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Mob Psycho 100

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Mob Psycho 100 is one of ONE’s other manga series, with his best known work being the now-famous One Punch Man. One Punch Man’s anime adaptation received widespread acclaim due its hilarious premise, breath-taking animation, and irreverent tone that went out of its way to undermine superhero fiction at every turn. Not that it was without its criticisms, mind you; it received the nickname ‘One Punch Line’ due to most jokes boiling down to “and then Saitama beats it in one punch”, and the story definitely felt tacked on as a way of extending a one-off gag into an ongoing series.

This left Mob Psycho 100 in an interesting position. Coming off the back of One Punch Man it had VERY big shoes to fill. Would the animation compare? Will it be as funny? Is the anticipation warranted? Living up to something that popular is stupidly difficult! But with challenge comes opportunity; it had the chance to tell a more coherent, engaging story, as well as show off a more diverse sense of humour.

Fortunately the premise was promising. Kageyama Shigeo is a middle school psychic, and a dangerous one at that – when his stress and emotion levels reach 100% so to speak, he loses control and causes massive destruction. So to prevent this as much as possible he’s developed a boring, unassuming, forgettable personality and appearance, rendering him a background or ‘mob’ character that no-one would even care to bother. But of course, a peaceful life isn’t going to be that easy.

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Orange

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If you knew exactly what was going to happen each day, would you be able to change the future? Would you live without regrets?

Would you be able to save your friend’s life?

These are the questions Orange asks of Naho. She receives a strange letter allegedly from herself 10 years in the future. The letter details exactly what’s going to happen that day, including a new student, Kakeru, transferring into her class from Tokyo.

The letter states that the Naho from the future has lived with many regrets, and requests Naho do things differently, armed with foreknowledge, so that she may live a better life.

So that she may save Kakeru’s life.

(Note: this review largely avoids spoilers except for a relatively minor one from the second episode. It is a twist, but is so fundamental to the overall story and is so early that it’s unavoidable)

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Amanchu!

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The best introduction I can give Amanchu! is that the original manga is by Amano Kozue – the mangaka behind Aria. And like Aria, Amanchu! is an iyashikei – or ‘healing’ – anime. You can expect a slow pace, charming characters, and an upbeat story that leaves you feeling refreshed and all the more positive about life and the world.

Amanchu! is significantly more grounded than Aria, mind you (no pun intended). Gone are the terraformed Martian landscapes of Neo-Venezia, the fame of the Undine, and the wide scope of seeing everything the world has to offer and then some; Amanchu! is set in contemporary Japan, and follows the schoolgirls Hikari (‘Pikari’) and Futaba (‘Teko’) as they enjoy their time in the diving club. Instead of exploring the stories of everyone Akari meets and letting that shape her, the focus is squarely on Futaba and her growth as a person.

Aria was a contemplative, philosophical, humanist work about the beauty in people’s lives and the goings-on happening around you. Amanchu! opts for something more personal and intimate.

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Momokuri

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Momokuri is a romantic-comedy about a slightly odd couple: Momotsuki ‘Momo’ Shinya is a 1st year high school student dating Kurihara Yuki, a 2nd year student who asked him out. Momo could best be described as ‘adorable’, being teased by all his friends for being shorter than average, timid, having a slightly girly face, and getting bashful over the slightest thing. Even though he doesn’t always quite ‘get’ her, he just wants Kurihara to be happy. Kurihara, on the other hand, has a hard thirst for Momo, basically stalking him prior to (and never stopping) dating him, sneaking photos of him at every occasion, and drooling every new side of him she sees. She has absolutely no shame… but when actually with Momo she completely falls apart, getting hugely embarrassed and overwhelmed, and becoming a lot more ‘reserved’ (albeit not necessarily for good reasons…).

That is essentially the gist of it, and all you really need to know. Momo and Kurihara don’t have that much more going for them than that (although Momo dealing with his jealousy and insecurities lends a small amount of depth to the characterisation) and the side characters – while entertaining – are nothing to write home about. Their relationship isn’t particularly compelling as it progresses absurdly slowly as a result of them being utterly useless around each other, but it’s very fun and cute and thanks to Kurihara’s personality it makes for a reasonably original and unpredictable romance.

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What Momokuri is is extremely cute and sweet. Momo and Kurihara are adorable around each other; their mutual embarrassment is endearing, their inability to get over their timidity is oddly heart-warming, and their naïve tenderness just puts a smile on my face. It borders on saccharine and is utterly insubstantial – ‘cute romance’ really is all it has of note – but I really liked it. If candy floss were anime, it would be this.

Bonus points for some nice aesthetics and style. The art contributes a lot to the fluffy, sugary feel, and it has some fun little visual motifs it likes to use, lending it a strong visual identity.

7/10

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Hidamari Sketch, Sketchbook: Full Color’s, and, uh, GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class I guess – the holy trinity of cute-girls-doing-artsy-things anime (I mean GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class isn’t that great, but whatever). Is Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!This Art Club Has a Problem! – primed to join their hallowed ranks?

Well, uh, not really. But not because it’s bad!

Rather than being about a bunch of art students going about their daily lives, Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! is more of a rom-com set in a school’s art club – and the art club setting isn’t anywhere near as essential.

Usami Mizuki is a second year middle school student and member of the art club, and she has a crush on Uchimaki Subaru, another member of the art club in the same year as her. But he doesn’t realise her feelings! And on top of that, he’s a massive otaku who has zero interest in 3D women and opts to spend his time and amazing talent to draw waifus, to Usami’s endless frustration and disgust.

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Sweetness & Lightning

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Sweetness & Lightning (AKA Amaama to Inazuma) is the latest in a mini-genre of anime about men caring for a young girl in a father-like manner, a mini-genre that boasts highly regarded shows such as Usagi Drop and Barakamon. The twist here is that Inuzuka Kouhei isn’t just a surrogate or adoptive father to Tsumugi – he’s her actual father! Somehow, this is actually going against the grain…

Yes, the story is about a single father, Kouhei, taking care of his young daughter Tsumugi. And he only became a single father recently – his wife passed away not long before the start of the story, and certainly within Tsumugi’s memory. Kouhei has been doing the best he can since then, putting his all into his work as a high school maths teacher, but as his wife took care of the domestic duties Tsumugi has been living on a steady diet of pre-packaged food for a while.

One evening Tsumugi expresses a desire for her mother’s cooking and a tiredness of the pre-packaged stuff, causing Kouhei to take her and rush off to his student, Kotori’s, restaurant (well, technically her mother’s restaurant). After a brief kerfuffle (Kotori can’t cook and her mother isn’t in and also the restaurant is technically closed then) Tsumugi gets to eat some proper, home-cooked food – even though it’s only some rice! – and the smile on her face prompts Kouhei to learn how to cook together with Kotori. For Tsumugi’s sake.

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New Game!

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Many people – myself included – thought that Shirobako was just going to be another cute-girls-doing-cute-things series, but about making anime. This lasted about as long as it took for us to see Aoi’s bleary eyes, whereupon it became clear that this was going to not pull any punches the realities of the anime industry, for better and for worse.

New Game! is basically what we thought Shirobako was going to be. But about making games instead of anime.

Well, specifically it’s about the character design department of a game studio with a couple of others there too, but close enough!

This is probably enough to tell you whether this is your kinda thing or not already, but I think there’s enough in this show to warrant a discussion a bit less reductionist than that!

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