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Digimon Adventure, known around the world as simply Digimon, is an anime that helped to define a certain generation of fans. For many, it was either the anime, or the the other anime, relative to its thematic rival, Pokemon. Where Pokemon was about traveling in a world where monsters and humans co-exist, and the stakes were generally about winning tournaments, Digimon was about traveling to an alternate digital world of monsters and saving the world. Where Pokemon generally had a core cast of three, Digimon had over twice that amount. Perhaps most important for our purposes, where Pokemon‘s characters seem to remain eternally young, Digimon‘s characters would age.

This brings us to Digimon Adventure tri., a direct sequel to the original two Digimon anime. Taking place with its main cast now older and in high school, main character Yagami Taichi (Taichi Kamiya in English) and the others have long since lost contact with their old Digimon friends as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Suddenly, Digimon start appearing in the real world, prompting the old team to reunite with the Digital World.

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Digimon Adventure tri. is very intentionally a more mature series than its prequels, though not in the sense that it’s supposed to be “darker.” Rather, between the more subdued character designs, a general aesthetic that’s closer to the Hosoda Mamoru-directed Digimon movies than the TV series, a new version of its beloved theme song Butterfly featuring hints of melancholy, and just the portrayal of the subtle turbulence that comes with being of high school age, Digimon Adventure tri. is aimed towards the young fans who are now adults themselves (or close to it). The series says, “We’ve grown up with you, and we know what it’s like.”

For example, Kido Joe, the straight-laced and responsible one, is now being consumed by college entrance exams, and Taichi himself feels like he can no longer charge ahead like he used to when he was the de facto team leader of the Chosen Ones (“DigiDestined”). This is not to say that the new series is a total downer, stripped of any of the joy and wonder of the original anime. What I think they’re going for, instead, is a kind of rediscovery of those simpler and more magical times, while grounding that kind of experience in the process of becoming adults.

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Digimon Adventure tri. actively works to maintain a strong connection with the original series, and a lot of attention is paid to continuity as a result. Whereas Taichi and the older kids have their original DigiVices, the portable tools based on the original hand-held Digimon virtual pet, the younger Hikari and Takeru (“TK”) have different ones, a nod to their continued battles in Digimon Adventure 02. Somewhat similarly, the story is set very intentionally not in 2015 but somewhere in the mid-2000s, as reflected in the technology. Most cell phones are flip phones with number pads, and no smart phones are in sight. It’s not like failing to do these things would have made it a worse series, but it shows that, to a large extent, Digimon Adventure tri. aims to evoke strong feelings of nostalgia for both for the franchise itself and for those who know what it’s like to be a teenager.

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There are a couple of notes that I feel the need to point out for the die-hard fans (I know you’re still out there). First, if you watched this series dubbed in English (or perhaps other languages, I’m not sure), the lack of dialogue and constant banter might seem unusual or even off-putting. The original Japanese versions of Digimon had a lot more “dead air,” that is to say long moments of silence, and adding music or dialogue to fill space is an old American television tactic that you could also see in the dub for Pokemon. Digimon Adventure tri. uses even larger periods of silence and its unsteady atmosphere (perhaps all the better to convey that feeling of becoming adults), so it’s something to expect going in.

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Second, you should know that the plains of the shipping wars are revived and more serious than ever. While the previous series had some hints of romance (or maybe more if you count the controversial time-skip ending of Digimon Adventure 02), relationships are nearly front and center in Digimon Adventure tri. There’s a clear love triangle between Taichi, Sora, and Yamato (probably the site of the most fierce battles). Koushirou (“Izzy”) clearly has a powerful crush on Mimi. Takeru and Hikari tease each other about their mutual popularity among the opposite sex. If you had any stake in these old battles, the series might very well draw you in like honey.

As of this first movie (split into 4 episodes on Crunchyroll), it’s clear that Digimon Adventure tri. won’t give viewers the same experience as the original anime from over a decade ago. Unlike Pokemon, which tries its best to maintain the same constant feel (though to be fair there have been subtle changes in that series over the years), Digimon Adventure tri. wants you to know that the characters have grown, that their inner and outer (and perhaps even digital) worlds have changed as a result, and it’s inviting you back to take a look. The next film/batch of episodes won’t be out until March 2016, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.

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As a long overdue follow-up to our discussion on Brave Police J-Decker, I was invited along with the Reverse Thieves‘ Kate to talk about King of Braves Gaogaigar on Space Opera Satellite’s “Cockpit” series. Many have called it the best show in the Brave franchise, and it’s been 10 years since I first finished Gaogaigar, when that sentiment was at its strongest.

For your reference: Silverion Hammer

The real question is, why are there so few King J-Der toys?

What is good character design?

Different people will have their own ideas about what helps the design of a character (including myself), but over the past few years I’ve begun to consider more how the elements often described as contributing to character design are a kind of double-edged sword.

Take the idea that a character should have a unique look achieved through simple yet elegant means, and that they shouldn’t be mistaken for anyone else in the cast. This is ideally achieved through stylization, and to some extent exaggeration. For example, I find the character designs in Heartcatch Precure! to be fantastic, and part of this is achieved because the girls are varying heights, and that their distinct personalities come across very clearly in the way they look. However, that same dedication to simplicity and really conveying a character’s particular characteristics through their appearance are the same tools that can be used to, for example, create harmful stereotypes. How do you make a character look more Asian? Give them squinty eyes and buck teeth, because that will immediately communicate their Asian-ness.

Of course, there’s a significant difference between making a character that expresses their uniqueness through their design, and drawing to conform a character to a general stereotype in that one is about individualizing and the other is about generalizing, but I think that the two ideas exist on the same spectrum. Take for example a political cartoon mocking a particular politician through the use of symbols and signs meant to represent that individual. A large hooked nose in this case might become the symbol of a racism against Jewish people in another context. The very tools artists use to express ideas of love, equality, and growth can also be used to spread hatred, discrimination, and regression.

I am pro-freedom of expression, so I do not believe in restricting even the more negative and harmful uses of art, but I do understand that a price is paid as a result. Images persist that can strip young people of confidence, make them feel as if they never have a chance in the world. While one way to combat it is to provide even more positive images, the inevitable difficulty is helping them to navigate all of the disparate messages without necessarily forcing them to be blind to everything that’s out there. When the strategy to helping others out is to block their access to material that might change them, then that itself can become a problem.

I myself don’t entirely know the point I’m trying to get at, but I believe it’s something along the lines of “artists have a lot of responsibility.” Whether you use your art to fight for a cause, against one, or just want to draw things that are cute, cool, gruesome, even actively traumatizing, that is a decision to be made, and to be felt, and you it is good to be prepared for the consequences that arise.

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Daidouji Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my favorite characters ever, from one of my favorite anime ever, and if you’re not a fan of Tomoyo… what’s wrong with you? Whereas normally I would hesitate to buy even some of my most beloved heroines, Nendoroid Tomoyo was a no-brainer. Upon seeing it go up for pre-order, I hit purchase and looked back with zero regrets. Sakura merchandise is common, but Tomoyo much less so, and I couldn’t let this sort of thing pass me by.


I don’t own a lot of Nendoroids. In fact, my first one was a Kinomoto Sakura (seen above) that I received as a birthday present. Quite smartly, my friend purchased it because he (correctly) expected that I would not hesitate to pick up Tomoyo. Thus, I don’t have a lot to compare to, and I’m extremely biased, so I’ll call this less a review and more of a celebration.


Nendoroid Tomoyo is mostly based on her anime design, as opposed to the softer shoujo look of the Cardcaptor Sakura manga. However, one thing that they did bring from the manga was a hint of Tomoyo’s lavender hair; in the anime it’s more of a gray. When I think about it, rarely do figures try to replicate the look of shoujo manga, likely due to how complicated and not designed for 3-D they are. At least with anime, you can rely on more solid colors.

Tomoyo comes in a standard Tomoeda Elementary school uniform, and has a choice between a hat or a hairband, as well as smiling and ecstatic faces. I’ve gone with the hat + sparkly eyes combo for these photos in order to achieve maximum radness, but what really takes this figure over the top is the inclusion of her signature camcorder.

Remember kids, this anime was made in the early 2000s, before mobile phones could take HD-quality video. Back in her day, Tomoyo would have to walk 20 miles uphill both ways in the snow in order to film her lovely Sakura-chan and add to her massive archive of Cardcaptor Sakura footage in her private viewing room inside of her mansion, under watch by her squad of lady bodyguards.


It’s supposed to have a swing-out screen, but a small missing part makes it impossible to attach. I’m not sure if it was defective or if I had simply lost it while taking it out, that’s how tiny the connecting piece. The other flaw is that the giant head is rather unwieldy, especially with the hat, and sometimes moving it around can cause Tomoyo’s noggin to fall off.

Overall, it’s a fine addition to the collection, and when I think about it, I am fortunate that the characters I like tend not to get a ton of merchandise. That’s what I would say…if I didn’t get into Love Live. That’s for next time.


Wordplay has always been important in the Aquarion franchise. Generally set in a world where love reincarnates thousands of years in the future, many solutions across both the original Genesis of Aquarion and Aquarion EVOL literally come out of transforming words in order to access a plethora of elaborate giant robot attacks. Even as far as those series go, the latest incarnation, Aquarion Logos, takes this love of language manipulation to a whole new level, positioning it as the most prominent factor. For a lover of puns such as myself it makes for a fascinating series, not only because it’s often quite clever, but because Aquarion Logos looks at the very way in which people perceive words.

In the original Aquarion, the Japanese title was Sousei no Aquarion, where sousei (創聖) means “construct” and “holy.” Hence, its English translation is “Genesis.” When characters combine their robots, they say, “Sousei Gattai,” or Genesis Combination. Already this is where Aquarion Logos takes a different angle. In that series, sousei is written with the Japanese kanji for “construct” and “voice” (創声). Translated into English as “verbalism,” it represents the fact that the main pilots in the series all have a talent for bringing words into reality. Whether they’re aiming to be a politician, a comedian, or indeed a “savior” as the main character Kaibuki Akira does, they believe in the power of language, and can almost literally walk the walk by talking the talk. When characters shout “Sousei Gattai” in Aquarion Logos, it thus takes on a completely different meaning.

The ways in which words are used becomes the central conflict of at least the first half of the series. The villain, a man named Kenzaki Sougon, is able to travel into the very world where words exist and transform them into creatures called “M.J.B.K.” Pronounced mojibake (literally “word monsters”), these enemies of the week (again, giant robot show) devour the words on which they are based, manipulating their presence in reality. Because of the way kanji works, many other ideas are eradicated as well. For example, in Episode 1 the M.J.B.K. is created from the word maki (巻), which means “roll,” causing things to get twisted into knots, but it’s also the word used to mean “volume” as in “volume 1 of a manga,” which causes that concept to disappear as well.

Sougon believes that people have sadly lost their connection to the origins of words, that the power of words comes from the desire to communicate what exists. Words are in service to reality, and forgetting that means words become useless. In contrast, Kaibuki Akira goes the opposite direction. He draws on the creative potential of words as a way to construct reality. The key example of this is the fact that Akira frequently refers to himself as a “savior,” and tries his best to just constantly save people. When asked why he’s a savior or why he’s so hung up on the idea, it turns out that there’s no particular reason. He takes the meaning of the word itself and makes it into reality through his actions, fulfilling its potential. The Japanese word for savior, kyuuseishu literally means “one who saves the world,” and that’s what Akira aims for.

In Episode 13 the team fights a particularly dangerous M.J.B.K. that represents Mu, or nothingness. Written as 無, perhaps people might recognize it as the symbol used by Gouken in Street Fighter IV. Sougon uses it because the power of nothingness is able to consume other words and concepts, but Akira responds by saying that nothingness also means endless possibilities. At this point, he and his co-pilot Maia utilize the signature attack of the Aquarion franchise, the Mugenken, or “Infinite Punch.” Mu is one half of the word for infinity. At another point, as the world risks being reduced to that nothingness, the word “savior” carries the potential for recovery, as it consists of the characters for “help,” “world,” and “person.” What else is needed to start over other than these concepts?

Aquarion Logos is both a powerful and silly anime, and intentionally so. It’s potentially a difficult series to watch because of how prominent kanji is, making it a bit obtuse for those unfamiliar with Japanese, particularly because English and other languages don’t necessarily utilize symbols in the same way. So far, many of the references are to the original Aquarion, but Episode 13 drops a possible callback to Aquarion Evol, so it’ll be interesting to see how things develop now that the second half has been under way.

I believe that the best children’s anime, and perhaps the best children’s entertainment in general, carries a sense of weight that does not try to go far above their heads. More than a matter of simply “maturity,” it’s about giving children respect and understanding that they are thinking, feeling beings who experience the world, and this also results in works that can be enjoyed by adult as well. The best moments of series such as Pokemon and Digimon follow this vein, and this is also the impression I get from the latest Kickstarter anime project, CHUYA-DEN: The Night and Day Chronicles.

CHUYA-DEN follows three children who get embroiled in the conflict between day and night youkai, and must fight to save the world from darkness. After watching the Kickstarter video, I decided to back the project almost immediately. This might seem a bit odd given that details of the story are sparse and the staff for this project aren’t industry superstars, but just from that small introduction a number of things stuck out and impressed me.

First, is the overall atmosphere of the world being portrayed. With its Arietty-esque portrayal of common, everyday objects such as cooking stoves as giant artifacts, combined with the brightness of its characters and the darkness of night, I could feel a sense of importance in what the characters are trying to accomplish.

Second, is the fact that the creators of the studio responsible for this project, WAO World, are valuing CHUYA-DEN as a wholly original project not shackled by the demands of a toy industry or other such sponsor that demands sales of merchandise above all else. As much as series such as PokemonDigimon, and Precure have their heartfelt moments, their ties to toy and game companies always require a bit of sales-pitching, and I see CHUYA-DEN as something that exists along a similar wavelength without always having to defer to that sort of merchandise-oriented marketing.

Third, and for me the most important point, is that CHUYA-DEN appears to greatly value a sense of introspection in its characters and world while still maintaining itself as a children’s show. There’s a line in the trailer that says, “All you feelings inside are battles you must fight,” and that sense of conflict being as much internal as external is the same feeling get from my favorite children’s anime, titles such as Heartcatch Precure! and Battle Spirits: Shounen Toppa Bashin.

The project has 4 days to go, and is currently at over $50,000 of its stated $100,000 goal. If you’re interested in it for the same reasons as me, or perhaps even different reasons all your own, why not take a look?

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I don’t believe all that strongly in “show, don’t tell.” It’s effective as a basic guide to help people understand the power of visual media, or as a helpful rule to teach people that subtlety is a thing, but it runs the risk of being wielded like a sledgehammer, similar to the concept of “character development.” Telling instead of showing has a purpose and can be used well, though effectively doing so is arguably even more difficult.


I recently finished Hanamonogatari, which for those who’ve lost track of all of the different titles is the end (or perhaps extended epilogue/adventure unto itself?) of the second series. Given the characteristically heavy amount of dialogue that this series is known for, and both the criticism and praise it receives for doing so, I had to return to what is perhaps the biggest question to deal with when reviewing or analyzing Monogatari. Is it actually possible for a series that obsessed with words to be follow the idea of “show, don’t tell?”

The Monogatari series, and Nisio Isin in general, revels in long dialogue that tells the viewer or reader what’s going on. There are seemingly endless descriptions by characters about how they’re feeling and fewer expressions and actions that reflect those emotions. It can come across as very long-winded, and I think that finding the series to be unenjoyable as a result is not surprising or exactly a problem. However, Monogatari is frequently about words themselves, and how they can be transformed or carry different meanings, especially through the use of Japanese as an ideogram-based language. Puns and wordplay and general use of homonyms is core to the series, and if a work is that obsessed and built around looking at and examining the occult power of words, how much is lost in a less dialogue-heavy work?


A counterpoint to this is the more recent Aquarion Logos, where the heroes battle monsters that are actually the essences of kanji ripped out and mutated. I think the similarities to Monogatari are quite upfront, and I even jokingly call it Aquarimonogatari myself. Here, rather than engaging in extensive dialogues and conversations, a lot of the action comes from mecha battles and more typical anime character interaction hijinks. Words hold a similar power in Aquarion Logos that they do in Monogatari, but this is usually expressed in scenes where the loss of corruption of a word causes accidents and other horrible changes in the world.

So in terms of the question of “is it actually possible” to make a series that is so focused on the nature of words to be less expository, the answer is “yes,” but then one must ask to what extent it transforms the function and feel of the work itself. Can Aquarion Logos go as deep into exploring the interplay between words in terms of their appearance, sound, and cultural weight as Monogatari when it has all of these surrounding qualities that are more in line with a typical series? Or is perhaps Monogatari just as “guilty” of doing the same because it has this very otaku-focused set of characters that play just as much with the idea of “harems” in anime as they do the power of writing and speech?

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The past month has been quite fun for Ogiue Maniax. First off though, I’d like to thank the following Patreon supporters for believing in me and my writing:


Ko Ransom




Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:


If you haven’t checked out what I’ve written over the past month, I think I’ve put out some pretty good work this time around. As part of New York Comic Con I reviewed Boruto: Naruto the Movie, which is the bookend to the long and popular Naruto franchise. I also finally got around to talking more about my current favorite food manga, Mogusa-san, and I make a pretty convincing argument as to who’s the best moe character of 2015.

My Genshiken chapter review this month felt somewhat heavier than my previous ones, but I think it makes a good partner with my most recent post, which covers my own thoughts on the recent harassment issue in the Steven Universe fandom.

No sponsored posts this time around, but if you’re interested in having me tackle a specific topic of your choice, I take requests from sponsors who have pledged $30+ on my Patreon.I’m trying a few new things with Ogiue Maniax, as while I love the blog I do wonder if it’s grown stagnant and unwieldy in certain respects. First, while many of my articles are fairly long, I’ve started including some shorter posts as well. Back before 2010, when I would write one post per day, my output was more about getting ideas out there and making them short and sweet. Although I think longer posts have their merit in that they allow for more in-depth explorations of ideas and so I would never do away with them, I am wondering if shorter posts can reach people in a different way.

Second, I’m dipping my toe in YouTube. I do not believe I will ever fully get into the YouTube game, but I was thinking of it as a different medium to get my thoughts across. Today I’ve released the first in what could be a series of “1-Minute Reviews,” based on my past reviews on the blog. The idea, as implied, is that I give my take on an anime in 60 seconds or less.

Third, I started up a Facebook page for Ogiue Maniax. I’m currently not entirely sure what its use is, but I’m open to suggestions.Finally, I’ve created an Ogiue Maniax Skype Group for any Patreon supporter who contributes $2 or more. I’m curious to see if anyone would be interested in chatting with me or other readers directly. I’m still unsure if I would do video chat, but voice chat is something I’m open to. Just contact me through Patreon with your Skype name and I will add you to the group.
So tell me what you think!


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Tribe Cool Crew is the kind of kids’ show I really enjoy, one that combines a surprising amount of maturity and actual consideration for children with an overall fun and vibrant spirit. Rather than just moralized preaching, it tries to understand where kids are coming from. It’s why I’ve already written two separate reviews for this hip hop dancing anime, one towards the beginning of its broadcast, and the other right in the middle. Now that the anime has finished, it brings me to consider how important the idea of “maturity” (and all that it entails) is in Tribe Cool Crew. By the end, there are a number of developments that are rather surprising and even arguably out of place for a kids’ show, but also create a varied image of what it means to be an “adult.”

Note that this post will be especially spoiler heavy compared to the other two reviews.

Throughout Tribe Cool Crew, there is a general sense of development and progression in the characters, or at least a few episodes dedicated to each character. For the main duo Haneru and Kanon, it comes across as learning how to dance better by overcoming psychological barriers. However, when it comes to the adults, there are three prominent versions of maturity that are presented.

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For Kumo, Mizuki, and Yuzuru, the adults that team with Haneru and Kanon to become Tribe Cool Crew, their worries tend to be about managing expectations. The character Mizuki, for example,  at one point has to learn that her tendency to overwork herself through multiple jobs, favors, and a lack of appreciation for sleep should be reined in a bit lest it wear her down to a nub. What’s interesting is that this all originally came from a good place: she worked hard as a kid to go from overweight, shy girl to a cool and curvaceous dancer. Rather than the lesson being “DO YOUR BEST!” or “NEVER GIVE UP!”, it’s a more tempered outlook that is valuable to both children and adults.

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A different kind of maturity appears with the character Jey El, who focuses on ideals. Essentially a highly idealized Michael Jackson figure with all of the controversy stripped out, Jey El is a peace ambassador whose dancing is beloved throughout the world. He came from the slums and has dedicated his life to stopping war and violence. Because of this, Jey El is revealed to have numerous enemies in both arms-dealing and the military-industrial complex, with attempts on his life being not that uncommon.

Of course, just the fact that I typed “military-industrial complex” in reference to a show about kids dancing seems kind of weird. Sure enough, the reveal that the ever-important “Dance Road” tournament that defines the series is sponsored in part by warmongers is quite ham-fisted, reflecting a tendency in a lot of kids’ series in general (anime or otherwise) to slip in something more serious towards the end of their lives. Nevertheless, Jey El’s maturity is rooted in a kind of uncompromising vision that is optimistic even as he’s fully aware of the horrors of the world.

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Then there’s the idea of adulthood and maturity from Jey El’s head of security Gallagher, which is grounded in cynicism and the need to compromise even when it goes against one’s values.

In the second half of the anime, the biggest problem facing Tribe Cool Crew, aside from their progression through the underground dance tournament “Dance Road,” is an unusual dance called “Crowd High.”  With dynamic movements and easy to learn moves, Crowd High has gone viral on a global scale, but the characters discover that the dance is actually quite dangerous to perform as stories of injuries begin to pile up (keeping safe while dancing is a recurring message in the series). As Tribe Cool Crew reaches its climax, it’s revealed that the Jey El they’ve seen encouraging them on is in fact a robot, and the real Jey El is in a coma as a result of a bombing by a small child in a war-torn region.

Gallagher explains that he is behind the popularity of Crowd High, seeking to spread dance just as Jey El wished but utilizing a style that has no need for soul, talent, or inspiration so that anyone can learn it, even if it comes at the occasional risk of injury. He also happens to be working with the very military/weapons moguls that Jey El was fighting against. Gallagher’s idea of maturity is one where success is tempered by a view of reality as harsh and unforgiving, and that achieving one’s goals may require a deal with the devil if the ends justify the means. Underlining all of this is the fact that Gallagher was also emotionally affected by the bombing, questioning if Jey El’s methods are even feasible if they can’t reach that one small child.

Children are thus introduced to these varying perceptions of what it means to be an adult, and I think that on some level it allows young viewers to decide who to follow. That said, I think it’s not surprising that in the end Haneru and Kanon do not follow Gallagher’s example, and that Jey El’s revival (brought back thanks to the soulful dancing of our heroes) also inspires a change in Gallagher. Nevertheless, what I find especially notable is how Gallagher is in the end portrayed not as a true villain or even someone with malicious or self-serving intentions. On some level he still believes in their mission, and it is the tragedy of losing Jey El that prompts him to adjust his way of thinking.

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My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU was a pleasant surprise I had originally written off. In spite of its excessively light novel title and its school romance setting, the series exhibited a great deal of maturity. I recently finished the second series, and while I won’t go too into detail about it (my first review still applies in a lot of ways), I did want to talk about what I find to be the most notable aspect of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO!, which is the willingness to let its main character, Hikigaya Hachiman, grow.

You might be thinking, “What’s so special about character development? That’s what stories typically do.” In a way, there is indeed nothing impressive about how Hachiman changes. However, given his personality, that of the cynic and outcast who observes human interaction in order to point out all of the unnecessary niceties that people throw out in their daily lives, I would have assumed that he would forever remain in that capacity. However, the second series really shows Hachiman being affected by the different people he helps out and interacts with, to the point that he begins to question how he approaches solutions and how he categorizes people, allowing bits of optimism and consideration for others to seep into his way of thinking.

The most fascinating to me about this change in Hachiman is how he processes these small changes in his values through his hyper-logical, hyper-pessimistic outlook, and has to struggle with where it seems to contradict his preconceived notions. What really hits home is the way he realizes that his actions potentially hurt not only others but himself as he increasingly values his friendship with Yuigahama Yui and Yukinoshita Yukino, the other central characters of the series.

The fact that there’s no clear favorite in the love triangle is also really notable. How often does that happen?

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