Ascendance of a Bookworm – Overcoming Adversity

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Image result for ascendance of a bookworm animePursuing your passion can seem like a daunting task, sometimes, it can even seem impossible to achieve. Such is the case for Urano Motosu, a young woman who dreams of being a librarian. Unfortunately for Urano, her life is cut short in a somewhat ironic twist of fate (crushed by her own weighty collection of books), but this is not the end for her. Instead, she awakens in the body of a young girl, Myne, in a world where books are seemingly out of reach. Thus Myne has to overcome innumerable obstacles all while trying to adjust to her less-than-ideal life.
Continue reading “Ascendance of a Bookworm – Overcoming Adversity”

After School Dice Club – Mini Review

Finally, An Anime About Board Games!

Since A Sister’s All You Need first premiered back in 2017, I’ve been convinced that an anime about people playing board games could work well. Apparently a 2013 manga, later turned anime, was a head of the curve though with After School Dice ClubWhile this series took its time to finally put my money where my mouth was, there’s just one logical question to ask:  Does the show actually work?

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Left to right:  Midori, Aya, Emilia, and Miki

To get the show off the ground, because you can’t just have some cute girls randomly playing board games with no context, there’s Miki, a shy girl with no friends. How sad. Then she learns about board games, and wouldn’t you know it, she gets some friends which gives a boost to her self-confidence. Along the way, her newfound friends have their own trials and tribulations as well.

While there is that story going on, the focus is obviously the board games. Not your typical anime off-brand stuff, real board games that you can go out and get today. If you didn’t know, I am pretty well-versed when it comes to board games and I was generally impressed with the selection they showed off in After School Dice Club.

Nearly all the games featured are entry-level, meaning they are quick to pick up, learn, and teach. This allows the show to legitimately teach you how to play whatever the game happens to be in their entirety. It’s one of the biggest strengths the show has.

The other positive point this anime has is showing off the creative process for making a good game. That plot is easily the best one as it allows you to appreciate the games more while giving some basic insight into the industry. Having made a game myself, I appreciated it at least.

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Midori’s arc is where the show unfortunately peaks from a story perspective

Unfortunately, the show holds itself back by trying to include so many narrative elements. The board game sections are great, but they had to be tied into the story, which is the problem. While I respect the mix of traditional Japanese games and great modern games, having to deal with random drama between them caused them to lose some impact along the way.

You can really feel this in the final episode where Miki sits on a bench bullying herself because she realizes she might not be able to spend every waking minute of her life with her friends. What should be an emotionally climatic moment, where she does eventually learn she has true friends, is instead accidentally really hilarious.

No trailer today as they are not subbed, instead enjoy a clip from the show

I’ve seen it said that After School Dice Club fails as a show as it just “makes you want to play board games yourself”, but I can’t help but see that as a positive. That’s kind of the whole point of the show. If you are looking for a decent story that breaks down toward the end, but does feature solid game recommendations and tutorials, this will absolutely work for you. It’s just comfy enough to recommend, but I feel like this kind of show could have done a lot better.


How about you? Did After School Dice Club live up to your expectations? Let me know in the comments! If you like the work I’m doing here, please consider becoming a Patron or making a one-time donation via the buttons below. Thanks for reading and see you again soon!

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#Anitwitwatches 4 – Girls’ Last Tour Schedule & Announcement

Welcome to the Fourth #Anitwitwatches!

After the contentious School DaysI decided to mix up the poll considerably since that show was a trial for some folks, even if everybody seemed to largely enjoy the experience. Of these shows, only one of them has escaped my viewing before but I put it on the poll with the thought it had no chance. Wouldn’t you know it though, Girls’ Last Tour took home the gold!

Below you’ll find information on what the watch is as well as the schedule for this fourth season of #anitwitwatches. Thank you to everybody who has participated in the past and all of you who will be joining for the first time with this series!

What is #Anitwitwatches?

This is a weekly community event meant to bring folks together to revisit old favorites and discover new shows. It’s meant to be something you can get as involved in as you want, there is no pressure to participate every week or every watch, but we’d love to have you to share in the experience and discuss the shows we are watching all the same!

I was inspired to do this after seeing the “rewatches” that people do over at Reddit in the r/anime sub. Since I interact with a lot of you guys on Twitter, I thought it would be the perfect place to do something similar! That said, even if you do not have a Twitter you can still join in by posting any content via WordPress, YouTube, or whatever suits your fancy. If you do, be sure to send me an email at jonspencerreviews@gmail.com so I can share your wonderful creations!

For everyone else, simply watch the episodes for the week based on the schedule below. Make sure to use the hashtag, #anitwitwatches when you do, and that’s it! Discuss with the other folks participating, create content, and generally just have a fun time!

This next show was chosen based on YOUR votes, so let’s get to the watch schedule.

Girls’ Last Tour Watch Schedule

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We will be taking a 1 week break, meaning that we will NOT be watching anything for the week of 1/26/20. This is to give me time to properly prepare for hosting the watch and give everybody else a little break before starting something new. Plus I need to wrap up the showcase stuff for the end of that week. We will be keeping the Monday time slot for this watch after careful consideration and feedback.

If you have not done so, you can see where you can watch School Days for free, and legally, by using because.moe. Unfortunately, I cannot realistically check all regions but I aimed to make this as accessible as possible. That said, I won’t stop you from doing what you need to in order to participate. The more the merrier!

Here are the dates (all Mondays) and the episodes for each:

  • 1/26/20 – Break
  • 2/2/20 – Episodes 1 & 2
  • 2/9/20 – Episodes 3 & 4
  • 2/16/20 – Episodes 5 & 6
  • 2/23/20 – Episodes 7 & 8
  • 3/1/20 – Episodes 9 & 10
  • 3/8/20 – Episode 11
  • 3/15/20 – Episode 12

Since I haven’t actually seen this show, I did the best I could based on the episode descriptions (doing my best to avoid spoilers). It seemed to me that doing doubles for all but the last 2 episodes would suit the show nicely sans the final 2 episodes. That’ll make this watch 7 weeks long with the usual break at the start. I hope you’re excited to watch this one and I look forward to all the excellent discussion!

School Days – “The Worst Anime Ever Made”

You May Just be Surprised…

Even if you are fairly new to anime, you have likely heard somebody caution you against watching today’s anime of focus, School Days. However, I’ve been a big advocate of not always taking things at face value, and if you’ll humor me for the remainder of this article, I think I may just be able to convince you to give School Days the time of day. Continue reading “School Days – “The Worst Anime Ever Made””

Null & Peta – Mini Review

More Than Expected

When it comes to short-form shows, I really haven’t watched that many. There’s I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying as well as Tonari no Seki-kun, and not much else in terms of what I’ve actually bothered with (I’m sure if you looked there are one or two more, but the titles I listed are what sprang to mind). The former being a show that I wasn’t super into and the latter being a pretty big hit. So where does Null & Peta fit into all this? Someplace in the middle.

It’s not like I go out of my way to avoid these shorter shows, it’s just most of the time they aren’t that great or they don’t see any real distribution. That’s why when I saw that Crunchyroll had picked up Null & Peta, I decided to check it out since I was interested in the show’s premise:

Genius inventor Null tragically loses her older sister Peta in an accident. To get over the grief, Null develops “Peta Robo,” a robot with the same characteristics as her late sister. However, the robot is a little different as to what Null expected.

-MAL

It seemed to me that the show would have a nice blend of comedy with an occasional serious moment, which is my general preference when it comes to something like this. I was right in this assessment, and while I can say that there’s more going on than it first appears (it’s not really even that hard to figure out), the production didn’t skip any beats in ensuring that the show lands.

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Additionally, at exactly five minutes per episode, you aren’t risking much by watching this. There are 12 episodes in total that utilize their time well… mostly at least. One episode didn’t quite jive with me like the others, but it wasn’t anything that ruined the show.

As I said, everything generally comes together to deliver a great product. The jokes are funny, the animation is nice, and all the other elements play nicely with each other. It was a smart move to ease into the more serious parts of the show, that while being predictable, felt natural in their execution.

My only real complaint with the series is the lack of an ending theme, or really an ending anything. Don’t confuse this with the show having a lack of resolution, it does have that, what I mean is the episodes end abruptly. You can sense when this is going to happen, but it causes dialog to get truncated, and worse yet, some moments to lose impact.

The only trailer I could find is for Brazil but there’s not a lot too this one…

Finally, I wanted to mention that this seemed to be a precursor to a game that is yet to be released at the time of writing (1/9/20). I’d be interested to see how that ties into all of this and if the game itself is any fun. I’ll leave a link to the game here so you can check it out if you’d like.

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Game link here! There’s a demo available currently.

With that, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Null & Peta. If you decide to try the game out, I’d also enjoy hearing about your experience there too. Want to support my writing? You’ll find my donation buttons below, to which I’d be eternally grateful for you checking them out. Thanks for stopping by and I can’t wait to see you again soon!

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Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! – Be Careful What You Wish For…

You Just Might Get it!

Truck-kun strikes again, sending Misato Kurihara into a fantasy world upon her death. It’s one with magic and adventure, one the Gods have abandoned. However, she has no interests in such things. The one thing she wants above all else is to live a completely average life. As is typical in these stories, her wish is granted… but it isn’t quite what the former Misato pictured. Continue reading “Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! – Be Careful What You Wish For…”

Saying Goodbye to School Days – Concluding our Third #Anitwitwatches

Come and Vote!

The time has arrived once again to say goodbye to another fantastic #anitwitwatches. For our third watch we settled on the infamous School Days but we will be preparing to move on to a new show after next week. That’s where you come in! Below I’ll leave a link to our vote on Twitter where you can help decide what we’ll be watching next. Keep an eye out as we’ll be announcing the winner alongside the concluding thoughts for School Days on 1/20/20.

I’ll be reviewing School Days shortly after the watch concludes, so please look forward to that as well!

What is #Anitwitwatches?

This is a community initiative I started a few months ago where we get together and collectively watch an anime. Then, we talk about it on Twitter using the hashtag #anitwitwatches. The first ever watch was for Tonari no Seki-kun which was a lot of fun. You can view more information on the watch, as well as my review on Seki-kun here.

Our second watch was for Rampo Kitan which I had already written about previously, so that review won’t mention the watch at all. However, you can find all of the threads about any previous watch by searching the hashtag on Twitter or by clicking the linked #anitwitwatches right here.

Why is X Show on the Poll?

As I mentioned last time, each show was carefully considered using a series of criteria to ensure that this activity remains fun and varied each time. Due to some oversight with the last voting round on my end and the heavy nature of School Days, I’ve elected to largely mix up the poll for this new season of #anitwitwatches. A short summary is provided below and in the actual voting thread above as well.

  1. Wandering SonThis is a carryover from our very first watch. There seems to be a lot of interest in it and I’m all for watching it! This recently made my Top 20 Anime of the Decade list if you wants some quick thoughts.
  2. Rolling GirlsA CGDCT show with just enough depth to be interesting week-to-week. Very colorful and fun!
  3. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou – After School Days, I thought something positive with a hint of romance might be in order. It’s a story about failure, but learning to push on even in the face of adversity. For creatives like us, it’s perfect!
  4. Girls’ Last Tour – Lets explore a world together! I have been wanting to finish this and the watch would be the perfect excuse. Each week would have something for us to contemplate as well.

Join in the Fun!

So get to voting! I hope to see you for the next watch and would love to hear about shows you’d like to see added to the poll in the future. If you have any questions feel free to ask, I’d be more than happy to answer!

Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

What a Season!

It finally happened folks, I gave a Sword Art Online season a perfect score. I’ve always enjoyed the series, but up until now, Ordinal Scale was the only thing that’s even come close as overall entries go. My worries that were sown when Alicization had first debuted in Fall 2018 were quickly washed away. All that setup was certainly worth the payout, and I can’t wait for the rest! Continue reading “Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld”

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san Season 2 – Mini Review

This Guy Finally Got a Clue?

After the first season of this, I don’t think any of you are really surprised to see that I followed up with the second season. Netflix sniped the licence on this one, so I’m a bit later to the party than I would have liked to be. In any case, I can confidently say that my review of season one, still applies to this, but I have a few additional thoughts specific to this season.

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This scene was great!

While not the biggest deal in the world, the English voice cast was different than what we had for the first season. When I learned Netflix got this one instead of Funimation, this was a concern of mine. In fact, I wasn’t even sure this second season of Takagi-san would even see a dub as a result. However, it did, and most of the voices were close to what I expected them to sound like. Some so close, I didn’t think they were even recast until I checked, granted, I did watch the first season back in 2018, so this may be more jarring if you move immediately from one to the next.

Putting that aside, I have only one minor complaint, and that’s the missed opportunity with the ending. Don’t get me wrong, the ending is great! However, earlier in the season, episode 7 to be exact, there’s a brief flash of Takagi as an adult looking back at the photo that opens the episode. Seeing that this has another manga series where, spoilers, Takagi and Nishikata work out, I thought for sure we’d see some kind of scene like this for the finale.

No such luck! Instead, it’s a cute scene where they basically start dating formally. Though, it’s still very early in their relationship, it’s exactly what most people expected. As I said, this is a minor complaint, but it’s the difference between this having been a perfect 10/10 compared to just barely missing the mark.

Normally I put the trailer here, but there aren’t really any (that are translated). Enjoy the OP instead!

If you had any reservations about starting this series at all, I can safely say I recommend it. Takagi-san is a warm show that wants to put a smile on your face. This will make for a perfect show when you want something on the lighter side to get absorbed in for awhile. The likable cast, great designs, and overall excellence of the series is sure to be a hit!


Now I’ll turn things over to you, did you find Takagi-san season 2 to be great as well? Did you notice the recasting in the dub? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article then please consider a donation via my Ko-fi button or becoming a Patron today. As always, thanks for reading and hope to see you again here soon!

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My Top 20 Anime of The Decade

The 2010’s Were Full of Great Titles!

There were so many great titles in the past decade, in fact, that I had a hard time only picking 10 of them. So, since we are entering 2020, I thought I’d expand the list to 20 titles! Before we dive in, I need to state that only shows I actually watched to completion were eligible for the list, so if a title is missing, I probably just didn’t watch it yet. Additionally, films will be included on this list as well since there were a few that came out and I saw that I really liked, but not enough for a separate list. Finally, these are my picks, so if you disagree, just make your own list, I’d love to see it! Continue reading “My Top 20 Anime of The Decade”