Anime Review[Spoiler-Free]: Love is Hard for an Otaku

Aired: Apr 13, 2018 to Jun 22, 2018

Studios: A-1 Pictures

Genres: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life


The series focuses on the lives of two couples who are otakus, as they strive to have a balanced life between work, relationships, and their otaku hobbies, of course. But, all is not sunshine and rainbows as they’ll soon discover, for love is hard for an otaku.

That’s literally what the title means: Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii(shortened to Wotakoi). I’ve seen quite a few rom titles before, and this one seems to be quite promising, so let’s get to it.


The opening theme, “Fiction”, is pretty catchy. I find the hand movements to be especially cute. The opening theme shows the four main characters in both their working environments and their individual otaku hobbies, while occasionally meeting up for dinner and drinks.

The ending theme “Next to You” shows the four of them walking at the same pace, the lyrics implying they’ll figure out things as they go.

I find both themes to be mellow, lighthearted, and easy-going. The background during certain situations are appropriate, be it heartfelt or hilarious.

Soundtrack score: 7.0/10

Animation Quality

The general quality is adequate. I spotted no glaring errors. The colours used are soft, reflecting the light-hearted nature of the series.

Heh, Starbocks.
Oh look, cross-promotion! Well, Aniplex is working on the upcoming movie.
There’s some footage of a Monster Hunter game in some episodes too.
The mobile game they’re playing was also stylized in the opening in the form of retro pixel art.

Animation Quality score: 8.0/10


The four main characters are working adults, and while they have a few general otaku interests like video gaming and anime watching, each person has a specific interest in particular.

From left to right: Hanako Koyanagi , Hirotaka Nifuji, Tarou Kabakura, Momose Narumi

Hirotaka likes playing Monster Hunter in particular, and spends his holidays playing the more anticipated video games. Momose Narumi often accompanies Hirotaka during his Monster Hunter sessions, but her main interest is making doujins, which is paramount during Comiket(yes, there is a Comiket episode). Hanako Koyanagi also shares Momose’s passion for BL, but her main thing is cosplaying as male characters. Finally, Tarou Kabakura likes to read shoujo manga.

In addition, each character has their own demeanor. Hirotaka keeps to himself mostly, and doesn’t speak much unless he has to, as he was an introvert for most of his youth. Narumi has a very bubbly and cutesy personality (as mentioned by Kabakura a few times). Koyanagi is rather flirtatious in her conversations, but is quick to anger, often getting into arguments with Kabakura. Speaking of Kabakura, he’s serious about work ethic and is generally sensible, which allows him to handle Koyanagi’s shenanigans.

And yeah, they fight a LOT. Bonus points in Animation Quality for those facial features.
Hirotaka’s my kind of character. He doesn’t bother anyone much, always gets his work done, and then he goes off to play video games.

On a side note, Hanako Koyanagi is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, who also voices Kanbaru in the Monogatari series.

There’s plenty of comedy to go around. Some of the well-timed punchlines made me go “Ohhh snap!”, while other punchlines would slowly creep up on me. One example is when they were at a sleepover at Hirotaka’s place, and while he was showering, Koyanagi decided to search Hirotaka’s room for his porn stash, prompting Narumi to follow her. Kabakura refused to tag along, so the two of them went to work. As Kabakura heard them ransacking Hirotaka’s room from the living room, the realization slowly crept up on him, to which he shouted “Hey, Koyanagi. Don’t tell me you searched my room too!”. That was hilarious.

The core of the series is to view relationships through the lens of an otaku, and Wotakoi does a good job at that (well, mostly). While Hirotaka may seem like a top tier main character at first, his shortcomings become more apparent as the series goes on. He is very good at observing people, though the regular social cues go right over his head, and that includes relationship cues as well. Unlike Momose, he does not have any relationship experience, and has to learn things the hard way.

However, as the episodes progress, it is nice to see him pick up on said cues, and act on them to improve his relationship with Momose. He rarely shows emotion, so when he finally laughs, it’s a wholesome thing to see.

And speaking of wholesome, there are a few situations in this anime where the characters get to show how much they care about their significant other. During the Comiket episode, Hirotaka acted as Narumi’s assistant at her booth. That’s a good episode to look out, both for the pre-Comiket prep work and during the event. You can see how he constantly urges her along to complete what she has to do, and she views him as her savior (a bit exaggerated, but that’s how she views it through her otaku lens).

There’s also an argument(well, one of the arguments) in a restaurant between Kabakura and Koyanagi, and how he diffused that particular situation is telling of his quality as both a man, and a boyfriend. I really enjoy it when a rom title goes deep in exploring the differences in how guys and girls go about certain things in both relationships and their interests.

The answer to Kakabura’s question comes later when they go to the bookstore to pick up some manga or magazines. There’s a very clear difference between how the guys shop for books vs how the girls do it. Their emotions are wired differently.

Also, keep in mind that since the girls are really into BL, expect a lot of that in some of the episodes, maybe a bit too much.

When you use your boyfriends to fuel your BL fantasies.

Since the relationships are already established up front, there are no horribad shenanigans of the guy trying to get the girl, along with all the awkward misunderstandings that come with that package. In its place, though, are events of mild cringe. Reconciliatory hugging or lover spats at work are two examples. I get that it’s an anime, but it goes against the characters’ image of professionalism. Aside from Momose who is new to the job, everyone else is rather capable at their jobs, as they rarely work overtime (again, except Momose who had to take a few shifts early on in the series).

There is one part of the series that could have been really meaningful but was devoid of emotion: when Hirotaka suggested to Narumi that they start dating. While not a direct confession, it still implies they’d be dating, and there was very little emotion in that moment. Now, there may be justifiable reasons for this, but forming a relationship with a person does move them emotionally in that specific moment, and its absence really made the scene less meaningful and memorable than it could have been.

While these are the four main characters, a few others get introduced later on, particularly Hirotaka’s brother, Naoya, who is the complete opposite of him, so look forward to that.

Character score: 8.0/10


The pacing starts out slow for the first two episodes, but eventually gets to a comfortable place by the third. Narumi bumps into Hirotaka on her first day of work. It’s revealed in the first episode that they are actually childhood friends (yes, in this title, the childhood friend finally wins the girl’s heart). Since they began dating after episode one, there’s no “chase” element of this plot, so there’s more time to focus on the actual relationships between characters.

Each episode is pretty much them partaking in otaku stuff (talking about anime, playing video games together, buying manga) and in non-otaku stuff (conversations at work, dinner after work). While nothing out of the ordinary, some eps do have some useful information such as the main characters keeping their relationships a secret from their co-workers (I can’t imagine how despite the aforementioned shenanigans at work), and even some bits about Hirotaka’s and Momose’s past.

The series really earns its “slice of life” tag in a few scenes, particularly, one where Kabakura confronts a guy for seemingly going after Momose, despite that wasn’t what the guy was doing. It’s hard to justify a situation like that, especially when said guy was unaware of their relationship, something painfully relatable to anyone who has tried to chase a girl while not knowing she’s already taken. That scene really did hit home, before devolving into a hilarity fest, obviously.

There isn’t any ramp-up to a climatic episode or event per se. There were hints to something that could potentially make for a good final episode, but it didn’t really amount to much. The story tends to put these four characters in similar situations by proximity (meaning they would be in the same location or nearby). At times it’s fine i.e after work, but other times are a bit too coincidental for my taste.

Despite not having an impactful cimax, the show ended on an okay note, just like any other episode. Hopefully, this means a second season may come in the future.

Plot score: 7.0/10

Score Summary

Soundtrack score: 7.0/10

Animation Quality score: 8.0/10

Characters score: 8.0/10

Plot score: 7.0/10


Wotakoi is definitely one of the better rom titles I’ve seen thus far. It focuses on the characters and their interactions, with less emphasis on cringy rom shenanigans. I hope to see more rom titles with this kind of format.


Anime Mini-Review [Pre-Requisite Spoilers]: Nekomonogatari Kuro

Aired: Dec 31, 2012

Studios: Shaft

Genres: Comedy, Supernatural, Romance, Ecchi

This review contains spoilers from Bakemonogatari.

Trying out a new format. Mini-reviews will be much shorter compared to my regular reviews, meant for focusing on certain aspects of a title e.g characters or plot while skimming over the rest, condensed and shorter(hopefully,heh).

Anyway, let’s get to it.

Nekomonogatari Kuro or Black Cat Story (or rather, Cat Story – Black?) takes place between Kizumonogatari and Bakeomonogatari. As we’ve learned in Bakemono(which takes place afterwards), that Hanekawa had quite a cat problem, and it’s no ordinary cat. Nekomonogatari Kuro covers the origin of Hanekawa’s “problem”.

The show takes place during the Golden Week of Koyomi Araragi’s third year of high school.

First off, the opening theme, “Perfect Slumbers”, is absolutely amazing, especially the organs and violins playing between 3:05-3:29, quite a moving segment of the song. It’s calm with mild sorrow, sung by none other than Hanekawa’s voice actress, Yui Horie. The lyrics hint at her internal struggles, as well as her feelings for Araragi, and how she longs for him to notice her.

As for animation quality, you know those minimalistic geometric aesthetics which are always pleasing to look at? Well, they’re back!

And so are the head tilts.

And the over-the-top punchlines.

And characters acting outside of their character.

Being yandere doesn’t really suit Tsukihi, though.

We also get some Bakemono references, too

Well well well, look who it is, and she’s walking up the same steps, too.
When the same thing happened later in Bakemono, do you thing Araragi went into a complete shutdown mode because he was reminded of this?

Oshino is still around to provide valuable insight on the current case, and some comic relief via backhanded comments. Takahiro Sakurai does return to voice him, which is nice.

Now, on to the main bit, which is the plot.

The show starts off with some comic relief by Araragi and Tsukihi, before Araragi tells her about a certain person he loves, but isn’t really sure. Later on, the show gets to the meat of the series, which is dealing with a cat-like aberration which has possessed Tsubasa Hanekawa, prompting it to randomly attack people at night, and how Araragi and Oshino plan to stop it.

We get a few interesting details on this case. The first one is how unusually strong it is for a low-tier abberation, and while it does make sense given Hanekawa’s personality, it was bit ridiculous if you ask me, as are most Monogatari hyperboles. It really detracts from the reality of things, especially since Oshino is a specialist. However, the second thing he found out is a surprising plot twist that not even I expected, so props for thinking that one through at least.

The plot twist does a complete 180 on what they know on the case, which is a good side effect of Monogatari hyperboles.

Next, is how to stop this entity(and free Hanekawa), and here’s where the show pulls out another Monogatari hyperbole trope: explaining a plan after it has been executed, to show that the characters knew certain info from the very start, and even fulfilling some secret criteria to win. This detracts from what the characters are normally capable of, especially in terms of knowing certain information they’re not supposed to, undermining other characters in turn.

You’re telling me that Araragi managed to figure out something that a SPECIALIST like Oshino could not? That’s a bit much, don’t you think?

Also, because this show is only 4 episodes long, a lot of possible cool stuff was cut short.

20 battles is a LOT. Couldn’t you at least show us some of the cool highlights? No? Okay.
Throwing himself under the bus for anyone in distress isn’t one of Araragi’s better traits, honestly.

Was it wrapped up nicely? All dumb hyperbole tropes aside, yes, it did, and we even get a nice lead-in to Bakemono.

Recognize these stairs?

So how do I rate the plot? It certainly holds up to Monogatari standards (especially humor, soundtracks, and animation quality) and gives insight on Hanekawa’s personality from a different perspective(as evident from the well-thought plot twist), though it doesn’t come close to Bakemono and Kizumono. It does beat Nisemono‘s boring 11-episode series easily, though.

Hence, I’d rate the pre-Monogatari Second Season titles as such:



3.Nekomonogatari Kuro

10. Nisemonogatari (yeah, not that great, aside from the first 2 eps maybe)

Nekomono Kuro offers a good insight as to what happened during Golden Week, though it’s best not to linger, and carry on with the other titles in the aesthetically-pleasing and profound series that is Monogatari.

Anime Review [Spoiler-Free]: Elfen Lied

Aired: Jul 25, 2004 to Oct 17, 2004 (Summer 2004)

Studios: Arms

Genres: Action, Horror, Psychological, Supernatural, Drama, Romance, Seinen

Disclaimer: This review is solely based on the anime adaptation and does not take into account the source material content.


A rare mutation among humans has given rise to a special breed of human called “Diclonicus”, their signature traits being the horn-like protrusions on the sides of their heads, along with the ability to control invisible “hands”(called vectors). One suh Diclonicus, named Lucy, somehow breaks free from the research facility she was held at. During her escape, a head injury causes her to have a split personality: a docile girl with limited speech. She later washes up on the beach, and is taken in by two college students to the inn they leave in. However, the facility is still looking for Lucy, and will go to any lengths to re-acquire their specimen.

Warning: this anime is bloody as hell, just a heads up. Heads will fly, and so will vital organs. Oh, and some nudity as well.


The opening theme “Lilium” is one that becomes a mainstay in the series, and is the same song played by Kouta’s music box, though I find it gets old after a while. The same goes for the ending theme “Be Your Girl”, which I didn’t find too appealing either.

The background music is decent for conveying scenes of tension, sorrow(in which “Lilum” is sometimes used), and nostalgia.

Soundtrack score: 5.00/10

Animation Quality

I got F.E.A.R vibes from this one.

Considering the level of violence in this anime, expect a lot of the animation to go into the gore part of things. That’s attributed to the ability of vectors to cut and dismember things by vibrating at high frequencies.

We occasionally do get some nice still scenery like this, though.

A side note before we go further, the colour selection and art from the opening theme was inspired by the works of Gustav Klimt.

One of Klimt’s famous works, The Kiss, was also referenced in the opening theme.

Anyway, moving on, the anime also pays attention to its firearms, which I can appreciate.

An anti-materiel rifle.
The fire modes illustrated on a weapon.
More fire modes on guns

The vector animations are pretty cool too.

There are some parts of the anime that have many frames, like this running animation here.

There some parts where the anime does show its age, though.

Those chin proportions are weird. Seems like she has a way bigger chin than he does!

Animation Quality score: 7.00/10


The characters are the ones who make the story come to life, with most characters having rather ‘colourful’ personalities and past experiences, by which I mean “really messed up”. Here are some of them to give an idea.

1. First, we have Lucy, the main Diclonius, having two personalities: her regular “kill everything” personality, and her docile personality, where the only word she knows at first being “Nyuu”, hence that’s the game given to her by Kouta and Yuka.

2. Kouta, the main protag. He had his family murdered before him, landing a year in the psych ward, leaving him with no memory of the events leading up to the murder.

3. Yuka, Kouta’s cousin who has a crush on him. Kouta promised to come see her again, but forgot about said promised when he lost his memory. Her feelings for him did not go away, and resurface every time Kouta is tending to Nyuu or some other girl in distress.

4. Mayu, a girl living on the street, her only friend being a dog. She lives on the street after she fled her home after repeated sexual abuse from her stepfather, and her mother? Well, she sees Mayu as a ‘competitor’ for her husband’s attention. Yes, messed up, I know. But, we’re not done yet

5. Nana, or #7 (“Nana” means “Seven” in Japanese, so yeah). Unlike Lucy, Nana does not use her vectors to kill humans, part of which was due to Director Kurama’s care for her, serving as emotional support to endure the cruel testing undergone by Diclonii at the facility. She knows what Lucy is capable of, despite having no knowledge of the personality split.

6. Bando, a member of the Special Assault Team (SAT) called in to retrieve Lucy. His bloodlust means he shows no mercy even to women and children.

Yep, shooting training dummies just aren’t enough for him.

So, you can imagine what happens when these characters and their emotional baggage end up in the same scene, either a violent or non-violent one. It’s an exploration of who is more messed up: humanity vs the Diclonii.

Trainwreck in 3…2…1…

Some of the actions these characters undertake do have an impact on the story, either direct or indirect. For example, Because Director Kurama was kind to Nana, she not only was able to endure the torturous “tests” at the facility, but she’s the only mentally stable Diclonius in the anime because of that. Unlike “Loose Cannon” Lucy, Nana does not succumb to violently murdering everything (despite coming very close to doing so).

Another good example is Mayu tending to Bando’s wounds, leading to him owe her a favour out of personal principle.

The traits of characters are also showcased in situations where it calls for them, like Bando’s trianing during his duel with Lucy.

Waiting to hear her wet steps on the blood to shoot the grenade on the dead soldier’s body. Pretty clever.
It’s rare to see characters pick up firearms when they have powerful abilities like vectors. In this case, Lucy did so to compensate for her 2-meter range.

Despite Nana not fully understanding Nyuu’s condition, she does make an attempt to get along.

Despite a whole bunch of character development, there are some who get the short end of the stick. A prime example is Yuka. She doesn’t do much beyond lashing out at Kouta for being nice to other female characters and failing to notice her feelings for him, DESPITE Yuka knowing that Kouta spent a year in the psych ward after witnessing the murder of his family. Let that sink in for a bit. The problem with tsunderes is that nothing will ever be good enough for them, and they always have to be mad about something to keep that love-hate dynamic going.

It’s disheartening to see Yuka’s entire character being reduced to tsundere trash, despite being one of the more prominent characters in the anime.

There are also characters doing stuff against the norm, which is weird.

If he didn’t meet her because he dad caught him trying to sneak out, will humanity’s fate be sealed there and then?

There is one person I haven’t talked about that much: our main Diclonius, Lucy.

It’s nice to see her Nyuu personality doing cute things like house chores, and learning new words. Occasionally (often from a head injury), her murderous personality breaks out where she takes it out on everything except Kouta, before reverting back to her Nyuu form. Based on the switches that happened throughout the early parts of the series, it’s hinted that it will lead up to something like Kouta talking to her in her murder-eyes mode, and when it first happens, we do get hints as to what’s going on, but the rest of it seems rather underwhelming, like some sob story of “I wanted to tell you but I couldn’t, despite me having multiple chances to do exactly that”, which eroded her character, honestly. A lot of details of her past are left unclear as well, so we’re left with Nyuu taking center stage for most of the anime.

Character score: 7.00/10


Minor Trivia

The name “Elfen Lied” originated from Eduard Mörike’s poem Elfenlied (meaning “Elf Song”). Some elements from the poem are reflected in the series, for example, the Silpelits were given a mention as the offspring of a man and a monster. In the anime, Silpelits function as the worker bees, aimed at infecting humans via their vectors. The poem also mentions an elf who hits his head when trying to observe a human gathering, much like Lucy who faces repercussions every time she tries to blend in with humanity.

None of this is mentioned in the anime, though, but you can read it up here.

The Story

Aaand very little was actually explained.

The story mostly takes place in two places: the first one is Maple Inn belonging to Yuka’s family, where Kouta moves in. In exchange for having a roof over his head, he has to help Yuka clean all the rooms regularly. The second location is the beach. I have no idea why, but a lot of encounters happen at a specific stretch of the beach.

You’d think that with all his special forces training, Bando would be able to track down Lucy himself. Instead, the story doesn’t know what to do with him so it leaves him on the beach.

One thing to note about the pacing is that it is laced with flashbacks. Sometimes, they last for a few seconds, but other times, a flashback may take almost the entire episode. The flasbacks do flesh out the pasts and current motives of characters including shedding some light on Lucy’s past. However, on most other ocassions, I found them to be too heavily used, as some flashbacks are repeated multiple times. In addition, the amount of happenstance is a bit too much.

With all of the bloodshed going on, it’s nice to have an OVA episode of sorts where the main cast take some time to catch their breath shortly before the bloody climactic battle begins.

And speaking of the bloody climactic battle, it was good, I’ll give it that, though the resolution was rather muddy.

One of the reasons for the adaptation’s weak plot is that it premiered while the manga was still ongoing, and having to produce a 13-episode adaptation from the source material at the time was quite a challenge for Mamoru Kanbe. This isn’t even a checklist adaptation. It’s an adaptation with its own ending that doesn’t quite reflect the source material very well, especially in regards to Lucy’s character.

Plot score: 5.75/10

Score Summary

Soundtrack Score: 5.00/10

Animation Quality Score: 7.00/10

Character Score: 7.00/10

Plot Score: 5.75/10


All things considered, Elfen Lied offers a vertical slice of the world where Diclonii exist, though not much else. I would recommend checking out the manga, for it is far more in-depth (and disturbing) than what the anime adaptation shows.

Anime Review [Spoiler-free]: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Aired: Oct 2002 to Oct 2003 (Fall 2002)

Studios: Production I.G

Genres: Action, Military, Sci-Fi, Police, Mecha, Seinen


In the future where cyberization and prosthetic limbs are commonplace, and the line between flesh & machine is blurred, the series follows the operatives of Section 9, a task force put together to combat high-profile cybercrimes.

10 years before Psycho-Pass, there was Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, a cyberpunk series heavily focusing on crime-solving elements, while exploring the social & political consequences of cyberization.

It’s the current year. Still no commercial-grade cyberbrains yet, though.


The opening theme “Inner Universe” by Origa, combined Russian and Latin lyrics to give it a futuristic yet nostalgic feel to it. On a side note, Origa passed on in 2015, so it’s unfortunate that we won’t get to hear more of her beautiful voice in future titles. Rest in peace, and thank you for bringing us this memorable song.

On the other hand, the ending theme “Lithium Flower” by Scott Matthew has a very retro feel. Both these tracks are pretty memorable.

In addition, the series also has a host of other tracks and background music, my favourite being “Run Rabbit Junk”, which comes on during high-octane scenes like building raids and gunfights.

Soundtrack score: 8.00/10

Animation Quality

While the first Ghost in the Shell movie (my review here) experimented with Digitally-Generated Anime (DGA), Stand Alone Complex took a gamble computer animating their entire opening, and boy did it pay off.

Look at that! It’s absolutely gorgeous. The animation playing over Origa’s sweet voice. That’s something you don’t see everyday, not even with modern anime titles.

As for the anime quality itself, it’s no slouch either. They’ve made use of panning techniques really well, like in this scene.


And of course, you have your optic camo effects.


The gun fights are also well-animated.

High production quality. Not bad for a series that’s almost 20 years old.

Animation quality: 8.25/10


From left to right, Paz, Togusa, Borma, Motoko, Aramaki, Saito(top), Ishikawa(bottom), Batou.

The personalities of the characters are also influenced by the level of cyberization they’ve undergone. Batou, a full-body cyborg, prefers a balls-to-the-wall approach when it comes to dealing with things, while Motoko Kusanagi aka the Major, another full-body cyborg, is the one who reels him in and coordinates the team’s efforts. She heavily uses optic camouflage and prefers finesse over force, but when push comes to shove, the Major can dish out her fair share.

What makes Motoko different from other female characters is that she makes no attempt to be attractive in terms of the way she looks and how she dresses, as she does not possess the same desires other females at her age would. While she may ocassionaly make a comment about something being macho or romantic, the majority of her focus is on her work and little else.

The Major became a cyborg at a young age. Her mention of breaking her toy doll was also in the opening animation.

It’s revealed later on in the series that both Batou and Motoko use material objects to serve as mnemonic devices (Batou buying workout equipment despite having a full prosthetic body, and Motoko buying a watch to commemorate her body’s final prosthetic resizing). Maybe they miss being human, or the like.

Now, the third member of Section 9, Togusa, is quite an interesting individual, and my favourite character in the series. Aside from a minor implant to communicate with his colleagues, he is completely human. Togusa has no super strength or hacking abilities to aid him in his work, so he does things the old-fashioned way: undercover detective work, and research. In fact, he made a breakthrough in one of the major cases of the series through painstaking research and investigation.

Daisuke Aramaki, the head of Section 9, prefers to do things by the book if possible, but handles the political and backroom negotiations to get certain cases done. He is called a “monkey man” by Batou, probably due to his hair.

Ishikawa handles the intel-gathering, data cross-checking and tracing, feeding info back to the Major, Batou and Togusa who are in the field.

Paz and Borma are the auxiliary muscle of the team.

Finally, we have Saito, the team’s sniper, always with his trusty cyber-eye and anti-materiel rifle for engaging heavily-armoured enemies.

The Tachikoma tanks also form a sub-plot with their human-like behaviour, which is fun and interesting to follow.

Characters: 7.50/10



Stand Alone Complex takes place in a cyberized world where one can access the net directly from their minds should they possess a cyberbrain. As you can imagine, this connection can work both ways, allowing a person’s cyberbrain to be hacked, leading to many possibilities , ranging from hacking their eyes to not see something that’s there, to directly controlling their cybernetic functions. Eye-hacking is common in countering surveillance to pass by undetected. Of course, one can just fry a person’s cyberbrain to kill them.

Because of this, there’s a wide range of topics concerning this aspect which are covered in the show.

A Cyberbrain Code of Ethics.
Memory extraction and manipulation.
The rights of a clone (or lack thereof).
Tapping into all communications in real-time, implying that every channel has a backdoor.

Some context on the Big Brother scene. Section 9 requested the American Empire’s aid in tapping into all communications in Japan to locate a suspect, meaning the Empire had such a powerful surveillance tool at their disposal the whole time. Let that sink in.

Because of the ease of hacking, certain cyberbrains have an ‘attack barrier’, which will fry any connections attempting to link with it without authorization. A counter to this is to hack via a dummy barrier, serving as a sacrificial layer in the event of an attack barrier retaliating, protecting the cyberbrain attempting the hack.

Attack barrier frying a dummy barrier.

The subject of prosthetic bodies are also brought up, with humans being able to transfer their consciousness into a cyborg body. Advances in the medical sector also allows growing vital organs via gene-splicing.

The director of a organ-growing company transferred his consciousness into a Jameson model.

Because of the topics discussed, the amount of cyber-jargon used at times may cause an information overload to viewers, so just be aware of that while watching.

There are also some interesting environments which show that not every part of the world has had advanced in the same way due to cyberization.

A giant abandoned oil rig having its own community, allowing for trading over international waters.
Suspended living containers under a bridge.


The series is divided into two kinds of episodes: “Stand Alone”, and “Complex episodes”.

Stand Alone episode, with a green title card.
Complex episode, with a blue title card.

Note the small descriptions on the left sides of the screen, describing the beginning of each episode.

“Stand Alone” episodes deal with one-off cases that Section 9 tackles. The cases are solved before the episode’s resolution, and add very little to the main storyline, which is covered by the “Complex” episodes.

The “Complex” episodes deal with the case of the Laughing Man, which you could say is the Makshima Shougo analogue of the series.

I must say, the investigations are interesting, especially in the “Complex” episodes. I found myself going back to earlier episodes at times to re-watch certain scenes, because the progress and findings in each episode plays in to the next one. As such, I didn’t find the “Complex” episodes to be spaced out. The pacing was adequate. As the investigations continue, it’s apparent that what Section 9 has uncovered is barely at surface-level, because some of the leads run pretty deep.

When in doubt, just deny everything.

Also, the last 6 episodes really heat things up with a tense buildup, explosive climax, a mild feels trip, and a satisfying resolution. It’s hard to find an anime that nails both the climax and the ending with minimal hiccups (because endings are apparently super hard to do). I can’t really say much, but you’ll have to watch it yourself, but it’s good, that much I’ll say.

There are also various references to the original Ghost in the Shell movie.

1. The tank prototype in the opening animation and in episode 2, reminiscent of the tank seen during the final fight in the movie.

2. The car with an optically-camouflaged combat vehicle above it.

3. Snipers on helicopters.

There are also plenty of quotes uttered by characters and Tachikomas, especially in the later half of the series, a trait carried forward into Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (my review of it here).

Oof, that quote was butchered good.

The plot deserves a 9 out of 10, though there are some things that take it down a few notches.

Because the “Stand Alone episodes” are meant to be one-off cases, they add very little to the main storyline. Because the cases need to be solved within one episode, the resolutions of said cases are usually half-baked and vague. They should have just been released as OVAs after the show’s conclusion.

Spoiler alert: It was never revealed who he is.
Spoiler alert: They never revealed what actually happened in that time,

There are also minor things like the Major clearly having more plot armour than she should (something which even Batou did not have despite being a full-body cyborg as well), and Togusa knowing the combination to an electronic lock despite having no hacking expertise.

Maybe Togusa guessed the combination correctly the first time?

Plot score: 8.5/10

Score Summary

Soundtrack score: 8.00/10

Animation quality: 8.25/10

Characters: 7.50/10

Plot score: 8.5/10


Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex is a must-watch for any cyberpunk aficionado. Thorough investigations, covert military operations, questionable practices, political scandals, it has it all. I only wish the “Stand Alone” episodes were really made standalone instead of being packaged with the main series.

I look forward to what its sequel, 2nd GIG, has in store.

Anime Review [Spoiler-Free]: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Supernatural

Studios: Cloverworks

Aired: Oct 4 2018 (Fall 2018)


2nd-year Sakuta Azusagawa, a student at Minegahara High School, is one of the victims of Puberty Syndrome, an affliction with supernatural effects. An ordinary day at the library turned out to be an unusual one when Sakuta suddenly saw a bunny girl walking about, which turned out to be the famous child-star, Mai Sakurajima. Strangely enough, no one is able to see her, except Sakuta.

Throughout the course of Rascal Does not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, or Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, Sakuta ends up meeting multiple characters throughout the show who suffer from Puberty Syndrome, and the show revolves around the attempts of Sakuta and his friends to help these characters recover from their conditions.


The ending theme “Fukashigi no Carte” is sung by various characters Sakuta helps throughout the series, and there’s even a version where all of them sing together, which is nice.

The background music used in the show is nothing spectacular, but fitting to the scenes used.

Soundtrack Score: 6.00/10

Animation Quality

Cloverworks didn’t really have a long track record when it came to anime, since it only came about after the rebranding of A-1 Pictures’ Koenji Studio. Some of its previous works include Darling in the Franxx, the Persona 5 series, and Ace Attorney series.

That being said, the animation of Rascal Does not Dream is not bad, it’s decent. The colour tones were a bit weird in some places, the cats did lack some facial details, but it’s nothing serious.

I reckon at least a third of the animation budget went into the water animation in this scene, heh.

I did pick up this minor error. In this scene, Kaede was staring directly at Sakuta through the doorway, but when it cuts to another angle, her face is completely missing, as if the doorway is up to her forehead instead of her mouth. Her face then reappears in the next frame before she closes the door.

Animation Quality Score: 7.00/10


As mentioned earlier, Sakuta meets a whole bunch of characters throughout the series afflicted with the Puberty Syndrome. Some are his classmates, others are related to those he knows. Between school and his part-time job, he ends up spending a lot of time talking to these characters to figure out the root cause of the problem, therefore understanding a little more about their past and how they think.

Relating to the show’s title, Sakuta himself is labeled as a “rascal” by those around him, mostly due to his uncaring and blunt personality. Oddly, this lends him a great deal of confidence. As someone struggling with his own case of Puberty Syndrome in the past, his focus is living his life and doing his best for those around him.

The down-to-Earth advice Sakuta gives out goes a long way in freeing characters from their Puberty Syndrome afflictions.

This great deal of confidence also provides for entertaining interaction between himself and Mai Sakurajima, their attraction to each other being obvious from the get-go. I do enjoy listening to characters who actually know how to banter/flirt, as that is a rarity in anime these days.

This prominent scene perfectly encapsulates their flirting dynamic.
Sakuta’s honesty goes for both desirable and less-than-desirable comments, so you can trust him to be upfront about anything.

Sakuta Azusagawa is voiced by Kaito Ishikawa. Some of his notable roles in include Genos from One Punch Man, and Takeo Kurata from Gate(He’s Itami’s friend who has a thing for catgirls, if you remember).

Speaking of Mai, she’s no slouch herself, able to match Sakuta’s confidence and return some of his cheeky banter with interest. I guess being in showbiz from a young age does have its benefits.

One of the things I picked up about this series (and one that has been the source of memes since its release) is the amount of parallels that can be drawn between this show and Bakemonogatari(particularly the main couple), which I have laid out below.

1.Mai / Hitagi telling the Main Character(MC) to forget about them.

2. Mai / Hitagi telling the MC to say their name properly, obviously a set-up for more banter.

3. The mention of wearing nothing but an apron.

Like Hitagi, Mai exhibits tsundra traits(not to be confused with tsundere), i.e having a cold and hostile personality to most people around her, and as she warms up(pun intended) to her love interest, what is seen on the surface as harsh treatment, is actually strong devotion and care at a deeper level.

However, unlike Bakemonogatari where Hitagi mostly disappears outside of her episodes, Mai is present throughout most of the series, being by Sakuta’s side whenever she can.

Discussing your problems openly? What is this, anime or real life? It’s way easier to flail your arms about in a tsundere manner and blame the guy for any trivial offence, heh.

Mai Sakurajima is voiced by Asami Seto. Some notable roles include Shouko Sashinami from Kakumeki Valvrave, and Akira Mado from Tokyo Ghoul, showcasing her ability to play both calm characters and more temperamental ones, which comes in handy when a certain something happens later on in the show.

Moving on to some side characters.

There’s Rio Futaba, the only member of Minegahara’s Science Club (which is rather strange. I guess they don’t like science over there). She is Sakuta’s main source of insight on the Puberty Syndrome.

Futaba also brews coffee and makes curry with her lab coat on to avoid dirtying her clothes, which is odd considering that she doesn’t button up.
Ah, nerdy girls, one of my weaknesses.

There’s also Koga Tomoe, a junior at Sakuta’s school. Unlike Mai, she lacks any shred of self-esteem, and wilfully bends to the whims of her classmates in fear of getting kicked out from their clique. Even worse, she can’t tolerate Sakuta’s banter, going so far as to saying that if he were to act that way towards Mai, Mai may end up eventually hating him. I like that little bit of ignorance there. Characters don’t have to be right about everything.

Koga expressing her need to interact with her social zombie friends, lest she run the risk of being ostracized.

While the side characters mainly interact with Sakuta (naturally, as he’s the MC), they do have decent interaction with each other. There are a couple of crushes here and there, and most of them get to meet Sakuta’s sister, Kaede, once he brings them back home (Amusingly, Kaede is often shocked that Sakuta ‘comes back home with a different girl every time’).

Speaking of Kaede, as the story progresses, more and more is revealed about her past, and why she is a shut-in NEET and afraid of strangers. Out of all the characters in the show, Kaede had the most amount of character development. Her determination to overcome her personal barriers is certainly commendable. Usually, the last few episodes just before the climax are boring without sufficient build-up, but Kaede made it happen, and it was a great feat on her part. It really helps to highlight how one with severe anxiety views the world outside.

Sakuta easily shrugging off some of Kaede’s anxiety concerns with his crude humor is really something, but that actually belies how much he cares about his sister.

Amidst all of this, there’s the mysterious Shoko Makinohara, who appeared before Sakuta at a time before the anime’s events took place. Very little is known about her, but in an intriguing way instead of a incomplete way which most titles tend to do. Hopefully, more of her backstory is revealed later on when the movie sequel is released.

The two pet cats present throughout the series which provide some flavour, distraction, and a drop of comic relief.

Character score: 8.25/10


Each ‘case’ of the Puberty Syndrome lasts between 2-3 episodes. The usual routine is Sakuta discovering a strange phenomenon surrounding a person, him going to Rio Futaba for advice, then going about figuring out a solution, usually by talking to other people and the victim themselves.

One thing that felt odd is Rio trying to explain the phenomenon in scientific terms, when the Puberty Syndrome is clearly a supernatural affliction. Disappearing from reality, body swapping, and doppelgangers existing isn’t exactly governed by the laws of physics.

Rio Futaba using the Schrödinger principle to explain observable realities.

I would consider the Puberty Syndrome as a MacGuffin, I.e something that’s there but needs little to no explanation. Sometimes, she would have a ‘debrief’ session with Sakuta where she tries to explain how the case was solved in a scientific manner, which I found to be rather boring as it had little purpose, due to not being bound by the laws of physics and all.

Sometimes, the scientific jargon was a bit over-reaching.

Despite that, the pacing of the show was decent and didn’t feel rushed. There’s even an arc later that resembled an infamous arc from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya, which promptly spawned a meme of Rascal Does not Dream being referred to as “The Disappearance of Hitagi Senjougahara”, for reasons highlighted earlier.

There are some coincidental conveniences here and there. For example, the solution to one of the cases came from a very odd place, which lead to that case being needlessly dragged on for an extra episode. I wonder how they would have solved that case if that thing didn’t exist.

Huh, every time a female character invites a guy back to her house, her parents are not at home for extended periods of time. How convenient. Then again, I guess that’s how they could afford such a nice house.

Kaede’s arc was the most interesting, not only because of her character development (as mentioned earlier), but because the consequences of that arc were very real. It was really something else when Sakuta, the guy who’s uncaring and not showing much emotion, breaking into tears because of something that hit very close to home.

There was one part towards the climax of the show which felt really out of place. Mai and Sakuta had an argument, a serious argument at that, one which should not have occurred because both of them were rather mature and had a great deal of trust in each other. I initially thought it was just another round of banter, but nope, apparently Mai was angry for real that time. I guess even Mai has her weaknesses, and isn’t infallible

Plot score: 7.25/10

Score Summary

Soundtrack Score: 6.00/10

Animation Quality Score: 7.00/10

Character score: 8.25/10

Plot score: 7.25/10


Good pacing and great characters made this anime one of my favourites for Fall 2018. I can always appreciate a male lead who knows how to flirt and banter, with a female lead who knows how to take some and dish some out as well.

I look forward to the upcoming movie sequel. Hopefully it sheds some light on the origins of Shoko Makinohara. I look forward to it.

Anime Review [Spoiler-Free]: Double Decker! Doug & Kirill

Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Police

Studios: Sunrise

Aired: Sept 30 2018 (Fall 2018)


Kiril Vrubell, a junior police officer in Lisvalletta, a city rife with crime and drug trafficking, aspires to one day become a hero. His wish may yet come true when he’s caught in the middle of a hostage situation. Landing himself a new position as a detective in SEVEN-O, an organization answering directly to the military, with one goal: to crack down on cases related to Anthem, a drug able to bestow superhuman powers on the user, at the risk of killing them.

TLDR, imagine the Saints Row video game series. Now, imagine a similar amount of whackiness, only from the perspective of the cops. That’s roughly how it is.

Ah, feels just like Steelport.


The soundtrack list spans two discs. The BGM(background music) tracks do a good job at capturing the noir crime atmosphere of the series. The opening theme shares some similarities with those of Tiger and Bunny and Kekkai Sensen.

Double Decker!’s opening:

Tiger and Bunny’s opening:

Kekkai Sensen’s opening:

Soundtrack score: 7.00/10

Animation Quality

Sunrise, the company behind the Gundam series, certainly delivered on the quality. The colour choices are rather bright and vibrant, as evident from the uniforms of the main characters. A mixture of 2D and 3D graphics is used for the action sequences, similar to titles like Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova.

There are also some nice 3D sequences like Doug’s car transformation.

Animation Quality score: 8.00/10


The detectives of SEVEN-O are a fun bunch. Working in teams of two,they are mostly at opposites. You have Kirill paired up with Doug, the other new recruit Kay, paired with the veteran Deana, and Max paired with Yuri. The buddy system is dubbed the “Double Decker” system by SEVEN-O’s leader, Travis.

The main cast has their own intro cards in episodes 1-2, which is pretty cool.

By the way, I should point out that Doug Billingham is voiced by Satoshi Mikami, and his voice closely resembled that of Shuichi Ikeda’s, famous for voicing Char Aznable from the Mobile Suit Gundam series. If Satoshi Mikami becomes the next Char, I wouldn’t mind it at all.

Each character has their own personality and way of doing things:

-Kirill aspires to prove himself as a hero. Despite being a rookie, he has a rather good relationship with his new boss, Travis.

-Doug may look like a dumbass, but he does think deeply at times. He has a tell when he thinks, which is tapping the side of his head with two fingers.

-Deana is not one for books, and uses her street-smartness to get her out of sticky situations.

-Kay, being the other new recruit, prefers to do things by the book, much to Deana’s annoyance.

-Max is rather reserved, and Yuri is unnaturally calm and composed at all times.

Sophie has a cute lisp.

As the series goes on, Doug and Kirill’s partnership improves, and Kirill gets to know more of his partner’s motives and backstory. Likewise, Kirill’s past is also touched on in a few episodes, such as the search for his long lost sister (or so he thought).

There are, however, a few parts that really bogged down character development, because they were more distracting than useful. While it had varying degrees, the last two ones are particularly annoying.

1.Kirill often being mistaken for a girl.

Happens all the time in anime. Kamile is a girl’s name. Nobody really cared, but when it got brought up repeatedly throughout the series, it did pose a minor annoyance.

2.Max being lesbians with a robot.

This was pretty obvious from the get-go. A dead giveaway from the ending theme. Nothing really weird about it. Lesbians are not uncommon in anime.

3. Kirill and another character blushing often.

Now it’s starting to get a bit weird. It’s almost implying they’re sensitive or something.

4.Crossdressing – While it is a gag certain titles, this one felt particularly weird. While the first instance was later on explained with good reason, the part where Kirill put on a dress as a joke that he looked like a girl felt like some attempt at normalizing crossdressing.

5.Coming out as trans and going to an event in drag, only to get thrown out of said event, prompting that person to do drugs and leave town– Are you kidding me? It wasn’t even done well, too. It was obviously forced, no effort to make it subtle. Also, this incident took place in an episode specifically meant to explore a character’s backstory, rendering their background effectively nuked into irrelevancy.

6. Kirill not having a half-orphan stay with him because “he wasn’t into that”

This was emphasized TWICE in the same episode. I’m not really sure what they were trying to imply, and I’m not sure I want to know. The kid doesn’t have a mom and his dad is in the hospital. Nothing really weird about bunking with someone for a bit.

Even in the face of these weird shenanigans, the team of SEVEN-O still executed their plans brilliantly, mostly with hilarious and comedic results. I found myself going “OOOOOOOOOOOH!” multiple times when the punchlines were delivered.

The characters do have some emotional moments.
Headpats are always great.

Character score: 6.75/10



The anime is set in a retro-futuristic era, where VHS tapes, typewriters, and flip cellphones are still used, yet technology like drones, rockets, and robots are present.

The four-legged drones resemble the A-Laws Automatons from Gundam 00 Season 2. I see what you did there, Sunrise.

Here are some choice pics from the scenery.

The industrial district where gondolas are used to get around.
This looks like a water treatment plant of sorts.


The episodes mainly revolve around SEVEN-O tackling various Anthem-related cases, usually ending in one or more of the detectives using Anti-AMS bullets against a mutated Anthem user, reverting them back to normal.

If a case is not confirmed for Anthem involvement, it falls out of their jurisdiction, so SEVEN-O can’t pursue the case. Following the investigation process is rather interesting, especially when Doug tries to piece the clues together. While it does make for near-foolproof plans (most of the time), the investigation results are presented in a retroactive manner, I.e Doug saying “I knew you would do this, therefore I did this instead”, with a flashback on cue to provide context. Hence, it was slightly less fun in that regard.

The story also ocassionally shifts to the perspective of Esperanza, ocassionally hinting at their plans for Anthem and internal strife.

One important thing to note about the series is that it does not take itself seriously.

The anime has to really be self-aware to make a joke like this. Well done.

On one hand, there is no shortage of comedy. That is the main appeal of the anime, as evident from its characters and setting. On the other hand, when the anime tries to get serious, it cannot maintain that transition. Double Decker! in particular, pulled off what I call a “Trigger”, no pun intended. It is the act of introducing a foreign plot element fairly late into the anime, often during the last quarter of the series. Previous Trigger titles like Kill la Kill and Darling in the Franxx did the same thing, and it did not work out well for them.

While this new plot element was initially rather interesting, I quickly realized it would just end up as another gag, not to be taken seriously despite the weight it implied. Also, due to it being introduced rather late in the anime, there wasn’t enough time to fully flesh it out. I wish Kirill was able to do more with the opportunities he got later on in the series, instead of his position being a mere convenience.

As for the ending, I found it to be too clean. Everything was wrapped up so nicely, almost as if it went through a checklist of lose ends to cover before the ending credits rolled, which is incredibly hasty.

Plot score: 6.75/10


Soundtrack score: 7.00/10

Animation Quality score: 8.00/10

Character score: 6.75/10

Plot score: 6.75/10


Double Decker! Doug and Kirill has great animation quality (both 2D and 3D graphics) and should be taken as a comedy anime, nothing more. It certainly delivers its fair share of laughs with some feels here and there. It just isn’t meant for being serious, and can’t handle heavy plot elements well.

Anime Review [Spoiler-Free] : Iroduku: The World in Colours

Genres: Drama, Magic, Romance

Studios: P.A Works

Aired: Oct 6 2018 (Fall 2018)


Set in a world where magic and mages exist in the modern world, Hitomi Tsukishiro has lost the ability to see colours at an early age, her life being equally as dull with only black, white, and grey. As such, her grandmother, Kohaku, used time magic to send her 60 years into the past, to the high school where a younger Kohaku goes to, in an effort to seek answers to restore colours to her world.


The opening theme was alright. I especially like the ending theme, “Mimei no Kimi to Hakumei no Mahou” by Nagi Yanagi, a mixture of vibrance and serenity. As for background music, they were used appropriately, nothing really out of place or remarkable.

Soundtrack score: 6.25/10

Animation Quality

P.A Works who worked on previous titles like Angel Beats!, has outdone themselves with the animation of Iroduku. The colours were very vibrant and dynamic, rather fitting since colours and magic was the central theme of the show. The visual aesthetics were very pleasing.

The anime has its fair share of picturesque scenery.
I like the soft colours used in the cafe, especially the glow of the overhead lamp.

Animation Quality score: 9.00/10


When Hitomi arrived 60 years in the past, the first few people she met were members of the Photography Club, who would go on to becoming her good friends throughout the series.

Soon after, the Kohaku in the past, who also goes to the same school, meets up with her future grand daughter, and so begins their quest to solve Hitomi’s problem.

By the way, one of the first friends Hitomi makes, Asagi, is voiced by Kana Ichinose, the voice behind Ichigo from Darling in the Franxx. Younger Kohaku is voiced by Kaede Hondo, the voice behind Sakura Minamoto from Zombieland Saga.

A running theme of the show is the amount of hugs Hitomi gets, which is rather wholesome considering her glum and dull demeanour.

There’s also a heavy slice-of-life element to the show. Each member of the Photography Club has their own area of interests, and like Hitomi, they too have their own internal struggles, which briefly show during club activities every now and then.

As romance is one of the aspects in this series, the series does have the run-of-the-mill elements like most of the core characters having someone they like, either implied or revealed later on. They also go through stuff like Guy A confessing to Girl A, but Girl A likes Guy B, and Girl B who actually likes Guy A becomes jealous of Girl A, stuff like that.

As for Hitomi and her love interest, it does take a while for them to open up as both have unresolved internal issues, hence making the romance bit a slow burn, which ramps up only around the last 4 episodes of the show. At that point, there’s a lot of tears and running away awkwardly, so just be prepared for that.

In terms of character development, Hitomi hates magic and rarely uses it, but with Kohaku’s guidance, she gradually picks it up when she realizes that her magic can make people around her happy. The club president is always leading forward in terms of club activities and looking out for his members. Hence, I didn’t find character development to be remarkable or outstanding. It just felt like a typical romance/drama anime to me.

Characters score: 7.00/10


The story mainly covers the activities of the Photography Club, and Kohaku trying to figure out how to restore Hitomi’s colours.

There are some nice activities like photoshoots.
The first clue to Hitomi’s problem was in one of Aoi’s drawings involving a golden fish, where Hitomi was actually able to see colours, which I find added a hint of suspense.

Other interesting stuff includes Hitomi being taught how to use a monochromatic camera and develop the film for it, as the photos end up as black and white, exactly as how she sees the world.

One of the plot points I disliked is the part where Hitomi’s time travel was accidentally revealed to the rest, and it was rather early in the anime too. It took away the suspense element of it, especially since everyone just dismissively passed it off as “wow, you can time travel? Magic really is cool.”

Even so, Hitomi and Kohaku did pull off some cool things with their magic, which improved club activities and brought them closer to solving her problem. As with all time travel-themed shows, there will be time paradoxes and wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, so you’ll get a fair share of those things towards the end.

The ending sequence was rather gimmicky and cliche, but manages to wrap everything up nicely. It just wasn’t epic in any way, but made sense, nonetheless. I had more fun following their club activities than the romantic sub-plot and colour mystery itself.

Plot score: 6.50/10

Score Summary

Soundtrack score: 6.25/10

Animation Quality score: 9.00/10

Characters score: 7.00/10

Plot score: 6.50/10


Iroduku: The World in Colours is a vibrant anime, visually. I just wished the characters were as equally vibrant. Despite the magic element present, it just felt like a very mundane high school anime, probably because of the slife-of-life elements blended in with the romance aspect of it. I would recommend this anime if you want to chill out after watching an intense or action-heavy title.