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Julia's Reviews on All Things Media

The #1 Deerling Fan!
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This review was originally written on October 11th, 2019.



I give this charming tale of kids with magical powers...a 72/100.

Chris Colfer is a name that's popped up a lot in the entertainment business. Some of you may know him as the actor who played Kurt Hummel in the TV show Glee. Others may know him for his bestselling book series for children, The Land of Stories. He's made a pretty big name for himself in the past decade, and is still going strong from what I hear. But I've neither seen Glee nor read his Land of Stories book series, but his most recent book, A Tale of Magic, did catch my eye in my local Barnes and Noble. I was hesitant to read it, since other fantasy books I've read, such as Marabel and the Book of Fate turned out to be huge disappointments. Thankfully, A Tale of Magic is marginally better than Marabel, but it's unfortunately hampered with a lot of problems that hold it back from being truly good.

In case you're wondering, you don't need to know anything about The Land of Stories in order to understand what's going on in the book. From what I've heard, this is a prequel to Land of Stories, and it serves as a standalone, so no worries on that front. Anyway, the story begins as a fairy, Madame Celeste Weatherberry, is trying to start up a special school to train children who can use magic in an attempt to fight against the kingdom-enforced idea that magic is a sin, and anyone who has it is either evil or should be killed. When she gets permission from the king of the Southern Kingdom, she manages to recruit three new students: Brystal Evergreen, a book-loving girl whose affluent family refuses to let her pursue anything other than aspirations of motherhood and marriage; Xanthous, a timid boy who can set himself and anything else on fire at will, and Emerelda Stone, a girl who can turn things into gemstones. The kids spend their days at the academy learning how to manifest and control their powers and slowly bonding with one another. But when Madame Weatherberry begins disappearing, Brystal suspects something is going on, and when she and the kids learn the truth, its up to them to save their teacher by any means necessary, even though the world they live in isn't kind to people like them.

I really want to like this book more than I do. It has so much that I like in it, and I do want to gush about it, but I wouldn't be a good reviewer if all I did was just that. I'll get the negatives out of the way first and then get to the positive stuff afterward. One of the book's rather prominent problems is this: It's preachy as hell! Now, it's not as heavy-handed as, say, The Littlest Bigfoot or Elsie Dinsmore, but the book really lays on its morals thick, constantly hammering them into our heads without the least bit of subtlety. Its morals overall are rather basic ones such as "Don't oppress women," "Accept those who are different and don't reject them," "Reading is great," "Solve your problems head on," so on and so forth. They're good morals, and I appreciate the author's attempts at trying to weave them into a fantasy setting, but I feel the execution of them fell flat on its face because Colfer seems to think hammering them in your head over and over is the best way to convey them. Colfer, trust your audience. Let the story speak for itself. Kids are actually much smarter and more intuitive than people give them credit for.

Thankfully, unlike the two above books I mentioned, the heavy-handedness is mitigated somewhat by the likeable main cast of characters. Good characters can either make or break a story, and if the author doesn't care about them and their plight, then why should the audience? I thought the main characters, while on the cliche side, were fun, engaging, and had a great dynamic going on. Brystal is a budding intellectual who feels oppressed by her heavily patriarchal society, and she continually puts herself at risk in order to pursue her dreams, even getting in huge trouble, but she always perseveres and tries to make the best of things. She's a realistic, flawed main character who always means well, does make mistakes like any kid would, and does her best. Her friends are just as engaging, and I personally liked Xanthous. He's a shy kid who feels all he does is hurt people, even having killed some without meaning to, and he really blossoms once he comes to the academy. Madame Weatherberry and her apprentices Tangerina and Skylene were fun as well, and I really liked the former's character development near the end, even if it wound up ending in tragedy. While a little on the cliche side, I think Colfer has a good grasp on his main cast, and I loved reading about this eclectic group.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the side characters, namely Brystal's family and the group of witches that terrorize the northern continent. They were all just so...shallow, and by that I mean they only seem to exist just to either do stuff to advance the plot and nothing else. The witches were just there to be obstacles for the kids to overcome and didn't do much after that, and the ogres and orcs in the In-Between area were just stereotypically evil for the sake of being evil. Brystal's father is especially hit hard with this, as all he ever does is scream at Brystal over everything and be a complete dick (Still got nothing on Horace Dinsmore Jr, though!), and even her brothers never appear again once Brystal's trial ends. Her brothers and mother were the only ones I actually liked, and I wish Colfer had done more with them. Eh, A Tale of Magic does have another book coming out next year, as it's going to be a series similar to Land of Stories, so who knows? Maybe that'll be rectified in due time.

But I will say one final thing in the book's favor though: The prose and the overall writing. Colfer's descriptions and imagery are all very well done, and the writing has great flow. No scene is either too long or too short, and the story moves at a fairly steady pace. The prose is still accessible enough for children to read, but not to the point of being too beige or too overly purple. He strikes a good balance with his writing, something few writers can boast, even some of my favorite ones. It helps that the kids' dialogue is fairly realistic, and I didn't find a single line that sounded too silly or artificial, something many writers tend to struggle with a lot, even experienced ones. I hate to rate this book so low, as it does have a lot of elements that I really like, but it did turn out better than a lot of other fantasy stories I've read recently, so I'll probably read it multiple times if I ever want a light, fantastical read.

If your a fan of fantasy stories aimed at kids, but don't want to read anything too thought provoking or complicated, feel free to give A Tale of Magic a try.
 
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This stinker was reviewed on May 17th, 2015.



I give this 4 episode fantasy/sci-fi OVA...a 47/100.

Let me tell you: I'm not a fan of shounen-ai or yaoi. I did try writing a yaoi fan fic in high school but not only was it extremely awful and very poorly written, but I lost inspiration for it. I wouldn't have heard of Earthian if one of my favorite internet critics, The Cartoon Hero, hadn't reviewed it (and it's a funny review. Check it out here). Yet against my better judgment, I got curious about the OVA, and decided to check it out, because I was sad and gloomy and wanted something deep to get me out of my funk. Now, I love it when shows are deep and have underlying messages in them, whether its a kids show or an anime for teenagers. One of the reasons I love anime so much is that sometimes when you least expect it, they question humanity and how things are being handled in today's society. I love an anime that makes you think. If it's done right, it can be absolutely marvelous, but if done wrong, then we have no reason to think about it. Unfortunately, Earthian is the latter, sad to say.

In this series, angels come from a planet called Eden, and have observed humanity since their creation. Sometimes pairs of angels go to Earth and observe humans, as plus and minus checkers. Plus checkers report on positive aspects on humanity while minus checkers report on negative aspects. If the angels decide that humanity's progress reaches -10,000, they will destroy them. But they can discriminate against their own species, as if an angel goes against Eden too many times, their hair and wings turn black, which is grounds for discrimination and hatred from white winged angels. Chihaya is one such black winged angel, but he was born with his black wings and hair. He and another angel, Kagetsuya, go to Earth and get caught up in some events that could entail humanity's destruction.

I want to like this anime. It has so much that I like in it, but not only does it not live up to its potential, but it leaves many questions unanswered, plot threads hanging on for dear life, and many events not properly resolved, especially since there's four episodes, none of which bother to explain what's going on. I hear there's more explanation in the manga, but I haven't read it. I plan to eventually. But even not reading the manga, you can tell that there's so much crammed in four episodes that you don't have time to really get to know the characters and why they behave the way they do, and everything goes by so fast. It's symbolism is extremely ham handed, none of it is subtle, the villain is cliche, annoying, and we have no reason to care about him, and everything just gets thrown at you without going into why you should care about these characters and their stories.

Speaking of characters, they're also the weakest part of the story. The villain is your stereotypical mad scientist who wants to create the ultimate weapon and destroy humanity, two of them are forgotten without a second thought, and Chihaya, while I usually like characters like him, is useless and whiny. Like The Cartoon Hero says and I echo, he always causes trouble, is always either getting kidnapped or beaten up, always gets rescued by Kagetsuya, does things without thinking, and absolutely cannot do anything on his own. But I hate Kagetsuya even more because of the way he treats Chihaya. While I can understand some of his grievances, he treats Chihaya as though he's some troublemaking kid constantly, never praises him for good things he does, always calls him names, and is always harsh with him. And the thing is? They have sex once. One, it comes absolutely out of nowhere. Two, there was never any hints or implications of them having a relationship, let alone a romantic one, and three, with the way Kagetsuya treats Chihaya, I can't fathom why Chihaya would want to be with Kagetsuya romantically. Even if Kagetsuya does rescue Chihaya on occasion, I don't think its out of genuine concern for his well being, but only so he doesn't get in trouble with Eden. At one point he even locks Chihaya out of the apartment because he came home late for dinner. Kagetsuya has absolutely NOTHING positive to say about Chihaya. If I was in a relationship like this, I'd get the heck out of there because I would not want to spend my life with someone who constantly belittles everything I do and isn't grateful for the good things I do. And I've dealt with people exactly like Kagetsuya both in real life and online! Sorry, Kagetsuya is nothing but a bland, static, pathetic, and harsh character and I have absolutely no reason to care about him. What is it with anime convincing us that harsh people who constantly belittle you and call you names and blame you for everything is your perfect romantic partner? I don't approve of this construct.

For its time, the animation...admittedly isn't all that good. When the characters move, they're all jerky and sometimes it feels like entire scenes have been cut out. The character designs are good and we can tell who's who, but considering they're Yun Kouga's designs, they didn't look like they translated well to animation, and animating them clearly wasn't the producers' strong point. Plus the colors are extremely washed out, and it doesn't feel all that good on the eyes. The voice acting in both the English and Japanese versions are forgettable at best, terrible at worst, with the English dub being hilariously bad, with wooden performances, Dr. Ashino having a Texan accent, and lots of badly scripted lines ("Don't let them GOOOO!!"). But even the Japanese version isn't safe from the occasional bad performance, such as Messiah's garbled screaming, Chihaya's high pitched whining, and Dr. Ashino sounding like he smoked too many cigarettes. Seriously, Shiozawa Kaneto's performance as Devimon was better than this!

Even the soundtrack isn't any better. The music isn't exactly memorable, nor did it make much of an impact on me...except for the first episode's ending, Mother: For The Earthian. It's one of the loveliest, most inspiring, most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard, and it singlehandedly made my top 5 favorite ending songs for how wonderful it is. It also has a very good (but VERY HARD TO FIND) insert song in Good Night by Kingo Hamada. But those are pretty much the only genuinely good things about the anime. It had so much potential, but all of it was wasted, and it didn't make good use of the time it did have, resulting in a convoluted mess with characters we just cannot root for. Had it been given more episodes, we might have gotten something better depending on the staff and production team. But this anime does make for good riffing material, as proven by The Cartoon Hero's review of it, which you really should check out. He's hilarious and good at critiquing at the same time!

This anime could have been so much better, but at best, it's just plain average and bad. If you want to make something deep, this is not the way to do it.
 
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This review was written on January 6th, 2016.

126804

I give the 12th Pretty Cure series...an 88/100!

Confession time: when I was little, I absolutely HATED girly things. Well, my mom says I played with a lot of Barbie dolls when I was a kid, but other than that, I hated anything remotely girly. I still hate dresses and skirts to this day though only because of sensory issues, I didn't watch shows like My Little Pony, Bratz, or anything of the like when I was young, I despise makeup because I don't like the way it feels on my skin, and I used to think that all shows for girls were bad and were all about pretty princesses who did nothing but giggle at nothing, have endless tea parties, and cry over the stupidest things...and I'm a girl! I was VERY into shows like Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Monster Rancher, Codename: Kids Next Door, Danny Phantom, etc. Anything that had cute monsters saving the world and characters who weren't archetypes and that had compelling stories were a win for me! Admittedly, I did watch the English dubs of Tokyo Mew Mew and Ojamajo Doremi back when 4Kids was still around, but I just considered them good shows. When one of my favorite bloggers was praising a show called Heartcatch Precure up the wazoo, I got curious and decided to watch it...and I'm glad I did, because it completely changed my perception of shows for girls, and this was BEFORE My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic came around! Now, if you were to tell me ten years ago that I would fall head over heels for a show called Go! Princess Pretty Cure, I would have called you stupid. But here I am, loving Go! Princess Pretty Cure in all its frilly, cutesy, pink, princess-y glory, and after the major disaster that was Happiness Charge Precure, the season before it, it's a welcome relief that the show is as good as it turned out.

Haruka Haruno has always dreamed of being a princess, even at age 13. When she was young, a boy named Kanata gave her a strange pink key, telling her that she can fulfill her dream. Years later, she transfers to an elite middle school called Noble Academy in the hopes of becoming a fine young lady. When she meets two fairies, Puff and Aroma, they're being chased by Close and his monster, a Zetsuborg. Strangely, the key she's held onto winds up turning her into a magical girl, Cure Flora. As it turns out, Puff and Aroma are fairies from the Hope Kingdom, which is being conquered by an evil lady named Dyspear and her minions. The prince, Kanata, is trying to help however he can and needs 12 Princess Keys in order to get Hope Kingdom back. Joining them are calm natured do-gooder Minami Kaido, Cure Mermaid, and sassy, upbeat model Kirara Amanogawa, Cure Twinkle, and later, the revived princess of Hope Kingdom, Towa, aka Cure Scarlet. Can they defeat DysDark and save both their world and Hope Kingdom?

The animation is a major step-up from Happiness Charge. It looks so much more clearer, the movements are more fluid, the transformation sequences are just brimming with life, and while the CGI does look a teensy bit out of place in places, there are times when its integrated better. I definitely liked the animation for the first ending theme. The second one...not so much. The characters still fall into uncanny valley territory when the CGI is there. The colors are bright and the animation doesn't have that weird, smoky, murky quality about it that Happiness Charge was plagued with a lot of the time.

While it's well known that the Precure series reuse music from other seasons, even when they shouldn't due to not being connected with each other, Go Princess did have this problem at first. Thankfully, once the second half came, the Doki Doki music disappeared entirely, and what original music it does have does its job well. I do think the insert songs are a bit to peppy and don't give certain scenes impact, but they're not bad, and the rest of the music is pretty good as well. The opening theme is definitely a major step-up from Happiness Charge and it doesn't grate on my ears. The first ending theme is absolutely beautiful, and it sounds more like it'd be in an anime about classical music like Your Lie In April rather than Precure, but it does fit the "want to be a noble princess" theme rather well.

Again, the characters are also massively improved from Happiness Charge. All of the characters here are endearing and engaging, have reasonable personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and dreams that all come into play in the series, all of them get episodes in the limelight, and no one character outshines another nor is anyone given more importance than the other. Plus, they're all reasonably developed and aren't just walking catchphrases meant to shove morals down kids' throats! Even side characters are given focus, and although some could have used better development or were just terrible (I'm looking at you, Ranko!), they all played their part in the show in a good way, and they don't just disappear when the going gets tough, either. Such is the case for one girl, Yui Nanase, who isn't a Pretty Cure nor does she fight any enemies physically like Seiji from HapiCha did, but she contributes in her own way, and everyone loves her for it, me being one of those people. Also, the mascots. I thought Aroma would be annoying since he insults Haruka sometimes, but he completely grows out of that, and Puff is the most adorable little puffball ever! The villains are also improved and have MUCH better, more refined personalities than HapiCha's and aren't bland archetypes. However, when one of them gets redeemed halfway through the series (You'll know who I'm talking about), he doesn't do anything throughout the show, instead being shy and clinging to Siamour all the time. I like him, but I felt the show could have made better use of him, or at the very least made him do something worthwhile.

Any flaws that the show has are for the most part pretty minor for me. It did have one bad episode that just made me cringe (Episode 37, the one with the school play) at the fact that they're willing to worsen a kid's injury just so they can get on with the play rather than do the reasonable thing and have someone replace him, and Ranko was an annoying little hypocrite who ruined everything in her debut episode and got in the way despite telling Kirara not to do the same. However, those were just small problems, and everything else was relatively great. But I won't lie, this isn't a show for everyone. It is ridiculously girly, the whole show is riddled with bright colors like pink, yellow, red, and white, there's large, poofy dresses, the girl characters are unabashedly attached to their dreams, and it can get rather sappy at times. But for me, it wasn't so sappy that it made me cringe from how girly it was. Show's like G3 My Little Pony and Lady Lovely Locks relied too much on cuteness, enforcing female gender roles, and overall saccharineness rather than telling a compelling and genuinely entertaining story, or didn't utilize what potential they did have, which is why they're either little known or disliked, because they thought that excessive girliness would attract an audience, but it didn't work. It let its saccharine image drive away potential audiences.

Normally, shows about princesses, or shows for girls in general, have gotten a lot of backlash over the years because of their low quality and emphasis on being as inhumanely cute and girly and saccharine as possible. Thankfully, this mindset seems to be dying out, both for fans and creators. Lauren Faust created My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to appeal to people of all genders and ages, and as a result of its strong focus on storytelling and developing its characters, it became the cash cow franchise it is today. Other shows such as Candy Candy, Snow White With The Red Hair, Yona of the Dawn, Miraculous Ladybug, Steven Universe, Madoka Magica, Ever After High, Monster High, and many others, are well loved by audiences because they're changing the standards for shows for girls: that just because the show is aimed at girls or has princesses or girly elements in it, it doesn't mean its bad, and if its executed well, it can be loved by anyone or everyone. I can say proudly that Go Princess Pretty Cure completely changed my views on princesses forever.

If you want to watch a good show with your daughter, little sister, niece, or whoever, Go Princess Pretty Cure is the show for you, and it shows that even in poofy dresses, girls can kick butt!
 
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This review was written on June 18th, 2018.

126853

I give the first game in the World of Mana series (the remake, to be more specific)...an 80/100!

Unlike most gamers that I know of, the first video game console I ever owned was the GameBoy Color, a lime green one. I played the heck out of that thing every chance I got. Now, it's unfortunately broken beyond repair, and I'm not very tech savvy, so I don't know how to get it to work again. Being that the GameBoy was my first game console, I usually played Pokemon games on it, completely ignoring other games. But when I hear people talk about what they consider to be the best GameBoy game ever, many of them say a little game called Final Fantasy Adventure deserves that title. Supposedly a spin-off from Final Fantasy, the developers then decided that it'd be better off as its own series, and thus, the Mana franchise was born (You may recognize games such as Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3 as being part of it, since those two are always mentioned in the fandom, and usually considered the best). Then I learned it was remade, then retitled Adventures of Mana. I bought a PS Vita recently, and this was one of the titles I bought for it. I've finished it now, and do I consider this to be one of the best games ever? Eh, not really. But there's definitely a lot to like about it, and I can see why people love it so much.

The story is actually kind of dark, especially in the beginning. The world is in peril. The Dark Lord has near complete control of the world, and the only thing he needs to complete his reign of terror is the fabled Tree of Mana, said to sit high atop of Mt. Illusia. In the midst of this, a combat slave named Sumo and two of his friends are forced to fight for their masters' amusement and want nothing more than to be free. Unfortunately, one of Sumo's friends dies after a grueling fight, and it's his death that finally spurs him into action. During his escape, he runs into a mysterious girl named Fuji, who accompanies him on his quest for freedom as thanks for helping her. But things quickly spiral out of control as the two find themselves at the epicenter of preventing the Dark Lord's dominance of the world once and for all.

Now, I've only played the PS Vita version of this game, not the one for the GameBoy Color, so this review will focus solely on the Vita version. The graphics are really nice. The colors are bright but not obnoxiously so, the character designs are decent and well made, the 3D models are cute and don't look odd or unsettling, and the maze-like dungeons are kinda fun to explore if you know what to do and where to go. I don't say this lightly, but I think it needs to be said: Adventures of Mana has one of the absolute best video game soundtracks I've ever heard. I can't be objective about this, as there's really no denying it: The soundtrack is a masterpiece. Every single piece of music is extremely awesome and well done, and there wasn't a single piece that I didn't like. From the beautiful piece that plays when the game starts up, to the swelling overworld theme that pumps you up, to the absolutely epic battle theme that plays when you fight Davias and Julius near the end, this soundtrack absolutely NAILS everything (Though I admittedly like this version of it the best). Kenji Ito, you deserve an award for such an amazing OST, and from what I heard, he was only 23 when he worked on the original chip tunes for the GameBoy version! I could listen to this soundtrack all day if I wanted to, and I have a few times, it's that awesome!

I really wish I could rate this game higher, but unfortunately I have to dock points for three main flaws it has. For one, the story is very linear and barebones. All you really do is travel around with companions, fight monsters, and try to save the world from evil, and every scenario you encounter follows identical plot beats to those in other stuff before and after Adventures came out. It doesn't help that the game is extremely short. You can beat it in 8-10 hours tops, especially if you take the time to get every single spell and weapon. This is probably because the original GameBoy didn't have enough internal storage to handle more than a certain amount of content. I'm not a tech expert, but I hear that doing pixelated games takes a lot of work, more so than doing 3D CG models, and GameBoy cartridges didn't have much in the way of space and storage. The remake doesn't add anything new like new storylines or side quests or anything, so it runs for about the same length of time as the original despite being on a system that can handle more content. The fun gameplay mitigates this somewhat, as the strength of your attacks comes from filling a gauge, and if you let it go all the way, you can unleash powerful attacks that do a lot of damage. Plus, the game expects you to switch your spells and weapons around a lot. An enemy can be immune to fire attacks but weak to ice, or you won't be able to hit one with a sword but with a long flail. Unfortunately, there's nothing in the game that tells you which enemies are weak to what attacks or spells, so unless you figure it out yourself, you'll have a really hard time defeating certain bosses.

But the game's biggest problem is its characters. Or rather, the fact that they're all really one note and bland. They're admittedly a product of their time, when certain character archetypes were being used and reused over and over again after being shortly established beforehand. The player character is the typical shounen hero who saves the day, Fuji is the typical mysterious woman with magic powers who's sought after by the enemies, Gemma is a strong old man, Watts is the dwarf who makes your weapons, Marcy is the helpful robot, so on and so forth. They each have different abilities when paired with Sumo. Fuji can heal, Marcy can restore MP, and Watts sells you equipment, again, so on and so forth. They don't really have a whole lot of depth to them, which I think is because the game was so short and so limited on storage space that the creators couldn't give them more depth. They're not bad characters per se, but by today's standards, they can be considered bland and rather one-note. I also wish Fuji had a more proactive role in the game, as other than healing you when she was paired up with you, she's little more than a damsel in distress who gets kidnapped a few times by various villains, who also don't get explored nearly as much as they should. Though in terms of uselessness, the character of Lester is unfortunately the most useless one of all. Not only does he only appear in one part of the game and never gets utilized after that, his ONLY, and I mean his ONLY support ability is that he throws knives at enemies and changes the background music! That's it! Nothing he does contributes to the story in any way whatsoever. He's not a bad character, and I feel bad about riffing on him like this as I do like his design and personality in-game, but having a character only throw knives and change the background music doesn't necessarily make for a useful party member in combat. The creators really could have utilized him more. Fuji may be a typical damsel in distress, but she can at least heal you, which is definitely more useful than changing the background music!

Objectively, that's about all I can say on Adventures of Mana. Subjectively...I actually still enjoy it, flaws and all, and I admittedly like it better than Secret of Mana. The original SoM at least. Don't kill me! I'll still defend the SoM remake to my dying breath, but even with its pretty glaring flaws, I still genuinely enjoy Adventures of Mana. It may not be one of the best games ever, but there's still quite a bit to like about it. Honestly, if we didn't get the original Final Fantasy Adventure, the Mana series wouldn't have come to be, and this first game did lay the groundwork for the Mana franchise as a whole, so it still has that going for it. Overall, if you want a short but sweet, fun game that's also really, really sad, give Adventures of Mana a try. I really enjoy it, and it's a good little romp for any fantasy game fan.
 
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The #1 Deerling Fan!
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This review was written on November 6th, 2019.



I give this cute CGI anime about animal girls...a 74/100.

Now, just from looking at the premise, Kemono Friends doesn't really look like anything special: A girl with amnesia wakes up in a zoo-like park full of anthropomorphized animal girls who are all friendly and nice, and she goes on a journey with one of them, a Serval girl, simply named Serval, to find out who she is and where she comes from. Combined with the low budget CGI, the fact that the original mobile game it was based on performed so badly that it was cancelled a month before the anime premiered, the sudden popularity of isekai anime and light novels, and many other factors going against it, everyone thought Kemono Friends was doomed to fail from the very beginning. Even the company that sponsored it, Kadokawa, deemed it a failure and told the producers to do whatever they wanted with it. The anime itself got off to a rather slow start, with many dismissing it as a yawnfest...and yet, somehow, it became one of the most popular anime of the winter 2017 season. I didn't start watching it until this year, namely because I had attempted to watch Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War, but it kept irritating me with every episode, so I decided to watch this to see what all the hubbub was all about.

And I probably can't begin discussion of the show without talking about the most obvious thing about it: the low budget CGI animation. Personally, I don't think its as bad as people say, as I've seen far worse animation, and the character designs are pretty creative in that they try to blend the humanoid and animal aspects of the Friends, such as tails and ears, and melding fur markings into their hair, or other things, like how the penguin characters' beaks are streaks in their hair instead of being actual beaks. Plus, the animation itself is fairly consistent, even if the movements are about as rigid as a rusty robot. It's about on par with, say, The Dragon Prince in terms of its actual animation and frame rate. But I wouldn't necessarily say the bad animation is the show's fault, as there is a reason why the show looks the way it is. Since the mobile game that inspired it tanked, Kadokawa gave the production team basically no money to speak of. It didn't help that the production team itself consisted of only ten people, the director Tatsuki included, and they worked on the show over a period of 500 days. In fact, the budget was so miniscule that not only could they not hire the voice actors from the game to reprise their roles and had to make do with inexperienced newcomers in the cast (Though that somehow didn't stop them from casting veterans such as Mikoi Sasaki and Tomoko Kaneda), the lip flaps don't always match the dialogue (Even in the Japanese version), and at first, they couldn't animate wheels spinning on a bus in the opening! This last part did get fixed for the DVD release, though. At that point, the franchise was considered a complete failure, and in a way, it was a miracle the show got greenlit.

Just from all that history, you'd probably think that because of all this, the anime itself was absolutely awful in every other way, right? Surprisingly, no. Tatsuki, the director who worked on the first season of Kemono Friends, decided having no animation budget wasn't an excuse to cut corners in the writing, characters, and story department. He probably figured that if KF was going to die, he'd rather have it end on a good note. Considering the rating I gave it, I don't think he entirely succeeded, as I've seen the character archetypes depicted here done better in other shows, but I'll give him points for effort. There isn't much of a story here, as it's just Kaban and Serval traveling through the various areas of Japari Park and meeting new Friends along the way. The real meat of the show is Kaban and Serval's interactions, and while the two of them are rather one note individually, they have great chemistry, and the way their friendship grows and develops is genuinely sweet and meaningful. I enjoyed watching these two bounce off each other, and the series makes optimal use of its twelve episodes to fully develop the bond these two share. The rest of the characters...they mostly appear in one or two episodes with only one or two personality traits and not much else, so they're all kinda bland. They're not bad, but not much to write home about, and many of them feel like they're just there to move the story forward than anything in their own right (Raccoon and Fennec Fox). Don't come into this expecting huge amounts of character development for the side characters.

On the other hand, the music is pretty nice and upbeat, with soft tunes that add to the setting and accenuate the atmosphere, to the brooding dubstep that plays when the Ceruleans, the primary antagonists of the series, appear. The opening theme is another typical moe fest with cute girls singing in high pitched voices, though the ending theme is pretty cool, with an upbeat song set against photos of abandoned amusement parks (Apparently this was a deliberate choice) for great use of contrast and to accenuate that Japari Park isn't the peaceful place it seems to be on the surface.

The series is very episodic in nature, with only very small plot threads here and there that don't get fully revealed until the final two episodes, and is very slow paced. I personally had no problem with this, but others who aren't so patient may not like it, which is understandable. It can be easy to just dismiss Kemono Friends as a cute edutainment show for little kids, and there's nothing in the way of fanservice, save for some characters' skimpy outfits and very, very slight panty shots, but even those don't go beyond the level of, say, 90s Sailor Moon. Of course, some episodes are better than others. I loved episode 3 for its atmosphere and the clever way the characters used their talents to help someone in need, but I wasn't fond of episode 6 because of some characters behaving really stupidly for no reason other than because the writers wanted them to be such. That episode had several characters trying to break into another's fortress fifty times in an attempt to fight someone, but not because the latter is genuinely stronger than them, no. It's because the opposite territory utterly SUCKS at fighting and basic strategy, as they do nothing but charge in blindly. It just infuriates me that these characters not even ONCE think, "Hey, maybe we should change our strategy and use more defense and stealth instead of charging blindly?" after fifty straight losses! Kaban basically has to teach this to them even though they could have easily figured this out themselves. I just find that really idiotic, and an example of bad writing in general. It really says something when the English dub blooper reel points out just how stupid this is.

Even so, I found myself genuinely enjoying this show. Yeah, it's not the masterpiece that people are making it out to be, but even with its flaws, it's still better than most shows in recent times. I won't be watching the second season, as from what I've heard, it's not only really bad but was the result of a LOT of poor decision making by Kadokawa and other creators and one producer displaying a lot of unprofessional behavior towards the fanbase and Tatsuki about his (The producer) decisions for said season. But Kemono Friends proved to be the ultimate underdog, and it doesn't try to be anything but what it is: Just a cute, fun show about animal girls. So if you want a sweet anime to show to your kids, let it be this one. Oh, and watch the English dub, too. It's great, and the blooper reel is an absolute laugh riot!
 
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This review was written on August 4th, 2013.



I give this delightful anime...a 93/100!

I love Japan's kids shows. Why? Because they have BALLS. What do I mean? To put it simply, the majority of their children's shows aren't just silly entertainment for kids or gigantic marketing commercials to sell toys. Just like with the majority of their adult and teenager aimed anime, their children's shows are refined and mature. They explore and discuss issues that most American children's shows don't even acknowledge! Not all of them are overly happy pieces of fluff meant to tell kids that all their dreams will come true. When things get serious in their kids shows, BY GOD DO THEY GET SERIOUS! Japan's kids shows take their audience seriously, don't treat them like morons, have much more refined and lavish animation than other kids shows from other countries, they're not afraid to show the dark sides of life like death or hardships, and they're not afraid to test their audience's patience. Ever since I realized what anime was, I always wondered: are fantasy shows and super hero shows full of action and fighting all American children really need to enjoy something? Who says children can't enjoy drama or slice of life shows where not much happens? Unfortunately, we Americans are under the stupid concept that the only shows American children will watch MUST have action, fighting, monsters, and overly preachy morals about friendship and making dreams come true. The people who make or advise the production of most American kids shows are afraid that if their show has death, hardships, and other dark themes, parents will go mad and say "we need to protect our children!!!" Personally, I think Japan has the right idea about saying, "Screw it!" to what kids shows SHOULD be and just do their own thing no matter how many kids they traumatize! So what if they're darker and more compelling than usual? I think shows like these are what American kids need! Kids will undergo some kind of hardship in their life anyway, so why bother trying to hide it from them? Perrine Monogatari is just one of Japan's many children's shows that I really like for its willingness to push boundaries and not fall to common children's show cliches.

Perrine and her mother start off on a journey, leaving India to go to a city in France called Maraucourt, which is actually the place where her father grew up. Unfortunately, Perrine's father, Edmond, died on the journey due to pneumonia, leaving his daughter and her mother alone to travel together. But things get worse, as Perrine's mother gets sick as soon as they arrive in France, and later dies herself. But not before telling Perrine about Edmond's family: his father, Vulfran, is vehemently opposed to their marriage and as a result, Edmond ran away, furthering his father's rage against them. She tells her to continue on her way to Maraucourt, but her grandfather may not welcome her, so she has to make him love her before he realizes who she is. Perrine manages to get there and get a job in her grandfather's factory. But Vulfran is blind, old, and known to be a cold and solemn man who may still be angry at his son for what he did, so she isn't sure if she can do it.

The show's animation is very dated, but it's still very impressive for a 53 episoded anime of its time. It looks significantly better than shows like Heidi or Dog of Flanders, probably because they managed to get the budget they needed. Not only that, the producers really went all out in making this show incredibly detailed and realistic. Everything, from uplifting events to tragic ones, come off as really realistic, in both the dialogue, the scenario, and the way the characters are animated, and the show itself is ridiculously and meticulously detailed. Even simple things like working and buying food are given plenty of time to signify their importance. None of the drama comes across as artificial, like most anime do nowadays. Plus, there's a butt-ton of effort into building up into the actual story. From what I've heard, everything up to episode 20 is anime original, yet, like Popolocrois Monogatari, all of these episodes are entirely character focused, detailing their journey from Bosnia to France and probably giving more background to Perrine and her family before the main events, and even when they get to the main story, the producers still take their time to further build upon the events leading up to them and make the journey as realistic and believable as possible during the time period the show takes place in. Kudos to you, Perrine! I especially liked the part of one episode where a character hurts herself when working in a factory and the managers say, "Oh, you brought it on yourself! It's your own fault for not paying attention! It's not that bad!" I learned a lot about factory workers in the 1880s back when I was young, and one thing I always remembered was that if someone was injured, the injury wasn't taken too seriously and they were told to just go back to work. If something like this happened in modern times, people would sue the factory like crazy! That really proved that these animators really did their research.

However, much like many anime of the seventies, the music is unfortunately very dated and has seventies written all over it. However, it is significantly better than other soundtracks I've heard, like the 1975 Dog of Flanders anime and the 1977 Nobody's Boy Remi anime. The pieces do try to set the mood and create an atmosphere well and at times they really hit hard, while other times they tend to miss and come across as a little overdramatic, though not as bad as Dog of Flanders or Remi, mind you. It still hasn't aged very well, though.

The characters are where this anime really shines. Instead of being portrayed as cardboard cut outs, they're portrayed as actual people with quirks, charms, and flaws alike, and it's not limited to the main characters either. Not only that, the character development here helps with exploring its themes about the importance of hard work, honesty, and how being good to others will influence them to be good to you. I honestly felt Perrine was a great main character with her strong will, her wits, the way she copes with the hardships she faces, and her being able to do what she needs to survive by any means possible in a very believable way, and this was before anime began to be swamped with idiot heroes, spineless harem kings, bumbling perverts, tsunderes, and ditzy females. More anime characters need to follow her example! However, I can see some people accusing her of being a Mary Sue, mostly because of how mature she acts for her age and a lot of talents like sewing and cooking, though this was the 19th century, so they probably don't know that a lot of kids were expected to act differently then than they do now, and girls at that time were expected to learn how to cook and do needlework in any situation, so I don't see any problem with it unless it involved forcing her to be submissive to a husband and squash her own dreams forever, which thankfully doesn't happen here. The only other flaws I can find are that some coincidences are a bit too convenient for the sake of moving the plot forward, and the language barrier gets ignored in the first half, only because the rest of the series is so down to earth in its presentation.

If you're looking for a great, down to earth, moving slice of life anime about traveling, then Perrine is definitely the anime for you! But you'll need patience though, as it's very slow paced and tranquil. It's not an anime for those looking for action and mecha battles. Please, go watch this. It's great, and it didn't become one of my favorite anime ever for nothing!
 
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I asked my mother to see if she watched this anime since it was translated into Spanish, aired in Latin America and because for some reason we tended to get things that the US didn't. Sadly, she doesn't seem to recall it. I think I'll give it a watch because I have a weakness for old anime.
 
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Please do! It's super good! The whole thing has been subbed, and if you know where to look, it's fairly easy to find. And yeah, I've read up on how a lot of anime such as Saint Seiya, Heidi, Sailor Moon, and Cardcaptor Sakura were super popular in Latin America and were given the royal treatment compared to North America, which tried to tear them to pieces and make them more palatable to kids and adhere to crappy American broadcast standards. (Though it seems Netflix is trying to bring Saint Seiya back into the limelight, since it commissioned a new dub for the original series that's meant to be much more faithful)
 
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Please do! It's super good! The whole thing has been subbed, and if you know where to look, it's fairly easy to find. And yeah, I've read up on how a lot of anime such as Saint Seiya, Heidi, Sailor Moon, and Cardcaptor Sakura were super popular in Latin America and were given the royal treatment compared to North America, which tried to tear them to pieces and make them more palatable to kids and adhere to crappy American broadcast standards. (Though it seems Netflix is trying to bring Saint Seiya back into the limelight, since it commissioned a new dub for the original series that's meant to be much more faithful)
Just found the Perrine dub in YouTube. I'll watch it soon.

Yes, anime tended to go uncensored here, unless it was dubbed by 4Kids (all censorship was still in the dub + inconsistent terminology thanks to different translators, although the terminology in YGO was better than the one in the actual game), or by the same guys that translated Glitter Force and Yo-Kai Watch (same problems), or if they were dubbed by the same guys that translated Hunter x Hunter (because they plagiarized fan subs, to the point of keeping honorifics intact). They sometimes had name changes (which was normal at the time), but as seen with Yatterman and Sailor Moon, that was the only major change.
 
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Feel free to watch the Japanese version with English subs, too!
 
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This is reminidng me that I need to watch Heidi. Think I found a good part of it on Youtube, but that was 2 years ago and judging by the copyright debacle that is Youtube today, i won't ever find it again. -_-
 
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This is reminidng me that I need to watch Heidi. Think I found a good part of it on Youtube, but that was 2 years ago and judging by the copyright debacle that is Youtube today, i won't ever find it again. -_-
Do you know Spanish? The whole series is available in that language in YouTube. Or if you paid me I could sub it for you. Just kidding, you might need to give me some time and I'll look for it for you.
 
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This review was written on August 18th, 2017.



I give the very first farming simulation game...a 65/100.

Most people who play video games like them for the action and for being able to kill monsters and save the world. Others like more simple fare, like low key visual novels or games where you can just relax and not worry about fighting monsters or saving the world. Harvest Moon is one such game. Back in the late 1990s, people didn't think a game about farming, socializing, and marrying a pretty woman would sell well. Who would want to play a game about farming, they said? But one localization company, Natsume, brought Harvest Moon over, and from Harvest Moon 64 onward, the game had a steady hold here in America. Even now, new games are coming out every other year, though now that Natsume doesn't own the Bokujo Monogatari series, XSEED is releasing it under the name Story of Seasons. Now, I was born in 1993 so I never played a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES. I mostly played handheld games on every incarnation of the GameBoy after the GameBoy Color, and even then I only played Pokemon or Kirby games. I only recently got into Harvest Moon and only just this year played the original on the Wii U's Virtual Console. I definitely don't regret it, though as of now, it is VERY primitive and dated.

The story is about as simple as you can get. You play as a farmer whose grandfather recently died, and you inherited his farm. Your job is to clean up the farm, grow some crops and sell them to make money, raise livestock (only chickens and cows), upgrade your house, and then find a woman you can marry and have a family with. Since you only play as a boy, you can choose between five girls: Nina, the cheerful florist, Ellen, a kind, friendly girl who works with animals and whose family runs the restaurant, Maria, the mayor's daughter and faithful churchgoer, Eve, the flirty barmaid, and Ann, a rough, tomboyish inventor who loves making tools. But even if you don't marry a girl, the game has many different endings you can access. You can become a successful chicken farmer, a cow farmer, or you can womanize all the girls but never marry them, or you can even end the game just slacking off and doing nothing, though that one takes a LOT of effort. Unlike later HM games where you can play for as long as you want without a specific end point, the original here ends after two-and-a-half in-game years.

The gameplay is also as simple as you can get. All you really do is use tools and talk to people, that's it. The storyline is also pretty simple, where you just own a farm and start a family until the end of the third summer and that's it. There's only one way you can get a girl to like you and that's constantly giving them gifts they like every day. For example, Nina loves flowers and perfume, and Ellen likes milk and eggs. Unlike later Harvest Moon games, there are no heart events, and the characters are pretty barebones and one-dimensional. They have very little personality and don't really do much, so they stay the same even after you marry them. The side characters are even worse, as they don't even have any names, much less even the most basic personality traits. So...yeah, as far as characterization, gameplay, and story goes, Harvest Moon SNES is pretty barebones and primitive, even by today's standards.

Also, unlike other Harvest Moon games, you're only able to grow crops during just two seasons, spring and summer, not all four seasons. During the fall and winter, you can't plant any crops, so if you don't have a steady supply of cows and chickens that make milk and eggs, your income is going to be very limited, especially if you want to upgrade your house. Also, upgrading your house is absolutely needed if you want to marry a girl, and if you upgrade your house once before the first summer ends, you can get a watch which tells you the time. However, that is the only way to be able to tell the time, and you HAVE to do it before summer of year 1 ends, otherwise, you're not gonna be able to tell what time it is. Time itself also goes pretty fast, so you won't have a lot of time to do what you want. Thankfully, it's not as bad as Harvest Moon 64's super fast time passage, so that hasn't been a problem for me. There also isn't much to do outside the farm, especially once you get married, so you have a lot of time on your hands, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing.

Let's face it, Harvest Moon SNES is a pretty bland and barebones game. But that being said, do I hate the game? No, I don't. I like it, and I still play it from time to time, even if I do prefer games like Story of Seasons and Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. Heck, some people I know say that the newest Harvest Moon games have TOO much to do and consider that a bad thing. Honestly, I'd rather have too much to do than nothing at all. Even so, if we didn't have this game, the Harvest Moon series as we know it probably wouldn't exist, so I can at least respect the legacy that it's left. It's not a great game, but I still find it pretty enjoyable and I intend on playing more of it, namely to access the other endings and marry other bachelorettes. The art style is pretty good and the music is fun and catchy as well, especially the spring time music, which is my favorite. Even if the original Harvest Moon isn't the best game ever, it still did manage to bring a famous franchise into the open, so who can fault it for setting the groundwork for the games we love?

Not the best HM game, but still a pretty fun game and without it, Harvest Moon wouldn't be here. Feel free to play it if you just wanna sit back, relax, and kill some time.
 
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This review was written on May 15th, 2014.



I give one of the first shounen-ai manga...a 75/100.

In the 1970s, shojo manga was flooding the nation of Japan. Not only that, a new genre began springing up: shounen-ai, or boys' love. This is arguably one of the first and most well known shounen-ai manga, published in 1974, but it didn't reach this side of the Atlantic until 2013, more than forty whole years after it sprung forth into this world. It was inspired by a French film the author, Moto Hagio, saw, and found it to be the inspiration she needed to create this manga. Publishing it was quite a hurdle, but she managed to get it done, even though shojo manga back then were mostly aimed at elementary school girls. However, according to the introduction at the end of the English edition, an audience outside of the target demographic--namely, older men--began devouring the story (sound familiar, bronies?) and telling people about it, passing it down from generation to generation. I finally found it in a library and decided to see what it was like. Unfortunately, however, I don't have the same nostalgia or fondness for it as other people do, and there are things about the manga that really confuse me, but this definitely doesn't mean I don't like it.

The story starts with a boy committing suicide by throwing himself off a bridge. The boy is Thomas Werner, a popular student at a well known all-boys school in Germany. News gets around, and the only one who seemingly isn't bothered by the news is Juli, a boy who is also popular in school for his intelligence and calm demeanor, even though he's not well liked among his family for having dark hair from his Greek father. However, there's more to Thomas and Juli than meets the eye: Thomas was in love with Juli, but Juli rejected him quite harshly. Thinking his suicide is a means to get back at him, Juli doesn't want to be controlled by his death and wants to forget the whole thing...but then he meets a transfer student, Erich, who is nearly the spitting image of Thomas, but unlike Thomas, who was gentle, sweet, and kind, Erich is loud, audacious, and has a short temper. Erich is sick of everybody thinking he's Thomas, and Juli really wants Erich out of his life forever. But love isn't something that can be tamed.

The art is extremely lush and very old school and shojo-y, so it might turn some people off. I thought the old school style looked nice and charming, and I normally don't discriminate when it comes to the era in which something is from, but I found the character designs for the child characters to be a little too thin and spindly, kind of like what CLAMP has been doing with Kobato and Tsubasa Chronicle. But the manga itself uses a lot of religious and angel imagery relating to the issues at hand in the story, and I thought they fit really well, especially considering the subject matter and the overall themes of the story.

The characters are a bit meh. Juli is the cold, stone faced kid who has a dark past and learns to trust people, Erich is the hot blooded, loud kid, Thomas is the completely perfect mary sue character who is liked by everyone even after death, etc. There's only three volumes to this series, so we only get to learn about four main characters and their relations to various people. I do like that their flaws move the story forward and round the characters a bit more, but I really didn't feel much for them. Not only that, I thought Thomas was pretty much a big Mary Sue. Everybody worships the kid like he's God, he's beautiful, smart, quiet, friendly, is in love with the most unapproachable guy in school, and even after death, nobody stops talking about him. But then again, I think this might be intentional in regards to all the religious imagery in the manga. But even with that in mind, they could have made Thomas a bit more flawed. Well, the good thing is, at least the characters were interesting and actually developed somewhat. But one thing I found really odd was that at first, Juli and Erich absolutely hate each other, then out of bloody nowhere they suddenly like each other. I won't say much for the sake of spoilers, but I thought this transition was way too sudden. Plus, I didn't understand Juli's back story regarding a man he hates. But I definitely liked it when Erich boldly and publicly yelled at Juli's grandmother for talking bad about Juli to his mother.

The story is relatively simple, but has a lot of complex layers underneath it, like Oskar's past, Erich's unhealthy love for his mother (which seriously turned me off), Juli's past, Ante's machinations, and the impact Thomas's death has on everyone around him. Everyone has secrets to hide, and eventually all of those secrets are revealed. I will admit, some parts of the story were a bit forced and melodramatic to me, like the whole fiasco of Erich resembling Thomas even though it's been explicitly stated that his hair and eyes are different from Thomas. The romances between some boys didn't bother me too much. I just wish they were a bit more gradual and subtle, and more built on mutual interest than hate turns into love in an instant. I definitely respect the manga as a historical piece and a groundbreaking work of its time, and I like it, but some parts of the manga could be improved upon.

Not the best seventies manga in the world, but it definitely deserves a read if you're into shounen-ai, seventies shoujo art style, (No, there's NO X-rated stuff in it! Don't worry!) and a relatively decent story.
 
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Dude, I'm not sure where you got the idea to post your reviews for things on a pokemon forum, but I'll give you a metric fsckton of credit for doing this and KEEPING IT UP. I've had strong opinions and wanted to write about media for ages, but felt like there's no good outlet for it and I never find time to do more than one or two reviews, but you just WENT FOR IT, and that's really cool. Greenscreen Shia Lebouf would be proud.
 
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Now without further ado, let's start this off with a review I just recently finished for Studio Ghibli's debut movie, Laputa: Castle In The Sky, which I give an 83 out of 100!
my second favorite ghibli movie :bulbaLove:
 
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Dude, I'm not sure where you got the idea to post your reviews for things on a pokemon forum, but I'll give you a metric fsckton of credit for doing this and KEEPING IT UP. I've had strong opinions and wanted to write about media for ages, but felt like there's no good outlet for it and I never find time to do more than one or two reviews, but you just WENT FOR IT, and that's really cool. Greenscreen Shia Lebouf would be proud.
Eh, I mostly just copy them straight from my LiveJournal page. That's where I usually write them.
 
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Oh yay, another stinker. Hoo boy. This review was just finished today.



I give this odd manga about anthropomorphic animal girls...a 61/100.

Kemono Friends became unexpectedly popular in 2017, when the CGI anime wound up saving the franchise, even after the mobile game it was based on died. From then on, people began trying to capitalize on its success by making all sorts of multimedia projects based on it, from new cell phone games to stage plays. Kemono Friends received a few manga adaptations as well, and this one, Welcome to Japari Park, is one of them. But whether it has any connection to the anime is a subject of debate. Some say its a very distant prequel to the anime, while others say it's just an alternate universe with characters having different personalities from the anime and the game. I prefer the latter theory, as many of the characters you recognize are very different from their depictions in the anime. Unfortunately, this manga isn't really all that good for a number of reasons.

Welcome to Japari Park hardly has any commonalities with the anime, which centered on Kaban and Serval traveling throughout Japari Park trying to find out who Kaban is, while meeting Friends and helping them overcome problems by playing into their strengths. Instead, the manga focuses on Nana, a peppy pink haired girl who was hired to become a caretaker in a different, more modernized version of Japari Park, and the manga is mostly the Friends just hanging out and getting into shenanigans, taking much more of a cliche slice of life route in vein of the whole "cute girls doing cute things" genre. This kind of premise is nothing new, and it shows familiar and unfamiliar Friends in contemporary situations, such as going to cafes or having Christmas parties or figuring out what kind of people they are, so on and so forth. There's no conflict or mysteries to solve or anything of the like, so if you're into that sort of thing, this isn't the manga for you.

One thing the manga does have over the anime is great artwork. The characters are all drawn with realistic proportions, and they all look cute as they should, all done in a semi-bishoujo style. All of the friends look gorgeous in this manga, and they're all made distinct from one another, with no two friends looking the same. The paneling is very well done, and all of the chapters are very episodic in nature, so you won't miss anything even if you miss a chapter or two. I did find the setting to be confusing, as sometimes during certain chapters, it felt like some scenes took place outside the park, though it never clarified whether they actually did or not.

Unfortunately, the characters really suffer in this adaptation, mostly because they're all reduced to having one or two main personality traits and nothing else. Nana is an okay character, but she's just another typical perky pink haired girl who wouldn't be out of place in a magical girl or slice of life anime. She's no Kaban, so don't expect her or the rest of the cast to receive any form of meaningful character development. Serval is even ditzier than her anime counterpart, Raccoon spends all her time messing around and trying to be special when she isn't, Koala is little more than a means to make thinly veiled poop jokes in regards to her "pap," so on and so forth. The worst offender is Ezo Red Fox, the main character. In the anime, Ezo Red Fox only appeared in one episode and was shy, a little whiny, and acted like a little kid, but she still pulled her weight, helped out when the situation called for it, and was still relatively nice. The manga makes her into a whiny, annoying, selfish, gluttonous, greedy little spoiled brat who talks endlessly about food, bosses everyone around like they're her servants, refuses to pull her weight, and continually uses people for her own convenience and benefit with little regard for their feelings, and even when she's called on it, she never learns her lesson and never becomes a better character. She's not as bad as, say, Haru from the awful Ongaku Shoujo OVA, but having a bratty main character who constantly mistreats people and gets away with it does not make for a story worth following, and I really have to question who came up with the bright idea to make Ezo Red Fox into such an insufferable brat and make her into the main character! Oddly enough, though, I did like the manga's take on Tsuchinoko. In the anime, Tsuchinoko was really annoying and mostly spent her time screaming in a really screechy voice. Here, she's much more subdued and introspective, though a bit pessimistic, but she's nowhere near as annoying as she was in the anime version. But that isn't enough to save this manga, sadly.

It's a shame the manga turned out the way it did, because I see a lot of potential here that could have been utilized much better. Let me put it this way: If you made me choose between an anime with bad animation but a genuinely good, well written story and likeable characters over a beautifully animated one with poorly written, unlikeable characters and a badly done conflict, I'd pick the former. Kemono Friends is the same way. The 2017 anime had little to no budget, but the writers and directors who worked on that didn't use that as an excuse to make a poor product and did everything they could to at least make it into something good, and succeeded wonderfully. On the other hand, Welcome to Japari Park is the opposite. It has great artwork, sure, but it's dull premise, lack of conflict, a bland cast of characters, and an awful main character really hurt this manga and prevent it from truly being something better.

Bottom line, I wouldn't recommend this manga, even to fans of Kemono Friends, unless you're a completionist. Otherwise, give it a miss. It's really not worth it.
 
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