What I Watched This Week – 8/2-8/8

Title image for March Comes In Like a Lion. Characters milling around in front of a Japanese sweets shop.March Comes In Like a Lion S1-2 – I’ve held off on watching this for ages because people have said it was sad, which is not really a feeling I’m looking to feel more of while, you know, *gestures broadly at dystopian hellscape surrounding us*, but I finally sat down and gave it a shot and absolutely loved it. I cried every kind of way you can cry: laughing hysterically at Rei’s teacher or his fellow shogi players, happy tears when people overcame trials to grab some happiness, angry tears for the target of bullies, sympathetic tears over remembering lost family, you name it. What separates this from the trauma porn and the hurt/comfort stories I generally avoid is the way it’s about hurt people helping each other in mutually beneficial ways rather than about a savior rescuing others. It’s just a wonderful, hopeful story about finding happiness and joy amidst life’s hardships. 9/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Netflix

Title image for Wise Man's Grandchild. Main character is flanked by his friends and familyWise Man’s Grandchild – This isekai about a salaryman who’s reincarnated as a baby in a magical world felt a bit like someone asked their nephew what the kids like these days, then proceeded to write a story with everything he said. There’s Truck-kun, an OP main character, a magic academy, training camp, both an onsen and a beach episode, romance, action, everything. It was like a bag of potato chips: not a particularly stirring cultural experience, but perfectly enjoyable for what it was. The relationship between his adoptive grandparents was pretty cute. Get it, Grandma. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Hulu

Title image for Naruto. Title character in his orange tracksuit stands with various characters in front of a mountain with faces carved into it.Naruto Ep. 107-130 – Oh my god, emo teen Sasuke is insufferable. I’m supposed to be upset for Sakura that she’s losing the guy she is infatuated in love with and upset for Naruto losing his friend, but, ugh, everyone deserves better. Meanwhile. there’s a perfectly good Shikamaru right there who’s smart, talented, and likable. Anyways, that drunken fist episode was amazing and is probably my favorite fight so far. Five more episodes in this arc, then it’s 85 episodes of filler, I believe. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Hulu, Netflix

What I Watched This Week – 7/26-8/1

Title image for Vision of Escaflowne. A girl in a high school uniform surrounded by various characters from another world.Vision of Escaflowne – I was really enjoying this classic 90s isekai, until the ending made me want to talk to the manager. It was paced so perfectly and the story was so engaging that I was continually surprised when the credits popped up because the episodes flew by. The character designs and colors are out of fashion, but it’s got wonderfully fluid animation and nice, crisp images that you don’t see much of these days. A shame it couldn’t stick the landing. 7/10 Funimation

Title image for Say I Love You. A girl and a tall boy stand against a wall with two cats at their feet.Say “I Love You” – After watching a few shows in a row that either botched the romantic development or didn’t give a satisfactory payoff, I decided to rewatch a romance done right. If you want a story where they don’t take forever to get together, you can’t go wrong with this one, where they kiss in the first episode. What I love about this anime and manga is how the characters do things teenagers do – hook up, have sex, show physical affection – while dealing with the feelings like jealousy, loneliness, and self-doubt that come from the transition from childhood to adulthood and forming new relationships. My one complaint is the weird last episode that feels like an extra. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for One Week Friends. Various scenes of a girl and a boy in their high school uniforms.One Week Friends – I’m not generally a fan of plots involving made-up brain problems, and this story about a high school girl whose memories of her friends disappear every Monday didn’t thrill me. It probably didn’t help that I found the main boy kind of patronizing, possessive, and pushy with her, but playing a totally absurd amnesia bit 100% straight was always going to be a hard sell for me. I loved the side characters a lot, though, so it wasn’t all bad. 6/10 No legal streams 

Title image for The Great Passage. A man wearing glasses and a suit holds a dictionary.The Great Passage – I don’t think you’d need to know any Japanese to enjoy this story about building a dictionary from scratch, but it was kinda fun seeing how many words I  can read now a year into teaching myself the language. The socially awkward main character gave me terrible secondhand embarrassment at times, but he’s ultimately kind, respectful, and genuinely enthusiastic about words, so I couldn’t help but root for him to succeed. There’s a little romance in it, but it’s mainly a slice of life story about the work and people behind a dictionary. Beware of the spoilers in the episode descriptions on Amazon. 7/10 Amazon Prime 

Title image for Naruto. Title character in his orange tracksuit stands with various characters in front of a mountain with faces carved into it.Naruto Ep. 85-106 – This was the Search for Tsunade arc, which had some interesting story development and fun fights that I enjoyed. I don’t love getting yet another female character defined by her feelings for a guy, but I did enjoy watching her go smashy-smashy, so I’m not terribly upset. The last few episodes were my first real taste of Naruto filler and now I’m a little afraid of watching the final third of the show that’s all filler. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Hulu, Netflix

What I Watched This Week – 7/19-7/25

Title image for Fushigi Yugi. Girl in a school uniform is surrounded by handsome warriors in ancient Chinese costumeFushigi Yugi – If you’re looking for a 50+ episode isekai where a small army of bishounens all fall madly in love with an astonishingly stupid girl who advances the plot by always making the absolute worst possible decision at every opportunity, then this is the show for you. The on-again, off-again main romance was exhausting, the cross-dressing gay character was handled about as offensively as it could’ve been, and the second half is uncomfortably rapey. Go ahead and skip this and watch InuYasha, Twelve Kingdoms, or Yona of the Dawn instead. 5/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Recovery of an MMO Junkie. A man and woman stand back to back with their game avatars behind them.Recovery of an MMO Junkie – This was a little short at only 10 episodes (and one OVA), but this romcom about two adult nerds connecting with each other via MMOs was super cute and wholesome. I don’t generally have a lot of time for female characters with low self esteem who don’t know how beautiful they really are until some guy convinces them otherwise, but I didn’t mind it here because he both falls for her in her messy NEET persona and so much of the relationship is built in-game via their opposite gender avatars. Would’ve liked some kissing, but it scratched the romance itch just fine. Bonus points for that catchy af opening song. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Naruto. Title character in his orange tracksuit stands with various characters in front of a mountain with faces carved into it.Naruto Ep. 61-84 – Most of these episodes were the Konoha Crush arc and I enjoyed it more than anything else up to this point. It had some creative battles, did a fairly good job giving out backstory without dragging fights out too much, and gave our oddly dressed ninja protagonist some nice character development. Looking forward to the next arc. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Netflix, Hulu

What I Watched This Week – 7/12-7/18

title image for Promare. a shirtless man w/ spiky blue hair stares down a leather-clad man with blonde hair.Promare – I went into this expecting a riot of color and action with a less than straightforward plot and basically got everything I hoped for. Nobody does eye candy like this team. I know people are divided about it, but it felt pretty gay to me with the pink triangles, the oppressed minority, and that kiss. If FLCL can be understood to be about puberty, it doesn’t feel like much of a stretch to see this as queer. 9/10 Amazon Prime
Title image for Macross.Macross – This one was certainly an experience. It started out like your basic space opera with humans finding a super advanced spaceship, fixing it up, and then oopsing themselves into war with aliens. But then about a third of the way in starts to feel like a parody when the key to victory seems to be kissing and pop music. If I heard that My Boyfriend is a Pilot song again, I was going to scream, but I’m happy I finally watched this. 7/10 Amazon Prime 
Title image for Gabriel Drop Out. Four girls in school uniforms, two have halos and two have horns and pitchforksGabriel Drop Out – Is it still CGDCT when the girls are angels and demons? In any case, this high school comedy about celestial beings with personalities opposed to their roles didn’t break any new ground, but it brought the chuckles consistently, so I’m satisfied. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV
Title image for Eden of the East. A young woman in a red coat and a young man in a green coat standing amid rubbleEden of the East – This thriller/mystery has sat in my watch list for ages because I generally have no patience at all for amnesia plots, but I’m glad I finally watched it. They did a good job of threading hints and twists throughout so I didn’t want to stop watching and didn’t try to make the amnesia realistic to get me to suspend disbelief. I enjoyed the main characters’ romance and the comedy from the side characters. I initially rated it a little higher, but the more I thought about it, the more the cracks started to show. It seems to be trying to say something about NEETs and work culture, but it’s not clear what, and the ending is kinda anticlimactic. 7/10 Funimation, Hulu
Title image for Naruto. Title character in his orange tracksuit stands with various characters in front of a mountain with faces carved into it.Naruto ep. 37-60 – I’ve got to admit that I’m a little worried after seeing people say the chunin exam is the best arc of the show. It’s mostly been entertaining, but some of the tournament fights were really boring and/or bogged down with repetitive flashbacks. I really hope it’s not actually all downhill from here. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

What I Watched This Week – 7/5-7/11

Title image for Yona of the Dawn. Red haired princess draws a sword with various characters in the backgroundYona of the Dawn – I wonder if I should even list this, since it might be my favorite anime and I rewatch it kind of a lot, but I do love to sing its praises. Yona’s progression from sheltered princess to a determined fighter is so satisfying, and Hak is my #1 anime boo. That first opening is so good, and the show’s colors delight me every time. Give me another season or two, please. 10/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Hulu

Title image for Non Non Biyori. Four young girls walking around rural Japan.Non Non Biyori – As someone who generally enjoys slice of life and CGDCT, I really expected to love this, but it kinda bored me. Maybe I missed something, but there didn’t seem to be any character or story progression, and there wasn’t really enough humor or feels to support the episodic approach. Additionally, I really did not like Hotaru, and I found her obsession with Komari creepy rather than funny or cute. 6/10 Crunchyroll/HIDIVE/VRV

Title image for This Boy is a Professional Wizard. A pink haired man in jacket and jeans embraces a dark haired man in a cape.This Boy is a Professional Wizard – There isn’t a ton to talk about with a series of four seven-minute episodes, but this BL romance was an enjoyable enough way to spend a half hour. The conflict revolved around a character’s inability to separate himself from his work, which felt pretty relatable, and the voice acting was good, but the visuals looked like a cutscene from an indie otome game. 6/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for The Kawai Complex. A girl and boy in high school uniforms stand in front of a boarding house with the other residents.The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior – This has been in my watchlist for ages and I have no idea what took me so long to get to it. The romance is completely sweet and adorable, which contrasted really well with the lightly raunchy comedy involving the other residents in the building. I liked how the dirty jokes were a little subtle, instead of feeling like they were written by and for 20 year old virgins. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Fate/Zero.Fate/Zero S2 – I watched season one of this months ago and was pretty underwhelmed, but I ended up liking this half quite a bit. The fights were pretty spectacular and the shifting loyalties and betrayals were thrilling. What I really did not like, though, was how just about all the female characters existed to die violently or be horribly injured to advance a male character’s story. That’s lazy and sexist writing. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Naruto. Title character in his orange tracksuit stands with various characters in front of a mountain with faces carved into it.Naruto Ep. 26-36 – Sakura is getting on my nerves a little less now that she realizes she doesn’t really add much to the group. She’s still pretty useless, but at least she can work on it now. I’m now waiting for our title character to show a modicum of competence. As my husband quipped, “Int is Naruto’s dump stat.” 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV