Houseki no Kuni

Anime title: Houseki no Kuni
Alternate titles:
-Land of the Lustrous
-Country of Jewels
Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Seinen

*I’ll refer to the Gems as “it” and “its” since they are genderless.

Crystalline, genderless, humanoid creatures known as Gems inhabit a world which has been struck by six meteors. Each Gem would be assigned a role in order to repel invasions from the Lunarians, a mysterious group of creatures residing on the Moon who capture the Gems and break down their bodies to use as decorations. Phosphophyllite, also called Phos, dreams of helping its friends fight the Lunarians. Instead, it is told to compile an encyclopaedia due to its fragility. Houseki no Kuni follows Phos’ journey to be able to protect its fellow Gems and be of use to them.

I was amazed by how the show used the properties of gemstones or minerals to create the Gems’ personalities and backgrounds. To give a better understanding of what I mean by the previous statement, I shall use Cinnabar as an example. Cinnabar has a hardness of 2.0 to 2.5 on the Mohs scale and is poisonous due to its mercury content. Houseki no Kuni made the character Cinnabar able to turn what it touches into ruin. In addition to this, its fragility resulted in it being unfit for combat and the only job suitable for it is night patrol, when the Lunarians don’t strike. Thus making it tantamount to being an outcast, resulting in it feeling inferior and useless, and like a monster which destroys whatever it comes across. This aspect, coupled with the bits of gem trivia that appear at the halfway mark of each episode, made the show educational and interesting. Another thing I was amazed by was how the show also managed to insert and link humans to the story. As the show progresses, more questions arise and accumulate, hooking me in deeper. Phos’ development was great, especially after Antarcticite’s introduction to the show. The action was rather intense, in my opinion, and satisfying despite the relatively small amount of action. Houseki no Kuni also had funny moments and little fanservice. I felt that the little it did have, though, did not get in the way of the show and made sense. For instance, that moment when Phos asked Ventricosus about “water jugs” (boobs) as Gems lacked sex characteristics. The opening theme was great, in my opinion. A drawback was that the anime was too short for me. However, I think I could overlook the length due to how much I felt the anime had brought to the table.

True to its name, the anime was indeed a Houseki for me. So, I would highly recommend Houseki no Kuni, especially if you’re a Fantasy and Mystery fan. If you’re mainly looking for Action, I’m not sure if Houseki no Kuni would satisfy you but I would still suggest to try it out. The show has 12 episodes, so if you’re looking for a nice, short watch, do add this show to the list. CGI is used, so viewers who dislike CGI could avoid it.

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Anime: Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
Alternate titles: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Genres: Slice of Life, Comedy, Fantasy

As Kobayashi leaves for work, she is met with the sight of a dragon’s head staring at her across the balcony. The dragon then transforms into a young girl and introduces herself as Tooru. It turns out that Kobayashi, while in a drunk state, had encountered Tooru the night before on a trip to the mountains and since Tooru had nowhere to go, Kobayashi allowed her to stay in her home. In order to repay Kobayashi, Tooru offered to become her maid.

This show brought me lots of laughs. Aside from the laughs, the interaction among the characters was heartwarming to watch, especially the bond between Kobayashi and Tooru. Each dragon was unique. The way they portrayed the dragons adjusting to life in the human world was interesting. Some of the dragons’ backgrounds when placed in contrast with what they became of after they arrived at the human world, made the show funnier. For example, Fafnir, who once guarded the greatest treasures of the dragons’ world, becomes a guy who watches anime and plays video games all day long in the human world. Overall, a good and short show, in my opinion.

I would recommend Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid if you’re searching for a short Slice of Life, Comedy, Fantasy show, which portrays life as a maid and specifically features mostly female dragons.

Terra Formars

Anime title: Terra Formars
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Space, Horror, Drama, Seinen

In the 21th century, humanity made an attempt to colonise Mars by sending two species in order to terraform it — algae and cockroaches. The reason for this was that they could endure the harsh Martian environment. Now, in the 26th century, a disease known as the Alien Engine Virus arrived on Earth, and its cure is thought to be found only on Mars. The issue is, Mars is currently overrun by creatures known as Terraformars, which are powerful and intelligent humanoid cockroaches that evolved from the ones sent to Mars in the 21st century. The Annex 1 team, a group of men and women from a total of 6 countries who are genetically enhanced with characteristics of various Earth organisms, have been sent to Mars to find the cause of the Alien Engine Virus and the cure for it, marking the start of their fight for survival against the Terraformars.

The idea of cockroaches evolving to such an extent was intriguing. How each Annex 1 member has the traits of a different animal added variety to the action. The fights were great, in my opinion, especially the ones which Michelle or Asimov were involved in. I felt that S1 was far more action packed than S2 and S2 was more light hearted than S1. However, season 2 nicely made up for the drop in the intensity of the action by introducing characters with more interesting abilities. I loved how internal conflict arose from some countries having their own agendas and schemes. The addition of this obstacle to Annex 1’s mission made the show more intense. Though the story had some interesting turns and twists, I felt that the content was lacking a lot as not much is known about the roaches and how exactly they evolved, and the internal conflict wasn’t expanded on enough. Overall, Terra Formars was good for me, though I wish the story made much more progress.

Occultic;Nine

Anime: Occultic;Nine
Genres: Sci-Fi, Mystery

Kiri Kiri Basara, a blog run by NEET Gamon Yuuta and Narusawa Ryoka, which disproves the supernatural, becomes the catalyst that would intertwine the fates of an unlikely group of people who have nothing to do with each other. As their fates intertwine, they are met with murder and other events involving the supernatural. Thus, they would have to work together to solve the mysteries in the city and the bigger picture which they’re unknowingly involved in.

I really liked the science/fake science given. The murder case was quite a good start to the show. The build-up towards linking the group of people was decent. I thought that the cast was unique but needed more background, especially that lady who predicts the future with her art. However, given the short length of the show, I felt that the build-up took a bit too long, thus leaving me feeling that the bigger plot seemed a bit rushed even though I enjoyed the revelations and twists it brought. I loved the ending theme. Overall, Occultic;Nine was a show which I found to be decent.

I would recommend Occultic;Nine if you’re looking for a decent Sci-Fi, Mystery show with supernatural stuff. Though I didn’t feel that the characters were speaking too fast for myself, some may feel overwhelmed by the speed or that it’s difficult to follow. For the guys who…need more water than most people, you could watch and stick to the show just for Ryoka, or “Ryo-tas” as she’s called, and her Ultra C cup size.

Youjo Senki

Anime title: Youjo Senki
Alternate titles: The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Genres: Military, Magic

A salaryman who challenged “Being X” gets reincarnated as a girl named Tanya Degurechaff in a time of magical warfare. Still bent on defying Being X, Tanya resolves to strengthen the country’s military as it slowly moves into world war, in order to recreate the peaceful life she once knew. However, Being X would prove to be a thorn in her side.

Being X’s (God or a higher power) actions and decisions made the show interesting. They added a unique angle to perceive and ponder about the actions and higher powers from. I liked the setting where Tanya was reincarnated in. The fights were good perhaps could still have been better. I felt that they combined the military and magic aspects rather well here. I also enjoyed the opening theme. However, the show was too short for me and felt like it ended just as things were going to get interesting. Overall it’s a show somewhere between decent and good, in my opinion.

I would recommend Youjo Senki if you’re looking for a short title to watch, involving magical warfare and an overpowered MC. If you’re interested in reincarnation and divine intervention, you could try Youjo Senki.

Giant Killing

Anime: Giant Killing
Genres: Sports, Drama, Seinen

East Tokyo United was a successful football club back when Tatsumi Takeshi was playing for them. After Tatsumi’s departure, the club quickly went into disarray. ETU’s performance deteriorated, resulting in their relegation to lower divisions. Players eventually left the club and the club changed their manager a lot of times, with little success. ETU midfielder Murakoshi Shigeyuki took on the role of team captain and his efforts have allowed ETU to be promoted into slightly higher divisions, but the club was still a shadow of its former self. ETU’s management were at their wit’s end and decided to call Tatsumi Takeshi to take on the managerial position, much to the displeasure of players and fans, who perceived him as the man who abandoned the club.

Tatsumi’s way of doing things as a manager, combined with his confident and laid-back demeanour, ways of letting players learn important lessons and enabling players to overcome their mental obstacles, and his plans and tactics make him unpredictable and made the show thrilling and interesting, in my opinion. I loved how the show goes into the perspectives of multiple parties, namely Tatsumi himself, opposing managers, the ETU players, players of opposing teams, the football fans, and also allowed these various perspectives to clash at times. I felt that by doing this, Giant Killing has enabled me to nicely put myself into a multitude of shoes and walk in them which I have previously never been able to as a football fan. I found that Giant Killing had a good balance between showing the multiple points of view of various parties, developing ETU players both as individuals and as a team, and highlighting important moments of matches which were key to gauging ETU’s development. The opening theme, though not the catchiest or anywhere near “good”, in my opinion, was appropriate and set the mood for me to immerse myself in the world of football as shown by Giant Killing. On the other hand, the successful balance between the various aspects of the show meant that thrills had to be reduced by a bit. I thought that the journey of ETU’s development towards giant killing was excellent and realistic but still a really long way from over. Thus I felt that having more episodes or adding a second season to the show would compensate for the reduced thrill and satisfy me much more. I also wished that the show developed Gino more and go more into his background. Lastly, the occasional dialogues in Dutch, English, French and Portuguese made the show even more realistic and fun. Overall, Giant Killing receives a high score from me and has killed a few of my top 10, the giants in my anime list.

If you’re looking to start diving into the Sports genre of anime, I would highly recommend that Giant Killing be added to your list, regardless of whether you are a football fan. However, it makes use of some CGI and though I personally do not mind, some viewers might be put off by it.

Winter Sonata

Anime: Winter Sonata
Genres: Drama, Romance

Jeong Yoo-jin falls in love with Kang Joon-sang sometime after Joon-sang transfers to her school. Joon-sang unfortunately gets into an accident. Time passes and Yoo-jin gets engaged to her childhood friend Kim Sang-hyuk. However, Yoo-jin meets a guy who looks exactly like Joon-sang, putting her in a bind.

I loved the nature of Winter Sonata, in the sense that it’s a show where things get more tangled as the show progresses and all would be revealed and resolved at the end, yet it is also a show where the characters who seem unrelated to each other would turn out to be linked. Winter Sonata played to these two natures very well, in my opinion. At one point halfway into the show, it started becoming obstacle after obstacle and twist after twist, with further piqued my interest. I also liked that there were two time periods shown in Winter Sonata: Yoo-jin in highschool and Yoo-jin 10 years after highschool. The ending was satisfactory, for me. I enjoyed the opening theme song too.

I would recommend Winter Sonata if you’re looking for a romance drama with a winter setting and don’t mind the fact that it was adapted from a Korean drama of the same name. If you’re a fan of shows where things build up and get more tangled but will get resolved in the end, and shows where seemingly unrelated characters are linked eventually, then Winter Sonata would be a worth a try.