Kaguya-sama: Love is War Anime Review

Media: Anime
Name: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
MAL Score: 8.53/10
Episodes: 12
Genres: Comedy, Psychological, Romance, School, Seinen

Caution — There will be spoilers ahead. 

Enter lead character Kaguya Shinomiya: a wealthy and talented student from Shuchiin Academy. Sheltered her whole life, Shinomiya doesn’t necessarily know how to interact with people and sees them as a tool to be used, not as a person to talk to and get to know. After joining the student council, all that starts to change. Don’t tell anyone — even if it’s pretty obvious — but Shinomiya is head-over-heels in love with Shirogane and the feelings are reciprocated! Though neither of them are daring enough to admit it. And so starts the war between two people — who will admit their undying affection to the other?

Story

The story of Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane is one packed with joy and excitement. Although they may not show it on the outside, we get to see the world through the eyes of each of the characters in shifts. We get to hear every thought that courses through the head of Shinomiya and then, in turn, through Shirogane. Back and forth in one episode they argue about who’s going to eat a piece of cake while in the next they argue about where to go during summer vacation only to realize, once they reach a decision, that they’d rather have it another way.

Characters

The development put into Kaguya Shinomiya is phenomenal. In the first episode, Shinomiya is cold and aloof to a point. Due to being smothered inside her whole life with her studies, she is unable to get close to people and make friends. In one episode, we get to see Shinomiya looking out the window of the limousine that takes her to school every day. There, she stares at the kids having fun with envy. By the end of the series, we have Shinomiya in tears because all she wants to do is watch the fireworks with her friends on the student council.

Enjoyment

Who knew that the war between two lovers could be so comedic? Throughout this anime, I found myself overwhelmed with laughter that was spilling uncontrollably forth. From the “love guru” Chika Fujiwara all the way to the hardworking Miyuki Shirogane, I found myself falling inlove with these characters and the story that unfolds.

My final rating for this series would be an eight out of ten. The way that the characters were portrayed works perfectly with the goal of the show. I’m not usually one for romance but I love psychological anime. Who knew the two would mix so well.

Written by karme.

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Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor! Anime Review

Media: Anime
Name: Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
MAL Score: 8.31/10
Episodes: 26
Genres: Game, Psychological, Seinen, Thriller

Potential light spoilers ahead

Do you have a sweet spot for psychological anime? Stories that feature the main character scrapping with others in a battle of wit? If you’re hungry for more mind games from a rivalry akin to Light and L, continue reading. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor (Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji) is probably what you’re looking for.

Story

Kaiji Itou is a lonely, lazy man that is always in debt. His daily routine consists of drinking beer, gambling, and stealing hubcaps from expensive cars. At first glance he may appear to be nothing more than a useless bum in society, but underneath that rugged exterior, is a man with a hidden gift. Kaiji is a genius with a gift for gambling. A unique ability that might have the potential to rescue him from drowning in his current debt. Desperate and out of options, Kaiji is presented with an opportunity to pay off this debt — by competing in a shady game of chance against other debt enslaved individuals. Unbenownst to Kaiji, this is where he would begin to unravel a world filled with cold-hearted deception.

Art

The unusual art style is easily the first thing you’ll notice. Admittedly, I was initially turned off by Kaiji’s gritty, ugly aesthetic. It’s definitely a style that strays from the norm. Thankfully, the story was gripping enough for me to look past this and continue watching. A few episodes in, I actually started to get attached to the hideous world of Kaiji. The exaggerated facial expressions make the tense situations even more gut wrenching. I quickly realized the gritty, ugly aesthetic is all too fitting for the world of Kaiji.

Sound

Both Kaiji’s intro and ending song do a fantastic job at getting you hyped for our hero’s next mental battle. The voice acting is above average, but where Kaiji really shines is its narration. Tachiki Fumihiko’s dramatic narration explaining each character’s thought process is hilarious and gripping at the same time. This narrator could make any mundane task seem epic. There is a recurring “zawa” sound that represents the characters being in uncomfortable situations. This Fukumoto trademark onomatopoeia paired with tense music has you feeling just as nervous as the characters in the show.

Characters

The list of abnormalities in this anime continue to grow as I reflect on the show’s characters. You won’t find a single female character in this anime. The entire roster is made up of men and Kaiji Itou is the only character with any actual development. Kaiji is heroic to a fault, his trusting nature is often his downfall. Betrayal after betrayal, his cynicism grows throughout the story. Hopeless situation after hopeless situation, he has to get even more bold with his tactics in order to survive. You’ll be rooting for Kaiji all the way as the other characters are impossible to like.

Conclusion

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is easily one of the most addictive anime I’ve ever consumed. I effortlessly powered through all 26 episodes of the first season in one day. Despite this, be prepared to watch both seasons as the first season has a slightly unsatisfying ending. Also, there is a certain arc in the second season that goes on a little too long for my liking. These minor flaws hardly put a dent in the anime, consequently, I rate Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor an 8.5/10. If you consider yourself a fan of psychological thrillers, do yourself a favor and watch this immediately.

Written by yxn

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Mawaru Penguindrum Anime Review

Media: Anime
Name: Mawaru Penguindrum
MAL Score: 8.01
Episodes: 24
Genres: Mystery, Comedy, Dementia, Psychological, Drama

” I hate the word “fate” “.

Mawaru Penguindrum aired in 2011 by studio Brain’s base and directed by Ikuhara, Kunihiko is a story about Takakura’s family – Twin brothers Kanba and Shouma,along with their younger sister Himari.

Story

Entire plot spins around Takakura family and their problems with “fate” and himawari’s incurable disease, to save her, they need to find Penguin drum. Same story was quite interesting, with good pacing, good amount of dramatic along with comedic relief or funny scenes. Everything with big amount of symbolism and metaphors in various scenes, sometimes happy ones, sad, dramatic and bittersweet ones.

Animation

Personally I didn’t see too many flaws in animation or art, rather it was very well made. It was very colorful, with beautiful moments. The same goes for character designs and way they were expressing themselves where every single one was quite unique, with their own special lines and quotes. Animation felt very smooth, with many awesome detailed,colorful backgrounds.

Soundtrack

Personally one of strongest points of this show for me. Starting with opening “Nornir” by Yakushimaru Etsuko, through to other songs like “Fate of the Sons of Flame – Scorpion & Fruti Wheel” “Unmei no kotachi” or “Namida no Umi” and many others. Most of them beautifully emphasized many scenes, making them even more powerful and emotional.

Characters

In my opinion every character got very good, detailed and proper development along with their own past backstory and problems with which they need to deal. Obsession, revenge, forgiveness, grief – and many others, we can see characters in big amount of mental states and how they are dealing with them. Be it the cool, serious and sometimes ruthless Kanba, brave and more innocent Shouma. Then the always cheerful Himari, obsessed with her fate and future Ringo, or mysterious Watase. Yet is rather short and shallow description of characters, where every single one get their time to shine with their expression. Very noticeable background characters are penguins which express mental and physical state of the Takakura family, but also make great amount of less serious and comedic relief which adds even more variety to show.

Overall summary

Mawaru penguindrum was one of most unique shows I have ever seen, with very well-written characters. I also enjoyed the beautiful, smooth animation, great soundtrack and awesome story. I especially enjoyed the very emotional finale, but the many moments which gave us a lot to think about. Certainly recommend, personal rating 9.5/10.

Written by Shaniss.
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