28 New Anime from 2017 Worth Checking Out!

2017 was the year I decided to seriously invest in anime. Back in 2016, I had little clue on how people were consuming anime, watching only the trending anime on social media like Erased, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Yuri on Ice, and Mob Psycho 100. I was not really attached to anime yet until I fell in love with the Little Witch Academia OVAs on Halloween 2016. Captivated by the character Akko Kagari and the Disney-like animation, I sought for more LWA content.

Learning that there would be an upcoming LWA anime series on January 2017, I wanted to get into the hype train for it, joining the many LWA communities in places like Discord and Reddit. Eventually, I learned about seasonal anime, where MyAnimeList helped me get a better picture of what was airing right now. I followed the hype for Demi-Chan and Dragon Maid. Soon, I delved into deeper territory like Fuuka and Seiren. Quickly getting used to the method of anime distribution by Spring 2017, my life became mostly about watching as much new anime as I could.

Looking back to every 2017 anime I finished, there were SO MANY anime that I adored. There were so many gems, that I want to share my personal list of 30 anime worth watching. Some anime I list here are ones that I loved. There are also some anime here that did not strike my tastes, but I can see others loving them more based on execution and the value it offers.

I rank these from least to most personal favorite. Note: Just because I rank them this way, it does not mean the lower-ranked anime are any less worth watching.

28. Kakegurui

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In a school where student supremacy matters and gambling is the means of survival, Kakegurui aims to greatly entertain by demonstrating the psychotic nature of gamblers in the many games that occur. The main character Jabami Yumeko is a joy to watch because of how she approaches gambling. She may seem innocent at glance, but when the gambling games begin, she becomes a totally obsessive nut that pleasures at the biggest risks taken.

Each new gambler that Jabami faces is more insane than the last. It is the utter insanity of its characters that make Kakegurui great. The actual gambling aspect is relatively weak though, as stakes start to feel less threatening as episodes go by. But, if you are one that loves entertaining characters and can get past that single issue, you will have an amusing time with this anime.

27. Tsuki ga Kirei 

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Tsuki ga Kirei is a simple, yet adorable tale about two middle-schoolers that develop their romance through silent communication. The relationship building is slow, yet is directed in a way that feels very natural for the narrative. The lovers, Kotarou and Akane, go through various life struggles such as love-triangles, gaining courage, and achieving dreams.

The more the two communicate in the narrative, the more I rooted for their love becoming true. The overall execution of these elements is pretty solid. There are hardly any issues for me, aside from the occasional CG animation of background characters in a few scenes. For how unique the direction is for a romance, Tsuki ga Kirei is definitely worth your time.

26. Sakura Quest

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Wanting to help out a dying local area, five cute women team up to gradually reinvigorate the town of Manoyama back to a very popular visitor attraction. Sakura Quest is an anime that does a fine job at investing me into its subject matter. With decent character development, down-to-earth tone, and interesting background exploration, there was enough interest there for me to keep watching to the end.

While Sakura Quest is decent all around, the pacing for the anime can be too slow for others to tolerate. Backstories/exploration tend to take the bigger spotlight, rather than characters actually contributing to the cause. I really wished contribution and development were equally distributed with tight pacing so that watching the efforts of Yoshino and others feel more rewarding. Still, I highly recommend this anime. You might find the slow progression of the building town plot to be very suitable.

25. ATOM: The Beginning

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ATOM: The Beginning is a modernized prequel to Astro Boy, detailing the back-stories of the Tenma and Ochanomizu before they built the robot Astro. Even if you have not read or watched the iconic series, ATOM is a great experience on its own.  The main character’s personalities and their bouncy relationship is the main hook, settling their differences in philosophy through emotional character developments and the robot fights their prototype A106 faces.

There are some notable issues with ATOM that might have others to lose engagement. The storytelling can feel plain sometimes, occasionally having scenes that do little progress for the narrative. The supporting characters do not contribute much aside from being tools for progressing the Tenma/Ochanomizu relationship. But, if you can tolerate those problems, you will find a pretty awesome character-driven anime with decent action and good storytelling.

24. Kemono Friends 

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Despite how jarring the CG looks for visual presentation, Kemono Friends is one of most surprisingly anime I enjoyed in 2017. What keeps the anime intriguing is the world lore and back-story hidden in its light-hearted narrative. There is a special charm to this show and I could tell that the staff put craftsmanship into its decent storytelling and cute animal characters.

In my personal opinion, this anime is best watched with pals. Being able to share the experience of finding hidden, mind-blowing secrets in scenes with friends enhances the overall enjoyment value you will have for this anime. Watching it alone is not as fun. If you are looking for a fun and adorable time with engaging surprises, Kemono Friends is a must-watch anime.

23. Welcome to the Ballroom

I have debated several times whether I should add Welcome To The Ballroom to this list. I expected the animation to be consistently solid for this shounen sports series about dancing, given how Yuri On Ice was able to keep me very interested in ice-skating with its fluidly animated body movements. While the animation did not reach my expectations, its daring sharp art style/presentation/sound and solidly developed characters did enough for me to be constantly entertained by the dancing.

Tatara, the main character, does start with a blank slate personality. But as the journey of his ballroom career continues, he develops into something great. More interesting characters are gradually introduced, dynamically fascinating relationships are created, and the dancing action gets more intense. Seeking for a shounen anime that will get you interested in a random sport? Welcome to the Ballroom will do a great job at that.

22. Tsugumomo

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What seemed to be a typical ecchi harem, Tsugumomo turns out to be a shockingly pretty good action anime. Its utilization of Japanese culture is what made me very curious to watch it. The concept of tsukumogamis (Objects that become human-like with souls over a long period of time) fascinated me greatly as I watched more. It made me want to learn more about the various abilities of tsukumogami and the world Tsugumomo offers. Towards finishing the epic final episode, I wanted more.

Tsugumomo gave me one of my favorite characters in anime ever, Kiriha. Enjoying this anime will depend on your toleration for ecchi elements. It happens very often to the male MC (Kazuya) and it can be an immediate turn off for those that just want to see more lore, backstory, and action. If you do happen to finish the anime and really like the content Tsugumomo offers, I urge you to read the manga after. The manga has god-like art and becomes an amazing ride as the story delves further.

21. Aho Girl

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Aho Girl is a good treat! I had a wonderful time spending my precious time with Yoshiko, laughing at her stupidity, her banana obsession, and the troubles she causes for her friends. Her vicious nature allows for some really funny gags, especially with the moments when A-Kun attempts to stop Yoshiko’s madness. Aho Girl is essentially a comedy of stupidity versus sanity that executes its humor very well.

Your sense of humor will ultimately depend whether you will continue watching this anime. There are some that will loathe Yoshiko’s dumbfounded personality and find the comedy unfunny, while others like me will enjoy and appreciate the wackiness of this main character. I really want to see a second season of Aho Girl. With the manga ending early 2018, there is likely enough to adapt more Yoshiko greatness.

20. Restaurant to Another World

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Being part of the overfilling isekai genre, you would expect Restaurant to Another World to be your typical average anime. But, this is not the case. This anime is just a simple, comfy set of many tales about creatures/humans from various worlds coming to a restaurant for some good food. The pleasant soundtrack, presentation, and direction immediately gets me immersed in its atmosphere and in the mood to eat. The way side-stories are integrated as an emotional build-up for the food serving scenes is great and gives the anime a unique charm.

I do not find many flaws with Restaurant to Another World because I feel everything is executed decently. If there were anything to complain about, it would just be me wanting to learn more about the main characters and seeing them develop closer relationships. I would not mind seeing more heartfelt restaurant stories from this anime with another season. I could definitely use more nourishment.

19. Magical Circle Guru Guru

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Magical Circle Guru Guru is a pretty silly comedy series about two kids that go off an adventure to seal the power of Giri, in an RPG-like fashion. Most of the humor in ranges from making fun of RPGs, childish jokes, and a bunch of randomness. Personally, this series did not make me laugh as consistently as I would have hoped. Not because of the type of jokes it offers, but because the humor was fast-paced.

To be clear, I think the pacing and humor are well-executed and appropriate for this kind of show. It is just that for me, I just did not have enough time to sink in all the types of jokes that go by very quickly. Now if the humor and pacing is something right up your alley, I think you will absolutely adore this. I believe this series deserves to have more recognition, despite my personal preferences. This is why I put Magical Circle Guru Guru on this list, for anyone that might enjoy its humor.

18. Youjo Senki

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This anime is about a loli with magical powers fighting in a time of world war, who becomes a commander to have her country become one of the most dominant nations in power. That premise sounds ridiculous, and it is, but it is a lot of fun because of the main character. Tanya is a merciless little bastard that will do anything to prove her skills to Being X, the mysterious being who gives Tanya supernatural abilities.

The motivations and tactical methods of Tanya are so absurd and hilarious, that I wanted to see her dominate more battles as the series progressed. Youji Senki starts out really slow in the first episode, but once I watched the second episode that gave Tanya much-needed character exploration, this anime hooked me. Looking for a war anime mixed in with some craziness? Youjo Senki will be a treat for you.

17. Gamers

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Gamers, despite its title, does not actually focus on gaming itself. Instead, the focal point is the relationship of gamers and how their awkward natures lead to many hilarious misunderstandings. The way the misunderstandings keeps building and building to create many complicated-to-explain relationships makes Gamers one of the most well-crafted romantic comedy anime out there.

I vastly enjoyed most of the time I spent laughing at the hilarity of the relationships, although the ending did sort of confuse me. The final episode felt out of place given Gamers‘ overall story structure. Although, this direction shift was not a deal-breaker, since episode 11 gave me a satisfying conclusion to the relationship madness. If you are looking for a comedy that constantly builds up its humor and hilarity to a great degree, Gamers will fulfill your needs.

16. Blend-S

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Blend-S is about a group of maids in a cafe, who serve their customers with a unique characteristic attached. For example, Maika (shown above in the middle) serves in a sadistic, yet unusually pleasing fashion for the benefit of her customers. The premise is utilized for comedic purposes. With the many different maids that join the cafe, Blend-S delivers its humor in a pretty refreshing way.

My only complaint is that I wish character development would be lightly present because its premise also opens great potential for character progression. Some of the later introduced maids like Miu and Hideri do not get enough time for their share of comedy. Blend-S rather spends its last episodes focusing on the relationship between Maika and Dino (I did not mind this too much though). Looking for a slice of comedy with a unique spin brimmed with adorable girls, Blend-S will serve you right.

15. Gabriel Dropout (A.K.A. Satania the Anime)

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This anime is your ordinary slice-of-life, except with heaven and hell taking over. When an angel named Gabriel visits Earth and later becomes a hikikomori from playing too many video games, angels and demons come down to help revitalize her lifestyle. These devout cute girls approach everyday activities in so many hilarious ways. Gabriel Dropout is definitely worth your time, but Gabriel and others are not whom actually matter.

What actually matters is Satania. Satania is the devil’s miraculous little daughter that wants to cause trouble for others, but ends up failing at her plans 100% of the time. This demon is the freaking star of the show for me, and her every attempt of being evil is top-tier hysterical. When I finished this anime, I was sad that there was no more Satania for me to consume. Satania will make you the happiest human on the planet. If you are not first watching this anime for our beautiful goddess Satania, you are watching Gabriel Dropout WRONG!

14. KADO: The Right Answer

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Have you ever thought about the progression of humanity? As a species, we have slowly evolved in terms of technology, morality, and politics that has helped us become “better” people. What if humanity could advance greatly in just a short span of time? KADO has that answer. What makes this anime so interesting is that it covers many topics on how humanity could advance, using special tools that further enhance human capabilities.

The more interesting part of KADO is how humanity and the main characters react to having such growth. Each character is handled maturely and has a unique personality that explores a different side of KADO, ranging from news coverage, researching, to handling negotiation for this mysterious gift for humanity. I do not want to give away too much away. This blend of covering human advancement topics with humanity’s reactions to KADO is what makes the anime a seriously intriguing watch.

13. Princess Principal

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What I initially expected from Princess Principal was a slice of life about cute girls doing spy things for fun just based on the promotional poster. In actuality, this is about cute girls doing spy missions like conducting assassinations, keeping close-watches on political matters, and other kinds of espionage. I was shocked by how progressive and intriguing the story was.

The way the characters conduct missions, show fun personalities, and display their unique skills gives Princess Principal a lot of entertainment value. With its cool steampunk setting and fancily adorable character design, it gives the anime strong originality.  Princess Principal is a must watch for any anime fan desperately looking for a creatively amusing thriller.

12. Made in Abyss

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This is a one-of-a-kind, straight-forward, emotional, immersive adventure. The world of the Abyss is packed with exciting places, dangerous creatures, and countless explorers that hides various secrets and mysterious powers. Two adventurers, Riko and Reg, go down the abyss’s deepest layers to find what they are looking for, not knowing the darkness that awaits them.

I will warn those that might go in blind to keep in mind that this anime will have nightmarish content awaiting you, but it is worth it. In my personal opinion, this anime is a must-see for EVERYONE. Made in Abyss has great animation, beautiful presentation, heart-pumping character development, and a very euphonious soundtrack that melds into one of the most incredible experiences ever.

11. Kino’s Journey

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Kino’s Journey‘s premise is fascinating and simple to explain. Kino and her talking motorcycle travel to different countries, but here’s the catch. Each country has their own interesting set of rules and conditions for stopping by their place. What makes the premise wholly intriguing is Kino and her mysterious morality towards these countries. The very fun part is guessing whether Kino will commit immoral or moral actions in the places she briefly stays in.

The actions Kino/other characters do make me think about many things about morality in general and what would it be like if I lived in that country.  The only complaints I have with this anime are the episodes that feature Shizu. His character was fine in his debut, but his moral actions towards the countries he visits are generally pretty boring. But, the execution of the other episodes featuring Kino are thankfully fantastic to make up for an overall solid experience.

10. Animegataris

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To me, Animegataris is an overall pretty good celebration of the anime medium. It consistently entertained and capture my emotions with its heavy utilization of anime for character development and humor. It starts from a solid show about passionate otakus forming close friendships to ending with an insanely ridiculous meta extravaganza.

If you are a hardcore anime fan, there is no excuse for missing Animegataris. I had a joyful time writing my impressions about each new weekly episode in great detail on Twitter, Reddit, MyAnimeList, and Discord. Honestly, I really want to see another season of this anime so I can spend more beloved time with lovable characters like Minoa and KaiKai.

9. Land of the Lustrous

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Land of the Lustrous is unlike anything I have ever seen in the anime medium. The most notable aspect is the use of CG. The 3D animation is very smooth, the camera movement is expertly utilized, and the elemental textures are superb that helps greatly define several characters. The world and storytelling are just as incredible. This anime takes place in a fascinating land, where human-like gems are the remaining, near-extinct species and must defend their lives from invaders called Lunarians.

The human-like gems are filled with personality and unique characteristics, introduced incrementally as the story progresses. The main character, Phos, is the most interesting gem. She makes this anime fun and gripping because of her reckless actions to the world and characters, helping create substantial development and strong narrative for the character. Every component of Land of the Lustrous is integrated perfectly, hitting the right chords for me to be seriously submerged into the experience.

(*Can I also just mention that the soundtrack for this anime is incredible. This is the best OST I have listened to since Little Witch Academia’s OST. The orchestration is incredibly atmospheric and perfectly composed. I haven’t listened to a perfect OST like this since MOTHER 3 and UNDERTALE.)

8. Inuyashiki

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From the beginning to the end of Inuyashiki, I was hooked. The premise surrounding two humans becoming robots in a realistic setting fascinated me. There is the good guy Ichiro Inuyashiki, an old man who strives to be a selfless hero helping the community. The other is a psychotic teenager Hiro Shishigami who decides to selfishly use his powers for killing. Both of their ideals and utilization of powers fascinate me on a moral level. It is executed in a way that feels grounded in reality.

The contrast of these characters is nearly as intriguing as the rivalry of Light/L in Death Note. There are some rough areas in the anime such as the CG and the middle part of the story that nearly destroys Hiro’s fearful demeanor. Which thankfully, his character stays afloat right after. Inuyashiki is a simple, refreshing what-if story that does an excellent job at grabbing my emotions and consistently entertaining me. Urging for an extremely unique action anime, this anime will give you a “BANG!” for the buck!

7. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is an adorable tale of two very different individuals. Kobayashi, the main character, is an extremely efficient working adult that has a cynical outlook on human society. Tohru, a dragon that becomes a human maid for Kobayashi, views society as a new hope for her dangerous species. The way these characters slowly establish their different viewpoints on humanity to create trusting strong bonds throughout the series is what makes this anime so good.

The playful art style, presentation, and soundtrack give Miss Kobyashi’s Dragon Maid its own distinct identity. The side characters do a solid job at adding to the anime’s whimsical experience, notably with Kanna/Riko. Fair warning, there are several sexual elements present in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid that might leave some people uncomfortable. If you can get past that, I think you will have a very pleasant time with this delightful slice-of-life.

6. The Royal Tutor

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This anime is about a brilliant tutor named Heine Wittgenstein, who is sent by the king of Grannzeich to train four different princes for one of them to reign in the throne Although the premise seemed pretty mundane, The Royal Tutor really surprised me. I did not like the cast in the first episode, but as characters progressed thanks to Heine’s nifty teaching strategies, I started to grow attached to them all.

The anime’s strongest assets is its characterization and character development. Despite the princes and tutor generally feeling typical in personality, they shine brightly when they interact with one another. The Royal Tutor is insanely good at blending these characters together to create an abundance of solid comedy and emotional moments. I was very unhappy when I finished the last episode because I loved every main character. This is a high recommendation for those that are craving for a magnificent cast of lovable characters.

5. Girls’ Last Tour

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This anime is an adorable mystery slice of life about two girls traveling around an apocalpytic wasteland, surviving together to see what their lives has to offer left. At first, I watched Girls’ Last Tour for its strong element of “cute girls doing cute things”. But as the episodes gradually became darker and tense, I started to notice that this anime was more than just a cute show. I began to love perspectives of the main characters, Chito and Yuuri, on how they view the collapsed society of Earth.

These two have an entirely blank slate, often questioning many human-made things modern society uses lying on the ground. What these girls speculate, say, and think towards these “foreign stuff” gives me very intriguing viewpoints that makes me question my utilization and consumption of various things. With Girls’ Last Tour‘s deep, subtle themes and consistently adorable moments, it is why I put this anime to such a high degree of greatness.

4. Interviews with Monster Girls

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I made an in-depth article explaining why you need to watch this anime, but I will keep it brief here. The story of Interviews with Monster Girls takes place in a time where demi-humans, people with the characteristics of a monster, have slowly become accepted in modern human society. Demi-humans are similar to human beings, but they are in need of special services to integrate into society. They have their own distinct set of personalities, issues, and traits that create a diverse cast of interesting characters that feel very genuine and benefit my attachment to these characters.

Part of the reason Interviews with Monster Girls excels is mainly because of Mr. Takahashi, whose primary objective in the story is to conduct interviews with various demi-humans to help to give him a good understanding of each demi-human. Watching him discover new things about demi-humans through thorough conversations can be very intriguing, hilarious. and emotional. If you are looking for a slice-of-life anime with great character building, in-depth character exploration, and a small unique twist, I highly recommend Interviews with Monster Girls.

3. A Sister’s All You Need

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From the first two minutes of the 1st episode, A Sister’s All You Need might seem like a show to immediately avoid due to the fan-service, incest nature. But the true premise of this anime is not that. What it actually is about is exploring the struggles and reality of a light novel author named Itsuki, who is obsessed with writing little sister stories. It is all executed in a down-to-earth, yet light-hearted and comedic manner that formed an unusually powerful connection with me.

Each episode focuses on characters playing board games, hanging out, and finding ways to progress their jeopardized career in the light novel industry. The former in particular might seem very uninteresting at first, but they help largely develop character relationships in various surprising ways. The cast of characters is the real spotlight. Nayu is the most endearing with her bold, shameless love for Itsuki. All of them have their own weird tastes, yet feel real and are very empathizable. A Sister’s All You Need is probably the best sister anime I have seen. I daresay everyone must watch this.

2. Re:CREATORS

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Out of all of the anime I have seen this year, Re:Creators has the most creative premise ever. The idea of creators meeting their own creations is a fascinating idea that has an endless pool of possibilities. It is a premise that normally fan-fictions would be capable of doing. I could tell that the actual creators of this anime put a lot of heart into making this concept because there were lots of interesting ideas explored. Re:Creators explores many interesting relationships and conversations between creators and creations.

These conversations are really interesting because you get see the creations ask their opinions and questions about why their story is the way it is. Creators can get life-threatening criticism from their own creations. Through these conversations, it helps the creator improve their personal development and fixing their flaws as a story writer. It is an unexpected way of character growth that I really enjoy and can connect to.

Creations also get their own development through the realization of being a fictional character. Each development is very unique as there are creations of various genres that deal with situations in amusing and sometimes meta ways.  I feel the story created in this anime is such a huge feat accomplished by how many elements play an interesting role in Re:Creators. I will note that this anime is dialogue heavy, so Re:Creators might not be for everyone. But if you can handle it, you are in for one of the best experiences ever.

1. Little Witch Academia

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I have poured bottomless love for Little Witch Academia throughout its airing. I joined many communities that had a healthy amount of LWA fans I could talk to. I made a Twitter account dedicated to the main character Akko’s range of expressions, created a free folder of thousands of Akko content, and created an Akko face poll for the LWA fandom to vote on. What are the underlying reasons I put Little Witch Academia as my biggest personal favorite of 2017?

One of the core reasons is the animation, design, soundtrack, and presentation. I think this is Studio TRIGGER‘s best looking/sounding anime yet. The way characters and backgrounds are designed. The way the soundtrack uses its orchestral vibes. The way characters breath exquisite life through animation. They are all conducted in a way that gives Little Witch Academia a very strong charm, heavily reminding me of the whimsical and fun nature of 2D Disney animation.

The biggest reason is the main character. Atsuko Kagari is by far one of my favorite characters of all time. The expressive energy/positivity she brings through animation/personality is incredible and admirable. She might seem annoying to others because of her many failures, but when she tries her best in practicing magic, Akko is incredibly admirable and relatable. She is one that I constantly rooted for throughout the entire series, especially when it came to her relationships with Ursula and Diana.

The other side characters are pretty great too, each one having their own flavor of personality and charm. My personal favorite has to be Sucy because of her mischievous behavior and Lotte for being such an endearing bookworm willing to help Akko in her time of need. There are issues I have with the series, despite the #1 ranking. The story progression can often feel a bit too slow paced during its second cour and the animation is notably lackluster in a few episodes that can make LWA feel empty at times.

But, I think this anime does enough good to make me forgive those problems. Little Witch Academia overall is the best anime of 2017, in my opinion. The simplistic storytelling, immersive presentation/world, strong charm, playful animation, wonderful soundtrack, and lovable characters make LWA one of the greatest experience I had in anime ever. I urgently need this anime to get a second season as soon as possible. Without any new LWA content in the possible future, I would be astonishingly unhappy.

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That is all of the new 2017 anime I feel everyone should give a shot at. I had a fun time reflecting my thoughts for each entry, and I hope you are convinced to watch at least one of them. If you watched any of these anime, let me know your thoughts on the comments below! If you are curious to learn more about my anime preferences, check out my MyAnimeList profile. I am hoping 2018 will provide a strong selection of new anime that I can recommend to you!

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(SPOILERS) My Love/Hate Relationship with Clannad: After Story

This anime was almost a masterpiece to me. It offered the same emotional value, comedy, realism, and on-point pacing that made Clannad so great as a romance. I was greatly attached to every moment that happened in After Story. The challenges Tomoya and Nagisa go through as parents was a phenomenal journey. I had become even more attached when their daughter came into the story. The struggles were had me completely caring about the characters’ situation. Everything was going perfect…. until Episode 22 came.

How could you FUCK UP an emotional rollercoaster and decide to put bullshit mechanics to warrant an exultant ending? I completely understand how these mysterious dream scenes build up throughout the full story and connect in alignment to the “final” episode. The light collecting does fit into Clannad very well to its themes and messages. I can highly understand that this one part was in the visual novel and that its parallel timelines are connected to Clannad. But FUCK! This kind of ending DOES NOT WORK into the anime medium!

This ending would have worked, had I been playing its visual novel. When I play a visual novel or game, interaction is usually part of the core experience. From what I could gather from researching, light orbs are essentially collectibles that appear when you do good deeds in Clannad. Hypothetically, if I were to be playing the VN, I would definitely feel rewarded and wonder what its use in Clannad will come to be.

From the perspective of watching Clannad as an anime, these light orbs were vague to me. I had barely understood what the point of those scenes was since I first watched Clannad. I initially thought that this a way to set the mood for episodes and that this would later be explained when the final episode came. In reality, what these light orbs led up to was taking Tomoya back to the time when Nagisa was about to die from giving birth to Ushio, and making Nagisa live.

As much as I really disliked the decision to let a precious girl like Nagisa see death in Episode 16, I was completely ok with it. That moment had enormous potential for an unforgettable bonding of Tomoya and Ushio. For the most part, that potential was achieved greatly. But, the end result of what built up to the light orbs is a complete robbery of the development that occurred with Tomoya and Ushio.

What basically happened in Episode 22 was a complete divorce of the built up emotions/connection that occurred in After Story, in favor of adding a new fantasy element that feels 100% out of the ordinary and cheap. I can tolerate its supernatural things like Fuko being a connection spirit that no one else can see. However, considering that the majority of what happens in Clannad is grounded in reality, its time travel event poses an immediate, flat-out unbelievable transition that I find hard to grasp.

Here is what I am getting at. If I were playing the VN, these light orbs would hold significance because I would be *interacting* and be a part of the experience. Eventually, once I hypothetically reach the Ushio death ending, I would feel my efforts to do good deeds in Clannad had paid off because *I* was able to revert back to the good times with Nagisa. I DO NOT feel rewarded for *watching* these light orb events happen in the anime because I am not interactively part of the core experience. Therefore, as a result, I initially watch and perceive these light orbs as insignificant, not knowing what the actual purpose these dream scenes serve.

Even if, technically, Tomoya does have memories of tragic experience with Ushio when he comes back to a happier Nagisa timeline, it does not change the fact that he himself was not very aware that he was contributing to the light orbs. Tomoya never worked hard on directly producing these and makes it seem like luck just came his way at his most desperate moment. This light orb time travel bullshit really pissed me off.

Kyoto Animation could have easily made a solid original story that continued what happened in the dead Nagisa timeline, used that miraculous orb moment to revive Ushio, and create a phenomenally powerful moment where Tomoya is crying and happy that Ushio is alive. This would not interfere with the straight-forward story Clannad has built up until Episode 22 and would have made a larger emotional impact on me. This would have made characters move on and accept the loss of Nagisa, helping Tomoya become a better dad for his wife. THIS would have worked for the anime medium!

As much as I ranted on After Story, this was still worth the watch in my opinion. What positives I said at the beginning of the article still applies, and this did not entirely ruin the experience I had with Clannad After Story. Although my feelings for Clannad right now are very neutral, I will still cherish the memories I had adoring Nagisa, laughing at Sunohara, and being emotionally connected to Nagisa and Tomoya’s relationship troubles. Maybe someday, I will look into the visual novel and see if my feelings for Clannad drastically change. Right now, I am just praying I do not have a bullshit story shift in another anime again.

I Gave To Love-Ru Darkness 2nd a 10/10. The Importance of Understanding What a 10/10 Experience Means To You.

I have finished the 2nd season of To Love-Ru Darkness a few days ago. As I was watching the last episodes, I was honestly stunned. The finale felt incredibly heartwarming, entertaining, humorous, intense, and shocking. I could not help but shake the weird feeling that the experience I had been overall sensational. Why did I feel this strongly about it? It all roots in how I first got into To Love-Ru. There will not be any major spoilers.

First, I want to point out two key things that I personally adore as a huge anime fan. One, I love fan-service anime. I think that fan-service has great potential to be utilized well in the anime narratives focusing on the aspect. I have to thank the Monogatari series for showing that potential. Two, I love moe. I love shows with cute, attractive girls. They are usually one of the main reasons I tend to start watching an anime like Hidamari Sketch and Nichijou. If there are cute girls with designs I like, I tend to watch it.

To Love-Ru had both of these elements and got me to watch the show. What did I think of it? When I finished watching the first two seasons of To Love-Ru, I liked it overall. I loved the main character Princess Lala with her delightful personality and her crazy inventions that put the male protagonist Rito into many accidental situations. I loved the ridiculous, fan-servicey nature of To Love-Ru’s premise that created occasionally good comedy and entertainment. The silly premise of a harem combined with science fiction had a unique charm that I can appreciate.

But, I do have major gripes about the series despite the positives. To Love-Ru’s first two seasons has glaring problems like plot-holes, unnaturally randomized character development, little progression, and a mostly cliché cast with flat personalities. These negatives were so prominent in my watching that it bogged my enjoyment of the series to a moderate degree.

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By the time I finished the first two seasons, To Love-Ru felt like a show that did not do much to stand out from other fan-service anime even with the crazy premise and charm. If I have that many issues with To Love-Ru, then why did I give To Love-Ru Darkness’ 2nd Season a 10/10? With this series being a harem and romantic comedy, to some, Darkness does not seem like an anime that would provide an amazing experience.

When I finally watched To Love-Ru Darkness, I was VERY surprised. I have heard a countless amount of praise for this sequel, hearing about how its one of the best fan-service anime ever created. They were right. Watching the prologue, I immediately noticed the change of tone from going mainly comedic to more intimate. The dialogue was actually interesting and had better contribution to the narrative. The fan-service feels more gratifying thanks to more enhanced build-up leading to it.

Most importantly, characters are given goals/motivations. The most prominent goal is given to Momo (one of the little sisters of Lala introduced later in TLR), who wants to build a harem for the chick magnet Rito so she can help him can become the king of the Devilukes. I found the way fan-service was utilized in To Love-Ru Darkness’ story to be very fascinating. I was hooked. I wanted to marathon all two seasons of the sequel series within two weeks.

This was a massive departure from the To Love-Ru I knew. I loved the direction the series was going. The issues I had were still present, but they were not as frequent and glaring as before. To Love-Ru Darkness managed to captivate me with its story and characters at a satisfying pace. The world and history of the Devilukeans were further explored. The female characters I disliked before were given more biographical background and further insight into their feelings for Rito. As a result, most of the female characters gradually became more likable and attractive to me as Darkness went on.

As I watched the last episodes of the 2nd season of To Love-Ru Darkness, I was astounded. There were MANY shocking developments/events that Rito and Lala go through that was incredibly satisfying to see happen. The ending gave me a sheer number of different emotions from scene-to-scene and made me attached to all of the characters. To me, the conclusion to Darkness’ second season honestly felt as emotionally impactful as the end of Death Note, the many One Piece arcs that dramatically change Luffy, and the entirety of Owarimonogatari Season 2.

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That is hard to believe, right? I went from having a love and hate relationship with To Love-Ru to absolutely ADORING the series. Darkness delivered what I wanted from fan-service anime for a long time and nailed its biggest strengths so well. After giving myself time to think about I how I feel about Darkness, I boldly gave the 2nd season a 10/10 because it managed to strongly connect with me as an enthusiast of fan-service anime. All of the positives I have said about To Love-Ru Darkness leading up to this high rating is not based on perfection, but based on personal connection.

Although I have discovered many great anime with brilliant writing and storytelling like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Code Geass, and Fullmetal Alchemist as an avid anime fan over the years, none of them have stroke my personal tastes and satisfied me as greatly as To Love-Ru Darkness. The sequel was so good at everything that I forgave the faults it had when To Love-Ru had a rocky start as a comedy.

Now I am not saying you should go out and watch To Love-Ru. What I am saying from explaining my entire story is something more. If you ever finish an anime and the overall experience of it felt vastly incredible to YOU, you should rate that experience with a 10/10. Do not let the consensus sway you into rating an anime a higher or lower score. What others may generally say may not align with you.

Rate based on how you personally feel. Find and explain the aspects of an anime that you believe to be very good that others might not pick up on. Confidently accept your personal tastes and you will be able to explain your unique perspectives on different anime, even if your tastes/perspectives are ones that most of the anime community would find to be controversial.

I found To Love-Ru to be an amazing series overall in the end, despite this being a series focused on fan-service (a trope heavily opposed in some parts of the anime community). This is because I accepted my love for fan-service. It was the bold confidence I have in sharing what I like that made me write my in-depth story of To Love-Ru with you. I believe that is the way an anime fan can truly feel the happiest.

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To all the To Love-Ru fans out there, we can all agree that Lala is best girl. Mikan 2nd. No exceptions.

My Thoughts on Your Name (SPOILERS)

I have wanted to see this movie for a long time ever since hearing about its success in Japan. I had a huge problem though, as there were no local areas that had theaters playing the movie. Funimation made the decision to play the movie in limited theaters in the U.S., and my eagerness to see this movie soared as time passed. After waiting SEVERAL months for Your Name to arrive in home video, I sat down and finally watched the movie. What are my thoughts on Your Name? This review will focus mostly on characters/story and will begin with my first-time thoughts about it.

The movie begins by establishing the characters and their personalities, as well as vaguely hinting at the mechanics of body swap. Your Name’s main hook for me in the first 30 minutes was seeing how the two main characters, Taki and Mitsuha, interacted with each other lives through switching and acting in masculine/feminine ways in various situations. While I did somewhat enjoy seeing the bizarre moments and understanding the character’s backgrounds, I felt the characters were initially lacking in clarity in terms of personality, motivations, and goals for me to personally care.

Mitsuha and Taki do not bring genuine chemistry despite the unique body swapping, as they can only mutually communicate through writings and texting on their phones. As someone who personally loves the aspects of character growth the most, I initially found the lack of focused close bonding to be disappointing. Although I can definitely see others finding an appeal of doing a faraway relationship, the execution of the relationship did not gel with me.

Characters tie in with another problem, Your Name’s confusing plot. I was questioning what the mysterious writings were and how the body swap scenes were executed. Why is body swapping happening so suddenly in one scene? Why is this movie cutting to a longer scene now? What is activating body swap? What role are comets playing? All these questions wrapped around my head. I initially went in this movie making a lot of assumptions, trying my best to pay attention to visual/dialogue clues and trying to enjoy the moments between Mitsuha/Taki at the same time.

The unusual mechanics of body swap were not explained until the 30-minute mark. But even then, the unusually fast pacing of the passing days of Taki and Mitsuha at that point prevented me from processing those mechanics in my head. Between the point when Mitsuha and Taki realize what is going on and the seemingly important scene where Taki goes to Mitsuha’s hometown to go the shrine, I was not sure what I was supposed to pay attention to.

Loosely understanding the swapping mechanics still, I moved on to pay attention what was going on with Taki (as Mitsuha) and him learning about the shrine and the god of human experiences. At the point when Taki stopped swapping with Mitsuha, I was really into the movie. The main conflict fascinated me and got me somewhat emotionally invested in the characters. This is the strongest part of Your Name where the characters contributed the most. I wanted to see these characters succeed in preventing the deaths from the comet. The rescuing mission was beautifully done, and it generally felt adventurous and intense throughout.

But then, the last part of the movie comes when Taki and Mitsuha slowly lose their memories as they try to prevent the comet massacre. I had more questions. Why are the two main character’s memories fading away? Was all of that built relationship between the two main characters all for nothing? Is this last scene suppose to be a three-year time skip? What was the end message of Your Name? I thought to myself “Nothing was made clear”. By the end of the movie, I was confused.

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To explain my first-time thoughts on Your Name, I had this combination of mixed thoughts where I was questioning the plot while also kind of trying to understanding the plot and kind of liking the characters and how they do their daily life routines and how they solve the main conflict in the story.  I can sort of understand why the movie was directed this way. I definitely feel there is an artistic flair to the movie by being subtle, but by not making things clear, those that decide to follow Your Name’s plot closely will be confused as hell. It is a double-edged sword.

I wanted to watch Your Name one more time before I could finalize my thoughts. I felt like I was missing some key things that prevented me from thinking that Your Name is a great movie. Giving this a second look, I definitely appreciated more things. This movie feels rewarding to watch when going in with an understanding the basic mechanics and story structure of Your Name. Connecting the dots to the plot was very enjoyable and I formed a better understanding of the characters. I understood the themes and the end message.  I began to love the unique ideas Your Name incorporates into its overall story design. Everything was clearer to me on the second watch. I would say that it is required that this movie should be seen twice in order for everyone to appreciate Your Name.

I will say that the anonymous relationship in the end still bugged me, but not to the same high degree I had once before. I am assuming that the end message of this movie is supposed to be that relationships can be accomplished, even when the person is far away. Even though I personally do not like the movie’s execution of its message and relationships, I can see other people appreciating and being inspired by the content Your Name has to offer. I still really like this movie despite my complaints, and I feel the need to give out suggestions on what could make this movie better for at least a first time viewer. Makoto Shinkai said in one interview himself that this movie was not as good as critics praise it to be, and I have to give him respect for mentioning it. His honesty is why I am passionate to giving these suggestions.

1. Give side-characters like Sayaka, Miki, and Tessie a little bit more time to develop with both main characters closely. This movie does not give much screen-time its side-characters and gives more focus on the main characters. Had more time been given to side-character relationships, it would have made the part where the side characters helped Mitsuha/Taki with the comet case a lot more impactful.

2. Get straight to the point in clearly addressing body swap mechanics at the start of the movie. I understand that there is importance to the slow build up and a sense of mystery explaining the mechanics much later, but I personally think by arranging the movie this way, I would be at ease. More time could be given to side/main character relationships alongside more entertaining body swap moments, had this been done.

3. Make it clear that the ending scenes where Taki graduates from his university and meets older Mitsuha is a 5-year time skip. I would say this suggestion is more on the picky side, but considering the main conflict and the number of time skips that happen in the story, I would not be so sure that the last scene does skip many years to the future. This movie skips time in several places in a way that is unclear sometimes.

That is about it for suggestions really. Overall, I think Your Name is a great experience. The movie has its problems plot-wise and characters feeling underdeveloped at the start, but these do not hinder the number of positives (the body swaps and the interesting main conflict) that make me really enjoy this movie. With the way this movie was handled subtlely directing-wise, I feel that it opens up the possibility of a sequel. If such a sequel happens, I think it will likely answer the plot holes regarding the mystery/origin of body swap, give side-characters much-needed development with the main characters, and allow more direct romance between Taki and Mitsuha. It would be a great way to properly close the main story of Your Name and satisfy Shinkai’s original desires.

Why You Should Read: The Promised Neverland

A thriller manga about three intelligent kids who find out the secrets of the orphanage mansion.

Lately, I have been getting really invested in many manga. I have read great manga like Berserk/Vagabond/Tsugumomo and have read so many books about manga from great mangaka like Hirohiki Araki. These recent events have influenced me to become a mangaka in the future and explore what new manga came out that could peak my interest. The ones that peaked my interest were from Shonen Jump, with new series like ROBOT x LASERBEAM and Dr. Stone. However, there was one manga from that company that has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. That particular manga is called The Promised Neverland.

What is amazing about The Promised Neverland is how its first chapter immediately engrosses me to its world. The mangaka’s colored art might give the impression of an innocent tale about children forming friendships, but it is far from that. The story starts and goes over the lives of the main characters named Emma, Norman, and Ray. These three live in a gated orphanage called the Grace Field House owned by the caretaker Isabella, where all kids take daily tests to increase their level of knowledge. Emma, Norman, and Ray are the smartest kids currently living in the mansion. All of these orphaned kids have numbers labeled in their necks and are not allowed to leave beyond the Grace Field House’s gates until they get adopted by a new family.

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The three main characters shown from left to right: Ray, Emma, and Norman.

In the first pages, there are already some things to feel shady about. Why are these children given labels? Why does a caretaker want the children to take tests? What is the caretaker of these orphans planning to do with them? What is the end goal of having these children be very knowledgeable? Why are there gates around the mansion? These questions wandered into my brain swiftly. The Promised Neverland‘s story piqued my interest and gave me a desire to know what is going to happen next.

One night, an orphan named Conny (A friend of Emmy) is sent off in a carrier to be adopted by a family. Emmy notices that her young friend left behind her cherished possession, a bunny plush. With Norman and Ray’s help, she leaves outside in the dark to help give Conny back her plush. When Emma rushes to the entrance gate, what she finds out is shocking. Emma discovers that Conny is dead. They find demonic creatures carrying the lifeless orphan talking about the reality of the Grace Field House.

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The main characters learn that the orphanage is actually a farm where they are raised to become food for demonic creatures. The caretaker Isabella is cooperating with these demons to help them with their cause. These new pieces of information terrify Emma, Ray, and Norman to the core. The three kids vow, use their incredibly sharp intelligence, and utilize their different personalities as “disguises” to escape the Grace Field House alongside the other orphans. The story shifts from cheery and fun to terrifying and tense. I wanted to see how the kids would escape without being noticed by the caretaker. What exactly are these demonic creatures? What is the world beyond the orphanage? At that moment, I was engrossed in The Promised Neverland.

At that point in the story, this manga gets darker and more intriguing. I will not say more beyond that point, but The Promised Neverland manages to be consistently interesting each chapter through its constant feed of new story information, learning more about the creatures, world, characters. There is a constant feeling of tension with the kids trying to think through these obstacles. This makes learning new information feel purposeful and impactful. I worry about the lives of the characters, while also seeing them discover new things about the world, with new mysteries to uncover. In my opinion, The Promised Neverland has an intense narrative that ranks among the high thrilling levels of Death Note, but much more.

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Battles of wits, without being discovered.

To further clarify, unlike Death NoteThe Promised Neverland also offers fantasy setting that has mysteries waiting to be solved. Neverland’s story is not just about being caught and thinking about the morality of the situation, but also learning about the world and the historical relationship between these creatures and humans. Not only can Neverland challenge my mind, but also offer a captivating, fictional setting that I want to know more of. Basically, The Promised Neverland is Death Note, but adding a grand story that builds itself like One Piece and Hunter X Hunter. Not that I think Death Note is bad (The series is still my top favorites of all time), but I feel that The Promised Neverland goes to extra miles to engage me due to this reasoning.

Overall, The Promised Neverland is an amazing experience. This is a manga that is very thrilling and filled with mysteries of the world that begging to be solved. The amount of care put into the story really shows through its writing. This is a series that can inspire more intense thrillers with a building world. As of now, the manga is incomplete, currently up to 50+ chapters in its second arc.

As someone who has caught up to the latest chapter, I can confidently say that the story is still just as engrossing and intense, filled with consistent quality since the beginning of the story. I am so glad that Shonen Jump decided to let this series keep going even if it is not the typical battle manga they usually approve of. You can read the first three chapters of The Promised Land on VIZ Media’s site, or you can wait until Volume 1 of the manga releases in the U.S. in early December of 2017. Or you can do it the other way. Either way, this manga cannot be missed. The Promised Neverland is a must read.

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*Also, if you plan to read it soon, it is essential that you do not look up any images of Promised Neverland on search sites. You will get spoiled. I made the mistake to briefly look the title up on Google and checked the images. As a result, I accidentally have seen pages of several key moments in the manga. I did not know the context, but based on what I have read in the manga’s first chapters and the way the manga encourages thinking for the readers, I am more likely to guess what key moment of the story it is. That can ruin the overall experience. 

 

Why You Should Watch: Monogatari Series

 A mystery anime about a semi-vampire high school student who encounters strange phenomenon and people with supernatural powers.

I have watched anime passionately for the past four years. My #1 favorite anime remained to be Madoka Magica. That anime helped me see that anime could tell incredible stories and really got me to watch anime with as great storytelling. I was hooked by the theories the fan base created, reading shipping fan comics of Homura/Madoka, grossly invested in the soundtrack, and praising the symbolism with each main character’s back-stories. I asked myself in the inside, is there a work that could surpass Madoka Magica?

Then I saw Bakemonogatari this year, and my mind expanded into horizons that have never been reached before. Monogatari is a work produced by the same studio (Studio SHAFT) that made Madoka Magica. Based on a long-running light novel series written by Nisiosin, this anime breaks so many boundaries of the anime medium to a level that I consider to be an art form.

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The main protagonist of Monogatari.

Monogatari‘s story is about a high-school student, Koyomi Araragi, who faces oddities surrounding in his town. Oddities are, to some extent, like youkai in Japanese folklore, but with an interesting set of complexes. They exist in Araragi’s world simply because people around the world believe in them. For people to keep believing their phenomenon, oddities naturally affect or attack people in various ways.

These oddities do not affect people just because. Oddities have to constantly make their presence known to a portion of humanity over time in order for them to continue existing. Oddities can also affect others because that is what these people want deep in their subconscious to cope with their hidden problems. These mysterious entities can also be slain by exorcists if they are requested to by people. But, they are not really exorcists as in slaying oddities with weapons. They act more so as a guide to people, giving them hints and advice to help people fix their subconscious problems. These elements of oddities bring a lot of interesting story and mystery to Monogatari.

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Can you guess this oddity’s objective?

I always loved strange phenomenon in media. They play an element of mystery to the story that keeps me hooked to keep me guessing and wondering what is going to happen next. Monogatari plays with this premise with oddities in so many creative ways (Through visual presentation, directing, writing, and story) that these ways would have to be bundled up into its own encyclopedia.

Through out the anime, the protagonist tries to find solutions and gives advice for humans haunted by these oddities. Most oddity problems generally involve characters trying to solve their problems on how to be true to themselves. The interesting part about this is that the anime uses characters you would typically see in a harem anime. At first, characters do seem very cliché, and it can be potentially off-putting for some watchers. Typically in anime, when harem tropes are present, they are there to appease the viewers and distract from the main story objective. These story tropes being heavily present in an anime usually causes immediate bad reception for some people. This is not the case for Monogatari as these tropes are used differently.

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This may seem like fan-service, but this scene is utilized explain the character’s motives.

While Monogatari does feature clichés such as fan-service and having a male protagonist that seemingly has every girl attached to him, the anime utilizes character/story tropes to progress the narrative and create various end-points. For example, what you would typically expect in a scene talking about a girl’s bra and panties gradually ends up making a point to the protagonist about a character’s weakness. Fan-service is not utilized in these stories for the sake of it, it is used to create a message to the viewers and to the protagonist about the possessed character.

As the anime gradually progresses, the mysteries of these possessed humans are slowly revealed. These possessed humans begin to express their true identities with the oddities aside them. They are no longer the typical character trope and have a layer of three-dimensional depth. These characters you would expect to be cliché turn out to be more than just typical. In a way, Monogatari is a deconstruction of the harem genre in the same manner Madoka Magica is a deconstruction of the magical girl medium. For me, it is very interesting to see how each trope character is subverted and how each contributes to the overall themes and narrative. It makes for a very compelling watch that enhances the mystery of Monogatari.

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The subversion of a character trope. This character is encountering her inner oddity and learning her true problems as a person. I won’t explain the context of this though, as it is best found out when watching it at your own pace.

The relationships he creates with these possessed humans are very unique and complex at the same time. As the story progresses, Monogatari delves deeper into these character’s motives, their relationships, and their inner problems that further explains the mystery of the oddities. Each character arc feels like a complete, focused story and has a lot of content within.

The story gradually shares a new, interesting mystery for viewers to uncover, and this constant roll of mystery and character stories helps Monogatari feel like a grander tale. This anime keeps viewers imagining and guessing on what oddity or character will come next in the story. There are also more important factors that make the anime stand out: that is the visual directing and the visual presentation.

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The visual beauty of the Monogatari.

The visual presentation presents itself with an artistic utilization of various colors, constantly changing visuals scene-by-scene that ignite different emotions to the viewer. These visuals are usually ambient, but can also range from surreal, minimalism, to abstract styles. There is also the utilization of text dialogue, where it is typically used to share the main character’s thoughts about a situation. Sometimes, they show hidden things in scenes that go by quickly that foreshadow future events to come. These scenes, whether text dialogue or visuals, go in such a fast pace, that it evokes the feeling of mystery and keeps the viewer intact. Character designs are also stand out, particularly with the female characters. These characters have colorful, soft designs that define and nail their personality, attracting the viewer in different ways.

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The variety of character designs in Monogatari. Can you guess the personality each one has just by looking at them? Credit to njoniec on Deviantart.

The animation is another factor, more-so on characters specifically. The way animation is used in Monogatari is more like an apprentice to the narrative and dialogue. Characters express different emotions in scenes to keep the conversations flowing. Sometimes, these characters change their design briefly in one scene to a different art style (often referencing other anime). Sometimes, in scenes, characters can briefly do unconventional things during the conversation. And sometimes, Monogatari enhances the animation in certain scenes to emphasize the importance or mystery of the character. These scenes have variety in them to constantly evoke different, specific feelings to the viewer, which highly enhances the narrative. The presentation and animation have a lot of interesting experimentation in them that fits in just right for Monogatari‘s story.

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Sometimes, characters do unconventional things during the conversation.
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Sometimes, the character’s action in animation is enhanced to emphasize the importance and/or mystery.
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And sometimes, conversation scenes can quickly change from beautiful to this, utilized for both the narrative and for the humor. Monogatari is very playful with its scenes.

Directing is the second-most important factor that holds these elements together and helps to create an immersive experience. Tatsuya Oishi, Tomoyuki Itamura, and Akiyuki Shinbo are the three main directors for the Monogatari anime. These directors emphasize heavy utilization of camera movement and framing. Each director has their own personal way of emphasizing characters, expressions, backgrounds, and other things in a scene. These directors often change through different installments to make the experience refreshingbut in general, these directors maintain the same mysterious vibe that makes the Monogatari series intriguing to watch. It is all thanks to Shinbo, whose role is to check if Oishi and Itamura maintain the Studio SHAFT style of animation and directing.

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Tatsuya Oishi is a director that likes to play around in most scenes in terms of the environment to help viewers understand the relationship between two characters. Here, we see Araragi being overwhelmed by another character, emphasizing his inferiority compared to the other character leaning on him. His camera directing focuses on the bars with a far away view of the characters to establish the other character’s superiority to the viewer.
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Tomoyuki Itamura, on the other hand, likes to focus more on close-up shots and character expression for most scenes. Here we see this other character detailing more expression with the camera zooming in on the expressions. The actions taken in his directing are more literal than Oishi’s directing, with not much of a focus on the environment. These two different directors help create a refreshing and mysterious narrative in Monogatari. These directors basically influence each other.

Oishi, unfortunately, has only directed the first installment of Monogatari, but his influences of directing carried on with Itamura. And the style of directing Itamura has consistently improved with each Monogatari installment since thenThese directors helped create the immersive narrative of Monogatari and made the anime stand out.

The music also helps the narrative too, with the thanks of Kei Haneoka and Satoru Kōsaki. Generally, these composers have a consistent ambient, sometimes romantic tone during conversations. While on the other hand, when it comes to serious and building tension, they can really nail the tone and emotion to make a scene feel powerful.

The most important aspect of Monogatari, more important than its directing and music, is the writing. The dialogue is partly written by Nisiosin and the anime writers (Fuyashi To, Yukito Kizawa, and Munemasa Nakamoto). The writers really know how to set a specific tone to the dialogue that makes viewers curious about the characters, adding a glitter of foreshadowing to the unlikeliest of conversations. The writers give every conversation a purpose. These writers create a strong feeling of mystery that is maintained throughout most scenes. The directors and writers really pay attention to the tiniest of details in these conversations and visuals. It makes Monogatari worth rewatching to analyze the big mystery and put the pieces of the puzzle together. Monogatari goes beyond just a light novel adaptation, and it tells the story in the most intriguing ways possible.

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This dialogue is directed towards the main protagonist. This is foreshadowing that will make sense later in a future Monogatari arc. Uncovering the mystery of the dialogue is the fun part of this anime!

The only thing that might not come across smoothly is the Japanese wordplay and culture heavily present in Monogatari. There are a lot of things in dialogue, visual text, and references that potentially will not come across well to an international viewer. Usually, this comes from a heavy use wording specific to the Japanese language that other languages just are not able to translate well. However, I believe the other elements (characters, directing, visuals, writing) are already of strong enough quality for people to continue Monogatari, even if they do not understand most Japanese wordplay/culture.

To share my inner personal opinion, I consider this anime to be literal art and a miracle. As someone who is studying to become a digital artist, I personally say this with 100% certainty. Never have I seen an anime that utilizes art in such a way that makes each episode feel more impactful. But, it is not just art makes Monogatari incredible. As someone who has a wealth of knowledge of Japanese mythological and otaku culture, I really appreciated how the anime heavily utilize these aspects to tell its story. As a result, I have become even more attached to the anime more than SHAFT’s other anime. Monogatari is an anime that encourages me to pay attention rather than require, and it is never overwhelming and always maintains a strong presentation. All of this together creates an anime that goes beyond my expectations.

I also can tell you this information too. When I reached the end of the current story (Owarimonogatari Season 2), the conclusion felt extremely satisfying. I would argue that last recent arc is as satisfying as the end of Code: Geass R2 and the entire movie of Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. It made me completely attached to Monogatari. Now, I have a strong motive to collect all of the English novels and buy all of the anime Blu-Rays of Monogatari (Even if the Blu-Rays are very expensive with Aniplex’s pricing). This anime will never part away from my brain ever, it is an anime to cherish.

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Also… This girl is BEST girl. You can’t tell me otherwise.

How Do I Start the Monogatari Series?

This simplified chart below will help you get started with Monogatari. I know the different titles might confuse people to the point they may not watch it at all, but all you have to understand really is this chart:

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Start with Bakemonogatari, then the chart will tell you the rest! This is the definitive chart Monogatari fans follow now. Credit to /u/Zapnox on r/anime for this simplified chart!

The key to getting the most out of Monogatari is to approach this anime arc by arc slowly. Monogatari is divided into small arcs, where it mainly covers one character’s problems and/or new character development. I highly recommend not to marathon an entire season, but rather, watch one arc per day. By arc, I mean each character arc. Each arc is usually a small set of episodes, but also has a lot of content packed into it as well.

For example, after you watch the first arc, Hitagi Crab, save the next arc, Mayoi Snail, for the next day. This way, you are not overwhelmed and you can really savor the story AND get used to the way Monogatari presents itself. It might take a few episodes to understand Monogatari‘s motives and sense of mystery. But, I believe after you finish the first mystery Araragi encounters, you will be hooked by the complex character relationships and the premise of oddities. The anime organizes its arcs really nicely so that a viewer can slowly savor each arc.

*You can watch almost the entire series legally on Crunchyroll for free, with the exception of lacking Bakemonogatari’s Episode 13-15 and the lack of Koyomimonogatari.

That was definitely a lot to praise about Monogatari. To be able to explain so many things about Monogatari shows how incredible this anime is. The intimate care put into Monogatari‘s writing, characters, visuals, and directing creates an anime unlike any other, with a story that feels very grand. There are so many creative ideas put into this anime that can inspire another generation of future mangaka/anime creators. There are so many mysteries to solve that the fan base and yourself can analyze and gush about for many years to come. Monogatari is definitely one anime that has to be experienced before death, and I urge you to give this anime a shot.

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My Stance on Mobile Games and Why I Have Abandoned Them…

The appeal of mobile games all comes down to bragging rights. To me, bragging about the rarest pull or how I spent my time growing my town to something great is not really substantial gameplay. I can personally say I regret that I played these types of games like Wibble Wobble, Fire Emblem Heroes, and many others. Not because the mobile content is bad, but because how these games rely on time to keep you invested.

The time I could have spent progressing in my life was wasted by spending time waiting for a special item/retry to come within a certain amount of time. While these time-related content may seem substantial, there is no content beyond that could have me connect emotionally to a game in the way actual video games would. The type of gameplay that can be offered in mobile is limited with just the touchscreen. Games are not as fun without an actual game controller that provides tight controls and buttons.

With how the mobile game industry is going, I do not think even the best companies like Nintendo or Level-5 can truly bring back the mobile game industry if it all comes down to using micro transactions to earn back the money and time as a drawback for mobile games. The possibility of a mobile game being able to revolutionize mobile games as a whole is there, but that would require creating an ambitious quality product at the right time. It would have to be a product that “subverts the trope” of what a mobile game “has to be”, it would take beyond effort that a business would likely never take a risk for.

Pokemon Go is one example of this, but it was not handled well. The game managed to pull millions thanks to the appeal of the brand and the real-life gameplay that brought people socially together. But in the end, Niantic could not even achieve promises the fans wanted since launch. Even worse for Niantic, the biggest succeeding mobile game ever showed its worst colors in during the Go Fest, where server problems became very apparent. Granted, trying to solve these problems is definitely extremely hard, but this is where I am getting at. After a few months, most people quietly abandoned the game, only treating the game as a “flavor of the month.”

Even if such a mobile game were super ambitious, generally most consumers would only treat as something to get on a hype train for rather than appreciating what the product for what it is. Even to this day, I still admire Pokemon Go for how it pushed the mobile game medium, but I still left it with how many problems Niantic has been facing and the lack of substantial content in the game. What will an ultimately ambitious mobile game change in the industry for the better? Eventually, it will go to a cycle of repeat once the game dies down, so what is the point?

Most mobile game consumers are not willing to pay full-price for a mobile game like Layton’s Mystery Journey, Super Mario Run, or Final Fantasy VII on their phones. Because of how the mobile game industry is, most consumers either want quality content for free, or they pay an extremely cheap price. No other options can be considered to them. Even then, they fall for microtransactions in free mobile games pay high prices for bragging rights, all the more contradicting for that type of mindset.

I would imagine having quality content for a mobile game for a cheaper or free price would personally hurt the developer more. This is because of how hard they worked on this content, only for the game to be dismissed eventually by misjudgment of consumers with prices. This is a market that can never be satisfied on both sides, the developer and consumer. I believe there is a limit to how far quality can go because of the drawbacks of creating a free mobile game. It is developing with limitations. This is why we have not seen a quality mobile game truly trend among consumers, because of the stubborn mindset businesses have implanted to consumers. Mobile games just cannot truly satisfy with these drawbacks in the way.

If such a thing appeals to you, then I will not stop you. If these games really help you bond with other friends, then by all means, keep playing them. But to me, mobile games will never be true video games. Actual video games on consoles/PCs are games that will provide the deeper experience, and those kinds of experiences are ones that should be shared with friends rather than mobile games. Some video games have enough substance in gameplay and other aspects that they can be considered “classics” among gamers and be remembered in history. Can such mobile games have the same impact as video games? Can these games be considered classics? Can mobile games change history and the way we play these games? To all of these questions, I do not think so.

Do you personally agree? This was an article that I thought of in my mind really quickly. I just wanted to get this opinion out of my chest for others to see. It was a fun topic to think about!

Why You Should Watch: Interview With Monster Girls

A slice-of-life anime that deeply explores the lives of students with extraordinary characteristics.

Have you ever wondered about what school life would be like if there were students in your classes who have the characteristics of a monster? You may have seen or read this kind of story before, but have you thought about how these kinds of students would adapt to school life? How do these different students feel and interact with human students when they are in the same classroom? What do these students do to adapt inside and outside the learning environment? How does a teacher teach and guide these specific students to help them grow?

These questions are answered in Interviews with Monster Girls, also known as Demi-Chan. The story takes place in a time where demi-humans, people with the characteristics of a monster, have slowly become accepted in modern human society. Demi-humans are similar to human beings, but they are in need of special services to integrate into society.

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The main protagonist is a high school teacher named Tetsuo Takahashi (Pictured above) who has an immense fascination with demi-humans. He eventually gets assigned by the principal to help out three demi-human students and a demi-human teacher after Mr. Takahashi demonstrated his proficient guiding ability. Throughout the story, he strives to help each demi-human through interviews so he can learn and understand their life problems.

Interview With Monster Girls explores these human species on a level that differentiates from other slice of lifes with similar premises. Throughout each episode, Demi-Chan investigates trivial issues regarding the unique traits for each demi-human, their interactions towards regular humans, and how their characteristics affect them psychologically. The demi-human’s abnormality itself is not what makes the anime engaging, rather, the struggles that each of them face during school life due to their special characteristics.

For example, some demi-humans feel isolation, anxiety, and awkwardness when it comes human interaction because of their differences. Interview With Monster Girls handles these issues in a way that is consistently very captivating with a fresh, new perspective on a demi-human’s problems each new episode. Without giving too much, there is one character in Demi-Chan that best exemplifies how demi-humans live in society.

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Hikari Takanashi (Pictured above), one of the demi-human students Takahashi interacts with, has her own set of troubles. As a vampire, she has to be cautious of sunny weather to prevent burns. In addition, her entire family is non-human in the household. Despite their love for Hikari, her family struggles to make her feel welcome at home as a demi-human.

Although, it is not just the struggles that are explored in Mr. Takahashi’s research, but it is also learning the truth of certain demi-human facts the public tends to wrongly assume. Hikari explains that while she requires blood for her diet, she is additionally quite fond of garlic despite public vampire beliefs. The way Demi-Chan interprets these mythological human beings to make them feel human makes learning about demi-humans more fascinating when watching.

Every main character that is a demi-human in Interview With Monster Girls is as equally explored as Hikari. Each demi-human has their own distinct set of personalities, issues, and traits to discover in each episode that creates a diverse cast of interesting characters. Furthermore, they also have their own standout and humorous moments to shine, all of which feel very genuine and benefit the viewer’s attachment to these characters.

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Part of the reason Demi-Chan excels at demi-human exploration is mainly because of Mr. Takahashi. As the only human main character, his primary objective in the story is to conduct interviews with various demi-humans. Some interviews can be humorous, explorative with a certain demi-species, and even bring warm feelings. This helps to give Takahashi a good understanding of each demi-human’s behavior and traits. Watching him discover them through thorough conversations can be very intriguing.

Tetsuo Takahashi can potentially be boring in the first few episodes. However, as the series progresses, he gradually begins to grow very close relationships with the demi-humans. The relationships sprout to a point where demi-humans see Mr. Takahashi as a personal father figure and mentor, which as a result make him more endearing as the Demi-Chan anime moves to its end. Takahashi’s interaction with the demi-humans creates an interesting dynamic that fundamentally runs the core of Interview With Monster Girls.

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Demi-Chan also benefits from its vibrant background art, expressive character movement and voice acting, and adorable character design. These particular elements of the anime help create a light-hearted atmosphere that makes demi-humans feel like genuine people and mesh well in a real life school environment. In spite of these positives, if there are any problems with Interview with Monster Girls that might affect personal enjoyment with the anime, there are some things to caution and mention.

The anime valiantly explores demi-humans themselves in almost every aspect imaginable. However, there are not many moments where human side-characters get substantial interactions with demi-humans. Giving these human students deeper relationships with demi-humans would have made Demi-Chan more intriguing to watch.

There are also two certain characters that have an interesting close connection to one of the main demi-human characters. Those particular characters that primarily appear in Episode 7 mysteriously get not much exploration after their first appearance. As a result, questions can be brought up as to why they appeared in the anime at all. These aspects are more so disappointing, personally speaking, but this potential can be fully fleshed out in possibly another season.

In terms of soundtrack, the music for the opening and ending fits well with the core themes of Interviews With Monster Girls. The background music, however, does not stand out as much even if it somewhat fits the tone of the show. The anime also shows occasional mild nudity and demi-humans having romantic feelings towards Tetsuo that might turn some people off. Fortunately, those aspects are not a major focus in Interview with Monster Girls and do not come across as frequent annoyances.

If you are looking for a relaxing show with character building, in-depth character exploration, and a small unique twist, I would highly recommend Interviews with Monster Girls. In my opinion, Demi-Chan is one of the best anime that came out in 2017 with a lovable cast of characters and genuinely enjoyable moments that can vitalize your heart with warm feelings. This show available to watch subbed on Crunchyroll’s website and dubbed on Funimation’s website. I would not miss out on this precious treasure of an anime.

“The new life I stepped into this spring with the demi-girls was one of stimulation and excitement. How demis live their lives, what they think, how those who make contact with them think and how they change… I want to consider it all much, much more!”

-Tetsuo Takahashi (Interview with Monster Girls)

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Persona 4: A Social Masterpiece

Years ago I have heard of a series called Persona in an online forum. I cannot recall much on what enticed me to Persona, but I do remember the characters having very interesting designs when I first saw bits of Persona 4. The art style really drew me in and I assumed that this was a Playstation 3 exclusive. Since then, it’s been on my radar for many years until a month ago.

Days before Christmas Break began, I went to a retro gaming store I usually visit to see what new games were available to buy. They were having a Christmas sale, putting all of their games 20% off. When I saw Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 box, I was extremely surprised to see the game available on the PS2 platform. All this time, my assumption of Persona 4 being Playstation 3 exclusive was wrong.

I previously saw many P4 spinoffs on the PS3 and Xbox 360 platform when I first briefly researched Persona 4, so I was confused as to why this was the case. There were also two additional PS2 games I was initially interested in alongside Persona 4, Persona 3 FES and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Saga. I never played an Atlus game in my entire life since most of their games consisted of SMT games on Nintendo handhelds, which never peeked my interests with its dark themes.

Thinking about the spinoffs, the P4 box I saw at the store, and many suggestions from friends who played many Atlus games on social media, it was my goal to buy Persona 4 discounted to see what the deal was with that game. Little did I know that this game would take over my entire Christmas break.

I had countless late nights playing Persona 4. After finally finishing the game truly this year,  I have so many positives to say about Persona 4 that I want to get out of the way to fully satisfy myself before moving on to other games. This will not contain spoilers for the game. I hope you enjoy reading through this review.

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Battles, Personas, and Dungeon Gameplay: A Strategic Dream

As someone who has never played an Atlus game before, I was very surprised by how heavy the strategy was required to beat enemies and bosses. In the battle menu, you are able to guard, attack, directly control party member tactics, analyze enemies, use Persona skills, change Personas, use items, and escape. All your basic components for an RPG are here, but it is far more strategic than it seems.

There are seven types of elements in total, Physical, Fire, Lightning, Wind, Light, and Dark. Finding an enemy’s weakness will knock them out during battle, giving you the another chance to attack the enemy and occasionally doing an all-out party attack to crush all enemies. By using Personas with different elemental attacks and figuring out weaknesses, battles become easier to breeze through. This really encourages having a variety of Personas, which makes battles require more thinking and feel more rewarding.

The bosses are very challenging and require another layer of strategy to beat them. It is not as easy as straight out attacking, you need to consider who to heal, who should attack, and what Persona you should utilize to beat these bosses. This level of challenge remains consistently varied up until the final boss. The last boss is disappointingly easy. I was really hoping that there would be constant changing in strategies with new threatening tactics from the boss every few turns, but it only has one major threatening attack that it is very easy to prepare for by simply blocking. It is not a huge deal though, and I enjoyed the consistent challenges from bosses enough for me to forgive an easy final boss.

The dungeons in Persona 4 are randomly generated and are standard RPG fare for the most part, with the exception of a few pre-determined floor layouts. The general challenge with these dungeons is to not lose your SP, which is your bar that slowly runs out every time you use an elemental Persona skill for a character. If you run out of SP, you are essentially screwed as battles become far harder without the necessary elemental skills to hit an enemy’s weaknesses. It becomes a real challenge and it forced me to think conservatively to pass through each dungeon.

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To best each dungeon, you will have to choose the right Personas in your party. As you finish battles, you will get the chance to obtain a Persona through card Shuffle Time. Persona cards can be shuffled by rotation, matching cards, or through slot machine means. Getting the Persona card you want is pretty easy if you pay attention and observe how each mini-game works. Occasionally, you will be able to activate Arcana Chance too, which can either grant you benefits or negative effects. It is more on luck based side of things, and recklessly starting Arcana chance every time could put you in a major risk or major comeback in dungeons. If there were any problems I had with dungeons, I would that sometimes dungeons feel a bit too long to navigate. A run button would have definitely helped solved this problem.

As for the Personas themselves, they are your battle partners that are very important to winning battles. Each Persona has their own stats and elemental/physical skills with their own weaknesses belonging to a certain Arcana and Race, which basically are the classes of each Persona. These Personas are surprisingly very memorable with its mythological character design. The elemental/physical skills Persona have are also very simple to remember once you get the hang of battle.

I was expecting things to become overwhelming with Personas, but thankfully tutorials in the game made learning the basics of a Persona simple to figure out. You can also fuse Personas to create more powerful Persona, and it is a fun feature to play with as well. You will want to keep a variety of Personas in your team, especially when it comes to battles and when you are out in Inaba to socialize with friends, via Social Links.

Gameplay and Characters: Making Social Links

The real magic of the game comes from the characters, and my god, they are some of the best characters I have ever witnessed in a video game ever. I would go as far as saying they are better than the cast of UNDERTALE. The main characters have simply spectacular, vibrant, and colorful designs. All of them have very likable/relatable personalities that have their own hilarious moments, and you really get to like them the more you spend time with them in the story. The same goes for the side-characters, though not as vibrant in character design.

That is where the half of the gameplay for Persona 4 comes in. In Persona 4, you mainly make choices as you talk to characters throughout the story that affects the way some characters look at you. There are certain characters in the game that are able to do social links. The more you hang out with them, the more powerful fusing certain types of Persona become. At higher social ranks with a character, there is a chance you will not see the relationship grow stronger but only grow halfway. But if you do a social link and have a Persona that has a matching Arcana as the character you are talking to, you have a better chance of seeing the social rank increase by one.

When it comes to the playable main characters, it also affects how they battle. For example, when you reach the max Social link rank for a certain character, that character will be able to upgrade their Persona, do follow up attacks, protect you when in critical condition, heal party members, and other benefits that give even more reasons to do Social Links.

The conversations themselves are very well written and these characters are more fleshed out in character development as you hang out with them more. Depending on how you answer, you are also able to have one of the female characters in Persona 4 become your girlfriend too. I chose Chie as my first because I loved her relatable backstory and her energetic personality.

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If there are a few gripes I have with Persona 4’s characters, it is that there are some times where a character has a bit of character inconsistency. I would expect with the amount of flexibility in choices, it would affect character’s dialogue in the main story. Occasionally, this does happen, but not during the main story dialogue. As a result, it can make certain moments in the game feel a bit awkward.

I would have expected Chie to have some changed dialogue once I got to be her girlfriend, but nothing really changes during the main story. There is nothing that affects other characters whatsoever. Even in the very end of the game, Chie does not even acknowledge me as her long-time boyfriend in her conversation about her future. It was a bit of a disappointment despite how well written her end-game dialogue is.

There were also many points in both social link and main story conversations where I would have loved to make a choice on saying something to the characters during a few interesting moments in the game. There were also many times where I wish I could have made a choice in some parts of the main story, but the game forces me to make a choice such as the game automatically ending your entire day on days where I could have spent my time doing something else. These moments were bothersome, but not enough to really steer me away from the experience.

I still think the character and gameplay elements still shine as the highlight for Persona 4. Never have I experienced a game with that much character development in such great quality ever. I was so overwhelmed by how good these characters were that I had to take a 3-day break from Persona 4 to ease myself. That is not to say it is bad, I was just simply overwhelmed by the complexity of character development this game offers.

Story and Presentation: An Alright, Lengthened Detective Narrative, but Unique Presentation

The presentation itself is pretty unique and stylized, it mixes anime cutscenes, 3D graphics, and dialogue art that reminded me of Fire Emblem Awakening’s overall presentation. The graphics in the game are fairly good, pushing the PS2 to the limits. When you walk around in Inaba though, the graphics do get somewhat blurry and it gets a teeny bit distracting, but it is something that I got used to quickly and never became a huge problem for me when I played through the whole game.

Persona 4’s story, for the most part, it is pretty good. To briefly sum it, it is a detective story about high school students trying to solve a case of people vanishing into the TV World and getting murdered afterward. I really liked how Personas represented a character’s true nature and desires that people are afraid of showing and characters embracing their true self would release their inner power, their Persona.

There is also fluff in the story where characters simply have fun and interact with one another through festivals, parties, or vacations. I get real enjoyment out of them as the characters themselves have many memorable moments, which helped me forge a closer relationship with these characters as the story progressed.

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The story was interesting enough to get invested, but the way the mystery narrative is told can be problematic. At many points, it can feel like solving certain mysteries drag on a bit too long. This can be the case in the sections where you have to gather information from people to gain access to a dungeon. Fortunately, these sections are not too tedious to do since you only have a few areas to explore. The way the true culprit was revealed and how the culprit shared his/her intentions was also a bit disappointing, and I feel that could’ve been executed better to make him/her more fearing.

For other problems I have with the narrative, I feel there could be improvements to flesh out the narrative to make the plot feel more significant, especially near the end-game with how the true culprit was revealed. Pacing in points where the main characters are trying solving the mystery could have been better. And a quick-save function during the middle of a long dialogue event would have been very convenient. What is lacking in the narrative does not matter much, as there is a driving force that keeps the game interesting the whole way through.

Music: A Stylized One of a Kind

With the soundtrack of Persona 4 (which can find here for reference), there are some tracks stand out, particularly ones with vocals, but other non-vocal tracks do not have the same solidity. The dungeon tracks, in particular, do a good straight forward job with fitting with the theme while maintaining a unique style, but I feel melody-wise the music could have been more improved.

The only exceptions would be the Secret Base, Heaven, and Long Way track. Those particular dungeon tracks really fit their particular theme while having very catchy melodies and stylized beats. This similarly applies to the main boss battle theme and two particular emotional scene tracks. The boss pretty hummable track on its own and the melody is fine, but I feel there was a lack of impact in the beginning of the track that made boss battles feel a bit lackluster.

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When it comes to emotional scene music, there are only a few I feel are lacking, Who’s There and Border of Insanity. Those tracks tend to feel repetitive with their beginning melodies and do not really give the fearing impact the music is trying to achieve. These tracks make the entire Persona 4 soundtrack feel overall not complete musically. This is not to say the soundtrack is entirely bad.

The soundtrack has this unique J-pop style put into some tracks and the way it is composed gives Persona 4 a strong unique identity of its own. My all-time favorites have to be Never More, Aria of the Soul, Pursuing My True Self, Your Affection, A New World Fool, and The Almighty as they left the most impact to me emotionally. There could be some improvements in certain tracks, but the overall soundtrack is pretty solid.

Gameplay and Time: Every Decision Matters! Manage Your Day Wisely!

Perhaps the biggest positive I can give to Persona 4 is how the game overall encourages managing your time, as every decision made in the game feels like it truly matters. If you wait too long and waste time, you will eventually get a game over for not rescuing a character you were supposed to save from the TV World.

You need to manage your time wisely in each day you spend despite the freedom you have. Do you want to spend time doing certain Social Links in the daytime? Do you want to spend the whole day doing side-quests to earn rewards? Do want to spend time studying or go fishing at night? These were all things that I had to think about in my first play-through and it creates a fun/pressuring challenge I have never seen before in an RPG.

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The key to making better decisions is to check your social stats. These types of social stats consist of Knowledge, Courage, Diligence, Understanding, and Expression. If you do not have enough of a particular social stat, you will not be able to make certain choices or access certain things in the game that could benefit you in battle or help you in social link/story conversations. You can increase your social stats through taking part-time jobs, participating in school club activity, eating at a restaurant, reading a book, or battling certain powerful enemies in a dungeon.

Almost everything decision you make feels like it matters, even in battles with the strategy, fusing Personas (thanks to the fantastic Aria of the Soul track), and dungeons with SP conserving. It also helps that the characters and connections you make with them are also fantastic, which really helps enforce the idea that time management and making the best decisions is important to the player.

Though there is a big problem that comes near the end-game. On 12/24, once you finally solve the case, the game deliberately skips a whole slew of months to the day before you leave Inaba. This is at a point where you would think the game would give you plenty time to max out the rest of the social links, but it does not. In my first play-through, I was pretty close to finishing 3/4 of my social links.

Through research, I realized that there is a deadline to finish all of those before you lose the chance to social link with others again. This had upset me greatly, seeing as to how close I was with my social link progress since I was only really planning to do a single walkthrough of Persona 4 hoping to complete all social links. It briefly made me feel my progress was all for nothing seeing as to how much I cared for each character, but I eventually got over it and tried to complete as many social links in the remaining days I had.

Conclusion

Even though that huge problem exists, Persona 4 is still a very special game to me. It helped me learn so many time management skills that I could utilize in real life. It gave me great battle challenges that forced me to think and strategize. But most importantly, it gave me characters that had great personalities and felt unbelievably human. And by the end of Persona 4, I was sad that I had to let these characters go and move on to play other games. It was a game so special, I felt the need to finish this detailed review before playing any video game at all.

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Even though Persona 4 has a couple of minor problems that overall can bog the experience down sometimes, it can easily forgiven by the social aspect of the game that plays a great role into making Persona 4 a stand-out JRPG. If I could rank this in my top favorite games of all time, I would put at #2, being a better game than Chrono Trigger and MOTHER 3, but behind UNDERTALE.

If you have free time and own a PS2 or Vita, I would heavily recommend checking this game out. Eventually, I will get my hands on Persona 4 Golden and its other spinoffs, but that will come another time. Right now, I am just hoping it comes to the Nintendo Switch so that I will not have to buy a PSTV or Vita just to play one game I am really interested in. If there are any tips I could give if you are going to play Persona 4, I’d say:

Play it blind the first time. I know it is going to very tempting to play a game with a guide, but playing your own pace and making your own decisions is the best way to fully enjoy the experience. Try doing social links at your own pace the first time. In a few cases, you may need help with certain gameplay features such as Persona fusion and test answers. These do not ruin the experience too much and are not explicitly told in-game. Here it is spoiler free:

  1. Fusion Guide: http://persona4.wikidot.com/fusion
  2. Test Answers (U.S. PS2 version): http://persona4.wikidot.com/answers
  3. Test Answers (U.S. P4G Vita version): http://www.ign.com/wikis/shin-megami-tensei-persona-4-golden/Test_Answers

DON’T LOOK UP PERSONA 4 ON YOUTUBE, OR ANYWHERE ELSE WHERE THE GAME COULD HAVE EASY SPOILERS. I was guilty of this myself, and one of the first results that showed up on YouTube was a HUGE spoiler for the game.

Remember 12/24 if playing the PS2 version. That is the last day where you have the chance to do social links when progressed far enough in the story. Persona 4 Golden gives you far more time to spare to get Social Links maxed out, but you still need to pay attention and plan your schedule carefully if you want to max all Social Links.

I hope this review helps a lot and I hope you consider getting Persona 4 if you have not yet. I would love feedback on my review, this is probably the most I wrote in a video game review ever. I apologize if I did not cover other aspects of the game, I might have forgotten some key gameplay aspects important to Persona 4.

Regarding My Current Problems With YO-KAI WATCH…

Lately, there’s been controversy with me recently on Twitter regarding YO-KAI WATCH. If you want to understand what problems I am going through right now, please read this email I sent to Joe Merrick (creator of Serebii, a huge Pokemon fansite). This is taking the full excerpt of the email, so take it from a different perspective. I hope you understand what I’m going through. If there is any advice you would like to give, please tell me. I need the help I can get.

Hi Joe,

As you might have seen earlier, I made an emotional reaction towards you making negative statements about YO-KAI WATCH on Twitter. And I would like to heavily apologize for that act earlier. Lately, in my situation things have been getting worse in terms of YO-KAI WATCH as a whole. 

Since I discovered YO-KAI WATCH a year ago, I have grown attached to the franchise more than Pokemon in the last 10 years of my life. I’ve been collecting Pokemon toys, games, stickers. As an older person growing up, I found YO-KAI WATCH to be more engaging for me personally in terms of games, charm and anime and I’ve been fading away from Pokemon rather quickly.

Since my attachment to the franchise. I was inspired to write for a YO-KAI WATCH fan site called Watch of Yo-kai. Your work in Serebii really motivated me to make that decision. I have been following your site when I was young for Pokemon news and help, and I appreciated what you have done to help make the Pokemon community grow. I wanted to make the same impact with YO-KAI WATCH as well. I had another major goal in mind too, I wanted to stop the Pokemon ripoff mindset that has been present for 20 years. 

For a year now, I have been trying to make this franchise grow. I have had decent successes with my articles on the fan-site, pushing the franchise on Twitter, and partnering with many big names who support YO-KAI WATCH like JohneAwesome, AbdallahSmash, the English voice actors for YW, and the official YO-KAI WATCH accounts in social media. Remember back then when I asked you about your thoughts on YW on Twitter a year ago? Since making my first big article on YO-KAI WATCH (Found here: http://watchofyokai.com/we-can-love-both-pokemon-and-yo-kai-watch/) and quoting you, I had hope that I could make YO-KAI WATCH big enough for lots of people in the West and continued to push on for the next year.

My contribution to the YO-KAI WATCH has caused a sizable impact on the YW community, creating a small, but very nice community that I enjoy talking to. I’ve made so many new friends because of this franchise. YO-KAI WATCH gave me a reason to live and a purpose in my life.

But lately, it has been getting worse. In the West, YO-KAI WATCH 2 has been selling horribly, the sequel has been getting horrible review scores, and I seen more people talk about how YO-KAI WATCH is no longer the Pokemon killer. And in Japan, YO-KAI WATCH 3 has been selling worse than Pokemon S/M. I care about the franchise intensely and watch the community at all times. Seeing the community not grow exponentially and seeing more negativity really makes me question how much of a contribution I made with YO-KAI WATCH as a whole.

I’m scared that more people will just lose more interest in the franchise, and it will just fade away with little people caring like with Digimon and other monster collecting franchises. And if people do remember YO-KAI WATCH, I fear they will just remember it for helping the newest Pokemon games become better and nothing else. I’ve been personally envying Pokemon in my mind since then, occasionally publicly bashing on Pokemon for taking major elements of YO-KAI WATCH like the Z-RIng, Rotomdex, the tone of the newest Pokemon anime, and much more. 

All of these thoughts about YW and the bad things happening to YW has caused me to think about giving up pushing YW and just let it die. As a result, it caused that emotional reaction you saw earlier on Twitter. I am sorry for being over-sensitive, and I hope you understand why I reacted that way and I apologize for that, and I hope you fully understand my perspective as a YW fan. I will try not to cause rash reactions again. If there’s any advice you could give me, please tell me. I am going through a tough phase in my life right now and I’m not sure what to do next.

Thank you for reading,

BluePikmin11