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FanimeCon 2018 June 10, 2018

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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FanimeCon 2018 took place May 25th – 28th at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. FanimeCon is an anime convention “by fans, for fans”. I’ve been attending this anime convention since 2011, and I do intend to attend it annually as long as I’m able to, as it is one of my favorite cons around. This year’s con was smooth, but for me I have mixed feelings. Partly because of a few minor hickups, but mostly because of the expectations I have on myself for what my goals are at cons, photography wise.

For all of my photos taken at the con, please check out my Flickr set FanimeCon 2018.


Day 1 – May 25th

My first day started with me waking up at around 7am, a time I’ve been used to waking up to recently with the return of my seasonal retail work. I aimed to get to the con by 10am, and since it takes about an hour to drive down to San Jose I planned to leave SF no later than 9am. My plan for parking today was to try for the convention center’s garage. As I wasn’t sure about how full it was going to be, I asked about the situation there via Facebook, to which I got no direct reply. I ate a quick breakfast of leftovers before leaving for the con.

Upon arriving at the con at around 10am, I found that there was plenty of parking in its garage and got a space relatively close to the doors leading into the main hall. The reason why I choose to park at the con center rather than anywhere else was because it was going to be just as expensive, if not more at the other parking places in the area, mainly because it was a weekday.

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I was able to pick up my badge in record time; from entering the convention center from the garage to having my badge in hand took less than 2 minutes. If I only counted the time from entering the pre-reg badge pickup line to badge pickup, then it took less than half that time. They were using the same system from last year, which is why linecon is dead at FanimeCon.

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As usual, my next event I was planning to head to was Opening Ceremonies, however that was more than 3 1/2 hours away at 2pm. I decided it was a good time to get acquainted with the whole con area in the meanwhile. Because things don’t change that much layout wise year to year, it didn’t take much to find out and see what was where this year. Most of where I was planning to be was all in close proximity, literally spinning in circles.

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Opening Ceremonies started a little late and kicked off the FanimeCon weekend by introducing the Guests of Honor, Black and White Ball, and Fanimaid.

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After the ceremony concluded, I checked out the Dealer’s Hall. Besides the usual vendors of anime merchandise, towards the back were some food vendors. We had Hirotoko Co., a Takoyaki stand; JT Express, known for their Sushi Burritos and Spam Musubi; and Psycho Donuts, a local specialty donuts shop know for their unique bakery bites, which I heard that their closest location to the con closed down for relocation.

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For the rest of the afternoon, I took photos of whatever looked interesting. My criteria and priority for cosplay shots are usually ones that I have not generally shot before, especially unique ones. Meme cosplay are a particular one I definitely go out of my to shoot because they tend to be easier to shoot because people tend to gravitate towards high quality cosplay which makes those cosplayers harder to deal with in my opinion.

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Most of the day I was either scouting around for photo taking, or taking a break at the anime viewing rooms. It rained a little in the afternoon, which dampened the crowds a bit. I left the con at around 6:30pm to get home and rest for the next day, knowing that it will be much more busier.

Day 2 – May 26th

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I arrived back at the con area at around 10am. The plan for parking was to park at a garage located at the Peggy Sue’s Diner, as they had free parking with validation during the weekend. However, the garage was blocked by The Color Run, a running event that took place that morning. They were already cleaning up but the road would not open anytime soon. I ended up parking at another garage nearby that I was familiar with, but at a cost of $8 for the day. I ate breakfast at Peggy Sue’s Diner and afterwards headed to the con.

The weather was perfect today, in comparison to yesterday’s grey and random rain; Not too hot or cold with mostly clear skies. I planned to check out a couple of things today like the Overwatch cosplay gathering, as well as the MusicFest Concert that was at 7pm staring Nano.

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Shooting the Overwatch cosplay gathering was much easier than last year’s ones for a couple reasons: For one it was smaller as the hype was not as big as it was during last year’s first year one, so the group was more manageable. Secondly, the group was being managed by a couple staff photographers which were calling the shots for the gathering, basically making sure that they were not too wide, minimizing background elements, etc. Luckily I was standing right next to them, so I benefited for my photo taking purposes.

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At about 10 minutes before 7pm, I headed to the City National Civic right across the street from the con for the concert, just after dropping off my DSLR camera at my car, due to the usual strict photography policies the venue usually has. As usual most people were seated, but there’s plenty of seats to go around at this auditorium. Seating started at 6:30pm, but some people wait as early as a few hours before then. I suppose if you wanted to get the front rows, that’s the way to go, but there hasn’t been a musical guest at Fanime that made me justify waiting for a ground level seat. Originally there was going to be another musical performer named Yuyoyuppe at MusicFest, but due to unforeseen circumstances he couldn’t make it.

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The Nano concert started on time and last almost a full two hours, with an encore included. It was a really great experience being there; She had a lot of energy and was super grateful for being able to perform in her country of birth for the first time. I have some of her songs on my iPod, so I was looking forward to hearing her live. I was tapping my foot and nodding my head to most of her songs which had a great rocking beat. I also love the lyrics she uses, which are a mix of English and Japanese. They tended to relay the message of always try to strive for your dreams, the same for how she feels how she made it to where she is today. There was one song in particular that I was hoping to hear that I originally heard through an fan made Overwatch anime style opening, but I don’t think it was part of her set list.

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After the concert was over, I headed home once I confirmed that there was nothing left for me to do at the con, arriving back at base at about 10:30pm.

 

Day 3 – May 27th

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Day 3 started almost like yesterday, but without the problem of parking. I was able to park at the garage that allowed for free weekend parking with validation, ate at the busy Peggy Sue’s again, and afterwards headed back to the con for another round of photography. The weather on this day was notably starting to get warmer than comfortable, so to escape the heat it was an in-and-out of the convention center kind of plan, chilling every so often in the anime viewing rooms. Doing so was great because I was able to take a load off and sit down in a cool place watching animes, but it definitely a struggle for my eyes adjusting from pitch black to full sunlight in a matter of a minute.

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By 7:30pm I called it for the day, and went home to rest for the final day of Fanime.

 

Day 4 – May 28th

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When I woke up morning of Day 4, I saw a post from someone on the FanimeCon (Unofficial Fan Group) Facebook page asking for a ride back from the con to SF. I, a willing member, decided to respond to said post saying that I can help them out. No immediate response, so I headed out. The plan for the morning was to fill up on gas at Costco before heading to the con. However I forgot that they were closed due to the Memorial Day holiday, which meant that I had to go to a local station to partially fill up on more expensive gas. I arrived at the San Jose Convention Center about a quarter before 10am, and parked at the neighboring Almaden/Woz Lot.

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Upon arrival to the front of the con, the area was mostly dead with activity, though there was still plenty of photographers around. To bide my time I wandered the convention to see what was going on, and when I was done walking I gravitated back to the anime viewing rooms. Every so often I would come out to check if there was some good cosplays around, but they were few and far between.

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I got a response to the FB post saying that indeed they needed help carpooling back to SF, and if I was willing to wait until 8pm for them. This was a stretch for me as I originally planned to stay until after closing ceremonies which would end at around 4pm. I decided to wait for them since I had no major plans afterwards, thinking that I could just lounge around the convention area until the time.

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The closing ceremony started a little late but got underway, showing photo highlights, as well as having some guests of honor say a few things about their experience of this year’s FanimeCon. It ended with the announcement of next year’s theme for FanimeCon 2019: Silver Celebration, their 25th anniversary.

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Afterwards I thought that I could loiter around the convention center for a while, but as cleanup was underway con security was ushering us attendees out of the premises. I did a little walk around the outside area, but eventually just went back to my car which was sitting in the hot sun all day. With the temperature in the 90s, I moved it to a place with shade and proceeded to wait out the few hour wait time by listening to music and thinking and writing my experience of the con that just ended. A few hours later I picked up my “stranger” passenger and we left for SF. We had a nice conversation throughout the drive and arrived home without issues by 10:30pm.


Afterwords and Overall Thoughts

FanimeCon is my favorite con for a few reasons: For one it is local, so it’s easy to get to without worrying about accommodations. Secondly, the cosplay here is on point every time, comparable to what you see at Japan anime events like Comiket. The third is the community, just as others can say it feels like a family. Most of everyone here is friendly and helpful, but just like a real one it does have it’s flaws. I was actively checking and posting on FanimeCon’s Unofficial FB group, and I am impressed how positive community like we all are there.

Security had a consistent presence all over the venue, and it’s a welcome thing in this day and age. They didn’t get in the way, but maintained the peace by being visible everywhere, even with guard dogs. Luckily I myself didn’t see any major trouble, but apparently things were going down on the night of the third day that involved a dozen of cop cars. These were things I saw through Facebook.

If I haven’t made it obvious, I commuted every day from my home in SF to San Jose. I like driving and it only takes about 50 minutes or so to drive the distance. I encountered no traffic on my route to and from on all days. I also did not notice much of a police/CHP presence like I did last year when I got my speeding ticket. The only thing I have to worry about is the parking situation which I usually have down at this point. One thing I have to remember in the future is that Costco is closed on Memorial Day, so morning of Day 3 is when I should get gas, just a note to myself.

I felt that the quality of my photos have improved from my previous events I’ve shot, for a couple of reasons: Better equipment and better camera settings. However that did not exactly translate into more photos as my approach to approaching cosplayers is still lacking. More and more are cosplayers taken by professional photographers, or are in groups of friends and acquaintances which can make it intimidating to ask. I know the worst that can happen is that they say no, and actually no one I’ve asked to take a photo of has said that to me. I tend to be a person who thinks about what is more convenient for others, and hence if I see a cosplayer that I’d like to take a photo of but looks like they aren’t in the best situation for it, I end up walking away. It’s a negative trait of mine I know, but it’s somewhat natural for a introvert like me.

I’ve been an attendee of FanimeCon since 2011, that’s 8 years straight. When I go to cons I like to think of myself as the eyes and ears for people who aren’t at the event. I want to show a little of everything to convey the event as a whole; that includes the setting (location), people and cosplayers, and spontaneous events. This is similar to the style of a blog I used to check on a regular basis, Danny Choo’s. There was a time where my photo post of FanimeCon 2012 was shared by the man on his blog here, which made me quite happy. I’m starting to think though that I should try something a bit more productive. As I sometimes call my photography “freelance event photography”, I’m thinking of trying and move on up to Staff Photographer for the con. I’ve seen photos that the con puts out and I think that I can match or better their quality with my experience. I rarely do touchups with my photos mainly because I don’t have the skills yet to do it properly, so I rely on my photography skills to get the job done. Setting, lighting, composition are a few things that go through my mind when looking through my viewfinder of my camera, and when it all comes together it’s a great feeling. Being able to up my game by being an official part of the con feels like the right direction for me to go if I want to better myself in general, to be a bit more than a face in the crowd. I know that the drawbacks of doing this may restrict my style of event photography, being able to be everywhere at once. But the truth to the matter is I can never be everywhere. Anyways with the sheer amount of cameras everyone has, it’s nearly impossible to compete in trying to show unique content that others haven’t seen yet. By trying out to become a FanimeCon Staff Photographer, I can meet new people and experience up. This is not something that I’ve decided for certain, but it’s definitely something I’ll be considering in the future.

Overall, FanimeCon 2018 came and went without a notable hitch. As for me, I mentioned that I had mixed feelings about my experience of this year’s con. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t a big hype over a couple recent select anime like what happens with shows like Sword Art Online or Attack on Titan. Yeah there was a lot of My Hero Academia cosplayers, but even then it wasn’t as big as it could have been like with how animes were a few years ago. I feel like currently anime is in a lull of big hit shows. My last personal favorite was Re:Creators, and even that wasn’t well known at all. Energy levels were medium level at best all around the con, with the exception of the Nano concert which was fantastic, a high point for any person who attended it. I’ll still be going to FanimeCon in the future years to come, but in what capacity no one can tell.

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Winter Anime Season 2018 – Review March 31, 2018

Posted by coolmikeol in Seasonal Anime Reviews.
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This season of anime has been a very comfortable, adorable, and laid-back one for the most part. If you want to see a full list of what animes I’ve watched, you can always check out My Anime List. Here is a list of animes that I watched from this season:

Citrus

Dagashi Kashi 2

Darling in the FranXX

Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san

Miira no Kaikata

Sora yori mo Tooi Basho

Yuru Camp△

Remember, these reviews assume that you have watched the series, which means SPOILERS will be few but imminent. You have been warned.


 

Citrus


It’s yet another yuri anime, this time between “sisters”. Yuzu Aihara gains a step sister after her mother remarries. This girl is Mei Aihara, busybody Student Council President whose cold exterior makes her hard to approach. After certain events happen between the two at school, and learn that they are now sisters at home from their mom, “Mei forces her to the ground and kisses her, with Yuzu desperately trying to break free. Once done, Mei storms out of the room, leaving Yuzu to ponder the true nature of her first kiss, and the secrets behind the tortured expression in the eyes of her new sister.” – Via MAL.net

I feel that yuri animes of this nature seem to follow the same kind of drama approach: girl meets girl, one takes a step forward while one steps back, the one who stepped back tries to figure out her feelings, eventually trying to hook up with the girl who initiated the sexual approach. End. OK so I haven’t really seen that many yuri anime of this kind, the only other one I can think of is Netsuzou TRap, but I feel that this is likely how most shows like this go. It’s not a bad formula, but it’s basic in the extreme. What I mean by that is within this storytelling approach, in order to break the monotony of romance formulas, they raise the drama levels by making the conflict go back and forth like the rocking of a ship in a storm.

This anime was fine to watch, but the “romance” felt too forced on either side. It felt like they were just using it as an excuse to vent their stress on one another, sometimes to the point that when one person was trying to deny the approach, you could call it attempted rape. It never really got too extreme with this thought, but if this was a live action show (which I could imagine becoming a thing), then maybe it might be too graphic to watch for certain audiences.

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Dagashi Kashi 2

In this now anime short format second season of Dagashi Kashi, Kokonotsu Shikada continues to deal with the people and problems surrounding him. The first half of the season is more or less like it has been, with Hotaru hanging out with the gang marketing new kinds of dagashi to them. However, after the disappearance of Hotaru and the hiring of Hajime, the anime wasn’t really the same anymore. It was more focused on developing Kokonotsu’s character to some extent, to push him to figure out what he wanted to do in the future: Become a mangaka or takeover the Shikada dagashi store. While the opportunity to become a manga author came and went, Hotaru’s return brought back some of his confidence upon her return. Kokonotsu seems to aiming to move forward with help from his friends, with whatever pursuits he may have for the future.

Dagashi Kashi 2 was alright. It wasn’t structured advertising a dagashi per episode as it seemed to be in the first season, but rather more story based to develop Kokonotsu. I know people were noticing Hotaru’s extended absence, but even when she came back in the end it felt low key as she was not as crazy eyed as we have come to know her. Nothing really concluded in this second season, but somewhat entertaining at least.

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Darling in the FranXX

This anime will be ongoing to the next season as it is a 24 episode series. I’m on episode 11 and so far things are progressing well in terms of setting and character development, by using each episode to focus on a single person. I remember when I first started watching the first few episodes, I wondered how they were going to flesh out the story in a 12 episode series, though I was relieved to find out later that it was going to be 24 episodes.

DARLING in the FRANXX I feel is a combination of Trigger’s previous anime series Kiznaiver, a little bit of Kill La Kill, with A-1 Pictures art style and story pacing. The beginning felt rushed but at this point we’re getting into the heart of things. There’s still a lot of mystery to be revealed, and powers to be shown, so I’m looking forward to that.

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Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan

In the everyday peaceful life of Emiya Shirou, he cooks delicious dishes for the ones he calls his friends and family, bringing them all together for dinner. That’s pretty much what this show is about, another spin-off of the Fate series. While familiar with the Fate series, I haven’t actually watched any of the dozens of variations that this series has. This show however is just a simple show about how meals can bring different people together for the sake of warm company.

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Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san

Synopisi via MAL.net:

“”If you blush, you lose.”

Living by this principle, the middle schooler Nishikata gets constantly made fun of by his seat neighbor Takagi-san. With his pride shattered to pieces, he vows to turn the tables and get back at her some day. And so, he attempts to tease her day after day, only to find himself victim to Takagi-san’s ridicule again sooner than later. Will he be able to make Takagi-san blush from embarrassment even once in the end?”

This anime plays on the innocence of middle school youth between an easily embarrassed boy Nishikata and playfully teasing Takagi-san. Most of the time it’s the little things that Takagi-san does to Nishikata that gets him easily flustered. Sometimes you could argue that Takagi-sans constant teasing can be a form of light bullying. All in all though, neither one goes too far with teasing and is seen as light-hearted playing between a boy and a girl. And through their interactions, grow to learn and like each other.

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Miira no Kaikata

When I first saw some clips of this anime, I thought it was one of those anime short series where each episode was only several minutes long. Turns out it was a full fledged 24 minute 12 episode season. At first, based on a few clips I saw online I wondered how an anime of this nature would fill the time and keep me from sleeping while watching….

“When high school student Sora Kashiwagi finds himself staring down a mysterious oversized package sent to him by his self-proclaimed “adventurer” father, the last thing he expects is for it to be opened from the inside… by a little mummy so small it can fit in the palm of his hand!” – Synopsis Via MAL.net

Adorableness is the heart of this anime, and it’s something that pulled me in from the get go. Mii-kun the little mummy is like a little pet who loves attention, but at the same time is quite intelligent and listens to Sora. There are the other mythical beings that show up as well; Conny the stubborn oni child, Isao the mini dragon, and Mukumuku the super sprinting dream-eating baku. All of them are like animated stuffed animals that are just so cute, especially how they show they care for their owners.

While Mii-kun and friends are in the spotlight, I also noticed and enjoyed seeing the friendship growing between all of the main human characters. Sora is the extremely friendly type who always tries to help everyone else before himself. Besides his glaring-eyed childhood friend Tazuki who encounters Conny , he also befriends Motegi-chan and Daichi and helps them befriend their respective supernatural creatures Isao and Mukumuku.

This anime is great for people who would love a perfect pet or animal partner to look after. Who wouldn’t like a palm-sized plushie type of creature who loves your company and responds by helping you out when it can? I know I would, and for that is why I recommend this show for Slice-of-Life anime fans.

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Sora yori mo Tooi Basho

This anime is all about the roller coaster of youth and figuring out how you want to fulfill it. Here’s a synopsis from MAL.net:

“Filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder for the world around her, Mari Tamaki has always dreamt of what lies beyond the reaches of the universe. However, despite harboring such large aspirations on the inside, her fear of the unknown and anxiety over her own possible limitations have always held her back from chasing them. But now, in her second year of high school, Mari is more determined than ever to not let any more of her youth go to waste. Still, her fear continues to prevent her from taking that ambitious step forward—that is, until she has a chance encounter with a girl who has grand dreams of her own.

Spurred by her mother’s disappearance, Shirase Kobuchizawa has been working hard to fund her trip to Antarctica. Despite facing doubt and ridicule from virtually everyone, Shirase is determined to embark on this expedition to search for her mother in a place further than the universe itself. Inspired by Shirase’s resolve, Mari jumps at the chance to join her. Soon, their efforts attract the attention of the bubbly Hinata Miyake, who is eager to stand out, and Yuzuki Shiraishi, a polite girl from a high class background. Together, they set sail toward the frozen south.

Sora yori mo Tooi Basho follows the captivating journey of four spirited girls, all in search of something great.”

Originally I wasn’t planning to watch it, but midway through the season I heard good things about it so I decided to give it a try. This show has a fantastic story about growing your own dreams into reality, though hard work, willpower, and the help of teamwork. I enjoyed watching them all make it to Antarctica, a place that they could only image back in Japan. It’s like that feeling of how you plan for a trip a year in advance, and once you finally go and get to your destination, you feel like you’ve accomplished a big goal leading up to getting there.

My only issue with the show was the ending; it felt a bit rushed. It was like they just arrived at the Inland Base, and all of a sudden it switches to a frantic search for any sign of Shirase’s mother. I felt there should have been a scene in-between those two where Shirase realizes that she is where her mother was last before going off on the search. Besides that, the moment where she sees all the unsent E-mails was very emotional, and I almost shed a tear at that point. Their farewell to Antarctica was well deserved after all the hard work they did as part of the team, and I’m glad that they all had a fulfilling time there. I feel that all four of them will be able to move on in their lives, proud of a trip that most cannot say they have done before, exploring a place farther than anyone can really go on our planet, besides space of course.

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Yuru Camp△

Clearly the winner for the most comfiest anime I’ve seen, Yuru Camp is an anime about winter camping in Japan. In this Slice-of-life show where cute girls do cute things, I found myself loving the laid back style of the anime, alongside the humor and scenic vistas that the animation art had to offer.

Yuru Camp doesn’t have much of a story, as with most Slice-of-Life animes. In this case, each episode or two had camping scenes where it either focused on the solo Rin or the Outdoors Club members planning and camping. It showed the best of both worlds; Rin the solo camper tended to like going out on her own to enjoy her own pace, something I can understand. There are some benefits to traveling on your own, primarily not having to worry about planning around others especially if the trip is something that you are the planner of. However the best camping scenes usually happened when Rin and Nadeshiko and company camped together. Because Nadeshiko is new to camping, her reactions to discovering the joys of it are purely blissful. As an experienced camper, Rin seems to enjoy seeing their first impressions of things that she is used to.

You can probably say that this anime is a good marketer of camping supplies as well. Most of the items mentioned in the show are real, like the different kinds of sleeping bags and tents, and cooking supplies. It was interesting to have explanations for how to use them and for what specific purposes they were best for. And to keep it more or less down to reality, real prices were shown as a key point for what the high school group could actually afford. I’ve gone camping once myself with friends, and it was definitely a learning experience: Bringing the essentials, managing space in a car, knowing the area around the campsite, anticipating changing weather conditions, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed this anime though seeing Nadeshiko’s initial reactions and experiences, and learning about things about camping I did not know. As I mentioned before I have not really gone camping besides the one trip I had last year, and I’m also not much of an outdoors person. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to try new things, as I’m a naturally curious person just like Nadeshiko is, which is why I can relate to her. When I finished this anime I actually started looking up campsites in my area, just to consider options if I were to try going camping on my own as an overnight trip.

Fall Anime Season 2017 – Review January 17, 2018

Posted by coolmikeol in Seasonal Anime Reviews.
Tags: , ,
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This final season of the year wasn’t particularly interesting, but it had some good ones none the less. If you want to see a full list of what animes I’ve watched, you can always check out My Anime List. Here is a list of animes that I watched from this season:

Blend S

Boku no Kanojo ga Majimesugiru Sho-bitch na Ken

Himouto! Umaru-chan R

Love Live! Sunshine!! 2nd Season

Net-juu no Susume

Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara

Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara

UQ Holder!: Mahou Sensei Negima! 2

Remember, these reviews assume that you have watched the series, which means SPOILERS will be few but imminent. You have been warned.


Blend S

One of my surprising favorites of this season is Blend S. Our main heroine Maika Sakuranomiya has a bad habit of glaring at people, making her look mad and sadistic especially when she doesn’t mean to. After having trouble finding a part time job, she is scouted one day by an Italian man who is also the manager of Stile, a café where its waitresses are given unique traits. Maika is given a sadist trait because of her looks and has to adopt a dominant and cruel persona when servicing customers, particularly masochist ones.

This show to me is like a combination of the animes Working! and a bit of Kiniro Mosaic; Mostly for its customer service workplace environment and somewhat from Maika’s interest in foreigners and studying abroad. I love the humor and moments of fanservice, but I also enjoyed the shipping developments between some of the characters, especially Akizuki and Kaho. I can sort of relate to Maika as I have a natural angry look on my face, especially when I don’t mean to or am not paying attention to my surroundings. The season ended on a good note, but it did not feel like a true end. Maybe we’ll see more of this show in future, at least I hope so.

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Boku no Kanojo ga Majimesugiru Sho-bitch na Ken

If you could already tell from the looks of it, yes it’s another one of those ecchi harem type animes. No it’s not great as it ends up becoming a constant double act of our protagonist being the straight man to the girls who throw out perverted lines all the time. If you want a better version of an anime like this, try Seitokai Yakuindomo.

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Himouto! Umaru-chan R

The adventures of Umaru continues in this second season, where not much has changed. She still enjoys lazing around playing video games and eating junk food. However I felt that she shows more heart this time around, caring more for the ones around her even in her chibi mode. We also got more screen time for the other characters of the show, as well as being introduced to a couple new ones as well. Umaru redeemed herself in my eyes that she is truly a person who can balance family, friends, and her own personal desires.

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Love Live! Sunshine!! 2nd Season

Continuing off from the Love Live loss from the previous season, Aqours prepares for the next Love Live. They still had the looming problem of their school closing without enough applicants, so this was their last chance to attract new prospective students by trying to win Love Live! Despite their best efforts however, they could not reach the goal set by Mari’s father and thus closure was imminent. Winning Love Love for their school has always been their goal, but now that focus was shifted to use Love Live to immortalize their school’s name in history. With enough determination and teamwork, their efforts paid off and were victorious. They gave their old school a memorable send off and in the end, Aqours went their separate ways.

I thought that this second season worked much better than the first, primarily because Aqours distanced themselves from their inspiration, μ’s. Not once did I ever remember μ’s mentioned in this season, and I think it’s a good thing because it’s to show that Aqours is their own thing, not just a copy or shadow of something else. There was also a decent amount of character development, allowing almost each character an episode to tackle a personal issue with the group usually helping out. This season wrapped up Aqours story in the most ideal way, and while a bit too clean for my taste, closed up most of the plot holes that I can think of.

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Net-juu no Susume

This was one of the best animes of the season, at least in my opinion and age group. Here’s a synopsis from MAL.net:

“For the first time since graduating high school, 30-year-old Moriko Morioka is unemployed—and she couldn’t be happier. Having quit her long-standing job of over 11 years, Moriko quickly turns to online games to pass her now-plentiful free time, reinventing herself as the handsome and dashing male hero “Hayashi” in the MMO Fruits de Mer. With the pesky societal obligations of the real world out of the way, she blissfully dives headfirst into the realm of the game, where she promptly meets the kind and adorable healer Lily. Befriending each other almost instantly, the two become inseparable just as Moriko herself becomes more and more engrossed in her new “life” as Hayashi. Eventually, Moriko adopts the reclusive lifestyle in its entirety, venturing out from the safety of her apartment only when absolutely necessary.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Moriko, a timid 28-year-old corporate worker named Yuuta Sakurai has also logged onto Fruits de Mer from the other side of town. Coincidentally bumping into each other at the convenience store one night, both write off their meeting as no more than just another awkward encounter with a stranger—however, fate has more in store for them than they think.”

Because I’m a 27 year old part time worker and avid anime/video game fan, I connected with this show quite easily. I know the feeling of working constantly, and having it wear you down. I also know the great feeling of unwinding by playing online games with friends. I may not play MMOs much specifically, but I get the gist of how Moriko feels in general with video games. As with any anime that doesn’t focus on a student, it’s a breath of fresh air. What’s also charming about this show is the development of our main characters Moriko and Yuuta, two individuals who meet by chance but grow closer to one another through a shared interest. The show had a healthy conclusion that we can assume leads to a bright future to the both of them.

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Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara

This was an adorable anime short series to watch, that shows the absolute trust and love a married couple can show for each other. Here’s a self-explaining synopsis from MAL.net:

Chisato Mizusawa is a reserved but excellent and pretty assistant manager in her company. She has a secret that only her husband Sora knows, which is that she likes drinking alcohol, and she can become very cute when she is drunk! Even tonight, she gets relaxed (with the phrase “Shifuku~”) and drunk with the cocktail Sora makes♥. It’s a “Yoidere (Drunken Dere)” cocktail comedy of Japan’s closest husband and wife.

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Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara

In this third season of Shokugeki no Soma, Yukihira faces new challenges in the form of taking on the elite 10 directly. Through trials and tribulations he grows his cooking skills to new levels, but not before a new enemy appears to change and destroy all that Soma believes in….

I enjoyed this season as it wasn’t just all about Shokugekis and all, but rather about the whole school and about how divided the ideals of cooking are between all the students. Because of that rift, and the fact that the majority of its source comes from the top tier students, Soma is forced to face his toughest battles yet, pushing him towards the top as well. Will this be enough to change things for the better? We’ll find out hopefully when the next season begins.

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UQ Holder!: Mahou Sensei Negima! 2

UQ Holder! is a sequel manga to the Mahou Sensei Negima! series both by Ken Akamatsu. Knowing this is important because I feel that you really need to be familiar with Negima! in order to understand all the references and general story. In this anime adaptation, it has been decades since the events from Negima! This story follows Tota Konoe, a young boy who grew up in the countryside. Two years prior, he was saved by Yukihime (Evangeline A.K. McDowell) after his parents was killed by an unknown person. Due to this he loses his memories before the incident, and Yukihime takes him under her care. Back in the present, Tota enjoys his everyday life with his friends until one day he is attacked and is left on the verge of death. Yukihime saves him once more, though this time by offering to live as an immortal vampire such as herself. He learns then that he is the grandson of Negi Springfield, and that the answers he seeks about his life lies with him at the space elevator tower in the city.

As a fan of the Negima! series, I’ve finished the manga and was quite interested in UQ Holder! when I discovered it on Crunchyroll’s manga page. With how rushed and incomplete the ending of Negima! was, I was hoping that this sequel would iron out the details about the Lifemaker and the fate of Negi and class 3-A. As of writing this, I’ve read up to chapter 127, but that was over a year ago since I last read a new chapter. When it was revealed that Tota was a clone of Negi in the anime, I wasn’t sure whether or not that was in the manga or just added for the anime. I’m also pretty sure though that the encounter and battle between Tota and Negi in the anime probably didn’t happen in the manga, as I knew that they needed to have some sort of climax and ending to the anime season…. At least not yet anyways. I felt that UQ Holder!’s manga didn’t have enough chapters for them to have a proper story to animate, so my expectations were not high for the anime. Though I guess having anything Negima! related animated is something good regardless, especially looking at the track record that the series has when made into an anime.

While the first couple of episodes adapted the manga well, I felt the rest of the season was too fragmented and rushed due to lack of content from the manga, and tied in an original ending to conclude the anime. I could be completely wrong as I haven’t kept up with the manga, but seeing how Akamatsu’s series-turned-anime tends to end up, I would not be surprised if this was the case. I do have hopes that UQ Holder! will eventually flesh out the Negima! universe, as well as becoming its own thing from the child professor, but only time will tell.

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