First Impression: Backflip!!

Title: Backflip!!

Genre: Sports

Synopsis: Shoutarou Futaba has always loved sports, but he never became more than a benchwarmer on his middle school baseball team. After noticing a group of gymnasts practicing in the park, he decides to watch a rhythmic gymnastics tournament on a whim. Although displaying an exhilarating performance at the competition, the Shoushukan High School’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Club places second-to-last due to penalties acquired from not fielding a full six-man roster.

The demonstration of skill captivates Shoutarou, and he decides to enroll at Shoushukan in hopes of joining the team despite having no background in the sport. The club recruits him alongside Ryouya Misato, a prodigal gymnast who was the runner-up in a junior tournament.

Now with a full six-man roster, the team sets out to compete in the upcoming Inter-High tournament. As he strives to accomplish this ambitious endeavor, Shoutarou must learn and master the basics of rhythmic gymnastics all while working in tandem with his new teammates if Shoushukan wants to stand a chance at claiming the title. (Credit: https://myanimelist.net/anime/43756/Bakuten)

Right off the bat, I like the premise and the storyline. When it comes to sports anime, I want it sports heavy and with a point. We meet our protagonist who is nothing more than a benchwarmer for his baseball team. As he is leaving the game, he notices a group of boys stretching. Intrigued, Shotaro Futaba, our protagonist, decides to watch the boys’ rhythmic gymnastics competition going on.

Immediately, we get to see a full routine. The bar is set regarding what we can expect through the season. If the season continues to actually put a lot of the sport in the show, I’ll be pretty happy with it.

Shotaro is inspired and awed by their performance. I, for one, have never watched men’s rhythm gymnastics so I don’t know anything about the sport. I was pleased to see that our protagonist immediately engaged into a conversation with a couple of guys who broke down the very basics of scoring and why they scored so low despite being very, very good. Another point for this show. I like when the show explains the basics in a natural way. It was obvious our protagonist knew nothing about the sport, and the two sitting next to him naturally wanted to share their knowledge so he understood why their score was low.

Shotaro decides to go to the same high school as the team that inspired him in hopes of joining even though he has no experience. We’re immediately greeted with comic relief and the introduction of the individual team members’ personalities. Just like I like it! While passing out flyers, they meet a boy ready to join the team. Embarrassed and, now, intimidated, Shotaro spies on the team in their club room. To his dismay, he gets discovered and wrangled into an introductory session. This way, he can watch a team practice and decide if he wants to join.

We learn our protagonist has spent his life following others and this is the first time he’s wanted to pursue something on his own. This is what I like in a sports anime, too. He is obviously going to be naturally talented, but still an underdog. I can foresee in the season that he is going to have moments of doubt because his skill level isn’t as great. But, I think, that makes the best kind of sports anime.

I think as long as the series follows this flow, I’m going to add another enjoyable sports anime to my list!

Summer 2021 Anime is Upon Us

Can you believe that the summer 2021 anime season is upon us? I feel like this particular season went by so fast, but that is probably more related to what’s going on in my personal life.

There are two shows that I am looking forward to continuing:

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Season 2

I absolutely ADORED the first season of this show. This isekai follows a high school student who dies suddenly and is reincarnated as the villain in a game she used to play in her former life. In an effort to avoid the “doom flag” of the game, Katarina, our protagonist, does everything in her power to prepare for the worst by using her prior-life knowledge to avoid the impending doom. The show was absolutely funny and endearing in many ways. I have high hopes for season two. If you haven’t watched My Next Life as a Villainess, I highly recommend it.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Season 2, Part 2

I’ve already expressed how I love this show. We follow our protagonist, Rimuru, who was reincarnated as a slime. Despite being a weak creature, Rimuru is able to amass great strength and develop a prospering nation of monsters. Because of this, Rimuru has attracted the wrong kind of attention. Having to go to extreme lengths to save the ones he cares about, part two of season two should be interesting.

I have also spent some time looking over some new series announcements and there are a few that caught my eye.

The Case Study of Vanitas

I am a sucker (ha) for vampire anime. I just am. There is something so alluring about vampire stories. In this anime, we follow Noe as he attempts to find a grimoire that will bring an end to vampire kind. This should have a good dose of supernatural. While supernatural themes aren’t necessarily my favorite, vampires, man. Vampires.

Re-Main

Each season, I gamble on a sports anime. Last season’s Burning Kabbadi did not disappoint. For that reason, I’m going to gamble on Re-Main, a show about water polo. If it is done well, I’ll learn the basics of water polo. It’s a sport that has always intrigued me during the Olympics, so I am really hoping to learn something.

The Detective is Already Dead

The concept of this anime intrigues me. Our protagonist was an assistant to a mysterious detective known as “Siesta”. Stop right there. Just on the name alone, you got my interest. Siesta. But, I digress. Together, the two go on adventures while combatting a secret organization. Stop. You had me at secret organization…but, I digress. Unfortunately, Siesta dies leaving our protagonist alone. In a turn of events, our protagonist meets another girl and that is where our story is supposed to take off. The premise intrigues me, and every once in awhile, you need a good mystery.

Are there any shows you are looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

What Show is Your Guilty Pleasure?

We all have one.

Locked away in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we all have that one show that we’re embarrassed to admit we love. For me, that anime is Vampire Knight.

There is something about this show and I can’t put my finger on it…wait, I remember. Vampires. It has vampires.

As long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with vampires. Whether it was watching Fright Night on repeat back in the 80s, or Interview with a Vampire in the 90s, I have always loved vampires. Maybe it is their innate ability to seduce that draws me in. It is, after all, a quality that I have always admired. Maybe not seduction, per se, but definitely charisma. I admire people with charisma. When I played D&D back in high school, I always played an enchantress with the ability to seduce others to bend to my will. It’s thrilling and fun. But, I digress…

There is nothing flashy about Vampire Knight. The animation style is older, and I know many wouldn’t watch it based on this fact alone. To each their own. It isn’t exactly pleasing to the eye.

The storyline isn’t exactly compelling either. In fact, you could say it is downright insane. Arguably, you could say the insane storyline is what DOES make it compelling.

SPOILERS BELOW

The world of Vampire Knight obviously has the existence of vampires. Our female protagonist is Yuki Cross, a student at Cross Academy. At this academy, there is a “day class” and “night class”. The “day class” is under the impression that the “night class” are idols, actors, and wealthy children that have to go to school at night. However, the real secret is the “night class” is composed of vampires that have vowed to lead a peaceful life with humans. They even take a pill that simulates blood for food.

Our male protagonist is Kaname Kuran. If you have ever delved into vampire-theme lore, there is usually a hierarchy of some sort, and this vampire-themed show is no different. Kaname is one of the progenitors of the vampire race and the head of one of seven pureblood families. His estimated age is over 10,000 years old.

Yuki’s first memories are of Kaname saving her from a ravaging vampire. Yuki is then “adopted” by Kaien Cross, former vampire hunter. Kaname would visit her growing up and, expectedly, Yuki falls in love with Kaname.

But, wait! There’s more!

Enter our other male protagonist, Zero. He is Yuki’s “adopted brother”. Zero’s family were vampire hunters and his entire family was killed in a vampire attack. Kaien saves Zero and “adopts” him, too. What we discover later is Zero was bitten during the attack and therefore turning into a vampire himself despite being a vampire hunter. Unfortunately for Zero, humans that are bitten slowly, and painfully, become a vampire. Once a vampire, they slowly devolve into a monster who can no longer control their urges to feed. They are often hunted and killed. The only way to escape this fate is to feed off of the vampire that created them.

Kaien opens Cross Academy, where he becomes headmaster, so that vampires and humans can live peacefully. As Zero, Yuki, and Kaname live out their high school lives, a love triangle forms. Yuki begins allowing Zero to feed from her. This creates a bond between the two and Yuki becomes confused about what she feels for Zero.

As the story progresses, we discover that Yuki is a vampire turned human by her mother to spare her life. Kaname is her “brother” that was promised her hand in marriage. We also learn that it is common among pureblood vampires to marry their siblings.

If that doesn’t throw you for a loop, I don’t know what will.

But, wait! There’s more!

We also learn that Zero’s brother lived, and in fact, had teamed up with the vampire that attacked their home and killed their family. You see, Ichiru was a weak child. He was sickly and unable to become a vampire hunter like the rest of his family. He had developed a hatred for his brother, Zero, because he always had to be protected by Zero.

Kaname awakens Yuki and she turns into a vampire choosing Kaname over Zero.

For whatever reason, when that opening theme song drops its beat, I can’t look away. I’ve watched Vampire Knight more times than I can count. Why am I embarrassed? You know? I really don’t know. I don’t think it is a show to be embarrassed about, really. But, it doesn’t change the fact that I am. Maybe it’s the cheesy love triangle. Maybe its because it has vampires. Either way, it is always in my rotation.

You can find Vampire Knight on Netflix.

Do you have a guilty pleasure? Let me know in the comments!

Is Age Just a Number?

POTENTIAL SPOILERS: PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Age difference in relationships will always be a polarizing topic. One of my favorite anime from the spring 2021 season is Koikimo. This anime features a relationship with a ten-year gap in age.

Ryou is a successful salaryman with a womanizing reputation. He has gone through life using women for pleasure and then not even bothering to remember their names. On the outside, he is good-looking and sought after, but has little room in his heart for meaningful relationships.

After a night of pleasure, Ryou finds himself irritated that the woman he slept with kept him up all night. Tired and dizzy, he made his way to the station. While distracted, another person bumps into him just as he was at the top of the stairs. Realizing that he is about to be seriously injured and/or possibly die, all he can do is say, “Oh shit.”

Enter our female protagonist, high-schooler Ichika. Ichika saves Ryou from certain injury, perhaps, even death, by using the handle of her umbrella to grab his coat collar and pull him back. As he gathers himself, she apologizes for strangling him in her attempt to save him. She notices he is pale and asks if he had breakfast. Replying that he had not, she rummages in her bag to see if she had anything to offer him. Glancing at her watch, she realizes that she is about to be late for school. In a swift action, she shoves her lunch in his hands and takes off running wishing him health.

At first, Ryou is annoyed. Why would this stranger give him her lunch? He was about to throw it away when he suddenly had a change of heart and opened the lunch, presumably, to eat it.

The day has ended and Ryou heads to his family home. There, we meet his younger sister, Rio. She announces that she has a friend over. That’s when Ichika and Ryou make eye contact. He then enters playboy mode when his sister leaves the room to take a call. Under the guise of “properly thanking her” for saving his life, he first offers her shoes or clothes, then a kiss, and then offers to go even further.

Ichika, with a disgusted look on her face, replies, “You’re creepy. You’re offering up yourself as thanks for saving you? What are you thinking? That’s not why I saved you.”

Ryou is taken aback by her honesty.

Almost immediately, Ichika apologizes for expressing her thoughts.

And, this. This is the moment Ryou feels something stir in his heart for the first time. Moved by her sincere gesture of giving him her lunch to her honesty to his shallow offer, he gets down on one knee and tells her, “I’m moved…I’ve never felt this way before.”

The balance of the show spends the bulk of its time building the relationship between Ryou and Ichika. There are so many memorable scenes of Ryou acting like a love-sick puppy and Ichicka being disgusted by him. It’s well done, and actually quite funny. What starts as a one-sided love eventually blossoms to mutual feelings. But, there is a glaring issue. Ryou is ten-years older than Ichika. At one point, a pursuer of Ryou brings up this fact in a moment of jealousy. Can Ryou and Ichika be happy together? Can they make it work? Will the age gap bring Ichika misery instead of happiness?

I don’t believe that age is a sole determinant on whether a relationship will be successful. I have friends that have successful marriages with much older spouses, and friends that could not make it work. I, personally, believe that there are other factors that determine whether age will affect a relationship such as personality, maturity, and willingness.

For example, I’m pretty young at heart. I wear youthful clothing; I dye my hair funky colors; I like stuffed animals; I watch anime and Asian dramas; I used to stream video games; and, for the most part, I am interested in things that people my age “gave up” or “moved on from”. When I went to college orientation with my now 21-year old son a few years ago, the students thought I was his older sister and/or a student myself. One student was pretty shook and told me he didn’t think I was a day over 25. At the time, I was 38.

At my son’s college orientation

Unless the person is also the same, someone older than me would most likely be a deal breaker. On the flip side, I am confident that I could maintain a relationship with someone quite younger than me. As long as they’re responsible and mature, or have the willingness to hear me out when I might have a bit more wisdom on the situation, we’d be fine. Do you hear me, Park Jimin or Kim Seok-jin?? I’d make it work!

Is age just a number? For the most part, I think so. In this particular show, I believe whole-heartedly that these two can make it work. She’s mature for her age and he’s willing to do what it takes to make it work. If they date for a few years to allow her to grow a bit more, they’re going to be fine.

So, there you have it. Large age gaps don’t bother me unless the situation is illegal, of course. Obviously, I don’t support predators that target young men/women. I’m talking about normal, healthy, good-intentioned relationships. It doesn’t bother me one bit that this show highlights such a large age gap between the protagonists. While I may not understand marriages with 20, 30, 40 year gaps, I don’t disapprove of them. Everyone’s situation is unique and it really is none of my business or my place to judge who people fall in love with.

Sayonara Watashi no Cramer: Mid-Season

TITLE: Sayonara Watashi no Cramer (Farewell, My Dear Cramer)
GENRE: Sports
SYNOPOSIS: Over the years, the reputation of women’s soccer in Japan has been gradually waning. Despite this rather bleak scenario, there are still some schools with teams trying to keep the sport alive. With that, glimmers of hope are starting to appear.

Having played for the boys’ soccer club when she was in middle school, Nozomi Onda’s skills are nothing less than prodigious. Because of this, she thinks that playing soccer with fellow girls would only drag her down. She is only motivated to play her best when facing those she deems worthy opponents. Meanwhile, Sumire Suou is a promising rookie with exceptional talent—a talent hindered by a team that cannot keep up with her abilities.(Credit: https://myanimelist.net/anime/42774/Sayonara_Watashi_no_Cramer)

I don’t know what it is about sports anime. I have a pretty high bar of what I think should happen, and I think that causes me to be unfair toward the genre. That being said, I was not a fan of this show. Keep reading to find out why.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Farewell, My Dear Cramer is an anime about female soccer in Japan. Specifically, this show addresses the sexism that females experience in the sport. Our main protagonist grew up in a rural area and had to play with the boys. Because of this, she had to play on their level, and some of her teammates would argue that she was their best player. Fast forward to high school and she must now play on an all-girls team. The show follows her ragtag team on their quest to be the best.

I wanted to like this show. I really did. However, it is painstakingly slow.

The pace, and the pace alone, is what made this show not enjoyable to me. I found myself watching for the sake of watching. The story does progress, but at a snail’s pace. I feel like much of the beginning episodes contain too much filler to be entertaining.

On the other hand, they do feature the sport that the show revolves around. This has been my chief complaint on last season’s sports shows that were more slice-of-life than sports anime. To be fair, the soccer action is quite good.

I had a lot of trouble relating to the characters. I found them very boring and predictable. I am not sure what I was expecting. Many sports anime have the token characters. You’ll always have the peppy one, the quiet one, the overachiever, the slacker, and the least skilled one that makes up for their shortcoming with heart. This show was no different. To be honest, it is unfair for me to say that the characters were dull, but that is how I felt.

I ended up only making it four episodes in. At that point, both me and my husband dropped it from our queue. I am sure that there is some show redemption in the later episodes, but we weren’t invested in it enough to continue. The show just fell flat for us.

If you really enjoy soccer, this show might be entertaining enough for you. It does highlight quite a bit of play. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into this one. If you do give it a shot, I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san: Mid-Season

TITLE: Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro
GENRE: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life
SYNOPSIS:

Every day, Naoto Hachiouji is teased relentlessly by Hayase Nagatoro, a first year student he meets one day in the library while working on his manga. After reading his story and seeing his awkward demeanor, she decides from that moment on to toy with him, even calling him “Senpai” in lieu of using his real name.

At first, Nagatoro’s relentless antics are more bothersome than anything and leave him feeling embarrassed, as he is forced to cater to her whims. However, as they spend more time together, a strange sort of friendship develops between them, and Naoto finds that life with Nagatoro can even be fun. But one thing’s for sure: his days will never be dull again. (Credit: https://myanimelist.net/anime/42361/Ijiranaide_Nagatoro-san)

The concept is cute, but the execution is…well, see what I have to say about it below.

SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro follows the formulaic storyline of the female protagonist teasing the male protagonist which leads to the development of a friendship and/or relationship. In some ways, this show is very much like Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Teasing Master Takagi-san). While Takagi takes a more lighthearted feel, Nagatoro takes the other extreme end of the spectrum.

Let’s discuss the female protagonist, Nagatoro. Her circle of friends definitely have a Mean Girls vibe. Nagatoro begins bullying our male protagonist who is quiet, reserved, and skittish. Right off the bat, she is cruel, antagonizing, and relentless. Nagatoro, in my opinion, engages in anxiety-inducing bullying. At one point, she makes our male protagonist cry and it appears to bring her happiness as she wipes away his tears. Honestly, the first few episodes had me cringing in many scenes.

Before I continue, let me state that I am not a prude by any means. I tend to overlook the fan service aspect of anime because it is usually a quick shot of some comically large super-jiggly boobs here, or a panty shot there. There is quite a bit of fan service and sexualization in anime, but usually, it is pretty harmless. A boob flash or a panty shot is brief and doesn’t add or take away from the story. It is simply there to please the masses.

However, what I have to say next might “trigger” people. It’s a bold statement, but I stand by it: THIS SHOW IS BEYOND FAN SERVICE.

I feel like this show supports rape culture. There are scenes where Nagatoro is purposely trying to arouse our protagonist by pretending to be nude only to reveal that she was wearing a swimsuit. She is constantly poking fun at the fact that he has never kissed a girl and that he is a virgin. This overly sexually aggressive content left me wondering whether this show is really okay. The manner in which it is done is aggressive with intent which is where my discomfort stems from. Typically, in a show that goes this route, any sexual provocation is unintentional or even, in a manner, innocent. It usually occurs just once, but in this show, it’s a theme to Nagatoro’s actions.

I’m not sheltered. I know most people have their first sexual experiences in high school. To me, this goes beyond any argument of “female empowerment”. Nagatoro consistently puts Naoto (male protagonist) as the recipient of, arguably, unwanted sexual advances. Specifically, Naoto tolerates her sexual harassment behavior. The show also portrays Naoto as a “weak” male and seems to suggest that Nagatoro’s behavior is okay because he’s too weak to fight it off. What makes it worse is the fact that the show seems to take the position that Nagatoro is somehow strengthening Naoto’s resolve with this sexual teasing. I feel like the theme of this show could be reinforcing to young people that: a) it’s okay to sexually tease the opposite sex, especially if they appear “weak”; b) it is okay to tolerate it because he or she is pretty and/or handsome and/or popular and c) that a positive outcome will bestow you by engaging in such actions.

I find Nagatoro’s teasing overwhelmingly negative. Yes, the show does have moments of redemption where you can see an actual friendship starting to blossom, but would it? Would a reasonably sound person fall in love with their tormentor? And if they do, isn’t that disturbing?

This is the first time an anime show made me feel this way. Normally, I take the stance of “it just wasn’t for me” and I move along. However, this show really had me wondering whether it is appropriate. Maybe it is the mother in me. Maybe I am starting to show my age. There are a lot of “maybes” that I might be experiencing. I can say without a doubt that I do not recommend this show if you have potential triggers regarding abuse, especially emotional abuse. This show might cause you some emotional stress. My opinion is this show is completely tone deaf and as a fairly open-minded person, that should say a lot.

Which Anime Has Kept My Attention

We are at the mid-point of this season and only one anime this season has had me impatiently waiting for the following week. The anime that has kept my attention this season is Fruits Basket.

That may be shocking to some as it is not a “new” anime. Many people already know the story from iterations past, or from the manga. However, I have not watched, nor read, the Fruits Basket series. So, it is “new” to me.

There are three seasons of Fruits Basket. So, if you have not watched or followed the show, I suggest you read no further as I will discuss some themes below as we encroach upon the final episodes of the series.

So far, every episode has been leading up to the final conclusion. Slowly, the ball is unraveling and Akito’s desperation is getting dangerous.

Upon reading other opinions, a common theme I have encountered is whether or not the show will minimize Tohru’s role in the falling apart of the curse. I believe the only thing that can devalue my opinion of the show is if they do, somehow, minimize Tohru’s role. After all, she is the main protagonist. It would be disingenuous to suddenly make her actions unimportant, or as another puts, a coincidence. I am holding out hope that she holds a key part in the unraveling of the curse that binds her friends, but I think I get the hint that the breaking ties are all due to various reasons that are completely unrelated to Tohru, and that makes me a bit sad. I guess it can’t always turn out the way you want.

One character that my heart breaks for is Momiji. How sad is his story? His mother was so distressed by the curse that they wiped her memory. He grew up alone while watching his family from afar move on without him. Then, he falls in love with Tohru. I feel like this kid can’t catch a break, but despite everything, he moves forward with hope. I sure hope he gets a happy ending.

I am still struggling to find sympathy for Akito. I do try. Looking at her situation, I think anyone would be mentally frail. First, your mother is whack and makes the decision to raise you as a boy. Then, you’re cursed with this notion that you are “God” and that others are bound to love you simply for who you are. Obviously, everyone telling you that the world revolves around you backed up with this inexplicable feeling that you are, indeed, a God, would probably drive anyone mad. That being said, it doesn’t change the fact that I simply do not like Akito and I hope she suffers some consequence for her actions. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that won’t happen. I hope I’m proven wrong.

Also, can someone PLEASE slap the ever living snot out of that old woman?! You know which one I am talking about. Please. Slap. Her. With. A. Dead. Fish.

Anyhow, I am looking forward to the final episodes.

Osamake – First Impressions

Title: Osamake: Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Won’t Lose
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Where and When: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m. CDT
Synposis: She smiles just for me. Her name is Kachi Shirokusa and she’s even an award-winning high school girl writer! And she’s beautiful! I know that she’s totally out of reach for me, a normal high school kid named Maru Sueharu! But I think something’s there… No, there’s definitely something there! Or so I thought… but Kachi has a boyfriend?! Seeing me depressed, my friend ever since we were little who’s cute, cheerful, and loves to look after others, Shida Kuroha… who also apparently had no problem telling me that she likes me for some reason just suggested, “Let’s get revenge.” (Credit: https://www.crunchyroll.com/osamake-romcom-where-the-childhood-friend-wont-lose)

Maybe it is just me, but there seems to be a romantic comedy theme this season and I am totally okay with that! Enter Osamake: Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Won’t Lose.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

It has long been decreed. The childhood friend will never win. And, in a lot of cases, our hearts have been broken. However, Osamake makes a bold claim. The childhood friend won’t lose and THAT is what makes this anime worth watching.

In the first episode, the scene is set. Our protagonist, Maru, is your average, good-looking, reserved and shy kind of guy. He isn’t really extraordinary in any way other than being a kind person. Enter one of our female leads, Kachi. She is an award-winning writer that touts a bit of celebrity. Upon Maru’s confession to Kachi that he was moved by her writing, they form a somewhat weak bond. She discards her cool exterior and actually shows some vulnerability around him. Or, so he thought.

As he holds his torch high for Kachi, he learns that she is now dating another celebrity and he is devastated. His long-time friend, Kuro, had confessed to him and was turned down, however, she puts her pride aside and proposes that they get revenge.

It has the same vibes of Masamune-Kun’s Revenge, so if you liked that show, this one might be a good one for you to catch. As of the posting of this entry, this show is in week two.

I am looking forward to seeing what this season has to bring.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train

Last night, we went to a showing of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.

It lives up to the hype.

I don’t want to make this post about a full review as I don’t want to give any of the plot or spoilers.

Let me start by saying that I loved absolutely every moment of the movie. This is going to sound cheesy, but it was masterful. Not one moment of the movie felt forced, contrived, or drawn out. Every moment had a purpose, and that is rare in entertainment these days.

It is no secret that Demon Slayer has been my favorite anime since I first watched it. I fell in love with the story. The love of a brother for his sister. The loss of a family. The struggle of surviving. The drive of revenge. All of these elements are tied together with a healthy dose of comedy and light-heartedness, but also driven with darkness and despair. Our protagonist has such a loving and giving heart, he is hard not to love and respect. Unlike other shows, our protagonist isn’t easily gifted his talents. He doesn’t wake up in another world with omnipotent powers. He’s just a regular boy that works hard and fights for what he feels is right. We join him on his struggle to get stronger

The movie is no different.

The movie continues the story with a pretty seamless transition. We are drawn back into the world of Demon Slayer upon the train our protagonists are sent to investigate with the Hashira, Rengoku. We are once again drawn in with the comedy relief of Inosuke and Zenitsu. The pace of the movie doesn’t differ from the show which is amazing. Usually, anime movies have a different feel, or deviate from the pace of the show. Mugen Train stays true to same pace as the show.

The animation is beautiful. It was amazing to see on the big screen.

The music was banger. They once again paired the perfect music to the battle scenes.

The story was just as rich in background as the show. One thing I love about the show was the flashback scenes that gave us a little insight into the world of our protagonists. The movie followed the same formula. As I mentioned, little was wasted. Every scene weaved into the overall story which I find rare.

Mugen Train will take you through the entire range of emotions. I laughed. I cried. I felt heartbreak and happiness. I can definitely see why Mugen Train broke so many records.

If you have the opportunity, I truly recommend grabbing a showing while it is at the theaters. Our theater was very, very clean. They disinfected very well between showings and we were all distanced pretty well. I didn’t feel at risk at all. If you can’t catch a showing, consider pre-ordering the digital release or picking up the blu-ray when it comes out. You won’t be disappointed.

Higehiro – First Impressions

Title: Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway
Genre: Drama
Where and When: Crunchyroll on Mondays at 10:00 a.m. CDT
Synopsis: On his way home from drinking his sorrows away after being rejected by his crush, the 26 year old salaryman, Yoshida, finds a high school girl named Sayu sitting on the side of the road. Yoshida is completely drunk out of his mind and ends up letting Sayu stay at his place overnight. Not having the heart to put Sayu out on the streets since she ran away from home, Yoshida allows her to stay at his place… And so began the awkward, irritable, and slightly heartwarming relationship between a runaway high school girl and a salaryman living together. (Credit: https://www.crunchyroll.com/higehiro-after-being-rejected-i-shaved-and-took-in-a-high-school-runaway)

Is it a drama? A romance? I really couldn’t tell after the first two episodes. What I could tell is Higehiro will keep me glued to each episode.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Admittedly, the title is what hooked me. How the heck can someone get rejected, shave, and then end up caring for a high school runaway? It had me intrigued because the series of events that had to take place must of been a doozy.

And, I wasn’t wrong.

Our protagonist, Yoshida, is a nice guy. We seem to have a lot of that going around this season. He’s a good-looking, regular, nice guy leading an ordinary life. After pining over his boss, Gotou-san, for years, he finally musters the courage to invite her back to his place. She quickly tells him that she’s been seeing someone and turns him down. Devastated, he makes his way to an izakaya, calls his married friend, and vents. On his way home, he sees a girl sleeping underneath a lamppost. He strikes up a conversation to get the girl to go home and quickly learns she has no where to go. She flirts with him and asks to stay at his place. In his drunken stupor, he agrees to let her stay for one night.

What follows could potentially be a very heartwarming story.

We have two protagonists that are broken in some way. We know that Sayu has had to compromise herself to survive. She has run away from home and we don’t know the circumstances leading up to that other than after some research, no missing person report is out on her. In the first two episodes, we learn how much of a caring man Yoshida is. He takes in this poor girl and starts to shower her with affection that she isn’t used to. So far, I can’t tell if that affection will bloom into something romantic, or whether it will bloom into a beautiful friendship.

Either way, I think this show has the potential to be heartwarming. So far, we’re only a few episodes in, so it isn’t too late to put this one in the queue and give it a try.