Anime Review: Juni Taisen — Zodiac War

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Oh boy. I tried to like this show. I really did. Amazing character designs, decent clashing of different political philosophies in a literal battle setting, and plenty of animal tropes relative to the Chinese myth that started the calendar cycle that we know today. But where this gritty battle royale of our zodiac warriors looked good from the surface, the anime itself? Let’s just say that I’m disappointed.

As someone who only watched the anime and couldn’t care less about the entire genre of letting random people kill each other while some corporate organization profits off of it, I will do my best to pull some critique out of my ass about what this series meant to me, regardless of how much it under-delivered. And once we’re all done with this, I’ll reveal who my favorite of the zodiac warriors was.

So grab your best gear, choose your favorite faction, and watch out for SPOILERS AHEAD! We’re gonna do the “Cha Cha Slide.”

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Anime Review: This Boy is a Professional Wizard

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I had this whole plan to preface this post with my usual shenanigans: why I haven’t posted an anime review since March, why I haven’t kept up with posts like I promised I would have, not to mention my tenuous relationship with critiquing BL titles. But surprisingly, after I did a full rewatch of this short anime, everything I just said would simply prove a point from what I learned from this addition to the Konoda library.

So yeah. We’re going to discuss some boys love. And the shortcomings of being a depressed workaholic. And why you’re probably going to confuse things if you think about this one too hard like I usually do. But before I get into any of that, I must confess:

Toyohi

Why isn’t Toyohi my boyfriend in this scene?

This Boy is a Professional Wizard (Kono Danshi, Mahō ga Oshigoto Desu) is a quick glance at a budding relationship between a free-spirited Toyohi Utsumi, and an all-too-serious Chiharu Kashima. From the moment they met at a bar one night to the point when they confess their love (uhm… spoilers?) we the audience aren’t too sure how quickly time passes for such a short escapade between them.

As much as I would have liked to see more details about the world that is built around this short or anything from Konoda for that matter, I don’t think that’s the point. By no means am I an expert on the subject, but the romance that occurs between Toyohi and Kashima is framed as a normal, healthy occurrence between two lovers with a side helping of magic (not that I’m complaining). And since this particular anime got a TV release in Japan, the themes are arguably very modest.

Had this show been any longer in length, I imagine there would be too much detail to grasp onto that detracts from its romantic core, despite the fact that I am teased into wanting to know more about such trivial builds.

Overdoing it

You said it, guys.

But even without the necessary information to understand the setting of this story, there’s enough for me to talk about what I ended up getting out of it. And to do that, I’m going to go ahead and take a few liberties by asserting myself as the professional wizard, Kashima.

All his life, Kashima was convinced that he was really great at using magic. He studied magic, he practiced magic, he’d probably breathe magic if he had been given the chance. Now that he is an adult as part of an elite group of other wizards, he takes it upon himself to do a really good job, so much so, that he outshines even his prodigious classmate. Kashima would have been the perfect wizard for others to look up to in his organization, had it not been for the fact that he takes his job way too seriously!

Magic

Ugh! It’s like looking into a mirror!

Kashima’s serious persona may make him a master of all kinds of magical arts, and when you’re running a true meritocracy, I will agree that he is extraordinarily good at what he does. But by taking this one aspect of his life seriously, Kashima leaves himself vulnerable to what ultimately transgresses in the romance of this short tale: what happens when all anyone ever thinks of him is simply as a wizard?

This is the worry that Kashima has become aware of when he first reveals to Toyohi that he is a wizard. Toyohi, a seemingly basic human being, would certainly be intrigued by Kashima’s magic, but what would happen if that’s all the impression Toyohi gets of Kashima? Kashima seldom thinks of what his life would be like without his mastery of magic!

konoda-maho-kashima

This is my worry when I find myself interacting with others, whether they’re friends, colleagues, or even family members. Most of you who are reading this probably know me as that one rambling anime critic or that one philosopher dude, as that’s the kind of stuff I normally post about here. Yet beyond that image is a human being who is struggling to make a decent living who also cares deeply about his friends and community, even if he doesn’t exactly show it.

I was originally thinking about making a big to-do that I was writing this review on the intent that it was published on Yaoi Day (8/01), and yet I realized that being forced to talk about it strictly from that angle was exactly what I was most afraid of: to be boxed in to a caricature of my own volition.

konoda-maho-depression

Whether or not the thoughts that plague Kashima’s mind came from others at first, Kashima had placed too much pressure on himself to become the best wizard he could ever be, forgetting about any autonomy he would have had, had that part of him ever gone away. He is so convinced of his own lie, that it’s hard for him to accept that anyone could see him in any other way. From this point, I don’t think it would be wise to tell someone who might be in Kashima’s position that he could be anything else, because his attachment to being what he is (in this case, a wizard) is so strong, that being anything but could be even more alienating!

But just when I would have built up some kind of conversation about how Kashima needs to lighten up or keep himself more open to other possibilities, Toyohi has a much simpler response. Yes, Toyohi loves Kashima the wizard, and is totally wowed by all sorts of magic that he does. But what he loves more about Kashima is that he loves this line of work so much, that he takes it as seriously as he does. Toyohi’s love for Kashima isn’t a question of seeing Kashima as a wizard or as a simple, normal human being like anyone else. I think anyone who has ever been in a relationship can attest that being considered too niche or too generic is the worst thing you can identify in your partner. Rather it is the validation that Toyohi loves the passion that Kashima puts in to that work that makes all the difference.

Now one could argue what might happen if Kashima were to change his habits and do anything besides be a wizard and see if Toyohi still loves him for that, but I don’t think that was the point of this anime either. This Boy is a Professional Wizard offers a colorful look at the joys of a first meeting to the point of confession between two lovers who just so happen to be two guys.

Whatever they do after that… probably doesn’t matter for its entertainment value. Kind of like the majority of anime romances. Why would I complain about that?

Ending

I f***ing knew it!

So if you’re looking to explore that beautiful first love between a workaholic wizard who cares too much and his freelancing partner without a care in the world, check out This Boy is a Professional Wizard. I’m happy to have come back to this hobby of mine, and hope to write some more soon enough.

Anime Review: Love is Like a Cocktail

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Well. It’s that time of year again. The day when I have to combine two trivial holidays for no reason whatsoever, except that I think they’re fun. This White Day, I am going to surprise my hypothetical girlfriend with the gift of a trigonometry project! Because today is also Pi Day, and I am a Math teacher when I’m NOT talking about anime! Only sad thing is, all of this is hypothetical. Oh well…

This is my annual White Day anime review special, coupled with the annual Valentine’s Day review special! Going on 4 years now, I make an effort to talk about a romance series for this holiday, and since White Day is the day when guys give gifts to their lady friends who gave them gifts on Valentine’s Day, this review will be more oriented toward the ladies!

So what could I possibly do with this animated short series that would make it sound even remotely like a gift to the ladies, when fellas are also reading my blog? Good question. Well, there is one thing that I discovered from last year’s special that seemed to have had a similar effect, so there can only be one thing:

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Anime Review: Recovery of an MMO Junkie

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(No excuses for the abruptness of this post. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to do anime reviews lately like I promised a couple months ago. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Moving on.)

You probably know me here as Lystria. There is a lot of history to that name. It’s the name that I use on just about every MMORPG that I have ever played. That is, when I used to play, as much as I did. To most of my real life friends whom I have kept close over the years know the truth: I am a game addict.

So when an anime series like this one came along, it’s understandable that I wouldn’t get the same kind of joy from it as I would your average gamer, anime fan, or gamer anime fan. And while it did not make it even close to my favorites of 2017, I did still wind up liking this series for all that it’s worth, but with that enjoyment comes a lot of long forgotten memories that are bittersweet.

As you read this, I hope that you will laugh, you will cry, and perhaps smile too. But I also hope you understand that there are many layers to the conversation about gaming, particularly for individuals like me who do find trouble when it comes to managing how much I play when I do. And believe me, despite knowing my own limitations, I still do! That’s why it’s called an addiction!

So without further ado, open a session window, strap on your headset, and consider donating to my Patreon, because I’m a grad student teacher-in-training, and I don’t get paid to do any of this! It’s high time this MMO guy got his groove back!

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5th Year Anniversary: My Favorite Anime Reviews!

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Hello my readers!

Please excuse my absence. Between getting sick, working on obligatory family things around the holidays, and still looking for work, I completely ignored my own 5-year anniversary on the 31st of December! Sorry I’m late!

Of all the side projects that I have done, I never would have thought that anime reviews would be the one thing that I would like to do most on this site. Well it’s the one thing that gets the most traffic on this site anyway, never mind my fan fictions and philosophical musings that I also do!

If there is anything that I have learned from being a largely ignored WordPress user who hypocritically doesn’t do anything to get people to notice him, it’s that you will only get attention on the Internet if you talk about stuff that everyone else is talking about, or you space out your content with pictures that grabs users’ attentions. And yes, while that is definitely a skill that I don’t have as a writer, I am just about as stubborn as every other critic out there who believes that my opinion needs to be heard, rather than appease the audience!

But enough ranting.

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