anyone and they’ll have to pay the reward.

Yuuki seeing through Kyouka's, Himari's, and Shushu's clothes from the anime series Chained Soldier
Yuuki seeing through Kyouka’s, Himari’s, and Shushu’s clothes

In reality, though, that doesn’t happen. Only Kyouka and Himari regularly have to give Yuuki rewards. But, there are other girls who want to reward Yuuki anyway. In particular, Shushu and Tenka. They both have crushes on Yuuki and want to be with him.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering which girl has the best ecchi content. It’s not Tenka. Most of her fan service scenes aren’t very ecchi. And, unfortunately for me, it’s not Shushu, either. Shushu is my favorite girl of the series, so I’d love it if she got better ecchi content.

It’s either Kyouka or Himari. Kyouka has the most ecchi content. So, there are more opportunities for her to have good ecchi content. However, I’m going to say Himari’s ecchi content is the best. There’s not as much of it, but every ecchi scene she has is a good one.

Final Thoughts

Chained Soldier is a 6/10. I thought about giving it a 7, but I don’t think it’s quite there. The story’s not all that interesting. And, the action itself isn’t great. However, the ecchi content is good. And, I love when series allow me to theorize about abilities.

For all the fans of Chained Soldier out there, the second season has been confirmed. So, as I did for this season, I’ll likely review that season on a weekly basis. There will be even more girls and abilities for me to discuss.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to share it with everyone you know. Also, follow me on your social media of choice so you don’t miss out on any future articles — links are in the footer.

Finally, I’d like to thank Roman and JasonHK for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about the perks of supporting this blog, check out DoubleSama.com/support.

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