[Review] The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting

The reality of the word “yakuza” now is one romanticized beyond all recognition. Almost every story I see lately focuses on a singular character or entire family ripe for redemption through love. The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting makes it easy to forget that our comical characters are anything but a normal family. While I would normally sit back mindlessly and just enjoy the heartwarming episodes, the occasional small reminder of their true way of life makes the ride a bit of a bumpy one by the end.

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[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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[Review] Phantom of the Idol

The first of the summer shows to wrap up the season is 10-episode long Phantom of the Idol. This light hearted series follows Yuuya Niyodo, one half of two-man idol group ZINGS. There’s just a couple of twists: Niyodo doesn’t actually want to be an idol, and makes that abundantly clear every time he opens his mouth. He’s also haunted by the spirit of a former idol named Asahi Mogami, renown for her open hearted approach to life. Together, they strike a deal to give them each what they want, a goal that follows through to the end of the story with consistent, yet forgettable, charm.

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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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[Review] Flavors of Youth

It took me a few years to finally get around to watching the 2018 film Flavors of Youth, which you can now find on Netflix. This anime-original anthology includes three short stories in different Chinese locations each with their own cast of characters. Studio CoMix helms the film, which you might recognize from recent Makoto Shinkai works Your Name, She and Her Cat, and Weathering With You. When I first noticed this work and its title, I assumed it would be some kind of food adventure commentary on regional foods. This holds true for the first story, but the “flavors” here are instead a description of experiences and emotions that do resonate for the short time we’re together but fade away quickly once the film ends.

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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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Summer 2022 Bite-Size Menu

Sitting inside in the protection of the AC in avoidance of a record heatwave, it feels like summer is definitely here attempting to cook me alive. There are far too many new series this season to try, as well as a handful of sequels both expected and unexpected. I’ll be outlining in full my thoughts on all the shows in our upcoming preview podcast; what’s included here in this particular blog post are the newly debuting shows that excite me this summer.

Sequels: Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun; SHADOWS HOUSE 2nd Season; The Devil is a Part-Timer! Season 2.

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[Review] Love After World Domination

I’ve gotta give credit where it’s due–I would have missed Love After World Domination if not for a friend’s recommendation. The super sentai setup and bright colors gave me expectations of unfunny gag humor and cheesy references. Both gags and references are assuredly present, but the cheese is delightfully delicious and the humor usually spot on.

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