“DIVE!!” Flops as a Summer Sports Anime | Blogmas 2017 Day 8

Hey everyone, welcome to day 8 of Blogmas! This past summer, two sports anime aired simultaneously, and I decided to follow them to see which would wind out on top! Today I present a review of the show that finished airing first, the anime about a boys diving club and their ambition to enter the Olympics!

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The Summer of Sports: A Review of DIVE!!


A brief spoiler-free review of the summer 2017 anime “DIVE!!,” produced by Zer-G, directed by Kaoru Suzuki, based on the novel series by Eto Mori. 

Gazing up at the Concrete Dragon

A young Tomoki Sakai was inspired to join the Mizuki Diving Club (MDC) after witnessing its pride and joy member Yoichi Fujitani dive from high up off a giant captivating “Concrete Dragon.” Though the imposing diving platforms don’t literally stretch into the sky like a dragon would, the 10-meter height is enough to turn off most children and adults alike. But to Tomoki, Yoichi’s single dive proved that people can reach even greater heights through the daring sport, and thus he joins.

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Years of practice and good memories pass. Eventually suffering from significant financial troubles and on the verge of closure, the MDC hires a new coach as a last-ditch effort to promote its divers. This new coach manages to persuade the club’s sponsors to stay open, but only on one condition: the club must send one of its members to the Olympics in just a year’s time.

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If DIVE!! had one big gray area where it needed work, it’s right here in the plot. True sports anime have this natural tendency to hype you up as you’re watching. You may not know the rules of the sport, nor the backgrounds of all the characters, but there’s still a level of heart-pounding adrenaline to every failed goal, missed shot, or faulty start. DIVE!!, simply put, isn’t all that exciting. Even at its climax, I couldn’t help but compare it to how another water sports anime, Free!, handled its enthusiasm through its incredible character growth and thrilling animation sequences. It just wasn’t there for DIVE!! (which is ironic, because its title boasts two exclamation points), and I think there are other reasons for why it flopped as a sports anime.

Where most sports anime dedicate a decent portion at the beginning to understanding why the sport is so beloved by its cast, we only really have two characters to go off of: Yoichi and Tomo. Even then, Tomo just wants to feel special and catch up to Yoichi, while Yoichi seems like he could hardly care less about it all—he happened to be born with diving talents, that’s all. The goal is the Olympics, but I can’t even seem to muster the heart to cheer for these boys during practice when they keep skippin’ all the time! Sure, characters like Okitsu’s grandfather and Coach Asaki fill in that void later on, but by then, most of my interest had already been lost.

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Also, and this is a nitpick, as many good sports anime can still be notorious for this, but the lack of explanation of how scoring works, or why certain techniques are more difficult than others not only increases my disinterest, but it hurts the series’s ending: Were Yoichi and Tomo’s scores really that good? What does a standard Olympic score even look like, and where do those numbers come from anyway? What makes a triple flip that much more special than a quadruple, and what kinds of people can achieve this level of technique? Tomo is seriously just a middle schooler—can middle schoolers even enter the freakin’ Olympics?? So many questions, and no answers to be found anywhere. It almost begs me to ask whether this show is worth watching anymore. Well, if it weren’t for the characters, I’d give it a hard pass for sure.

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How Realism Shakes Up the Status Quo

As I mentioned earlier, we reach a point in the story where club members start dropping practice one-by-one, each rotating back in only for another overly sensitive boy to leave. Not everyone likes the new competition brought by suddenly raising the bar. Coaches Asaki and Fujitani (Yoichi’s dad) quickly pick their favorites, and it is that favoritism which causes jealousy and rage to seed themselves within the minds of Ryou and Reiji, Tomo’s “friends.” Ryou’s straightforwardness constantly clashes with Coach Asaki’s partiality to Tomo, and Reiji faces his own internal conflict of competition anxiety. It’s a lose-lose situation for both parties, yet it all somehow feels so . . . real. While anime like Free! glorify friendship and rivalry during swim meets, DIVE!! says that sometimes athletes don’t recover from lost pride, and that team members DO in real life leave the teams that isolate them. Aside from the MDC boys feeling way too young for the Olympics, it’s DIVE!!‘s realism that almost saves it in the end.

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Take Yoichi, for instance. He’s basically perfect: talented, hardworking, a natural born leader, has a great body, etc. But the guy can’t get a girlfriend, and he eventually faces burnout due to, well, a couple reasons. One is that he feels pushed by everyone, especially his father, to make it into the Olympics—and he totally wants to go, but he becomes sick of the pressure and expectations set by all those around him. The second is his realization that the Olympics almost seems to market its athletes more than support them. In what is definitely DIVE!!‘s saving plot point, understanding how the Olympics’s way of promoting and advertising its fine athletes affects people like Yoichi opens up a whole new level of devastation. It was, to be frank, Yoichi’s unexpected fall from grace. Ka-chan, an aniblogger friend of mine detailed Yoichi’s character conflict with the Olympics’s abuse of athletes for money in a very interesting post, which I’ll link here!

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MDC’s latest member, the towering island boy Okitsu, also has a short yet fairly impressive arc dedicated to his own passion for diving. Born and raised along the coast, Okitsu’s only ever been familiar with ocean diving. For him, the pool is like a cage, but he joins MDC nonetheless after Coach Asaki enlightens him on his late grandfather’s stunning pro-diving career. It was honestly a well-done plot point, and I likely won’t ever forget it. Watching a coach bond with her pupils like this was how it should’ve been done for everyone; she’s an integral character for this story. But there’s one character that caught Coach Asaki’s eye more than anyone.

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“Why is Tomoki so special?” Very good question. Nicknamed “Diamond Eyes” for his dynamic vision, Tomo’s as natural a diver as they come. And like all diamonds, they need a fair amount of polishing in order to truly shine. Between Coach Asaki’s intense regimen to shape Tomo into one of Japan’s greatest divers to experiencing a sense of betrayal by his closest friends, including his girlfriend, Tomo comes to realize that many sacrifices must be made to excel at something: sleep, food, free time, energy for other passions, a chance at friendship and love. Admittedly, Tomo being that distraught about losing hid girlfriend and moping about it the whole time was dumb. He’s slow to others’ feelings, and that too is quite frustrating. But nonetheless, he learns that sometimes being good at something requires you to distance yourself from others. Having him voiced by Yuki Kaji was a HUGE win for me, but ultimately, Tomo is one of the weaker characters in the story.

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Diving So Stiff that it Hurts to Watch

As I mentioned earlier, the best sports anime usually have decent to top-tier animation. It sounds very privileged of me to say that a certain anime needs to look this way or that, but man, a huge problem with DIVE!! is that it’s just not pretty to look at. Artwork? Absolutely gorgeous color palette with chiseled abs (for those in need). The water? Looks smooth enough. The divers themselves? Let’s just say they are animated so stiffly that it hurts your back to watch.

The soundtrack though, oh my gosh, it’s surprisingly great! Kohta Yamamoto hasn’t done much work for anime, but he knows how to rouse up a dramatic track when it’s needed. It helps that the music was credited to two individuals, however, the second being the great Yuuki Hayashi (Robotics;Notes, My Hero Academia!, Death Parade)! And while the OP  “Taiyou mo Hitoribocchi” by Qyoto pumped you up (for what you thought would be some good sports fun), the ED “NEW WORLD” by Yuuta Hashimoto was THE REAL BOP OF THE SUMMER. SERIOUSLY GUYS, “NEW WORLD” IS PROBABLY MY FAVORITE SONG OF ALL THE SIMULCASTS I STREAMED THIS YEAR. It’s just so melancholic, so bittersweet, so befitting of everything that DIVE!! tried to be.

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Surpass the Limits You Set for Yourself

Arguably, DIVE!! is not a sports anime, but rather a character-driven coming-of-age story for the main characters. It highlights the experiences—both good and bad, done with a team and alone—that sports can bring, as well as the realities plaguing growing teenage athletes. Unlike the happy-go-lucky Free!DIVE!! teaches us that sometimes being good at something requires you to distance yourself from others. You must decide for yourself what’s best for you, and sometimes that choice doesn’t follow what others want—that’s ok. Through diving:

  • Reiji found excitement and adventure in his otherwise risk-less yet worrisome life
  • Okitsu left the ocean and fell in love with his grandfather’s calling
  • Yoichi experienced burnout after dealing with the reality the adults preordained for him, but thanks to his team found his passions once again
  • And lastly, Tomo gained a pastime that provided him many friends and opportunities, but he had to give up many things to have even the slightest chance at victory

Unlike any sports anime that I’ve ever seen, DIVE!! focuses on the things given up or lost, rather than what is gained. Diving is solely an individual, all-or-nothing sport, after all. But even as a “diving anime,” I couldn’t distinguish between a good dive and a bad one due to the uneven animation, not that it mattered because the plot was so unfocused (the finale looked great, though). Much like its characters, DIVE!! tried to pave its own destiny, but ultimately flopped as truly engaging sports anime—or even as a piece of entertainment for that matter.

Diving is a competition that requires many long years of practice. Their future is a long one. Our duty isn’t to show them the shortcuts, but rather to teach them about the length. – Coach Fujitani

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Don’t get me wrong—despite all the crap I gave its animation and plot issues, I still actually like DIVE!!. At the very least, I clearly tried to see the good in its character development . . . maybe it’s because water sports resonate so much with me, or that I just like sports anime too much. It’s not unbearable, but you’re better off watching something else if you’re craving the thrill that comes from the genre. It’s been a while since I awarded anything with this, but DIVE!! deserves the “Coffee” recognition, as there is some decent content hidden deep below the water’s depths—if only the plot development didn’t merely skim the surface.

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Let me know what you thought of DIVE!! if you happened to watch it! Not many people did, but I’d still love to know your experience with it. This wrap up Blogmas Day Eight of the 12 Days of Anime, as well as part 1 of “The Summer of Sports!” Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you all tomorrow for part 2!

– Takuto, your host

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Halfway into the Summer Simulcast Season | End of July Update 8/8/17

That’s right, we’re halfway through the summer of anime! Even though school kicks up in a couple of weeks for many (myself unfortunately included), at least we’ll still have the exciting finales of many great titles to look forward to. Speaking of, what have I been following this summer? Let’s take a look!

But before we dive into what’s new, despite the lack of reviews I’ve actually watched a lot of anime this summer. For the recently finished titles, I’ll be looking as far back as the end of May until now. Crazy behind, I know! Also, I’ve got pictures in my updates now, so that’s cool!

Recently Finished:

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Bungo Stray Dogs Season I – Bungo Stray Dogs fans already form this occult following; either you love it and are willing to buy everything Bungo, or you’re just biting your nails until it’s over. I found myself on the latter side, but hear me out!! Animation: awesome. Characters: great amusement. Story: entertaining enough. So where did it go wrong for me? It lies in the identities of the characters, or rather, who they are pingbacks to in history. From what I grasped, each boy identified as an allusion to a famous author in history. Half the fun of the show was, like with Fate or Touken Ranbu, probably in seeing how these historical figures interacted with one another, and sadly, my literary history is quite lacking! Maybe I’ll give the second season a try, but I’m in no hurry at the moment.

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Buddy Complex – This was actually a title I was intending on reviewing once I finished, but I got caught up in other things before that could happen. Anyway, Buddy Complex is a title that went unnoticed as it aired—it even got a release by Funimation, sub only, though. That’s sad, cause I would’ve bought the heck out of a dub! I LOVED this anime. While it felt so cheesy and cliche at first, it kept on making all of these nonsensical calls that only made me curious as to how badly it would crash and burn in the end. Surprisingly, I found myself enthralled with how everything came together. It only goes to show how much a little OVA or two can make the world of difference. Definitely glad I didn’t give up on Buddy Complex, and hey, maybe I’ll revisit it when I pick up the Blu-ray.

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Hanasaku Iroha – If there’s one title I’ll remember for my 2017 summer, it’ll be this one. So soft and sweet but knows when to throw down the hammer, Hanasaku Iroha stands as another WIN for P.A. Works, and a huge victory for slice-of-life/drama shows. I could go on, but I actually tied my review for it into this month’s OWLS post, a two for one you could say! Here it is in case you missed it!

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Corpse Party – Ugh, I knew what I was getting myself into before I even started. Watched it with a couple of friends, one who said that we had to watch it. It wasn’t fun. At least I didn’t waste too much time on this shit show.

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Eureka Seven – Do you know of that one title that EVERYONE loved but you didn’t? For me, it’s Eureka Seven, and this is particularly tragic considering as I was really hoping to walk out of it claiming it to be perfect. I mean, it’s got all of the elements of a mecha anime that I love, but it was the characters that dropped the ball for me. All of the Gekkostate crew were dicks to Renton, and rather than taking the time to work him into the team, showing the audience some of their personalities in the process, they all either picked on him or ignored the poor guy! I guess they were certainly a realistic bunch, but not a crew that I would ever want—and these are supposed to be the good guys! The whole way I kept telling myself, “It’s gonna get better, it’s gonna get better,” and when it finally did in those last 12 episodes, it soon after ended. It’s the first time community hype has ever failed me. I’m still eager to watch the three new films within the coming years; maybe those will change my mind about the series.

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Fate/Grand Order: First Order – Anyone else utterly consumed by the Fate/Grand Order mobile game? If I ever have a spare hour, you know what I’ll be doing: plugging away, earning gold four-star EXP cards until the next story update. Anyway, this is just a 45-min adaptation of the game’s beginning, and it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I could have watched more for sure. Like the recent Fate trend, it wasn’t done by Ufotable, but whoever did make it did a pretty solid job with it. Nothing too fancy, but pretty cool for those playing the game. Otherwise it’s a pass.

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KADO: The Right Answer – Unlike what the popular opinion about the ending is, this was a show that intrigued me from beginning to end, making me ponder endless hours as to the possibilities, the what-ifs, and could-have-beens about our own universe. KADO may have been done up in 100% CG, but not only is it good CG, the impossibly smooth texture of the models gives the series that extra edge, making it feel all the more otherworldly and spatial. The series is about a cube measuring 1 kilometer on each side (I think) that suddenly lands on a Japanese airport runway. A mysterious man calling himself a being from outside the universe offers mankind gifts beyond comprehension, but they may only keep those gifts if they make the right answers to his actions. Awesome show, might have to review!

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The Vision of Escaflowne – I DID IT LITA, I FINISHED IT!!! About a year ago, Funimation created a Kickstarter for the show’s 20th anniversary and a new English dub to go along with it. I supported it, and when I received the first part in the limited edition box I remember being overjoyed! It was my first Kickstarter, after all, so it kinda felt like owning a piece of history that I contributed to. I finally picked up part 2 this summer, watched it all, and finished just a couple days ago. While I was simply swept of my feet with the first half, the second started off pretty rough. At least it pulled itself together for the ending, and I’m glad to have watched another 90s gem. Will review this one for sure, so please look forward to that!

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Divine Gate – Hahaha I can’t believe I’m using my free 2-week Funimation trial for this dumbass show. I finished this one earlier this morning, and while the English dub was quite satisfactory, everything else about it . . . wasn’t. Like Buddy Complex and KADO, it was the trailer that convinced me to watch it, even if the YT comments were screaming otherwise. Call me a badass. But yeah, it had an exciting premise with decent animation to back it up (granted that other than the characters it was all CG), but man, either it needed a longer run than 12 episodes or Studio Pierrot (Tokyo Ghoul) just reeeaaallly sucks at adaptations. It was a tolerable show, but it’s not anything to write home about.

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Tales of Zestiria (PS3) – Takuto played a game?! Yup, gotta do anything for the Tales franchise! This marks my second Tales game, first being Symphonia. While Symphonia offered a much, much better story (it’s actually one of my favorite stories in any media ever!), Zestiria‘s gameplay was a lot more fun—and easier, at that. For me, a person who does very little gaming, that’s incredibly important. I set out on this adventure after meeting Robbie Daymond at Naka-kon. He’s the Viz Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon, Prompto from what is it Final Fantasy IV(?), and he’s Sorey from Zestiria. It inspired me to hear more of him, and seeing as how I’m already acquitted with the Tales franchise, and that I had been anticipating watching the anime for MONTHS now, I just put it all together! Fun game with great, playful characters. I’m very much excited to finally start the anime!

Currently Watching:

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My Hero Academia Season 2 – I mean, who’s NOT watching this show by now?? It’s the new hottest thing, all the kids love it, and I’m no exception. After the dazzling events of the sports festival AKA TOURNAMENT ARC (which I binge-watched), things had settled down in Izuku Midoriya’s world for just a second before rapidly picking back up again, reminding us that even in a world of tournaments and school games, the kids are being trained to be heroes, and heroes have to fight villains. As the second half of this sequel takes MHA back to its roots, I can’t help but miss the true fun and excitement of the tournament. My eyes are still yearning for more Todoroki being his half-n-half badass self, and the thrill of Bakugo’s explosive attitude (and powers), but season 2 is all about the original story, and I guess that’s A-OK too. It still has about 6 episodes to go, so hopefully it can peak the excitement that the first half boasted by the end!

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Re:CREATORS – This show was my EVERYTHING when I was marathoning the first 12 episodes that had already aired. Now, not so much. The show is still very good, still visually pleasing and entertaining as a story. I think it’s just the shift from watching the beginning straight through to now where I catch an episode each week. It feels very slow now, and I don’t want to blame the story on that if it’s just the way that I’m consuming the show. Re:CREATORS was a show that I myself hyped up on Twitter a couple seasons back, which has a stacked production cast including Ei Aoki (Fate/Zero) as director, Hiroyuki Sawano on music, and TROYCA as the studio, three components that made up the exciting guilty pleasure of mine: ALDNOAH.ZERO. It’s a show about popular manga and anime characters that are brought to our world by a woman in a strange military/priestess outfit, proclaiming to the creations to force their creators to change their worlds. It’s easily the most interesting simulcast I’ve watched in a while, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

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Fate/Apocryhpa – Did someone wish for a year of Fate? Well, with Fate/Grand Order, Fate/Extella, Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel, and the newest adaptation to this perplexing arena, Fate?Apocrypha, it might feel this way. I’m a HUGE fan of this franchise, but I am a stranger to this tale about the Great Holy Grail War. Set in an alternate universe to Fate/stay night in where, during the Third War the Grail was stolen by the Yggdmillenia family (that name tho), the Mages Association must reclaim the relic before the family goes too crazy with it. Noticing the intended competition, the Grail conjures up 7 servants of Black to serve the Yggdmillenia family and 7 servants of Red for the Mages Association in addition to one Ruler class servant to oversee the war. It’s a clusterfudge of 14 vs. 14 and all I can say is that I’m glad this show was announced with 26 episodes cause MAN, I DO NOT KNOW ANYONE. JK, I’m slowly picking up names and goals, but if there isn’t some big fighting soon then I’m gonna be in a fit. Rather than Ufotable at the helm it’s A-1 Pictures, and while I’d like to complain, so far I can’t. I can feel the hard work that’s being put into the animation to compensate for Ufotable’s signature high quality style, and so long as the characters keep on interacting and learning about one another, I think the show will turn out just fine.

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DIVE!! – This is by far the quietest entry on my simulcast list. Very few people are tagging along with the MDC boys and their journey to the Olympics simply because, well, it’s unremarkable so far. Unfamiliar viewers have been labeling it as another Free!, but we all know it’s far inferior to that beloved title. Animation is pretty average, but the art of the characters does look quite nice. Also, I’ve been jamming to the nostalgic qualities of the ending song!! Something about it reminds me of good times I used to have, IDK. If DIVE!! is lucky, it’ll complete its run telling a full story all on its own, because I know very few would stick around for a sequel—if it even got one. Still, I like DIVE!!, and yes, I’ll keep on watching. 🙂

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Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU – If there’s one show I’ll drop this season, here it is. No, it’s not because the show is bad by any means, it’s just that I am a complete stranger to this generally otome-catered title. It’s sword boys the anime, what can I say? From what I’ve grasped (ha, grasped), it’s about famous Japanese swords that are reincarnated as bishi boys to stop an organization that threatens to alter the course of history throughout time. Did I get that right? I just wished Ufotable took up Apocrypha instead of this because so far, while it’s a very pretty show, I’m still wondering when the main course is supposed to be served.

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Welcome to the Ballroom – Annnnd I’ve saved my favorite for last, BALLROOM E YOUKOSOOOO!!! I love everything about this anime, from the sharp character designs and snappy, fluid dance movement to the soft color palette it has. This anime has reigned as most people’s No.1 title for this summer, My Hero Academia aside since it technically is a spring leftover. The show is about Tatara, a young boy who falls in love with professional ballroom dancing after being saved by Sengoku, a dance coach, from some bullies. He’s invited to the studio, where he becomes entranced by his secret idol at school, the beautiful Shizuku Hanaoka. Shortly after, Tatara finds himself taking up lessons in anticipation to one day earn the right to dance with Shizuku on the ballroom floor. The problem is that he’s not the only one that’s head-over-heels for Shizuku, so unless he practices hard he’ll lose the girl and possibly much more! It’s a sports anime that takes me back to when I simulcasted my first sports anime, Free!. While I was hoping for DIVE!! to bring me back to those days, Ballroom has outclassed it in all areas. As the exciting opening song invites us onto the floor and the waltz-like ending theme brings the day to a close, I look forward to this show each and every week! Bless Ballroom and its 24-episode run!!

*deep inhale* And that’s what I’ve been watching lately. Thanks to the NOT-SO-LOVELY services that are Netflix and *shudders* Amazon Prime, I’ve been left with little option but to find my anime elsewhere, as I am not supporting giants that I know can get their money from other resources. That said, it’s been kinda hard moving around the various sites, and it reminds me of days where I did nothing but pirate. I don’t like to do it, but I do help when I can by paying for a Crunchyroll membership, buying Blu-rays (frequently), and very soon, paying for a FunimationNow membership. Sometimes we’re left with very little choice, and I like to think I’m still helping out.

If you didn’t already know, my lack of content here stems from some house/room remodeling and simply not wanting to write. Part of that was also my job, where I work as a lifeguard. When we work, it’s not a shift, but open to close. That means that, on the days where I work, very little watching can get done, meaning less time to review, too. Summer is coming to an end, and so is life-guarding. Maybe now I’ll get more watching, gaming, reading, and blogging in. Sound like a good plan?

Summers are hot where I live. At its peak, it was +100 degrees F for weeks at a time, but now it’s dropped quite a bit to the 80s~90s, and on a day like today, 75 and cloudy, the best kind of days. As a whole, I’m still pretty excited with all of the simulcasts that I’m following, and hopefully my interest lasts until the end of the season where I can review the ones that came out on top! I want to know what you’re watching, too, or if I should be watching something else! Let me know in the comments and (after I catch up on all of the others I’ve left unanswered) we can talk about them! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Dying Tech, Fading Tans, Bargain Hunting, and Homecoming King!? | Where I’ve Been Since Mid-July

How truly nice it feels to once again be in this place, chatting about the one thing we all especially cherish: anime.

Hello all from around the globe, ‘tis I, Takuto, back with an update so large you’ll to download iOS 10 five times over just to comprehend my absence. It’s been a while . . . three months, in fact . . . so thanks for keeping the place all tidy. Speaking of, we have several thousand housekeeping items to go over concerning my return to the blogosphere and what that actually entails. Let’s get to it!

Overcoming the Computer Conundrum

I mentioned this in the July update, but if you couldn’t recall, I do not blog on my own computer. I used to have a personal laptop, but it went kaput years ago. Since then, I had just been using the laptops we loan during the school year to enter my virtual café. Naturally, when school ends in May and summer kicks in, I am without a key to here for three months until it starts back up again in August. I’ve only experienced two summers during my blogging session. The first, I borrowed the family silver laptop, which was fairly new and had sufficed at the time. This past summer I tried my luck in using the silver again, but to no avail. That one, as I said in July, and I quote:

Cannot be unplugged without it shutting off, frequently overheats itself, has lost Google and instead uses some sketchy browser (we got Chrome tho), and finally, that half of us need to use all the darn time.

Yup, and it became so bad that I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I used music camp (which was surprisingly quite pleasant, actually) in mid-July as a week-long vacation to just get away from the darn thing and ‘relax’ (cause 5-hour nights are totally soothing). The honor’s recital [that paid my entry] went by swimmingly and before I knew it, camp was over. I was planning to blog when I got back, but the computer wouldn’t let me. At that point, I just decided to take two weeks off until August when my dad would hand his mini laptop off to me.

Summer’s End, School Life is Back to Haunt Me

August came around and about a week or two in he upgraded and I inherited his gadget. At the time, I was too busy marathoning all of Fullmetal Alchemist and Brotherhood, and with the intent to finish that before school began again, blogging was out of the question.

The finale came and school resumed. I’ve never been more involved with school and community activities more than I have this year. IT’S INSANE. Not only has heavy course work kicked me in the rear (not surprised), but extracurricular activities execute projects of incomprehensible size, resulting in one tired Takuto.

Lifeguarding season has also come to a close, which means that my tan is sayin’ “PEACE OUT” and fleeing my skin at an incredible pace. That especially sucks since I spent three months cultivating that damn beauty. *dies*

Obliterating the Café Funds

Haha, no I don’t get paid to blog. But I’m sure many of us living in the South and Midwest have caught wind of the chain book/movie/music/game store Hastings announcing its bankruptcy. In preparation for that, I had probably spent well over $200 on myself, and have received over $200 worth of manga and blu-rays in the form of birthday gifts (thanks fam!). I am both mentally and physically drained from casual over-spending and dozens of spontaneous trips when the original plan was to blow it all on FUNimation’s recent collector’s edition releases. I suppose you could say it’s money well-spent, because now instead of getting Haruhi or Code Geass, I have obtained over 10 titles for the same price. It was a lot up front, but I’m sure the experiences I will have shall eventually pay it all forward.

King Takuto

Ohhh, where to start on this one . . .! So, sometime a couple weeks back I got the announcement that I, among 14 fellow classmates, were chosen to be 2016 Homecoming Candidates. For those who didn’t notice (because I try to keep it discreet), I am a high-school senior. Yup. Hope that doesn’t startle anyone too much. Anyway, the candidates are chosen by the senior class, and then the entire student body votes on one boy and one girl to be crowned King and Queen . . . Hehe, I’m that boy. When they gave the candidate announcement that morning, I immediately knew that, deep down, 14 of us had won—Two of us just happened to win again during the night of the crowning.

I felt so very humbled by all of my peers. There’s no other word to describe it than that. Humbled. So very humbled. If you would have asked me about all this a day before the announcement, I would have laughed at you hard. Super hard. I mean, there was NO WAY that little ol’ me was to be a candidate, let alone the man of the hour. The idea of being accepted by the majority of those who had voted . . . no words could describe . . . I’m honestly still speechless about the whole thing, even though I know full well that, within a year, none of it would matter anymore.

You can go ahead and address me as “King Taku—-

Where do we go from here?

Hmm, good question. I don’t see much point in making up the past couple of monthly updates, because this is it—I’ve been occupied with things other than blogging. One thing has changed, however, that being my system of reviewing. Previously, I reviewed a title every single time I finished a show. That’s right, each and every show. I’ve come to realize that that is not the best idea, for now whenever I think “Ah, I have some downtime—let’s watch some anime,” that thought also comes hand in hand with “Welp, now I must force myself to write up a formal review.” That isn’t necessarily healthy, for it led me to a period where I neither wanted to blog nor watch anime, which totally defeats the purpose of having a blog in the first place! You may have seen my experimentation in fighting the strain of a formal review with my “5 Ballistic Reasons You Should Watch Girls und Panzer” post. Now that I’ll only be reviewing anime that I want to say something about, reviews, “café talks,” and other related content like simulcast thoughts shall gradually be returning to the menu.

Speaking of, here are all of the anime I completed between July and now:

Fullmetal Alchemist, Space Patrol Luluco, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Planetarian, Psycho-Pass 2, SCHOOL-LIVE!, Ranma 1/2 (Viz Set 2), Sailor Moon

Currently Watching:

The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, Sailor Moon R

You’re pretty cool . . . How can we keep in touch?

For direct, unrelated-to-posts conversation and hilarity, seek out my Twitter @TakutoAnimeCafe. Want to know what I’m always watching? My MAL account under the name takuto27 is constantly being updated 24/7, so if you notice I’m watching a show you also enjoy, message me—let’s talk! And of course, there is also the option of leaving comments on my posts. (I’ll get on all those that I missed!) There is also a blog email now (hooray!), so if you want to talk privately, yet don’t have these forms of social media, check out takutoanimecafe@gmail.com for sure!

I miss you all—What have you been working on?

With the new schedule, I won’t be able to read every post that comes from everyone I follow like I usually do. Sorry, that’s the truth. But if you know me, I always (and will continue to do) my damnedest to keep up with y’all! Now. What do I want from you? PLEASE leave in the comments UP TO THREE posts you wrote [during my absence] that you feel confident in sharing with me. I WILL READ AND COMMENT ON THEM, ABSOLUTELY!! Sorry I have to cap it off at 3, but there will be time later down the line for me to scan through your guys’ blogs. If you don’t leave me your posts, I will not immediately catch up with you, which would be totally tragic!

2-year-anniversary

While we’re on tragic, I missed this by over a month!! Happy 2nd Birthday Takuto’s Anime Cafe! Here’s to many more to come~!

. . . So that’s about it. I’m back in my café with the customers who are like family to me. This time, I will try even harder to expand my reach to new folks, keep up with all of my current friends, and write better content that will make me proud. My break was crazy, but lots of fun and full of memories to treasure forever. Stay on the lookout for my first back-in-action post, for I have quite a few things in mind to discuss, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host ~^.^~

~ It’s never too late to hit up the café—Follow Takuto the host today! ~

sailor-moon-cafe

Did I ever mention that over 10 people followed me while I wasn’t even here?? You guys are seriously awesome!

TAKING A WEEK OFF | End of June Update 7/5/16

Helloooo cafegoers, ’tis I, Takuto, and it would appear yet another month has slipped between our fingers. Seriously, what’s up with that? Summer is going by way too fast! U-PUPUPUPUPU

Have you noticed my presence gradually increasing behind the scenes with this past week? Yup, it’s not just your imagination. Inspiration just kind of hit me smack dab in the face and, well, here I am! I think most of that natural high can be contributed to all of the Anime Expo announcements made, my favorites of which I’ll list later. However, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to keep tabs on AX if it weren’t for all of you pressing me to get a GODDAMN TWITTER. So I did, and it’s great! I already feel at home, though I’m not sure if I should drop the “Anime Cafe” part on Twitter and just leave my name. Let me know.

Being on Twitter, I noticed that if I had anything brief to say, I said it there rather than in a blog post. That’s a good and a bad thing. Good because hey, whatever stupid in-the-moment things I have to say usually don’t require a full-on post. I’d like to keep the blog a little more cleaned up, so having a Twitter for small talk and catching up with you people is great.

The bad is obvious — Everyone now knows that I’m alive and kickin’, so why leave comments? I’m sure you all noticed that waaay before I did, but now instead of discouraging me, it’s done quite the opposite. I feel like I’m a part of the community that’s on the edge of excitement and new things coming out, but I also feel like I’m pumping out my own material with a blog. In other words, I can be social on two planes now, one is just for ‘work.’

But you all wanted an update right? Sounds good, I can deliver!

Recently Finished:

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – WHAT A SHOW! Watching this one was not only fun, but it felt educating in a way to see where KILL la KILL, a huge favorite of mine, sort of got its roots. It’s often wacky, and the battles are quite frequent, but that’s just shounen action anime, right? I could ramble on about its ups and downs, but why clutter the update when I did a whole review on the series RIGHT HERE!

The Lost Village – So I watched only 4 of the 2016 spring anime, and of those this was my  least favorite. Bad? Not necessarily . . . just a bit of an odd egg. It’s along the lines of “setting was awesome, concept was solid, but the execution of it was a bit rough.” There’s a good chance I’ll be writing a review on this one here soon, so stay tuned.

My Hero Academia – Last time I updated on this one I was about half way through. Having watched the last three episodes last night, I can confirm that this is indeed a fantastic show — And the prospect of a second season so soon makes me even happier, cause this first one just sort of ends. It’s a pleasant ending nevertheless, and it doesn’t fail to provide a solid story with quirky characters and exciting fights. Really happy with how this one turned out. Review on the way!

Absolute Duo – If you’re not familiar with FUNimation Entertainment’s YouTube account, then you might not know that they’ll frequently post episodes of shows that (I presume) didn’t do so hot in their airing phase, yet the plan to release anyway to make some greens. This was one of those shows and, oh my lands, was probably THE WORST anime I have ever seen!!! Loaded with tropes, bad animation, chicks that endlessly follow a shallow guy, and a story that is so unbelievable that it retracts the viewer from even calling it fiction, Absolute Duo is Absolute Shit. I’m not even going to dignify it with a review.

Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya – So I’m a huge Seraph fanboy. ‘Nuff said. I know this franchise is kind of stupid and that its first season in particular is pretty trashy, but after picking up on the manga series from the beginning, it has at least rocketed itself up into being one of the more entertaining franchises I have played with. Once I got my hands on the volumes that this sequel covers, I squealed like a girl when I also got to watch it play out in anime format, like pawns on a board, muahahaha! This second season was much more exciting than the first, having fixed many of the animation and soundtrack glitches that were omnipresent. It’s a series riddled with darkness at every turn, and that sometimes, we have to muddy our hands in that darkness to fight bigger nightmares. That ending though…It makes me so excited, yet so scared. Guess I just need to order volume 10 to find out if they did it right! Review might come your way, but don’t be surprised if it gets sidelined for a while.

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (PS Vita game) – No, I didn’t play the game, nor do I even own a Vita. As several know, this summer season we’ll be getting TWO Danganronpas!!! One continues where the first series left off, the second being a prequel to the franchises second game, Goodbye Despair. So, in preparation of tangoing with despair once again (and having rewatched the first season with my siblings), I decided to flee to the YouTube game walkthroughs where 44 freakin’ hours of “NO, THAT’S NOT QUITE RIGHT!” stole my evenings. During this period, I decided to put the simulcasts I had been previously watching on hold, which is why I was missing for a while there. But it’s done now, and holy God is this the MOTHER OF ALL PLOT TWISTS. Seriously, the last three hours of gameplay are mindf*ck after mindf*ck until I couldn’t even see straight. Totally worth it though. I only wish they decided to adapt this instead of making a prequel. I mean, I’m not complaining — more Danganronpa is definitely a good thing. So hyped!!

Kizumonogatari (novel) – Having dabbed around in several different medias this past month, I can officially report that Kizumonogatari is my new favorite book!!!! Thanks to Seraph, my vampire phase couldn’t just end with manga, so it spread to light novel. And the Monogatari franchise of all things! This book is a thrill ride from beginning to end; a story of tragedy playing out on a school ground lit by the light of the moon; a tale of wounds inflicted, one onto her by him, the other done to him by her, both sharing this incredible burden and twisted fate. Brilliant tale, a masterpiece of supernatural-meets-school done right! Also, Vertical’s matte finish copy of it just feel so damn good in my hands, mhmm.

Currently Watching:

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – It’s interesting how sick people probably are about hearing the spring titles being mentioned, but hey, I still got three episodes to go! While I still think that episode 6 was the series’ highest point, the latter episodes were starting to pick up the pace a bit. Biba is simply an incredibly annoying character, manipulating Mumei like she’s some fodder of his. I already know that the series will end with a bang of beautiful animation thanks to ANN’s ‘reliable’ reports, but I want to explore that for myself. More exciting than the actual series though, did you all here that it’s getting released — and by Crunchyroll no less??!! I’m getting ahead of myself. Kabaneri still feels a bit lost, and I’m sure the end will not cover everything, but it’s been a hell of a ride — One clustered with glorious animation and music that’s hard to beat!

Kiznaiver – For me, nothing has changed much with this show. I still want to call it one of my “Top ten favorites,” even though I know it’s just a tad bit behind the others. With three episodes to go, it has reached lowest point so far, one where everyone has felt the pinnacle of their pain. Or at least it has me believe. I actually plan to rewatch this one from beginning to end BEFORE I give my final thoughts on it, for simulcasted isn’t the best way to watch Kiznaiver. The others just aren’t as sensitive as this one is. Loving everything that Trigger has done so far, and hoping that everyone pushes just a teensy-weensy bit more so that I can indeed let it go having watched a fantastic series.

2016 Summer Movie Theater Shows – We’ve gone through A Lull in the Sea, Girls und Panzer (recently wrote 5 reasons you should watch it here), Danganronpa, ef – a tale of memories and melodies, and Baccano! Currently about to start Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya. Being one lucky enough to show anime to his siblings, I am thankful that everything has gone fairly smoothly thus far. Everyone loved Nagi Asu, and Panzer seemed A-OK by the end. What really got the riled up was Danganronpa — Oh my, how they were thrilled by this one!! AGH, it makes me so happy! My sister even decided to, right after finishing, to recommend it to a friend and watch with them. It’s nice to know I’m doing my job, heh heh. While it was all well and good, they only thought ef – memories was fine, and they really didn’t care for melodies at all, which is sad, considering that they hold such a dear place in my heart. I guess not everyone will like everything you will *sighs*. Baccano! just sort of happened. They thought Isaac and Miria were the best part, haha, me too!

I’ll be starting up the summer anime soon after everything is finished and reviewed. There will be a separate post for that, so if you’re curious to see what I’ll be following, keep your eyes peeled. Same goes with my favorite announcements from AX 2016. I may not have gone, but everything was reported here on the home front, and boy, there are a lot of good things coming our way soon!!

Let’s see, what else . . . ah, home life. I’m not sure if many of you knew this, but I don’t blog on my own computer. During the school year, I get a rental one to do all of my posts, which is why you’ll actually see more of my reviews then. What am I typing on now then? Why, it’s our bomb-ass family laptop — The one that: can’t be unplugged without it shutting off, frequently overheats itself, has lost Google and instead uses some sketchy browser (we got Chrome tho), and finally, that half of us need to use all the darn time.

So life is stressful in that regard. If my dad decides to upgrade to an iPad soon (because he is starting to pick up on its convenience), I’ll graciously be inheriting his mini laptop, which is leaps and bounds ahead of what I currently use because it EHERM, ACTUALLY WORKS. Also, for WP’s privacy sake. Fingers crossed that this all goes down soon because, uff, I’m not sure how much more I can take.

I’ll be away from the 10th to the 16th of July

Lastly, I’ll be taking a week off due to a music camp that I really don’t want to go to, haha. You see, you can enter to win camp scholarships by recording a solo and the people picking yours. There’s only one rewarded to a camper who gets in for free, however . . . AND I’M THE FREAKING ONE WHO GOT IT. Damn my rotten luck! So now I’m out a week of pay from work AND a week of blogging, and instead I’ll be sitting in a stupid classroom like a domesticated animal being forced to re-audition to get a spot. Then, of course, there’s the whole week of activities that I didn’t want to do in the first place. Why, kami-sama, why?

That pretty much wraps up this lengthy update. I wasn’t expecting 2,000 words, hah! Sorry about that. I’m hoping that all of us Americans had a wonderful Independence day with lots of tasty food, good company, and explosions! Summer is hot as balls here, and being a lifeguard for 7-8 hours in a day doesn’t help that. I got a nice tan already though, so I guess entrance fee was paid for. Until my seasonal line up, favorite AX announcements, spring anime review, or whatever comes next, I hope you’re having a great day! See ya~!

– Takuto, your host

More Summer Movie Theater Madness!?

Welcome ladies and gents to another Cafe Talk, a segment where I record my ramblings–

I know, I know. I’m supposed to be catching up on comments and posts. Well—this kinda came up first considering that we’re already almost done with the second title. *gasps* Where did the time go?

For those unfamiliar with our Movie Theater nonsense, click here for the full backstory and last year’s line up. Essentially, since I am the self-acclaimed Otaku Pioneer for my siblings, I gather my cash each year and blow it all on a list of shows that we can watch together. For me, I’ve seen all of them, and merely want them to watch them too since they’re curious. Unless they’re exceptions to the rule (necessary sequels or prequel material), the shows I pick are not only favorites of mine but also highly rated titles by myself and the community. Here is how this season will be divided:

Act One: A Lull in the Sea, Girls und Panzer, Danganronpa, ef – A tale of memories and melodies.

Act Two: Baccano!, Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, KILL la KILL.

You’ll notice that I’m currently missing the second season to Fate UBW and the other four volumes of KLK.

Budget cuts. But I have a job now, no sweat :3

You’ll also probably see that the first and second acts greatly differ – That is done on purpose. The order I selected for this set of shows, I believe, is the best order to achieve each title’s maximum potential without blotting out the others. Feel free to argue against my madness below.


BUT YEAH. More shows. More great content. I’m hella stoked to rewatch all of Danganronpa with them now, as that is what comes following today’s girls-meet-tanks finale, haha! If you have any sibling/anime stories, let’s talk in the comments. I’m dying to know if I’m just the weird one running my own business here XD. ‘Till next time!

– Takuto, your host

PS: Did anyone recognize the Nagi-Asu upgrade from DVD in my past birthday haul to that blu-ray monster collection you see above? We’ll talk about that in the next post, kyu kyu kyu.

30-Day Song Challenge Day 11: Songs That Remind You Of Summer

Ahhh, summer, it’s a shame you have passed, as my S word has taken your throne (ongoing joke with MarvelouslyMismatched, hi btw). I think I’ll start sobbing if I continue, so I’ll just get to the songs. We’ve got a lot of them today, so I’ll keep my ramblings short!

“Sailor Star Song” by Kae Hanazawa

I’ve never actually seen all of this particular season, but I came across this song while searching for something Beyblade way back in the day. I think we were looking for songs to listen to while we played, and BAM, summer was complete! I reminisce about my childhood quite often, as I cherish all of the lovely memories, and this just happens to be a snippet from my life. 🙂

From Negima!?’s character soundtrack, “Kenkou Ichiban” sung by characters Fei Ku and Lingshen

More Beyblade background noise, but ooohh gawd, this song brings back all kinds of memories of playing with my sister. We made our own B-Pit, which was the shop in Beyblade Metal Fusion. We took turns playing shopkeeper and sold our own parts to each other :> Oh the silly things of youth! It’s been a while since I’ve heard this one.

From A Certain Scientific Railgun, “LEVEL 5 – judgelight” by fripSide

As part of my “first summer anime expansion,” Railgun was the best anime from the selection. I clearly recall obsessing the hell out of it, even to the point where I took notes about the AIM concepts (I still OBSESS). Since I already used the first opening, I opted for the second, as it’s just as fantastic! It fits the atmosphere Therestina created in the second half perfectly! I spent many a hot, sunny, summer days watching this one on my bed, like ya do ~

From Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, “Splash Free” by Style Five

C’mon, you can’t have summer without this girl-pleasing water-dripping muscle-flexing show! This sassy song is the ending for the swimming anime, and its desert visuals are such an outstanding contrast! I think that’s all I say for now. Yup. Who’s excited for the English dub??

From Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea, “lull ~Soshite Bokura wa~” by Ray

Nothing screams summer than an anime that takes place 50% in THE WATER! I just got done watching this anime a couple weeks ago, and it left quite the void. Those days I spent relaxing in my room while the sun hammered the city will never be forgotten with this cool song ~

From The Future Diary, “Kuusou Mesorogiwi” by Yousei Teikoku

Weren’t expecting this, were you. You thought it’d be something so cheery and summer-y, right? I watched this anime when I reunited with my California cousins who I rarely get to see. After a bit of catching up, and awkwardness, we both revealed that we love anime, and BAMMM instant buddies again 😀 We watched it through my sister’s Thunderbolt (a phone) and I remember one of the local kids trying to squeeze himself into our frame. He had a dripping dill pickle in his right hand, and I think some of the juices got on our pants. *facepalm* But it’s the memories that count, right?

Whew! That’s a lot of songs for one day. Tune in tomorrow where I’ll try not to upload my entire playlist, hehe. ‘Till then, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Cafe Talk #3: Sacrificing My Soul to Simulcasts

Ahh, konnichiwa, it has been a while since I last sat and talked with you guys ~

Everyone in the aniblogger community has been spreading the good cheer about all of the fantastic new 2015 summer shows, yet Takuto hasn’t peeped a word. Why isn’t he speaking to us???

The answer is simple. This season, I wish not to sacrifice my soul to simulcasts. Let me fill you in.

Last spring included the largest amount of simulcasted anime that I have ever followed at one time. I’ve only been watching anime like this for two years now, my first technical simulcasts being A Certain Scientific Railgun S and Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club (two fine anime, might I add), but when you up the count to +7 anime, it can be a bit hard to juggle your thoughts.

Who is this? What is that? WHAT IS GOING ON NOW!?

The season started off phenomenally! There were too many shows with interesting concepts and superb animation that I couldn’t resist myself! It was a free cake eating contest and I was the judge, who could blame me.

But that’s when I made my first mistake.

Best not to mess around with cake . . .

You see, the more shows you add to a watch list, the greater amount of stories you’ll have to keep track of. While it was all fine and dandy for the first five or so episodes, I found myself eventually caring less and less as the season went on. Dan Machi made me ‘hoop and holler’ for more SAO-quality fantasy, but I was sighing more and more by the end. Plastic Memories ripped out my coal-black heart with intense robot x human drama, only to spend all of its remaining tickets, despite the other thriller rides it could have ventured through, on one boring-ass unmemorable Ferris wheel ride.

LITARALLY.

Really? I didn’t even know it had started! AHAHAHA [Gendo Ikari abridged voice]

On top of it all, I feel inclined to not only finish the shows (damn you, completionist me) but to write a review containing all of my thoughts just to feel closure. And unless it’s a rant, it’s quite frustrating to write about a show that was just ‘meh.’ Do you ever feel this way?

Though I had my fair share of disappointment, there were stand out shows like the rather vulgar Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, the enduring Sound! Euphonium, and occasionally more twisted Fate deliciousness. *drooling mouth at production quality*

With all of the confusion stacking up on my plate, I didn’t dare start an already-completed show that had been chillin’ in my dusty backlog. So I stuck it through, thank heavens, and have emerged enlightened! After clawing my way out of the pits of weekly trials, it occurred to me that, and hold your seat folks, here it comes, OH GAWD:

Why don’t I just wait the season out, in the meanwhile start hacking at my back log, and see which shows came out on top from you guys?

*gasps* This might actually WORK!

Sure, I’ll be sad not to chase after new sights with all of you, but I have my own personal nightmares that, in due time, need to be faced head on. As they say, “The list of anime only grows longer, not shorter.” So that’s the scoop. Takuto will ‘man the battlestations’ while you lot are off fighting in the summer simulcast war, and upon your return, shall present your finest treasures to the café king!

I will keep my soul thank you very much and hope for the best that this summer turns out great! I already keep eying Charlotte, Snow White with the Red Hair, and God Eater among several others, so hopefully they yield bountiful fruit. But regardless, how are you? Do you ever feel the weight of many simulcasts just crushing your soul at times? What’s piqued your interest this 2015 summer? We are well into the introductions for shows, and your guys’ reactions are enjoyable to read, so the judging can commence! Comment below – let’s chat!

And just watch: I’ll more than likely buckle in and hit up the first episode of Gate or Prisma Illya. 🙂

Because ” By the Gods, you are one sexy beast”

For now, however, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more Code Geass to watch *mischievous hehehe* Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host