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Three Winter 2021 Anime Sequels That Are the Spice of Life

The Winter 2021 anime season is in full swing, and with it comes new shows, as well as continuations. While it would make sense for me to prioritize first impressions about anime that are debuting, I find this particular batch of sequels to be interesting because of the wide range of approaches they encompass. The first anime to stand out in this respect is Attack on Titan: The Final Season. The fact that one of the biggest titles in recent memory is heading towards a conclusion is noteworthy enough, but one wrinkle about this particular season is that it’s being animated by a completely different studio, MAPPA. This usually means that there will be inevitable shifts or inconsistencies with the...

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Love Live!, Nijigasaki’s Setsuna Yuki, and the President Archetype

As a media franchise meant to both attract new fans and bring back old ones, there are certain traits that recur throughout Love Live! One such example is the “student council president as idol.” There was Eli Ayase in the original Love Live!, followed by Dia Kurosawa in Love Live! Sunshine!! Now, the new Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club features Setsuna Yuki.  But while all three share similarities, it’s Setsuna’s particular brand of perfectionism that sets her apart from the others. Eli, Dia, and Setsuna are all portrayed as having very high standards for themselves and others, but in each case they come from a different place. Eli’s is born from her past in the hyper-competitive world of...

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Love Live! Nijigasaki's Yu Takasaki Is the Perfect Audience Character

A new Love Live! anime is out this season, and it has a lot of firsts for the franchise. Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club emphasizes the importance of individual differences over previous series’ focus on teamwork and unity. It’s helmed by a different character designer, trading the familiar “glossy” designs of series past for ones that feel a little more “matte.” And with a plot derived from a mobile game, this new show features an audience stand-in—the blank-slate player character adapted for a different medium. To my pleasant surprise, the transformation of this character has been quite successful, and the girl we now know as “Yu Takasaki” strikes the right balance for her role.  In order to bring...

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The Matter of Family in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

  Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has been one of the big shounen success stories in recent years, in Japan and internationally. Whether in anime or manga, the series is filled with charismatic characters, a compelling world, and exciting battles. Of course, that describes plenty of other series, so someone looking in from the outside might wonder what exactly Demon Slayer brings to the table—is it just the latest hit shounen battle manga, or is there something more?  While Demon Slayer is in many ways a conventional work, what makes it stand out among similar titles is the bond between its two central characters: Kamado Tanjiro and his sister Nezuko. That core relationship, built on familial love and a world-defying...

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Mobile Games Are Temporary, But Their Anime Are Forever

In 2017, one of the biggest jokes about the sleeper hit anime Kemono Friends was that it was based on a defunct mobile game. The show exceeded all expectations and should have been the perfect gateway to attract potential players, but that was out of the question. Even after a successor game launched in 2018, there was the sense that the mobile game felt ephemeral, whereas the anime version had a sense of permanence. The more I’ve thought about this contrast, the more I’ve come to realize that it’s a common theme among mobile games and their adaptations.  Mobile games (especially ones with prominent gacha systems) have been a juggernaut for many years now. Type-Moon, once a big fish in...

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Love Your Mother. Wait…Not Like That: Ookumo-chan Flashback - Final Review

  Three years ago on this blog, I published my early impressions of Ookumo-chan Flashback, a manga about a teenage boy and his extremely hot mom. This past June, the series finally concluded, and so I can, at last, give my final verdict and thoughts about this strange and racy title. ENDING SPOILERS BELOW  Ookumo-chan Flashback by Riichi Ueshiba (Mysterious Girlfriend X, Discommunication) revolves around Minoru Suzuki, who for some reason is able to occasionally see back in time from the perspective of his late father. Every time he has one of these “flashbacks,” he sees his mother, Aya (maiden name Ookumo), during her high school years when she was dating his dad. The result: Minoru starts to see her...

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What Does the End of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mean for Its Anime?

After four years and 205 chapters, Koyoharu Gotouge’s manga Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has reached its finale. Although there’s nothing inherently strange about a series finishing after a pretty lengthy run, Demon Slayer is precisely the type of series that seemed poised to keep going forever. It was a popular series running in the most famous of all manga magazines, Weekly Shonen Jump. It’s a battle manga, the bread and butter of shounen storytelling, and boasts compelling action, story, and characters that can keep an audience’s attention. It even received a successful and critically acclaimed anime adaptation in 2019 by Ufotable, winning awards in Japan and abroad. All signs pointed to it being another long-haul megahit, yet here we...

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Digimon, Doremi, and the Time Dilation of Nostalgic Sequels

 Nostalgia is a powerful force ever-present in media and in entertainment. It conjures up memories and experiences of the past, and it takes many different forms. For anime and manga, this often comes to us as new versions of old beloved works, sometimes accompanied by anniversary merchandise to really get the memories going. In recent years, the focal point of nostalgia has been the 1990s up to the early 2000s. The 2020 Sorcerous Stabber Orphen anime is a retelling of the original story, which originally began as a light novel series before being adapted into anime in 1998. Slayers Volume 16, released in 2018 after a 16-year hiatus, picks up right where the story left off. But the Digimon Adventure...

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