The Royal Tutor: A Heartfelt Lesson on Judgement | OWLS “Mentor”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, you might be new to this place. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, and welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s seventh monthly topic for 2018, “Mentor,” I wanted to broaden my horizons into the shoujo genre like I did last month . . . only to find out while writing this that The Royal Tutor is somehow labeled under the shounen catageory. Still, I enjoyed the efforts of Grannzreich’s latest royal tutor as he set out to shape up the country’s four princes into well-rounded individuals fit for the crown. How exactly he accomplished such a daunting task is what makes him a perfect fit for this month’s topic!

Throughout our lives, we might have encountered someone that we admired as a role model or has guided us in some life dilemma. This mentor could be a teacher at school, a coach, a boss or team leader at work, or a family friend. Whoever it is, that person impacted your life in a positive manner. For this month’s OWLS topic, we will be writing about mentors or mentorships in anime and other pop culture media. Some topics we will be exploring include how a mentorship impacted a main character’s life, the types of mentor relationships a person could have, and/or personal stories about mentors or mentorships.

I had only recently crossed paths with The Royal Tutor, so it’s exciting to freshen up my palette with something I would normally not have watched. Thanks Z and Lyn for the prompt!

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A brief spoiler-free discussion on the 12-episode spring 2017 anime “The Royal Tutor,” animated by Bridge, directed by Katsuya Kikuchi, and based on Higasa Akai’s manga of the same name. 

The Royal Court Requests Your Presence

The King of Grannzreich currently fathers five sons, four of which in desperate need of tutelage should they need to assume the throne. There’s Licht, the flirtatious, most free-spirited, and youngest prince; his dimwitted, hotheaded older brother Leonhard; Bruno the studious yet close-minded third prince; and Kai, the most reserved and oldest of the four with a RBF so intense that he scares even his hand-servants away. All of them want the throne, badly, but their collective inability to overcome their individual shortcomings prevents them from receiving their father’s approval.

After having many tutors come and gone—all deemed failures either because they ran out or were run out of the palace by the princes themselves—the king turned to an old acquaintance, the equally charming and austere Heine Wittgenstein, for the massive and intimidating undertaking of properly educating his sons. But as it happens in the royal family, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and Heine finds dark memories of his past resurfacing in the present. Nothing shalt shake the brilliant Heine Wittgenstein, however, for despite his incredibly short, childlike stature, the new royal tutor’s ability to command respect and diligence from all of his pupils is the exact reason King Victor von Grannzreich hired him in the first place.

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Educating royalty might not sound like a very interesting concept for some, but with comedy as the main genre The Royal Tutor is tossed into, one can only imagine the hilarity that ensues when a tiny teacher cracks a whip on a spoiled, blond-haired twat for not knowing what 2 + 2 is. After the four princes are forced to understand that Heine is NOT going to give up on them, episode by episode, the royal tutor works one-on-one with their majesties. While some princes are easier to coerce than others, Heine remains determined to give them each the same amount of time together. This establishes a mutual respect boundary between teacher and student, as well as fellow students (or in this case, brothers).

In their private lessons, Heine systematically pulls the princes to their lowest lows, never failing to offer fascinating and invaluable advice on the human spirit. Heine, simply put, is an inspiration to the boys. Slowly but surely, the Grannzreich princes warm up to Heine, and as the royal family’s name continues to face false accusations and scandalizations via some shady wealthy individuals in the kingdom, the princes must come to Heine’s aid in turn to protect not only his name but their own. From beginning to end, the plot offers a pleasant ride which nicely works in serious moments of character growth (the show’s most noteworthy feature) and the slapstick, slice-of-life comedy in all its chibified glory.

Such wonderful balance could only be obtained in a show like Ouran High School Host Club—And in fact, between the on-par voice acting and similar art style, I’d go so far as to call this anime Ouran‘s spiritual successor! Trust me, there’s a high chance that if you liked that ritzy ditzy cast, you’ll definitely *KISS KISS* fall in love with this one too!!

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Teacher and Student

While I’d like to say the series’s “best boy” is Heine himself, until the very end, he mostly acts as a device to push other characters toward development. Even after everything’s said and done, we only know a bit about his childhood, and that he’s been the leader type since. He’s also strict, but true to his word; credit is given only where credit is due. Though pint-sized, Heine is still a moving, breathing source of inspiration, and if his grand speech in the finale episode, “The Last Lesson,” didn’t move you to tears, I’m honestly not sure what will. Having watched Funimation’s English dub, I can confirm that this is both one of Micah Solusod’s funniest characters (what with the hilariously low register for such a lil’ fella) and, despite Heine’s apathetic yet articulate tone, most poignant, eloquent roles.

The same glowing things could be said about the rest of the cast. I love the spoiled Licht’s endeavor to try living a humble life, as well as his charisma and resistance on not letting being the youngest hold him back. Not gonna lie, VA Stephen Sanders has a weird voice, but it fits Licht’s flashier side well enough. Fourth prince Leonhard struggles wanting to study hard to be like his brothers, to which I’m sure we can all relate. Leo’s whiny, bratty personality but inner goodwill can be felt thanks to Alejandro Saab’s great (and very high-pitched, wow) voice acting.

Third prince Bruno was the real surprise, as I normally don’t care for the megane characters. But here we are, with the studious and esteemed Bruno as best boy, and VA Christopher Wehkamp as the one who brought this Heine fanboy to life. Lastly, second prince Kai is, well, Kai. Rumored to be violent, but actually has hands gentler and more caring than all in the land. For all those low, billowing grunts and one-liners, Daman Mills gets the job done.

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Genius vs. the fruits of hard work; personal enjoyment and satisfaction vs. maintaining one’s line to the thrown. As a prince in the line of succession, such sacrifices are bound to be made. But with knowing that they likely won’t become king because their eldest brother, the elusive first prince, is already the perfect candidate, does sacred duty really come before broadening horizons outside the palace? That’s what Heine is here to mentor us and the four princes through, and it is for that reason that I thoroughly enjoyed this series of personal conflicts and inferiority complexes galore.

Adding Charm with a Splash of Color

Briefly, I wanted to mention the beautiful animation by Bridge, a studio that hasn’t done too much beyond helping with Fairy Tail (2014) and a couple game-to-anime adaptations. First, Heine’s dud mode, and how The Royal Tutor switches between chibified comedy and serious bishounens with incredible ease! Next, the unique lighting, something which I guarantee not many mention. While most anime define shadows as darker hues of the same color or just with a flat gray color, studio Bridge highlights skin and clothes with blues, reds, pinks, oranges, whatever the color depending on how light would logically reflect on brightly colored interior palace walls and long, draping curtains. The boys already had glittery eyes and pretty ombre blends in their hair, and this added color gave the anime additional charm, not that it needed it. The highlights match wonderfully with the innate palace couches, gold leaf embellishments, and stunning wall and carpet patterns. Bridge has absolutely convinced me that these men do, in fact, live the royal life.

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Also lovely is the light piano music that can be felt during the tender moments. Keiji Inai’s (DanMachi) whole soundtrack, in fact, feels inspired by classical music, another nod to this literally being Host Club‘s spiritual successor. Fanciful, flowing, and grand—a perfect fit for our princes!

Heine’s Lessons & Learning How to be Human

At the end of each day, Heine Wittgenstein offers a brilliant and breathtaking lesson on the human spirit. So what better for an OWLS “Mentor” post than to showcase the words of the wise straight from the royal tutor’s mouth!

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Licht’s devilish charm and desire to entertain his lady-friends constantly pushes him to lead two separate lives. Thus, Heine teaches him about the duality of man, and how he can be both a prince and a gentleman so long as he learns to prioritize his own safety.

Always remember, before quitting something you want to do, you should always explore alternative solutions.

 

A king must lead with compassion without discrimination. He must be one who always hears his people, no matter the circumstance, as well as want everyone to follow their ambitions and enjoy their freedom.

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Leonhard always stumbles where intellect is concerned, but makes up for this shortcoming with mad athletic skills. He holds himself to a higher standard because of his inability to learn new subjects, and flees when things get rough. As a result, Heine puts Leo through test after test, threatening him with the separation of teacher and student, friend and friend, as the ultimate motivator to learn.

Those who recognize their own vulnerability can grow to be stouthearted souls who are kind and sensitive to the pain of other people. Running away may seem like a solution, but has it ever made your heart feel lighter? Hiding from your problems will not make them go away.

 

A king must lead with powerful imagination. He should act with compassion, and reach out to people in need. To want to live in a country where we all help each other is an honorable thing indeed.

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Meanwhile, Bruno is just about as princely as one can get, but he lacks that extra lick of creativity that his brothers possess, forcing him to work harder all the time to overcome this imperfection. Even then, he’s still so smart—any university would be lucky to have a guy like Bruno! Unlike Licht or Leonhard, his options are infinite. Like a master should, Heine remind Bruno that we only get one life, and that we must choose what is best for us.

You only have one life and it’s yours alone, so live it as you please because it’s the only one you’re going to get. 

 

A king must lead with acumen and expertise. He must possess a wealth of information. There will be a time when people will go down the wrong path, but no mistakes happen–he should believe in second chances, not punishing them for the sins of their past.

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Lastly, for the reclusive Prince Kai, Heine tells him of humanity’s kindness, and that, should he express generosity and affection to his subjects, his people will return such warmth in full.

Everyone has a different personality. Some won’t like you no matter how polite you are to them. It’s not all bad. That also means that there are plenty of people who will like you quite a bit. This world is very big. Do not deprive yourself of people who will understand and care for you. 

 

A king must never surrender his overwhelming heart. The misunderstood should not lose hope, for he shall be a king that all the people will adore. This chronicles the lessons taught by Heine, amongst many more untold.

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A Tutor for All Ages, a Lesson for All Time

Make no mistake, The Royal Tutor is a very fun show. Its comedic timing is great, and its charismatic characters are full of personality. That said, this series also dabbles into several valuable lessons we all take for granted. From beginning to end, The Royal Tutor offers well-rounded, wholesome episodes that are filled to the brim with simple life advice. The boys are pretty, and the fujoshi crowd will love it, but . . . beyond looks, it’s a show about not judging people based on first impressions alone, as well as helping those with needs unlike most others by building a personal relationship with them and helping them grow as potential leaders. If ever you need a pick-me-up, Heine Wittgenstein, the royal tutor, has always got the time for a private lesson with you—just make sure you are prepared to learn.

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Instead of judging others based on rumors and gossip, I must seek the answers for myself and arrive at my own conclusions. One must never think they know someone after little to no time with them, and so I must begin again. With every fresh start comes a new beginning.—Heine Wittgenstein


Afterword

I came into this show just in time, for a second season of The Royal Tutor was just announced not too long ago! Like Prince Leonhard’s rich and savory sachertorte, I, too, shall award this first season with the “Cake” rating, a show too sweet to miss out on! Have you seen The Royal Tutor? Who’s your favorite prince?? You’ll have to let me know what you thought about the series or this OWLS post in the comments!

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This concludes my July 24th entry in the OWLS “Mentor” blog tour. Gloria (The Nerdy Girl News) went right before me with a post about learning to live again in The Ancient Magus’ Bride, a series that I really ought to watch! Now, look out for blogger buddy Hazel (Archi-Anime) with a post on Ace of Diamond, a sports anime that I’ve also been longing to watch, tomorrow, July 25th (it’s also her birthday, so give her a shoutout)! Thanks for reading such a long post, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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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*

 

My Hero Academia (Eps. 1-5) Thoughts | Hero Week

A little introduction:

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. 

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). 

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 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. 


My thoughts:

I like My Hero Academia. There’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 make you want to run out and punch a guy in the face after watching just because you swallowed your cat’s hair. But seriously, we’ve had more development with Deku and his two classmates than we’ve had with all of the characters in this season’s The Lost Village combined – and there are over 30 of those guys! 

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, 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!


That development is nothing fresh, however, considering that it’s the same underdog story we all wish to resonate with. It’s managed to keep me invested thus far, and I’m daring to call it out as best anime of the season already just because of how straightforward and honest these first five episodes have been. 

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 anime carries that torch straight through to the end, just like Deku is so far. 


Music is also pumped-up for the hero scene, 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!). I can’t stop grooving to that and Kabaneri’s addicting OP. 

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. If you’re not already heading to class each week with it, what’s going on? Add this anime to your schedule!

– Takuto, your host 

(PS: Sorry if any of this looks rough. I tried doing it all on my phone ^.^)

Want a FOODGASM? Enter the Food Wars!

A spoiler-free review of the spring 2015 anime “Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma,” produced by J.C. Staff, based on the manga by Yuuto Tsukuda and contributor Yuki Morisaki.

I like to cook. Granted, I’m no master chef, nor do I really know what I am doing half of the time, but I find enjoyment in starting the rice cooker and chopping up some lettuce. Lather on some soy sauce and you’ve got yourself some tasty stuff. In fact, I’ll be right back . . .

*with mouth full of food* Now wheh wur we? Oh, wat’s wight. Food Wars!, baby! PREPARE YOUR ANUS FOR ALL THIS ‘FOOD PORN.’

Shokugeki no Soma centers on Yukihira Souma, a 15-year-old practically raised in his father’s local Japanese restaurant so that he’ll one day take over the family business. That’s no fuss for Souma because he loves cooking and dreams that nothing will ever change. But when his sly father suddenly closes down shop for a bit to play chef in America, Souma is challenged by his old man to attend Toutsuki Culinary Academy, which considering its incredibly slim 10% graduation rate, is basically hell itself! As Souma dives into delicious, daily tests and mouthwatering missions, he makes new friends and even more enemies, but will his father’s teachings be enough to pull him through the first semester? As long as he wins the Shokugeki!

So what is a Shokugeki? It’s a famous Toutsuki tradition that has withstood the test of time. Essentially, it’s a cooking duel initiated when two persons need to settle a dispute. They are judged by an unbiased panel and all the clashing chefs have to do is muster their culinary expertise to best their opponent AKA a game of whose food tastes better. This is where the anime gets its fire. The acclaimed battle-roulette shounen is fueled by these steamy competitions of trial-and-error and sheer willpower!

Aw yeah, here we go!

Aw yeah, here we go!

Shokugeki proves that resolution and “courage” are not enough to win one’s case, however, and that’s what makes this anime excel from other shounen with the same stunts. An incredible amount of cooking skill, familiarity in the kitchen, and knowledge of spices that I’ve honestly never even heard of are necessary to simply blend in with the crowd, let alone actually surprise one of the scary judges! I mean, it’s still a school, so I would hope that they are learning to grill my steaks properly.

Souma thinks he’s a wise guy, taking after his son-of-a-buck father. He’s pretty damn smug during his entrance speech, proclaiming that he doesn’t plan on losing to “some bunch that has never stood in front of clients” – That’ll earn you a rep no doubt, because now the entire student body wants to slit your throat! Cocky as he seems, Souma’s got one thing that none of the others have. Passion? Nope. Talent? Not that. A hot body? For this spiky redhead, hardly. Souma wants to support others, and when your egg omelet determines your fate, that’s a rare treat in a guy. Even though he’s a dumb fool, ‘he helps others find their feet so that they learn to stand up on their own’ (as one reviewer sorta put it), specifically speaking, the clumsy yet sweet Tadokoro Megumi.

The rest of the characters are pretty much store-bought stereotypes, but in the case of Shokugeki, that’s not a bad thing at all! There’s the tsundere “God Tongue” Erina Nakiri, the critical queen of Toutsuki who seriously needs a new nickname; Nikumi the “Meat Master,” a busty servant of Erina who trust me, knows her way around meat; Tadokoro Megumi, the already-mentioned endearing ‘freshmeat’ of the pack who, at first clings to Souma’s apron like a stain, builds her own uniqueness and learns to fight on her own turf like a pro; Lastly Takumi Aldini (the Italian stallion) who remains Souma’s poke-fun-of rival in this shounen.

Better start learning how to shine shoes because she’s several feet over our heads

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Aww, what’s wrong? You’re looking a bit flushed there, Mr. Aldini

I didn’t even get to mention the cool Polar Star Dormitory pals, but there are so many other exaggerated and outrageous cutouts that benefit this particular story genre. If you know shounen anime enough, then none of these characters are necessarily fresh. That doesn’t stop these chefs from being entertaining and downright amazing in their own right, though. Their uniqueness often adds an extra layer of hilarity!

Oh yeah, there’s this woman, too . . .

So the story is nothing new and the characters aren’t original, either. How’s the animation fair? SWEET MOTHER OF EGGS! J.C. Staff has taken food to a whole new level and MY GOD things are so juicy! Now why do people keep calling it “food porn?” It’s the way the characters revel, squirm, and orgasm on their own taste buds. Apparently one of the key animators worked with hentai, so that’s probably where the show gets its inherent sex drive. Besides being ridiculously over-the top, I found the sensual reactions to be another one of Shokugeki’s winning attributes. The exploding articles of clothing and intense moaning reveal what an A+ dish can truly do to your body – make it foodgasm. The science of good food is also thoroughly explored, so by entering with an engaged mind, you might learn a thing or two.

This one’s actually not a foodgasm. He just gets this way . . . sometimes . . .

Composer Tatsuya Kato is a genius, simply put. I especially loved the way he incorporated Western-inspired tracks to this show; the soundtrack only makes it more flavorful (awesome trumpet and strings)! Disappointment, rage, awkwardness, celebration, competition, grandeur – it’s all here, and expressed with such invigorating fervor. While watching, I wanted to stop and scream just how incredible this OST is, but then I’d be missing out on another bite of excitement.

Check out “01. Towards the Horizon of Cuisine,” “06. The Texture of a Decisive Battle,” “07. Go Study Both Sour and Sweet!,” “08. God Tongue,” “09. Disgusting!,” “18. The Heat of Confrontation,” and “25. The Secret Ingredient Named Victory” to get a lick of Souma’s world!

And all of these delightful features are carried by tasty openings and endings. My two favorites were the first two, opening “Kibou no Uta” by Ultra Tower and ending “Spice” by Tokyo Karankoron. Watching this anime each Saturday morning as a simulcast, this opening was such a great “good morning” call that I had to download it as an alarm. My sweet little “Spice” also charmed me early on, and I loved the dinner table scene at the end.

With incredible amounts of five-star food, unnecessarily high degrees of tension, and FAN SERVICE OUT THE WAZOO, Shokugeki constantly delivers fun and flavor! At the end of the day, it’s all about a boy who practices to surpass his father. So rather than blindly recommending this fantastic treat with two open thumbs up, I instead refer Food Wars! to those who want fun, but don’t want change.  The outrageous reactions to the food, the bouncy animation, the blazing competition – It’s all to delight in! But the story of the Shokugeki is much more than that; it was the incalculable trial and error – blood, sweat, and tears – over and over again that made this anime shine above the rest. “…repeating trial and error and failing many times…it’s that process which makes the dishes shine.”

While characters know hardships, the show never lowers its light to become a negative influence. Take it like a nice, home-cooked meal: The food is ever-changing, but the heart never falters. I also learned some neat kitchen tricks! If you’re looking for some grilled competition and true comedy, yet ecchi fan-service doesn’t bother you too much, then try dipping into Food Wars! You’ll find that it doesn’t need any extra salt. The flavor is just right.

“Don’t think of unnecessary things, just make a dish that suits you!” – Souma to Tadokoro

+ Yukihira Souma is a character that you’ll naturally want to cheer on, which is the goal for any shounen anime

+ Entertainment value is through the roof, so long as you don’t mind ecchi, umm, ‘plot’

+ Animation quality is absolutely incredible! The food will make your mouth drool and characters will make you giggle so hard you vomit

+ A soundtrack so fitting that it elevates the stakes on every front, yet knows when to be playful, witty, or heartwarming

Thanks for reading my review, and I hope you liked it! “Happy to serve!” You can let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment below and/or sautéing that like button! The café rates this anime with a gratifying 9/10, so if you’re interested in Food Wars!, the entire show can be viewed on Crunchyroll for FREE! Now you’ve got nothing to lose but your appetite! Until next time everyone, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Seraph of the End Review

PLEASE, PEOPLE! It’s not Attack on Titan. It’s not even close. Sure, the main character wants to kill every last one from the enemy side – that is pretty close to Eren Yeager’s passion, though Eren is a much more dimensional character. Seraph of the End is absolutely, without a doubt nothing like the famous Titan-smashing epic, and I can confirm that by this first half alone.

Vampires crawled out of the chaos that emerged from a mysterious disease that spread like wildfire. With this disease wiping out all humans older than age 13, the scheming vampires subjugated the remaining youth like livestock, keeping them huddled together in fear as they sucked their blood whenever needing to.

Orphan Hyakuya Yuichirou survives in the slums under vampire rule. Yu hates them with a passion, but when they threaten his orphan family, his rage ignites, and he dreams to kill all of the vampires. Every last one.

Episode one of this anime is by far one of the best first episodes I’ve seen to date. Entrancing mood, exhilarating pace, musty and dark setting – you’ll easily be amazed! Not to mention, the end leaves you with such gushing emotions you can only hope they build up as the series progresses . . .

Sadly, nope. Episode two abandons our gloomy vampire paradise to bring us, yes, our overused high school setting. Ughhh. Just wait, it gets a little better, for as soon as the next couple of episodes are over, we return to the frontlines but with opposition in mind and a “Cursed Gear” in our hands. These strangely overpowered demon weapons turn vampires into dust after a single hit! Now, our true story unveils itself as we follow the Moon Demon Company, a vampire resistance team among others composed of Yu and his new friends, which sets out to eradicate the enemy in this post-apocalyptic Japan.

I admit that after episode one I, was incredibly depressed to witness a more stereotypical yet simply conventional plot. Had they taken out the whole school training thing and spent more time rescuing some encaged children and building characters this way, then I could consider forgiving the series. At least the latter half returned some interest, though very little.

Seraph‘s cast is cliché. The cocky protagonist, the “friend” that bickers with the protagonist even though they’re close buds, the shy boy, the tsundere, the a**hole chief – it’s all there, trust me. Mikaela, Yu’s orphan brother, does stray from the norm, but there’s not enough screen time of him to uncover layers of depth. Yu himself, albeit narrow-minded, still manages to be an entertaining character for me. There is, however, one individual that stands out more than Mr. OP Shounen.

Her name is Shinoa, the female protagonist whose sarcasm and merry wit stands out as a new character type for me. She’s amazing with the scythe, which would be cooler if we saw more, but Shinoa also always seems to know what’s going on (besides the end). Her ability to remain above everyone else yet not be annoying makes her interesting to watch. Hayami Saori portrays her charming mannerisms and constant teasing with little sardonic bolts of high-pitched laughter, a joy to listen to every time! 😉

The art is absolutely phenomenal!! Sharp, bold, eye candy characters against soft pastel building ruins and sunsets adds so much to the “devastated world” theme. Actual animation by Wit Studio (Attack on Titan with Production I.G.), however, sucks the bum hole. Action scenes are super awkward, as one moment you’ll watch a soldier holding up a sword to a vampire, then we skip to a character monologuing for five minutes, afterwards flashing back to view the characters in the same pose. Who decided to choreograph this, cause this is literally so awful! There are a few neat sequences involving the Cursed Gear, but that’s all you will get from the animation.

One of the main reasons I stuck with this series was for the music, but like most of it so far, I was tragically disappointed. It’s quite true to say that it’s “just more Hiroyuki Sawano,” as one reviewer put it, but it also lacks impact and stand alone pieces I’ve come to expect from him. My biggest complaint wasn’t the low quality of the tracks, though rather the placement of them. During sit-down dialogue or transitions we get music, and that’s great, yet during the hype of battle (which already suffers from lazy animation), sometimes nothing is playing!! That’s just outrageous considering the stakes! Besides the awesome techno opening “X.U.” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:Gemie, there just wasn’t much going for the soundtrack.

Seraph of the End is by no means a bad show – heck no! I found enjoyment in the characters Yu, Mika and Shinoa (occasionally from Guren, a possibly back-stabbing adult . . .), the art and the music (wherever it was).From a reviewer’s point of view, the show is a terrible pile of plot holes and poor storytelling. The whole time I felt like I was being teased, much like Shinoa does to “baka Yu.” Samples of smooth animation and intense music are few and far between, enough to tie you over until the next quality moment.  Just from a casual watcher, however, I’d conclude that the show was fairly entertaining.

Thus, I will leave Seraph of the End with a “Coffee” rating (6 ish/10) and a recommendation to NOT watch it until the hopeful second season clears this mess up (Krul Tepes do something!). I will be following the second season which airs in the fall, but do note that my interest level is already scraping the damp cobblestones in front of young Yu and Mika’s home.

“I don’t ever wanna say I survived because I left someone else to die ever again!!”- Yuichiro Hyakuya

+ Sharp, bold characters against pastel backgrounds make for phenomenal art

+Shinoa’s youthful, sarcastic, easy-going yet witty personality is a new character type

+ Thrilling first episode; final episode leaves off on a good note, one refreshed and ready for a sequel

– Fine premise, very sloppy focus so far

– Most action scenes are flat and awkward

– Music not timed/placed as well – not as effective

What did you think of this spring’s Seraph of the End? It’s only the first cour, and hopefully the second is much better than this one. Still entertaining though ~ I hope my review was interesting! I appreciate all of the likes you guys leave me and the follows are also super helpful 😀 Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Log Horizon Review

Log Horizon is the newest “stuck in a video game” anime since Sword Art Online. Rather than try to escape as the main goal, however, one brave geek steps out of his cloak and glasses to answer “Who’s gonna do what, what we’re up against, when things are going down, where we’re going next, but interestingly, not why we’re here” – and that could be Log Horizon‘s biggest fault.

Eight-year Elder Tales Veteran Shiroe among 30,000 Japanese players (700,000 worldwide) are suddenly transported into game that they all love upon installation of the “Novasphere Pioneers” expansion pack. Most everyone quickly realizes that the game is not quite as friendly when you’re actually in it: all of the food taste like the same mush, combat with the menus spinning around your head is difficult, and if you made your game avatar a little taller or shorter than in real life, well, now you have to adjust to it!

But here’s the most intriguing bit: when you die in the game, you simply revive at the cathedral, just like normal so no big deal . . .

That means you are trapped in the game.

With no known way out, no sense of order, player killers running about, and the CPUs (now “People of the Land”) acting strangely personal, the level 90 enchanter Shiroe picks up that you can’t just play in Elder Tales anymore – you have to live in it. Partnered with the faithful ninja Akatsuki and the beefy guard Naotsugu, Shiroe takes on his own quest of restoring order to Akiba, even if it means becoming a “Villain in Glasses” instead.

What’s best about this anime is the way it handles situations. Covering food to personal qualms to economics to ethics to community issues -all of these critical points in structuring modern civilization are hashed out with incredible detail and with consideration of the characters’ emotions. For instance, sparking the industry with the invention of the Crescent Burger was not only creative but it mattered in the context. The people wanted flavorful food and Shiroe need more money to execute his plan, so what a better way than that? It’s probably one of the best examples of world building I’ve ever seen.

Acting as the mastermind behind all operations is Shiroe, a socially awkward young man who is an expert strategist. To the kids, he’s a savior and a teacher, but to adults he’s a creepy guy with mysterious intentions. I’d say Shiroe’s a good mix of both; he means well, but the way he performs maneuvers could be considered rather extreme. He’s willing to make himself look like the bad/strict guy if it’s to better the people, which aggravates the ones that love him. Regardless, Shiroe’s best feature is that he values progress. He is the most achieving character I’ve seen in a long time, but often times, the plot just uses Shiroe as a means to convey this progression rather than developing his character.

Also, instead of the frontline swordsman, he’s the man pulling all the strings and gauging the stats, and makes for a really fresh, enjoyable point of viewa view not usually popular with this kind of story.

Though the majority of characters in the series lack any real development, there are several characters that I enjoyed because of their quirks: Akatsuki’s loyalty and shyness is super cute; Marielle and Henrietta (the playful Crescent Moon gals) are not only hilarious to watch, but a hardworking team, too; RUNDEL HAUS CODE and Isuzu are quarreling lovers that receive the best development; and finally Lenessia, a straightforward, lazy, cowardly princess who makes a few damn good speeches despite her lack of attention. Log Horizon‘s cast may be large and unremarkable, but it’s well-balanced and enjoyable as you’re watching.

Animation by Satelight is by far the show’s weakest point. Characters can look really botched at times, though during some of the fights scenes you’re sitting on the edge of your seat! The luscious green background of Akihabara is also standout artwork in itself. I guess the word is inconsistent.

Driving the fantasy story and installing bravery into the characters is the wonderful soundtrack composed by Yasuharu Takanashi, now a music genius in my book. The grand main theme “Log Horizon” is the most notable for carrying out Shiroe’s plans. “Daisaigai” welcomes players to foreign, mysterious lands with an eerie tone. “Akiba no Machi” celebrates with festivals, food, and friends. Finally, the “Elder Tale Waltz” elegantly reminds adventurers of their love for the game. While the story is inventive and the characters are fun, to me, the surely overused music is the best feature!

The obvious big problem for this series is that it’s only a small portion adapted from the books as well as not explaining the reason they were trapped there in the first place. Wouldn’t you be dreading to know what was happening to your body in reality? Why are we here? Apparently, the adventurers don’t seem to care, but hey, I’m glad they just didn’t drain episodes into this cause – there are a lot more interesting factors to consider besides whining to go home.

I was never much of a hardcore gamer, just glazing the surface when it tickled my fancy, and that was part of another problem as I watched this show. Terminology such as battle positions and skills/combos glazed past my ears, but the approach is what gripped me most. The show takes a very economic and political approach to a usually action-dominated premise, which is something that I am slowly starting to love. Rather than sword and shield being the issue, it’s supply vs. demand that we have to fight! Start stocking those shelves, boys! 😀

Log Horizon is a very peculiar show, as rather than acting with the laws of the land, characters like Shiroe constantly challenge the rules. He rebuilds the world with all things considered and frankly, it’s just fascinating to watch! Yes, the pacing can be slow with the kids arc, and yes, a lot of the opening dialogue is quite cheesy, but beyond that is Shiroe, a thinker, an enchanter, a teacher, a gambler, and a villain. If you understand the concept of RPG styled gaming and also love anime, drop what you are doing right now and check this show out! If not, well then, it’s completely up to you. Just know that all of us “gamer geeks” will be enjoying the ride.

“If you can’t do something, then don’t. Focus on what you can do.” – Encouraging words of Shiroe himself

+ Classic concept with a very different yet much more interesting viewpoint and approach

+ Story always seems to have some things kept secret, Shiroe’s world building experiments and rule-challenging offer engaging twists

+ Fantastic fantasy-appropriate OST with game theme included in story

– Filler episodes and slow pacing during times without Shiroe drag on

– Does not answer “why” they are there, does not end (more to come)

Presently Collections 1 and 2 of Sentai Filmwork’s Log Horizon English dub release stand fantastically on my shelf awaiting my next login to the hearty world of Elder Tales. The dub by the way is outstanding, new actors and actresses all around, my only problem being Nyanta the cat chef – what happened there?? *shakes head with disapproval*

Thanks for reading my review of a “Caffé Mocha” worthy series I absolutely love! Have you seen this anime? Comment below with your thoughts because I want to talk with you all! Want more Log Horizon? Check out my season two review here! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host