Kuroneko's Pen

Aoi Hana

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Aoi Hana
English Title: 
Sweet Blue Flowers

Rating: 4/5

Anime Info: 11 episodes. Aired in 2009.
Manga Info: 8 volumes; 52 chapters. Published from 2004-2013.

Description:
Fumi Manjoume, an introverted, bookish teenage girl, is beginning her first year of high school at Matsuoka Girls’ High School. She enters the school year with her heart broken by a previous relationship. At about the same time, she reconnects with her best friend from ten years ago, Akira Okudaira, who is now attending Fujigatani Girls’ Academy as a first-year high school student. As they reconnect, they both deal with their own respective romantic problems, and help each other get through them.

Genres: drama, romance, slice of life, school, shojo ai, yuri, josei, seinen

Notes/Review:
So, I tried super hard to watch the anime after reading the manga, but I only got two episodes in. It’s just boring for me to be exposed to the same story so soon (this has nothing to do with the manga/anime itself; it’s just a personal thing; I’m the kind of person who hardly ever rewatches or rereads things). Plus, school has stated up again so I don’t have as much time to dedicate to manga and anime 😦 I might watch the anime way later on, but for now, I’m just going to check it off and move on. So, my review is based off of the manga mainly.

This is most definitely a slice of life. The series encompasses their entire high school years and a little bit after. I’m not usually a fan of slice of life or romance, but the story and characters were really interesting and cute. I also enjoyed its emphasis on theater (most of the main characters were in the drama club).

Side Note: I read this manga for Operation: Enlightenment, a fun little project where I go through each anime and manga on their respective lists.

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Akira

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Akira (6 volumes; 31 chapters)

Rating: 3/5

Description:
It’s the year 2019, thirty-one years have passed since the start of World War III. A top-secret child with amazing powers of the mind breaks free from custody and accidentally gets a motorcycle gang involved in the project. This incident triggers psychic powers within one of the gang members, Tetsuo, and he is taken by the army to be experimented on. His mind has been altered and is now on the path of war, seeking revenge on the society that once called him weak.
Published from 1982-1990.

Genres: action, adventure, horror, science fiction, military, seinen

Notes/Review:
The concept of this manga was really good and interesting, but for some reason I had a hard time bringing myself to read it… I just thought that it was boring somehow.  But, I finally managed to finish it after approximately a month haha. The characters weren’t very notable to me, and what bothered me the most was that one rather prominent character in the beginning just faded into the background after a while, which was weird to me.
This manga might be more interesting to others though….

Side Note: I read this manga for Operation: Enlightenment, a fun little project where I go through each anime and manga on their respective lists.

Aoi Bungaku Series

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Aoi Bungaku Series (12 episodes)

Rating: 4/5

Description:
An animated adaptation of six classical Japanese literature pieces, including No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku), In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita) by Ango Sakaguchiand, Kokoro by Natsume Souseki, Run, Melos (Hashire, Melos) by Osamu Dazai, The Spider’s Thread (Kumo no Ito) by Ryunosuke Akutagaw, and Hell Screen (Jigoku Hen).
Aired in 2009.

Genres: drama, mystery, psychological, historical, seinen

Notes/Review:
The episodes were a bit confusing, but I don’t think I would have felt that way had I read the stories beforehand. Still, I did enjoy the series. All of the stories have themes of morality, relationships and human psychology. My favorites were Run, Melos (a retelling of the tale of Damon and Pythias) and Hell Screen (a artist who makes some sacrifices for the sake of his craft). I don’t think that I’m interested enough to read the original works. The only one that I would like to read is In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (a love story between a city woman and a mountain bandit) because it was by far the most confusing story for me.

Side Note: I watched this anime for Operation: Enlightenment, a fun little project where I go through each anime and manga on their respective lists.

20th Century Boys & 21st Century Boys

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1. 20th Century Boys (22 volumes; 249 chapters)
2.
 21st Century Boys (2 volumes; 16 chapters)
Japanese Title: 
20 Seiki Shounen

Rating: 5/5

Description:
Kenji and his friends start to notice a series of odd occurences related to their childhood. A mysterious cult-leader named “friend” is out to destroy the world, and it has something to do with Kenji’s childhood memories.
Published from 1999-2007.

Genres: drama, mystery, science fiction, historical, seinen

Notes/Review:
I absolutely love this manga! The storytelling style was a bit confusing at first (it often jumps through time within the chapter, like one page they’re children and then the next they’re adults), but after a couple chapters, I got used to the names and appearances of the protagonists as children, adults and, later on, as elders. I don’t consider the time jumping to be a fault because it ended up being one of my favorite aspects of the manga. I liked that the manga didn’t take place in some squared off time in the protagonists’ lives, but throughout their entire lives (it takes place from late 1960’s to 2015). This manga is more so about the journey rather than the destination.
Also, 21st Century Boys just contains the ending of 20th Century Boys, so read them both!

Side Note: I read this manga for Operation: Enlightenment, a fun little project where I go through each anime and manga on their respective lists.

Angel Densetsu

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Angel Densetsu (15 volumes; 84 chapters)

Rating: 4/5

Description:
Seiichirou Kitano is a naive and kind boy with the heart of an angel and the face of a devil. Upon entering his new school he is presumed to be a villainous heroin addict, and unwittingly becomes the leader of the schools thugs, all thanks to his frightening face. His new “friends” have great expectations of him, seeing him as a frightful demon. Kitano himself on the other hand, loathes violence and is blissfully unaware of the situation he is in…
Published from 1993-2000.

Genres: comedy, action, school, romance, martial arts, shounen

Notes/Review:
I think that if this series where shorter (like a one shot as the author originally intended), I would have rated it five stars, but after a while, I got tired of Kitano getting into fight after fight because people look at his face and assume that he’s a delinquent (though it was pretty funny at first). I enjoyed that he eventually found real friends and even a smidgen of romance, but also, the ending was kind of anticlimactic.

Side Note: I’ve recently started reading manga at the beginning of this summer, but hadn’t made posts for them yet; the posts on Yowamushi Pedal until Angel Densetsu (plus Watamote which I posted earlier because I also watched the anime) are the ones that I’ve completed since.

Silver Spoon

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Silver Spoon (13 volumes)
Japanese Title: 
Gin no Saji

Rating: 5/5

Description:
Yugo Hachiken dreams of life separated from his family, so he takes the initiative by enrolling in an agriculture school. He thinks, with his talent in studying, no problems will arise no matter what kind of school he attends. He is proven wrong very quickly. Raised as a city boy, he is forced to uncover the inconvenient truth about agricultural life.
Published from 2011-ongoing.

Genres:  comedy, school, slice of life, shounen

Notes/Review:
I liked Silver Spoon a lot! But I’m also abnormally obsessed with agriculture. (I’ve never farmed before, but I like to know where food comes from and I tend to watch a lot of food documentaries haha.) I loved how much detail there was about all kinds of farming: cheese, milk, potatoes, etc. There’s also a lot about horses and racing. Overall, it’s a very charming slice of life, wherein I got to see the joy and struggle of farming.

Side Note: I’ve recently started reading manga at the beginning of this summer, but hadn’t made posts for them yet; the posts on Yowamushi Pedal until Angel Densetsu (plus Watamote which I posted earlier because I also watched the anime) are the ones that I’ve completed since.

Onani Master Kurosawa

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Onani Master Kurosawa (4 volumes; 31 chapters)

Rating: 3/5

Description:
Kakeru Kurosawa is an antisocial junior high school student. He rarely associates with his classmates, and he looks down on them. But this behavior is topped off by a certain bad habit, his closely guarded secret: every day after school, he sneaks in to the rarely used girls’ toilet on the 3rd floor and masturbates in a stall. Kakeru’s shadowy routine remains undisturbed until one day, when a diminutive girl from his class, Aya Kitahara, almost discovers him. Their meeting begins a coming-of-age story dealing with blackmail, bullying, revenge, heartbreak and ultimately, redemption.
Published from 2007-2008.

Genres: drama, school, doujinshi, seinen

Notes/Review:
This isn’t porn in case someone was wondering after reading the description.
The characters were interesting but I didn’t find the story to be very captivating. I honestly don’t have much to say about it; it didn’t leave a big impression on me.

This also happens to be on the Manga Enlightenment List, which I’m currently reading through in alphabetical order, but I read Onani Master Kurosawa before tackling the list.

Side Note: I’ve recently started reading manga at the beginning of this summer, but hadn’t made posts for them yet; the posts on Yowamushi Pedal until Angel Densetsu (plus Watamote which I posted earlier because I also watched the anime) are the ones that I’ve completed since.

Yowamushi Pedal

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Yowamushi Pedal (40 volumes)

Rating: 4/5

Description:
Onoda Sakamichi is a rather timid, anime-loving first-year student at Sohoku High School. Upon entering high school, he tried to join the anime research club, but after meeting Imaizumi Shunsuke, a renowned cyclist since middle school, and Naruko Shoukichi, who swept the Kansai cycling championship, he ended up joining the competitive cycling club.
Published from 2008-ongoing.

Genres:  comedy, drama, sports, cycling, shounen

Notes/Review:
I am not into sports anime/manga by any means (I quite dislike sports in general). And yet, this is the first manga that I’ve ever read! (If you’re wondering why, it’s because I saw a reference to it on tumblr and I just wanted context.)  I found Yowamushi Pedal to be very captivating. There was a lot more backstory and surprises in it than I expected. Although I expected the protagonist and his team to consistently win, that’s not always the case. I ended up liking all of the characters, even those on opposing teams, which made it hard for me to root for just one team!
The one downside is that there’s always some sort of race going on (understandable since it’s just about cycling). But since I don’t enjoy sports all that much, I groaned every time one race just ended and then another began soon after. It was a rather tiring cycle for me.

Side Note: I’ve recently started reading manga at the beginning of this summer, but hadn’t made posts for them yet; the posts on Yowamushi Pedal until Angel Densetsu (plus Watamote which I posted earlier because I also watched the anime) are the ones that I’ve completed since.

My Little Monster

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My Little Monster (13 episodes)
Japanese Title: 
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Rating: 4/5

Description:
Nicknamed “Dry Ice,” Shizuku is seen as emotionless and cold by her classmates. When she’s tasked with delivering class printouts, she runs into Haru, who immediately decides that they’re friends. Shizuku is touched by his innocence and his lack of knowledge towards human relationships. Though known as a violent and uncontrollable monster, Haru also has a kind and gentle side. He immediately declares his love for Shizuku, but it takes much longer for her to realize and accept her own feelings towards him. Together, the two previously unsocial beings help each other learn how to care for others and make friends.
Aired in 2012.

Genres: comedy, romance, slice of life, school, shoujo

Notes/Review:
I enjoyed this anime because of the fun/interesting characters and the comedy, but I was annoyed by the teeter-totter of Shizuku and Haru’s relationship. But despite my cringing at their romance, I must admit that I was drawn in and devoured this anime rather quickly. I really do tend to gravitate towards anime with unsocial and/or otaku protagonists.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! (Watamote)

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Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!
English Title: 
No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Unpopular
Shortened Title: Watamote

Rating: 4/5

Anime Info: 12 episodes. Aired in 2013.
Manga Info: 7 volumes. Published from 2011-ongoing.

Description:
Kuroki Tomoko is a super popular high school girl who has had 50 years of dating experience and 100 boys… in the Otome game world. In the real world, she is a 15-year-old shut-in who has all of the qualities of a “mojo” (a gloomy or unpopular woman). However, when school isn’t going as she expected, and she isn’t as popular as she had thought she would be, she takes a look at herself in the mirror for the first time in a few years, and has some shocking revelations…

Genres:  comedy, slice of life, school, shounen

Notes/Review:
I read the manga first (which is ongoing) and then watched the anime, so I’ll talk a bit about both. I enjoyed the manga; I was routing for Tomoko all the way! The manga shows some of her character development and progress towards her goal of being “popular”. The anime (which comes from early on in the manga, when not much was going on anyway) doesn’t show much of her progress and mainly just showcases her character. I liked her character since I can relate to her struggles, but sometimes the manga and anime were more so depressing than funny, but the cringe-worthy moments made the series feel a bit more realistic.

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