[Review] YUREI DECO: A Love-y Attempt at Substance

The anime-original YUREI DECO recently wrapped up after 12 episodes and for all intents and purposes is a complete package with little need for a sequel or spin-off. Part of this is due to the material from which it took inspiration as well as the manner in which the writing paced itself through to the end. Colorful and idealistic from the beginning, the larger themes of freedom, value, and family are inspiring but too ambitious for such a small box. While I was fond of YUREI DECO’s characters, I ultimately found myself frustrated with the rushed ending that did little to address the story’s many issues.

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Love Live! Superstar!! and the Rise of Natsumi Onitsuka

She even has pseudo-drill hair!

School girls, idols, and another season of Love Live! I made the error at the start of the season of misaligning this sequel with the wrong series within the Love Live! franchise, and missed out on the first month of new episodes. While I loved the original series, subsequent groups have been hit or miss and I never felt that same level of excitement until recently with the Superstar!! storyline, the first season of which aired last summer in 2021. The current sequel at Yuigaoka gives us new students and prospective members for Liella!, as well as another chance at climbing to the top. While I still mostly have eyes for Keke and Kanon, lately my attention has been unwillingly wrested away by Natsumi Onitsuka, a first-year, streamer, and aspiring influencer.

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What Would Mogami Asahi Do?

From season to season we’re showered with idol shows: students in idol clubs, aspiring idols, idols who do sports, and idols trying to balance work and school. This time around in Phantom of the Idol, it’s an idol who doesn’t want to be an idol and is haunted by another idol. It sounds kind of silly, I know, but it somehow works well in this case in large part because of the contrasting personalities involved. Niyodo Yuuya is the perfect representation of the reluctant participant with his tired approach to life, while his co-idol Kazuki Yoshino is the picture of positive, if a bit oblivious, energy. The ghost who enters into Yuuya’s life is Mogami Asahi, a beloved singer who passed away at the height of her fame. Together, they navigate ZINGS’ rise in popularity and their own questions about what it means to be an idol while staying true to themselves.

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Boruto: Episodes 70-92, Ohnoki Arc Retrospective

I’ve been catching up on Boruto: Naruto Next Generations lately, most recently with the Ohnoki arc from 2018. Sounds like forever ago, doesn’t it? I’m pretty shocked myself to have fallen so far behind a show that is already well within range of 300 episodes, particularly during such a fantastic part of the anime from all that I’ve seen so far. This particular section resonates even more so because of my recent reading of Kazuo Ishiguro’s short novel, Klara and the Sun. Both feature artificial life modeled after the human species, and in both they question the definition of a human soul in manners that would argue for them already possessing souls of their own. Mitsuki, along with members of Hidden Stone Village, stands at the center of this arc’s storyline. His quest to find himself is also our quest to discover our very own heart stone.

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Parallel World Pharmacy and Conscious Beauty

“…going forward, I want to make medicine available to those who need it.”

Falma de Médicis. “Master and Apprentice.” Parallel World Pharmacy.

With the past couple years of COVID lockdown, makeup has been one of the furthest things from my mind. When all you do is stay at home or go in public wearing a mask, what then is the point of putting on a pretty face? Some might do it for self-satisfaction or work-from-home video conferences, but I personally only bother these days out of a sense of obligation towards a presentable front…and Insta pics, of course. Now that many of us are venturing back out into public spaces, I realize that much of my makeup has expired and will need replacing.

Seeing the most recent episode of isekai series Parallel World Pharmacy reminded me that my priorities have changed since pre-pandemic–I no longer care as much about long-lasting, photo-ready finishes, but more about sun protection, moisture, and evenness of tone. Protagonist Falma de Médicis’ wariness of popular makeup, most especially whitening foundations, isn’t particularly new to anime–take for instance another recent show, 2021’s The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World, where they highlight a related issue. However, Falma’s profession as a pharmacologist rather than an undercover assassin allows for a more expansive view on the world of cosmetics and how it relates to one’s health.

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Healer Girl a.k.a The Temple of Karasuma?

Healer Girl kind of makes me uncomfortable. That isn’t to say that this show isn’t fun, or worth watching, because I definitely think it’s both most of the time. I could just as easily shrug off my misgivings and enjoy the show at face value for the songs and cute girls. There are just certain aspects about the story and its world that wave big red flags and have me questioning the creator’s beliefs and motivations.

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I’m Quitting Heroing & Rebuilding Fantasy Kingdoms

“Protect humanity; save the world.”

Leon Demonhart, I’m Quitting Heroing

Fixer-uppers are all the rage lately, and I’m not talking about home renovation. The anime seasons have seen their fair share of rebuild narratives, with a few in recent memory jumping immediately into mind: Realist Hero, Genius Prince, and, currently airing, I’m Quitting Heroing. Each of them features a fantastical kingdom in economic and/or political turmoil and in each of them a hero comes along to save the day. While some aspects are refreshing in their approach, other areas perpetuate troubling beliefs and boring writing. I’m Quitting Heroing is the latest and, arguably, the best example of this type of story with its increased focus on notable side characters rather than the lead.

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[OWLS] Food Wars! When the Mentor becomes the Student

It’s been a long journey with Soma Yukihira through the gauntlet that is Totsuki Academy: three seasons and countless meals served up to our pleasure. Through it all, Soma’s experience growing up in Yukihira’s kitchen gives him the inspiration to improve. His father, Joichiro Saiba, is a constant figure in those memories, a man looked up to by many, while simultaneously viewed as a hurdle on Soma’s path to becoming the best chef. We also see Saiba in Erina’s childhood as one of her rare moments of happiness. When adults in the culinary world, academic as well as professional, speak of Saiba, it’s with a tone of awe and, often, fear. What happens when such a man falters, when the person you look up to most in the world vanishes?

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Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori’s Touch of Quality

One of the least-discussed shows of this season is Yotsuiro Biyori, a show centering on a Japanese tea shop called Rokuhoudou and the people who pass through its doors. The owner and employees who tend the shop and the people they encounter share their stories from episode to episode in ways that will bring a smile to your face and quell the ailing heart. This, like so many others, is a story about stories. A big part of how Rokuhoudou is able to succeed is thanks to the hard work put in by its staff and the pride they take in their work. No effort is wasted, be it finding just the right ingredient and technique for a new dessert, or recommending the correct item for a customer who at times needs more than to fill their stomach.

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Amanchu! Advance and Autumn-colored Dreams

“Take a look around, and you’ll spot a bunch of autumn wonders!” -Pikari, “The Story of Autumn and a Tender Happiness”

Mangaka Kozue Amano has this wonderful ability to capture the concentrated essence of each season in her works. We see this in works like Aria, and in the currently airing Amanchu! Advance. In episode four of Advance, “The Story of Autumn and a Tender Happiness,” we step away from the usual group dynamic and follow Futaba “Teko” Ooki and Hikari “Pikari” Kohinata separately on a cool autumn day. They show us their different approaches to appreciating the fall season, as well as pull us into their dreams—Teko with a lucid dream and Pikari in her consistently upward view.

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