Bocchi the Rock! – 01 (First Impressions) – Guitar Heroine

I never did replace Renai Flops after dropping it, and I’ve heard and read good things about Bocchi the Rock!, so I thought better to check it out late than never! Reviews to come as I find time to watch back episodes.—Zane

First-year middle schooler Gotou Hitori describes herself as an “archetypal introvert”, but when she learns from TV that even introverts can become cool and popular if they join bands, she borrows her dad’s guitar and starts practicing, with the plan to create a band and perform at the cultural festival.

Those plans would prove … optimistic. Three years pass, and while she never puts the guitar down, gets quite good at it, and posts covers on YouTube and gets good feedback, she never made a band, never performed, and never even made a friend. She aims to change all that in her first year of high school.

But despite psyching herself up and decking herself out in Rocker Chick garb and accessories, no one approaches Hitori in the first month of the school year. Granted, she’s just passively waiting for people to approach her. She has social anxiety, stammers, and has trouble making eye contact.

But even if Hitori can’t communicate externally, her colorful, dynamic inner voice is a genuine delight. Props to Aoyama Yoshino for nailing both sides of Hitori, which make her an instantly likeable protagonist you want to see succeed.

Sure enough, when hanging out on a swing a girl with red boots and a blonde sidetail approaches her while yelling “Guitar!” Ijichi Nijika is her name, and a guitarist is what she needs for a show … today.

After a quick train to the stylish Shimo-Kitagawa district, Nijika leads Hitori to the basement club called Starry. Immediately Hitori is encouraged by the darkness and stuffiness, reminding her of the closet where she spent most of the last three years. She also meets Yamada Ryou, a cool beauty and bassist.

A quick scan of the sheet music for the set reveals nothing Hitori can’t handle musically, but after her first-ever practice with other human beings, they’re unable to hold back the hard honest truth: she sucks. Or, rather, she sucks staying in synch in a band. But that’s what you’d you expect … she’s never been in one!

After curling up into the fetal position, the “sub-water flea” Hitori jumps into a garbage can, and even considers committing guitar hara-kiri on stage. But Nijika and Ryou insist she’s being too hard on herself, and everything will be fine. When she mentions she uploads covers, she learns that not only to both girls know about her (through her YT handle “guitarhero”), but think she’s awesome.

While this revitalizes her, Hitori still has legitimate concerns about being able to stand on a stage and play (this is someone who only recently became capable of speaking to Nijika) so her bandmates produce a big mango box she can play inside. They immediately notice the change in her personality once she feels safe and secure.

Nijika and Ryou tell Hitori that their band is called Kessoku Band (as in zip-tie band), and then give her an appropriate nickname: “Bocchi”, as in hitoribocchi (“all alone”).

With that, it is time to rock, and while we don’t get to hear most of the set, all we need to know is that it wasn’t that great, at least by the standards the band is trying to meet. That’s not just on Hitori, mind you: Nijika and Ryou know they have flaws too. They’re grateful Bocchi was able to play with them, and look forward to playing with her again.

Nijika wants to take Bocchi out to celebrate her first ever set in her first ever band, but all this social interaction has exhausted Hitori to the point she simply has to head home for the night, so she takes a rain check (Ryou also falls asleep on her feet).

Honestly, I would have been disappointed if Bocchi and Kessoku Band kicked ass right out of the gate. Rather, it will be fun to watch Bocchi grow more comfortable talking to her new bandmates, meeting the fourth member who appears in both OP and ED, and watching the band learn from and get better together. It’s a very solid, fun start to a show I wish I’d picked up eight weeks ago!

The Eminence in Shadow – 06 – Blood and Chocolate

While a monotonous impostor is going around town killing people saying the same phrase over and over again: “We are Shadow Garden,” things are kept light at the academy, where Po and Skel urge Cid to visit a new store that sells strange new things like “chocolate.” We learn the pink-haired girl Cid bumped into is Sherry Barnett, a fellow student and expert researcher tasked with studying a Diabolos artifact by Iris.

There’s an 80-minute line to get in the store, which gives Cid a bit of nostalgia of home due to its similarity to malls and department stores in modern Japan. Sure enough, an employee invites him (and only him) to a “survey”and ends up taking him to the opulent private top floor.

There he encounters Gamma, perhaps the smartest (and least coordinated) of the Seven Shadows. She reports that she took the stories of what stores were like in his old life and built this place, which is now raking in gold to finance Shadow Garden.

Cid, still somehow convinced this is all a big game, is impressed that she built him such a beautiful “set” (which is actually a legit throne room). Gamma also introduces him to the newest Shadows, appropriately enough named Nu.

While running home to beat curfew, Cid suddenly stops and acts out an elaborate, postcard memory-filled farce about having to poop so bad he has to duck into an alley, and asking Po and Skel to go on without him. It’s pretty hilariously executed, particularly when he drops the act the second they split.

In that alley, Cid sensed combat, but his suspicion that the random killer on the loose was Alexia gone bad turns out to be false; she’s fighting the true killers, who number at least three. When one of them slashes her arm, he intervenes and causes them to flee. When Alexia asks Cid what he’s after, he merely tells her to stay out of it and chases the baddies.

Those baddies find that trying to escape the clutches of the Eminence in Shadow is quite impossible, as they’re cut off by Nu, who is eager to show her bonafides to her boss. The next day, rumors of Cid’s outdoor pooping somehow spread, but he still gives Po and Skel chocolate; the latter striking out spectacularly when he tries to give it to an upperclasswoman.

As for Cid, he gives it to the first girl he sees, which turns out to be Sherry in the library. Later, her father (also head researcher of the academy) tells her what chocolate is and that receiving it from a boy means that boy probably likes her. That said, Cid’s two interactions with Sherry thus far have been purely incidental. We’ll see if that becomes a recurring gag, or if there are more meaningful dealings between them to come.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Isekai Ojisan – 07 – Power Trip

We witness along with Takafumi and Fujimiya Ojisan’s continued misinterpreting of Elf’s words and actions (ironic considering his translation ability), accusing her of being a thief for insisting on keeping the hoodie she believe was gived to her as a gift.

That said, Elf did give Ojisan something in return: her sparkly green dress you can bet cost a lot more than the ratty hoodie. Ojisan lets Fujimiya try it on, and Takafumi admits she looks good in it. The trio are trying to determing how Ojisan’s “Wild Talker” translation is triggered, but Fujimiya is called away on an errand.

Takafumi and Ojisan keep watching, and come upon the first time Ojisan met Alicia (Toyosaki Aki) and her party-mates Raiga and Edgar, who came to fight a horde of goblins and assumed Ojisan was one of them due to his looks. The group then teams up to fight the actual goblin horde.

That said, Alicia’s party doesn’t get to do much but watch as Ojisan puts on an amazing display of magic. Ojisan claims that playing Golden Axe on Genesis prepared him for this fight while the opposite is true. That said, he prevails, and as the party heads to the village for their reward, Alicia takes Ojisan aside and tells him she witnessed him raising the barrier protecting Luvaldram.

Rather than trust her to keep the secret (and she says she will), he wipes her memory and those of Edgar and Raiga, ending their friendship before it could really take off. However, Ojisan soon encounters the three again, this time assuming he’s the beast they were sent to slay due to his appearance It’s not deja vu for them since all memory of him was wiped.

When they describe the beast as a prickly hedgehog that rolls up into a ball to attack, Ojisan’s mind naturally wanders to visions of Sonic. However, the actual beast turns out to be a biologically correct hedgehog, and thus unrecognizable to Ojisan. Worse, when he uses Wild Talker to converse, he learns the giant hedgehog is a sadistic monster, and incinerates him on the spot.

Suddenly a phone rings; Fujimiya’s phone, which she left at Takafumi’s. He enlists his uncle’s aid in flying him to Fujimiya’s college where they spot her being hassled by a skeevy looking dude. Ojisan leaves the handling of the situation to his nephew, lending him his powers for an hour, just in case.

But when Takafumi gets a better look at the red-haired menace who is all over Fujimiya, he suddenly recognizes him as her cute little brother, Chiaki…who is still in the fourth damn grade. Similarly, when Chiaki realizes it’s Takafumi, his twisted, grotesque face (a quality his older sister shared at that age) suddenly becomes flush and enthusiastic.

Chiaki looking like a skeevy twenty-year old while he’s actually Fujimiya’s fourth-grade brother is an amazing joke that had me rolling, especially due to the consistency with which young Fujimiyas are depicted as more orc (or goblin)-like than everyone in the other world regarded Ojisan. As a little kid, he has also never heard of most of the stuff Ojisan talks to him about, once he joins the group.

When Fujimiya asks what Takafumi would have done if Chiaki had been an adult guy flirting with her, he shows off his temporary uncle powers and makes the two of them invisible, creates two holographic decoys, then teleports them to Fujimiya’s lecture hall several stories up.

Fujimiya is impressed by how quickly Takafumi has managed to master Ojisan’s magic, and notes that this situation reminds her of when he stood up for her when she got shoved by three boys back in grade school. Takafumi decides to tap into her memories and project them as Ojisan does so they can take a look at what happened.

Naturally, things unfolded much differently than either party remembers. Fujimiya wasn’t shoved, she was the shover, and was probably going to do more had Takafumi not arrived to “rescue” her. But even though she was the instigator, Fujimiya was happy then, just as she’s happy now to know he’s got her back.

Takafumi then meets Sawa, Fujimiya’s friend since high school, who tells him Fujimiya has gotten quite popular with the guys since “becoming cuter” in the last six months. Takafumi, still drunk on Ojisan’s temporary power, demands to know the names and locations of said guys (so he can wipe all memory of Fujimiya from their heads).

This protectiveness/possessiveness and his blushing when Fujimiya leaned in to whisper to him suggest there’s something there, but she has a long way to go to get out of the Friendzone. Back at Takafumi’s, he and Fujimiya watch as Alicia reveals herself to be the Hero, AKA “Shining Crusader”, just as I suspected she would be. I look forward to her future interactions with Ojisan.

Isekai Ojisan – 06 – Skipping Karaage Night

Ojisan continues to show Takafumi and Fujimiya his torturous first days in another world, where his captors try to sell him but end up making forty times more bronze coins selling a used scoring pad, adding insult to injury. Ojisan is imprisoned for seven days, but thanks to his translation ability is able to communicate with the world’s spirit of light.

He reaches out to the beam of moonlight in his cell, and it becomes a solid sword in his hands. He uses that to break out of jail and release all the cute little creatures imprisoned there, but they turn out to be vicious monsters and he spends the rest of the night slaughtering them.

This, to Ojisan, represents being “off to a good start.” Fujimiya gets a text from home; it’s fried chicken night, but she’s eager to learn more about how he saved Elf from the vemon dragon. She later regrets passing on the chicken as the dragon fight is over in five seconds. Ojisan makes the right first move by offering the half-naked Elf his hoodie, but she temporarily “glitches” from the sudden urge to kill the orc-looking man before him.

She checks herself and stows her dagger in the transdimensional inventory, but to Ojisan it looks like she’s stabbing herself, and lifts up the hoodie expecting to find a gaping wound. Needless to say, it’s not the best first impression to expose a girl’s nudity right after covering it, so in this instance Elf’s berating of Ojisan is justified. But he’d only ever interpret that verbal abuse as contempt, when really the opposite is true.

That’s proven to be the case when Ojisan fast-forwards to the night he was frozen by Mabel, as he wakes up with both Elf and Mabel sleeping on top of him, perhaps to hasten his thawing but also because at least in Elf’s case she has a thing for the guy despite herself (and his looks).

Elf’s monopoly on Ojisan is disrupted by Mabel, who talks in her sleep about not wanting to work. Ojisan suggests that after sleeping in a bit, they go out for breakfast. Mabel and Elf formally introduce themselves and their goals (Mabel wants to explore, Elf wants to find ancient relics, and Ojisan, AKA “Wolfgunblood”, wants to find a way home. “Wolf”, as Mabel starts calling him for short, plans to scout out a dungeon where the storied Hero known as the “Shining Crusader” apparently is.

For now, though, it’s late, and Fujimiya is starving from skipping dinner. Ojisan in his magnanimity offers to treat her and Takafumi to ramen. Even though Takafumi ends up being a few yen short and Fujimiya has to pay after all, the three slurp with great abandon, as watching Ojisan’s adventures clearly worked up an appetite.

I imagine next week will pick up on the part of Ojisan’s story where he currently has two ostensible party members and seems poised to gain a third. I bet the “Hero” mentioned is the third female character in the OP and promo art, voiced by Toyosaki Aki.

Considering what entertaining characters Elf and Mabel are, I’m looking forward to her introduction and seeing how she bounces off the others…not to mention how Takafumi and Fujimiya react and comment on her arrival in Ojisan’s life.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

DanMachi IV – 06 – Mister Popular and Miss Opportunities

DanMachi IV’s sixth episode serves as an epilogue that bridges the Moss Huge mini-arc and the mini-arc to come. What it lacks in excitement and stakes it more than makes up for with character, comedy, and charm. It’s also a rest episode our battered party both needs and deserves.

In the rest area, Lili allows herself an indulgence as Bell’s Supporter and asks if he can speak to him later, after all of his daily business is concluded. Meanwhile, unknown to either of them, the gods are having their periodic meeting/hot god goss symposium.

One order of business is bestowing an official Second Name for Bell, and the other gods (including Freya and Loki) make a mockery of something Hestia wants done properly to honor her dear familia. Hestie eventually gets everyone to settle on Rabbit’s Foot—which is a damn fine and fitting name!

Bell meets with Luvis and Dromel in the hospital, who both bestow their thanks to him for saving them, but also praising Lili for inspiring them with her words and actions in crunch time. He also meets with Ouka and Chigusa, then is immediately snatched up by Cassandra and Daphne…so they can get a store discount!

The gag, which is an oldie but a goldie, is that due to Lili being too deferent and unselfish, all the things she wanted to talk to Bell about later are being talked about already by others, because the business of his day never ends, and then continues into the night. All while she hides around the corner and reacts.

Of my two favorite such reactions, one is when she giddily accepts the praise she hears from her party-mates mouths, and the other is when a drunk Aisha comes on to Bell and Lili reacts by throwing a smoke bomb and getting him the hell out of there, which as Supporter moves go, is pretty aces.

All the pent up frustration both Lili felt and we felt for Lili thankfully get released, when she tells Bell something no one else could: that after the Xenos incident, she was worried he was drifting off to another world (she even uses the word isekai), but recent events of assuaged those worries.

Rabbit’s Foot is better than ever, but also as kind and caring as he’s always been. Watching beside Lili as Bell interacted with his family, friends, allies, and admirers, we were reminded why Bell is so easy to root for; he’s almost too perfect at this point, right?

Lili would agree, and I like that while what she wants to say to him is built up like an imminent confession would, her bond with Bell feels that much deeper. Uchida Maaya does great voice work in a lovely Lili spotlight episode that shows how much she treasures her bond, and how she’s determined to keep growing beside Bell.

As for the cliffhanger that shows that Ryuu Lion might be a murderer? Well, let’s just say I have homework for before next week’s episode: Research what the hell led Ryuu to this place, assuming she’s not being mind-controlled in some way…

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Isekai Ojisan – 05 – Another Region Code

It’s clearly become a daily habit for Fujimiya to come by Takafumi’s place where they watch video of Ojisan’s isekai adventures. They’re basically couch potatoes watching fantasy reality TV. But hey, if it’s entertaining, and there’s no other way Fujimiya knows of to hang out with the oblivious Takafumi, so be it!

The latest “episode” they tuck into is when Ojisan was “nearly assassinated” The identity of her assailant in the night is made plain by her ice sword and silvery blue bangs. It’s Mabel, whom Ojisan scorned by ignoring the hints she dropped and defeating the Blaze Dragon without the god-freezing sword.

No sooner does Ojisan express worry about whether Mabel is eating well does she pass out, and she wakes up in an inn. When he asks what happened to her life of leisure, she says the village cut down the tree she lived in and gave her an ultimatum: get a job, or become the village pet. She chose neither, and instead froze everyone from the hips down and dropped icy water down their backs before fleeing.

She now finds herself aimless, but Ojisan tells her she already has the means to live the life she chooses, not just with the ice sword, but with a Cosmite ring he slipped on her finger while she slept. When Mabel considers reforming her gloomy personality, Ojisan rejects the notion that being an introvert is a bad thing, and says her eyes are attractive.

Between the ring and the compliments, Mabel has the distinct feeling she’s being proposed to by Ojisan. She offers him the ring back, but her claim about having no romantic feelings is debunked by the fact the ice seal on the sword (and thus, her heart) is melting like gangbusters behind her.

When Ojisan insists she keep it and that they should turn in for the night, Mabel’s first instinct is to ask for change for the public bath. That’s when Ojisan breaks her misunderstanding by saying once she sells the ring she can get change for the bath and everything else for the remainder of her life. Realizing this was not a proposal, her heart and the sword freeze so violently Ojisan takes defensive action.

When Elf hears the commotion and comes in the room, she finds what looks like Ojisan magically tying Mabel down to have his way with her, so she snaps his chains and lets Mabel free to encase him in ice for the night. The two women find kinship in their mutual emotional suffering at the hands of Ojisan. Mind you, he isn’t doing this intentionally…his brain just has a different region code.

The idea of being able to translate body language, sarcasm, and innuendo is expanded as the story continues, with Mabel and Elf chatting while Ojisan stands frozen. Takafumi and Fujimiya are intrigued when they hear Mabel say the word “Japan”, and starts to tell a story of another traveler from Japan who came to their world and was greeted by a god who bestowed upon him a divine power.

Mabel creates beautiful visuals for her story with ice and tells the story well, but it’s a story Elf has already heard, and she harshly cuts her off, resulting in having to comfort her with hug when she breaks down into tears. Back in our world, meanwhile, Ojisan feels cheated: when he ended up in another world, he wasn’t greeted by a god or given any divine power.

That leads his audience of two to insist that he rewind his memories all the way back to 18 years ago when he was 17 (and actually young looking!) and first arrived in the other world. While rewinding, he passes by dozens of instances of him being hunted, captured, persecuted, and nearly executed in a number of different ways, underscoring how rough Uncle has had it and how amazing it is he’s as well-adjusted and untraumatized as he is.

But the elegantly set up joke is that a “god” did in fact speak to him when he first arrived…he was just too busy being beaten up by adventurers who thought he was an orc to hear. Also, the “god” in question was simply a recording in Mandarin, which when Takafumi translates with his phone, reveals that when Ojisan was being beaten, he wished to be able to understand the language of his attackers, and that wish came true.

While we know from his misadventures over the next eighteen years that this didn’t make life in this new world much easier, it did make it possible, such that when he did come upon a couple of souls like Elf and Mabel who were willing to see him as more than just a hideous orc variant, he gained companions.

Of course, with Ojisan’s brain region coded as it was, simply speaking the language wasn’t enough. He missed the nuance and context of their words and actions and almost always completely misinterpreted them. One wonders if Elf and Mabel themselves were bestowed with divine patience to endure his infuriating conduct without murdering him!

Isekai Ojisan – 04 – A Pinch Is a Chance

In one of Takafumi’s memories from grade school, he’s bullied by some boys for reading an innocent fantasy LN, only to be bailed out by Fujimiya, who may still looks like a demon to lil’ Takafumi’s eyes, but he’s genuinely moved by her support. Present-day Fujimiya remains mortified that this is how Takafumi viewed her, especially as she became more girly in middle school.

But that was then and this is now, and Fujimiya has high hopes for her newly-rekindled relationship with Takafumi. When she learns he got cash from Ojisan for his birthday which he spent on a coffee grinder and some fancy beans, she decides to send him a “gift” of her own.

This comes in the form of a photo of her in a swimsuit from middle school, which while cute, even she realizes in hindsight might’ve been a questionable choice. But hey, watching your crush’s childhood memories in which you’re a loathsome devil spawn does weird things to the mind!

That said, Takafumi couldn’t be more tactless when his first instinct is to ask Siri how to delete the photo from SM, and then he gets an alert about a sale on coffee beans and once again leaves Fujimiya with his uncle. When he almost spills his coffee, he casts an ice spell that freezes her, then melts her with flame.

The result of all this is that Fujimiya is soaked and needs to take a shower to warm up. Ojisan leaves the apartment to give her her privacy, but Takafumi enters when she’s wearing one of his shirts and nothing else. Again, after watching a younger Takafumi portray her as a monster, seeing him react to seeing her inspires her to uses this “pinch” as a “chance”, in Ojisan’s words.

Unfortunately, Takafumi proves as dense about Fujimiya’s feelings and intentions as Ojisan is about Elf. He considers it shameful that he should feel this way about looking at a “good friend”, and when Ojisan arrives on full battle alert (due to Takafumi using the wrong flag signal) Takafumi asks him to delete his memories of seeing Fujimiya. Of course, Fujimiya stops the spell, and warns Takafumi she’ll dress like this again if he wipes his memory.

When Fujimiya turns twenty, she and Takafumi and Ojisan have a modest but warm celebration drinking their preferred choice of canned alcoholic beverages and watching more of Ojisan’s misromantic adventures with Elf. Elf is astonished he was able to restore the city barrier, and also recalls when Ojisan (or “Orc Face” as she calls him) saved her from a venom dragon.

After a bit more of their usual repartee, Uncle suddenly takes her by the hand and draws her to his side as they walk through the town market. Elf is shocked by this sudden bout of lovey-dovey behavior, but she can’t hide her enjoyment of it either. When it looks like he’s ready to take her up to his room, it isn’t until he gets his door open that it’s revealed he only needed someone to lean on.

He slams the door in her face, locks said door, and falls immediately asleep. The next morning Elf shows signs she cried herself to sleep. In short, Ojisan’s an unintentional villain, and Fujimiya must do everything in her power to keep Takafumi from turning out the same way.

In the present, Ojisan demonstrates how he can in no way hold his liquor, and then offers to take Fujimiya home via flight. Ojisan, Fujimiya, and Takafumi end up flying through the air upside down, with Ojisan merging the fantasy of the game he was playing with reality, and his nephew and his friend are simply along for the ride.

The end credits are cut short by an extra segment in which Ojisan once again gives Elf the wrong idea by sucking out poison that turns out to have aphrodisiac effects on Elf. When his doting closeness gets to be too much for her, she merely socks him in the face with a swift kick. Fujimiya asks Ojisan if he still has some of that poison so she might be able to use it on Takafumi…because a pinch is a chance!

Isekai Ojisan – 03 – The Things We Do for Views

Takafumi returns home to find Fujimiya and what looks like Elf from the other world where his Uncle lived. It’s definitely an effective hook, and then the episode rewinds an hour and change to a stark reality of YouTubers in February 2018: if you didn’t meet a certain subscriber and view quota, you’d be cut off from what had been a nice little revenue stream.

Takafumi discovers that one reason their channel is struggling is Ojisan’s tendency to type elaborate but ultimately awful replies to each and every commenter, many of whom are then put off and unsubscribe. This current dilemma reminds Ojisan of when the barrier of the Sealed City fell and 1,000 beasts arrived at the walls.

Naturally, his nephew wants to see and hear about this, so Ojisan switches on the ol’ memory recorder and plays back the events of those days. Notable is how pretty much everything Elf says to him could come across as verbal harassment (rather than the tsundere flirting it is).

When Ojisan nonchalantly shatters the barrier and the beasts arrive, Elf is resolved to fight them all herself while he runs—she likes him that much. But after a serously badass weapon unsheathing sequence and blasting herself towards the walls like a missile, she ends up splatting on the newly-formed barrier, the result of Ojisan asking the spirits to repair it.

No matter; Elf doesn’t tell any of the townsfolk that he dropped the barrier to begin with, and in exchange simply asks him to buy her dinner. But Ojisan, who always interprets her words and body language the wrong way, instead leaves the city without her.

Takafumi hugs himself in despair, and this is what Fujimiya sees when she arrives, trying to make a habit of being around her old friend. The thing is, Takafumi remains disturbingly oblivious to her affections, and even leaves her alone in his apartment to take care of some random errand.

Ojisan may not have much real-world romantic experience, but he can tell Fujimiya’s a good girl and she wants to be closer to his nephew. Unfortunately, Fujimiya does not want to talk to some frumpy uncle about this, so Ojisan borrows Elf’s appearance and voice and insists he’s Takafumi’s “aunt” so they can engage in girl talk. That brings us back to the cold open.

In order to get to the bottom of why Takafumi stubbornly only thinks of Fujimiya as a friend, he taps into his memories and then visualizes them. in them, a cretinous child mercilessly beats upon a helpless young Takafumi. Fujimiya asks where she is…and then it dawns on her: she’s the cretin. Form her perspective back then they enjoyed a “bittersweet” relationship, but just like Ojisan with Elf, Takafumi saw it more as bullying and abuse.

Elf!Ojisan marvels at how his nephew even managed to recognize a grown-up Fujimiya on the street, but Takafumi says he’d never forget her, and holds up a fist for her to bump while blushing profusely. Takafumi then decides that he and Ojisan should record a video of “her” playing Guardian Heroes.

Ojisan is naturally psyched…until he sees the final product: the video doesn’t show any of the actual gameplay—just Ojisan in the form of a sexy elf girl in a long hoodie playing off-screen video games. Ojisan is shocked and appalled, but the video goes viral, with 200,000 views and counting. Takafumi celebrates the great success of his hunch, while Ojisan reverts to his normal appearance before a terrified Fujimiya. I could honestly watch this offbeat, eccentric dynamic packed with amazing reaction faces all day!

Isekai Ojisan – 02 – Neon Genesis Osananajimi

Ojisan’s Youtube views are dropping, so he institutes austerity measures in the home budget—though only after he orders a copy of a video game magazine listing the final results of Sega Saturn reader’s choice. He learns that one of his favorite games, Guardian Heroes, was only ranked 197th. I never played that, but I did play the heck out of a Genesis game by Treasure called Gunstar Heroes, which was immensely fun.

After summoning lighting to sufficiently punctuate his moment of shock despair, Takafumi gets him to stop talking about video games and show him another recorded memory from his time in the isekai. When the village elder shows him to the Frost Clan member Mabel, who goes ahead and tells Ojisan what’s needed to unfreeze her heart, only for Ojisan to ignore all that and defeat the dragon without her Frost Sword.

First Takafumi’s uncle misinterpreted elf’s tsundere behavior as shit-talking, then he totally circumvents the other world’s “quest”. Those blunders aside, Takafumi still thinks enough of his uncle to give him a Sega Saturn for his birthday, which they play to ring in the year 2018.

Ojisan also shows Takafumi how the other world celebrated the new year, only for him to simply eat some chicken by himself and retire to his room. When he mentions Mabel visited in his room later that night, Takafumi switches off the Saturn and demands to hear more.

Turns out Ojisan convinced Mabel that her ennui and reclusive behavior were simply living her truth, and that there was nothing wrong with that, and she should go on doing it if that’s what she wanted. It is, and she does, which even Takafumi can tell is both teaching and learning the wrong lesson!

When Fujimiya Sumika first encounters Ojisan, she assumes he’s a rambling old weirdo and commits to walking a different route. However, it’s thanks to this route that she’s unexpectedly reunited with her childhood friend Takafumi, who has since grown taller than her. Sumika, who we see was once very attached to Takafumi when they were kids, is clearly jazzed to see him again.

She accepts his invitation to stop by his house, which she does after dropping off her groceries, only for the same weird old man she saw in the park to come in through the balcony sliding door. Ojisan initially treats Sumika as an enemy and tries to wipe her memory, but Takafumi intervenes, resulting in quite a bit of physical contact.

Sumika shakes off the attempted assault, but immediately takes the stand that Takafumi shouldn’t be letting his old uncle mooch off of him. When Takafumi confirms that his Ojisan actually does have magic powers he gained in another world, Sumika says what we’d all say: “So show me.”

It doesn’t take long even for someone like Ojisan to pick up on Sumika’s attraction to Takafumi, though she may deny it, leading him to bring up Evangelion, in which Asuka was a famous early example of the tsundere archetype (something Oji has yet to catch on to when it comes to Elf).

Sumika is actually moved by Ojisan’s sad tale that is actually ripped directly from the Saturn game Alien Soldier, at which point Sumika is fed up with having her emotions toyed with. Then Ojisan reads her mind, revealing she showered and changed before coming to Takafumi’s, and was disappointed to learn he had a roommate.

But while she’s disappointed, she also seems to still like Takafumi enough that she’s not going to stand by and do nothing while Takafumi is leeched on by a layabout charlatan. As with Elf and Mabel, I love Sumika’s dynamic character design. She’s cute, but still the tough kid she was when she first fell for Takafumi. It’s a shame Takafumi is 100% oblivious to her long-standing crush, but she and Mabel are fine additions to this colorful cast.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Isekai Ojisan – 01 (First Impressions) – SEGAwakening

Isekai Ojisan (Uncle from Another World) starts off efficiently and confidently. Takafumi’s uncle suddenly wakes up after 17 years in a coma. At first his nephew things he’s gone insane because he’s speaking in a bizarre language. But then Ojisan switches to Japanese, and demonstrates that he can do magic. Takafumi, who was about to basically kick his uncle to the curb, decides to rip up that paperwork and welcome him into his modest but too-large-for-one apartment.

There, Takafumi supplements his part-time job (or possibly replaces it) by making YouTube videos where Ojisan demonstrates his magic powers. They get decent views but also a fair share of haters, which disturb Ojisan. Since he hasn’t been in this world since 2000, for a Segaholic like him the Dreamcast was the pinnacle of gaming…and life.

Takafumi discovers that all phones are boring touchscreens now, and is crestfallen that Sega is no longer a console superpower. But Ojisan’s superpowers enable him to fly to the locations of Amazon and Ebay purchases so they don’t have to pay exorbitant shipping fees. He can also show his nephew his memories as if recorded with a 360-degree camera.

This is how Takafumi first sees the elf woman who apparently followed his uncle around for years and berated him. Little does the obviously romantically-stunted Ojisan know that Elf is of the type that would by 2004 be clearly classified as tsundere (though Asuka Langley Soryu was around three years before he was sent to another world).

There’s a running gag that his somewhat homely looks made most everyone in the other world—who is handsome, hot, beautiful, etc.—believe he was some kind of orc mutant. There’s a memory he plays (without audio) of rescuing three siblings from a real orc, and then they’re so horrified by his appearance the eldest bravely sacrifices herself, thinking he’ll kill her.

Visually speaking, the drab and de-saturated palette was a little concerning at first, but when we went into the other world where he lived, everything is bright and lacks the same rough texture—it’s a great contrast that also accentuates the heightened beauty of the other world and its inhabitants.

Overall it’s a great-looking show with a simple fish-out-of-water premise that’s easy to get on board with and enjoy the ride. The comedy hits, the faces are tremendous, and the cute tsundere elf girl is cute and tsundere. While it’s unfortunate the show is experiencing delays due to Covid, that affords me time to catch up.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Aharen-san wa Hakarenai – 07 – More Aharen Than Aharen

Aharen may be tiny, but she needs a lot of food to keep going, so when she forgets to bring the lunch she made to school, it’s a major problem. Aharen decides to brave the chaotic school store, but even when Raidou puts her on his shoulders and powers through, her voice is too quiet to be heard. Ultimately the problem is solved when her dog Nui delivers her lunch. What a good boy!

After lunch, Raidou and Aharen play Go Fish with Ishikawa and Satou, their official second and third friends at school after Ooshino. Despite dealing the cards an possessing a multi-stage strategy for victory, Aharen runs roughshod over those plans, beating him twice on account of both luck and his misinterpretation of her expressions.

When it’s time to go to a different room for science class, Raidou notes how Aharen doesn’t move after waking up, chalking it up to the rebellious teenage urge to cut class. Turns out she was asleep in the same position so long she can’t move. Raidou resolves to carry her on his back—for the rest of their days, if necessary—but she soon regains the ability to move. Her issue is she stayed up late thinking of what side dishes she should make for Raidou’s lunch. What a keeper!

Turns out Futaba believes the way to her Akkun’s heart is through his stomach, so she challenges Futaba to a lunch duel. Aharen dusts her easily, but is magnanimous in victory, giving Futaba a cooking lesson in the home ec classroom. When Futaba returns the next day cursing Aharen for “poisoning” her lunch, Raidou points out the need to make a fresh lunch, otherwise it spoils.

The last and most hilarious skit involves an art project. After attempting to draw a landscape and then Aharen (who gets self-conscious about being observed), he settles on a graphite self-portrait. Aharen, on the other hand, has a much more ambitious plan: a full-size doll of herself.

When Raidou first spots it, he assumes she’s stopped breathing and administers CPR. Then Aharen insists on taking her home, where he positions her right beside his bed, where he’s already got the crane game dolls surrounding his head, makes for a most unsettling sleeping setup. How wonderfully bizarre!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – Ultra Romantic – 06 – Countdown to Farewell

If it hits you you die

The first segment of the episode makes it clear this will be an episode about what kind of future Miyuki and Kaguya want, and how to get there. While Kaguya’s parents do not attend her parent-teacher conference, she has the good fortune of relying on both Miyuki’s dad (who already considers her a daughter) and Ai’s mom (whom Ai clearly worships) as “honorary parents”.

Not only is Ai a mama’s girl, but shares mom’s twisted personality. But things get more serious as the sun drops during the actual conference. Kaguya doesn’t really have anything to say about what she wants for the future; she’s probably just going to do what her parents—her real, absent parents—tell her to do. That means advancing to the university to which Shuchiin High is affiliated.

Miyuki, however has different goals. He’s determined that his future involves moving on from Shuchiin and going to college five thousand miles away at Stanford. He seems resigned to the fact this means No More Kaguya, so he declares to us, the audience, that all Kaguya has to do to “win” their long and harrowing battle is to not confess to him by the cultural festival.

At that point, he vows to confess to her, so they can at least date for the few high school days they have left before parting, possibly forever. But if the gauntlet has been thrown only in his head—where no one but the audience sees it—has it truly been thrown?

Conducive to Confession

Miyuki knows he has his work cut out for him to compel Kaguya into a confession before the culture fest; despite his best efforts he’s been frustrated by failure just as she has for lo these many years. At this desperate time, he decides asking Kaguya out isn’t tantamount to a love confession…so he asks her to join him to scout another school’s festival.

The only problem is, Kaguya doesn’t realize he’s asked her out until she’s already casually declined. Because Ai isn’t Doraemon and cannot manipulate the space-time continuum, she suggests that a distraught Kaguya summon the same courage Miyuki did and ask him out.

And she does! Kaguya employs her calming ritual, then tells Miyuki she’s changed her mind. Unfortunately, she says more words that muddy the waters, causing Miyuki to question whether she means for him to go alone. Having already expended all their courage and arrived at a stalemate, they rely on the other council members to pop in and give them the boost they need to make that one tiny final step towards arranging a date together.

Alas, Yuu, Miko and Chika only make matters worse; Yuu by laughing at the fact he witnessed a guy asking a girl to the culture fest in the hall; Yuu for bringing her disciplinary sensibility to the same event, and finally Chika saying Kaguya definitely shouldn’t go because she’ll get hit on too much. Kaguya seemingly breaks through the fog by suggesting a male accompany her, but that somehow turns into Yuu going with Miyuki. The boys have fun, but Miyuki and Kaguya both definitely lose, and not for want of trying!

Tofu EgO DEATH

While observing Chika transferring a guitar song from one musical scale to another, Miyuki considers every high schooler’s dream of rocking out on stage, something Chika immediately shoots down on account of her considerable experience with Miyuki’s artistic pursuits, and begs him to look at himself more objectively.

Miyuki takes Chika’s advice by starting from a place of wanting to know what women think about him, starting with Miko. Unfortunately, it’s all staged and phrased like a confession to her, which she’s actually flattered by until he pulls an identical act on Chika, who clears things up with Iino.

Thus Miyuki endures an onslaught of shit-talking, as Miko admits that looks-wise he’s not her type, and that she’d prefer the kind of ideal prince of a man that may not even exist. Chika admits that the president actually is more or less her type as someone who is always rising to the challenge in a “single-minded, unbecoming way.”

But since she’s just realizing this and also knows of all of Miyuki’s glaring flaws, she takes said realization as a major blow to her ego, which of course continues to eat away at Miyuki’s. Due to Chika’s penchant for turning discussions into “strange events”, the office is filled with a fog of glumness as Miyuki concludes he’s simply a worthless person no one would consider confessing to.

That is, until his soul mate enters the room, is brought up to speed about the legal insulting session, and asked what she’d change about Miyuki. As we know from her little heart incident at the hospital last season, we know Kaguya already considers the president “an ideal human being”. So her answer—Miyuki is fine the way he is. No notes!—comes as no surprise.

His confidence, recently sloughed away like Mars’ atmosphere by the unintentional roast with Chika and Miko, is instantly, fully restored. Such is the power of the one you love saying exactly what needed to hear, when you needed to hear it. Someone who doesn’t overlook your flaws, but cherishes them along with your merits.

Frankly, if Miyuki was being mature about this, the cultural festival is too late; he should simply confess to her now and get it over with. I’m sure he won’t, but while his Stanford declaration has seemingly placed a ticking clock on their relationship, one can’t rule out that she will confess to him at some point, or may even follow him to Stanford.

The important thing is that at the halfway point of what may well be Love is War’s final season, they’re not out of options yet.

Aharen-san wa Hakarenai – 06 – Raidolympic Games

This week’s grab bag of athletic segments follow a consistent pattern: Raidou and Aharen try to participate in a certain activity, Raidou initially believes Aharen is either good or sucks at said activity, Aharen and Raidou gradually get better and have a tough match, and Raidou overestimates how good they are and they both get beaten by stiffer competition.

Despite being huge and relatively fit (except for that one segment where he was tubby) Raidou isn’t that great at…much of anything. In that regard, Aharen makes for a perfect opponent for him, as she’s not that great at anyting either but when they play together, two things happen: they get a little better, and they both have fun.

After Ooshiro teaches the two how to swim, Raidou and Aharen have a half-lap race that Aharen wins by staying underwater the whole time and holding her breath. They actually play to a draw in table tennis and bowling, the former match being cut short by the bell and the latter due to a comeback from Raidou after he starts throwing underhand while Aharen’s beginner’s luck wears off.

Their fourth contest is in basketball, where usually the taller or bigger player prevails, but Aharen channels Muggsy Bogues, who played in the NBA despite being only 5’3″ (160cm) tall. Aharen, like Bogues, darts around or under the towering opponent, using her quickness to get past him. She only loses when she misses her last bucket.

After watching a violent movie together (which technically counts as a completely off-camera date?!) the two try their hand at a two-player zombie-themed first-person shooter. While Raidou initially envisions himself to Leon to Aharen’s Mathilda in The Professional (one of my favorite films), he quickly dies, and Aharen shows that her lack of judging distance means she can headshot every enemy with ease, even while dual-wielding.

When Aharen goes to the bathroom at the arcade, Raidou quickly encounters her again by the crane game, but there’s something off about her; she’s way louder and more expressive than his Aharen. Assuming (naturally) that she’s suffering a sudden bout of amnesia, he simply shows her a good time…before the real Aharen shows up and reveals that the other Aharen is actually her little brother Ren, who likes to dress in her clothes.

The final segment before credits is the shortest but sweetest, as Raidou sneezes and comments that it’s gotten cold. Aharen “runs hot” so she hugs him to warm him up. When he asks her to let go, she withdraws behind a utility pole, which is suddenly too far away. While there’s no movement on their status as a dating high school couple, they both seem happy where things are at, so it’s all good.

In the post-credits segment Ren tries on more of Aharen’s clothes, and she asks him why. His answer—because they’re cute and he loves them—is good enough for her, and when he asks if he shouldn’t, she simply gives him a hug and says it’s fine.

Aharen-oneesan unconditionally supporting her cross-dressing brother might be one of her sweetest, most heartwarming moments yet. If anyone has a problem with him, they’ll have to deal with her…and her hulking kinda-sorta boyfriend!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

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