Hyouka Review


Hiyo, everyone! Today I will review the anime adaptation of Hyouka, which is based on the first four volumes of a light novel series called Kotenbu written by Honobu Yonezawa. The story follows a Kamiyama High School student named Houtarou Oreki who, at the beginning of the anime, steadfastly follows a personal philosophy of getting by while doing as little as possible. His outlook is given a nudge when his older sister, an alumni of Kamiyama High, tells him to join the Classic Literature Club so the club won’t be removed from the school’s roster. Reluctantly, Houtarou agrees. There, he meets Eru Chitanda, an inherently curious girl who joined the club for her own personal reasons.

The two are quickly confronted with a small mystery regarding how Eru found herself locked in the club room without a key prior to Houtarou’s arrive. The latter solves it, displaying his strength in deductive reasoning for the first of many times throughout the anime.

As things progress, the Classic Lit Club (which grows to include Houtarou’s friend Satoshi Fukube and his middle-school classmate Mayaka Ibara) is confronted with one mystery after another, with topics ranging from a dark moment in Kamiyama school history, to figuring out how an incomplete mystery movie was supposed to end, to unmasking the thief plaguing the school festival.

Hyouka is an episodic slice-of-life anime revolving around such mysteries. As it progresses, the characters learn more about themselves – especially Houtarou, who finds his energy-conservationalist motto challenged. Since the four main characters are all quite likable, the characters are pleasant to watch, and I find their personalities quite complementary.

If you come into Hyouka looking to try to beat the characters to the conclusions of the mysteries, you may find yourself in for a challenge, since they’re not always presented entirely fairly to someone unfamiliar with that area of Japan. Several times, the characters mentioned facts I hadn’t at all been aware of in the middle of their investigations, and that information proved crucial to solving the mysteries. Nonetheless, the way the mysteries are solved is enjoyable to watch in its own right and facilitates strong character development, which I always love witnessing.

Overall, I found Hyouka a delightful anime to watch, perfect if you’re looking for something light-hearted yet with a bit of depth. I rate is 4.5/5 and recommend it to all fans of slice-of-life.

Have you seen Hyouka or read the associated light novels or manga? If so, what did you think? If not, do you like the slice-of-life genre in general? Please let me know in the comments below! Ciao for now!

RWBY Volume 5 Review

RWBY Volume 5

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I come to you with a review of RWBY Volume 5. For those of you who don’t know, RWBY is a web show run by a company called Rooster Teeth that follows the journey of many young huntsmen and huntresses as they study to become skilled protectors of their world and, eventually, come face to face with evil. I highly recommend this anime (Yes, I consider it anime.) to any fans of the genre, but today’s post is not aimed at selling the show in general, because I will be focusing on Volume 5 and discussing loads of spoilers for all seasons in the process.

So, if you’re interested in an awesome anime with an unusual animation style (which improves as the series progresses), please check out RWBY starting from Volume 1! And, for those of you who are all caught up… let the spoilers begin!

I felt Volume 5 started by slowly reversing the separation process that occurred at the beginning of Volume 4. Early on, we see Weiss and Yang make their ways to Haven, where Team RNJR, Oscar, and Qrow learn the general situation then take on relatively passive roles. There were a few enjoyable fights sprinkled here and there (The one between Weiss and an army of giant bees comes to mind!), but, overall, the story was much more character driven than action driven – a trend that continued, to a lesser extent, throughout the volume.

Blake spent most of her time in Menagerie, not reuniting with the rest of her team until the end of the Volume. Her story focused on uniting the Faunas in the defense of Haven Academy, which was targeted by Adam, who took leadership of the White Fang by force. Volume 5 takes time to show Blake and Sun (and Qrow, on another front) failing to progress their causes long before they succeed, which is typical of structured storytelling, but I felt the inevitability of their failure was so obvious that there was no tension to begin with.

The story becomes more interesting around the halfway mark, when Cinder and co. make their return and confront Raven and her tribe. They forge a forced bargain to bring Raven and Vernal, who they think is the Spring Maiden, to their side so they, too, can infiltrate Haven Academy (whose headmaster is conveniently in their pocket) and retrieve the Relic hidden beneath.

Throughout all of this, I feel many of the heroes did a lot of sitting around and idle planning. Of the main characters, the only ones who felt like they had substantial story arcs surrounding them were Blake, Yang, and Raven – which is a definite problem in a story focusing on character development.

The last few episodes spice things up via the large battle at Haven Academy, in which almost all the characters take part. However, the battle was not the carnage I expected given the large number of participants. Instead, it constantly shifts focus between characters, and many of them end up with no more in-combat screen time than a few exchanges of blows. For example, Ruby and Yang face off against Emerald and Mercury for a while, and while it’s implied that they’re continuously fighting, so little of it is shown that I was left disappointed.

On the plus side, we finally learned what Jaune’s Semblance is – aura amplification. I’m glad it wasn’t just healing.

The highlight of the Volume was episode 13, during which there was a wonderful duel between Raven and Cinder. The clash between two maidens was less over the top than I expected (given Cinder’s ability to create a small sun around her at the end of Volume 3), but the fight was still magnificent to behold. At the end of the encounter, Cinder is left frozen and falling – and that’s the last we see of her. There’s no confirmation of her death and no sign of the Fall Maiden powers being transferred. My guess is that she’ll survive somehow; her character arc still feels very incomplete. I want to know why she’s so desperate to be powerful.

Unfortunately, episode 14, the finale, was utterly underwhelming compared to episode 13. I don’t think it featured a single substantial fight scene. Adam is sent running instead of being properly dealt with, which felt like a cop-out considering how much he was built up as a villain throughout the season. Blake rejoined her team, which was touching to watch. The two best moments of the episode were when Yang verbally thrashed Raven, exposing her for the weak mother she is, and when Salem finally killed off the cowardly Professor Lionheart. (The headmaster of Haven.) Aside from that, pretty much everything is left open. The villains suffered a major setback, but the only meaningful one who might have died is Cinder; the rest all live to plague the heroes again later. Overall, I felt this last episode was too predictable. It didn’t offer the same closure the previous volumes’ finales did.

While I’m being quite vocal about Volume 5’s faults, I still enjoyed watching it, and eagerly awaited the new episode each week. I was happy to see more of the characters I’ve become so attached to, and I can’t wait for Volume 6. I just feel surprisingly little happened for such a long volume.

What I’ve heard of Volume 5’s new soundtrack is, unsurprisingly, stellar. As always, Casey and Jeff Williams did a masterful job with the new music, and I can’t wait for the full versions of some of the new songs, especially “The Path to Isolation” and “All Things Must Die.”

My final score for RWBY Volume 5 is 3.5/5. Despite its flaws, Volume 5 still expanded on the series’ lore and provided some good character development. I hope the writers build on that in Volume 6 – and add a few more action-based scenes. =p

Have you guys seen RWBY Volume 5 yet? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you follow any other web shows? Please let me know in the comments below. Until next time, ciao!

My Favorite Video Game Series I First Tried in 2017: Danganronpa

Danganronpa 1

Hiyo, everyone! When I was thinking about my blog post for the week, I considered talking about my 5 favorite video games I first played in 2017 – then realized my list would have been largely dominated by just one series I quickly became addicted to: Danganronpa.

Before I get any further, I should make one thing clear: This series is not for the faint of heart. Danganronpa thoroughly earns its ratings of ‘M’ for Mature. If you play one of the (currently four) games in the series, you’ll be exposed to sexually explicit content, extreme violence, and various dark themes.

With that out of the way, I’ll discuss the first game, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. It shares a visual-novel format with two of the other games in the series, and it molded Danganronpa into the franchise it has become.

The story focuses around Hope’s Peak Academy, an extremely prestigious school in Japan that recruits only the best – each of the students has an ‘Ultimate Talent’, something they do exceptionally well. Some examples are ‘Ultimate Pop Sensation’, ‘Ultimate Clairvoyant’, and ‘Ultimate Martial Artist.’ The protagonist, a relatively ordinary boy named Makoto Naegi, possesses the title of ‘Ultimate Lucky Student’ – he got into the school by winning a drawing among all incoming high school students in Japan.

Makoto enters the school, passes out, and finds himself sleeping on a desk. After meeting his classmates – a varied cast of well developed characters who are a pleasure to learn more about – he learns that the truth is crazier than he could have guessed. The only people present are the incoming students. All exits are securely sealed. And, in the gym, Makoto and his classmates meet Monokuma, a mechanical “teddy bear” who claims to be their headmaster – and tells them they’ll never be allowed to leave the school again.

With one exception. Any student who murders another and gets away with it will be freed.

The ensuing game is rife with intrigue, humor, violence, and devilish plot twists. The students must cope with their new lives and do everything they can to cling to hope in the face of Monokuma’s beloved despair – and, in doing so, learn more about each other and themselves.

I won’t go into many details; this series is best experienced on your own. (And don’t look to the anime adaptation as a replacement for the first game; the anime doesn’t do it justice.) The main draws for me are squarely story,  characters, and the mysteries surrounding each event. Honestly, those things were so compelling to me that the gameplay felt like a distraction; I just set the games to their easiest difficulties to make the relatively few hurdles less obtrusive. If you enjoy dark themes, anime-style story-based gameplay, and interesting characters, I highly recommend checking out the series starting from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.

Have any of you played a Danganronpa game before? What were your favorite games you first played in 2017? Please let me know in the comments below! I don’t feel like many games can offer stories capable of competing with Danganronpa’s, but I would certainly like to hear about any that might!


Looking for Beta Readers for The Sapphire of Sacrifice

Hiyo, everyone! I’m just posting here to more visibly announce the the book I’m writing, The Sapphire of Sacrifice, is still in need of beta readers! If you’re interested in learning a little more about the book, click this. Feel free to contact me if you’re potentially interested or just want to know more about what being a beta reader entails.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading, and have fun!

Top 5 Anime I First Watched in 2017

Hiyo, everyone! I watched lots of anime last year, so, now that 2017 is behind us, I thought I’d revisit them and choose a few favorites. That’s what I’m doing here! And, of course, I’ll write a bit about why I liked them. As a reminder, these are just my personal opinions, so it’s fine if we disagree. Also note that I haven’t seen every anime – not even all the popular ones – so I may have never experienced some of your favorites.

The criteria for this list are as follows:

  • I must have watched all currently available seasons of the anime, beginning to end, in 2017.
  • I must not have watched the anime before 2017.
  • The anime does not need to have been released in 2017.

And that’s it! As usual, I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum, but will mention the premises of each anime. Without further ado, let’s get started!

5. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks offers the same setup as several of the other Fate/ titles; seven Masters (generally powerful mages) are bonded with seven Servants (heroes from throughout time) who fight each other to obtain the Holy Grail, which grants the wish of whoever obtains it. Each of the Servants has a specific “class” that describes them. (Saber, Archer, Caster, etc.) In Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks, we follow the story of Rin Tohsaka, a member of a prominent family of mages who has been raised to participate in the Grail War, and the story of Shirou Emiya, a man who finds himself accidentally caught up in the chaos. There are also a lot of other characters. Fate/ games tend to have large casts.

I enjoyed Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks in large part because of the intricate story it wove and the way many of the characters developed. Certain characters here are forced to confront their own personal ideologies and determine whether their ideals truly hold up. The action scenes are captivating, the the animation and music are great. This anime kept me hooked from beginning to end.

4. Gamers!


Gamers! begins with the meeting of Keita Amano, an avid yet surprisingly talentless video game enthusiast, and Karen Tendo, one of the most popular girls at school – and, to Keita’s surprise, the president of the school’s Gaming Club. Karen invites Keita to join the club, and his response eventually leads to a small incident at school that draws in several other students. For the rest of the series, Gamers! follows those characters as they try to work out the relationships between them with gaming as a backdrop.

I went into Gamers! expecting a typical slice-of-life anime, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself completely hooked. I’m not entirely certain why I took such a liking to it, though I suspect it has something to do with the cast of relatable and compelling characters. For some reason, watching them flounder to navigate their love lives was a regular joy for me, and I found myself looking forward to each new episode. The biggest downside of Gamers!, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t really have a proper ending; it just kind of stops. While that was disappointing, I find myself more than willing to overlook it and instead cross my fingers for a second season!

3. Erased


Erased follows a man named Satoru Fajinuma who has a strange and inexplicable ability; he is occasionally pulled back in time so he can save people from dangers that would otherwise claim their lives. As of the beginning of the story, he has never been pulled too far back in time, but that all changes after his mother is murdered – and he finds himself back in elementary school. Now an adult who appears to be a child, Satoru quickly realizes that not only his mother’s life is at stake, and that he makes it his mission to prevent the disappearance of a girl in his class named Kayo Hinazuki and relive his life to the fullest in the process.

The concept of Erased (as well as its popularity) is what first caught my interest, but the emotions involved were what kept me watching – in fact, I binged the whole anime. xD Any form of media that takes me on such a wild emotional roller-coaster finds a place in my heart, and Erased certainly did that. It also has deep themes that make you think and is backed up by great music. If you haven’t seen Erased yet, I highly recommend you watch it.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar 2

Yes, I consider Avatar to be an anime. =p If you feel passionately about why I shouldn’t, I’d be happy to read your thoughts in the comments below!

The story of Avatar begins when a brother and sister duo, Sokka and Katara respectively, discover what appears to be a young boy frozen inside an iceberg. After being thawed out, the boy introduces himself as Aang and shows the siblings that he is an airbender – that is, he is able to manipulate air to his advantage. This is significant because all of the airbenders were thought to have been killed by the Fire Nation long ago. (There were originally peoples whose societies corresponded to each of the four classical elements; Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.) It is soon revealed that Aang is the Avatar – the one living person capable of wielding all four elements – and he, together with Sokka and Katara, go on a journey on which Aang is to master his powers so he can stand up to the tyrannical Fire Nation.

I was a little bit uncertain about Avatar at first; as a Nickelodeon show, I worried it would be too cartoony for my taste – and it certainly can be at times. But its moments of silliness are vastly outmatched by its deep worldbuilding, complex cast of intriguing characters, and running themes, some of which are darker than you might expect. Despite being over 60 episodes long, Avatar easily held my interest throughout, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in an adventure that varies between depth and the whimsical.

1. Your Lie in April

Your Lie In April 2

Your Lie in April follows the story of Kosei Arima, a boy who was a piano prodigy until the death of his mother, which mentally broke him and left him unable to hear his own music. One day, accompanying a friend on a date, he encounters a girl named Kaori Mayazono, a free-spirited violinist who reignites a spark of life in Kosei and (forcefully) inspires him to confront his past and learn to play the piano anew. Kosei also develops quite a crush on Kaori, which is problematic because she is dating one of his best friends – and because another of his friends has a crush on him.

What I loved most about Your Lie in April was how masterfully it drew out its characters’ deepest emotions and laid them bare in the form of music. I never expected to find myself so interested in a music-based anime, but Your Lie in April enthralled me from beginning to end. As the story progresses and a familiar theme reemerges, the emotional stakes only grow and grow; it was impossible for me not to get increasingly invested. Your Lie in April is absolutely wonderful. (As is its music, of course!)

What sort of anime did you guys watch in 2017? Do you have any recommendations? If you don’t watch anime, was there any other media you feel strongly about from that year? Please let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading, and have an ultra-fun day~