Julia's Reviews on All Things Media

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This review was just finished today.



I give this cute Pokemon mini web series...an 81/100!

When I say I love Pokemon, that's an understatement. I LOVE Pokemon. It's been an integral part of my childhood, and to this day, I still buy the games, watch the anime (even with its rough patches), read the Pokemon Adventures manga, and I'm currently writing a super long fan fic for Pokemon, which is my current pet project. It's a franchise that's had a lot of staying power and even now, Pokemon continues to have an iron grip on the world because of the sheer joy it brings to everyone of all ages. But many, like myself, feel the TV anime that focuses on Ash and his adventures could benefit from either taking more risks or focusing on a different protagonist. So when a new studio called Colorido was announcing that they were making their own short anime based on the Sword and Shield games at the end of 2019, titled Pokemon: Twilight Wings, many were shocked. What in the world brought this on? Each episode would be seven to nine minutes long, released monthly, focusing on not just the prominent characters in the games, but featuring new protagonists. It was very well received, and now that I've seen the whole thing in its entirety, I can agree wholeheartedly that this is the Pokemon anime we really need.

Twilight Wings markets itself as primarily an ensemble drama, with the majority of its runtime focusing on episodic stories centered around various members of the cast, but the two real main characters are two young boys, John and Tommy, who are huge fans of the Galar champion Leon, but are stuck in the hospital because of unspecified illnesses. John in particular really wants to watch one of Leon's battle, and when Chairman Rose visits his hospital, he begs him to give Leon a drawing and a letter he wrote for him. The two kids really only appear in three episodes, the first one and the final two. Episode 2 focuses on the gym leader Bea training with her Pokemon, episode 3 focuses on Hop and his Wooloo and their quarrel, episode 4 is about Nessa learning to balance her modeling job and her duties as a gym leader, and episode 5 details Oleana's time with Chairman Rose. Episode 6 brings back Tommy and John, with the former reaching out to the ghost-type gym leader Allister to ask for his help. The only real overarching plot is John's wish to watch Leon battle, and that doesn't happen until the end, understandably, and a recurring character who always appears in each episode is a Corviknight taxi driver, who is always taking the protagonists of each episode to their specific destinations. The "Twilight Wings" portion of the title comes from the fact that Corviknight is a flying type Pokemon, and sometimes it's prominently shown during the twilight hours.

Studio Colorido has made a name for itself with their first feature film, Penguin Highway, and while I saw their movie A Whisker Away and didn't like it for a variety of reasons, I did genuinely like the animation. Twilight Wings is given the same care in the animation department, and I have to say, it looks gorgeous. Everything about it bursts with bright colors, from lush backgrounds to character animation that's as smooth as butter, really bringing the characters to life. But it can also be cartoony and zany when it wants to be, an example being episode 3. I also love the smaller details the animators put into every episode, such as various Pokemon performing little tasks in each episode, like Pumpkaboo serving as streetlights, or Mr. Rime doing a street performance, or an Alcremie sleeping on the counter in a cafe, a Sudowoodo sitting in a big PokeBall shaped pot, among other things. It really shows that the people who worked on this really cared about making Galar and its locales feel as alive and lived in as possible, and that they care about Pokemon's lore (Example from episode 6, a Pokemon called Lampent appears at a hospital, and the game's lore explains that they hang around hospitals to absorb the spirits of the fallen, able to sense when someone is about to die). I don't have much to say about the music, but it does sound nice, with airy woodwind instruments, energetic violins, soft piano tunes, and a whole array of versatile tracks that all stand out in their own way. There aren't any actual songs with lyrics and vocals, though.

Now, when it comes to characters, you're not really going to find much in the way of actual development here. Nobody overtly changes over the course of the stories, nor are they particularly complex or three-dimensional. Seeing as all the episodes are 6-9 minutes long, trying to flesh out a character in that timespan is really tough. Nobody has layers upon layers to discover, but then again, every episode focuses on one or two characters, giving them their own time in the limelight, gradually and slowly showing us what a day in their lives is like. Again, the show markets itself as a low-key, grounded ensemble piece, content to just show the characters in certain situations, how they deal with it, and let the animation speak for itself, giving the audience a small peek into their everyday lives without trying to be more ambitious than is necessary. I think the characters, from what little we see of them, are perfectly fine, with just the right amount of background and personality to them that they're stil engaging. They're not particularly nuanced or multi-faced, but at the same time, the show doesn't go too over-the-top with their quirks or personalities, so in a way, they still feel like people, and I commend the writers for that.

All of the stories contained in each episode are low-key and grounded, but still heartwarming and nice, guaranteed to give you the fuzzies. The final episode decides to up the epic a bit, since it has a Pokemon battle and all, but that's to be expected. So, no, Ash Ketchum ISN'T the center of the universe like the TV anime tries to convince us he is. The Pokemon universe is open to so many different stories and interpretations, and many people's first exposure to it was the anime, and with it being notorious for focusing on just one thing, compounded with the anime itself being notorious for running way too long, dragging things out, and focusing on pointless side stories that diluted the experience, it's understandable that Pokefans would want something different. Twilight Wings picked the best parts of the game, the setting and the potential for character exploration, and brought it to animation. Pokemon deserves stories that aren't solely aimed at little kids, even though that's it's main demographic, and I think the creators are starting to realize this. We got the Pokemon Black and White games, which really pushed the boundaries of its storytelling, drama, character development, and the amount of genuinely disturbing things it could get away with, Pokemon Generations animated various parts of the games and added their own interpretations of important events in said games, and now, Twilight Wings offers a nice, standalone slice-of-life piece focusing on the people of the Galar region just living their lives. I'm not counting the Pokemon Adventures manga here, as it was made by different people outside of Nintendo, and that manga already pushed a lot of boundaries even as the anime was running. Considering how many people like Twilight Wings currently, me included, I think GameFreak/Nintendo could benefit from allowing content creators a lot more freedom with making their own stories in the Pokemon universe. Hell, they greenlit a video game entirely about working in a cafe, so I think they can afford to do that!

It's not going to bring the house down, but Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a breath of fresh air for the animated Pokemon canon, and I hope more like it will be made.
 
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Officially, I started this review on July 3rd, 2016, but back then, I was hit with huge burnout and couldn't motivate myself enough to write it out. Having rewatched the show again in English a short while ago, I finally finished the review just last month.



I give the spring season's most pleasant yet unexpected surprise...an 87/100!

If someone told me last year that I would find myself in love with a show called Shounen Maid, I would have called them crazy! Before this anime came out, I thought it was going to be absolutely terrible, just like what I thought of Steven Universe before I actually sat down and watched it. I mean, it's a show about a ten-year-old boy who has to live with his uncle, and said uncle makes him half-dress in a maid outfit for kicks and giggles. Tell me you didn't think "Oh my God! Is this gonna be some super sexual shotacon hentai?! Is it trying to condone pedophilia?! No way am I watching this garbage fire!!" when you read that premise. I won't lie, I thought the same way. But then the show actually came out and people were suddenly praising it up the wazoo. Again, just like Steven Universe. So I sat down and watched it...and while I admit I don't like the art style much for reasons I'll explain in a bit, this show really went against my expectations and actually wound up being really nice!

Based on the manga by Ototachibana, the show is about a young boy, Chihiro Fujiwara, whose mother just died from a heart attack. It had always been just the two of them, but with his mother gone, Chihiro is all alone...or so he thinks. One day, his mysterious uncle, a rich costume designer named Madoka Takatori, appears to take him in as his ward. But while Chihiro appreciates the gesture, Madoka isn't known for keeping his house clean, and Chihiro can't stand anything that's not clean, so he works hard to clean the house all on his own. Since Chihiro's not the kind of kid who just wants stuff handed to him, Madoka proposes a deal: Chihiro can stay at the Takatori house if he's okay with handling the chores, since Chihiro likes doing that. Chihiro accepts...though Madoka makes him wear a frilly maid outfit as a uniform for funsies. With that, Chihiro has a new home.

Let me tell you something right now: This isn't a dumb sexual shotacon anime like most people thought. Rest assured, Shounen Maid is nothing like that, misleading title and initial premise not withstanding. It's actually a wholesome, low key slice of life story about a kid trying to deal with his loss and meeting new people upon going to his new home. And thank God it actually turned out to be genuinely good. Otherwise, I never would have given this show the time of day, especially after hearing people talk about it. Of course, this isn't a perfect show, and it does have a few problems, one of those being the animation. Well, not really the animation per se, but the character designs, particularly how large the characters' eyes are. They're fine on the kids, but the adults having them just makes them look really awkward, especially with how their eyes almost take up the entire upper halves of their cheeks. The actual animation is quite good, with colorful backgrounds that are easy on the eyes and smooth movement as well, along with the occasional cutesy chibi head every now and again. The soundtrack is also nice and pleasant, with a lot of woodwinds, oboes, flutes, and violins that perfectly fit the soothing, heartwarming atmosphere the show is going for...except for the ending song, which is basically typical boy band fare straight out of the mid-2000s.

Thankfully, the dynamic characters more than make up for the occasional animation slip-ups. I loved the whole ensemble, as they all had a wide array of personalities and quirks, but also didn't lean into typical anime archetypes. Madoka acts like a whiny, lazy uncle, but he's actually compassionate and does genuinely love his nephew and worries that he might be growing up too fast. Keiichiro could have just been the overworked butler, but he also has quite a bit of charm to him by being a confidant for Chihiro, having a life beyond just being Madoka's butler, and being the voice of reason for Madoka. Miyako could have easily been just the busty girl next door character and little more than walking fanservice and boob close-ups, but thank GOD the anime didn't take her in that direction. She's klutzy and nice, but is also proactive and a lot smarter than people give her credit for. But I think Chihiro is the best out of all of them. At first, he does seem like the kind of idealized kid who acts more grown up than he should and is really OCD about cleaning and stuff, practically raising Madoka when the latter should be the one raising him, but the anime always makes sure to remind us that, at heart, he's still a young boy. He likes reading fantasy novels, is scared of horror movies, likes animals, and can be kind of demanding and bossy at times. His character alone pretty much carries the whole show, and his chemistry with all the other characters is wonderful to watch.

Now, this anime might not be for everyone. Since Shounen Maid is very much a slice-of-life show, its pacing is deliberately slow and languid, and much more character-driven than story-driven. This might not sit well for people who prefer faster pacing and more action-oriented stuff, and that's fine. I think Shounen Maid's slow pacing works to its benefit, and the show itself doesn't try to be anything more than the cute, wholesome family drama it wants to be. But there is one more bit of criticism I have in terms of its audio: Some of the characters' voice acting tends to border on grating or really overdone, the biggest offenders being Madoka and Hino. For the former, he's voiced by Nobunaga Shimazaki, who is normally a pretty good voice actor, but here he gives Madoka a ridiculously high pitched, whiny voice that makes him sound like a teenager than an adult, and when Madoka yells and screams, it is absolutely painful to listen to. Hino's voice actor, Mitsuki Saiga, is also a prolific and very talented voice actress, but the voice she gives Hino just makes him sound like a strangled duck, and I feel bad about saying that because she's normally really good at what she does. But I find she's better at doing low pitched voices for quieter, more stoic characters than upbeat, loud, and cheerful ones. It really says something when the English dub voice actors for them turn out to be way better and more listenable. Seriously, watch the English dub. It's really good! That's really all I have to say on the show.

Overall, don't let the misleading premise and image of Chihiro in a maid outfit fool you. Shounen Maid is the perfect example of how not to judge a book by its cover, and it's a nice, heartwarming, wholesome anime that deserves more love and appreciation than it gets.
 
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I also liked Yellow more than RB. It's better to see an ensemble cast rather than Red solving everything and has many great scenes. I only wish the "middle act" lasted more so there wouldn't be so many rushed evolutions at the end.

Tagiru was really bad, he's like Cameron from the anime but as the protagonist! Also, for a second I read it as Taiki and I was confused lol

My personality is the opposite of Gold but I found him very charismathic. Either way, all I'll say is that you should keep reading as the story shifts its focus later.
 
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I actually already did. My RGB review is 7 years old, and I put a recent note on it saying that I read the entirety of GBC, along with some other arcs already.

This review was written on February 20th, 2016.



(This is my 290th completed anime!)

I give this reboot of one of the most famous magical girl anime of all time...a 75/100.

Sailor Moon has won fans all over the world, and everybody loved both the anime and the manga. Love for this eponymous magical girl series festered on decades after its inception. When a reboot of the original anime was announced, fans were excited. Two years later, we finally got Sailor Moon Crystal...unfortunately, nowadays, Crystal is seen as spoiled goods, a blemish on what made Sailor Moon great, and nowadays, people hail the 90s anime as being the better adaptation despite it having just as many problems, if not more. Despite it being a straight adaptation of the manga, people have lambasted it left and right, fans and haters alike, for a variety of problems: bad animation, static characters, brisk pacing, no filler in order to give the characters screentime, etc. Despite the show still having just as many fans, you can't go anywhere without seeing hate for Sailor Moon Crystal, with some saying its the absolute worst anime ever.

Now, it's okay to not like something. As long as one expresses their dislike of something in a rational manner that doesn't hurt others, that's okay. However, on places like Tumblr, the hatred for SMC has grown to downright ridiculous levels, and people are hating it for less than rational reasons. I've heard people accuse it of being ableist, harming queer women (HOW?!), promoting anorexia, endorsing selfish behavior, rape culture, gay erasure, misogyny, etc. Worse than that, they even use their hatred to attack other people who happen to like it for what it is and don't mind its many problems! Good lord! It's one thing to not like a show, but its another thing to bump said hatred to irrational levels and attack people for even so much as acknowledging its existence. I don't like ecchi shows or porn, and you don't see me attacking other people for liking them! Heck, my friend Paul LOVES Ranma 1/2 and I don't, but we respect each other's preferences and are still friends! My friend Sami LOVES Levi from Attack on Titan and I don't, but do you see me attacking her and calling her names and making up lies about her for loving him? NO!

After seeing all the completely weird hatred being bombarded on SMC, I decided to watch it again. I tried to watch it when it came out, but had to drop it due to other obligations. Honestly, I don't hate it, but I don't necessarily like it either. Rather...I kinda pity it. It knows what it wants to be, and I would much rather watch SMC than most other anime that have been saturating the industry at the moment, especially the stupid ecchi/harem anime that have been diluting the industry for the past few years. It has a lot of potential, and while it's definitely not a masterpiece considering how many problems it has, there's still a lot to like about it. I'm pretty sure a lot of modern kids today would love seeing a show like SMC.

The story's about the same as the manga. A lazy, clumsy girl named Usagi Tsukino just wants to be normal. She doesn't do well in school, she prefers to hang out with her friends or go to the arcade to hang out with one of the cute employees, and she wants to eat, read manga, and laze around, like most girls her age would. One day, a cat named Luna appears before her, giving her a magical brooch that turns her into a warrior named Sailor Moon, who has to fight the evil Dark Kingdom, who intends to steal something called the Legendary Silver Crystal and use it to destroy the world. Joining her are Sailors Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, and the mysterious Tuxedo Mask, and while she is reluctant at first, she decides to fight the Dark Kingdom and save the world, knowing all of life is at stake.

I'm kind of torn on the animation. On one hand, I won't deny that Toei's lack of budget really shows throughout the show. Some body parts like eyes and mouths are out of place, the girls are designed in ways that make them look like plastic barbie dolls with unrealistic anatomy, and the CGI is definitely very cringeworthy. I've seen far worse CGI so I'm personally not bothered by it, but the transformation sequences do make the girls look like plastic barbie dolls that don't have much life to them. On the other hand, the artwork is for the most part very faithful to the manga. The character designs are sleek and the hair movement can be downright beautiful when it wants to be, the senshis attacks are a lot better animated (I really like how Sailor Mars' Burning Mandala looks. I think it looks better here), and the costume designs are luscious. The whole show, especially when the girls go to Crystal Tokyo, has this mystical, ethereal quality about it that I think was present in the manga as well. I think Crystal managed to capture it perfectly. Plus, I love the detail the animators put into things in the background, like how Usagi's bedroom looks or Mamoru's bedrooms. The decor says a lot about their overall characters.

When I heard that Yasuharu Takanashi was composing the music for this series, I was convinced to watch SMC. He's one of my favorite modern day composers, and worked on a lot of anime I like, such as Pretty Cure, Konnichiwa Anne, etc. No surprise here, as the soundtrack is very good and solid. The 90s soundtrack was very dated, so hearing more fitting music for the series really made SMC work musically. The opening theme is okay, rather J-poppy and not nearly as iconic as Moonlight Densetsu is. But it's not bad. Hearing the same theme song for over 100 episodes can be boring, so Moon Pride was refreshing. The ending theme is the best though.

I won't lie, the characters and characterization is where Crystal really suffers. The manga was no different, but it really stands out here. Usagi does mature throughout the show, which is fine, but as much as I like the other characters, the other senshi seem to come off as props to make Usagi look good. Their lack of characterization really detriments the show, especially since the arcs are being adapted into 12-14 episodes, leaving little room for fleshing them out and showing the girls' lives when they're not fighting evil. I will say this though: Mamoru actually has a personality in this version! He doesn't come off as annoyingly prickish like he does in the 90s anime, though I still think his live-action version is the best. The villains also suffer in the characterization department, as they're just reduced to their being evil for the sake of being evil, or random mooks who get killed after one episode. The 90s anime definitely did better in fleshing out the villains and making them come off as more than just petty villains. Really, the only character who even has a good character arc is Chibiusa, and trust me, she is NOWHERE NEAR as bratty as she was in the 90s anime, so rest assured, she's MUCH more tolerable here. Usagi and Chibiusa are okay characterization-wise, but the rest of them are woefully underdeveloped, making any emotional moments lack any meaningful impact.

Honestly, I think SMC's problems with storytelling and characterization would be rectified had the creators been given the chance to make each arc 24-26 episodes long rather than 12-14. If they did that, it would allow for some filler to fill up space between the important parts and give the girls a chance to develop and show what they're like outside of saving the world. The live-action version is beloved because it made optimal use of its long episode count, focused only on one arc, and gave the girls episodes that just allowed them to develop, flesh themselves out, and show what they're like when they're not saving the world. Because all the arcs are 12-14 episodes, everything is extremely compressed, not allowing for much breathing room. I think this is SMC's greatest flaw: the short length of each arc. The story SMC wants to tell is grand, epic, and compelling, and it knows what it wants to be. It's ambitious, but because of time constraints, the show is unable to realize its full potential and tell the story it wants to, characterization included.

Even so, I don't hate SMC. I don't LOVE it, as SM's live-action adaptation will always be my favorite. But I do like SMC a lot more than I do the 90s anime, and if you gave me a choice to either watch this or some stupid ecchi anime like Ro-Kyu-Bu, Nakaimo, or Kanokon, or basically every incest anime ever (I'm looking at you, Kiss x Sis!!!), I'd take SMC any day. It's not a perfect show. Let's face it, no media art form will EVER be perfect, and we shouldn't expect SMC to be either. At the same time, I really don't think SMC deserves all the bile that it gets. I don't watch anime in order to look for representation or accuse it of endorsing bad things or any of that stuff. I watch anime because it gives me what most American cartoons nowadays don't: substance. Serious, compelling storylines. Characters who we can care about who don't do nothing but talk about make-up or boys or are super hot and sexy. That's why I loved shows like Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh as a kid, because they were bold, daring, serious, didn't try to hide unpleasant things like death or family problems from us, and didn't talk down to their audience. SMC is the same. It takes its audience seriously and wants to be something that can appeal to all ages in spite of its problems. I think, had SMC come out when I was a kid, I probably would have loved it.

Sailor Moon Crystal isn't the best adaptation of the manga, but if you manage to look past its flaws and appreciate it for its merits, it's still a serviceable show that I think will really appeal to kids. Come on, let's be honest. It could have been a heck of a lot worse. At least it's not Breadwinners or The Nutshack or even every ecchi anime ever!
 
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This review was completed on July 3rd, 2020.




I give Mari Okada's newest movie...an 75/100.

In spring of 2011, an anime called AnoHana aired on Japan's Noitamina block. After a relatively lackluster winter season that didn't bring in much money, AnoHana came out of nowhere and managed to achieve immense success and popularity. Because of AnoHana's unexpected success, some of the people who worked on it: Director Tatsuyuki Nagai, writer Mari Okada, and character designer Masayoshi Tanaka, went on to become their own group, called Super Peace Busters (after the group name the kids in AnoHana referred to themselves as) and began working on other projects similar to AnoHana. In 2015, they released the movie Anthem of the Heart, a movie I've seen and really liked, but have yet to review. Just a year before, they put out a new movie, called Her Blue Sky, or its Japanese title, Sora no Aosa o Shiru Hito yo (translated as Those Who Know The Blueness of the Sky). All three anime take place in Mari Okada's hometown, the mountain locked city of Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture. Speaking of Mari Okada, she's made quite a name for herself over the course of the new tens, though she's admittedly rather divisive in the anime fandom. I didn't really pay much attention to her myself until Anime News Network highlighted the fact that she published an autobiography, which you can find here. I bought it, read it, and really liked it because I enjoyed reading about her journey and the insight into how screenwriting for anime works, though some details of Okada's early life were not only unsettling, but downright horrifying. Barring that, how does Her Blue Sky fare? Personally, I liked it well enough, but it still leaves a lot to be desired, and that's probably due to its format.

The story focuses on a young high school girl, Aoi Aioi, who dreams of becoming a musician just like one of her older sister's friends, a red-haired guy named Shinnosuke Kanamuro. Unfortunately, her parents died in an accident, and her older sister Akane had to put her dreams on hold to take care of her, rejecting Shinnosuke's offer to go with him to Tokyo. Shinnosuke left, and years later, Aoi finds herself lost. She feels like Akane is wasting her life being stuck in a backwater town taking care of her, and would be better off if she left and did her own thing. One day, when Aoi is practicing her bass skills, she finds Shinnosuke at the shack where she practices, not having aged a day. Aoi can only assume he's a ghost and that Shinnosuke died. But making things complicated is that her town is holding a festival where a famous enka musician, Dankichi Nitobe, is set to perform...and Shinnosuke suddenly returns, confirmed to be alive, only now a washed up, brooding, deadbeat musician who's nothing like how he was back when Aoi was a kid. Whatever made a younger version of Shinno appear, Aoi and the son of one of Shinno's other former bandmates need to find out what's going on and what they can do to help both the past and present Shinno.

If you're an adult who has ever wondered, "What would my younger self think if they saw me now?" then this is the film for you. It's fairly similar to AnoHana in its premise, but unlike the former, where a character actually died and came back as a ghost, the characters here encounter what appears to be the spirit of their friend Shinnosuke back when he was young, only Shinno isn't dead. The movie explores themes of adulthood and balancing idealism from simpler times with grounded, real-life commitments that come from growing up, with Spirit Shinnosuke representing the former, representing the time in his life where he and his bandmates could dream of going to Tokyo without thinking of the complications that it entails. From a thematical standpoint, I think Her Blue Sky handles its core themes pretty well for the most part. It helps that while Okada's works typically tend feature teenagers as the protagonists, she goes out of her comfort zone here by having the film focus quite a bit on various adult characters, such as Aoi's older sister Akane. They don't wear their emotions on their sleeves as much as kids do, but some of them are still in touch with their younger selves in this way. One of Akane's old bandmates, a man named Michinko, was the plucky drummer of their group, and even after he marries, has a kid, gets a divorce, and gets a job in City Hall, he continues to be cheerful and friendly, helping his friends out when needed, even if he can be kind of a goof.

Unlike AnoHana and one of Okada's other movies, Anthem of the Heart, the company that did the animation for those, A-1 Pictures, did not work on Her Blue Sky. Instead, CloverWorks got that job, and I admit I'm rather mixed on it. On one hand, the character animation is absolutely sublime. Characters move and act out their emotions with their bodies, with the movement being as smooth as butter, with no still frames, no recycled scenes, and very detailed background art. On the other hand, said background art is also kind of static. One reason people love the animation for Makoto Shinkai's movies is that he puts care and effort into every scene, making everything come alive. The character animation achieves this, but the backgrounds don't, and often times, the moving characters doesn't seem to blend with the background because of this. Being a movie about music, Her Blue Sky also boasts a good soundtrack. The songs are well sung and composed, and some are used as important plot points in the movie, but never get shilled over and over again, so hearing them doesn't get old, making their emotional impact hit more successfully (Sorry, Ride Your Wave. I love you, but overusing one song for an entire movie was not the best idea). I also find it interesting that Aoi is a bassist rather than a regular guitarist. Most music-themed anime tend to favor singers or guitar players, so it's refreshing to see an anime put a rather underappreciated instrument in the limelight, letting it take center stage for once.

Speaking of center stage, the characters! I admit...I'm kind of mixed on this one. Some are really bad, some are really good, and the rest fall somewhere in between. Being a movie, Her Blue Sky obviously can't devote all its time to fleshing out its entire ensemble, and that's one of the things that holds it back. The main cast are reasonably well developed. Aoi is a brooding teenager who knows what she wants, feels like she's weighing her sister down, and does want her to be happy under her closed off facade. Young Shinno is optimistic, kind, caring, if a bit of a goofball, while his older self is morose, quick to anger, and weighed down by how his life turned out. Another major character is Tsugu, Michinko's young son who hangs out with Aoi and gets roped into the spirit Shinno business with her. He also gets a healthy amount of development, even though a lot of what goes on has nothing to do with him, as he does want to help Aoi and Shinno out in spite of his snarky, deadpan facade. The best of them is Akane, Aoi's sister. After losing their parents, Akane stepped up to take care of Aoi just before graduating high school, which is the reason why she didn't go to Tokyo with Shinnosuke years ago. She continues to put Aoi first even after Shinnosuke returns to her life. Well-meaning townspeople push onto Akane the idea that she couldn't possibly be happy stuck in a backwater town taking care of her sister, something Aoi herself believes, which does put a lot of pressure on her, but Akane brushes it all away with cheerful stoicism and is perfectly content with how her life turned out in the grand scheme of things. There's a good amount of emphasis put on familial relationships here, and while there are romances here, they thankfully don't take over the movie. In that aspect, Akane is unique, refreshing, and wonderfully three-dimensional.

That said, other characters don't fare as well, because they either don't add anything to the story, take away from the more interesting characters, or just don't get the fleshing out they deserve. The worst of these is one of Aoi's classmates, Chika Otaki. She's little more than an annoying, shallow, superficial girl who inserts herself into Aoi's business just to try and get with Shinnosuke (Not in a sexual way, of course!), caused arbitrary drama between him and Aoi, jumps to conclusions about everything, and was just overall pointless to the whole narrative. You could cut her out entirely and nothing would be lost, and I have to question why she's in this movie at all, as she literally contributes nothing to it and doesn't get called out for her actions. Speaking of not getting called out for their actions, present day Shinnosuke is a real dick towards Aoi when she and Michinko get recruited to practice with him and Nitobe. At one point he's needlessly rude to Aoi, a high school student, belittling her and her bass skills for no reason. I mean, if you want to critique a musician's skills, sure, but there are nicer, more polite ways to do it, and he never even apologized to her after that.

Now for the movie's biggest problem: Its overall structure really doesn't work in a movie format. It crams in too many subplots, resulting in several of them being introduced out of the blue and then being forgotten in the very next scene. For example, one character tells Shinno that he has a crush on Aoi, but there was nothing in the movie that indicated as such beforehand, so the reveal just seems shallow and shoved in, and nobody talks about it afterward, with the narrative treating it as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. The stuff involving Chika also added nothing to the narrative. I have to wonder if Her Blue Sky would be better off as a TV series than a movie, similarly to Maquia. Who knows?

Overall, while it's not the best movie I've ever seen, Her Blue Sky is unique among movies that already covered the same familiar ground, and a nice little youth coming-of-age story for those who like that sort of thing.
 
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I give this manga based on the popular cell phone game...a 71/100.

In 2015, the company Bushiroad decided to try their hand at a new multimedia franchise project, which they called Bang Dream. The franchise was ultimately about a group of girls coming together to form their own band and play music, which isn't an uncommon premise, as many others have done their own takes on it. But at first, it really didn't go over well. The reception for the early manga and the first season of the anime were poor at best (Many deemed it a poor man's K-On or expected something like Love Live), the songs and concerts didn't make back the money that were put into them, and the franchise didn't become as popular as Bushiroad wanted it to be. How bad was the reception for Bang Dream? Well, imagine this: You hold a big doujin event that allows 400 doujin circles to sign up...only to have a total of NINE actually bother to show up. It got to the point where various stores went as far as to practically beg customers to buy Bang Dream merchandise. That's...pretty sad if you think about it. Thankfully, Bang Dream would make a comeback when someone had the bright idea to create a mobile game, with more characters with fleshed out personalities and backstories, and covers of popular songs as part of the gameplay. Mobile games were popular, and people gradually began to check it out, deciding, "Hey! This is actually kinda cool!" And thus, the mobile game saved Bang Dream from becoming a dead franchise.

Being a multimedia franchise, a lot of manga were put out for Bang Dream, this one, Roselia Stage, being one of them. Instead of focusing on the main characters, the band Poppin' Party, this manga gives the spotlight to one of the side bands, Roselia (No, not the Pokemon!). So what's the story? A young girl, Yukina Minato, really wants to start her own band. Her father attempted to start his own band once, but when he tried to participate in a big festival, one of the execs told him to make music that's guaranteed to sell rather than the music he made on his own. As a result of being forced to create corporate sponsored music solely for profit, his band broke up and he lost all interest in music. Yukina wants to make her father's dream come true, only she won't bow down to corporate demand. Through trial and error, she manages to recruit four people: Her childhood friend Lisa, the bassist, Sayo, a stoic guitarist who has issues with her twin sister, Ako, a cheerful, enthusiastic drummer who admires her older sister, and Ako's best friend Rinko, a shy keyboardist. But Yukina has extremely high standards for her band, and her prickly personality and ulterior motives might end up being the band's undoing before it even has a chance to make its debut.

First thing's first: the art. I'm not gonna lie, the manga's artwork really isn't the best. This is mostly because I've read manga that had better art, but it isn't just that. The characters and their designs are faithful to the game they come from, which is fine, but my problem is that the artwork can be really inconsistent at times, especially with the backgrounds. When chapters focus on the music segments, especially the festival, instruments, the girls' costumes, and the equipment, they're nicely detailed...but everything else not involving the girls is given barebones treatment. For example, one scene near the end shows Lisa and Yukina talking to each other across their balconies, and their houses are little more than just a bunch of rectangles and squares, with little in the way of detail, and there's a random tree shoved in between them that's so overly detailed that it looks really out of place between them, making the difference in artwork all the more jarring. Lots of scenes where the girls are just going to school and doing anything not involving music don't have sufficient backgrounds, making the world they live in feel lifeless and milquetoast. Compare to something like the works of Inio Asano, who always puts lots of effort and detail into everything, especially his backgrounds, or Sakura Gari by Yuu Watase, a story that relies heavily on the time period in which its set, that absolutely could not afford to get any historical details wrong. Outside the inconsistent backgrounds, the mangaka really seems to love using thick, bold lines when outlining the characters, and seeing so much of them really takes me out of the immersion. At least the panel layout is good.

Thankfully, where the artwork falls flat at times, Roselia Stage makes up for it by having much more compelling characters and a better story than its parent anime. I watched the first episode of Bang Dream's first season, and I found it incredibly lackluster, with one of the reasons being the main heroine's absolutely lame and pathetic reason for wanting to start a band. Get this: Kasumi wanted to start a band...all so she could experience a thrill (And she even gives it a fancy name to make it sound more important than it actually is). I mean, are you for real?! That's not a compelling reason to start a band or get into music in any way whatsoever! The members of Roselia all have much more engaging and substantial reasons for wanting to break into the music scene: Yukina wants to fulfill the dream that her father couldn't, Sayo is sick of constantly being compared to her twin sister, Ako wants to be more like her sister who is also a musician, and Rinko wants to be less shy and learn to deal with crowds. Granted, they're still not exactly the most three-dimensional characters, being a slice-of-life manga and all and based on a franchise meant to market cute girls to a male audience, and most of the development they get is limited because the manga itself is only two volumes long and only meant to promote the mobile game, where they get more screentime and development. But the development they do get is fitting for the conflicts they go through, and the members of Roselia as a band are still more compelling than what little I saw of Poppin' Party in the Bang Dream anime's first episode, and the manga still tries to give them the right amount of depth so that you know that they're more than just a collection of archetypes and quirks. Ako could be a bit much though, especially since childish, overly enthusiastic characters who act younger than they are are a bit of a hard sell for Western anime fans. There's also a subplot where Sayo has problems with her sister that don't get fully explored, but again, that's what the mobile game is for.

As a standalone manga, it's perfectly serviceable if you want something more substantial than just the first season of Bang Dream but don't want to put money down for the mobile game. From what I hear, Roselia's story does get covered in the second season of the anime, but I haven't seen that, nor do I have any interest in doing so at this point in time because the first anime really doesn't make a very good impression. It helps that the manga is short too, only two volumes long, and Tokyopop is releasing it right now. Though seriously, how the hell is that company even still alive?! Weren't they supposed to have died off long ago?! Not helping matters is that they're licensing manga again but don't even bother to finish releasing the ones they unceremoniously cancelled out of the blue or never bothered to release at all (Pavane for a Dead Girl, anyone?!)! Anyway, back to Roselia Stage, there are a ton of other media that have done this premise, some better and some worse, but for what it is, Roselia Stage is perfectly fine as a manga. I certainly liked this a lot better than K-On (Real time: I really don't like K-On).

While just a promotional manga for the mobile game that spawned it, Bang Dream: Girls Band Party! Roselia Stage (It's full title) is a decently good manga that does what it set out to do reasonably well. If you're looking for a short read to kill some time, feel free to check this one out, especially now that it's getting released in English.
 
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I give this cute Pokemon mini web series...an 81/100!

When I say I love Pokemon, that's an understatement. I LOVE Pokemon. It's been an integral part of my childhood, and to this day, I still buy the games, watch the anime (even with its rough patches), read the Pokemon Adventures manga, and I'm currently writing a super long fan fic for Pokemon, which is my current pet project. It's a franchise that's had a lot of staying power and even now, Pokemon continues to have an iron grip on the world because of the sheer joy it brings to everyone of all ages. But many, like myself, feel the TV anime that focuses on Ash and his adventures could benefit from either taking more risks or focusing on a different protagonist. So when a new studio called Colorido was announcing that they were making their own short anime based on the Sword and Shield games at the end of 2019, titled Pokemon: Twilight Wings, many were shocked. What in the world brought this on? Each episode would be seven to nine minutes long, released monthly, focusing on not just the prominent characters in the games, but featuring new protagonists. It was very well received, and now that I've seen the whole thing in its entirety, I can agree wholeheartedly that this is the Pokemon anime we really need.

Twilight Wings markets itself as primarily an ensemble drama, with the majority of its runtime focusing on episodic stories centered around various members of the cast, but the two real main characters are two young boys, John and Tommy, who are huge fans of the Galar champion Leon, but are stuck in the hospital because of unspecified illnesses. John in particular really wants to watch one of Leon's battle, and when Chairman Rose visits his hospital, he begs him to give Leon a drawing and a letter he wrote for him. The two kids really only appear in three episodes, the first one and the final two. Episode 2 focuses on the gym leader Bea training with her Pokemon, episode 3 focuses on Hop and his Wooloo and their quarrel, episode 4 is about Nessa learning to balance her modeling job and her duties as a gym leader, and episode 5 details Oleana's time with Chairman Rose. Episode 6 brings back Tommy and John, with the former reaching out to the ghost-type gym leader Allister to ask for his help. The only real overarching plot is John's wish to watch Leon battle, and that doesn't happen until the end, understandably, and a recurring character who always appears in each episode is a Corviknight taxi driver, who is always taking the protagonists of each episode to their specific destinations. The "Twilight Wings" portion of the title comes from the fact that Corviknight is a flying type Pokemon, and sometimes it's prominently shown during the twilight hours.

Studio Colorido has made a name for itself with their first feature film, Penguin Highway, and while I saw their movie A Whisker Away and didn't like it for a variety of reasons, I did genuinely like the animation. Twilight Wings is given the same care in the animation department, and I have to say, it looks gorgeous. Everything about it bursts with bright colors, from lush backgrounds to character animation that's as smooth as butter, really bringing the characters to life. But it can also be cartoony and zany when it wants to be, an example being episode 3. I also love the smaller details the animators put into every episode, such as various Pokemon performing little tasks in each episode, like Pumpkaboo serving as streetlights, or Mr. Rime doing a street performance, or an Alcremie sleeping on the counter in a cafe, a Sudowoodo sitting in a big PokeBall shaped pot, among other things. It really shows that the people who worked on this really cared about making Galar and its locales feel as alive and lived in as possible, and that they care about Pokemon's lore (Example from episode 6, a Pokemon called Lampent appears at a hospital, and the game's lore explains that they hang around hospitals to absorb the spirits of the fallen, able to sense when someone is about to die). I don't have much to say about the music, but it does sound nice, with airy woodwind instruments, energetic violins, soft piano tunes, and a whole array of versatile tracks that all stand out in their own way. There aren't any actual songs with lyrics and vocals, though.

Now, when it comes to characters, you're not really going to find much in the way of actual development here. Nobody overtly changes over the course of the stories, nor are they particularly complex or three-dimensional. Seeing as all the episodes are 6-9 minutes long, trying to flesh out a character in that timespan is really tough. Nobody has layers upon layers to discover, but then again, every episode focuses on one or two characters, giving them their own time in the limelight, gradually and slowly showing us what a day in their lives is like. Again, the show markets itself as a low-key, grounded ensemble piece, content to just show the characters in certain situations, how they deal with it, and let the animation speak for itself, giving the audience a small peek into their everyday lives without trying to be more ambitious than is necessary. I think the characters, from what little we see of them, are perfectly fine, with just the right amount of background and personality to them that they're stil engaging. They're not particularly nuanced or multi-faced, but at the same time, the show doesn't go too over-the-top with their quirks or personalities, so in a way, they still feel like people, and I commend the writers for that.

All of the stories contained in each episode are low-key and grounded, but still heartwarming and nice, guaranteed to give you the fuzzies. The final episode decides to up the epic a bit, since it has a Pokemon battle and all, but that's to be expected. So, no, Ash Ketchum ISN'T the center of the universe like the TV anime tries to convince us he is. The Pokemon universe is open to so many different stories and interpretations, and many people's first exposure to it was the anime, and with it being notorious for focusing on just one thing, compounded with the anime itself being notorious for running way too long, dragging things out, and focusing on pointless side stories that diluted the experience, it's understandable that Pokefans would want something different. Twilight Wings picked the best parts of the game, the setting and the potential for character exploration, and brought it to animation. Pokemon deserves stories that aren't solely aimed at little kids, even though that's it's main demographic, and I think the creators are starting to realize this. We got the Pokemon Black and White games, which really pushed the boundaries of its storytelling, drama, character development, and the amount of genuinely disturbing things it could get away with, Pokemon Generations animated various parts of the games and added their own interpretations of important events in said games, and now, Twilight Wings offers a nice, standalone slice-of-life piece focusing on the people of the Galar region just living their lives. I'm not counting the Pokemon Adventures manga here, as it was made by different people outside of Nintendo, and that manga already pushed a lot of boundaries even as the anime was running. Considering how many people like Twilight Wings currently, me included, I think GameFreak/Nintendo could benefit from allowing content creators a lot more freedom with making their own stories in the Pokemon universe. Hell, they greenlit a video game entirely about working in a cafe, so I think they can afford to do that!

It's not going to bring the house down, but Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a breath of fresh air for the animated Pokemon canon, and I hope more like it will be made.
I loved the appearances from Leon. Also Hop and Wooloo.
 
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@Skalesgon You didn't need to quote the entire review, y'know.

This review was just finished today.



I give this short, sweet slice-of-life manga about two girls reconnecting after years apart...an 86/100!

In the Western world, slice-of-life anime tend to either get a bad rep or are just ignored unless they're genuinely good. Many of them are considered boring, or try too hard to make their characters act and sound younger and cutesier than their age would suggest. But in recent years, people have been putting in effort to make genuinely good slice-of-life anime and manga that aren't just vignettes or forced moe fare. This one, Our Wonderful Days, is definitely one of them. While the marketing for this manga makes it out to be a shoujo-ai, or a very light yuri, it's a slice-of-life manga through and through, and any shoujo-ai elements don't really appear until near the end of the series. I personally didn't mind, because I like this manga enough so that I don't really care what genre it's supposed to be. For what it is, it does its job really well.

The story centers on a girl named Koharu Hanamura, who just started high school alongside her two friends, Minori and Nanaya. She's surprised to find a transfer student, Mafuyu Shirotsuki, attending the same school as her. But as it turns out, Mafuyu was actually a childhood friend of hers who moved away in elementary school, and they had lost contact. The two of them are overjoyed to be reunited, and Mafuyu is welcomed into their little group with open arms. But as the two spend idyllic days together in the countryside, their rekindled friendship just might blossom into something more. That's really all there is to it. No love triangles, no misunderstandings (And the ones that are there are quickly resolved, THANK GOD!), no jealousy, nothing of the like. Our Wonderful Days is like Non Non Biyori in that it's just about a group of friends going through their everyday lives, whether it be going to school, spending time with family, hanging out, and so on. So if you're looking for action or heavy drama, this isn't the manga for you.

But don't let that dissuade you from reading the manga, because even with its lack of plot, it still has a lot to offer. For one, the artwork is very well done. I said in my Bang Dream manga review that having detailed artwork doesn't mean much if you just put all the effort into one thing and leave everything else to the side. In Bang Dream's case, it focused too much on making the characters look as detailed and possible while putting no effort into the backgrounds or anything else. This is thankfully not the case with Our Wonderful Days. Backgrounds are detailed, but not overwhelmingly so, shading is composed of mostly lines, but unlike in say, Laid-Back Camp, where the artist tends to go rather overboard with using lines for shading, especially during scenes that take place at night, Kei Hamuro, the mangaka, only uses them for things like objects and places. Even then, she doesn't go too overboard with them and occasionally uses solid gray shading for other things. There's also a lot of subtle nuances that are used for extra characterization, such as the way the girls wear their school uniforms (particularly their skirt length) and style their hair. It also helps that even though the girls are drawn in the typical anime style, Hamuro makes certain that you can tell the characters apart and tell who's who, rather than giving them generic moe bodies and faces that aren't interchangeable even if you swap their hair and eye colors.

Speaking of characters, they're pretty good here as well. Seeing as this is a slice-of-life manga, they don't really undergo significant changes nor are they the most three-dimensional. Thankfully, the manga still manages to make them interesting and relatable without relying extremely hard on typical moe tropes. Koharu seems like the cutesy moe girl, but she's actually pretty smart and down to earth. Mafuyu is shy and is in a place that's completely different from the place she lived in before, so she has to deal with not having any conveniences, but she holds her friendship with Koharu in high regard and is happy to reconnect with her after so long. Nanaya seems like the loud, obnoxious, cheerful girl, but she proves to be surprisingly insightful and responsible when the need arises, and is always there for her friends when they need her. The manga keeps the cast fairly small, focusing on the main four, though some teachers, parents, and relatives pop in every now and again when needed. All of the characters also have great chemistry, bouncing off each other in a way that convinces you that these people are indeed good friends, which speaks to the quality of the manga's writing.

Now, I could only find a select few flaws with the manga, and none of them really have anything to do with the manga's storytelling at all. For one, Our Wonderful Days is really short, only three volumes long, and it ends rather abruptly. I mean, I liked the ending well enough, but I know many who will feel like it was way too abrupt. I kind of wish the manga was longer so we could see these characters develop even more because I genuinely like them. Maybe Hamuro wasn't allowed to write beyond a set length? Who knows? Also, the first color illustration shows Minori's hair as being a grey brown color, but for some reason, it's changed to green, as shown on the covers of volumes 2 and 3, and there's no explanation for why Hamuro decided to change her hair color halfway through the manga. Why did she change it? I mean, I do think Minori's green hair looks better, but a continuity error this big could not have gotten past the editors that easily, right? And again, Our Wonderful Days is touted as a yuri manga, but the most you see are some girls blushing and a barely shown kiss scene between two girls, nothing more. I personally don't mind, as I liked how the characters' relationship developed, but many people will come into this expecting hot girl-on-girl action and will be disappointed by the lack of it. But for what it is, I think Our Wonderful Days is a sweet, nice, comfy, wholesome slice-of-life manga that you could probably introduce to people who are new to anime/manga, probably preteens at the youngest (Maybe 10-13). I gave it a shot, and I liked it a lot.

Overall, Our Wonderful Days is a nice manga that's great for a short read, even if it ends rather abruptly and could have done more with what it had, but put what it did have to great use.
 
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Hooo boy. This one took me quite a long time to finish, and for good reason. I started this review on February 19th, 2020, but didn't finish it until today.



I give what's considered one of the greatest American novels of all time...a 68/100.

The 1930s were a pretty crappy time to be alive. Actually, crappy is an understatement. The Great Depression had the world in an iron grip, as stock prices fell to rock bottom levels never before seen. Banks closed, people lost their jobs to the point of being rendered poor and completely homeless, droughts and dust storms decimated crops and farmers' livelihoods, and everything was going to hell. But as attempts to bring America out from the depression rose from the ashes, the thirties would also introduce new rising stars whose names would be forever remembered for their contributions to film and literature the world over. In 1936, a young woman named Margaret Mitchell wrote a massive novel called Gone With The Wind. It was a huge success in spite of it being her first novel, and filmmakers, seeing the book's popularity, saw an opportunity to make big bucks by way of turning it into a movie. The film business was thriving in those awful times, being considered a reprieve from the hardships of life during the Depression, and in 1939, Gone With The Wind was shown on the big screen to mass critical praise and glowing reception, forever hailed as not only one of the greatest romance movies of all time, but the greatest movie of all time.

Now, tell me you haven't at least heard of Gone With The Wind. Chances are you've probably seen clips of it rerunning on TV, or read about it on various lists of best movies ever on the internet. Gone With The Wind is a household name. I myself only just saw the movie last year, and only recently did I sit down and finish reading the massive behemoth that is the book. As such, today's review will focus on the book, and...I'm not gonna lie, this book is MASSIVE. In total, the current edition has the book at a whopping 958 pages! I've heard some other books are longer, such as Don Quixote and Les Miserables, but I haven't read any of those. Length alone doesn't make a book automatically good, and...it really shows here. So, now that I've read the book that is universally hailed as the great American novel, is it the best book of all time, as many have claimed that it is? Unfortunately, for me, that answer is no, and for a lot of reasons.

The story focuses on a young woman named Scarlett O'Hara, the oldest daughter of a rich plantation owner in the deep South, and her life is as content and happy as can be. But the only thing she really cares about is marrying a handsome man named Ashley Wilkes, even though he's already set to be married to his cousin Melanie Hamilton. But everyone around her is more concerned about the upcoming Civil War, and she really can't stand talk of the war. When she's rejected by Ashley, she finds herself interacting with a strange rogue named Rhett Butler, who has a bad reputation but is quite suave and charming. But Scarlett's perfect world comes crashing down when the Civil War turns out to be much more violent and dangerous than even her family and friends could have predicted, and Scarlett not only has to cope with losing everything, but having to make tough decisions just to be able to survive in her war torn home.

Gone With The Wind is split into five parts total, which each one focusing on a different part of Scarlett's life, with part one focusing on her life as an innocent but flirtatious teenager wanting to get into Ashley's pants, and ending when she's an older, cynical woman who is matured and weary from her experiences of both war, her marital issues, and the consequences of all the decisions she made. All throughout that time, we see her change, grow, and make decisions that ultimately have big effects on her life and those of other people she interacts with. Each arc is very different from the other, with different sets of characters and settings seen through Scarlett's eyes. However, as you can see from the rating I gave it, I honestly don't feel Gone With The Wind is the sacred holy masterpiece people are making it out to be. One of the book's main problems is its massive length, and the reason it's so huge is because Mitchell seems to want to take the longest time possible to make ANYTHING happen. There are several chapters that boil down to either paragraphs of unnecessary exposition, Scarlett talking to somebody and never wanting to get it done and over with, or whining about Ashley every other page. Seriously, the book could really benefit from having several passages, or even whole chapters, cut down to a sentence or cut out completely, in order to make it more digestible.

Furthermore, the book goes too far in trying to romanticize the pre-Civil War South, especially slavery. Nearly all of the slaves are depicted as being happy while enslaved, and any blacks who were freed are constantly derided as being insolent or awful for wanting to be treated the same as whites. Want even more proof? The Ku Klux Klan are portrayed as heroes in this novel, with several main characters being confirmed as being with the Klan, Ashley being one of them. Oh, and do I even need to mention that any slaves that do receive decent development, such as Mammy, Prissy, and Big Sam, are still described as having features that are animalistic and savage? Several passages of the book refer to blacks as being stupid monkeys. Need I explain just how awful that is? Others have explained how awful and unsavory these depictions of blacks are much better than I ever could, among many other things, so I'll just recommend that you check out other reviews for the book that go into more detail about the racism being portrayed in a positive light. Oh, and every single black person talks in broken English. Isn't that just lovely?! NOT!!

And don't even get me started on the characters. Now, for what it's worth, many of them do change and evolve throughout the course of the book, and no character is truly good or evil, which is fine. If characters were always perfect or completely evil, they wouldn't be very interesting to follow. None of the characters are static, and the entire cast changes as the story goes on. However, all the character development in the world doesn't help much if the book doesn't make any effort to make you care about the characters, because in all honesty, save for a select few, the main characters are annoying as hell. Melanie doesn't do anything except swoon and look delicate, Scarlett is a selfish, manipulative, heartless brat who won't stop whining about Ashley and can't seem to decide on whether she wants to get with Rhett or Ashley, and she doesn't give a rat's ass about anyone unless they're convenient for her, such as her second husband. But Rhett doesn't come off smelling like a rose either: Many times, he seems to get a sick thrill out of provoking Scarlett, then laughing at her when she's rightfully mad at him, and need I mention the fact that at one point, he rapes her and deliberately pushes her down the stairs to cause a miscarriage when he thinks he's having someone else's baby? I don't think I need to explain just how horrible his actions are, especially during the time period the book takes place. The rest of the cast are either one-note or are just there to take up page space. Again, this is because of the book's length, and many of them could have been cut out completely without losing anything important.

In all honesty, I can only think of three characters that I genuinely cared about, but not for the reasons you may think: Archie, a paroled prisoner whom Scarlett hires as a stagecoach, and Wade and Ella, Scarlett's two kids before she and Rhett have Bonnie. I think Wade and Ella are the most tragic characters in the entire book, because Scarlett doesn't give a rat's ass about them at all. Scarlett is constantly neglectful towards Wade, pushes him away whenever he understandably wants her to comfort and protect him, scolds him over every little thing he does no matter how asinine, and constantly complains about him being a so-called burden on her over really understandable things, to the point where as a toddler, he's practically a nervous wreck, possibly developing early PTSD, because of both the war and Scarlett treating him like shit. This is obviously because Scarlett sees him as the result of an impulsive marriage to a man she never loved, only getting with Charlie Wilkes to make Ashley jealous, but would it kill her to actually treat him like a human being and not hand him off to somebody else the second he even so much as cries? She's not nearly as mean towards Ella, but some easy to miss lines in the book imply that Ella has some kind of intellectual disability, possibly fetal alcohol syndrome (The book mentions that Scarlett drank while pregnant with her), because when Scarlett actually does try to engage with her, Ella goes off on odd tangents unrelated to the subject at hand and doesn't understand much of what's going on. Basically, the two kids only exist to be neglected by Scarlett, and when Rhett calls her out on what she did to them, it's too late for her to fix things. I seriously wanted to jump in the book and give Wade a hug. That boy's whole existence is so tragic, and he deserves so much better, as did Ella. The third character I found to be the best one in the book is Archie, and I don't think I'm supposed to like him. For one, Archie is a paroled prisoner and former Confederate soldier whom Scarlett hires to be her stagecoach to take her to and from work after she marries Frank Kennedy. When Scarlett mentions that she has overseers at her sawmill whip and kill prisoners if they don't do their work, Archie calls her out on her cruelty and lack of empathy for anyone who's below her...and keep in mind, Archie was imprisoned because he openly admitted to murdering his wife. He is absolutely right in how Scarlett has no compassion for anyone and only uses people as a means to an end, even if it's for her family's survival, and he later quits because he's sick of working under her. Seriously, when I find myself sympathizing more with a wife beater/killer than the main protagonists in this story, you failed. Hard.

Okay, I better get off this soapbox and finish off by talking about the prose. Sometimes, it can be great when it wants to. I really liked how Mitchell wrote about Scarlett going to the hospital to find the doctor only to witness grievously injured and dead soldiers taking up all of the premises and her horror upon seeing everything. She really made use of some good imagery and conveying just how awful the Civil War was for everyone. However, these moments are unfortunately bogged down by a lot of unnecessary exposition and purple prose that, again, makes the book go on for much longer than it needs to be, making it feel really bloated. There's a reason the phrase "less is more" exists. But I can see why the book became so popular. It was written during a time when America was on its knees, and I think a lot of people related to Scarlett and her family and friends' struggles, even though the circumstances behind those struggles were different. The movie and all the effort put into it was what made it considered a masterpiece of cinema, even if I don't feel it really deserves that title for a variety of reasons. Hell, ironically, the movie tried to tone down a lot of the racism that the book had, and keep in mind, this was during a time when people of color were still being segregated no thanks to those Jim Crow laws. However, the book is trying so hard to present slavery and racist viewpoints as being a good thing, like portraying the Ku Klux Klan as being good people, and that kind of thing just does not fly in today's times.

So do I think Gone With The Wind is a great book? No, but I also don't think it's outright bad. It does manage to do several things well, but the bad massively outweighs what little good qualities it has, preventing it from being considered a masterpiece in my eyes, even though many others will disagree.
 
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I give one of CLAMP's most experimental manga...an 80/100.

If you've been an anime fan for a long time, there's a good chance that you've probably at least heard of CLAMP at some point. Many of their manga are beloved and famous throughout the world, from the kid-friendly magical girl manga CardCaptor Sakura, to the epic old-school isekai Magic Knight Rayearth. Nowadays, they're mostly known for Tsubasa Chronicle and XxxHolic, but they recently started writing a sequel to CardCaptor Sakura called Clear Card, so they're still around. But another thing diehard fans know about CLAMP is their...unfortunate history of starting new manga and then putting them on indefinite hiatus, the most egregious of them being the X manga, which ended on a massive cliffhanger and never went beyond that. Putting manga on hiatus seems to be a trend for them, whether it's because the original magazines they ran in shut down, or due to lack of ideas, or other factors, CLAMP have a bunch of manga that are in dire need of continuations or conclusions. Clover is one of those manga, and many say it's their most experimental work. Having bought and read it long ago, and re-reading it now, I'm inclined to agree, and this manga really deserves to have its story finished.

In a dystopian, cyberpunk world, Kazuhiko is a young but wounded and retired black ops agent. But he suddenly gets called back in by his company for a new job that supposedly only he can do: A young woman, Sue, is requesting to be taken to an old, abandoned amusement park for some reason. The thing is, Sue is a Four-Leaf Clover, the strongest and most dangerous psychic human in the world, whose technology-manipulating powers are apparently so devastating, the powers that be have kept her in confinement, knowing that they wouldn't be able to stand a chance against someone like her. Thus, she's a top militay secret. Kazuhiko has to take her there, but people from his past and other countries' armies have no intention of letting him complete his duty.

There's no denying that CLAMP's artwork has always been gorgeous and lushly detailed, but here its on an entirely different level. You'll notice that the pages don't have a lot of panels, instead using a lot of white and black space, completely empty. Many of these artistic choices are used to convey a character's mental state or to experiment with panel layouts, and I think it works here. Very few panels take up the pages, and are instead arranged like collages or puzzles. Of course, CLAMP's trademark detailed art combined with the intense cyberpunk world, heavy machinery and intricate technological marvels, makes the dystopian setting really stand out in its harshness and wonder. In a way, the setting combined with CLAMP's artwork and the way the pages and panels are arranged make it almost haunting, and I wonder if that was intentional on CLAMP's part. I hope it is, because this manga has a great sense of atmosphere.

But you can't have a setting and a story without characters, right? I liked the whole ensemble, even if they don't necessarily receive a whole lot of development, and none of them fall into any particular tropey archetypes, like the moe girl or the badass soldier. Sue and Kazuhiko are those two things, but CLAMP is careful to give them more subtle nuances to their characterization, along with everyone else, oftentimes letting the art and story speak to what they're like, through gestures and conversations, without the need to drop a bunch of exposition. All of them have a variety of engaging personalities, and it's clear that CLAMP wanted to do more with them but didn't get the chance to. Why? We'll get to that further down.

The story itself isn't much to write home about. The manga consists of four volumes, with the first two showing Kazuhiko and Sue on their journey, and the other two being flashbacks that take place before then. The manga doesn't like to go into much detail about what it's world is like or why certain things are happening, letting the readers interpret things for themselves, but it also tackles themes of loneliness, love, what it means to be alone, and whether it's right to consider people to be dangerous because of their powers. But it's not without its bumps in the road. For one, the story doesn't have a conclusion, so there's a lot of plot threads left unresolved, such as what the deal is with that Bols guy who dismembered Kazuhiko's arm, or who killed Kazuhiko's girlfriend. Plus, there's a significant continuity error: Kazuhiko's girlfriend, Ora, is revealed to be a One-Leaf Clover, but she has a tattoo of a four leaf clover, which goes against the series' established rules.

It's clear that the manga has much more story to tell. According to CLAMP, while Clover has four volumes out, they intended for it to be six volumes long. Unfortunately, Clover was put on indefinite hiatus, and the reason for that mainly has to do with bad timing. The original magazine it was serialized in, Amie, shut down in 1999. Most manga get moved to other magazines so they could continue, which is the current standard nowadays, but CLAMP never got around to finishing Clover, and they never gave a particular reason for why they never went back to it. For all we know, it might have been out of their control, or maybe there's some legal issues involved that's preventing CLAMP from finishing not only Clover, but a bunch of their other manga, probably to the point where they wouldn't be able to legally be free to move their manga to another magazine for completion. As of now, who knows? This is why Clover's story is unfinished and why the characters don't get explored more than what we get. It's a shame, because for what it is, I genuinely like Clover, and it deserves to have its story concluded in some manner. Hey, if Samurai Jack can get an ending, why not this? One can only hope, right?

While not one of CLAMP's best works, it's a criminally underrated manga that deserves more love than it gets, and it'll be perfect for sci-fi fans who love over-the-top cyberpunk settings.
 
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This review was written on December 27th, 2013.



I give what's considered the best out of the entire saga...an 84/100.

Whew! Finally I finished this part of the story! I've heard a lot of people say that the Gold/Silver/Crystal saga of Pokemon Special is the best. Unfortunately, now that I own the entire brick set of books and read the entire thing, I've come to the conclusion that...I don't agree, for a LOT of reasons (one of which is the reason why I have the cover for volume 11 on here instead of volume 8). Now don't get me wrong, this arc has a lot of good things about it that definitely cement it as something to be remembered. Unfortunately though, there's one HUGE flaw that, for me, totally bogged this saga down, and it could have been so much better. I'll go into more detail further down.

About a year or so after the events at Cerise Island, everything seems back to normal. A kid named Gold gets his first Pokemon, and after a crazy series of events, he ends up getting tangled up in something he wishes he hadn't: a man's quest to revive Team Rocket. But who is this man, and what is his true goal? For those of you not in the know, it was around volumes 8 and 9 that the manga's art began to change quite a bit, and not in a good way. Instead of maintaining a good balance between cutesy and meticulously detailed when serious, everyone started to look like chibi-style drawings reminiscent of those of a kid in second grade. But it wasn't intentional, though. Mato, the original artist, got really sick, and whatever disease she had (nobody knows what it was) infected her hand directly, causing the art shift. Kusaka, realizing how serious it was, decided to give her a break so she can get better and hired a new artist, Satoshi Yamamoto, who is still working on the manga to this day. At first, Yamamoto's art is rather rough around the edges, but it definitely improves around the time he arrives at volumes 12 and 13, so practice makes perfect. But what I don't get is: from what I hear, Mato's gotten better, so why didn't Kusaka hire her back? Was she not interested in working on the manga anymore? Is there something bitter between them? Did she have personal issues that stopped her from doing so? No one really knows for sure.

Story wise, it's still very strong. In fact, I really like the plot and plot progression in this saga. It still makes callbacks to and builds on the conflicts of the previous two sagas. In fact, it uses them as plot points to further build the story of this one. It starts off goofily and light-hearted enough, but as the volumes go by, more and more happens, the stakes are higher this time around, and this time, we actually get to know full back stories of certain characters, Green and Blue especially. Yeah, it does get a little too big and convoluted at times, particularly when the gym leaders (who are still awesome) get involved, but it's not like anything is just thrown in there for the sake of having some awesomeness in there. Like the previous sagas, every little detail is important in some way.

The characters...are half and half. There are some really good characters in this saga, like Crystal, the Johto gym leaders, the main villain, some minor characters, etc. and previous characters return, develop, and have a few moments to shine, and when they shine, boy do they ever! I'm kinda meh on Silver. I don't hate him, but he just simply didn't make an impression on me. Unfortunately, though, the MAIN character of this arc is the arc's biggest flaw, the flaw that for me, really bogged down this saga and ruined it for me. Who is it, you ask? Gold. That's right. I hate Gold with the fury of a thousand suns. If you like him, cool, more power to you, but to me he's downright intolerable! He's annoying, stupid, selfish, arrogant, loud, ridiculously incompetent, too hot blooded for his own good, he throws himself into any situation, solves them in the stupidest ways possible without caring about the consequences of his actions and what they could do to people, disobeys orders, has selfish ulterior motive for EVERYTHING, is always boasting about how good he is even though everyone else in the manga disagrees, thinks he's right about everything, and he practically DEMANDED that Professor Oak just hand him a PokeDex even after the latter bluntly (and awesomely) told him right to his face that he's not worthy of receiving a PokeDex, simply because he's so rash it makes Ash look like a saint, yet Gold still got a PokeDex anyway! Seriously, I could barely read the first volume of the GSC arc, he's that annoying! Red wasn't this stupid! Hell, Black from the BW arc acted way better than he ever did! He didn't just demand he get a PokeDex from Professor Juniper, and even though he was slightly selfish at times, he's never ungrateful, and knows when to show restraint and be civil. Though, to be fair, like Yellow, he doesn't do EVERYTHING in this arc either, as cool characters like Red, Crystal, Bill, and the Gym Leaders contribute to the story in their own ways as well. To be perfectly honest, the only Johto Dex holder I found even remotely interesting was Crystal. Heck, I like her WAY better than Gold or Silver! She's strong, bossy, doesn't take crap from anybody, does have moments of insecurity at times, actually has some sense, is ridiculously devoted to whatever task she's given, and does her best to work toward her goal in whatever way she can. Seriously, why couldn't SHE be the main character? I'll take her and Yellow over stupid, bland, obnoxious, forgettable, annoying as heck Gold any day!

Thankfully though, what DOES end up saving this arc is one thing: the villain. I absolutely adore the villain in this saga. His motive isn't to take over the world or have lots of wealth or make our main characters lives miserable or cliche stuff like that. Sure he does want to revive Team Rocket, but there's so much more to his plans than that. Without spoiling anything, his reasons for being what he is are actually very simple, but he has a great backstory, one that'll definitely drive people to tears due to its sheer simplicity but poignancy. In a way, it's a kind of personal conflict that anyone can relate to. Not only that, he's hardcore, he's built up really well, his plans are pretty awesome and well executed (even a little TOO well executed), he does whatever he can to achieve his goal even to the point of using people as a means to that end, is extremely narrow minded in his passion, and just GETS IT DONE. Not only that, he's successful in pursuing and achieving his goal, and that's not something you see in most anime/manga villains. His motives also provide some really good commentary on certain issues if you really take the time to analyze his back story and actions, and I find his grief to be realistically portrayed. Seriously, is Kusaka going to impress me further or what?

For the most part, the GSC arc, while great in its own right, could have been so much better if Gold didn't ruin every scene he appeared in.
 
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Hoooo boy. Get some popcorn folks, because we're going to garbage territory here, and I'm...gonna go on a rant.



I give this book about an obese girl dealing with a ton of issues...a 15/100.

Whelp. I honestly thought The Hate U Give would keep its title as my most hated book ever because of its one-note characters, sluggish pacing, botched attempts at storytelling and tasteless after school special-esque portrayal of a serious issue, but it looks like Fat Angie dethroned it. I honestly can't believe how bad this book turned out to be. I rented this from the library just to see what it was like and man...reading this book made me feel like someone pooped on me. Not even joking. It's about a girl named Angie who's fat and is dealing with a lot of issues, like being bullied by everyone, her family treating her like shit for her whole existence, her mother having sex with her adopted brother's therapist, her Iraqi war soldier sister going missing in Iraq, her own suicide attempt, and meeting a hip new girl who doesn't see her as just some fat girl, along with eventually trying out for the girls basketball team at school. But dear lord, this book is absolutely awful in every way imaginable. I honestly cannot fathom how this even managed to get published.

First off, the writing. I've been taking writing classes for years, and I admit I'm not a professional writer. Of course I'm not. But I've also learned how to spot and critique flaws in writing. Reading a lot and taking lots of English and writing classes does that to you. The thing that'll immediately stand out to readers when reading this is the dialogue. I have no words to describe it. The way the writer writes her characters talking to each other makes them sound like a bunch of ciphers spouting out random sentences popped out of Google translate than actual people. To prove it, here's an actual written conversation between three people and how it plays out:

"Still scooping for the Daily Planet? Big superjock S on your chest?"
"It doesn't take much to find something if your name's KC Romance."
"You Scoobied me? I met you, like, what, eight hours ago?"
"You Scoobied her?"
"According to your online yearbook, you useta be a regular Stacy Ann in Beverly Hills."


I could not make this up if I tried. The author literally shoves copious amounts of artificial slang and needless pop culture references like she thinks that's how actual people talk. For one, nobody I know uses the word Scoobied, whatever the hell that means, and often times, the characters randomly change the subject every other sentence, even during really important events. As a result, a huge portion of the dialogue and writing comes off as completely incoherent, even with context. I know I throw a lot of shade at The Hate U Give, but I am willing to give that book credit for one thing: It's writing style and dialogue choices were at least coherent a lot of the time!! A lot of the writing choices in Fat Angie are just baffling. Lots of run-on sentences, near constant tangents about anything and everything under the sun in whatever moment the scene takes place in, and characters' sentences getting cut off in favor of yet another change of subject that contributes nothing to the story whatsoever. Reading this felt like I was reading a 14-year-old's bad attempt at fan fiction.

But the biggest problem with the overall prose and writing is that, well, if the title alone wasn't enough for you, the author is constantly reminding the audience that Angie is fat. Everyone calls her Fat Angie, never just Angie. Her weight is constantly described in almost gleefully grotesque detail. Huge portions of the book consist of describing how her body jiggles or how tight any clothes she wears are on her body, her jeans being a particular favorite subject. There are tons of scenes where Angie is described as having little to no personal hygiene, wearing the same shirt all the time, wearing a pee-stained shirt at one point, constantly sweaty and smelling bad...ugh! Do you see what the problem is here? The author wants us to sympathize with Angie, but their way of doing it is by making her as dysfunctional and as the biggest disaster possible. The author constantly draws attention to Angie's weight, as if it's the only thing that defines her, not ever once treating Angie as a character with a personality, strengths, weaknesses, good qualities, and so on. No, author, that's NOT how you write a character. Any semblance Angie has of a personality is bogged down by the writer's constant need to make Angie into a character of the week from My 600 Pound Life. Newsflash: Not all obese people have poor hygiene. I've met and befriended many people who happened to be obese, and many of them were not only nice, but actually knew how to take care of themselves and had a lot more to them than just their weight. Because the author puts so much emphasis on Angie's weight above everything else, she contributes to the already pervasive stereotypes and stigmas that still permeate how society views heavy people. Basically, constant fatphobia and fatphobic stereotypes all around.

And don't even get me started on the characters! None of them are in any way likeable, sympathetic, or even remotely interesting whatsoever. All of them are one note caricatures of what the author thinks teenagers or adults are like, and they have little personality except for one basic character trait: KC is a hippie with a hidden traumatic backstory, Angie is the put upon fat girl who is hated by everyone solely because she's fat, Stacy Ann is the typical alpha bitch, Angie's mother Connie is an emotionally neglectful mother who thinks Angie's genuine problems are little more than some ploy to get attention and nothing else, Wang is the mean adopted brother, I could go on. The absolute worst of them are Wang and Connie. Wang is Angie's adopted brother, but he spends the entire book being needlessly mean to Angie and selling her out just for his own selfish gain. The author tries to give him some moments where he's apologetic and on Angie's side, but none of them redeem his earlier acts of cruelty towards Angie in any way. Connie makes absolutely no effort to actually support, care about, or be there for her daughter in any way, and is much more concerned about having Angie be normal and losing weight. In fact, Angie is diagnosed as having PTSD as a result of her older sister's disappearance, but Connie thinks it's something Angie can use as a ploy to get attention or act out, WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE!! In fact, any time Angie tries to talk to her and take her problems seriously, Connie either brushes them off or yells at Angie, accusing her of wanting attention or trying to ruin everyone's lives. Hell, when Angie tells her mother she made the basketball team, Connie tells her to quit, thinking she only got in out of pity and not convinced that her daughter is actually making an effort to improve her life. She even claims Angie is draining the family finances because of the therapy she's forcing her to go to (Oh, and her therapist is also awful). Ugh, you have no idea how much I wanted to punch this woman in the nuts. How in the world can one parent be so clueless as to not only outright ignore her daughter's VERY REAL problems, but actually contribute to them with more verbal abuse, gaslighting, and trying to force her to be her image of a perfect daughter (i.e. skinny and not wracked with emotional problems). Don't believe me? Here are some actual lines that Connie says, all of them towards Angie.

"You can bear to be normal for a couple of hours, can't you?"
"What do you want, Angie?! Attention?!"
"You get into fights, you skip therapy, they bill us whether you go or not! Understand? You have to start being normal!"
"People will never love you if you keep being so strange."
"Eat the cake. Pretend to be interested in what someone else needs."
"The only thing I can ever imagine supporting you in is a genuine attempt at losing weight!"
"There's nothing you won't pull, is there? Nothing you won't do to make us the freakshow of the neighborhood!"
"You will not shame me again!"
"You play crazy all you want in these four walls! You play your little game! But it stops when you go out that door! You hear me?"
"Don't you eat through my money with your 'ums!'"


See what I mean? Parents, don't ever say this stuff to your kids, especially if they have genuine mental health problems. This is emotional and verbal abuse. She's up there with Horace Dinsmore with how awful a parent she is. Author, would it have KILLED you to give her ANY redeeming qualities? At all, rather than making her into this caricature of an abusive parent? Or even all the characters, for that matter? In fact, Connie perfectly encapsulates the book's biggest problem: In trying to make Angie as sympathetic as possible, the author deliberately made her life extremely dysfunctional and needlessly melodramatic, like she's forcing the audience to feel sad for Angie when forcing it isn't the best move. She shoves in all of these problems for Angie: Bullying, an abusive family, a lost family member, being overweight, so many issues are shoved into the book, none of them treated in a sensitive manner. If she had cut most of these out and just focused on one or two of the above issues, the book would feel not only much more cohesive, but she could actually make an effort to flesh out the characters and really make the most out of less. They say less is more for a reason. But nope! Just drop all the YA after school special problems into one package! That's sure to yank the tears from the readers!

Okay, I better get off this soapbox before I drive myself insane. There's an art to writing about sensitive issues, something that I'm still learning about myself. If you like Fat Angie as a book, cool! More power to you, and I won't judge you for liking it! Everyone has their preferences, and I never go into something wanting to hate it. However, the book does so much wrong, and I can't fathom how it managed to get published. This book is a textbook example of not just how NOT to write about obesity, but a lot of other contemporary issues as well. The pacing is all over the place, the writing is barely coherent, the dialogue is a constant barrage of oddly constructed sentences and pointless pop culture references, all of the characters are abhorrent and completely bland, it's filled to the brim with stereotyped portrayals of obesity and fatphobia, and its piss-poor portrayal of all the issues it tackles makes it a complete and utter mess all around. Angie as a character deserves better. The whole book deserves better. Overall, I wouldn't go anywhere near this book. It's not worth it at all.
 
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This review was just finished today.



I give this game based on Pokemon trading cards...a 55/100.

Hey Pokemaniacs, remember when we used to collect Pokemon cards, trade them with our friends, and participate in card battles? I sure do! In light of the Pokemon games' massive success, companies began marketing it to hell and back, making and selling all sorts of tie-in toys, games, and cards to further make money off the franchise. In 1998, someone had the bright idea to turn the then newly born tabletop paper card game...into a video game. Yeah, so weird, right? But the game turned out to be pretty decent for what it was, and I remember playing and liking it as a kid. As of now, Pokemon TCG the video game is available on the 3DS Virtual Console for relatively cheap, so you don't need to worry about physical cartridges running out of internal battery power and losing all of your progress. But how does the game fare as a video game? Well...not that great.

For one, the story...or what little of it there is, is really thin and barebones. Basically, you play as a character (Who looks eerily like Ash in some ways) who strives to collect the fabled legendary Pokemon cards. You go around dueling various elemental gyms, collecting cards, earning medals, and occasionally dueling your rival Ronald (Who is totally not a Gary rip-off! What are you talking about?). That's...pretty much it. Most of the gameplay consists of you challenging people to card duels and earning new cards when you win. Basically the main Pokemon games but without the actual Pokemon or fighting an evil organization. If you play your cards right (Get it?), you can beat this game in a little over two hours tops, that's how short and barebones it is. The plot is little more than a simple fetch quest, and as a result of that, the characters, or what little you see of them, are really bland and static, never changing even a little bit, with the exception of Ronald, and even then, his character arc is really predictable and hits all the same beats as others like him have gone through. So I wouldn't recommend playing this game for an emotionally charged story or three-dimensional characters, because you won't find them here.

What Pokemon TCG does offer is some relatively fun, if woefully predictable gameplay. You collect cards and make your own decks. Because there's a good variety of cards in-game, there's no shortage of strategies you can come up with, like a badass Pokemon deck that specializes in dealing tons of damage, or a heavy defense based deck that utilizes Pokemon with high HP pools and trainer cards that can really change the outcome of a battle, like healing your whole team's injuries or returning a Pokemon to your hand to use for later. Basically, while the game's story and battle mechanics are nothing special, you get to decide the difficulty in how you go about defeating your foes. But the game does expect you to constantly rebattle certain NPCs if you want to earn enough cards to win against the gym leaders. There are even some cards you can't get unless you utilize the link cable features and connect with a friend.

Furthermore, the graphics are pretty cool for GameBoy Color standards at the time. The important NPCs all have distinct designs in terms of sprites while the rest of them aren't so (Hell, some NPCs are just recolored protagonist sprites from Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow!), but the ones you're able to duel against all have nice, detailed in-game portraits that are eerily but charmingly reminiscent of the Pokemon anime. One thing I always found weird was that the sprites never seemed to stop walking or moving even as they were just standing around. I don't know if that was a result of hardware limitations or lack of storage space, but to me that was just odd. Plus, the game manages to recreate the portraits of the actual Pokemon cards as best they could, even keeping the holographic sparkles when necessary, and those definitely looked great, if a little static.

So...yeah, there isn't really much to this game. It's not bad by any means, but it's based on an actual card game, with very little in terms of story and characters. Thankfully, Hudson Soft, the company that developed this, seemed to realize how barebones this was and eventually made a sequel game, Pokemon TCG 2, also for the GameBoy Color, with several times more content in terms of both story, characters, and in-game cards and strategies, really improving and building on what Pokemon Trading Card Game already established. Unfortunately, because it was released near the end of the GameBoy Color's life cycle, it was never released outside of Japan. But some dedicated fans made a fan translation of it, and I happen to own a bootleg cartridge of said game. I ought to give that a review some time as well, as I really liked it. But as it is, while it's nothing special, Pokemon Trading Card Game for the GameBoy Color is a nice little time killer and a nice product of times gone by.
 
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This one's for all you Osamu Tezuka fans out there. This review was just finished today.



I give one of Osamu Tezuka's most beloved children's manga...a 74/100.

Long before My Little Pony ever became a thing, Osamu Tezuka, a famous mangaka who would go on to lay the foundations for and popularize various genres all over with his work, created a manga about a baby unicorn who was made to travel all over the world bringing happiness to everyone he sees. That manga was Unico, first published in 1976. It didn't achieve the amount of success that Tezuka's other manga did, but it did manage to gain enough of a loyal fanbase that genuinely loved it for what it was. In 1979, a pilot OVA was made as a prelude to a potential TV series, but that wound up going nowhere. Anyone who knows Unico may have seen the two movies made by Sanrio, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and Unico and the Island of Magic. However, the original manga never made it stateside until a company called Digital Manga Publishing decided to launch a Kickstarter to publish the manga in full color in 2012. The feat was a success, and the manga would finally be released in the US in 2013. But at that time, I didn't have money or a job, and from what I heard, the manga was really expensive. Thankfully, now that I have a stable job, I managed to find a relatively cheap copy of the hardcover edition, so now I own the manga!

For anyone who's seen the anime movies, the manga is VERY different from them. For one, while Unico being born from a family of unicorns is made the focus of one chapter, it's not where the story starts, nor did a bunch of Gods banish him to the Isle of Oblivion. Instead, Unico starts out as the beloved pet of a mortal woman named Psyche. However, the goddess Venus is jealous of Psyche's beauty, kindness, and endless supply of good fortune and happiness, which she finds is because of Unico. Because she can't stand anyone to be more beautiful and happier than her, Venus steals Unico from Psyche and commands the West Wind to take Unico as far away as possible. Time passes, and with every destination the West Wind takes him to, Unico's memories of his friends and previous lives are always erased, but he always finds some way to make new friends and help them with their problems, from helping a cowardly baby sphinx to be stronger and more self-sufficient, to leading forest animals to take back their forest when an animal-hating human tries to kill everyone there just for his own selfish gains.

It's rare for manga to be published completely in color, as that usually takes a lot of time and money. Most manga are in black and white, with a few exceptions. From an art standpoint, Unico does have a lot going for it. The colors are bright, the characters all have unique, cartoonish designs (Tezuka did say Disney was a huge influence on his art style), the panel layout is good, and sometimes the art bleeds outside the panels at the edges. I don't know if it was a deliberate style choice, and I think it probably is, but that part I found a little odd. Plus, Tezuka's backgrounds are lush and detailed. Not as much as other manga that would come out later, but they really stand out against his deliberately cartoonish character designs. And yes, Tezuka still uses his trademark giant noses from time to time. You know he would never pass up an opportunity to stick those in when he feels like it. And yes, Unico is adorable. I mean, how can you not love this little guy?

As far as the characters go, they're...not much to write home about. They're not bad or anything, and many of the side characters Unico meets are all very interesting and fun to read about in their own way. But some of them are either undeveloped or just stereotypically good or evil, with Unico being the former. Being an innocent kid, Unico is portrayed as unfailingly kind, passive, and nice, but also gently chastises people when they do something they shouldn't or are in the wrong in a conflict. But Unico isn't really given huge character flaws to make him more engaging and three-dimensional as a character, and he's pretty much the stereotypically nice, idealistic hero. There are several villains in the manga who fall on the opposite end, just stereotypically evil Saturday morning cartoon villains who do bad things just because they want something, with absolutely no sense of subtlety or humanity whatsoever. The rest of the characters fall somewhere in between, and even their development and character arcs are about as predictable as they come, and they also lack background as well. But your mileage may vary.

If you're coming here expecting a continuous, linear story, you might want to turn back, because Unico as a manga is intentionally episodic in nature. Every chapter focuses on Unico being taken to a new place, making new friends, helping them with their problems, the West Wind coming back for him to take him to another place, rinse and repeat. So yeah, the manga is very formulaic. Granted, the situations Unico gets into are always different, what with him visiting new places every time, so the settings never stay static. He travels to ancient Greece, very early America, a town that's very heavily polluted by a factory, a deserted island inhabited by a devil, lush forests, and so on. For those of you who saw the Unico movies, you may recognize characters such as Beezle, Katy/Ciao, and Baron DeGhost, as their scenarios are in the manga as well, but they play out very differently here, Katy and the Baron's in particular. In the movie, Baron DeGhost was a demon who ruled the forest and could turn into a gigantic Chernabog lookalike. In the manga, he's just some cruel hunter who hates animals and murders everyone he doesn't like with his rifle just because he can, and all the animals in the forest drive him out by working together. Yeah, I bet you didn't expect that, now did you?

Reading the manga, I also noticed one other huge flaw: Unico seems to have a lot of issues with continuity and consistency in terms of how long Unico has been taken away by the West Wind. When he's first taken away from Psyche, the manga mentions that the West Wind just...carries Unico around in a bag for centuries, possibly millennium, before he's dropped off and magically has no memories of her. What? That makes no sense! How did his memories get erased? The manga never explains who erases his memories and how, other than implying that the West Wind does it...somehow. Also, how did he manage to not die from being stuck in a sack for thousands of years? Plus, it's implied that many years pass whenever Unico travels to a new place, but all throughout that time, Unico never ages or grows up. He still stays a unicorn foal. Where's the logic in that? Or is he just somehow immortal? Again, the manga never explained this. In the movies, this issue isn't present, and just imply that it's been a few days or weeks since Unico was taken from his home, which I find to be much better. Also, the very first chapter contains a rather...outdated and stereotyped portrayal of Native Americans and their conflicts with the Europeans, along with a really soppy, hokey as hell love story between a Native boy and a white girl. "Oh, hello young girl who I just met a few minutes ago! You're my true love! Let me take you to my family's teepee so I can kiss you a lot!" "Oh yes, Native boy who I only just met a few minutes ago! I love you so much! I want to be your wife! Let's have Unico magically turn us into adults so we can kiss each other a lot and show how much we love each other!" Yeah...no. Too cheesy and dumb for me. Plus, some readers might not like that Unico never seems to be allowed to stay in one place. In one chapter he's reunited with his unicorn family...but can only see them for a day before the West Wind takes him and erases his memories yet again. What the hell?! Come on, manga! Let Unico catch a break for once!

One of my favorite bloggers mentioned that while he respected Tezuka's contributions to the anime/manga medium, he wasn't a perfect writer or storyteller, and felt that a good portion of his work would be better off in the hands of more capable people who would come after him. After reading the Unico manga, I'm inclined to agree, even though I admit to not having seen a good chunk of his work other than this, some episodes of Kimba The White Lion/Jungle Emperor Leo (the movies and specials included), and some episodes of the 2003 Astro Boy anime. The Unico movies, while having their own sets of flaws, took some of the stories in the manga and smoothed out a lot of their most persistent problems. But the manga does still have a lot to offer on its own, and I think it deserved to finally be brought over to the US after so many people saw the movies in their childhood. Unico fans have definitely earned the right to read the source material where Unico originated from. The manga isn't perfect, but after all the hard work it took for DMP to bring it over here, it absolutely deserves to be read by not only manga fans, but Tezuka enthusiasts and anyone who loves a good children's manga. I know it'll have a permanent place on my shelves for sure!
 
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This review was written on August 5th, 2020.



I give this fun but difficult game about exploring your world and seeing its wonders...an 86/100!

Full truth, I've never played an Etrian Odyssey game before this year. I heard its name dropped a few times, but it didn't interest me. But then a friend of mine recommended that I try it out, since he admitted to liking it a lot. I looked up which ones would be a good starting point, and found that the fourth game, Legend of the Titan, was pretty newbie-friendly. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is still torturing us, I thought it'd be a good way to waste some time while in quarantine. Now that I've finished it, I'm glad to say that I think I've become a fan. Thanks for introducing me to this game series, @System Error !

You play as a team of explorers wanting to start your own guild. You make your way to the town of Tharsis, go through the necessary paperwork, pick characters of various RPG classes, and so on. You're given various quests to complete by the Grand Count, who is basically the mayor of the town, from mining a special ore to power an airship to interacting with new races of people never before seen. But over the course of the game, you discover secrets about the world you're in that were hidden for many years, and you eventually wind up getting pulled into a conflict that could destroy the world. So yeah, in case you're wondering, this game is like Final Fantasy 1 in that the characters you pick don't really have set personalities, so character development is pretty much non-existent here. But according to Atlus, this is intentional, as the point of Etrian Odyssey is for you, the player, to create your own completely customizable party, interpret the game's world for yourself, and make up your own personalities and backstories, basically allowing you to let your imagination run wild and create your own "canon" for them. I personally prefer my games to have pre-existing characters, but I definitely appreciate a game that intentionally leaves things to your imagination, as I feel it adds to the immersion.

The core of Etrian Odyssey's gameplay focuses on exploration. When you explore dungeons, you're given the task of making your own maps for them, marking various vista points, where you find treasures, and so on. The game rewards you by having you explore every nook and cranny, something I very much appreciate. The battle system is still that of a turn-based RPG, but I personally prefer turn-based, due to the fact that those allow me to plan my actions out thoroughly. The various sidequests you take on basically encourage you to explore the world around you, discovering various locations and vistas, marking them when necessary to guide people there when needed. The game really goes out of its way to make you feel like you're on a grand adventure. But don't think this is an easy game, oh no. Sometimes you'll encounter enemies in the overworld that are MUCH stronger than you can handle, and the game doesn't expect you to fight enemies that you're clearly not ready for. If you try to fight them while underleveled, you'll get your ass beat. This isn't a game you can just breeze through if you just train hard enough. You have to not only carefully plan out your party's skills, strategy, and equipment, but really take the time to grind in order to get anywhere. Some people hate grinding, and some don't mind it, but having a game that forces you to grind and figure things out for yourself may not sit well for some. I liked it well enough, mostly because I didn't feel the need to hurry through everything.

But how are the graphics? Well, for one, I think they're great. Not only are the character portraits colorful and highly detailed, the 3D rendered environments are very nicely done, especially on account of the 3DS hardware. The monsters all have unique designs, the occasional palette swap notwithstanding, and the movement is reasonably smooth, especially during the boss fights. The music is very versatile as well, with a wide range of tracks and genres, from soothing piano tunes to loud, energetic trumpets, from upbeat jazz to orchestral bombast, Etrian Odyssey's soundtrack has it all. I did find the final boss's battle theme to be rather lackluster, though. I thought it'd be more epic. But this is probably what I get for listening to the final boss themes for games like Octopath Traveler, Radiant Historia, Final Fantasy XV, Ys Origin, and many others. Those raised my standards for epic final boss music. My other main complaint with the game is that instead of just letting you buy items, you have to gather the materials needed for said items, like HP and TP restoring items. Resources for HP restoration are relatively easy to get, but materials for TP restoration are needlessly hard to find and really tedious to try and get. It doesn't help that if you gather a certain amount, they don't respawn again until the next day, and even then, the chance of getting the item you want is random at best. Good luck hoarding all the items you need to make those TP restoring items! Oh, and you can unlock new classes later in the game, but the game itself makes it take forever for them to level up and catch up to the rest of your party. Boo.

Now, the game is fairly light on story, as the main plot doesn't get revealed until the final third of the game, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. It's more like the game hits you with a story when you don't expect it, but by that time, you're already invested in the game, heightening the mystery and exploration whenever you explore a new labyrinth. Some media suffer from being too epic, and thankfully, Etrian Odyssey avoids this by establishing a smaller scale conflict near the end. There's still a sense of urgency and a lot of high stakes involved, but there's no truly malicious villain, nor is there a dumb take-over-the-world plot. I won't spoil anything for you, but the entirety of the game is about immersion and adventure. I think Etrian Odyssey 4 managed to pull it off very well, especially considering the franchise's humble beginnings. As for whether I'll play any other games, I just bought Nexus, and I am curious to try out Millennium Girl. I hear that one's rather controversial for having a pre-established story and characters and for having a weird battle system, but I personally like those.

If you're looking for a game that'll really take you into its world and reward you for taking your time, give Etrian Odyssey 4 a try. It converted me into a fan, so why not?
 
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This review was written on September 9th, 2020. You might be familiar with this one.



I give one of the most popular anime to come out in recent years...a 70/100.

Oh, Demon Slayer. How I wish I liked you more than I do. You're one of the most popular new shounen anime to come out in recent years, and one of few shows that's actually deserving of its popularity in some ways. Demon Slayer seems to have it all: Great characters, a compelling story, luscious animation, epic music, and a dark atmosphere unheard of in most shounen shows. Everybody loved it, and it became a huge hit, even after its source manga officially ended not too long ago. It was even popular enough to air on Toonami! However, having seen it myself...I'm not gonna lie, Demon Slayer as a series has been an incredibly frustrating series for me. Not because it's bad, oh no. It's actually really good, and I feel its popularity is definitely justified and well deserved, something I can't say for a lot of mainstream anime I've seen...and yet, for all of the show's good qualities, its flaws are so huge that they really stand out. Like, a 200-pound tumor on a small human level of standing out. Ugh. This is not gonna be pretty.

Anyway, in the Taisho period of Japan, demons roam the streets during the night, killing people and feasting on their blood, having done so for centuries. In order to eliminate these vicious monsters, a special group of elite warriors called the Demon Slayer Corps was formed to at least try to curb the threat, with varying levels of success. In a far off village, Tanjiro Kamado is a young boy who works hard to help his family, selling charcoal in town to make ends meet. But one night, he comes home to find his entire family massacred...except for one of his sisters, Nezuko. A demon killed his entire family, and that same demon turned Nezuko into a demon. When a passing demon slayer attempts to kill Nezuko, Tanjiro manages to get through to both him and Nezuko, with the latter displaying more humanity than is considered normal for a demon. The passing demon slayer, Giyu, suggests that Tanjiro join the Demon Slayer Corps so he can have some chance of finding the demon responsible for killing his family and maybe find a way to change Nezuko back into a human. And thus, with Nezuko by his side, Tanjiro is determined to do whatever it takes to become a demon slayer.

Now, I have not read the original manga, so any comments and opinions I have are solely aimed towards the anime adaptation. But before I get to my gripes with the show, I'm going to start with the good parts. For one, the animation is stellar. Not as stellar as other shows I've seen, and it has its hiccups and bad CGI, but when Ufotable really want to show off their animation skills, they really go all out. From the stylized water that appears when Tanjiro fights a demon to the barrage of colorful flowers and sparkles when one demon makes another one go on an acid trip on purpose, to the actual fight scenes, Ufotable really knows when to go all out when they want to. They make great use of lighting and special effects to make for some beautiful shots, and even their simpler frames always have some interesting animation. Unfortunately, the CGI is where it gets tricky. The CGI used for various environments is fine at times, but for some reason, Ufotable had some of the characters go into CG at times, like in shots where they're far away or trying to dodge fast attacks. It doesn't help that the transition from 2D to CGI is about as seamless as a very bumpy brick road. Seriously, who thought this was a good idea? But the best part of the show is the music, bar none. Some may feel Yuki Kajiura has lost her touch over the years, but here she really brought her A game, full of high pitched flutes, echoing strings, haunting vocals, and epic instrumentation, both she and Go Shiina made a bitchin' OST that absolutely elevates the show to new heights. I never had a problem with its soundtrack at all, so kudos to you guys.

Unfortunately, this is where I start to get...critical. Now please, don't get me wrong, I WANT to like this series. I really do! It has so much that I could ever want in a show! Hell, its first ten episodes are some of the best the show has to offer. They immediately offered engaging characters, strong writing, a dark atmosphere that fits the tone that the show established from the beginning, and a commitment to actually showing characters working hard and actually growing as people rather than relying on stock archetypes that blaze through everything with the power of friendship. However, it's AFTER those ten episodes are finished that the show seems to lose its footing in terms of overall direction and writing, like it wants to add in new elements but those new elements feel so jarring and out of place that they just do not mix well with what Demon Slayer already established. For example, really random, zany, over-the-top comedy is repeatedly interspersed with the darker, serious moments, and they honestly have no business being there. There's an art to knowing when to be funny and when to be serious. But if you can't commit to a certain atmosphere, don't try to mix two wildly different tones together, especially when they don't mix well at all!

This also extends to the characters. The anime seems to believe that the characters won't be memorable if it doesn't absolutely BLAST you with the basest aspects of their personality at the highest extreme possible from the very start and continuing to do so afterward. Granted, the lead characters gradually develop past their base archetypes (Tanjiro and Inosuke being the best examples of this), but many of the side characters suffer from their base personality trait being exaggerated to ridiculous degrees, and this can be real annoying, real fast. Demon Slayer unfortunately doesn't really seem to know how to tone things down or strike a delicate balance between its wildly different tones, and because of this, any attempts at character development or any kind of serious drama lose their impact because of its random switches between tones.

All of these problems come from one source, the biggest detriment to the show as a whole: Zenitsu.

Yes, everything wrong with Demon Slayer's second half all boils down to Zenitsu Agatsuma. Seriously, this kid is the amalgamation of ALL of Demon Slayer's flaws. He's little more than a whiny little bitch baby who does nothing but bitch and moan and scream and whine like nobody's business, and he does this CONSTANTLY!! Granted, he's not as bad as other characters in other anime I've seen, but his entire presence seems to completely go against everything the show already set up at the start. It doesn't help that whenever Zenitsu appears, the writing takes a huge nosedive because instead of actually bothering to develop Zenitsu and have him grow out of being a whiny bitch baby who runs at the slightest peril, it seems to actively bend over backwards just to have him conveniently do things that go against the show's established rules just to keep him as a coward. For one, his fighting style is complete bullshit: He's somehow ONLY able to fight when he's unconscious, and even after having done so, he often wakes up with no memory of having fought at all! His whole fighting style just reads like an excuse to have Zenitsu conveniently do cool stuff without bothering to actually have him grow a pair and, y'know, ACTUALLY put in effort to make him into more than a pile of screaming madness, thereby killing whatever tension any dramatic scene Zenitsu's in has! The reason Tanjiro's usage of his fighting style works (Most of the time) is because the show bothered to actually show him training and putting in effort to become a Demon Slayer, so his knowing the techniques and putting them to use doesn't come out of the left field, and he doesn't just magically become good at fighting at the drop of a hat. Also, no, Demon Slayer, being struck by lightning does not change a person's hair color. It feels like Zenitsu belongs in a completely different show, or like a different set of writers come on board when it's time for him to appear, and considering how much of a spineless little bitch baby he is, I have to wonder how he's even able to function in the world. I can definitely see why people hate this kid so much. I don't HATE him per se, but dear lord, show, PLEASE tone him down!

Granted, not every flaw Demon Slayer has is solely because of Zenitsu. Even before he appears, sometimes the show makes some decisions that make little to no logical sense. For one, it gets established that Tanjiro breaks several bones in his body when fighting demons. Normally, when that happens, one would be completely incapacitated depending on how severe the injury is, needing a few weeks to a few months to completely heal. However, in Demon Slayer, Tanjiro is apparently still able to move after two days, even with several broken bones! This is not how human bodies work! Dear lord, this is the thing with Demon Slayer: for every great point it has, it always winds up having a huge flaw that brings it down.

Nevertheless, I can wholeheartedly recommend Demon Slayer for those looking for a shounen series that isn't Naruto, Black Clover, Fairy Tail, and so on. Good shows like this one are very rare, especially since most shounen shows often feel like a plain ol' rehash or rip-off of an existing premise or formula without trying to establish their own identity. It helps that the manga concluded, so Demon Slayer already gets points for not dragging itself out longer than it needs, nor does it need to worry about overstaying its welcome. Demon Slayer, while too wildly inconsistent for its own good at times, is a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated genre, and considering I tend not to like mainstream anime for a variety of reasons, I mean it when I say it absolutely deserves its popularity.
 
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I like your review and fair score of Demon Slayer. It's my new favorite shounen currently so reading your thoughts on it was enjoyable, though I'll say that a lot of the side characters do get better development later on so hopefully the anime does them justice, especially for Sanemi and Genya.

Speaking of the anime I should mention about this part specifically:
All of these problems come from one source, the biggest detriment to the show as a whole: Zenitsu.

Yes, everything wrong with Demon Slayer's second half all boils down to Zenitsu Agatsuma. Seriously, this kid is the amalgamation of ALL of Demon Slayer's flaws. He's little more than a whiny little bitch baby who does nothing but bitch and moan and scream and whine like nobody's business, and he does this CONSTANTLY!! Granted, he's not as bad as other characters in other anime I've seen, but his entire presence seems to completely go against everything the show already set up at the start. It doesn't help that whenever Zenitsu appears, the writing takes a huge nosedive because instead of actually bothering to develop Zenitsu and have him grow out of being a whiny bitch baby who runs at the slightest peril, it seems to actively bend over backwards just to have him conveniently do things that go against the show's established rules just to keep him as a coward. For one, his fighting style is complete bullshit: He's somehow ONLY able to fight when he's unconscious, and even after having done so, he often wakes up with no memory of having fought at all! His whole fighting style just reads like an excuse to have Zenitsu conveniently do cool stuff without bothering to actually have him grow a pair and, y'know, ACTUALLY put in effort to make him into more than a pile of screaming madness, thereby killing whatever tension any dramatic scene Zenitsu's in has! The reason Tanjiro's usage of his fighting style works (Most of the time) is because the show bothered to actually show him training and putting in effort to become a Demon Slayer, so his knowing the techniques and putting them to use doesn't come out of the left field, and he doesn't just magically become good at fighting at the drop of a hat. Also, no, Demon Slayer, being struck by lightning does not change a person's hair color. It feels like Zenitsu belongs in a completely different show, or like a different set of writers come on board when it's time for him to appear, and considering how much of a spineless little bitch baby he is, I have to wonder how he's even able to function in the world. I can definitely see why people hate this kid so much. I don't HATE him per se, but dear lord, show, PLEASE tone him down!
The anime actually made him way over the top than he originally is in the manga, he still gets scared and whiny but it isn't to the extreme annoyance like in the anime. The reason he is whiny and a scaredy-cat is because he is supposed to be comic relief, supposedly Demon Slayer wasn't doing too well in Japan until he was introduced which boosted the manga's popularity over there, making Zenitsu one of the more popular characters as well. That being said his form of comic relief is definitely hit or miss, and I can see why he isn't your favorite. But like the side characters, he does get better later on as well and I hope the anime doesn't ruin it with just his schtick.

His reason for passing out when fighting is because he's too scared, it's too much on his body so that fear disappears when he's passed out, but he still actually retains awareness. The reason he doesn't remember or believe the fight happened is because his mind translates it into a dream-like state, since to him it's a dream so he doesn't need to be scared. I actually think it's pretty neat but I can see why others may think it isn't great and an "excuse", but I'll say that there are fights he partakes in when awake and he does grow a pair as you say, like a fight against a certain demon later on.
 
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