My Hero Academia, Where we’re all a bit Quirky | Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 13-episode spring 2016 anime “Boku no Hero Academia” or its English title “My Hero Academia,” produced by Bones, based on the manga by Kouhei Horikoshi.

***Dedicated to Crimson, a silly blogger pal and shipper of all things MHA. I hope you enjoy it ~!

I know we all are a bit quirky, but in the universe of My Hero Academia, 80% of humanity takes quirkiness to the next level. Recently discovered super powers, otherwise known as “quirks,” have overtaken the daily lives of most people. Not all were blessed with powers though, Izuku “Deku” Midoriya being one downtrodden soul.

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So while all of his friends (more so enemies) set their sights on the prestigious UA High School, an intense school dedicated to raising heroes, Deku continues his menial routine of taking abundant notes on local big-shot heroes and especially eyeing his idol – The almighty All Might!!! (Yes, the exclamation points are necessary.)

When Deku is suddenly caught in the chaos of rescuing his rival from a hideous slime villain, All Might, upon witnessing his unwavering heroism, vows to train young Deku into a muscular man and eventually pass on his quirk to him (because his quirk relies on inheritance).

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Flash forward past the months of rigorous training and it’s enrollment time – and Deku is intent on making the student roster. Not surprised to see his rival Bakugo sitting at the back of the classroom, Deku’s new life full of new friendships and hardships begins. And through his academia, he will learn both the harsh realities and unmistakable joy that come with being a true hero.

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The Underdog Reincarnated, But Made More Interesting

My Hero Academia succeeds in many merits, the obvious one showing the traditional underdog tale that we all like to resonate with through explosive visuals and just high production values overall. Call it cliché, but people still do want to watch the curly-haired nerd beat up the bad guys—it’s a tried-‘n-true formula, and Academia does not fail to meet the expectations of the genre. I dare say it trumps the more complicated plots of Hollywood hero films just because its lead character is so . . . well, you really, really want to watch him kick ass.

Deku is a kid with a big heart for heroes, and I wish I could say that about most people. Even though he’s been quirk-less since birth, his dreams are still set on UA and All Might, and while it was shattering to see that flashback of him finding out [insert meme here], I think that is what has made him such a loveable guy. Being of humble origins, obtaining powers from a supernatural source, and faced with challenges every day, every hour of the day, Deku practically had the hero formula drilled in him – And he knows it, too!

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He’s SUPER enthusiastic about the whole hero bit. Watching him get all geeky about the city’s greats never fails to lift spirits, which is why when Deku is taken up on the aw-inspiring All Might’s offer, a part of me just cracked, then stitched itself together again. It’s a show that rewards not only its cast, but its viewers as well.

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A Colorful Class of Soon-to-be Friends

There’s also the very interesting setting—a world where heroes are viewed by the media and the public as superstars. Their identities are still concealed behind their unique quirks, but for the fanboys like Deku, merely getting firsthand coverage of a battle is enough to wet pants.

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But how do the kids in Deku’s class measure up? It’s hard to say. His class is HUGE, and to spend the first several episodes on Izuku’s background alone doesn’t leave much room for the rest. It’d be like if someone flashed you a bright and brilliant work of art, then quickly tucked it away. You’d never know if it was a masterpiece or not, but you sure as heck are interested! Beyond the playful and bouncy Uraraka Ochako (I love her name), the noble class officer Iida, and everyone’s favorite frog girl Asui, only Izuku’s rival Bakugo shares part of the spotlight. As a delinquent with rough features, watching his growth waver between righteousness and chaos really made for an interesting story arc. I only wish we got more attention for each of these quirky classmates, but given the brief runtime, there’s a lot of setting-up to do with the overarching story.

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Comic Book The Anime

It helps that the animation is bright, active, and uncensored in the body fluids department . . . I’m talking about blood, sweat, tears, and snot, of course. The action scenes with All Might are particularly empowering. It’s saddening to see him shrink to his normal scrawny human physique after being buff and superior. I hope the animated part of the franchise carries that torch straight through to the end just like Deku is so far.

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Studio Bones nails the cartoonish atmosphere and bubbly expressions of Izuku’s hobby, stringing out comedic slapstick reactions whenever possible to keep the tone light. Action scenes with the superpowers themselves draw us viewers into the wacky world where large-scale catastrophe is commonplace. That is, so long as a hero soars swiftly in to quell the fire. The character designs are all very individualistic and flashy, which does wonders in helping you remember who’s who. While the sharp facial designs and bold outlining in particular caught my eye, the frequent switch a softer and doughier style during school hours really bothered me. But as a whole, all of the actions culminates well into this high-intensity finale that’s furious in every single swing and punch.

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Music is pumped-up to the max for the hero scene, silly during the comical training scenes, yet more emotional to fit Deku’s resolves and inspiring speeches with his mentor. What especially caught my ears was the opening, “The Day” by, don’t laugh, Porno Graffiti (HAH).

Final Thoughts

As much as it’s simply a glance into the franchise, I like My Hero Academia’s first seasonThere’s not much else to be said that hasn’t been already. It’s a show about growing up, one of those feel-good anime that makes you want to run out and punch a guy in the face just because you get so hyped up with energy. Full of colorful action, comedy, super powers, and likable characters, My Hero Academia is a comic book come to life by THE studio Bones being Bones again. Should that not win you over, then ALL MIGHT himself is enough of an empowering reason to watch this show. To think that a second season was greenlit before production of the first was even over gets me all revved up for more. If you’re not already heading to class each with MHA, what’s going on? Add this anime to your schedule! PLUS ULTRAAAA!!!

“This is something I was once told: ‘Something that you receive because you’re lucky and something you’re given because you’re recognized are different in essence.’ Take that to heart. This is power that you earned because of your own effort.” – Our greatest hero, All Might

Final Assessment

+ Izuku stands out as an endearing lead amongst the standard pool of underdogs

+ Exciting and energetic fights with explosive effects

+ The All Might-Izuku-Bakugo relationship is especially an attention-grabber

+ Sequel announcement cushions story faults

– Ultimately skimming the surface of a lively and most-likely successful story

– Such a large cast DEMANDS further exploration

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If it seems like you’re having déjà vu, that might be because most of the ‘script’ for this review came from my Episodes 1-5 Thoughts a while back when it aired. I just didn’t feel like rewriting and regurgitating the same material, haha. But looking back at the spring season, this is definitely one of the bests to emerge—a 4/5 “caffe mocha” rating over here! Now that it’s all out, what are you waiting for? Head to FUNimation.com to watch the whole darn thing for free! I’ve also heard the English dub and can confirm that it’s also pretty solid, Izuku and All Might’s performances in particular. Now I’m just waiting for a physical release! Till next time, where we’ll be looking back at more 2016 spring titles,

– Takuto, your host

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“Go beyond,” awwww~ *sobs without resistance*

 

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GJ Club is BOTH Silly and Relaxing? “Gooood Job-buu!”

A spoiler-free review of the 12-episode winter 2013 anime “GJ-bu” or “GJ Club,” produced by Doga Kobo, based on the light novel series by Shin Araki.

 – View in browser, not app, for best experience –

Assume for the moment that this is an anime about a poor boy engaging in harmless games at the expense of a group of totally-pure high school girls. When demons from the underworld aren’t wreaking havoc amongst high-school kids or when bras and boxers aren’t being violently stripped from these fine teens, you have, in this situation, a school-life harem. These cookie-cutter shows are the dreams of many anime fans. I mean, could you imagine a world where after school you hung out in a homey club room with your best friends to discuss the trivial gimmicks of school life, or perhaps spend the entire afternoon eating cake, drinking tea, and playing games?

Last time I played this game was in elementary school. Stubbed my toe pretty bad, too.

Well, that’s what we do in the “Good Job-bu” club, or the GJ Club for short. Its mission is known to none – that is, if it has one – and it inhabits a decently-sized room in a former building of the school. But today is different for this seemingly pointless gang of ladies: Shinomiya Kyouya is kidnapped forced to become a new member – and he’s a boy.

Paging Dr. Kyoro . . . Yeah, you know what’s up.

Each episode of GJ Club begins and ends in the club. Sooooo what is done in the club room stays in the club room. But there’s nothing sinister about it! There is no record of home life or how they act during class. Also, despite it being a harem, it’s neither romantic nor erotic in any sense, never going past that boundary of “what just happened?”

And that is exactly what makes GJ Club the ideal slice-of-life school anime.

They play wacky games, eat tons of meat snacks, read manga; the whole package. As for story . . . . Unless the moral was to enjoy time with friends before high school life is over then there is none. AND THAT’S OKAY. Funny and consistent with its environment, the anime is merely a lighthearted reenactment of our favorite anime tropes. Enjoyable because of the dumb stuff they do and their reactions to it all, but very average in story, characters, and even animation.

This anime doesn’t do anything to challenge the stereotypes. We’ve got the short tsundere club leader, Mao; the overly intelligent yet lacking-common-sense cool rich girl, Shion; the pink-haired airhead, Megumi; the girl who thinks she’s an animal, Kirara (yes, she is a foreigner); and the bratty little one that no one likes (Tamaki). There is also a plentiful batch of token little sisters for those who enjoy hearing “ONII-SAN” five-hundred goddamn times. Watching Megu struggle and obsess over her weight was unintentionally hilarious, though. Same with Kirara’s uncanny strength.

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Best shit in the entire series

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Modesty. The women folk love it.

I suppose the lead boy is a little more interesting, if only he actually developed throughout the series! Nicknamed “Kyoro,” he remains the only male in the club, not that his status as such matters. You see, he is constantly ridiculed as cute or feminine, regardless of that just being his innate politeness when it comes to dealing with women. The fact that he prefers shoujo manga over the more popular mecha and “boku” as his title rather than “ore” doesn’t help his case. To add insult to injury, however, he admits his talent of being able to deal with those of the feminine persuasion, which partially stems from the routinely brushing of his little sister’s hair. And how do the other girls react?

“Baka! Just brush it and get it over with – it’s not like I asked or anything!”

“Shinomiya-kun, would you be as courteous as to demonstrate on me? I am . . . curious.”

“YAY! Your brushing is so cute!” ~<3

*after taming a wild beast*Purrr purr, this is nice.”

“Hey, WATCH IT! It’s MY turn next!”

Me: *eternally bangs head on desk until it bleeds*

Commence: POWERFUL HAIR BRUSHING

The sparkling studio Doga Kobo did the animation for GJ Club, and though it’s nothing spectacular, it should be noted for its consistency and colorful, bright atmosphere – Specifically in the clubroom and the perky hair colors. The eyes take the signature “bubbly anime eye” to the extreme and I always found them weird to stare into. With this anime, however, atmosphere is more important, and I can rest in peace knowing the ideal clubroom was captured in brilliant light and warm tone. Leaving that room on the last episode was the hardest part.

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Hot as balls. It happens.

I honestly can’t recall the soundtrack for this anime, but it is not bad without a doubt. I shouldn’t stress something that didn’t stand out. So I won’t. The opening, “Mousou★Koukan Nikki” by Otome Shinto, is my favorite song from the series. Those first ten seconds of sass and choreography of the characters walking towards the clubroom was just awesome! It’s such a happy song!!

If I were to squeeze out a negative, it is that despite how quirky and fun they seem, characters like this will never exist in real life because they are so heavily rooted in these anime clichés. If you do manage to find a group of friends like this (and actually don’t find them annoying), then that’s great. But maybe that’s why this show appeals to me so much: GJ Club provides the after school family I always wanted, but probably will never have. It’s very sad to hear and take in, but hey, it is, after all, just an anime.

GJ Club is a slow anime – I dare say unexciting half the time – but that works in its favor. It draws out unusual comedy, never taking things to far, and milks those scenarios for all they are worth. If you just got finished with the new crazy shounen anime kids are raging about today, or the most depressing romance you’ve seen to date, and are wanting something to give you breath, do consider GJ Club. It’s silly, colorful, and very relaxing.

“There are two types of people in this world. Those who fan, and those who are fanned.” – Mao Amatsuka

+ Ideal slice-of-life school comedy with consistent direction and environment

+ Very relaxing anime to watch after something heavy; nice palate cleanser

– Does nothing to challenge the popular anime tropes

There we go! Had you even heard of this anime before I brought it up? Yes? “Good job-bu!!!” No? Well now you have a pleasant way to spend your afternoon. The entire series is available on Crunchyroll for FREE, yet sadly has not yet been licensed and released in the U.S. GJ Club can be found in the “Coffee” section of the cafe, but don’t let that discourage you from hitting it up. Did you enjoy the review? Let’s talk about it down below (feel free to hit like button to let me know)! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Love Live! School Idol Project (1st and 2nd Season Review)

Apparently, poppy young girls called “idols” dominate urban culture regions of Japan. This bright form of vocal art is definitely hit or miss by most. I’m only glad that Love Live! could be my first segue into this genre of anime, and not some generic idol series instead. For others new to spunky idols, here’s Love Live!, a true story of struggle and determination.

Honoka dives into her second glorious year at Otonokizaka High School with overwhelming passion only to find out that if the school doesn’t receive enough transfer students the following year, then it will close down forever. In an effort to save her beloved school, Honoka starts an idol group, which are currently popular, with her best friends Umi and Kotori to attract new students.

As the hardships stack up, μ’s (pronounced “Muse”) recruits six new members including three first-years and three third-years. Pouring all of their hard work, time, and love into their music, the girls pursue the “Love Live,” the top-dog high school idol contest in the region! But will their combined efforts be enough to save their blossoming high school life?

In terms of plot execution, this anime is a bit rigid. A lot of the characters have individual qualms that conflict with the idol competitions, for instance: studying abroad, future professions, failing grades, and other talents besides singing and dancing. And while I’m glad that these characters have realistic conflicts of their own, the show never bothers to touch up on some of these issues, some development even being dropped as “the show must go on” with all nine members intact (end of first season specifically). Don’t get me wrong, I love happy endings, but had some of these characters gone their own ways, then the show could have been more gripping, tear-jerking, and even relatable.

But where the show falters, the characters easily fill in the holes as the show’s richest feature. Each and every one of the girls are overly loveable, memorable, unique and just plain cute! Their constant teasing yet support of each other adds to the overall enjoyment and sense of reality that the show carries. Additionally, each of the characters, including the rival members of “A-RISE,” have some sort of back story and/or standout characteristic that adds a whole new level of depth to them. I’ve never seen a cast of girls so likable and so well-developed like they are in Love Live!

Honoka is seriously the most bubbly, loveable, natural-born leader character ever! Obviously being the main character, she undergoes the most development. You can definitely tell a difference before and after the two seasons. Her charisma and perseverance is nearly unmatched – well, until the rest of the girls step in to cheer Honoka up when she’s discouraged!

Two other characters in particular stuck out to me, which are the third-year student council members Eli and Nozomi. Eli embodies the student council attitude with her over-concerning will to protect the school. Of all the girls, she sets the standard for maturity and true talent (besides Maki), as she was a professional ballet dancer during her childhood in Russia. Though her story is never glanced back to, she just has this irresistible kindness and devotion that can’t be ignored.

Nozomi is vice-prez of the student council and serves as Eli-cchi’s advisor/best friend. After they both become a member of μ’s, however, Nozomi becomes a motherly figure that everyone looks up to. From the start, she is always watching over everyone and never loses faith in μ’s. She is the key that all things related to μ’s creation tie back to, and Nozomi hilariously uses these tarot cards to predict the outcome of everything. Nozomi also has this strange impulse of rubbing the other girls’ breasts when they “misbehave” and whatnot. It’s totally out-of-character, but it was always funny to witness!

As for visuals, the producers at Sunrise like to keep things very colorful and dazzling. Each of the girls have their own concept design to them as well, which helps to define their personality and distinguish them in the crowd. Especially enjoyable are the expressive faces that the characters give off. All of the emotions and feels are perfectly captured on their cute lil’ faces, allowing you to feel exactly what they do without them needing to say a word. And speaking of cute, some of them can pull of the most devilish smiles I’ve ever seen – Umi and Eli can be pretty freakin’ terrifying when they want to! 😀

The only “glaring” issue I found with the animation was actually with the CGI used in the performances. There’s such a crude switch between 2D and 3D in every other frame that becomes really distracting after even a few seconds. I understand why they did it an all – 3D is much smoother to animate, especially with dancing – but man, some of these transitions are pretty rough.

And while I’m hitting the dance scenes, I’d also like to point out that for a “music anime,” the songs weren’t that catchy or memorable. Perhaps that was just the idol music to my ears, but it was all just too bland for me. Happy, sure, but bland. Between both seasons, the only songs that I really liked were “Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE” performed in the anime by μ’s, Maki’s “Aishiteru Banzai!” and the anthem the song that started it all, “START:DASH!!” sung by the original three members in episode three and in episode 13 with all of the members. Now, my favorite song award goes to “Susume→Tomorrow,” initiated by Honoka in episode one – the first thing we hear, might I add. I absolutely fell in love with this sweet, delicate melody!

Love Live!‘s most enjoyable moments come from the enduring, harsh beginnings of the idol group. Their first concert in episode three in particular left me on the verge of tears. But once μ’s is up and off the ground, the lovable girls carry the story home. What I liked most about this show overall was that no matter how desperate situations seemed, the girls, primarily Honoka, endured it all.

Love Live! radiates POSITIVITY, and is UNEXPECTEDLY a stand-out anime! While the first season has a couple of plot issues, the second season makes up for that with great character development. Just know that all good things eventually come to an end, though . . . If you’re new to this idol business, I full-heartedly recommend this show – it’ll cheer you up no matter what and make you feel dem feels as well! “Nico Nico Ni :3”

“All we can ask for is just a tiny bit of support from you. We truly believe that with your help, we can change the world around us. We will make our dreams come true!”

+ Amazing, well-developed, fun main cast

+ Positive vibe is irresistible

+ Harsh reality of the idol business approached step by step

– 2D to 3D shifts jarring

– Plot cuts back stories short and forces the group over personal conflicts

– Music could have been better

Thanks so much for reading – hit the like if you enjoyed it! You can watch both seasons of Love Live! over on Crunchyroll for free. I can’t wait for NIS America to dub it all in English! Woot! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

TRINITY SEVEN Review

Harem anime rely on three concepts to succeed, regardless of how stupid the plot might be:

1. A decently likable lead that undergoes some sort of personal growth throughout the show
2. An even more enjoyable and interactive ensemble cast that is attracted to said lead for some odd reason
3. Humorous dialogue and decent amounts of fan service

. . . Or so I thought.

TRINITY SEVEN demonstrates what happens when an anime relies too much on its harem, sidelining any plot explanation, and ultimately pays a heavy price for such unbalanced writing.

Arata Kasuga’s world literally comes crashing down on him when an apocalyptic event known as a “Breakdown Phenomenon” destroys the whole world and throws his cousin Hijiri Kasuga into a different one. Unable to get Hijiri back nor stop the catastrophe, Arata finds himself enrolling in a magic school, Royal Biblia Academy, that houses the great “Trinity Seven,” seven girls who have mastered their own “Thema” and are ace magicians. From here, Arata plans to “learn the magic” of these powerful ladies and control his “demon lord candidate” abilities in order to bring back his beloved cousin, Hijiri.

What caused this untimely “Breakdown Phenomenon?” What did the caster gain from this tragedy? How does one learn the complex system of magic?

These are just a few of the many reasonable questions that get little to no answer. Crucial explanation is tossed out for exploding clothes, bouncing boobies and nude scenes of Arata and the girls. I enjoy my fair share of fan service as much as the next guy, but TRINITY SEVEN has way way too much of it! I grew really tired of it :/

Unnecessarily convoluted plot aside, the show might score a win with its characters.

The lead boy Arata Kasuga appears to be your typical pervert, but he’s surprisingly different. He’s honest about his attractions, never stuttering while apologizing a thousand times; we’ve all seen it, don’t lie, it gets really old. “Thank you for the feast” is one of his quotes to witnessing nudity. Kasuga was a fresh harem lead, and I enjoyed the fact that he doesn’t use the Trinity Seven, but instead fights even stronger alongside them. Plus, his voice actor is Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito-kun) – you can’t get much better than him!

While a couple of the Trinity Seven are cutout characters, the ones that I found myself drawn to were Lilith Asami, Levi Kazama, and Akio Fudou.

First off, Lilith-sensei is one of the teachers at Royal Biblia Academy, and as such is Arata’s #1 tease. She wields a magical rail rifle weapon and knows how to fire it quite well. I love the concept art of her character, red-braided hair with blue eyes and a monocle on occasion, as well as her hate/love relationship with Arata. The two get along well, and by the end, hold respectful positions with each other. Also, Arata loves her giant jugs – the best out of the Trinity Seven 😉

Levi and Akio act more like supports for Lilith and Mira Yamana (the cute yet stern tsundere leader) respectively, and as such are mainly “power houses.” They both have their own motives, yet go along with Arata’s teasing. Truly a hidden comical duo!

Another one of the show’s better features was the animation by Seven Arcs. While intricate CGI architecture made up the school and its majestic hallways, characters had matching and rich color designs, be it in uniforms, hair color or eyes. The ecchi hot scenes are also a beauty; graceful curves and shining skin really do go a long way :3

OST-wise, the soundtrack contains lovely violin melodies for both combat and relaxation. Sometimes rap-like chanting is sung to help fill the space. It’s unique and adds its own touch to this anime.

The opening “Seven Doors” by ZAQ is freakin’ amazingballz! By using chromatic scales to create a haunting undertone, and mixing that with a sweet, reminiscing melody, you get a super cool song! Check it out – it is a must! BTW, I love Hijiri’s cute face when the verse starts ~

Now back to the rant. TRINITY SEVEN is nothing but boobs, attempted serious magic, exploding clothes, then more boobs. It’s awesome for a while and really could have been so much more, but by episode 6 or so I was utterly lost and just done. To be honest, I can’t believe I stuck it out, but then again, I’m a completionist, so yeah. “Connect to blah blah – Execute Thema!” Or whatever the hell it is.

Thanks for reading! Remember that these are my own thoughts, so feel free to drop a comment with your own. Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host