Spring 2015, Week 13: Season Finales and Highlights

The spring season is effectively over, with only two shows left to have their finale episodes (Sound! Euphonium later today and Blood Blockade Battlefront on Saturday). So, time to recap what ended well and what didn’t and what didn’t actually end and how I felt about all of it.

Oregairu

Ore Monogatari!!, Episode 12: A farewell to this blogging series

Sound! Euphonium, Episode 12: I suppose you could call this episode, “Go, go, Kumiko!” as our lovable protagonist has really had a fire lit underneath her and inside of her. That’s the cool thing about running into exceptional people in our lives—if we let them, they can inspire us to great, amazing things. And so, now, we basically just get to watch as Kumiko does her best to become what she wants to be, as motivated by Reina. And Eupho nails both the frustration and the impossible-to-contain motivation that such an emotional state generates in you. It’s poignant, inspiring, and beautiful. Lock in the rest of the production, like the gorgeous nighttime and oppressive daytime shots we got from the visuals, and everything turns into one glorious blob of the beauty of adolescence. So, yeah. Cool stuff.

Sound! Euphonium

Danmachi, Episode 13 [END]: A flashy, fireworks-filled finale that didn’t quite go for the thematic stuff I wanted it to go for, but it was still nice. In fact, the highlight for me was not the battle itself (which was nicely balanced between a huge number of characters—letting multiple people have several moments in the spotlight and doing a fantastic job of building up to the climaxes), but Hermes’ exuberant, joyful, almost euphoric shout to Zeus at the end of the episode. It wasn’t quite a thematic declaration, but it was a deeply felt, hugely authentic celebration of Bell’s growth to this point—something that wouldn’t have been possible without all the people who surrounded our white-haired moeboy over the course of the season. More overarching thoughts are coming in tonight’s Aniwords column, so be on the look out for that!

Nisekoi, Episode 12 [END]: Many Chitoge faces, many good Chitoge moments. In other words, about the best you could ask for from an episode of this season’s Nisekoiwhich was, on the whole, not very good. But Chitoge episodes are invariably the best episodes Nisekoi manages, so this was a nice way to end the season. I don’t really expect we’ll see more of the show, but who knows? We could be surprised. But anyways, back to Chitoge. Actually, nevermind. Just look at this picture instead. Game over.

Nisekoi:

Yamada-kun, Episode 12 [END]: About as solid an ending as we could have possible asked for considering the huge amount of material this show had to cover in just twelve episodes. They hit all the high points—even though at the halfway point in the episode I was like, “They can’t do it. It’s not possible.”—and even let the all-important Yamada x Urara scene breathe naturally and peacefully at the end of the episode. And what a scene it was. Urara thinking Yamada had already realized she liked him. Yamada actually telling her he loved her. Urara making up an excuse to kiss them. Both of them messing up the kiss by hitting their teeth after kissing to swap bodies dozens of times prior. Urara just wanting to kiss the boy she loves, nothing more and nothing less. And Yamada being in love and embarrassed and in love. Can you believe this couple, that came out of a shounen harem manga? It’s fantastic.

Yamada-kun


Backlog Rundown:

Oregairu, S1 E7 through S2 E13 [END]: I don’t even know what to say. This show has put me in a serious funk. Given me a whole hell of a lot of things to think about. It demands that you consider what it’s saying, how it applies to your own life. Your masks. The lies you tell yourself to keep yourself from getting hurt. It’s not very fun. In fact, it’s actively unpleasant. But it’s super powerful and I can’t help but be grateful, even if it dredged up a few things in me that I’d probably have preferred buried away. And then, Yui. Oh, Yui. I am so, so, so sorry. You are going to get hurt, get hurt bad—and I can’t stand it, even though I know there’s no other way for it to end. Sorry, I don’t have anything more than that. I just can’t with this show right now. It’s far too personal and I distancing myself from my reaction to it just isn’t possible yet.

Ping Pong the Animation, Episodes 1-6 (Rewatch): Man, this is such a darn good show from top to bottom. The English dub is actually quite good, although the mood the English voice actors bring to their roles is rather different than what the Japanese voice actors did. Which is interesting and different, but not bad.

Turn A Gundam, Episode 1: A fascinating first episode. Atmospheric, compelling, bizarre in some ways. Can’t wait to watch more.

Oregairu

28 thoughts on “Spring 2015, Week 13: Season Finales and Highlights

  1. Blood Blockade Battlefront on Saturday

    Correction – it’s been delayed because of production issues and not fitting the 30 minute allotted time slot. It’s very weird, @yuyucow was saying that BBB production was almost complete by the time aired. Maybe it means they’re rewriting stuff so it works for a second season since the show is so popular? I’d love if that were true.

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  2. Really going to be a wall this week… Going to split part of it off.

    Plastic Memories ep 13; As expected, goodbyes were said and tears were shed as Isla passes from this mortal coil – leaving behind grieving friends, but herself satisfied with the life she’s lead. As unexpected, given all the flags they raised, they pretty much left it at that. (Though there’s a tiny hint in the last cut of the post credits scene that there May Be More.)

    Even though they took what could thought of as the easy way out… the finale was anything but easy to watch. The final scenes as Isla comforted a grieving Tsukasa would have brought tears and stood out head and shoulders even without the contrast with how poorly great slabs of the rest of the series were handled. The truly sad part isn’t the ending, but how good it was and how well it was written and animated – the sad part is that PlasMem could have been a classic if the rest of the series had been up to this level. If you haven’t been watching, it still might be worth it to watch the final ep. (The basic backstory of their (recently confessed) love and the knowledge that Tsukasa has been tasked with recovering Isla is really all you need to grasp it.)

    The relevant parts from my season review;

    “I’ve already forgotten Plastic Memories”.

    They could have gone so many directions with this story, high concept SF, a simple story of tragic romance, or an office drama. (Just to offer a few examples.) With care, they could even have stitched them together…

    But they didn’t exercise that care. They simply tried to cram too much into thirteen episodes, and the writers just weren’t up to the task. They either couldn’t or wouldn’t chose one path or work to bring the elements into balance until almost too late – which resulted in a kind of plot whiplash as they jumped from one incompletely worked out idea to the next. Worse yet (and emblematic of the overall problems), whenever things turned serious, they often tried to relieve the tension with comedy (sometimes an entire episode’s worth)… that generally wasn’t actually all that funny.

    Which isn’t to say there weren’t moments of brilliance, there were actually quite a few of them. In particular the final arc, which concentrates on Tsukasa and Isla’s relationship during her final days, has many well done moments as they grow together and accept their fate. The final scenes… as Isla tries to reassure Tsukasa that she accepts her fate and has no regrets as he breaks down under the twin burdens of losing Isla while also being the one that has to shut her down and recover her verge on the best I’ve ever seen in any media.

    The result was a show that was bad enough to always be on the verge of being dropped, but not quite bad enough to actually go ahead and drop.

    The rest of the review can be read at http://www.anime-planet.com/users/DerekL/reviews/19587, where my comments on the backstory and detailed review of the animation, etc… can be found. I wouldn’t turn down an upvote or two. 🙂

    Midseason rating; 2/2.5 Below average and dropping. A train wreck I can’t take my eyes off of. My lady is still watching, and seemingly enjoying (or at least enjoying ranting at), but the moment she wavers I’ll hammer the drop button.

    Final rating; A solid 2 – below average. Even the good parts couldn’t pull the rating above that.

    Sound! Euphonium ep12; Just when I though they couldn’t surprise me… they knocked another one out of the park with an episode where nothing happens, but everything changes.

    The scene where Kumiko is confronted by her sister is the hinge on which the whole plot of the episode (and, dare I say it, the series) pivots. Though it’s been strongly hinted that she started playing the euphonium mostly because her sister does (as younger siblings will do)… she finally admits to herself that she loves the instrument (despite her attempts to disavow the same at the start of the first ep) and by extension (in my mind) the world that love opens up. Her increasingly comfortable and open relationship with Reina is a reflection of the same thing. Her reaction to Taki’s statement that he “hasn’t told her she isn’t playing that section” is the final split in her shell… she’s still at the stage where the new shell is and soft and tender and easily damaged, but the old shell has been cast entirely off. She’s been, as she desired, reborn.

    I’m not going to speculate, as tempting as it is, on how they might handle the competition in the finale.

    And now, once again, the elephant in the room. They dodged dealing openly with Kumiko x Reina. There’s hints aplenty for those of us discerning enough to grasp Euph‘s complex subtlety… but even with that, they’ve got to deal with the momentum they established in eps 8 and 11.

    No comment this week; Ore Monogatari!! ep 12, I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying ep 13.

    As with last week, thinking and writing about Euph has worn me out, so back with Chihayafuru later. I really should work on my blog-within-a-blog earlier in the week, but quite often it’s your (Bless’s) write ups that crystallize my thoughts. One of the reasons I’ve never really been able to maintain a blog of my own (even my space access blog, a topic I’m passionately interested in and informed opinionated on) is that I usually do my best work when I have someone else to use as springboard.

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    • Well, you certainly make a compelling case for PlaMemo, but I unfortunately think issues of time are going to prevent me from returning to it. Between the holiday weekend and the new season bearing down, it’s about to get really busy for me…

      And I’m glad and honored to be able to serve as your springboard on a weekly basis! I really do value your comments and contributions! Here’s to many more posts and many more comments! 🙂

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      • Not the whole series, just the last ep! The rest is much the same dreck as caused you to drop, if my lady hadn’t been interested, I’d have dropped it to.

        And yeah, a wrap up post would be nice – there’s at least on finale (Euph) that’s not covered in this post.

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    • Yeah, the bad comedy was the part that really killed PlasMemo for me, but my own expectations didn’t help either. I really wanted it to be a serious, thoughtful sci-fi series, and what made it worse is that the first episode really teased us like that was what we were going to get, only to totally switch gears within the next two episodes. By the sixth or seventh time the guy’s tsundere neighbor caught him in yet another “not what it looks like” moment, I was totally done with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Alright, you’ve convinced me: I tried before the end of last year to work my way through season one of Oregairu, but for whatever reason it didn’t resonate with me. After reading what you’ve written here and on Twitter I feel like I really do need to give it another chance.

    Aside from that, Sound Euphonium was fantastic last week, and easily cemented the series as my favourite show of this season. I know you had your issues with it, but I do hope Kyoto Animation finds it in them to do another season. I fell in love with these characters (Natsuki the best) and it would be a shame if this is all we get to see of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! Season one of Oregairu is definitely a cut above other shows in the genre, if not totally spectacular. Season two is near White Album 2 level of emotional stress, but without the utter hopelessness that mars the ending of WA2.

      Honestly, I think my issues with Eupho would have been relatively minor had it not been for the fanbase reactions to it. Unfortunate, perhaps, but just how things go sometimes.

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  4. I will comment on your shows / my episodes of the week and my Top 16 !

    A side Note Last week I complained about holding back streaming anoucements well FUNI did it ! Why wait all at once except two and why wait for AX ! I hope this happens more often!

    Ore Monogatari!! / 13th The show started out strong but became kinda reduntant in some aspects

    Sound! Euphonium / 7th This is not bad considering the shows ahead of it! I think it had great animation

    Danmachi,/ 11th The last EP felt rushed but stiil not bad overall !

    Nisekoi / 8th I dont get why everybody is down on this show , I had a couple of episodes of the week! I mean Paula and Hana were so cool ! And I like the way Chitoge’s feelings are changing! I think people are upset that it skipped around anf then you have the favorite girl dispute going on! BTW Raku is a lot cooler than people make him out! I want to see more but i think the manga needs to conclude for it to have a successful finish!

    Yamada-kun / 24th I think you were right two cours into one felt rushed!

    EPISODE(S) of the WEEK

    Sound! Euphonium / “My Euphonium” Just A good Episode

    Plastic Memories / “I Hope One Day You’ll be Reunited” You knew it was going to be sad but excellent presentation! Too bad there was some sutpid moments in other episodes!

    Knights of Sidonia / “Decisive Battle” I am a big sci-fi / space fan . The last 2 episodes were as epic as any media! It was just great and yet a nice tribute to his grandpa!

    TIER 1 Top Favorites

    Moved Knights of Sidonia to 3rd BTW the author in CHP 75 says the manga is nearing the end

    1 Re-Kan! Just the surprise of the season very underrated!
    2 Hello!! Kin-iro Mosaic / Kiniro Mosaic Season 2 Get a patent fot the high level of consistent comedy!
    3 Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki Reading Manga Nice finishing episode besides the great battles Nagate had to hand to hand ans was basically awarded the Purple Heart and called A Knight1 If this was von FUNI or CR people would be in awe!
    4 Baby Steps 2 Reading Manga This did nothing wrong the other shows had an edge!
    5 Arslan Senki / The Heroic Legend of Arslan / I debated about making this higher but it has a another chance!
    6 Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (TV) Reading Manga I felt bad about droppimg this lower as it stayed faithful to the manga ! Has anothe season coming!
    7 Hibike! Euphonium / Sound! Euphonium The best animation just lots of heavies in front!
    8 Nisekoi 2 Reading Manga Se Above
    9 Shokugeki no Souma / Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma Reading Manga Continues to be fun another cour is upcoming
    10 WORLD TRIGGER More battles than some anime combined / a steady show

    Disclaimer 11-16 could have been in any order but left as is!

    11 Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon? See Above
    12 Show By Rock!! This was fun all the freat music homages!
    13 Ore Monogatari!! / My Love Story See Above
    14 The Labyrinth of Grisaia CR / The Eden of Grisaia Started out reat but feel into fansrvice traps!
    15 Owari no Seraph / Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign! actually got really good anothe cour later
    16 Koukaku Kidoutai Arise: Alternative Architecture (TV) / GITS Stiil one of my favorites even though a re-work was stiil better than most and 2 new EPS

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  5. This was a really good group of shows. Euphonium just put a curtain on the season, and I’m already nostalgic for it. Bless, are you still planning to do a “Final Rankings” post like you’ve done for past seasons?

    My last weekly top 5 of the spring:

    Euphonium, ep. 13 – Did KyoAni just grab the bar they set for anime musical performances with “Live Alive” and raise it a few more notches? I think they might have.
    Kaitou Joker 2, ep. 13 – A thrilling climax to 26 episodes of an underrated and under-watched series that rarely failed to entertain me or make me smile.
    Danmachi, ep. 13 – That’s going out with a bang. And I’m glad it gave us a real ending, complete with Final Boss and everything, and not just a glorified “See you next season” tease (even though I’ll be perfectly happy if we get a next season).
    Yuki Nagato, ep. 13 – Not a series finale, but it was the finale of what I’m now thinking of as the arc that saved this show (or at least made it only half a train wreck instead of a total train wreck), and like the prior three episodes it really brought the goods.
    Houkago no Pleiades, ep.12 – Not everything I hoped for, but still a mostly satisfying finish. I’m curious now to go back and watch the old ONA sometime and see how much Gainax revamped between that series and this one (if anyone has seen both, please don’t say anything).

    Bonus lists – My top 5 favorite new male and female characters of 2015, so far (“new” means old favorites like Nanoha and Yuki are ineligible)

    Male
    1. Gouda Takeo, Ore Monogatari
    2. Koro-Sensei, Assassination Classroom
    3. Bell Cranel, Danmachi
    4. Arima Kousei, KimiUso (since the show ended this year and I didn’t start watching it until January, I’m counting him)
    5. Makoto Sunakawa, Ore Monogatari

    Female
    1. Megumi Kato, Saekano
    2. Reina Kousaka, Euphonium
    3. Megumi Tadokoro, Food Wars
    4. Kumiko Oumae, Euphonium
    5. Einhart Stratos, Nanoha Vivid

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    • Yup, I might rush to get a Final Rankings post done before I leave on holiday over the weekend—with BBB‘s finale delayed indefinitely, I don’t see any point in holding out longer on it.

      Danmachi is one of the few recent shows that let me feel great about the finale as both a finale and as a pause in the scheme of a larger story. Hermes’ ode was a fantastic celebration of what we’d just seen and what we could see in the future. I’d definitely love to see another season of it.

      Cool lists—a lot characters I probably could have guessed would show up, although Koro Sensei is a bit of a surprise. That might be mostly my fault, though, for not blogging AssClass weekly, thus not opening the door for much discussion on him.

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      • Cool, I’ll look forward to that post!

        Even if you had been blogging AssClass I don’t know how much I would’ve been able to contribute to the discussion. I only picked it back up again recently, so I’m just a little over halfway through it at this point. I’m sure I would’ve kept up with it weekly if it was on CR since I like the show, but when I get timecrunched, the Funi streams are always the first casualties since they’re the most inconvenient ones to watch.

        Speaking of Funi, there was a bit of a kerfuffle today where they apparently had a series page up for Chaos Dragon and then quickly took it down again. That was a show I was mildly interested in trying, but only if CR got it, so if it does get confirmed later that Funi has it, my already small summer list is going to get even smaller.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, we just need a few more and I can put together a “best Megumis of 2015” list at the end of the year!

        Euphonium really was Kumiko’s story, over and above everyone else, so if she’s your best girl then KyoAni did their job. There’s no doubt she was the deepest and most fully developed character. Reina just happened to be the one I personally identified with the most, for reasons I’ve mentioned in other posts. BTW, in the “MAL User Favorites” race they’re essentially tied. Right now 271 users have favorited Reina and 270 have favorited Kumiko (Asuka is somehow in third place with 150 – I weep for humanity – and Natsuki’s a very distant fourth with 39).

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I must be one of the only anime bloggers who didn’t care much at all for Sound! Euphonium. I don’t really know why – it’s not as though I dislike slice-of-life shows, or dramas, or shows about music, and I’m aware that watching only 2 episodes of something doesn’t necessarily make for an accurate representation of a show as a whole. I guess something about it just rubbed me the wrong way.

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    • Hey, if you don’t like something, you don’t like it! I’ve dropped shows before just because they didn’t quite sit right with me. It’s not like you’re obligated to watch anything—take care of yourself and your watching first, definitely!

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  7. I have to agree with your comments on Nisekoi: in a pretty weak second season, the Chitoge episodes were the best. But as I remember from what I read, this was pretty consistent to the manga. Chitoge got the best character development in the manga as the series went on, I felt. So the anime was at least loyal to it’s source material in that regard.

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  8. I have really enjoyed this season. I only started following simulcasts last year, and only a few here and there, so this was the first time I really tried to follow a season, picking and choosing what shows to try, to drop, to keep. It was so much fun.

    I ended up trying 16 new shows, dropping 7, and keeping 9. I’ve still got 2 to finish for this season (BBB and Punchline, which I put off so I could binge the rest) and 4 shows I’m continuing into summer (Food Wars, OreMono, Rin-ne, Arslan Senki). As for the remaining 3 I’ve finished…

    Sound!Euphonium was an unexpected favorite. I tried it out when I was bored one Tuesday and have watched it eagerly ever since. The environment, drama and interaction of the concert band was so nostalgic. I wasn’t a band member, but I was a chorus member in HS and did a lot of the same types of competitions. It brought back so many memories. I wasn’t a fan of Reina or Kumiko, but I loved the diverse cast of side characters. It made it feel very realistic. Though I think Taki-sensei has to be my favorite. I wish I had a teacher like that in HS!

    Danmachi was one I knew I would like as soon as I first heard the title. Fantasy is my favorite genre and as an MMO gamer I loved the setting, how it took a lot of the typical game mechanics of an RPG and made them integral parts of the world. (And I’m a mythology nut so all those gods and goddesses were great.) The colorful cast of characters was a pleasant surprise. I really loved the relationship between Bell and Hestia and how they embody the Familia. I really, really hope this gets another season. In the meantime, I’ll probably be buying all the LNs I can get.

    Yamada-kun was another pleasant surprise. It sounded like it was going to be a typical harem show, but ended up being so much more. The fast pace didn’t bother me a bit. Some of the witches weren’t fleshed out much as a result, but I liked that it kept the focus on Yamada and Shiraishi. They were so cute. And I really liked how the whole mystery of the witches played out. It was a great story, with lots of fun twists and turns.

    We’re getting close to the end of Soul Eater as well, only 8 episodes left. Though now some weird clown enemy has appeared and my husband is seriously deathly afraid of clowns so I’m not sure when we’ll be able to finish. lol

    Now looking toward summer, I have a list of 20 shows I want to try (pending pickup by CR or Funi). It’s gonna be another fun season, I hope!

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    • Oh, man, the clowns! Yeah, those are kind of scary—but they’re only around for two episodes, if I remember correctly…

      I did choir in HS, as well! One of the neat things for me about watching Eupho was seeing how much of my choir experience carried over and was basically the same in band. Now I’m thinking about the friends I had who did both and what they must have had to deal with—drama on all sides!

      The Danmachi novels aren’t quite as solid as the anime adaptation was, but they definitely carry the same charm. I hope you enjoy them!

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      • We finally finished Soul Eater last night! It was really great. And honestly, from what I read online about the manga version, I’m not sure I would have liked it better. This ending was really tight and focused and I appreciated that. Though Kid replacing Shinigami would have been a cool development. (Also, apparently the manga has whole clown armies. Glad we avoided that.)

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  9. Wow, I didn’t watch most of these shows.

    Was Danmachi actually worth watching? I’m kind of turned off to MMO anime at this point, and I hear it crams like 8 light novels into 13 episodes.

    Euph was easily my favorite this season (which is odd, I only caught up around episode 9!). I actually just watched the finale today, and it may now be one of my favorite shows. It looks beautiful, it had an interesting struggle with a compelling main protagonist, and excellent side characters. I admit I do have a bit of a soft spot for high school band, and I definitely identified with Kumiko (as someone who’s only been out of high school for a year), but I definitely see this show appealing to a lot of people.

    OreGairu is a weird one for me. I absolutely love everything it’s doing with the three main characters, and even the influence sensei has, as well as Iroha. My only issue is a lot of the side characters seem irrelevant–the anime is very good at portraying emotion and pushing the story forward with the main three, but characters like Saika, and even Hayato almost feel ignored (though there are some nice Hayato focused episodes). It wasn’t enough to destroy what the show does having going on, but I kind of felt like some characters were just there for a small comedic effect and had nothing to do with any of the drama going on (this was even more of an issue in the first season).

    I actually finished Punchline and Plastic Memories. The former… I guess it did what it needed to do for what kind of show it was. I’m not a huge fan of ecchi, and I didn’t find it humorous, but a few of my friends were super into it for the plot (and the cute girls, apparently). Aesthetically it was fantastic, and I felt it was good for what it was. Plastic Memories was just awful, and had some of the worst humor and most contrived romance I’ve seen in a long time. I only stuck with it hoping we could have at least one more episodic story like in the first episode.

    That’s about all I watched this season. Was Yamada-Kun actually good? I actually hadn’t heard much about it until digging around reddit and your blog, so I haven’t even given it a shot. I’d love to hear some extended thoughts on it as a whole!

    Summer is looking to be a pretty bad season. I think all I’m watching is Gatchaman Crowds Insight and Durarara X2 Ten. I’ll probably give some other stuff a try, just so I’m not idle during this season, but nothing else looking super appealing right now. I’m hoping something will surprise me.

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    • I though Danmachi was great and very well worth watching—the pacing gets a little quick in a few places, but overall it’s a fantastic adaptation that makes massive improvements on the original source material. And it really doesn’t focus too much on the MMO mechanics—they’re very quite background noise, if that.

      And yeah, Yamda-kun is good! It’s not great, but it was great for us manga readers who love the characters to see it adapted. Honestly, my recommendation for getting the most out of the Yamada-kun anime might actually be to read the manga first and see if you like it—if you do, then the anime will be a treat. If not, then no reason to check it out.

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