Sunday, November 12, 2017

Notice of lack of activity

Hi to the readers of this blog.
First and foremost, thank you for continuing to support this blog by reading this blog, even though the recent update was two weeks ago.

Truth of the matter is that i am in the middle of a crunch time of my college-works, and almost found myself no time to write an article for the blog. Thus, if you are waiting for an update, then i am very sorry to make you wait.

I don't have any plans to scrap this blog though, as i am having fun thinking up and writing some new ideas for the blog and let everyone knows what i am thinking. However, due to my college commitments, i might have to limit my time in creating an update. Thus, i think an update will come up around once every 2-3 weeks, starting now, and each month will only have 1-2 updates.

My currently plan for another blog post is the review for the currently-airing Himouto Umaru-chan season 2, which i shall post when it is over, an opinion about original anime, and a year-end review of 2017 regarding anime, which will come at the end of the year. Beyond that, i have no idea what will i write.

Thank you for continuing to read this small blog. Please continue to support me by clicking this blog every now and then. Cheers.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Anime Review : Amagi Brilliant Park

Amagi Brilliant Park
“Just another day in the office for Kyoto Animation, it seems.”

What is Amagi Brilliant Park?

The series follows Kanie Seiya, who was forced to take the reins of a manager in a run-down theme park, which is in dire need of management change and guests in order for it to remain relevant. Kanie would then unravel his talents in this theme park to try and turn around their fortune.

So, what do I think of it?

Kyoto Animation has this habit of plucking a light novel out of nowhere and adapt it, turning them into a sensation overnight. Most of their selection were normally based on the entry for their award which is rarely to never being handed out to any participant, but at least the honorable mention received an adaptation. While many light novels that they adapt suddenly becomes popular, such as Chuunibyo demo Koi ga Shitai or Free, to which both series was recognized for revitalizing the genre, not all were as succesfull as them. Example for this are Musaigen no Phantom World and Kyoukai no Kanata. Both are action-oriented light novel of which Kyoto Animation’s touches convolutes them into one gigantic mess rather than giving them a noticeable limelight.
And what about Amagi Brilliant Park?

Amagi Brilliant Park, or Amaburi in short, is one of those KyoAni’s work that is neither good nor bad, just fine. KyoAni did not bother with the source material too much and the story remains the same, unlike Chuunibyo and Free, of which source material was only used as a base for a much more original works in the form of adaptation. Yes, Chuunibyo and Free’s adaptation totally differs from their original source material, which in turn, did more good to them rather than harm.
Perhaps it is the lack of change in the source material that did nothing to this series. Or perhaps the removal of more darker content? I’ll get to that later.

Amaburi contains all the aspects that KyoAni is adept at on many of their works, such as the exceptional camera works, beautifully-animated characters, and gorgeous visual. Not to mention the jazz-like music that is used for some of the BGM which I truly enjoyed hearing and totally fits the respective scene as well.  Those aspects adds to Amaburi’s brilliance in execution. But, the problem is not that.

Amagi Brilliant Park looks beautiful in and out.
And the plethora of unique characters also adds to the charm to the series, for better or worse.

The plotline were too shallow if I do say so myself. Kanie, the protagonist, were tasked to turn around the fortune of a rundown theme park, which is going under in any fleeting seconds it passes, and brings at least 500.000 guests in just 3 months or so. That seemed impossible to achieve, but since we’re in anime, it could happen.

There are mostly no other conflicts other than the penultimate episode, in which the park is just a shy-away from being safe, and was able to achieve victory in the climax. It was enganging and brilliantly-done, but it was just that. That episode is the only conflict-heavy plotline which does not linger on character development episode.

Speaking of episodes, most of the episodes do not dwell much on the progression of the story, and could be seen by some as just a filler episode which acted as a spin-off to the main plotline, such as the recruitment of Dornell and Ruby Dragon, the summer pirate attack [Which serves as the fanservice episode as well], or the Kanie got sick episode. Honestly, despite all seriousness, it just has this vibe of being a filler episode.

Most episodes mostly serves as a comedy instead for story progression.

Though the character development episode is always great, which is normal for Kyoto Animation.

Each episode are treated with a light comedy that lets us chuckle a little. However, when Tiramie and Macaron are in an episode, then expect it to be a comedy-driven episode, since their appearance is enough to merit any episode they’re heavily featured in a comedic one.

Though I must say that the character-driven episodes are more interesting to watch and as enganging as the penultimate episode. Since this is KyoAni’s trick of the trade, it could easily be seen as to why these kind of episodes are well-done are enganging. It serves as a great way to make the audience connects to certain character and actually care about them.

Though if there’s something about the character  that I am willing to complain is that there is too much character  crammed on this series. The main characters are limited to just Sento, Kanie, Latifa, and to certain extent, Moffle. However, the side characters are too numerous to list, and because of that, most of them were not able to gain their character-focused episode, most notably Tiramie and Macaron.

Speaking of which… The reveal of the main antagonist is somewhat predictable, since he was the one who antagonize Kanie and the park silently during his appearance, and to be honest, his maniacal face was just too generic and just like how other antagonist got their face in most of KyoAni’s work.
In terms of character, the main character are well-developed for the audience to enjoy and connect with. Kanie, despite his narcissism and arrogance, has his reason for staying like that, and the fact that he is resolved to save the park and Latifa is just great. Honestly, his bonding with Moffle is one of the best scene that this series has to offer.

Latifa was good too, except for most of the time she is bedridden. I liked the fact of how KyoAni played the audience, teasing the ship between Latifa and Kanie due to what happen in the first episode, only to shift it as something like a brother-sister relationship, as after Latifa was saved by Kanie, Latifa has this vibe of seeing Kanie as a big brother, and the same can be said to Kanie. And his ship was, hopelessly, with Sento.

Sento is introduced as a deadpan character who has a hard time expressing her emotion, which led to her charm, to be honest. At certain times, she had hard time making certain remarks or expression, causing an awkward yet hilarious scene, and that is why the heartsleeve fruit episode was so remarkably funny, since KyoAni nailed her deadpan humor.  And unlike Latifa, her obvious romantic feelings she had for Kanie is as clear as a day during the penultimate episode and the OVA. Her backstory is also well-done, since she was portrayed as a military who was forced to take the reins of a manager and led the theme park to the brink of extinction, something she was ashamed of and why she thought Kanie could help.

Latifa's character was mildly explored in the series.

As well as Sento, though she has more appearances to her name than Latifa.

Not to mention her muskets were subjected to the comedy. While great at first, those musket shots are becoming repetitive by the 5th-6th episode to be honest, and those who received are either Macaron, Tiramie, or Moffle.

And Moffle was a great character too, though he got relegated to just side-character duties at certain events, which might hurt his credibility a little, since he is dubbed the three stooges by Kanie. Nevertheless, his defensive behavior towards Latifa and how he respects other character is great. And since he got more screentime than any other side characters, it is fair to say that he is a main character.

And the comedic antics he shared with his stooges, which is Macaron and Tiramie, serves as the best bit of the series to be honest. 

Despite serving as a good punchline, the musket became repetitive later.

The comedic routine that these three performed are the best of the series.

For trivial purposes, I’ve read a thread in the internet of how the names of the three main characters are a play for a much-more relevant singer. Kanie Seiya is Kanye West, since the Seiya had a character for West in the japanese. Isuzu Sento is 50 Cent, for the same reason. And lastly, Latifa is Queen Latifah. And even the antagonist got the same treatment, in the form of Chris Tucker. Trivial things, but it was nicely done by the author.

Speaking of author, then we return back to it’s roots. As I said before, there are changes made for the adaptation that is questionable in my opinion. Some of the changes were Latifa’s blindness and how the penultimate episode and the climax chapter is being played, in which the light novel were more oriented to a dangerous crime, in which Moffle had a hand in helping out. The light novel  were much darker than the adaptation, which is somewhat the main attraction point of the series, but KyoAni had to adapt them out. Perhaps it is to fit certain audiences? Who knows.

If you are curious on how the penultimate and climax is different, then read this passage, if not, just skip it altogether and continue one paragraph below. Spoiler Alert. In the anime adaptation, the two soccer clubs were just looking for a stadium to play, in which the theme park offers their stadium in exchange for visitor, whereas in the light novel, Kanie and Moffle worked together to make sure the stadium got burned a little bit and become unusable for the soccer match, allowing the match to be played at Amaburi. The light novel offers more suspense and darker approach, but most of them were adapted out in the adaptation, which is a shame for me.

The bonding time between Moffle and Kanie were great, but far less darker than in the source material.

And like I said before, the visuals were great. Characters are animated beautifully and gorgeously drawn. It is clear that KyoAni totally put their effort in animating the best visual possible, as most of the audience seek a better visual to a better story, they said. Camera works were also great, much like the usual of what KyoAni normally does. And lastly, the entire Amagi Brilliant Park was great sight to behold, the background was well-drawn and beautiful to stare at, totally complementing the series.

Voice-acting was good too. All of the voices totally fit their character. However,  if asked who was the one doing the best work in this series are Macaron and Tiramie voice actors for me. Ryoko Shiraishi and Ai Nonaka put on both of their comedic best in this series. While sounding adorable at times, their antics are somehow backed by their voice.

And since the English dub was released already, I was able to see just how much the English dub fare in this series. And for me, the magic of voice that Tiramie and Macaron had in the japanese version was gone in the english dub. They both sounded too forced, and especially Tiramie, who sounded too high-pitched. However, while the dub was not that great, one of the characters totally stood out as the best, Sento Isuzu. Sento’s voice in the dub was somehow spot on,  correctly capturing her deadpan humor and behavior, as well as her maturity. While there are some questionable moments in her english dub, the dub was nevertheless far superior than her japanese voice in my opinion.

Sento provided the best voicework in the english dub.

All in all, Amagi Brilliant Park is a good series, held back by one factor which it totally lacks, good plotline. It is satisfying, but most of the episode felt like a spin-off rather than how it actually weighs in the story, since most of them were too goofy. Characters were okay too and the comedy was fine. Despite the KyoAni’s factor, which improved the series as a whole, it could still not enough to make this anime being called either good nor bad.

I had a hard time figuring out the audience for this series, since it is laidback at times, but not too laidback. It does not contain any action, but had the suspense of one for some reason. I guess the comedy, and especially, the KyoAni factor is the two main factors of how this anime received so much coverage back when it was airing.

And I especially had a hard time figuring out why that OVA-bound episode are aired as the final episode.

However, we all can thank Amagi Brilliant Park for finally getting Kyoto Animation out of their in-house work and finally adapt outside work, such as Hibike! Euphonium and Kobayashi-san chi no Maiddragon.

The Good : Beautiful animation, as expected of KyoAni’s works. Comedies are lighthearted, but can be wacky good at times. Great character-focused episode. Most episodes are slow, so it can be easily enjoyed. Great theme. Sento’s English dub.

The Bad : Shallow storyline, dependant on one main factor. Too much character. Some darker content are cut in the adaptation. Most episodes felt like a filler.

Highlight moment : Moffle and Kanie’s bonding scene. The penultimate episode.

Final Score : 3 out of 5. Good show, but not good enough. 


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Manga Review : Gakuen Alice

“A thrilling roler-coaster of dramatic emotion which is surely going to embedded on your heart for the rest of your life.”

What is Gakuen Alice?

There exist an academy which houses those with special powers called Alice. Mikan Sakura, an elementary student of a countryside village forces her way to the academy to finally meet her best friend, Hotaru Imai, once again. However, there is something sinister hidden beneath that cheerful academy...

And what do I think of it?

First and foremost, the images of each pages of manga are from the website, so credits to them. I actually owns the entire volume of Gakuen Alice from volume 1 to 32 in my own language, but is too lazy to scan them all by myself.

Gakuen Alice is my personal favourite, my all-time best, and there is nothing I want to shower but praise to this godsend of a manga series. However, while reviewing this, I shall try to keep my personal taste in mind and be as critical as I could be. And of course, as spoiler-free as possible, though it might be hard to do so, and alas, you have been warned of a spoiler-alert in this paragraph. 

However, there is nothing I can say but praise at this point, since this manga series covers just about, well… Everything…

Comedy, check. Drama, check. Character development, check. Romantic progression, check.  And this comes from a manga that was originally created and marketed just for laughs, as apparent from volume 1-5. However, despite the cheerful and comedic setting of the manga, even as early as volume 2 has already planted the seeds for dramatic purposes that will eventually be realized in the later volumes.

However, by the time it came out, one could not stop but wonder how this manga series is attempting to mimic a particular wizardy school. Thankfully that approach was abandoned as the series progresses.

The manga opens with Mikan Sakura trying to stop Hotaru hopelessly from transferring to the Alice Academy. However, she was powerless as Hotaru was actually trying to save the school Mikan enrolled in the countryside, and thus, Mikan decides to follow Hotaru to that academy and meet her once again.

Her objective sounds totally idiotic, but it is the drive that keeps her motivated all the time, wanting to see her best friend once again. And the main theme of the manga, for the entirety of it’s run, is the importance of friendship to everyone.

At first, early volumes focuses on how Mikan and Hotaru interacted with each other in the academy, all while several comedic routines and goofing off happened at chapters after chapters. While it is focused on becoming a comedy series, there is a hint of seriousness planted in several chapters, most obvious on the whole volume 3, where Natsume, the male lead was kidnapped and Mikan seeks to save him. This only lasted for a volume, but it shows how the tone immediately shifts.

And several more comedy-focused volumes later, we come to volume 6, where the comedy was nowhere to be found and the manga goes full-blown action-like drama, where Mikan is trying to save her best friend. This whole arc focuses for an entire 3 volumes before it is finally resolved. Oh, and the author didn’t even hesitate to kill off a side character that was made for this arc and has finally gained the trust of both the reader and the cast. It was a shock to behold, and of course, a precursor of what to come.

The manga starts off goofing around from volume 1-5.

I don’t know whether it was Higuchi Tachibana’s storytelling prowess or the kind of write-as-you-go-along, but she displayed a masterclass story-telling in each and passing chapters, hiding all of the necessary details behind all the comedy antics and routine, it was a spectacle to behold, or more precisely, to read.

The author tried to return the series back to it’s roots, judging by the return of several setting such as the Central Town and the sorts, however, despite the comedy return, it could no longer contain the comedy as the dramatic tension would soon gave rise and, finally, paved way for a shift in tone, from a comedy to a drama, and lastly, tragic drama.

This new approach of tragic drama was really remarkable if I do say so myself. In my previous article, I mentioned how a shift in tone could change a series entirely and actually put Gakuen Alice as an example, and through this shift in tone, Gakuen Alice is changed forever. There is literally no way that people, who read Gakuen Alice from start to finish, remember Gakuen Alice as a comedy series as they would surely remember it as a tragic drama.

The comedy was later abandoned to a focus of a more drama-driven story.

Each plot would give rise to a new conflict, and before it was resolved, another conflict come and goes, before everything was partially resolved, albeit tragically. I was speechless whenever the conflict was resolved.  Truly a writing masterclass there by Higuchi Tachibana.

The best arc that the manga has to offer is arguably the Time Travel Arc, where Mikan and company are travelling through time and visited the past of her mother, where we learn the hardship and suffering that she has to go through before finally having to part with Mikan. It was painful, yet it truly builds the character of her mother perfectly. And she was so embedded to me that when the twist happened, I couldn’t stop the tears flowing from my eyes, despite the fact that I re-read the series just to review the manga.

Time travel arc lets us know how awesome Yuka is.

Speaking of characters, there are four main characters in this series, Mikan Sakura, Hotaru Imai, Natsume Hyuga, and Luca Nogi. 

Mikan is the main character and the central character, where the story revolves around her. When I say revolves around her, it truly revolves around her, where the story only moves if she gets involved and how people wanted to use her for their own ends. Her characterization was one of the best I have ever seen, as she matures as the series progresses. Once a childish girl who thinks of nothing but playing around, by the time the series is nearing it’s climax, her character has matured into that of a strong girl who is no longer reliant to others and instead, help others. Well, she is reliant since her power is useless, but in terms of character, she is the one who built the character of others.

Next is Hotaru Imai, my favourite character. Ever since she debuted, I know that there is something special on her, and yes, she showed a tsundere-like behavior where she constantly tortures Mikan, but secretly cares for her. She wished Mikan to always smile, even at the most dire of times, which is the thing that helped Mikan endure all the hardship that comes to her. And I also liked the fact that the author never forgot her special ability to procure useful gadgets at certain times, and the author even used that ability for several sticky situations, which helped her character to not being classified as useless. She can fight with her invention, mind you.

Then there’s Natsume and Luca. While Luca is nothing special, as he is just there for the sake of being there at times, Natsume is the most developed character in the series, aside from Mikan. While never discarding his sinister nature, he developed a caring personality for others and has his own way to deal with things, which makes him all the more popular to the audience. No wonder he kept netting the top spot at every character poll.

Oh, another thing I liked from the characters is the fact that the author has this tendency of rehashing several side characters into spotlight. The prime example of this is Mr. Bear, who was originally treated as a side character with violent tendency, especially towards Mikan. However, as the series progressed, this particular teddy bear became a valuable ally to Mikan and at certain point, so attached to Mikan that it refused to part with her. It was a moment for this side character that I could never forget.

There are plenty of characters in this series, so much that perhaps not everyone got their limelight. However, at least they served a purpose I think. As usual, whe speaking of characters, I’ll just limit myself to the main cast and several side characters. 

While the main cast is awesome, the side character is just equally awesome as well.

Despite the praises that I showered to this manga series, there are dozens of complaints that go along the way too. Nothing in this world is perfect, and it is for this manga as well.

First and foremost is the design of characters. While the author tried hard to differentiate each characters, I couldn’t help but notice similiarity in several characters, especially in earlier volumes. Some characters would resemble another, which makes it very hard to tell who’s who at first.

And secondly, and this is perhaps the biggest of my complaint, is their age. Mikan and company are still at elementary grades and is still around 12-13 years old. Thrusting them in such a complicated storytelling raises a question or two regarding morality, in my opinion. Sure, this is a manga series, where anything happens, but I just couldn’t help but notice this feeling that it is more proper that if they are at least on either middle or high school, instead of just still in elementary school. Even the newer characters introduced for the newer arcs are either in high schools or are already an adult, so… Yeah, there you have it. Last but not least, sometimes they [The kids] just looked like they're adults already.

Their age was a bit questionable to be honest.

And also, people might found it too complicated to swallow, as several dialogues are too long that the balloon to hold them are not wide enough, and therefore, forcing the text to be put into a very small fonts.

I liked the drawing style, as the manga focuses not only drawing a highly detailed expression and  character design, it also focuses on delivering a beautiful background scenery that is totally a bliss to look at. I was in awe on how much details was put on the background, such as lamps, furnitures, and even leaves. 

The great effort put on drawing the background was great.

If there’s anything I don’t like from the style is the fact that the manga has a hard time rendering a wound, opting to just use a simple saturation on the face or body, or even clothing, with bloods to signify that the character is hurt badly. And the worst example has to be Persona’s power. His alice is called the “Corrosion” alice and is used to corrode things badly until it dies, and when someone is affected by it, the manga opted to just either brushed the affected body with black saturations or just blackens it completely. It looks pretty bad and lazy in my opinion.

And lastly, the volume length of the series, which is just over 31, suggested that the series is pretty succesfull enough in Japan that the magazine greatly supported it up from start to finish.

All in all, Gakuen Alice is a terrific manga series masterfully authored by Higuchi Tachibana, who knows what to do and what to expect from the manga. It starts off very light and funny, but slowly alters it’s own genre and, in the process, rends the heart of those who read it. It is a mixture of thrilling and fantastic ride, where the ride is bumpy, but leads to a very great destination. There are several flawed things, but those trivial things could not hold back this great manga series from being so awesome.

This manga is highly reccomendable to those who seeks an emotionally wild-ride, but at the same time, can stomach the complicated settings and backstory it holds. Casual manga reader could read this series, but it is not advised, as they might found themselves scratching their head by the time they read volume 6.

Such a great manga series… Thanks for the ride. After re-reading it, I could not help myself but wonder what’s next in store for Higuchi Tachibana. Hopefully, that spin-off of this series would be reelased in my country, but I am not crossing my fingers.

The Good : Tragic drama tension somehow intensifies the series. Wonderfull story-telling which paid off long-term. Phenomenal character development. Beautiful backgrounds. Utilizing the cast fairly. Setting is unique. Tremendously-done plot twist that might caught people by surprise.

The Bad : The main characters’ age does not seem to fit the dramatic tension for some reason. Several characters look the same, save for several intricate details to help differentiate them. Texts are sometimes too long and too much. The style of implying wound is bad.

Highlight moment : Time-travelling Arc. Z-infiltration Arc.

Final Score : 5 out of 5. Even it’s many flaws cannot undo it’s masterclass writing. I don’t think there’s any manga that can top this series for me. Oh, and this is the first time I handed a series a perfect score.

All good things must come to an end, and than you for this wonderful series.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Anime Review : New Game! Season 2

New Game!! Season 2

“An improved sequel of an already good series that shows how much dramatical focus can impact a series as a whole”
What is New Game! Season 2?

The continuation of the New Game! That was originally came out in the 2016. The story follows Suzukaze Aoba and her exploits in her game company of Eagle Jump, where she will be joined by new cast and is going to create a new game.

So, what do I think about it?

And here we are again, 2017 and I am already watching the sequel of New Game! I am totally caught by surprise when Doga Kobo announced the continuation and was pleased to see it finally on the screen. Looks like 2017 is really the year of sequels, eh? Anyway, I just finished watching it last week and was totally in awe by how far the series have taken itself.

The series started once again with the shot of Yagami’s underwear, and this time, it was an extended version of it’s original one. Seeing that, I was a little bit put off, since I think New Game’s supposed fanservice are needless in the first season and that time, I thought that if the anime is going to focus on putting in a lot of fanservice, then it’s going to be a letdown.  Aside from the blatant fanservice shots and costumes, there are several low-angle cameraworks, which focuses on Hajime and Hifumi, that I am not fond of, since it is a rather out of sight fanservice to me.

And yes, while the fanservice is more abundant than before, as the character with the ample body gets a lot of fanservices during the progression of the story, it could not really match the actual improvement of the series.

The fanservice are even abundant than before.

And with an added low-key cameraworks featuring Hajime and others.

The series’ improvement as a whole is it’s apparent focus on capitalizing the dramatical aspect that was found in the manga series. I’ve actually read the New Game manga from the beginning and was shocked when I found out that the manga was putting some remarkable dramatical aspect that totally impacted the character, and the anime saw fit to pick that up and continue the trend as well.

For a series which was marketed as a comedic slice of life series, this came as a total surprise to both the audiences and reviewers alike, as that focus allowed the series to flesh out the character really well, but still keeping the comedic aspect that makes New Game what it is. It does not lose any of it’s original identity, instead, it improves upon it, and was a welcome addition.

Despite the dramatic tension that the show brought with...
The show did not lose its original identity

As I said, since the comedy was traded for a better storytelling, the comedy seems a bit weaker and less frequent than in the first season. Despite all that, the comedy can still incite a bit of laughter since New Game is really adept at creating a great comedic situation, largely thanks to it’s colorful cast.

The character development gets a total nod for the series. The chemistry of all the character are improved very well and they are even more fun to watch now than in the first season. Kudos to the chemistry between Nene and Umiko, which had me looking for them all over during every instances of watching the new episodes of this sequel.

Nene and Umiko's chemistry remained the most must-see in the show.

And like I said, the character development was really well-done here, as each and every character received their own focus part so that their character can be fleshed out for us to understand. This was the right move to use, as the first season was used to introduce most of the main cast, the second season should be used to flesh out their character very well so we can understand them. In my opinion, any anime that is going to have a second season should put this mindset into production before going through with it.  

For example, the naturally shy and introvert Hifumi was given so much development time that she became much more expressive and actually cares about others in the second season and much more lovable than before.

At first, I was caught by surprise of how much focus was put on Hifumi and almost thought that she was the new character of the series that replaces Aoba completely, as the first half of the series places her much more in the center and largely ignored Aoba altogether, though the second half of the series finally places her back into the focus. 

Aoba, on the other hand, was focused heavily during the second half of the series and during several bits of the first half.  During the first half of the series, her proposal of new game was through but she was aware of how her lack of contributions in that project and was bothered by it. However, she resolves her own problem and was able to mature perfectly in the second season.

Hifumi was given much of the spotlight during the first half.

Though Aoba gets her own focus later.

However, there was still someone who provided support that she can only do best, Hazuki Shizuku. Hazuki remains playing her bits in the background, all while providing the support to the main cast, regardless of the hardship that they are facing. Like before, she appears sporadically, but whenever she shows up, it’s not just for laugh all the time and she was providing the cast with the help that she knows that only she can give. It was her who helped new character in the series break the ice with the main cast, and it was her who gives the main cast the push that they need to become better. Hats off to her for remaining relevant whilst still in the background.

Hazuki remains a background support, a role she shines at.

Not just them though, the rest of the cast are given their ample time to develop their characters very well and by the end of this sequel, we all know how relevant their character and how we all can relate to them and actually cares about them.

I can spend pages and pages talking about characters, but for now, let’s stop talking about the main cast and focus on the newer character that arrived in the series. There are 3 new characters for this sequel, though all of them finally settles in the second half of the series.

The French-born Yamato was the first character introduced and she makes a negative impact as soon as she appears by getting on the team’s bad side. Although, due to the interference from someone who excels at giving support to troubled character, she was finally able to befriend the team.

There are several inclusion of new characters, such as Yamato.

As well as Naru and Momiji, a new employee of Eaglejump.

She was not the most impactful new character though. It was Momiji and Naru that carries more impact and value in this second season. Both of them was hiding their true intention for the remaining second half up until the end and were irritating at certain point. Momiji had embedded in her mindset to expel a hostile aura whenever she is with Aoba, and Naru had this very condescending attitude where she just shots down Nene with her mean comments, though Nene was able to power through those mean comments with her sheer positivity. In the end, we all learned of why their character was so irritating and condescending later in the series, and all that negativity and disdain I had for them suddenly dissipates as I learned their reasoning for such behavior.

That marks a well-written character development there. At first, we hated them, though later, due to a sheer writing value that sees them develop their character pretty well, we all can set aside our disdain toward them and channel our inner heart to see their apparent reasoning and finally, be relatable to them. The writing team here deserves a full thumbs up for that.

Thanks to a well-written characterization.

The disdain was set aside and both Naru and Momiji are now likable.

Despite all that great thing I said for the character, there is one thing I absolutely disliked for the treatment of one character. Hoshikawa Hotaru, Nene and Aoba’s friend in high school was treated as if she was an afterthought. Despite the impact that she had for both Nene and Aoba in their earlier time, she was not given enough screentime for us to understand her character, save for the fact that she looks like Hajime, a lot like her, save for the different hair and eye color.

Hotaru was not given any focus whatsoever.

There’s more I could say, but the more specific things I said, the more I spoil the story for everyone who read this review.

Music were great and continues to impress me as it fits every major scene that it should have accompanied. Animations were smooth as well, and it was colorful enough to saw it very different from any other anime series. Last but not least, the voice actings were great, but not as remarkable as before.

However, my complaint remains the same, which is the background. The background, while remaining colorful, remains strictly prohibited at the Eaglejump company, especially the character team’s booth. Sure, the series takes us to a new location once in a while, but it was not remarkable enough.

Oh, the development of their second game, PECO, was totally in full-view here and it gives us a little bit more insight regarding the game-development in a company, such as how the people are allowed to pitch in their proposal and if it is interesting enough to the director and sponsor, as well as the higher-ups,  it could be developed into a full-fledged game, and regarding the advertisement, and so on. Oh, and I I liked the design and gameplay of PECO and would definitely buy the game if that game ever came up in real life.

I liked the game within the series, PECO. Was it an Umaru teaser?

All in all, this was a great second season that really improved upon it’s predecessor. It improved where the first season was lacking a little bit, which is shared character development for the entire cast. Sure the first season was really great at delivering character development, but it is only to some character and not everyone gets their focus arbitrally. The comedy was toned down due to the newfound dramatic aspect that the series is going for, but it was a welcome addition for the series and the series story was great once again. There’s only several things that hampered the series, such as the remaining fanservices and one character being left out, but as a whole, the series is very  much a complete one.

The shift in tone might merit a change in audience as well, since this is no longer a just your typical run of the mill slice of life series, but one with the dramatic spices added. In order to understand the story and character very well, watching the first season is a necessity.

All in all, the ambition was realized.

Does the series now merits a third season? That is okay, but for now, the conclusion was very well done and serves as a great ending for a great series. 

The Good: Dramatical aspect of the series was realized upon. Top-class character development that was masterfully done. Storyline was better than before and was well-written. Good comedy.  Unlike before, Hazuki did not carry the show from the background and allowed the cast to carry the show themselves. Development of their new game, PECO, was great.

The Bad: Unnecesarry fanservice. Jokes and comedy bits are toned down. One character was left out of the development writing.

Highlight Moments: Aoba and Yagami working together for their game proposal. Naru's revelation. The ending scene. Honestly, there's too much and if i say more, i'd just spoil even more.

Final Score : 4.5 out of 5. The seeds of dramatic ambitions that the series planted early in the series worked very well to make this an even better sequel to the original.

A great show that follows an already great series