Nisekoi and The Nature of Harem RomComs

Nisekoi anime reviewBefore picking up Nisekoi, I’ve been warned that it’s “the endless shounen battler” of Romantic Comedies, that it’s ongoing, for hundreds of chapters, and rather than ever coming closer to any form of closure, things keep going on and on, with “more of the same” of romantic hijinks, and sweet nothingness.

“Cool!” I said, since I like RomComs, and RomComs are very much about getting the same thing over and over, show after show, and even within a show, all these moments of almost confession, of almost-kissing, just for that moment of sweet release in the end, right? Well, sometimes too much of a good thing, especially when it’s predicated around drawing things out before giving us the release of a couple finally coming together. When your whole work is built around it not happening, well, that sort of takes a lot of the fun out of it.

I find Nisekoi a useful and interesting series to use in order to look at and consider some aspects of Romantic Comedies (RomComs), in general, in anime, and of the “harem” sub-type in particular.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be some spoilers.)

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Spring 2014 Anime Season Overview

The Spring 2014 anime season had come and gone, and it’s time to look at the wreckage, see what was worthwhile, and what wasn’t, as well as give some thoughts on each of the shows. Some of these might yet get editorials, depending on energy levels and interest on my part, but if not, I’ll always be able to point at this!

Shows organized by how much I liked them or thought they were good, order doesn’t correlate 100% to the scores given. So, let’s go from worst to best!

15) M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane / M3 The Dark Metal:

M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane Anime overview

Look at this gif, it’s so terrible it’s hypnotic, I call it “boobie-balls”. It’s the best worst part of this show. This Mari Okada show is a take on NGE, as the other is a take on Madoka. This isn’t to say they’re actively trying to mimic those other luminary shows, but the point is it feels tired, it feels trying too hard.

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Spring 2014 Week 8 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

As usual, shows listed by order of my enjoyment of said episode, links to longer write-ups. This was a pretty good week! While most popcorn shows had somewhat bored me or failed to do as well as they did in the past, everything else did really well!

1) Mushishi Second Season episode 7

Mushishi Second Season anime episode 8 overview

After a week without it, Mushishi is back, and boy does it come out swinging. I think it’s my favourite episode of the season, after the marvelous second episode. There’s not a lot that happened in this episode, there’s not much symbolism, or characters taking action, or anything you can point at and say “This! This is why this episode, and why Mushishi are so great!” – it was a story of human loss, of a human being swept away by the grand forces of Mushishi, emotions, and loss.

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Spring 2014 Week 7 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

It’s a bit late, cause I’ve been tired, but here they are! Some lengthier write-ups for several shows! I should move to writing just these, honestly, for most shows. Welp, just checked, this post is quite long. Yeah, I could definitely move to just these, instead of episodic notes, and this is almost too long as well.

Shows listed in order of enjoyment. Links are to lengthier write-ups.

1) Ping Pong episode 6

Ping Pong the Animation episode 6 overview - Kazama Ryuichi speaks of reality and dreams

This episode wasn’t as big on “plot” in terms of events happening, as it was on explaining to us our cast, and being thematically heavy (rather than rich). We’ve dealt with heroes and monsters. With death and revival. Peco had an awesome “I am a Golden God!” moment, and Sakuma came out of nowhere to reinvigorate him.

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Spring 2014 Anime Midseason Overview (Part 2/2: Non-Action)

Mid-season of the anime season of Spring 2014 is upon us, so time to round up how I feel about the shows I’m current on. Due to the length of the list, I split it in half. The first part covered action shows. This part covers all the rest of the shows.

Shows are listed in order of enjoyment. Numbers are order on the list, and in parenthesis the order in the joint list, comprised of 13 shows. The first three shows in this section are my favourite three shows of the season, and they’re all at basically the same spot. They’re all winners.

1 (1) Ping Pong the Animation

Ping Pong the Animation anime Spring 2014 midseason overview

This show isn’t all that interested in telling us a story we hadn’t heard before. That’s fine, because there aren’t many such stories. This series is interesting in not merely a well-constructed story, but also in one that is well-told. The acting is solid, and the characters are believable. You can understand what is at stake when every conflict is had, or what its purpose is – such as when they use a conflict in the first episode for a third character to look at it and explain to us what is really going on, which in retrospect shows that the “stake-free conflict”, due to how it’s the same conflict that had been ongoing for a while is merely a character’s never-ending capitulation.

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Spring 2014 Week 5 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

It’s a bit late, cause I’ve been tired, but here they are! Some lengthier write-ups for several shows! I should move to writing just these, honestly, for most shows. Welp, just checked, this post is quite long. Yeah, I could definitely move to just these, instead of episodic notes, and this is almost too long as well.

Shows listed in order of enjoyment. Links are to lengthier write-ups.

1) Ping Pong the Animation episode 4

Ping Pong the Animation episode 4 overview - Coach Koizumi Jou philosophy

This show is sort of funny in terms of me discussing it. I have a lot to say during the episode, where I break down shot-composition, imagery, facial expressions, words spoken and unspoken, plot-advancements, every small thing in this show is very much deliberate. People speak of the imagery in Mawaru Penguindrum, or Monogatari. But you know what? That’s only in very certain scenes, and those shows work really hard to hit you on the head. Even if you don’t always get what the imagery is, it’s clear it’s there. Also, there are stylistic choices that aren’t thematic, and don’t really convey much, they’re there as extra baggage riding the train (it’s not bad, it’s just as Studio Ghibli has its style).

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Spring 2014 Week 4 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

It’s late, I’m tired, and I’d rather watch some Princess Tutu than describe my week, or sleep, I’m gorram tired, you guys. Most of the shows had been alright, not “great”, but not bad either. Though I list them by order, unlike most seasons, even stuff at position 10 or so out of 13 did quite respectably, honestly. It’s not like seasons where anything under #3 was utter trash.

Going for shortish points on each. Listed in order of enjoyment/good episode was. Links are to more in-depth/longer pieces on some.

1Isshuukan Friends episode 4

Isshuukan Friends Episode 4 / One Week Friends Episode 4 anime overview - Hase Yuki

Oh man. The fact this is number 1 this week tells you everything. This show had always been great. But this episode… this episode truly felt like an end-of-series episode, and we’re only in the 4th one. I think LNs/manga can be like that, they have an arc in each volume or so, and you can see in adaptations multiple resolutions, whereas had it been an anime original we might have not had this episode until episode 9, or 11. Even if the show turns to utter dreck at this point, it could be recommended as one of the best 4-episode-OVAs to be found.

It was sad. It was so real. Hase’s argument with Fujimiya was exactly the same as some arguments I’ve had with SOs, or arguments I hear between other people. And then they decided to work for it, and their tears, and my tears… very emotional. And yet, nothing “big”, no shouts or melodrama, just… well-told drama. Amazing.

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