Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 04 – Politics and Loneliness


Tradition and its many facets continue to play a significant role in the ongoing attempts by Maou and Yuusha to stop the war between the demon and human world. However, this week took a slightly different turn with the Seinen Shounin (Young Merchant) thus starting the next step in Maou’s plan, while also complicating matters. The problem with trying to bring such a plan to fruition is that it goes against society and all of its established ways of governing and methods of dealing with power and commerce. Maou effectively wishes to unite the land through shared prosperity, this would then allow the numerous kingdoms that are dependant on the good will of central kingdom in order to survive and maintain their current economy. As Maou has already explained, it is because of the current war that this unstable, and unequal relationship can continue but without it those kingdoms that are entirely dependant on the goodwill of central kingdom would likely collapse in on themselves. But, this particular way of working and the various networks, trade routes and other connections that have been created in the process of the war have their own strength and power. This relationship, while unfair, is also an established one and those in power, be they the merchants or other members of the ruling class would stand to lose a significant amount due to Maou’s proposed scheme. Read more of this post

Kotoura-san 03 – The Simple Things in Life


As has probably become clear over these recent episodes, Haruka is an emotionally unstable individual, and is the first to blame herself for anything going wrong or people being hurt. Such an attitude, while wrong, is hardly surprising due to the nature of her ability and the apparent problems that it has caused her family. For Haruka, her ability to read other peoples minds is natural, so natural that many of her ‘conversations’ with Mifune are done through the use of her ability rather than Mifune vocalising her own thoughts. We were also introduced to her ability in a natural setting during the first episode, with Haruka reading other peoples minds and seemingly believing that this is perfectly normal. Having such an ability and the ability to naturally use it in the same as breathing makes Haruka’s life complicated, not least because there have been those who are willing to accuse her of lying and cheating, even going so far as to label her as a monster. Furthermore, her parents arguably used her ability as an excuse for their divorce and all of the problems that were happening before them. As we were shown in episode one, Haruka’s family life was far from perfect, in fact, the joyous, ‘normal’ family that we were presented with in the first few minutes quickly disappears as the episode progressed. The family was already on the verge of splitting up, and as we watch, Haruka’s mother, Kumiko gradually gets worse and worse, and begins to blame all of her woes on her daughter. Read more of this post

Vividred Operation – Unknown Enemies and Talking Ferrets


Vividred Operation is an astonishingly self-aware series, it fully understands the absurdities of the whole premise surrounding the characters, setting and enemies and often deliberately plays to that. We know by now that the Manifestation Engine, while providing 95% of the world energy is also somehow inexorably drawing these strange, faceless monsters called The Alone towards it. We also know that such an attack was predicted by Kenjirou, who was inevitably let go and considered a bit of a crazy old man by those in charge of maintaining his invention, thus ignoring his warning and potentially dooming the world to oblivion. The way the series heroines attack these unknown and strange foes is somewhat reminiscent of Strike Witches, with their ability to fly and the absurd strength and power that their suits provide them. The way this series deals with the unbelievable power that these girls possess, and their ability to effectively smash the alone into the ground is rather interesting. Read more of this post

Kotoura-san 02 – Use and Abuse


Haruka’s meeting with Manabe may have been a cathartic moment in her life, but it doesn’t mean that all of her problems would suddenly disappear, quite the opposite in fact. By getting to know Manabe, Haruka has arguably taken herself into the public eye as it were, with others, specifically Moritani and her two friends looking on and wondering why Manabe and Haruka are suddenly together all of the time. The main problem with Haruka though is that while she has become friends with Manabe, her own problems and fears surrounding her ability to read minds have not disappeared. Instead we can see her pushing these ideas to one side largely due to her joy at finally finding someone who doesn’t run away as soon as he knows about her abilities. It was particularly fascinating to see Manabe’s expression and reaction in last week’s episode when he discovered that Haruka could read his mind. Whereas other characters had shunned her and labelled her as a monster, thus alienating her and pushing her into a corner, Manabe is more worried about not being able to have dirty thoughts when he is near her. Manabe is worried about her reading his thoughts, but he continues to think about being near her rather than running away and calling her a monster. This distinction is important because it demonstrates how Manabe wishes to stay near her and befriend her; his worries are therefore rather selfish and are merely to do with his inability to have dirty thoughts rather than about thinking in its entirety. Read more of this post

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 03 – Wealth, Status and Power


While tradition is arguably the biggest obstacle that Maou has to overcome, it is not a simple case of traditional views or attitudes, rather it is a complex collection of ideas, knowledge and status that help to create this notion of the ‘traditional way of things’. As we are quickly finding out, getting a single village to change their growing habits and ways of approaching the job of farming and production may be simple in nature, but it comes with an increasingly complicated set of jobs and ideas that must be dealt with. Maou has already pointed out the true nature of this ongoing war between the human and demon worlds, and has demonstrated that through this war the countries and its peoples can prosper. Furthermore, it is arguably due to this war that the human and demons worlds are currently at peace with no interstate wars and an increasingly prosperous trade network that allows central countries to become rich, while other, poorer countries are provided with essential aid that allows them to survive. In Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, demons and by extension the Maou are easy scapegoats that humanity uses to blame for all of their problems rather than take responsibility. But in doing so, various rulers and other nobles are able to prosper from the war and reduce the possibility of popular uprisings due to commonly held beliefs about the nature of demons and what they have done to this world. Read more of this post

Chihayafuru Season 2 – The Triumphant return of Chihaya!


Chihayafuru was one of those special series that managed to fit high school romance together with a traditional Japanese card game called karuta. Part of the fun of the first series was watching how oblivious Chihaya was to the increasing affection from both Taichi and Arata, even though the later spent half the series as an invisible force without any physical presence. It was a series with complicated character that were all struggling with their own view of the world, and karuta acted as a way to bring them all together under a common cause. The brilliance of the original series was how much tension an apparently simple game could produce and the increasingly complicated nature of Chihaya’s relationship with it and her schools karuta club. Karuta is a fascinating game, one that relies upon an intimate knowledge and understanding of 100 cards that represent 100 classical Japanese poems. It is a popular, and also rather complex game at first, and because it is a classical Japanese card game doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone of the same age as Chihayafuru’s characters. Read more of this post

Kotoura-san 01 – The road to acceptance is paved with perverted intentions, apparently


Mind reading is something that crops up from time to time, mostly in western comic books with super heroes who are psychic or those who possess other similar powers, although they do appear in manga and anime. The notion that reading peoples minds would someone be cool, or fun goes hand in hand with these sorts of characters, as if knowing precisely what people are thinking will somehow make your life better. But, let us approach this idea from the opposite direction and look at what might happen if, far from helping, the ability to read minds only caused conflict and hurt people. Kotoura-san looks at what might happen if you could read other peoples minds and all the negative effects that this sort of power could come with. Everyone keeps secrets or doesn’t say what they are thinking, many of them are actually politicians since saying exactly what your thinking would generally get rocks and other things thrown at you by a largely section of the population. However, the general ability to say one thing and think another is often essential for social interaction and getting on with people since it is arguably impossible to truly agree about everything, even with good friends. Read more of this post

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha 02 – Idealism and Tradition


The single biggest issue that Maou has to deal with in her quest to end this war is (arguably) tradition, this coupled with the idealism of those who continue to believe in the righteousness of this war make all of her plans worthless, at least for now. Before she can ever get around to solving basic problems such as crop rotation, food shortages and by extension the wealth and wellbeing of society, she must first educate everyone on the basic principles of war, economy and social responsibility. Yuusha claimed to be a righteous warrior, one bent on the destruction of Maou, thus freeing his country and continent from war and oppression. His claims are not merely his, but a product of commonly held beliefs and ideals surrounding the nature of the demon realm, and how it pertains to the prosperity of their own nation. Ideals are dangerous, especially when they are linked to warfare and the trade that goes on around it. The ideals of Yuusha are particularly dangerous and easily manipulated as we saw in the last episode when Maou pointed out that he was the only one dispatched to kill her, when the best course of action, assuming those in power wanted to end the war would be to send a well equipped and powerful army. Read more of this post

Tamako Market 01 – Royal Birds, Mochi and Top Hats


Kyoto Animation have a wonderful habit of infusing their tales of apparently everyday life in Japan with a real sense of wonder and fantasy, with the main characters often wandering off into their own worlds or encountering strange and wonderful creatures or ideas. Tamako Market continues that tradition with the introduction of a relatively normal school girl and the mochi shop that her family runs, but instead of sticking with the ‘cute girls do cute things’ formula, we are also introduced to one of the greatest characters of the season. Dera Mochimazzi is a fascinating character, especially because he is a bird, and a talking bird at that, the humour that his presence and sharp remarks bring is wonderful to watch, especially when without his character Tamako Market would simply be a relatively everyday slice of life series. Although this doesn’t mean that slice of life anime are boring, but it is nice to see another take on it without having magical monsters and demons or aliens appearing from everywhere. Read more of this post

Love Live! School idol Project 01 – The Greatest idea ever!


What would you do if it had suddenly been announced that your school, or perhaps university was going to close down? Protest? Throw toilet paper at passers by? Rob a bank? Find the true path to inner peace and realise that it was all part of the grand scheme of life? Or start an idol group with the intention of making the school more popular and bringing in new applications? Probably out of all of those options the last may be furthest from anyone’s mind, but it appears to be at the forefront of Honoka’s mind as she learns the terrible news that her school is due to close down. In Love Live! School idol Project the school in question, Otonokizaka is situated at the crux of three well-known areas of Tokyo, Akihabara, Kanda and Jinbo. All three are cities in their own right with distinctive cultures, attitudes and atmospheres that allow them to market themselves to other cities and communities and create specific images that are meant to encapsulate what they are all about. Being stuck in the middle of this melting pot of culture, style, fashion and ideas will never be easy, and it will always be difficult to distinguish yourself from everyone around you. Read more of this post