Tag Archives: Anime Reviews

The Garden of Sinners (2007) Review: The Story that Romanticized a Murderer

My mother once warned me not to philosophize too much about the darker things in life. It takes you to a very gloomy place devoid of warmth and life. Dive deep into the world of unknown, you might just end up in the mental hospital. So, let’s not go there. But if you insist, then this anime is the one for you! Okay, I am harsh. Just kidding. This anime is soothing despite its dark content. I really feel like I’m in the movies!

Garden of Sinners is based on a novel series by Kinoko Nasu. It tells a story about a high school girl with split personality. Her name is Shiki Ryougi. She has a supernatural ability to see death and has a devouring burden to kill. But why? If you are into big questions about your boyish aggression in finding pleasure in destroying everything your way (i.e., playing violent games), you might find this show super cool, but I wouldn’t say profoundly enlightening. Rationalizing the concept of what constitute a murderer doesn’t justify the desire to kill as a noble behavior. The argument in this anime is that you’re not a killer if you kill to protect those you love but is that just an excuse? It’s an exhilarating emotion close to love, according to the show. Shiki, the protagonist is set free when she has the chance to kill off murderers like herself and the fighting scenes really do illustrate that point. She even wants to kill the man she loves! It’s a struggle. It’s so poetic! As an audience, I think we are supposed to sympathize with her. She is battling against her masculine side, the desire to destroy and kill everything!

According to Wiki, this show is classified as dark fantasy. But I like to think of it as a supernatural show with the elements of philosophical horror. Sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it? You see, the show is different and purposely complex. I felt as if I’m taking an introduction class to philosophy, listening to young adults discussing about morality. And apparently, no matter what culture you were born into, teenagers care a lot about being unique and different (referring to the villain). In addition, some of the movies have different running time. Some are 1 to 2 hours long. There are only 10 episodes all together. Most anime break into 26 or 12 episodes. Did I confuse you yet? I know I was when the word movie was used interchangeably with episode for someone who occasionally watch anime. But that’s okay! I think this anime is meant for those who enjoy watching show for the second time around! Good for brain exercise. Good for philosophy class! Cheers!

Overall, these long episodes which are called movies left me feeling kind of jaded at certain times during my viewing. Perhaps, it’s because I already did all this philosophizing thing in my teenage years and in my 20s. So personally, I sort of exhausted myself from the deep conversations of philosophy, which is trying to understand one’s aggression in relation to the universe. Unnecessary complexity for the purpose of complexity’s sake is not a good thing in terms of plot and this show is just that unless I’m missing the entire point of the show due to lost in translation. If that is the case, it’s a shame because I really connect with the melancholic vibes from this anime.

I might sound rather nitpicky with my review when in fact I enjoyed this anime. It’s an attractive anime with pretty moving illustration that made me feel I was at the cinema. You know the immersive feeling you get at the theatre sitting in a pitch-black room? Yes, I felt it through the anime visual presentation watching with my headphones on. Sound effects and soundtrack is of high quality. Unfortunately, I couldn’t appreciate to its max since I don’t find the protagonist’s struggles relatable even though I like dolphins* and I find the order in which the movies are arranged a bit bothersome. But hey, at least I gave this a shot. I can only imagine how the tone of the anime would change if it is titled Garden of Saints. Yeah…that doesn’t sound so edgy.

Note: Dolphins* is in reference to the blog post over at I drink and watch anime: “Anime Fans are Murderers?” I thought it was funny how dolphins are used to illustrate that someone who likes dolphins can be murderous. Ouch! Nobody likes being attacked. Let’s not group and generalize people based on their interests. I think that was the point of her blog post.

Death Note (2006) Review: Light, the Dark Angel

I often hear people say if you want a good introduction to anime, watch Death Note. But I have mixed feelings about this statement. It was a solid insightful review that convinced me to give it a try, but I can’t find the same review now that I finished watching it to go back for reference and give it credit. I like the ambitious story concept in Death Note but I didn’t like the art direction all that much. I find myself dragging my feet towards the next episode when one ends. It wasn’t binge worthy because I sort of knew what was going to happen. The schoolboy is going to be reduced to a pawn for thinking he is above everyone.

You see, Light Yagami, the protagonist has it all. He comes from a good family. He is an honorable student. He is so attractive that schoolgirls turn heads at the sight of him walking pass by. He has a bright future ahead of him. So, what’s his problem? What’s there not to be content? The answer is in the first episode. He is bored and lonely out of his mind until he discovers Death Note. He thought he could create the perfect world where he is God and where everyone is kind. But during his process of killing criminals to build his utopia under the name Kira, L, a mysterious detective who works for the I.C.P.O (International Criminal Police Organization), starts to investigate who is the person behind Kira in hope of putting that mass murderer behind bar. Thus the game begins between two very intelligent people who have a strong sense of justice. The story is more than a cat and mouse chase, but more like a tennis match as the anime suggested in episode 10. Light finally meets his match, L. Now I have a question for the readers who have seen this anime. Who did you side with?

The pretty boy or the creepy boy?

So let’s talk about what I like about this anime since this is a blog about metaphors. Right of the bat, I knew the anime was about morality and knowledge is being compared to an apple, and the Shinigami has that knowledge.

Knowledge is the fruit. Is apple evil?
I took a bite from Blood Apple and it was good. Glad I can finally use this picture to illustrate my point for a blog post.

You see, in Genesis, the serpent said to Eve if she eats the fruit her eyes would be wide open to know from right and wrong. She’d have the conscience of God. On a side note, did you know that the fruit in Genesis is unknown? I would assume John’s Milton’s Paradise Lost popularized the notion that Eve ate an apple and not just some fruit, but please tell me otherwise. In a way, you can compare Light to Eve who both have a hunger for knowledge and a hunger for perfection. Eve has good intention even though she is warned by God not to eat the fruit. Can you blame her wanting to be like God? He’s perfectly all-knowing. Likewise, Light has good intention. He wants a perfect world where there is no crime. In the end, the show left me thinking about humans desiring to be God. For someone like Light, should we admire a serial killer who kills in the name of justice? Then is God himself, a murderer? That’s a mystery. The only conclusion I got from this anime is that God must be bored and humans are nothing but sport for Him to ease His boredom. If that is the case, then God is

Like the saying goes… life is nothing more than a game of chess and that was exactly what I was watching. The undertone to the story is pretty dark to my liking or perhaps, the art direction failed to convey the manga artist’s true intent. Personally, I don’t think God (or a higher intelligence or whatever you believe in) to be that simple. There were other titles much better in my opinion such as Lain, Noir and Now and Then, Here and There just to name a few that I enjoyed in the past which introduced me to anime. Maybe the manga is different, who knows.

Netflix Series Beastars Season 2: Who Is da BEAST?!

Disclaimer: Like “Netflix Series Beastars Review: Is the Rabbit Really A Slut?“, this post is for mature audiences. Not for children. Please watch show before reading. This is just my interpretation.

Well well…this became a bit of an erotic show that deals with beastly appetite for another living piece of meat. Watching the show made me want to turn into a vegetarian or hide my face whenever I sense a predator staring at me from a distance. You never know if a perverted wolf is on the prowl. Yes, I’m still talking about Beastars here, a show jam-packed with metaphors.

It’s nice to see Legoshi, learning to control his instinct by turning into a Zen monk–well not quite. He can control his appetite to devour her but not the sexual desire he has for her! It seems as if he is confused with food for love or it’s the other way around. In this season, he did what is right, started using his god gifted ability to sniff out the culprit who killed the alpaca, Tem. But is it out of love or self-righteousness that he sought to solve the drama club murder mystery? Personally, I think it’s a way for the young lad to go on a journey of self discovery. In this case, I think he may found his purpose which is to use his strength to protect and not kill. Lastly marry Haru. No wonder Haru called him selfish when he proposed.

As I was sitting on my couch watching the show, I can speculate why it’s called Beastars. It’s a show about beasts fighting to gain respect within the society or you can think of it like watching the Olympics (let’s see which race is the superior race by demonstrating it through sports events!). But of course it’s more than that. It tackles teenager issues, insecurities, sexuality, discrimination, and so much more! We got two groups of beasts: herbivore and carnivore who are in a constant power struggle to show the school who is da BEAST! Herbivores suffer from inferiority because of where they stand in the food chain meanwhile the carnivores feel mispresented as monsters. Deep down they are fragile creatures. It turns out the insecure big baby deer Louis and the sexually suppressed wolf Legoshi are both stars in this show and both deeply admire one another. There was some cuddling, heart warming friendship scenes for those who like to see animals get along. Realistically though, animals don’t like sharing mate. I speak from watching animal documentaries and trying to raise two roosters under the same roof back in my teenage years. That didn’t even last a day. One got killed by the other. Perhaps, the relationship between deer and a wolf is different? As Claudio said from Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare:

Friendship is constant in all other things/Save in the office and affairs of love (Act 2: SC 1: P. 173-174)

So that’s why I’m surprise how mellow Legoshi is towards Louis who slept with the girl he loves and who was willing to sacrifice her for the greater good. The natural response would to give Louis a black eye for being such a prick. But, Legoshi, the awkward wolf is better than that. He mastered the art of suppressing his instinct by using the right head, the one upstairs.

So where does Juno, the manipulative wolf fit in the picture? Seems like her intent to steal the show in the first season is purely based on insecurity. Can’t blame her. She didn’t have to work for her respect in the society so a part of her always feel inadequate. She was already given that respect simply for being born as a wolf (carnivores are seen as high society). Although, I have sympathy for her in some ways. Beneath her confidence, she suffers from low self-esteem. Perhaps, she could practice gratitude and self-love? As for the promiscuous rabbit, she could learn humility and put her pride aside. That small thing needs help. She can’t survive on her own in a society that’s always hungry. I don’t want to say that slut saw it coming for hopping around alone in the Garden Club like a piece of meat because no living thing deserves to be looked upon as a tasty meal even it’s part of the universal law in this made up believe world, Beastars.

Overall, the message I got from this show is to respect all life. I liked that all the beasts are a star in their own way. They all have their unique strengths and weaknesses and deserve sympathy. It was amusingly fun to watch and I must say a well-crafted story for an anime. Not saying that anime is bad, but rarely do I find one that I actually binged watch, especially ones that involved high school drama.

Violet Evergarden (2018) Review: The Doll that Learned to Feel Emotions

Some years ago, I spent a lot of time reading people’s blog post about this anime. People said it left them with teary eyes and recommended those to watch it with a tissue box. It’s just that emotional. Not only that–a friend from work told me how good the show is stating how beautiful the animation was, it reminded her of Japan’s countryside. But more importantly, the show revolves around the strongest emotion: love. What does I love you mean? Violet became a part of the Auto Memory Doll, writing letters to help express people’s innermost emotions so she could understand Major Gilbert last words to her. (Hmm…how poetic. My very own father used to write love letters as a side job.) So out of curiosity, I caved in and watched the anime but never bother to write a review until now–simply because I wasn’t impressed as I thought I would be. More than anything though, I felt it was hyped.

Before I start with my little annoyance towards this anime, I do want to mention that this anime is eloquent and poetic. It uses dolls to convey a certain message of perfection. They are perfectly hollow, perfectly beautiful, and expressionless. But more prominently, they show no emotions on their face. Her discovering the phrase, “I love you” through writing letters for Auto Memory Doll, helped her come to term with her human qualities and her emotions towards Major Gilbert, the man who is always on her mind. Violet Evergarden is a story of becoming human. It’s a beautiful concept. And yet, I am not impressed. What’s the deal with this anime? Why is it so emotional to some people? And why didn’t it sit well with me? Am I as lifeless as Violet that I might need to enroll in a writing course which will help me explore my feelings? Did my bias get in the way from appreciating this anime? I learned it’s not the case.

It’s the way how the story is presented. It’s theatrically unnatural in a way where it doesn’t flow well. I love symbolism but this one sticks out like a sore thumb. Violet is purposely made to be doll-like to indicate how precious she is to the Major. At the same time, her doll-like features subtly imply to the audiences how contradicting her “true” nature is to her innocent appearance. I kept thinking should I sympathize with this character? Time again and again through flashback, she is mentioned for being a war tool–a killer who killed people without remorse, entirely devoted to the Major. She was the perfect soldier. Despite being human, she shows no sign of having any desires of her own other than to find out what “I love you” mean (I am beginning to sound like a broken record in this post because that’s exactly what is wrong with this anime. How many times I have said Violet needs to find out what “I LOVE YOU” mean?!). How could she not understand her own emotions? It just doesn’t add up.

When so many people start googling the following, it just shows how misleading the character Violet is:

So I will answer the highlighted question above. Violet is human, but she is uninterestingly robotic. To make her relatable character, she is made into one size fits all. And so this brought me to conclude why so many enjoyed this anime. They enjoyed discovering their own hidden emotions through Violet. Like Violet, most of us don’t really understand what we feel and most often, we are not entirely honest with ourselves and with others or know our life’s purpose. Many of us are just moldable obedient dolls to the society at no fault (Ouch it sounds rather harsh, but it’s just my opinion.).

To summarize this anime series, it really is just an anime about reading between the lines. Violet has to learn how to read people which is why I think she is a relatable character to many. After all, humans are complicated. Miscommunication often happens when we fail to express ourselves properly. People tend to hide their true feelings behind words and so that’s where Dolls come into play. They are refined and eloquent in mannerism and speech. They are perfect people and perfect people are kind of scary if you ask me.

As for my final thought, one positive thing I got out of this anime is that I could learn a few tips and tricks from Auto Memory Doll. I know some of my reviews can be blunt. The last thing I want to do is offend some poor soul out there. But on a second thought, that’d kill my voice. I don’t get paid to write flowery words; I write with honesty. It’s just the critic in me. Overall, Violet Evergarden is decent, but not great. There was not one single teardrop coming from me.

Psycho-Pass Season 1 Review: Beware of the Rational Pyscho

Disclaimer: Minor spoiler alerts

Throughout history, I think humans have a deep-rooted fear of losing one sense of self. They are always searching for the ideal society where everyone can live in harmony. But what if this perfect society is run by an old asymptomatic, crazy pink hair lady or worse, a robot that is made of collected data of criminal thoughts? In this anime’s universe, a device in the shape of a gun called the denominator will measure whether we are a threat to the society. It’s kind of scary actually, don’t you think? Literally, with a point of a gun, our sanity is diagnosed. Not only that but where we score in mental health will determine where we will be placed in the society. Pretty much, everyone’s fate has been decided because we are all pawns for a “safe functioning society.” Quite frankly, the society sounds like an authoritarian robot gone crazy, waving its gun at people in the name of harmony. In all reality, it’s just a form of dictatorship.

If you think about this show, there is nothing new about it. Good and evil is at play like it has always been throughout centuries. Purity is what will save humanity from destruction. That’s where Akane Tsunemori, the naïve, pure maiden come to play. In western culture passive traits are seen as a weakness. In Japan, ironically the female kind is highly praise for its feminine virtues: kindness and sympathy are forms of strength that glue the society together. People protect the laws not laws protect the people, said Akane. That’s why she doesn’t deviate from the rules despite all the horror she has seen on the job as an inspector, which makes her a powerful stern leader. In case you are not familiar with the plot, Akane goes around making sure detectives don’t abuse their power while they are hunting for criminals (I don’t think I want her job, putting people on the leash sounds tiring. I’ll stick with my boring desk job so I can reserve my energy for blogging). Like every one of us, she eventually wises up and realizes that society is not always black and white. Sometimes our superiors don’t always have our best interests. She found out the hard way.

For my final thought about this series, sometimes when you try to play god, you’d eventually go mad. No human being is omniscience. In the end, it’s the smart guy who wants to destroy the world out of spite for the prisoned-society that humans have created for themselves. I think I understand now why the series is called Psycho-Pass: the villain is rationally psychotic enough to know what he is doing. He simply chose the self destructive path, and he is going to take everyone down with him.

Scum’s Wish Review: A Logically Scummy Anime

In this anime, there is no consequence to promiscuous action, which makes it so intriguing. You can explore your lusty nature with your messy emotions, especially with the confusing ones. Sometimes emotions are just too hard to describe, especially if you are a teenager who is still trying to find your identity. This show successfully take apart complex emotions and lay it out for the audience to see. It’s a pretty relaxing anime to watch, actually.

In this unrequited love story, the two protagonists Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya happened to be honor students who use each other to replace the person they cannot be with. They rationalize their sexual meetups by using sound logic. I guess they are just too smart to study so they have time for screwing around.  There are other characters involved in this unrequited love mess. The biggest one that stood out like a sore thumb is the female school teacher, Akane Minagawa. She puts on a nice front, but she is actually the biggest scum of them all. She enjoys stealing the affection of men from other women because it makes her feel like she is the ultimate prize. Truth is–she is just an empty blowup doll (that’s my metaphor of the day). I don’t blame audience for lacking sympathy for her, however, I must say it’s nice to see a woman take charge of her sexuality. In most cultures, it’s more acceptable for a man to cheat on his wife–he’s just a man, but it’s not okay for a woman. Would a man still love his wife if she has multiple affairs outside of marriage? I think that is her dilemma. She sleeps with men casually out of contempt. How could anyone possibly love her unconditionally? As for the rest of the characters, they are not as developed or interesting. They are very two dimensional for my liking. I almost forgot they exist, but they are in the cover–the guy in the blue shirt, the blonde girl with twintails, and the redhead lesbian. I don’t even bother learning their names.

Because this anime is so scummy and alien to me, I enjoyed it. I don’t really recommend it to teenagers though–the content might be a bit too deep for a kid to grasp. Older audience may find this enjoyable and even relaxing after a long day.

Mushi-Shi Review: A Fine Cup of Medicine for the Mind

Do you know what Forest Bathing is? When you are stuck in the city like me, you naturally want to reconnect with all things green because greenery is life. That’s why many people like to go to the woods where I am from. Unfortunately since I am a loner, it’s not safe for a woman as petite as me to go out in the woods alone. So what is the solution? I watched Mushi-shi and perfected avacado smoothie during my staycation! I feel mentally recharged and happy.

By now, I don’t know how many times I have watched Mushi-shi which was initially aired in Japan in 2005. It’s my to go anime when I want to clear my mind. It has this calming effect like tea. The animation is stunningly beautiful. I always feel as if I am hiking my way towards the mountains and then into the lush green forest with Ginko, the protagonist. But it’s not just the scenery that I like so much, it’s how well each episode tells its story surrounding the mysterious supernatural-like creatures called Mushi. There are 26 episodes and each episode is 24 minutes long. I like how short each episode is compared to some T.V shows that have 50 minutes long episode. Let’s just say I like to take frequent breaks.

If you are not familiar with the series by now, I am happy to tell you what it’s all about. Mushi is the closes thing to life itself. They come in different shapes and forms. Some are visible and some are not. Their existence is the cause of many humans’ ailment. Not everyone can see Mushi. Only certain people can. Ginko is one of them. Because of an exposure to a particular type of Mushi, a fish-like creature with one eye missing, Ginko can’t stay in one place for long without attracting the supernatural-like creatures. As a result, he is fated for a lone nomadic life, visiting different villages to help educate people on the nature of the Mushi and its effect on the mysterious sickness that one has been inflicted by the supernatural creature. He is like a researcher/scientist, but more like a medical doctor as he finds successful solution to protect both human and Mushi without destroying neither one so that one can live. In fact this is a recurring theme throughout the series.

One thing that I really like about this anime is the message it wants to convey to the audience: When you understand your “enemy” you become less afraid of them. It is better to accept their mere existence as part of the ecosystem. They are neither good nor bad. One episode titled Cotton Changeling proves that Mushi just want to live just as much as humans when it was given the ability to speak. It is an eerie episode in fact.

All of the episodes are resolved by Ginko’s ethical, scientific approach whereas other like him take on a more brutal approach towards the Mushi by killing them all of, which ironically killed the human life. As I mentioned earlier, Mushi is the closes thing to life itself. Ginko’s way of handling Mushi is very humanly and modern. When I say humanly, I mean he uses his God-given intelligence to solve problems rather than react out of primitive fear. This explains why he is dressed in western attire rather than traditional Japanese clothes. To dress like a foreigner gives him the impression of an outsider. His outsider perspective helps him make scientific decisions rather than rely on archaic custom. His western approach to Mushi is a sign of forward thinking.

What I learned from this anime is that ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is a powerful tool to harmonize the universe. Seek to understand the world around us because it can kill unnecessary superstition that does more harm than good. More importantly, it can save lives. Ginko saved lives like a true doctor. His compassion for all living things is admirable. I think that is why I like this show so much. Every time I watch it, it’s like having a fine cup of tea. Try it for yourself, you might enjoy the solitude walk in the forest.

How to Connect with Friends

If you want a friend just connect to Lain. Place the cursor over the email icon. Then click twice to open link. Do you have a message? Who is it from?

“It’s me.

I am just conscience

without a body.

Nice to meet you.”

scribble

If you iron your thoughts,your reality will appear to make sense. Put words in a dress and yet the meaning is still hidden. Eyes can see everything and yet still blind.

Just delete bad memories if you don’t want to remember. Just delete yourself if you don’t want to exist. Even if we delete ourselves, we are still connected. 

This is a free verse/doodling for the animated series Serial Experiments Lain. What possessed me to watch it? Somehow, I remember an old chat friend telling me this was his favorite anime. He once said, “All you need is one person to believe in you.” I disagree. Actually, the only person you need to connect with is yourself. Once you are in tuned with yourself, then you can connect with others in a healthy way.

Note: Originally posted on Aug. 21, 2018 from my old blog

Netflix Series Beastars: Is the Rabbit Really a Slut?

Disclaimer: For mature audiences. Not for children. Please watch show before reading this article. This is just my interpretation of the show.

Oh my virgin mind tainted by the innocent schoolboy and schoolgirl stuffed animal-like cartoon. How did a show managed to fool me into thinking that I was watching a show about an innocent high school drama? It looks so cute and adorable, so I added the show to my watchlist on Netflix. Oh my, so naïve of me!

Beastars starring a slutty rabbit, is no ordinary slut you might envisioned. She is not the scantily clad type. She is a nice girl, a flower girl–small, petite in stature; soft and sweet. The type of gal you would probably find at a church. Her name is Haru. She is so cute that if I were a guy, I would ask her to marry me. With her, I know for sure there would be guaranteed sex. Don’t rabbits love to breed?

Haru_Anime

Then we have Legoshi, the main male character who is timid and soft-spoken. To most girls, he is the ideal type of guy we want for a life partner–sensitive but strong. But underneath his polite demeanor, is a terrifying strong beast.

Legosi

To most people, I might just have described these two main characters as typical, boring and cliche which can be found in most popular literature. But that archaic, plainness character is what makes the show so powerful. It seems so innocent on the outside, but it is far from innocent. They are the well-behaved civilized citizens we often find among us in the society. Underneath the human’s politeness, is raw animal instinct. Legoshi struggles with his instinct to devour Haru while Haru uses sex as a tool to survive, fighting against her instinct to be eaten by a carnivore (if this concept sounds strange I can point you to the scenes where I came to conclude this notion. Just ask in the comment section). She knows she is a prey and he is the predator. It’s a show about the power struggle between the weak and the strong told from a food hierarchy perspective.

Ironically, what I find so fascinating about submissive Haru is that she is actually a feminist. She does not refuse her male counterparts if they want to sleep with her and even admits she might enjoy it too if they want to be rough. But there is one thing she cannot accept: she refuses to be pitied by them. There is a scene where Louis tries to give her money, but she refuses, wanting his heart instead. Does that sound kind of virtuous? Sadly, from the patriarchal perspective, it’s kind of depressing having to use sex to get around in the society safely, but it’s the only weapon she has. Think about it, Haru is a dwarf rabbit. She is small, soft and cute. She is an easy prey. Can you imagine if she rejects all the guys that approach her? The result would be harassment and worst, be killed. Her action may be frown upon in the society but she’s smart about it. Unlike her female peers, Haru pulls her own weight emotionally, turning her weakness into a strength. This is why guys tend to flock towards her. How empowering is that? What I find so enlightening about this anime is that Haru is deceptive. Think twice if you think she is weak. Unlike her female peers, she does not run from her predators or tries to turn them into her loyal pets like Juno, the ambitious gray wolf.

Juno(anime)

So I have a question to female readers: who is the real damsel in distress here? And to the male readers, do you prefer that ambitious bitch Juno, who uses manipulative tactics to tie you down? Hmm…I think I know the answer.

I find it delightful that this show brings forth the struggle between the Madonna and the Whore in such a way to expose the dirtiness in human nature in a twisted way. No one is a saint underneath the orderly, civilized society that we so hope to achieve. There is no such thing as a perfect world and there’s definitely no such thing as the good girl.

Picture credits: Haru, Legoshi, Juno.