The definitely not definitive otome guide

I sincerely doubt the world needs this, but that sort of thing has never stopped me before. Have an extremely biased guide of several dating sim games, organised by some arbitrary metrics.

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Word of warning: this will be long (4k words), because I’ve played an embarrassingly large amount of otomes.

As a disclaimer: obviously this is a personal opinion. If you (as a lot of people do) enjoy the more forceful bad boy type in your dating sim, I’m not going to judge you. I, however, don’t, so this list is very specifically going to call out games for how they treat the protag.

Featured here: Amnesia: Memories,  Blood in Roses, Cutie Demon Crashers, Destined to Love, Dream Daddy, Hatoful Boyfriend, Hustle Cat,  Ikemen Revolution, Ikemen Sengoku, Lost Alice,  Midnight Cinderella,  Monster Prom, Mystic Messenger

A note on play styles.

These games come in a few flavours, which is important to know if you’re gonna try them.

  • The vast majority of the mobile games here follow a basic visual novel structure. You pick a guy and read through the different chapters, and depending on your answers you’ll be leaning toward one of two or three endngs. Since these are free to play mobiles, there’s a bunch of challenges you will need to log in daily to pass.
  • Mystic Messenger is the main outlier, since it’s a chat simulator that plays in real time.
  • The pc games tend to be more complex, with interlocking routes and more endings, generally. You’ll need a number of skill points to meet character A for instance, or you’ll need to do a series of actions to reach ending B.

 Great games

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Ikemen Sengoku

Hands down one of the best mobile otomes out there right now. I found this when searching for pics of Masamune Date (from a different game) and I’ve sort of been obsessed with otomes since.

Platform: Android (free to play, pay for premiums)
Story: MC gets sucked into a wormhole and finds herself 500 years back in time, in Sengoku era Japan. She drops in on the exact moment where Nobunaga Oda, the Demon King, would be assassinated at Honno-ji. She stops the murder, disrupts the timeline and now there’s a bunch of hot warlords vying for her attention.
Protagonist’s spine: Reinforced steel. This is one of my favourite protags, because she is Super Sassy and doesn’t take shit, unless she’s literally being threatened with a sword. The protags where I feel like I understand their actions are few and far between, but this is one of them. Except when she goes far beyond mere bravery to get her man, and decides to forgo tampons and, like, wifi, to live 500 years in the god damn past.
Squick factor: Low. This game is made by Cybird, a company that appears very big on consent. The guys generally treat MC with respect, probably more than could be reasonably asked of a Sengoku warlord. The only worrying stuff happens in the Obvious Yandere route, but you kinda know what you’re getting yourself into with that one.

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The Good: I friggin love the writing for this game. The guys feel like real characters, there’s a ton of interaction between them and I need to give this game extra points for the story events, which are almost invariably gold. This is where the makers stop giving a shit about realism and just go for what they want to write. There’s ones where all the guys are suddenly idols, there’s a Christmas episode, there’s one where they battle through cooking and cleaning. It doesn’t take itself serious, is what i mean, and it’s Hilarious.
The Bad: This is one where the in-game art (aside from the CG’s) is actually not that great. Hideyoshi’s smile is kinda weird looking and the models feel a little outdated at this point.
Best Warlord: This is very difficult, because a lot of them are dreamy, but let’s just say that I need a Mitsuhide route so very badly.

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Ikemen Revolution

The newest Cybird game and my current fave.

Story: MC falls down the rabbit hole when she tries to give a rushed White Rabbit man something he dropped. She ends up in Cradle/Wonderland, where war is about to break out between the Red and Black army, the Hearts and the Spades. Everyone is hot dudes and MC is considered Alice the Second (after the one from Through the Looking Glass).
Squick factor: Low. Again: Cybird game. This means there is steamy situations and sex scenes, but they’re blatantly consensual. The routes I’ve played so far keep well within the bounds of what I would consider romantic.
Protagonist’s spine: Varnished wood.  In general MC is self-propelling with occasional bouts of bravery. You can tell why she’s doing the things she’s doing and how she reacts to situations feels sort of logical. She’s hard-working and caring and a little naïve, but the fact that she’s canonically a woman from early 19th Century London does put a lot of her actions in perspective (like the amount of bullshit she puts up with).

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The Good: The writing is fun. There’s a good mix of angst and just… general comedy. The characters interact with each other a lot, and it feels like they’re a big loud family, especially in the Black Army, which is more like a frat than anything else. The art is also decent. The backgrounds are utterly gorgeous and most of the guys are very good looking. When I first started the game I was weirded out by the blinking animation, but I have since gotten used to that.
The Bad: I found some of the plot rushed. Like you spend so long slow burn growing toward each other, and then suddenly stuff has to happen action movie style because we’re running out of chapters. The final chapters of Fenrir’s route were just plain dumb. Like could that BE more of an obvious trap. Come on MC, I expected better of you. Also, since this is a very new game, not that many routes are out (four at the time of writing).
Best boy: Hooo man. Of the routes that are out, Ray is very… oooof. But my fave chars are probably ‘so done’ Sirius (the fact that he’s voiced by Suwabe has nothing to do with this, surely) and ‘also quite done’ Kyle, who is both a doctor and an alcoholic wreck of a human being.

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Mystic Messenger

You know Mystic Messenger, it’s like one of the biggest otome’s of the past few years.

Platform: Android, iOS (free to play, pay for extra saves and stuff)
The Story: MC follows a text message to a weirdly high tech apartment and this somehow puts her in the position of party planner for a secretive group of weird people. It only gets more complicated from there. The game plays out in real time, via chat conversations and the occasional story segment.
Squick factor: Um. I personally wasn’t weirded out, but I also decided very specifically not to play Jumin’s route. This girl did her research. The routes in Another Story are also very over the top and would probably bug me. While I love the Saeran character, I don’t think I’d be able to handle that route. So: highly dependent on chosen route.
Protagonist’s spine: Adderall. It takes a specific kind of person to download a chat app and follow the instructions given by a random stranger therein. It takes a much stranger person to sit in an apartment with a bomb and just keep inviting people to a party. MC is on a different level from us mortals.

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The Good: I loved the game mechanic, because it felt very real. The player is following a chatroom, just like the character is. Besides that, the story is completely bonkers and I appreciate that.
The Bad: Did I mention it plays in real time? Because it plays in real time, meaning you get chat conversations at two in the morning. I was very sleep deprived when I played this.
Best boy: 707. Dude is funny and deep and hot and relatable and smart and I want to give him all the hugs.

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Dream Daddy

One of the few decidedly mlm games I’ve played so far. You’ve probably heard of it since it was the subject of much hype and much controversy. Markiplier played it. Friggin Buzzfeed has video’s on it.

Platform: PC and Mac (it’s on Steam)
The Story: MC is a Dad who moves into a neighbourhood with a lot of other single(-ish) dads. Time to work it.
Squick factor: Low. This is primarily a humour game: there’s a ton of dad jokes and silly mini games, and a distinct lack of kabe don’s. The canon routes are all very thoughtful.
Protagonist’s spine: Barbecued sausage. Player Dad just goes for it. He’s flexible and caring enough to handle the more sensitive subjects, and self aware enough to deal with random crime and weird drunks.

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The Good: I remember opening this game and, in the character creation screen, telling a trans friend of mine ‘omg you can wear binders’, and the sheer Glee of his reaction. That’s the kinda stuff this game was, partly, made for and it is appreciated. I really liked the tongue-in-cheek writing, most of the jokes landed and the whole thing is just a lot of fun.
The Bad: Some of the minigames are annoying. Why the hell are you making me play Bejeweled with fish? I also had a hard time sympathizing with some of the kids. I mean… Lucien straight up tries to murder someone? Ernest is ‘rebellious’ but he’s also an ass.
Best dad: Damien has the best route, but have you Seen Mat? Holy moly.

Not worth it games

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Amnesia: Memories

This game should come with a friggin warning, so I’m giving it here. Its popularity and star rating is a terrible indicator for how much you may enjoy this game. It presents itself as a cute dating sim with gorgeous art, but it devolves into straight up horror, and not in the good way. This feels like a guidebook written in the 1800’s to tell young women their place. Not even mortified intrigue could make me finish this. 

Platform: PC (Steam or Google Play) and PlayStation Vita
Story: MC wakes up with amnesia. Someone hurt her and she doesn’t know who to trust. You’ll need to figure out what happened.
Squick factor: Super high. Like… so high.  Everyone treats MC like shit and she just lets it happen, even developing all kinds of Stockholm Syndrome as she falls in love with these asshats. MC’s childhood friend supposedly loves her but is such a tsun and just… doesn’t communicate while also treating her like a small child. One of the other characters is so popular he has a fucking harem but MC is just supposed to wait for him to actually fall in love with her. And don’t even get me started on that friggin yandere. *shudders* Even the secret route ‘true love’ character is a million types of wrong.
Protagonist’s spine: Undercooked custard. MC has the self preservation skills of a wet sponge and whoever is playing this is supposed to get turned on by high concept ideas of S&M that are just written out so badly everything feels like an abusive relationship.

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The Good: *sigh* The art. The art is very pretty (I’m upset at the art since it sucked me into the horror). Also, as a visual novel, this one is complex as all hell. There’s a ton of endings  (most of them deadly) depending your actions as a player. It’s vast, is what I’m saying. Also, I hear the clover route isn’t as bad as some of the others, but I was too weirded out to try.
The Bad: See rant. This is one of those games that really seems to glorify the whole possessive, abusive boyfriend shtick, but it’s ok because he loves you, really. Ugh. Just… ugh.
Best boy: Kent? I guess? He doesn’t appear to be actively abusing MC at least.

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Shall we date: Lost Alice

I wondered if I should include this because I literally played like ten chapters  and then deleted it, but that in itself should give some indication.

Platform: Android (free to play, in-app premium purchases)
Story: MC wakes up in the forest with amnesia (I see a trend). Turns out she’s in Wonderland and everyone thinks she’s Alice. Most of Wonderland’s characters are, predictably, hot men.
Squick  factor: Unavailable. I didn’t play far enough to see but some of the men are quite pushy and also it’s a Shall we date app, so… tread carefully.
Protagonist’s spine: Cement. This is an MC that puts up a fight, which I respect. Sadly she does so in that ‘needlessly aggressive’ way that anime characters sometimes have. I didn’t find her particularly sympathetic.

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The Good: The art. It’s always the art that gets me.
The Bad: The UI annoyed the shit out of me. This is a free to play, pay for premiums game, so some level of mindless clicking is expected if you try to play for free. This one had just too much. There was friend greeting and picture rating and princess lessons and got knows what else, all taking a ton of time. Trying to get to the home page popped up at least four different ‘now on sale’ screens every single time. The writing wasn’t good enough for me to deal with that.
Best boy: Well there’s a cat. So.

Decent games

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Hustle cat

This game is set in a cat café, that was all the encouragement I needed to buy it.

Platform: PC (Steam)
Story: MC is invited to take a job at a cat café. Turns out everyone in the café is cursed, and also they’re into you.
Squick factor: Almost non-existant. This is a very tumblr friendly game in the sense that your love interests are both male and female, and none of them are particularly pushy. The relationships feel pretty natural and mostly consist of MC helping their love interest with some subquest.
Protagonist’s spine: Cucumber. MC is actually pretty cool. The game does that ‘modern western game’ thing where you get to pick a gender and a skin colour for your protag and the general atmosphere is ‘tongue in cheek’. MC doesn’t let people walk over them, but they’re generally helpful.

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The Good: CATS. The premise of this game is pretty neat.
The Bad: According to Steam I played this five months ago, and I pretty much forgot about it. Fun game but not particularly memorable.
Best cat: Landry. Tall, gentle giants are a particular weakness.

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Shall we date: Blood in Roses

This is me giving Shall we Date another shot, because the amount of hot mildly medieval boys was intriguing.

Platform: Android (free to play, in-app premiums)
Story: There’s two, because this app has been around for a while and now has two ‘seasons’. The Witch stumbles upon a supposedly abandoned castle and gets imprisoned there by a bunch of vampires. The Hunter, meanwhile, seeks out the castle because she wants to stop an attack on her village. Both come to realize that the castle is now a hotel for monsters, and that its denizens are both not what they imagined, and also hot.
Squick factor: Highly dependent on route. The Witch literally starts in a jail cell, so you can imagine the Stockholm Syndrome shit that goes down. Also, this is a personal preference, but I’m really weirded out by a lot of blood play stuff so most of the vampire routes are gonna be… problematic. Shall we Date games don’t shy away from sex scenes and I like that, but coupling them with drinking blood ‘to get in the mood’ is a rather specific niche. The game does offer a number of other options for you to court, from werewolves to wizards and… grim reapers? It’s a mixed batch. If you’re not into pushed boundaries I can offer one tip: stay away from the vampires.
Protagonist’s spine: Sand cookie. She has one, but it’s brittle. I’ve mostly played Hunter routes and it’s like… she tries, and she can take care of herself but she also tolerates more bullshit than necessary, ya know.

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The Good: The art is good, and some of the storylines are intriguing despite my reservations. I’m still playing it (mostly in a quest to find a good ending where MC doesn’t die to become a weird immortal creature).  The UI, while annoying, isn’t as bad as Lost Alice’s, or so it seems.
The Bad: The writing is very hit or miss. There’s routes where the guy just sort of lowkey stalks MC, until she suddenly decides she’s incredibly in love with him. There’s others  that make even less sense, and then there’s ones that feel more natural. In general, MC’s actions don’t  seem to have a lot of thought put into them.
Best boy: So far: Gordon. He’s cute and sensible and tortured and not incredibly antagonistic.

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Midnight Cinderella

You’ll notice a friggin ton of Cybird games on here.

Platform: Android (free to play, premium purchases)
Story: MC gets, mostly by accident, chosen to be the Princess of Wysteria. As such she must prepare to govern the country when the king dies, and choose a consort from a number of suitors.
Squick factor: Low. Not only are these men respectful of her, they’re rather literally treating her like royalty. Having said that, there is a lot of the typical hurtful tsun stuff going in several routes.
Protagonist’s spine: Lightly done steak. There’s something weird going on with the protag in this game. When it comes to governing, she’s tough as nails. She’s thrown into a situation she wasn’t ready for, and while this stresses her out 24/7, she performs admirably. On the other hand, her main reaction to literally anything when it comes to love is ‘Oh’. She cries a lot, at times she feels like a wet rag. There’s a bunch of situations she could have just solved by going ‘Yeah I’m into you’. She’s complex, I guess.

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The Good: The writing, while melodramatic, is nice. The art is good as well.
The Bad: This is an old game and it doesn’t perform that well on my current-gen smartphone. Expect to push certain buttons several times before the game realizes what you’re trying to do. Also the loading takes ages.
Best boy: For me, Sid, because he reminds me of Aomine Daiki and I’m weak for that type of personality. As far as routes go, Leo’s probably had the most impact on me.

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Destined to Love

I’ll be honest, I started this because of an event in Ikemen Sengoku that would give me cross game storage. Don’t judge me.

The Story: MC gets flung back in time (this is also a trend, it seems) to the 1800’s, a few weeks before the Ikedaya incident will make the Shinsen-gumi a historic Legend. She meets, and chrams, a whole bunch of historical figures.
Protagonist’s spine: Cured leather. As a modern woman sent back in time, MC is probably fairly sassy by the standards of the time, but she remains mostly polite. She’s tough, considering the circumstances, but quite pliable in that ‘we’ll see where this goes and make the best of it’ way.
Squick factor: Low. There’s one character that just screams ‘red flag’ but I have yet to try his route. Since this is a Cybird game, most of the guys are pretty respectful.

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The Good: I really like the premise? As the title suggests, MC’s love is part of a higher destiny, one that transcends time, and it’s one of the reasons she has to go to friggin 1800’s Japan. She has a hand in making history. This amuses me. Also, the guys are pretty good looking.
The Bad: This is a fairly old mobile game and you can kinda tell. On a technical level it’s not as bad as Midnight Cinderella, but again the touch buttons aren’t always responsive. Besides that, some of the writing is rather clunkily translated and a bunch of the art is low res.
Best Boy: I haven’t played all the routes here, but Katsura is a god damn sweetheart, and Kyo and Yamazaki seem adorable AF.

The weird: the special ones

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Hatoful Boyfriend

The reason I know otome’s exist. This one shot to meme status a few years back.

Platform: PC (it’s on Steam)
Story: MC is one of the last remaining humans after sentient birds took over the world. She gets enrolled into an elite school for pigeons.
Squick factor: Medium to high. The major thing to understand about Hatoful is that on the surface it looks like a particularly silly dating sim with pigeons, but dig deeper and it is Also a full blown apocalyptic horror story. And it follows the genre where a wrong move gets MC horrifically killed.
Having said that, several of the routes, including the god damn serial killer one, didn’t bother me as much as something like Amnesia, because they were not sold as romantic. Maybe it’s the whole pigeon thing, maybe it’s the general weirdness of the plot, or maybe it is because said serial killer actually goes ‘Surely you knew this would happen’, before he guts you.
Protagonist’s spine: Gummy bear. MC is highly forgettable, but therefore also like… not annoying. The main focus here is on uncovering the many layered plot and the player character doesn’t really have a scripted personality, she just embodies the player’s actions.

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The Good: This whole game is so out there. There’s a reason it became so popular. It’s an Experience. The plot is over the top and intricate and Weird, and that makes it intriguing. There’s a ton of routes and endings, some more secret than others. The ‘human’ version of some of these birds is kinda hot (sadly that includes the serial killer).
The Bad: the plot is so weird and meandering that it’s kinda hard to follow at times. I’m fairly certain it takes several guides to unlock all the endings.
Best Birb: It’s been a while, but I remember liking Yuuya’s route quite a lot.

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Monster Prom

The new hype.

Platform: PC (Steam!)
Story: MC is a student at Monster High, and is trying to get a date for Monster Prom with one of the hot people.
Squick factor: None. I mean, nothing that happens here is in accordance to health and safety norms, but that’s kinda the point. It’s a parody game, making fun of all the hoops teenagers are willing to jump through to become popular.
Protagonist’s spine: Coagulated blood. MC is willing to make deals with demons, wear corpses as a hat, anything really. The question is very openly: what could I do to make them like me.

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The Good: It’s a funny game. I like the characters, who embody everything from the Mean Girl to the Hipster Nerd and the Needlessly Aggressive Jock. The art is simple, cartoon style, but pretty neat.
The Bad: Everything is very tongue in cheek, which leaves it a little… light for my tastes. I don’t feel like any of the routes matter in the grand scheme of things, MC hasn’t truly touched anyone’s heart. The whole thing is a joke game, so it’s funny, but a bit shallow.
Best monster: Polly, the permanently stoned party girl.

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Cute Demon Crashers

Technically a sex game? But a really very special one.

Platform: PC (free! Here!)
Story: A portal opens in MC’s house and four Incubi/Succubi drop through. To apologize for the inconvenience, while they wait for a portal back, they offer to teach MC about sex.
Squick factor: I’ve written about this game before and the best thing, the very best thing about it is how incredibly consent-minded it is. Like, even if you’re already in bed, getting it on, there’s always an option to turn back and leave it at that. The demons are really just there to help MC find out what gives her pleasure.
Protagonist’s spine: Rock. Obviously, MC is mildly upset about four random demons showing up. As mentioned before, what happens next is mostly up to the player.

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The Good: It’s free and the art is pretty and I love the premise.
The Bad: Kinda short, but again: free.
Cutest Demon Crasher: *cough* Orias *cough*

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First impressions: Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori

“Four men—Gure, Sui, Tokitaka, and Tsubaki—each help run a Japanese tea shop together called Rokuhoudou. When one visits the shop, they are greeted warmly, is served with tea, and are often helped with any problems they may have.” (from the official blurb on MAL)

I tried this show mostly because the premise makes it sound like a non-alcoholic version of Bartender, which is I rather enjoyed. Also it has some of my favourite voice actors in it, and I am Weak for certain voices.

So first impression: food porn.

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Literally. This is the very first image we get in this show.

And then we get the bros.

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From right to left, that’s Tokitaka, Incredibly Polite, Respectful Waiter/Cook,

Tsubaki, Token Red Haired Spunky Cook with Sweet Tooth, voiced by Yamashita Daiki (Midoriya’s VA)

And Inexplicably Random Italian Barrista who is Impulsive but Kind-Hearted, Gure (voiced by Ono D occasionally chewing the scenery).

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And what I think is the main character: Stoic but Friendly Tea Shop Owner with Hints at Melancholic Past, Sui (voiced by Suwabe Junichi using Polite Japanese, making me feel all kinds of feels).

So from the get go, we get this weirdly out of place, retro Japanese tea shop, staffed with incredibly friendly hot men in yukata (I think? My knowledge of Japanese fashion isn’t up to this).

The place basically sets out to be a ‘secret garden’ of sorts, something out of time, away from busy life. A getaway. Only with hot men. This is noted by our first client: Unnamed Businesswomen Struggling with a Thing.

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 She is lured to the place by their resident cat, because of course she is.

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A new world opens.

And then nothing happens for the rest of the episode.

I kinda like this sort of slice-of-life show in that, like the tea shop, it’s very chill and relaxed. The guys wonder about what spring menu to make, the girl figures out that she needs to not multitask and comes up with an idea for her event. All gets resolved at the end of the episode.
Meanwhile, everything is Very Japanese and there’s a ton of lovingly drawn Japanese food and floating plum blossoms.

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It’s nice. Zen, almost.

Natsume Yuujinchou First Season – quick review

I started watching this show as a light sort of cutesy snack and I must say that I feel mildly lied to because it’s thirteen episodes later and I’ve cried and stuff.

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The premise

Natsume is a boy who can see spirits, just like his grandma, who would fight and record the names of youkai in her ‘Book of Friends’. He’s trying to honour her legacy by returning the names to those spirits. He picks up a fat spirit cat thing along the way, who will act as a bodyguard in return for being granted the book upon his death.

The style

It’s a very shoujou kinda show, with soft music and muted colours. Most of the humans are super hot and most of the youkai are weird monster things, though very few are actually ‘drawn scary’.

The theme

At its very core, Natsume Yuujinchou is a show about loneliness.
About belonging, in a way. About finding what is important to you, but also letting go.
Natsume’s spirit powers have always isolated him. His major development on the first season is him connecting to class mates and his adoptive family. It’s him finding people who understand him and care for him.
For the spirits, it’s about learning to deal with humans, in a way. Youkai are by definition endless. They don’t live and die like humans do, so when they get attached to people, it’s a recipe for heart ache. The themes of death and separation, saying goodbye, getting your things in order and letting go, are pretty heavily laced throughout.
Basically, for a show that has a rotund, drunken cat as one of the main character, Natsume is Extremely Melancholic. Most of the spirit cases Natsume deals with have more of a bittersweet ending than a traditional happy one.
It’s not really what I signed up for, thinking this was a comedic slice of life, but I did like it. The show reminds me of a softer, gentler version of Mushishi, which was also pretty heavy on the melancholy and the spirits, and I friggin loved the first season of Mushishi, so…

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Best boy

Natsume Takashi is very pretty and just a very good person and Kamiya voices him in a very soft way.
As the main character, Natsume is actually really dominant? I expect slice-of-life shows to play off its characters, but most of the others don’t really stick around. I like Madara, who is a bit of a dick-with-a-heart, and who does Very Good Faces. There’s some cute characters like Tanuma, who doesn’t get much personality in this season, and Natori, who is also a bit of a dick.
Natsume’s classmates don’t really get enough of a spotlight for me. Class rep Sasada feels like she could be a much cooler character if given more wiggle room.

Verdict

Well, I watched this season in three days, so there’s that. It’s moreish and it certainly fills a need I did not know I had, for mildly melancholy stuff. And I’ll probably be checking out the other five seasons in increments.

Six episode review: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

In which I base my opinion of an anime on like half of the season.


What’s it about

Miss Kobayashi is an office worker who lives a fairly boring and single life until she gets drunk one night and pulls a sword out of a wounded dragon. The dragon, Tohru, decides to pay her back by becoming her maid… because reasons.

Background stuff

The manga is from the same author that also made ‘I don’t understand what my husband is saying’, which is all kinds of great (and at least a little bit dodgy). It’s slice-of-life style weirdness with people learning to deal with their differences. Kobayashi is pretty similar in theme and, like the other one, is brimming with anime references.
Kobayashi is in her own way a ‘maid otaku’: she’s obsessed with maids. Her work friend Takiya is just… really into games and anime and stuff. It’s fitting in a way that Takiya’s dragon buddy is Fafnir, who is a straight up Sebastian lookalike (with Ono D as the friggin voice actor).

First impression

The setup at first feels like it will be a high key lesbian harem, but as it so happens this is not the case. It’s mostly a high key gay pairing show. It’s more like each of the dragons get their own little human buddy and each of the ‘relationships’ deals with their own kind of issues.

The good

Kobayashi is very much light entertainment and it does the job well. It’s distracting and subtle enough that it doesn’t try to slap you in the face with some big moral. It’s funny and it’s interesting enough to watch several episodes at once (even if you have the attention span of a gold fish). Several of the pairs are straight up adorable. I really like the friendship between Fafnir and Takiya, and the … whatever it is between Kobayashi and her maid, for instance. They feel very much like lonely people finding the companionship they need in each other.

The bad

There’s a lot of boob jokes. Like a lot. Kobayashi’s bosom has its own sound effect (it’s ‘buoing’, in case you were wondering). It’s pretty standard fair. Some of the jokes are weirdly sexual in a way that makes me wonder who the hell this show is being made for. Think references to branding and.. vore? It’s kinda really confusing considering the overall light tone of the show. Might just be me but I’m pretty sure this isn’t, like, a kid’s show. But it’s also not what I would expect from an adult show. It’s… unique.

The ugly

And then there’s the sexual assault being played for laughs. One of the pairs is a very voluptuous dragon lady and a middle school mage boy and… no. Just no. She’s trying to show him she’s not a demon by pretty much just harassing him while naked. It’s played off as a joke because 1) Shouta is a boy (which… no, don’t do that) and 2) the dragon lady supposedly doesn’t know what she’s doing wrong (which… again, don’t do that).

The wrap

If this had been a three episode review (like I usually make) it would have been a lot easier. In that case the verdict would be a resounding ‘go watch this, it’s fun!’. But I went ahead and watched too much of it.
Personally, I enjoy it but I’m also very much aware of it’s more problematic sides. The Shouta stuff is a minor side plot and I’m really sad they added it, because it’s so iffy it makes the whole show kinda iffy.
Proceed with caution, I guess.
I’m still going to watch the remainder of the show, because I’m willing to watch it despite that, and I’m hoping they’ll quit it with that bit of plot. But yeah, consider yourself warned.

Entertaining show, with some very dodgy scenes.

Three episode reviews: Yowamushi Pedal Season 1

Since
one of the only sports anime in Winter 2017 season is season 3 of
Yowamushi Pedal you (like, in fact, me) might be wondering if it’s
something to get into. Whelp. Here’s my review of the first three
episodes of the first season to help you with that.

Sports: Road cycling. Again a sport that I, European chick, actually know and
have watched. Hooray!

Basic
premise
: Onoda is a (frankly adorable) otaku who bikes everywhere to
save money. On his first day of high school he meets rich
boy/dedicated cyclist Imaizumi, who has some past troubles to get
over, and who is mildly confused by Onoda’s ability to ride up steep
slopes on a shit bike while singing about princesses.

OP
impression:
Just adding this because I know my type and from the OP I
can already tell that I’m probably going to be into tall black haired
stoic boy. Also there’s a guy that looks like BSD’s Lovecraft and he
has green and red hair which is like the least natural colour I’ve
ever seen?

First
impression from the actual show

  • Onoda is intense levels of nerdy
    loser.
  • Tall black haired cool boy turns out to be the bicycle version
    of Haikyuu’s Kageyama.
  • The resident girl is very adorable, she even
    comes with a grumpy best friend.
  • Onoda is an amazing cyclist because
    he’s a cheap ass.
  • I see jokes about the rich kid and the poor kid in
    the immediate future. Like they keep cutting from Onoda’s shitty
    house to Imaizumi’s modern, two car garage house. They’re really
    putting it out there that these guys are foils. 

All in all, the first
episode is pretty standard fare, though i give them props for the
little bit after the credits where they’re already warming up the
tsun.

(I was right, he’s so going to be my fave).

Second
impression

  • Ok so cycling Kageyama is actually kindof a softie. He’s
    a lot less cold and distant than I was expecting, but I was expecting
    him to be Kageyama, so that’s on me.
  • Imaizumi is just a complete
    cycling dork: he’s arrogant and detached, but also honorable and
    sympathetic. I honestly can’t wait to see him become a blushing mess
    in the near future.
  • This second episode went by surprisingly fast and
    uses the power of bicycle science to make it clear that Onoda is like
    some kind of cycle prodigy because he’s been driving everywhere on
    the world’s most inefficient bike.
  • Also: Onoda has the saddest
    friggin motivation in history. Like jeebus someone hug him.
  • Also also
    manager girl’s older brother is a mechanic voiced by Suwabe and can
    do no wrong.
  • Manager girl herself knows more about bikes than anyone
    I ever met (and I live in a cycling obsessed country). 
  • Cycle
    Kageyama has groupies. This is an interesting dynamic to say the
    least.

Third
impression

  • Imaizumi is bae and also wants to desperately be friends
    with Onoda, even tho he’s way too cool to just come out and say it.
  • This episode is actually quite sweet, what with the power of
    friendship and al that.
  • It introduces protag number three, who has a
    snaggle tooth which means he’s probably quirky and/or impulsive AF.
    He likes bikes a lot.
  • As an aside: IwaPeda’s school has the ugliest
    uniforms in the history of sports animes. Who greenlighted that?

Grupetto

So I came into this show knowing only that it is about bikes and has
a dude with a freaky tongue (I’m guessing he’s an antagonist at some
point). And it’s pretty cool. If you’ve watched a fair amount of
sports anime, the premise to Yowamushi Pedal feels kinda standard:
new kid in high school makes new friends and finds out his true
talent, which he gained through some improbable training. Here’s what’s promising:

  • I like
    the dynamic between the main two (later three). It’s not too
    confrontational and it’s also not sickly sweet (like in Days, for
    instance).
  • Imaizumi is a nicer version of ‘arrogant cold dude’, with
    some of the rougher edges polished off.
  • Onoda is one of the most
    nerdy protagonists I’ve ever seen and I hope he stays an otaku.
  • The
    show goes by pretty fast, which to me is an indication that it’s
    grabbed my interest.

Gayness?
Hard to tell. Not picking up massive amounts of gay so far. Though
since this is biking, a reasonable amount of butt shots will be
expected.

Hotness?
Since the art style is rather rough and cartoony, we’re not dealing
with your traditional anime prettyboys here. The show has more of a
comedic, exaggerated feel. Having said that: Imaizumi is bae. Also,
it sort of tries to get people’s types in. The three third years, for
instance, are ‘buff dude’, ‘straight edge dude’ and ‘long haired
dude’. Out of these, the one that reminds me of Lovecraft (his name
is Makishima?) looks the most promising. Despite his improbable hair
colour. Don’t judge me.

Yay
or nay?

If
you’ve ever watched a bit of road cycling (like you sorta kinda followed
the Tour de France once), the overt explaining of basic principles in
the sport gets lame after a while. Because it does lay it on pretty thick. But other than that, this show
looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. It would be interesting to see how
these characters evolve. Like if we ever see Onoda break out of his
‘omg is he being nice to me wtf’ shell, or how Imaizumi deals with
past failures. And, not gonna lie, I wanna see what the third years
are like, because four episodes in (I cheated, sue me) they’re still
not actually in a frigging cycling club.

Three episode reviews: Poco’s udon world

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In
which I base my opinion on the first three episodes of a series and
give watching advice. Today: Poco’s udon world, aka Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari.

What it’s about:

Souta Tawara is a thirty year old with no real life goals or
accomplishments. When his father dies, he comes back from Tokyo to
his parental house in the countryside, to clean out the place. In his
father’s noodle shop he finds a small child that he ends up taking
care of.

First impression:

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This show is everything. I decided to try it based on the cute
toddler but there’s so much going on. Souta’s life hits me right in
the feels: he’s unmarried, no kids, no career to speak of, and at
that age where he’s supposed to have settled most of this. Coming
back home to his father’s life work stirs up this wealth of memories.
Also, yes, the toddler is friggin adorable.
There’s a weird
supernatural element, and random bits of a kid’s show about an
invading alien, to the point where it should be way too much but it
somehow keeps it together?
First impression is good.

Second impression:

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You know how I said it hits me right in the feels? The friggin ED
made me cry. Souta basically comes home and ends up having a quarter-life crisis, trying to ind himself, to
figure out what he wants to do with his life.
The show lays it on
pretty thick, actually, with Souta’s doctor friend who drives a
maserati and doesn’t even think about getting married. With Poco, Souta suddenly realizes that he wouldn’t make a bad family man, but of
course he has this entire history to get over first.

Best character:
Souta.

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I really like this
guy. He reminds me so much of myself I can’t even.
But also, kudos to
him for taking all the weird shit that happens in his stride.
Also
also: dude is hot. Just saying.

Cutest character:
Poco

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Holy shit. Poco’s
art style, and the enormous eyes, remind me a lot of Tsumugi from
Sweetness and Lightning, but he’s much… younger, education wise. He
doesn’t talk much and he seems to genuinely like everything; He’s got this completely carefree and extremely exploratory personality.
Also:
shapeshifter. Kid has a fluffy side (this is hardly a spoiler, it’s
in the OP)

Extra notes

  • This show actually
    has a lot of similar themes to Princess Jellyfish. It’s about
    figuring out how to adult, and what kind of adult you want to be.
  • As such, I think
    how hard it hits you has to do with age. I’m guessing if you’re
    fifteen, it’s not quite as pertinent as when you’re older. It’s still
    going to be an enjoyable show, but not in the ‘lay awake at night’
    kind of way.

Poco or no poco?

Yeah, I want to
know where this goes.

Recommended to
people who like some slower drama with a humorous touch. Be warned
that there is a LOT going on. This is far from a straight-forward
show and as such, it sometimes lays on the central theme a bit too
much in dialogues. But still very entertaining.

Three episode review: All out!

In
which I base my opinion on the first three episodes of a series and
give watching advice.

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What it’s about:

Kenji Gion is short and aggressive, Sumiaki Iwashimizu is enormous
but has the heart of a small and rather frightened bunny. They are
asked to join the school’s rugby club.

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Please look at that height difference.

Look at it!

First impression:

DAAAYum. The OP leaves very little to the imagination about this show
and its protagonists. There are butts, tight shirts and Sekizan, who
could be an extra on JoJo if he wore outfits just a tad bit more
flashy.
It’s all very… bara, but that’s mostly Sumiaki and Sekizan,
really, and whoever is ‘the hot one’ on the opposing team, no doubt.
The show has some rather nice body diversity, which I’m fairly
certain is the point.

The setup of the show is pretty classic, with
first years in high school figuring out which club to join. Gion has
a Massive Napoleon complex and will fight anyone that calls him
small, Iwashimizu has All Kinds of complexes and would really rather
be in book club. Since this is a rugby show, you know where they’ll
end up. It’s all pretty standard stuff but I’m liking the dynamic
between the two, and the way the captain and vice-captain are set up
in the first episode. You already get a bit of the feel for their
motivations.

Second impression:

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All Out is very… tropey. It does the ‘wax on wax off’ thing, only it’s ‘the turtle’. It  has
fated rivals and Sumiaki manages to find his courage somewhere around
episode three. This is also the point where they break out the
lasers, by the way.
Having said that, it doesn’t really bother me
that much? The show is entertaining and varied enough to keep me
interested, so far.
I’m hoping it’ll get a bit deeper as it goes on.

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The thing it DOES
do, which is interesting, is how it applies drawing style. Yuri On
Ice has something similar, where they have cutesy cartoony funny bits
and then beautifully rendered drama. On top of that, it’s not just diverse with bodies, it’s REALLY diverse with the faces. And for someone
who watches a lot of anime pretty boys, this is a breath of fresh
air. Some of these faces have a style that reminds me of
french/belgian comics, even. It’s cool.

Hottest dude?

I know what you’re
thinking, and I realize that this is his official role but
Sekizan is Entirely
Too Intense for my tastes.
Like, dude. Chill.

I can’t even handle baby Sekizan. Dear lord.

I’m actually rather
fond of vice-captain Mutsumi, who at least seems pleasant, but my
vote goes to this guy:

His name is
Oharanu Etsugo and he appears to be made entirely out
of salt (I just noticed he’s voiced by Ono Kensho… that
explains so much).

Extra notes

  • Holy crap does
    this show like its muscle shots.
    Like, there are a LOT of random
    shots with tight t-shirts and tight pants and bulging biceps and
    thighs and is that really the rugby uniform because apparently I’ve
    been watching the wrong sports
    .
  • I love Umeno
    the manager? It’s sad that there is only a single girl, but she has
    floofy hair and kind of a big sister personality and she’s cool. For someone so tiny she
    must really be fierce to handle that team.
  • Gion is such
    an angry child, and not in a good way. He’s almost legitimately
    annoying with the constant temper tantrums. I really need him to get
    some kind of character development, stat.

All out?

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I’ll be honest with
you. It’s not as good as Yuri or Haikyuu. I like the body diversity,
I like the humour, but I’m not, you know, obsessed. I’ll keep watching
because it’s entertaining, and I like where they’re going with the
art style and the, uh, general esthetic (the muscles, I mean the
muscles).
It’s a 25 episode anime, so I’m really hoping it finds its
groove soon and really starts working on the good stuff, the
development and the storytelling arcs. So far the draw is mostly
visual.

Three episode reviews: Yuri!!! on Ice

In which I base
my opinion on the first three episodes of a series and give watching
advice.

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What it’s about:

Yuri is a b-list professional skater who fumbles a tournament and
comes back home, head hanging. But he gets a last chance at winning the grand prix final when his idol wants to coach him.

First impression:

So I wonder a lot about first episodes. They’re almost always this
super fast, completely packed affair that has to set the tone,
introduce the main characters, sketch the background and basically
set the stage for the whole story. Some shows do this really well
while others take a while to get going. Yuri has one of the better
first episodes. I mean, yes, it feels a bit rushed and it’s way over
the top, but it is almost genius in its execution. The show likes to
switch between the more ‘down to earth’ parts of Yuri, with his
adorably pudgy parents and a much simpler art style, and then it
brings out the gorgeously elegant animation for the skating
sequences. From the very first episode you get a very visual
impression that there are two sides of Yuri’s life. Apart from that,
the storytelling is rather clever. The show takes like four panels to
show you a lifetime of back story on his childhood crush Yuko and her later
husband. You can see this whole love story happening off screen and
suddenly there’s triplets. And of course, there’s the ‘establishing
shot’. You can almost hear the creators go: ‘let’s make clear what
kind of show we are’ and then go full nudity on the main hottie. Is
it tacky? Hell yes, but it’s also effective and very, very glorious.

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Second impression:

Holy crap what is this show? It’s so gay? It’s so beautiful? And also
so silly?

I give you exhibit a:  Yurio

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And exhibit b: Yurio, but
gayer

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Every character has
this, and I have the feeling that they either have three sets of
animators working on the show (sexy, elegant, silly) or it’s some
brilliant cost cutting strategy, but it works.
Yuri!!! on Ice is
almost a guilty pleasure.
I mean, a lot of the characters remind me
of other shows and the storyline is somehow both cliché and
completely out there realism-wise and I don’t care at all because
it’s so well done. It is highly entertaining, mixing beautiful
dramatic shots with silly gags and shockingly blatant, almost yaoi
level of… affection. I’m pretty into this.

Hottest dude: Duh.
Victor.

He is set up to be the worlds hottest bachelor and he
delivers. The way he moves is amazing. I adore his personality.

He has a stupidly floofy dog
and he somehow mixes parts of Haikyuu’s Oikawa with a shot of
Bungou’s Dazai. Dude is insane, but also
does the wise mentor thing, making his two little apprentices search
for what’s missing in their life. Also: he is so friggin gay for Yuri
I can’t even. It’s almost predatory.
Did I mention this show is gay? It’s so gay and I
appreciate that.

Surprisingly hot
also: Yuri?

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Like, half of the time he’s a chubby chibi and I know
he’s supposed to be the frumpy main bespectacled character who’s totally got a
crush on his idol and those types of main characters aren’t supposed
to be hot until the finale but the whole point of early season Yuri
is for him to find his sexy side and that somehow works. He does
this, by the way, by getting in touch with his feminine side and
through the power of gay (I’m not even kidding, just watch the
episode). Colour me impressed.

Extra notes:

  • While not the
    hottest dude, Yurio is my absolute favourite. This angry child is
    just so… he kind of reminds me of Rin from S1 Free? But more petty? He’s so
    angry and frustrated. Like, all the time. But then he’s also the one
    that is all ‘omg are you ok’ at Yuko-san’s massive bloody nose
    problem (while Yuri is mesmerized by Victor’s performance and wouldn’t even notice if she died). And he’s cool enough to teach Yuri and you already know
    he’ll turn out to have such a massive heart of gold and I just want
    to hug him and give him kittens.
  • Coming in
    second on favourite character: the triplets. Pretty sure they’re a
    single character. Those girls are shrewd AF, especially for, what,
    six year olds? How old are those kids? They’re already running their
    parents’ skating rink.
  • I’m digging
    the OP song.
    It’s kinda lame that they reuse the animation twice in
    like a minute, but it’s a pretty good OP.

Winner of the grand
prix?

Oh god yes.
Personally, the speed with which I seek out
a show after a new episode has come out is a pretty good indicator of
how in love I am with said show and, well. I am very into this.

Recommended for those who can handle their gay, with some really nice
animation and well placed humour.

And now for something completely different

Ok, so I literally found this half an hour ago and I played one round and I MUST rant about it.
There is an otome out there called Cute Demon Crashers! (the exclamation point is part of the title).

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It’s a sex game, Jim, but not as we know it.

It’s basically about three incubi and one succubus crashing your house. They feed on sexual pleasure, you know where this is going.

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Only you don’t, you really don’t.

It’s so positive? And so utterly female-centric? They cook you breakfast and play Mario Kart with you and talk about being ready and comfortable.

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Also, it’s really, really funny.


And you can literally stop their advances at any time? This game basically ticks all those boxes I’m always privately ranting about: consent, comfort, cuddles, even condoms!

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The sentence ‘no pressure’ is repeated way more than any porn I’ve ever seen.

I’ve left out the, uh, nsfw scenes, but it goes there and it’s utterly adorable and I never thought I’d write that sentence in a discussion about demon sex games.

Also, it is friggin free.