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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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