The Magic of Hiragana in Titles

Ayappi here (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ
Let’s start off with some facts. Japanese has 3 main writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Katakana and Kanji should be the most familiar to most the way I see it, as these two are arguably the most prevalent in media overseas. For example, the characters シ、ツ、ン、and ソ are often joked about as the characters for happy, reflecting its popularity. Kanji, well this is the bane of existence for most Japanese learners. However, we often leave hiragana out as this sort of, normal Japanese characters or the curvy characters we often see at that one Japanese restaurant in the neighborhood. As if the purpose of hiragana, mostly, is for when you don’t know the kanji for this and that.

However today I would like to talk about a certain side of hiragana that may seem unimportant for the normal anime or manga viewer, or even a Japanese learner/person who knows Japanese but could actually make for a good way to appreciate the story even further. Specifically, I’m going to discuss the titles of certain works almost exclusively written in Hiragana. With this, I would like to use a certain manga’s title (which I will be posting a review of soon), called “Onii-chan is done for.” In Japanese, the title is written as お兄ちゃんはおしまい, onii-chan wa osimai.

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Slice of Life goodness right here

To be honest, I didn’t read even realize this until the translator of the series pointed it out. Honestly I wouldn’t have thought of this had I read the raws instead. Osimai (or oshimai) is a Japanese word pertaining to something being over. You might have encountered this word being uttered at Himouto Umaru-chan’s opening, with the hai! Osimai! 「はい!おしまい」in the ending. True enough, the “official” translation、at least according to the translator, is “Oniichan is done for,” literally over. However, the translator noted at one of the chapters that osimai could also be referring to an extra polite form of using the word sisters, or shimai (姉妹).

Note that in Japanese, one way to convert nouns and some words into super polite or humble form, is to add お (o) to the start of the noun. If we do this to the word shimai, then we can get お姉妹 osimai. Neat huh? Good job translator!

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Here is the page in question

What can we get from this aside from a free Japanese lesson then? We can see that in even something as boring as a series title, there could be hidden meanings scattered all around. This flexible ambiguity that a Japanese word written in hiragana offers the reader gives us many opportunities for many possible interpretations of the story. To illustrate its ambiguity’s beauty and flexibility, allow me to give an example.

I mentioned earlier that hiragana is one way for people who do not know the kanji, or forgot the kanji, to write out their thoughts in Japanese. Now, even in Japanese schools, kanji is formally taught by grade or year level, and there are some kanji that a 30 year old salaryman would know, that a grade schooler wouldn’t know. I never attended primary and secondary education in Japan, but I can assure you I know this much. Moving on, the main character of this manga (and I’m not even spoiling major bits of it, trust me) is already a grown man, but has been turned into someone younger other than to the opposite sex. Now at the body he’s been given, he has certainly turned younger.

Yes we could argue that the body he has been given could be the body of someone who already knows how to write osimai in kanji, both forms of it. Yes we could also argue that this is one of those words that are usually written in hiragana. But, this choice of the author to use hiragana instead of the kanji versions gives it a more young feel. It helps reflect and enhance the notion that the main character has been given a younger body. Please note that Japanese children do not dive in to kanji right away but rather start with hiragana and katakana like the rest of us who studied Japanese.

With that said, please remember that manga is a form of literature, just like a novel, drama or even a poem. Much like poems, I remember how even looking at the title could lead to more valid interpretations of a piece of literature, we could do the same process of close reading and looking at the title to manga. It’s not necessarily something that you’re required to do to enjoy yourself, and really you could still enjoy a manga without going through the mentally taxing process of close reading, but honestly it could help you appreciate the work even more.

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Sometimes people take the titles of manga, or really any other form of literature and dismiss them as something merely there to sound cool or catchy. But this manga, Oniichan wa Osimai, could easily show us that there’s more to a title than just being there to sound and look cool. Well you have to admit, that might have been clever on the author’s part, but still.

How about you? What do you think of this entire hiragana title magic? Did you ever tear apart a series and looked at the title? Please do let me know your opinions down below!

With that, please do have a great day ahead ❤

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Why Even Bother Playing Visual Novels?

Ayappi here (*´꒳`*)ノ

Who would have thought I wouldn’t have classes (except for one day) for the entire week (*´-`)

Anyway,

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Manga is definitely literature, trust me. My professor approved my essay on Prunus Girl

For the “uninitiated,” you might be asking yourself, what is a visual novel? Is this a fancy term to refer to lengthier manga, the same way graphic novels in the West work? You could be forgiven for thinking that, but if you have ever at any point in time heard about Katawa Shoujo, Doki Doki Literature Club, or have watched Oreimo, then you probably already have encountered visual novels.

It doesn’t take much to run a visual novel, because there aren’t any fancy polygons found in 3D games, or multiple AI’s to stress out the CPU. Literally anyone with a computer capable of running Windows can run visual novels at max settings.

After downloading anywhere from a few megabytes to lots of gigabytes worth of game files from Steam, DLSite or the discs these visual novels come in, we’re ready to play. The way they work is simple, players simply click on the screen to progress with the story. Along the way there might be some choices, where each choice affects what kind of ending the player will get. Games in this genre are usually dating simulators, or bishoujo/otome games featuring cute and/or sexy characters of either sex. Most often than not, these visual novels contain erotic material or hentai as we call it outside of Japan, and are classified as eroge or erotic game (エロゲ).

It’s basically something you’d find in between a manga and an anime. It’s not entirely animated like a normal anime, but it contains voices (sometimes) and contains more room for movement compared to a manga. Most often we read the text too, much like a manga. The way it differs from anime and manga however, is that you’ll need a computer of some sort to run them and keep their game files.

Given that, visual novels seem to be more of a hassle and a waste of time more than anything. I’ve already mentioned its requirements of a computer and the waiting time needed to install and/or download the game files for starters, which in my opinion is one of the biggest supports to this notion. Especially with the latter, I’ve downloaded visual novels that reached up to 4GB in game files alone (I think it was your diary+H). Whiles yes, hard drives are getting cheaper and cheaper, if you compare file sizes to something such as Cities Skylines, a much more intensive game, you begin to question why a visual novel needs 4GB of system storage. You begin to contemplate on how that storage space could have been used up by other games.

Time to buy another 4TB drive

On the subject of storage space, let’s talk about eroge. Eroge visual novels, like their non erotic counterparts still need to be installed in whatever device you own. If you’re one of those people who play these games for the sex scenes, and nothing but the sex scenes, then it might not make sense to even install the game in the first place. I’ve seen countless of times on Booru sites (anime picture compilation sites) such as Danbooru and Gelbooru, the sex scenes found in most eroge. One could easily just type in “game_cg” and the title of the eroge, and you get the full package and more. With this way, not only do you save yourself the time of playing through it, but also storage space on your devices.

But probably a bigger reason, and this is especially because this is a factor in the former two I just mentioned, is that it simply takes up time. For one thing, you’re limited by the devices running these, so that’s effectively downtime if you happen to lose access to your devices at a certain place or time. Installation and downloading is another thing, and this is directly affected by things such as internet speed and compute power. After that, unless you want to just hit “Skip” and not understand anything at all, you’re essentially forced to click or tap your way through the story. That takes up lots of time, even with the text speed set to the maximum. Once you’re done, you either uninstall it, or keep it probably only to uninstall it later on to make way for another game. The time spent getting, playing this game, and uninstalling it could have gone to more productive tasks, or binge read 3 mangas with an anime off to the side.

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You can’t deny that the art is well done

So article over? Visual novels are horrible in concept and you should never play them? The answer really, is a huge it depends.

The reasons I outlined above are coming from my perspective: a university student pressed for time every single day. If you’re also in a time constricted environment, who doesn’t have access 24/7 to the devices where you keep your visual novels, then I really do think visual novels are probably not worth your time. You’ll probably enjoy yourself more reading a manga on the commute, rather than lugging your laptop, playing in public at risk of getting robbed.

However, if you have the time, the storage space, and to a lesser extent the strong enough internet connection, then I don’t see any reason for you to not play visual novels. I mentioned earlier that visual novels are sort of the middleground between anime and manga. There are many things that an anime and manga couldn’t do that a visual novel can do.

One of these things is that, a visual novel could include minigames to better interact with the consumer. Majority of the visual novels in the market do not have these, but there are some who have an extra layer of spice, and I think it helps in the overall immersion in the world of the story. Some examples of these include the famous poem minigame in Doki Doki Literature Club, or this battle mechanic found in Twinkle Crusaders that I personally find interesting (I only seem gameplay of it though, never played this).

You really do feel that it’s happening live

On the subject of immersion, yes it could offer good immersion at levels anime and manga simply cannot offer. Majority of the visual novels are dating simulators, putting you, the player in a self insert character to participate in the story. You, yourself through Mr or Ms. Self Insert interact with the cast of the story firsthand. Oftentimes, you call the shots and not the writer of the story, through the choices you made.

I know there are anime that have done this sort of self insert main character type of thing, where the characters interact with the viewer. However, in my opinion it’s very awkward to watch, and you’re still purely bound by whatever the writer intended to put inside. Manga might have a better chance at beating visual novels, but I personally have never encountered a “Choose your own Adventure” manga. Please do let me know down below if you know any that exist.

Also, and I think this is one of the strongest points of visual novels over any anime and manga, is that the art is simply noticeably well drawn. I will admit that many times have I gone out of my way to look for particular CG scenes, just to make them my desktop wallpaper. The art in my opinion is just way better compared to standard manga or, heck even anime screenshots from shows made by PA Works. I know this is subjective, but honestly I think visual novels easily destroy anime or manga when it comes to art. It’s on a whole different league in my opinion. To prove it, look at scenes from Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko, and the picture somewhere above captioned “you can’t deny the art is well done.” Both are drawn by the illustrator Kantoku.

So yes, personally I’d not play a visual novel simply because I have no time for them. That isn’t to say I wouldn’t play them completely. If given enough pressure from friends, or if I’m genuinely curious about the game, then I will definitely play . But yes, if I could just have a manga version of whatever visual novel is presented to me that would be much appreciated.

However, that’s me, and you’re you. It’s still up to you to decide. Please don’t cut off visual novels completely especially if you have the time. Who knows, you might eventually become obsessed with them in the future. I want to hear your opinions on the matter, so please do comment down below if you want!

Have a nice day and remember to enjoy life and anime/manga that there’s no one else other than Just Monika. ❤

How an Adaptation Could Ruin a Good Manga

Ayappi here ☆⌒(≧▽​° )

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I have waited months for this

So a few months ago, around 2 months or so, one of my favorite manga that I am subscribed to, “Yagate Kimi ni Naru” got a green light on its anime. The anime is set to air sometime later this year, AnimeNewsNetwork says somewhere around the month of October. The staff that we already know, working on the anime adaptation looks promising too, quoting from AnimeNewsNetwork:

Makoto Katō (Beautiful Bones -Sakurako’s Investigation-) is directing the anime at TROYCA(Aldnoah.ZeroRe:CREATORS). Jukki Hanada(Sound! EuphoniumLove Live!A Place Further Than the Universe) is supervising and writing the scripts. Hiroaki Gohda (Amagami SSLove, Election and Chocolate) is designing the characters.

Jukki Hanada in particular, I have the most faith in because of Jukki’s history working on Love Live and Sora Yori mo Tooi Basyo. If you would recall in my My Top 10 Favorite Anime post, Love Live placed 10th and Sora Yori placed 2nd out of the many series I have watched over the years, so I’m confident the writing will be alright. I personally never have watched Makoto Kato’s works so I couldn’t vouch for him, but Hiroaki Gohda’s work at Amagami SS’ art seems promising, so we’re kind of good in that front. All my worries then, are reserved for who exactly will voice Yuu and Nanami in the series.

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I honestly think if the anime uses Amagami’s art style it will go well

But why am I rambling over such things, and why the title Ayappi? Are you fearing something bad might happen, as if the things you’re writing about reflect some sort of event in the past? If you’re asking these questions then you’re on the right track.

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One of my inspirations for becoming a teacher

You see, around 3 years ago, 2015 to be exact, a manga series I used to like got adapted into an anime. This manga is titled “Denpa Kyoushi” or as the tagline reads: “He is ultimate teacher.” I liked this manga for a few reasons, but for the most part it was because Kagami indeed was a really cool teacher. He was so cool that I found myself binge reading the series more for his and his students’ exploits than to look for all the scenes with Araki Kotaro in it (although I ship Kotaro and Kagami). When I learned an anime adaptation was green lit, I was beyond happy.

That happiness ended with the first episode however. Let’s start with Suzune’s voice because that’s probably one of the biggest shocks for me in my entire life as an anime and manga fan. Maybe the directors were going for a more “natural feel,” maybe they had a deal with AKB48 that led Matsui Rena to voice Suzune in the first place. Either way, it didn’t end well, and I found myself lowering down the volume whenever Suzune spoke more often than I laughed at Kagami’s antics. It sounded so lifeless, robot like even. Actually, even calling it robot-like would be an insult to Hatsune Miku, Kizuna Ai or other virtual computers talking. Needless to say, the lifeless voice of Kagami Suzune is forever ingrained in my head, even when reading the manga.

The art too, oh my goodness the art. It was really tough to look at in some cases. You have distorted body proportions on the director on some scenes. Mouths that are too long for their faces. Don’t even get me started with Kotaro’s face. It was too long and it looked like somebody shoved the hand of the guy drawing Kotaro when it was animated. The hair too looked too messy (the manga’s art was 10x better). They did get some scenes right, but the damage is done. But I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but I remember one scene with the KFC parody, where the letters actually changed in the span of a few minutes. I honestly had faith in A1 Pictures because the original Sword Art Online had really great art, but instead I got something that looked like an unfinished draft aired to meet deadlines.

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This was from an old blog of mine. I promise you, these aren’t doctored.

The story was at the very least mostly faithful to the original source material, (update: or so I’ve thought. I’ve been reminded of the horrible butchering of the anime that removed some very crucial scenes showcasing Kagami’s “ultimate teacher” character) and the OP and ED things were one of the more memorable ones that I have heard. Unfortunately, these weren’t enough to prevent me from dropping the anime for the simple reason of, “it’s tough to watch.” It’s a comedy shonen series, and the manga did make me laugh with its story. The anime however, made me laugh for all the wrong reasons.

Whenever I try to read the manga, I keep on having “war flashbacks” of Suzune and Kotaro in particular. Especially Kotaro, who was one of my favorite characters and I’m one of those people who go out of their way to bookmark the “best” parts. I eventually dropped the manga too, although I’m keeping my copies of it because of its sentimentality.

So what am I trying to say from all of this? I’m scared that this adaptation, and really any manga I read, would be another Denpa Kyoushi moment. This anime, this laughably horrible adaptation of a series that I have loved, has ruined the entire series for me and possibly others too.

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An anime, live action film, or any performance art adaptation of a light novel or manga should give life to the source’s characters. This is where we get to see and hear what their voices are actually like, how they move around in the world (let’s face it, we’re far from having printed GIFs of manga), and other things.

So yes, like I said earlier, Yagate Kimi ni Naru has a promising staff. I’m confident that this won’t be another Denpa Kyoushi moment, if the production team gets the right voice actors for the job. I personally have no idea how the voice actor selection works inside the anime industry, so I could only hope that the person voicing Koito Yuu in Yagakimi, isn’t “Matsui Rena” or a variant thereof.

How about you? Did you have a favorite manga that got absolutely destroyed by its adaptation? Please do leave your thoughts down below and don’t forget to like our new Facebook Page for updates on the blog if you don’t like eMail notifications. 

Have a nice day everyone, and keep on reading manga ❤

For reference, here’s the article.

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The Advantages of Buying Printed Manga

UPDATE: OUR FACEBOOK PAGE IS LIVE ❤

Ayappi here (*☻-☻*)

I love manga. The stories are much more in depth, come out earlier than their animes (most of the time) and I could easily binge read a series to the end in under 2 hours compared to a standard 12 episode anime. It’s also cheaper compared to buying the BD and Blu Rays of our favorite series, if you’re not a fan of Crunchyroll or other websites.

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Made using MS Paint, not joking

“Other websites” (you know what I’m talking about) aside, some of us genuinely want to support the artists. Some of us want to buy the manga and read without facing moral dilemmas or legal debates with people online. Some of us, just really like the idea of buying manga. In this day and age, there are two primary options the average manga fan could buy his or her favorite manga series, eBook (through Amazon or eBookJapan, etc.) and physical printed copies. Personally, despite the convenience of an all eBook library, I still prefer buying physical copies of my favorite manga series. Please do allow me to explain why:

We all know the benefits of eBooks. They’re lightweight, are probably cheaper than their physical counterparts, are not susceptible to the elements, and are just plain cooler in person compared to a traditional paperback. The main problem I have with eBooks however, is that while I could easily read them on my iPad (which is a bonus considering how I use an iPad as my main school computer) on the car ride to school, without bringing a bigger bag to accomodate the manga, too many variables come into play that keep bothering me (and by extension my wallet).

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Losing manga + Losing money =

One of my concerns is how selecting a certain service will lock you to their proprietary software and file formats, as well as lock you in their manga collection. In other words, this means I can’t read my eBookJapan purchases in my Kobo reader, or I can’t read the ones I purchased from Rakuten Kobo in the ebIReader app on my iPad. This limits what you could read, and it certainly in some cases defeats the “convenience” part of the eBooks. So this means, if you wanted to read Blend S, but it isn’t available in Kindle, you’re pretty much toast. While you could argue that it’s as simple as installing the apps for the individual services and making accounts for all of them, I would much rather save myself the frustration of remembering where I put this and that. This is especially when I get to a point when I have over 90 titles already on hand.

However, probably the biggest worry I have is really the possibility of how eBooks will not end up well in Japan. The country has a history of preferring physical over digital media, and I remember reading an article as to why Spotify will fail in Japan due to this exact reason. While yes, it hasn’t happened yet, and there is an increasing number of articles on eBooks in Hatena Blog (Japanese blogging platform), I would save myself the uncertainty. The eBook manga may be cheap sometimes (which I’ll get to in a minute), but losing all my purchases because of the shutdown of the servers hosting them, is not a good tradeoff. I’m pretty sure anyone would go bonkers if they lost even just JPY10000 worth of manga, which isn’t much in my opinion but still big. And even if eBooks become successful in Japan, that doesn’t mean the companies that host eBooks would eventually shut down soon. We’re talking huge money here after all.

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The smile on my face when these arrived. JPY1000 well spent

Now let me get into why I prefer buying the physical copies of my favorite manga versus the digital ones. First and foremost, there are just some things you couldn’t get from a digital copy compared to when buying a physical copy. I’m talking about character cards, clear files, alternative covers, even something as mundane as those small strips of paper that advertise the manga or its anime after each volume. They’re very small things, but honestly, they make me happy knowing that I have something probably not a lot of people have or take for granted. Also, sometimes, at least in my experience, these art cards are things not easily found online, or sold in conventions and anime goods stores, so I treasure them personally.

Another thing is the long term effects of buying a physical copy. For one thing, physical copies could be a form of investment because you could resell the manga after you’ve read it if you want extra money in your pocket. You probably won’t be able to get all your money back (unless you’re lucky), but you at least get a fraction of it back. In some cases, the cost after reselling could be significantly less than discounts on eBook services. This is something eBooks can’t do, and is probably one of the big advantages of physical copies over eBooks, at least that’s how I know it to be. If you know of a service that allows you to sell eBooks, please do let me know.

Another long term effect, given you take really good care of your books, is that their existence is not bound by some company. Like I mentioned earlier, your eBooks are bound by the existence and operation of the company’s servers. With physical books, it’s all on you. Sure, it’s more susceptible to weather damage, or the occasional pest eating the paper, but I personally handle my books carefully so I have no problems so far. Well save for one Dengeki magazine, but really it’s just a chip on the end. Still perfectly readable.

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Finally got to upload this after the wonderful fast internet yesterday

Also, and let’s face it, it just looks cooler to have an entire library of your favorite manga. While yes, swiping on a screen or tapping on a keyboard to turn the page is cool and the future, personally I find the look and feel of a library more relaxing while still being really cool. Imagine it, a wall of manga, a recliner beside a window in a room lit by warm lighting. Probably a fireplace too, because I’m weak to the cold.

Now to be fair, this isn’t to say eBooks should be entirely avoided. There are some cases where eBooks could actually make lots more sense compared to importing manga or buying the physical translated copies of our favorite manga. One such scenario I could think of is if the customs office in your country is horrible, and you’d much rather jump off a cliff than deal with their corrupt ways, or if importing goods from Japan is illegal (never heard of it but who knows). With an eBook, all you need is a credit card and you’re good to go. No customs duties, headaches or missing packages and money.

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What Umaru’s reading might make sense for eBooks

Another scenario where the limited nature of eBooks might make sense is if we’re buying one of those “Monthly” or “Weekly” manga magazines such as everyone’s favorite Shonen Jump or Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh, or Weekly Sunday Champion. I’m actually considering doing this once I get more allowance (teehee). These are those really thick manga magazines you see in anime that could easily take up space at home. I’m pretty sure most of us throw out read, old magazines at some point in our lives, so this actually makes sense, especially if you’re lacking living space. You bought your monthly or weekly manga, got to read it, and you don’t have to worry about where to stash it until the trash collector comes.

It also makes sense given how these weekly/monthly manga are better read within a week of their release dates. I swear, importing a weekly or monthly manga is stupid in practice. By the time it arrives in your doorstep, next month’s or week’s issue is already out. You’re much better off importing or buying physical copies of volumes of manga.

So yes, that’s pretty much what I have to say on the matter for now! Personally I still prefer buying the physical copies due to the reasons I said above (and yes, I will be building my library once I move soon!). How about you? Do you prefer eBooks or physical books? Please do let me know your thoughts and opinions on the matter!

Until next time! Please remember to enjoy life and manga ❤

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An Open Letter Regarding Good and Bad Anime

Ayappi here (=´∀`), and I’m officially getting old and a third year in university!

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Oh goodness, here we go

Last night I couldn’t sleep because of my allergies, so I decided to check if I missed an episode of my favorite anime, Mahou Shoujo Site. Out of curiosity, I decided to check the comments section of KissAnime, to see whether or not the divide between the community on this anime is still present. Turns out, the divide is still present, but more people are noticeably leaning towards the positive. However, what ticked me off were some very special people in the comments section. This blog post is inspired and addressed to the wonderful people at KissAnime.com, so here we go.

Dear “wonderful people,”

Liking an anime, and hating an anime are both opposites of each other, but are still two completely acceptable things. Art and Literature, including anime, are inherently subjective, and as my professor in university would always say: “There are no wrong answers.” Our definition of good and bad will only be determined by you, and only you.

Remember that no two people will have the exact same definition of what is good. For some, a good story is a relatable story with heartwarming characters, a laid back setting and cute characters. For others, a good story is simply something that imitates nature, or has a moral lesson to teach, or something that serves as a good outlet for the author’s emotions. For some, edgy shows such as Mahou Shoujo Site are good stories.

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For some, the original is way better than GGO. Although I prefer LLENN over Kirito

Now we all have our own sentiments when it comes to things like literature. You see, the entire anime community could be comparable to a university classroom. It’s like a book club (or in this case an entire anime club), where we express our opinions about a show, what WE THINK is good and bad about the series, and try to convince those who haven’t watched the show to either watch or not watch it. It’s a great thing on paper as it offers platforms for discourse on these animes that we love to watch. It’s good that things such as comments sections give a chance for the audience to give feedback.

That’s probably where it ends however. In practice, it’s extremely problematic. For one thing, I constantly see lots of people who don’t realize that there’s a huge difference between expressing your opinion, and shoving your opinion down people’s throats. I saw this from the same person who replied to some people who think Mahou Shoujo Site was good, and replied to them with the same identical string of words that person used to fight someone else. First of all, you certainly have lots of time on your hands, don’t you? Second, if you think it’s a bad series, then go ahead and let the world know. What isn’t right, is if you constantly try to change people’s minds into thinking your word is the law. If your point is that an anime is objectively bad, then you’re using the wrong viewpoint from the get go unless we’re talking about things like lackluster editing (and even then, a horribly edited video could be good in itself).

Please remember that no one’s opinion in the anime community is the law. The only difference between reviewers such as me, and you, is how we express our opinions on the anime we’re tearing apart. My reviews aren’t the law. Your reviews aren’t the law. Even someone as prominent as the Anime Man’s words are not the law. You’re free to agree or disagree, but never to declare that something is law. No opinion transcends space and time and is absolute. Get off your high horse. We’re dealing with subjective matters here, not objective matters. If you’re a PC gamer, remember that an anime review is an entirely different species compared to a review of a Radeon HD7990 and a Core i9-7980XE prebuilt, if that even exists.

Segueing into my next point, if you are completely insistent on claiming a certain series is the worst series ever, please please PLEASE, make sure you have textual evidence to back it up. A simple summary of the entire series based on what you think will not help. If anything, it will help me in tearing apart your arguments. As I’ve said, there are no wrong answers in literature, provided they are well defended. You can’t say, a series is bad because “it’s edgy for the sake of being edgy,” without giving me examples from the text itself as to how and why it’s edgy. If I was your literature teacher I’d write a huge “so what” in your paper.

Let me illustrate with an example:

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Example A: Otokonoko Tsuma is a sad attempt at appealing to trap lovers.

Example B: Otokonoko Tsuma is a sad attempt at appealing to trap lovers, because the series echoes many similarities with existing works in the genre. A similar story can be seen in (trap story) where, just like Otokonoko Tsuma (this and that).

Which do you think I’d see as more credible? It’s so simple to add some textual evidence to an argument. It won’t make your argument bulletproof by any means (forget about it, we’re dealing with subjective things here), and in most cases people won’t change their minds regardless, but it does make your arguments stronger. It gives the people you’re trying to convince, the impression that you actually watched it and know what you’re talking about. No amount of “it’s bad because this and that” will convince me. If you can’t show me proof in the form of textual evidence, then your argument, not the anime, is trash.

One example for the above is the overwhelmingly abundant amount of comments dismissing the anime for being a mere Madoka clone, period. No textual evidence whatsoever highlighting the things Mahou Shoujo Site allegedly ripped off. I’m not even going to lie, I wanted to spam my “Defense of Mahou Shoujo Site” article in there, to show how weak their arguments were. I have no problems if you hate the anime, provided you give me concrete examples. To be frank, these people just spouted shit that would easily grant them F’s in an analysis paper.

Finally, for those who start fights on the matter of good and bad anime. My goodness. If you’re still a teenager, that’s understanable. You’re young and learning about the world still, so it’s completely understandable. For the grown ups however, seriously? I’m pretty sure you already know if you lived this long that these things are subjective. Please do be a little more mature in both dealing with people who say an anime is bad, or when trying to express your opinions on certain animes.

Again, I would like to say, an anime’s goodness or badness is determined by you. Only you have the power to decide if an anime is good for you. Express your opinions if you want to, but don’t act like some lawmaker declaring that a certain anime is trash and shouldn’t be watched, or proceed to start fights on it. Believe it or not, these things are some of what makes us have a bad name in society.

I would also just like to add a little thought. Who cares if people think an anime is bad? Just watch it if you really want to watch it, not because people think it’s a good anime. Don’t let the opinions of others affect how you enjoy the hobby.

With all of that said, I think I exhausted what I have to say for now. I wish you have a fun and happy day ahead. ❤

On Becoming “Japanese” based on Anime Delusions

Hello hello, Ayappi here! ( ´ ▽ ` )

“Japan is an island by the sea, filled with volcanoes and is beautiful” according to Bill Wurtz. It is also the birthplace of anime, the thing that we are huge fans of. If we look at it from a social constructivist standpoint (I’m sorry I’ve been learning this stuff in university), these anime give way to informal learning and implant in anime fans an image of Japan based on the anime they watch. These people however usually end up getting branded as weeaboos.

Got this from somewhere

Though, the definition of “weeaboo” has gotten so warped over the last couple of years. It has gotten so warped, that I think the Urban Dictionary entry or Filthy Frank’s WEEABOOS video account for just one of the many other definitions weeaboo has gained over time. For the purposes of this entry, we’re going to lock what a weeaboo is to the Urban Dictionary entry which you could check out HERE. But why am I making this intro with that title? Today I would like to talk about becoming “Japanese.”

Now if you have talked with me in real life, at any point in time, you would know that I actually have plans to naturalize to Japan. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it basically means I will willingly renounce my current citizenship and become legally Japanese. Through that, I could enjoy all the rights and privileges that come with being LEGALLY Japanese. I emphasize legal because that’s about as far as you could go, especially if you have zero traces of Japanese blood in you. You will be required by law to take in a Japanese name (with no bad connotations), but the law cannot change your blood and genes.

Now people usually think that my image of Japan is largely based on anime and manga. In other words, the stereotypical definition of anime and pop culture Japan being a wacky, wild, schoolgirl infested place. People always try to talk me out of it by telling me about the negatives, but in reality I am well aware of the issues and “negative aspects” that are present in Japan. I have researched, talked about with natives, and have even experienced firsthand the negative aspects of Japan.

With that said my decision to become Japanese was by no means a rash decision impulsively made from watching my favorite animes the whole day. I am well aware of the ridiculously many requirements needed to become Japanese such as the 10 years minimum for permanent residency and 5 years for naturalization if I don’t end up marrying one of my Japanese friends. I am well aware of the homogeneity, the more reserved and exclusive nature of Japan compared to my country, the discrimination faced by mixed race children and Chinese/Koreans (it doesn’t help that I’m a bit Chinese by blood), how otaku actually is, the horrible work ethic according to most, the declining birth rate and so on. I have methods to combat them such has having friends and relatives who are Japanese and are living in Japan already, knowing Japanese, being passive (yep, it actually works), having prior experiences living in a collectivist society compared to an individualistic one and so on. I have thought of all of these and reflected upon them, and in the end I still keep on choosing Japan.

So what am I trying to say from all of these? I have read many times the horror stories of weeaboos who want to try and become Japanese, blinded by their delusions of anime Japan. I want to try and impart in you, a word of warning and possibly a wake up call if you have ever considered becoming Japanese because of these tendencies. Anime gets some parts of real Japan right and hides the rest of it (I will go in depth on this on a future article). The bad things that people say about Japan, just because it wasn’t shown in anime, are probably real and you don’t know it but they actually manifest in anime in scenes you don’t expect. It doesn’t hurt to Google it first instead of becoming immediately extremely butthurt at the fact that “people are ‘badmouthing’ Japan.” Please, for your own sake, do not consider being Japanese if you cannot accept the reality of Japan not being the “otaku paradise” you dreamt it to be. I promise you, you will really regret it.

I’m not saying a weeaboo cannot become legally Japanese and live in Japan. You could, but unless you stop it with the delusions and consider every single small flaw found in Japan, you would probably have a bad time. A very bad time.

Please also do not consider it if you have absolutely zero knowledge on Japanese grammar outside of the basics. You will not survive with English in Japan, trust me my father learned the hard way until I “saved” him the trouble of talking to natives in Osaka. You cannot learn Japanese through anime alone, mind you, but it can certainly help.

Have you ever considered becoming Japanese because of anime? What do you think of people who say they know everything about Japan but in reality it’s just from anime? Please do let me know in the comments and have a great day ❤

DISCLAIMER: I love Japan and by no means is this article meant to shame or put Japan in a bad light.

Liking BL/Yaoi is OKAY Even if You’re Male

Ayappi here, and allow me to be a bit more serious than usual.

It’s not gay if it’s cute

First of all, let’s get this out of the way. Both for context, and because I felt like I was deceiving you all.

I know I use kaomoji and the heart emoji often. My mannerisms aren’t really what people would consider as, consistent with my gender. Heck, some of my female friends envy my eyes because “they’re too feminine.” I’m even told often that I’m more passive as compared to my other male peers. Despite all of that, yes I am male. I am a straight, biological male who happens to use Ayappi as his nickname. Ayappi kind of sounds girly, but really I like the sound of it so I want to use it as my nickname online. I may possess all of these qualities, but I am a full fledged straight male.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s segue and talk about BL or Boys Love, which is kind of different in terms of nuances with yaoi (which is more pornographic sometimes as far as I know). Basically it’s a guy falling in love with another guy, much like GL or Girls Love / Yuri but male. It’s basically a homosexual love story.

We normally attribute reading such stories as an activity limited to female fans of these stories, or fujoshi as they’re called. Should a male be caught reading these BL type stories, especially if there are absolutely no otokonoko or traps in these said manga or light novel, then the person is automatically branded as gay.

I wanted to get this out of the way because for the longest time I’ve been scared on what people would think about me if they knew I read BL. I’m pretty sure a lot of similarly straight males are scared on what would their friends and the rest of society think if they found out they read these homosexual stories. Hopefully what I’m about to say would spark a little courage in you because really in practice, reading BL does not mean anything other than you simply like BL.

You could be male, female or any one of the letters in LGBTQ, whatever. You could be an alien with no gender or biological sex at all, and still be able to read BL. Our society, especially the conservative one I live in, tends to add all these meanings that seem to be related to the idea of reading and being fascinated about homosexual stories. BL can help you discover your true sexual preferences, but it cannot, and it will never, automatically make you gay or lesbian or whatever.

Remember, one’s sexuality is determined by the types of person they’re attracted to. Nothing more and nothing less. Sexuality is definitely not determined by the fictional material and the genres they’re attracted to or consuming. It’s like going inside a literature classroom which is doing a close reading on let’s say Prunus Girl, and branding everyone, including the girls as gay.

I’m saying it again, I’m male, and I read BL. I prefer the ones with otokonoko, but I’d be willing to read one without it regardless. I also read yuri, but I like both equally.

What do you think? Please let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Let’s Talk Anime Popularity Polls

Ayappi here (*´꒳`*)

Anitrending on Facebook, NHK Top 100, the MAL Popularity/Rating Rankings. Do all of these sound familiar? These are just some of the many anime popularity ranking polls scattered all across the internet. These popularity polls bascially take votes from people through a form, and then the one with the most votes comes out as the #1 most popular anime. Simple as that. Arguably this could be easily rigged by submitting multiple entries, but trust me these sites have gotten way better at preventing that from happening.

These popularity polls are great because it gives a voice to the normal anime fan. It’s a great way to know what the people are watching and possibly what their favorite series are. It also brings people together, and should their favorite anime land on the number one spot, it gives a small but still present, sense of joy to that person. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to see the things that they like flourish like that?

However, and here is where the messy part comes in, some people take it seriously. Even too seriously sometimes if that’s even a word. It starts flame wars and heated debates. Mostly it’s the so-called elitists in the community that start these wars, un-ironically. It’s as if, their way of thinking is that if an anime places high in a popularity poll, it’s automatically the best anime in the world.

I remember when I was still a Love Liver when the second season of Love Live Sunshine!!, the spin off series to the original Love Live, got first place in an Anitrending popularity poll, it was the ugliest post I’ve seen from them. It was total chaos, inside and outside of the post in question. Love Livers constantly taunting everyone else. Elitists typing up HUGE walls of texts just to prove the Love Livers wrong, enough words to even be considered as an academic essay by my professors. One or two trolls, just took advantage of the situation, but mostly it was an ongoing war between Love Livers and, well, everyone else. That’s just how I remember it.

I think, and I mentioned this earlier, the argument behind all of this is that an anime’s rightful place in a popularity poll must be consistent to its “quality.” I’ve seen many people say that the Love Live anime is written horribly and should therefore be lower in a popularity poll. The same people then proceed to endorse another anime that I frankly never cared to watch, which allegedly has “stellar” writing to be #1 in a popularity poll.

First of all, please remember that this is a popularity poll. This is not a “quality level ranking system.” The metric for this entire thing is simply, how many people like the series, nothing more nothing less. If many people watch it, then many people happen to be watching it. It’s as simple as that. Let’s go back to the case of Love Live. It’s undeniable that in Japan alone, Love Live isn’t something I’d consider to be a typical “community only” anime. It has certainly taken mainstream already in Japan, and it has huge cult level followings all across the globe. I already left the scene because of personal reasons, but I can tell you, it’s unstoppable. We could argue all day long about the flaws in the writing, and there are many, but many people still watch it.

Also, an anime’s “quality,” is entirely subjective, which means it may be different for everyone. Just because you perceive quality different than the average person, does not mean your words are superior. You could always argue to someone that an anime is good because of this and that, or bad because of whatever. Trying to convince people by stating your opinion, supported by solid arguments, that’s perfectly alright! That’s called, tearing apart a series and doing a close reading on it plus an opinion. What is not alright is to claim that your words are like the end all, like you’re the only one people should listen to. If it was like that, then AniBloggers and AniTubers wouldn’t exist in the first place.

Furthermore, honestly, not a lot of people watch anime for the “exquisite” writing and simply watch it as a stress reliever or a past time. Sure, it’s fun to tear apart a series and appreciate its good bits while roasting it’s bad bits, but normally that’s done AFTER the entire thing has finished.

Lastly, I know it feels bad to see your favorite series score low in these sorts of things (imagine how I feel everytime I see the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Site), but please do not let this get in the way of your enjoyment. You’re investing yourself in a battle, that will most likely take more away from you, than it will gain you. The broken interpersonal relationships, wasted time, stress, and decreased enjoyment that were consumed in this battle are not worth a #1 spot in a popularity poll.

To be clear, this isn’t an piece against popularity polls. I personally have no problem with them, and I actually like how it gives the fans a voice in the community. What did I hope to achieve writing this post then? You see, I personally think the petty fighting going on inside and outside these popularity polls is stupid, and frankly, this is just one of the many things that give people like us a bad name in the world. There’s more to anime, and life, than just numbers on a simple popularity poll, and I’d rather enjoy another 5 minutes of my favorite anime than to use that 5 minutes to look like a rabid weirdo fighting with a person I never even met with in the comments section of an AniTrending post.

I’m sorry if this was a bit too tough to swallow, but I felt the need to say it. What do you think? Please let me know!

Alright, I think that’s all for now. Thank you for reading as always, and please have a nice day ❤

Why A Japanese Learner Should NEVER Use Google Translate, Ever.

Hello again!

Today I’m going to talk about a topic that, I honestly, as a learner of Japanese, really wish to get across to those considering learning or are currently learning Japanese.
I am pretty sure anyone who has spent a considerable time on the internet knows about translation websites and services. These websites operate in such a way that a user enters a string in a certain language, and the software outputs a translation based on how it is coded, regardless of its accuracy. With that said, I think we can all agree that translation technology has a long way to go before it even gets close to natural, or at least accurate translation 100% of the time. I also think we can all agree that the most (in)famous of all these online translators is Google Translate.

efqawe

At least it knows it’s an expression. But still, oh my goodness…

Note, the above’s correct translation is “nonexistent.” あらへん is Kansai for ない.

Now to be fair, it’s already been established that Google Translate Japanese, is noticeably horrific, as evidenced by the many Japanese YouTubers who made videos on the subject. The way I see it, it’s really because of how English is structured that when it is run in Google Translate’s code, it tends to jack things up a lot. Japanese’s grammar is very different from English; so much different that I personally recommend studying Japanese brute force – no comparisons to English. Also, the fact that Japanese has different levels of politeness tends to mess with the AI so much, that sentences being translated by the translator could end up being overly polite, or overly rude, or a mix of both. Either way, it’s a pain to read. This issue of being jacked up in translation is also caused by the fact that Japanese has many dialects, although this one is more evident when translating Japanese to English (see my example above).

But just in case you don’t believe me:

Original English: My name is Ayappi. I’m 18 years old and love anime. I also love technology, especially my custom PC and my iPad Pro that I recently bought. I built the computer with parts I bought with my own money that I saved. 

Japanese (My Own): あやっぴです。18歳でアニメ大好きです。テクも大好きです。特に自分の自作PCと最近買ったiPad Pro。あの自作PC、貯めたお金でパーツを買って作りました。

Japanese (Google Translate): 私の名前はAyappiです。 私は18歳で、アニメを愛しています。 私はテクノロジー、特に私が最近買った私のカスタムPCとiPad Proも好きです。 私は私が自分のお金で買った部品でコンピュータを作りました。

While the first sentence is correct on the Google Translate one, it’s probably the only correct part. Notice the unnatural language, as well as the lack of Japanization of my name in the Google Translate version. あやっぴ is how you write my name in Japanese. Also notice how there is a noticeable overuse of 私, a dead giveaway that this is Google Translate, simply because a normal Japanese person would have just omitted the word altogether due to it being obvious.

Fun Tip: If you suspect someone is using Google Translate, please use a dialect or net slang. Chances are it will confuse them.

Okay, so we established that Google Translate is bad for translating sentences, but how about individual words? Surely it must be accurate in that department yeah? Well, based on my testing at least, it’s fairly accurate. It’s probably the one thing Google Translate is good at. However, I would like to point out one important thing, and that is the fact that alternatives to Google Translate for this purpose exist. Oftentimes, these alternatives are even better, and more powerful than Google Translate.

fsafa

Don’t you agree that this is more powerful?

I’m referring especially towards online dictionaries that offer English to Japanese capability. In particular, I love Jisho for its support for English to Japanese, and even support for romaji input if you’re still learning Hiragana and Katakana. I personally don’t see the point of using translation services which have been notorious for unreliable translations, when these more powerful and easy to use alternatives exist. When I’m communicating to actual people, I would much rather go through the trouble of using these dictionaries for more accurate translations instead of the arguably more convenient Google Translate.

And if a web browser based solution isn’t up to your preference, there are many free dictionary applications on both Android and iOS (if you’re on iOS I recommend Shirabe Jisho), that are equally as powerful as Jisho. Don’t worry about space too, because based on my testing, they’re small. Oftentimes it’ll just be as big as Facebook Messenger depending on how much you use the application.

I’m sorry if I came off as too rude or arrogant here, but honestly I wanted to get this out of the way. As a learner of Japanese I, too will admit that in the first few months of me learning, I used Google Translate until I realized how flawed the system is. If you have access to any form of dictionary, please for your own sake do not use Google Translate. If you don’t, look for one. I promise you, this is better than accidentally saying something else compared to what you actually wanted to say (and trust me, I learned the hard way).

Are you a learner of Japanese or do you know anyone who likes to use Google Translate a lot? Please let me know your thoughts! If you use a dictionary, what do you use and why did you choose that?

Until the next entry, please have a nice day! ❤

 

In Defense of Mahou Shoujo Site

If you are uncomfortable with sensitive topics, or spoilers, please do not read this article.

First of all, I would like to say, thank you to the first 5 followers I got. It really made me happy that you followed my blog 

I’ll work hard and do my best to bring more content slowly!

tumblr_p6sb8ydsn11vrsdito1_540

When people don’t like mahou shoujo site

Back on topic. A recent anime adapted from the manga of similar name, Mahou Shoujo Site has been making rounds in the anime community lately. Personally, like it, if not love it. But for the rest of the anime community, reception seems to be mixed judging from the ratings in BakaUpdates, MyAnimeList and YouTube, and I couldn’t blame them for it. For one thing, it is undeniable that the first episode of the anime does, bring a lot of so-called shock factor into the table. This is especially amplified by the transitions the directors used when switching scenes. This eventually leads majority of the opposition to say that the anime is merely shock value, and offers no substance whatsoever.

Another thing is that some people in the community accuse the show of being a blatant shot at a “Madoka ripoff,” and I couldn’t blame them for it because there are some things that are similar to Madoka in many ways. The most obvious being the fact that the show is dark and has magical girls in it, as well as death and despair.

But probably, the one thing that stood out among all of the other factors that contributed to this anime’s rise to its currently (in)famous  status is how the anime tackles very sensitive topics such as child abuse and rape. In the first episode alone, I could see why the anime gained the title “the edgiest anime of the season.” We have bullies making poor Aya’s life miserable in school (even attempted to rape her towards the end). We have a brother whose pressure from his father forces him to turn his sister Aya into a punching bag. It’s really, as the anime’s tagline says, unfortunate (不幸だね).

However, I personally will admit that I could handle such edge and I continued on to watch the anime. I even started to read the manga, and I am planning to buy Volume 10 of it soon. Since the anime isn’t finished yet, I decided to go and read the manga so I know what will happen next. By doing that, I realized two things:

  1. I love this manga
  2. The edginess in Episode 1 is important and necessary

What do I mean by Number 2? I personally think the Mahou Shoujo Site’s appearance to Aya wouldn’t have made much of an effect had the “edginess” been toned down. If we take a look at the mechanics behind when does the site appear to a girl, it’s obvious that the site is approaching unfortunate young girls. For the site, the meaning of unfortunate seems to be that a person really has to have a sort-of living hell in their lives. And this lines up with the fact that the purpose of the sticks is apparently to collect negative energy from daily interactions with the world. Obviously, living a living hell, which causes despair, is chock full of negative energy.

horriblesubs-mahou-shoujo-site-01-720p-mkv_20180407_010359-460

I love these two to bits

Let’s take a look at the backstories behind some of our main characters before they became magical girls:

Asagiri Aya: Abusive brother who uses her as a punching bag, bullies that almost got her raped, but cause her physical harm everyday. “Everyday, all [she] thinks about is dying.”

Yatsumura Tsuyuno: Her entire family was murdered by a burglar, and has since lived alone in a state of panic and fear for her life

Nijimin: Her father committed suicide due to debt from loan sharks. Her mother, and she was (from what I understood) almost was forced by these loan sharks to become a prostitute.

There is another Mahou Shoujo who I forgot the name of had her family killed off by a murderer in a stabbing spree.

We can see obviously that these are very, very unfortunate situations unimaginable to happen in our daily lives, living hells if you will. Had these been toned down to just being lonely, then I think it defeats the purpose of the site catering to “unfortunate” young girls. If it was toned down, the Mahou Shoujo Site wouldn’t even approach Aya in the first place. These things do happen in real life, and possibly this was the best way the author could have made the girl’s lives really unfortunate while still being realistic and unfortunate. I know the themes being tackled by this series are very sensitive and serious issues in society, but honestly, I would rather the author use these instead of some unrealistic way to make the character’s lives utterly miserable.

Had Aya’s situation been just relegated to bullying without the physical harm and attempted rape, or domestic abuse from her brother, or really anyone in the story, then the story would deviate from the dark nature the Mahou Shoujo Site possesses.  Again, going back to the sticks and harvesting negative energy, it only makes sense that the most surefire way of harvesting negative energy is to get it from girls who are living a living hell.

Furthermore, I personally think that the accusation that the anime is all shock value is unfair. While it is true that the anime does bring a lot of shock value to the table, advancing a few episodes or reading the manga would reveal that the series isn’t really all shock value. There were plenty of opportunities for character development down the road, and honestly, one episode of an anime isn’t enough to label the entire series most of the time. We could argue every day about the flaws of the writing, and I’ll admit it isn’t the best, but to say that the series brings nothing but shock is unfair and is a weak argument in my opinion.

On the subject of the anime/manga being a Madoka rip off, I beg to disagree. Sure, the series is similar to Madoka in many fronts, other than the fact that both are about magical girls in despair, with magical tools from “magical beings” with ulterior motives. However, the one big difference in Madoka and this series is the way the “magical beings” represented by Kyubey in Madoka and the site administrators in Mahou Shoujo Site approach their targets.

kyubey_with_airi

In Madoka, Kyubey esssentially approaches young girls, and doesn’t seem to have a criteria for them. Kyubey judges based on the potential magic ability, and grants young girls a wish in exchange for being a magical girl, which may or may not cause despair when the wish takes a turn for the worse. In Mahou Shoujo Site, despair is a pre-requisite for one to become qualified to be a mahou shoujo. The site administrators do not grant wishes, they simply give a stick with a random power to the girl in despair.

The mechanics of the mahou shoujo also differ a lot from Madoka Magica. Unlike Mahou Shoujo Site’s girls, in Madoka, the use of magic ability does not adversely affect biological lifespan. Madoka’s system is that with every use, the girl’s soul gem gets darker and needs to be purified by a grief seed to become clean again. In Mahou Shoujo Site, every minute equates to loss of life and physically affects the health of the user. It should be noted as well that the nature of the soul gem is different than that of the sticks, in a sense that if the stick is lost, you simply lose the thing as evidenced in the events after the  incident with Sarina and Yatsumura’s apartment, rather than being a lifeless corpse after a certain distance has been travelled as demonstrated by Sayaka’s gem being thrown by Madoka into a truck.

With all that said, in the end, whether or not the anime is to your liking is up to you. However, I highly suggest following the three episode rule and give it another chance. That is assuming, you’re alright with seeing a lot of blood because if there’s one thing that the anime doesn’t hold back about, it’s blood. I love the anime and manga and obviously I’d love it if people loved it too, but what you prefer is out of my control. I could sit here all day, and try to counter the arguments posed by those who do not like the show, but really, only you have the power to decide what is good for you. Please remember that. I simply wrote this article just to bring my opinions to the table, and to possibly give you a different perspective when it comes to this really edgy anime that I, personally, came to love.

mahou_shoujo_site_nana

How about you? Please let me know with a comment how you feel about this series? If you dropped it, would you consider rewatching it? Or at least read the manga?

I think that’s all for now, please have a great day and a happy mahou shoujo life. 

If you want to watch the anime legally, it’s available on Prime Video. If you want to buy the manga, I recommend heading over to eBookJapan for the cheapest digital copy (based on what I could find). Just a quick note however, based on what I noticed, the anime differs a bit from the events in the manga, especially with Sarina.