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Human Crossing (anime review)

Title: Human Crossing on Blu-ray

Directors: Akira Kumeich, Kazunari Kumi

Studio: A.C.G.T.

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Jan. 8th, 2019

Format: Blu-ray / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Slice of Life, Drama

Age Rating: MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+


There are over 120 million people living in modern Japan, and over 38 million live in the greater Tokyo area alone. Some live in incredible luxury, while others to struggle to survive. But from the high to the low, all are connected through the complex web that binds us all, the bonds of family and relationships. Yet there are times when the isolating nature of urban life tears and tatters that fragile safety net to the breaking point. At times like this, each person can only do the best they can. To meet the challenge or fail. To rise or to fall. Eventually, all of us must make that transition from one part of life to another. From the award-winning manga by Masao Yajima and Kenshi Hirokane, these are the interweaving stories of the Human Crossing.


I am not sure that the anime community is ready to have Human Crossing re-released, but I must commend Maiden Japan for taking the chance to provide this one of a kind true Slice of Life anime back to the western audience. There are plenty of Slice of Life anime that give us the typical day to day high school life but almost none that look at what it means to be an adult who discovers things about their past that have had real impact on their lives.

Human Crossing is a very specific anime designed and created for an audience who has lived long enough to understand the different stories in a meaningful way. I for one see the connection between all of us but many younger fans may find this boring and overly silly. It is true that there is a sentimentality about the series that can be a bit heavy handed at times, but life is that way and we often discover meaningful aspects of our being by just moving through our day to day world.

Overall Grade: B+

Human Crossing is a little dated and most of the stories are a tad simplistic, but the concept behind all of the stories is very eastern in philosophical in nature. That in itself makes Human Crossing worth watching. You just don’t find wester culture interested in discovery of our being or wishing to understand ourselves at a deeper level. I for one find Human Crossing to be a wonderful mirror to humanity and think everyone should take the time to watch it and think about the deeper message it is trying to present.

The real drawback is going to be the age of the series and the overall production quality. It looks dated, but the stories are timeless.

Princess Tutu (anime review)

Title: Princess Tutu on Blu-ray

Director: Junichi Sato (Chief), Shogo Koumoto

Studio: Hal Film Maker

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Dec. 11th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray/ 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magical Girl

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B


Princess Tutu contains episodes 1-26 of the anime directed by Junichi Sato and Shougo Kawamoto.

Once there was a writer, a creator of tales, who was blessed with the ability to bring his stories to life. But when the writer dies before his story is finished, what becomes of the characters left behind? For the girl known as Duck, the world changed when an old man gave her a pendant that transformed the duck that she was into a young girl. Now she must gather the shards of a shattered Prince’s heart and finish the story of the Prince and the Raven. But will that require Duck to make a sacrifice of her own? Enter a world of dance and wonder as ballet, myth and romance come together in the anime hailed as a modern classic, at least by some.


In a world of strange anime it may be possible that Princess Tutu manages to reach its way up the list to a modest place of oddity. There is so much going on here that it is hard to put your finger on how Princess Tutu fits into any mold. Lets just say that Magical Girls and Ballet makes for an almost interesting concept. For me I found it to be a mix of Pinocchio, Cardcaptor Sakura and D Gray-man. Although, it is possible that D Gray-man pulled from Princess Tutu. I still felt the imagery was very familiar.

The thing about Princess Tutu that kept my attention was the sheer strangeness of the story. I wasn’t interested in the dance or the plot, but rather how very odd everything was.

Overall Grade: B

Princess Tutu does something that is often tried and failed at and that is pull off a truly absurd plot line. The weird overlay of genre and confusion at the begging of what is going on keeps you a bit off balance, but the art style manages to work for the concept. The only real failing I have is the weakness of writing. I found the plot lacking conviction and several of the characters were just a little too stiff.

I think that anime fans of the absurd anime genre should take the time to check this one out. It doesn’t matter if you are into ballet or not Princess Tutu is just weird. I am not ready to call it a modern classic, but it is fun to watch.

Xabungle (anime review)

Title: Xabungle on Blu-ray

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Studio: Sunrise

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan

U. S. Release Date: Dec. 18th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 50 Episodes / 1334 Minutes

Genre: Space Western, Mecha, Drama, Comedy

Age Rating: MA

Overall Personal Rating: C


Xabungle contains episodes 1-50 of the anime directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino plus the movie in standard definition on blu-ray discs.

On the planet Zola, the statute of limitations for any crime is just three days, so when Jiron Amos’ family is murdered and he fails to catch their killer before he receives full immunity, Jiron snaps and continues to pursue his quest for revenge; even though that now makes HIM the lawbreaker! 

With the help of desert drifter Rag and her gang of Sand Rats, Jiron soon finds the opportunity to steal the perfect weapon for his quest: a giant robot called the Xabungle. Taking the Xabungle, however, entangles our heroes with culture-obsessed rich girl Elchi Cargo, the highly dysfunctional crew of the giant land ship Iron Gear, a bevy of chorus girls, gun-toting toddlers, a Man with No Name named Timp, and an insanely escalating series of increasingly strange plot twists in the weirdest, wildest and most hilarious parody of outer space westerns ever animated: Blue Gale Xabungle!


What happens when Gundam meet a Serio Leone film. Well unfortunately, it is Xabungle. I find it rather curious that Xabungle is listed as a comedy when in fact it is not very funny. Granted there are some rather strange things going on, but on a whole it is rather heavy handed.

Xabungle shows just how big a deal space westerns were in the early 1980’s thanks in part the popularity of Star Wars and in Japan it included Mobil Suit Gundam (also directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino). I found it interesting that Tomino managed to find a way to revise a popular ideal that was at its hight in the late 1960′ and early 1970’s and blend it with the more timely genre of the space sci fi. Serio Leone gave the world some rather weird spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood the found immense popularity and also many copy cat shows popped up. Of course, there is no reason why the Japanese wouldn’t find a way to mold this odd genre in there own special way. It should be noted that in the late 1990’s series like Trigun and Cowboy Bebop were created and are now considered to be true classics.

Overall Grade: C

It is always fun to see some historical series that manage to blend the popular genre of the day, but the one thing that these rebirth also show is that the animation of the period does not age very well. There is also a glaring reminder of how the anime industry was a high production sweat shop industry and it is not just the animation that suffered from the high pressure production levels. The writing and voice acting also suffered greatly. In the case of Xabungle the rush to produce provides a series that misses more than it hits.

I will say that fans of the Space Western / Mecha series will find that Xabungle provides a great window into what was really happening 35 to 40 years ago. I have to hand it to Maiden Japan for giving us the opportunity to visit the past that is often left in the vault.

Takunomi Anime Review

Title: Takunomi

Director: Tomoki Kobayashi

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: 12/18/18

Format: Blu-ray / 12 episodes  / 150 Minutes

Genre: Slice of life. Foodie educational.

Are Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-


 Leaving her rual life behind, Michiru Amatsuki moves to Tokyo. Excited with her move, she wants to be the sophisticated modern “Tokyoite”. She is moving into Stella House Haruno with three other roommates. All the gals are friendly enough, especially enjoying an evening at home with drinks mixed with a bit of alcohol tutorial.  Nao usually over indulges, so is often the teacher, she loves her mixed drinks and beer, knowing how and why things should be mixed and maybe even some history. 


Takunomi was light and fun, like visiting with friends who are glad you are there. The episodes are short, but it reminds me of several other anime or manga series that throw in some educational aspects as entertainment, specifically about food and drink. My first introduction to this Foodie Educational genre was Oishinbo (Originally published in 1983,  English compilations weren’t released until 2009.)  I would also includes series like Yakitate Japan (All about bread.), Ben-to   (Culture of store bought bento.), and even Food Wars (Cooking in general with over the top expressions of delight.)

Takunomi has an over series storyline of a Michiru moving from the county and trying to fit into the modern and sophisticated city life of a working woman that she idolizes. She lacks confidence, but is learning though experience. The other theme really is fun with alcohol.  So fun it is. And this is what makes it directed at an older audience. There is a clear waning at the beginning of each episode about the proper use of alcohol, although the rules are different in Japan than where I’m at.

As an anime, I watched it dubbed and thought they did a good job matching the characters. The animation was colorful and looked good, no complaints from me. The pacing was well done. And, unexpected, there was character development. I can’t think of a negative, unless the morning after scenes make you remember (regret) some over indulgences of your own.

Overall Grade: A-

I enjoy this genre of anime/manga, if you seen/read one, I encourage you to enjoy one of the others like Oishinbo or Yakitate Japan, or for the older viewer/reader, TakunomiDrops of the Gods,  or Food Wars.

Dive!! The Complete Collection (anime review)

Title: Dive!! The Complete Collection

Director: Kaoru Suzuki

Written By: Tōko Machida

Studio: Zero-G

U.S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Dec. 11th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Sports, Drama, Comedy, Slice of Life

Age Rating: PG

Overall Personal Rating: B+


Tomoko Sakai has loved the sport of diving since he was a child, and there’s no place he’d rather be than the high board at the Mizuki Diving Club. Unfortunately, the MDC’s having hard time staying afloat financially and there’s a sinking certainty that the club is about to drown in a sea of its own debt. Fiery female coach Kayoko Asaki has a bold plan to throw the club a lifeline, but it’s going to require achieving something that’s almost impossible: get one of the club’s members on the National team for the next Olympics! Can this struggling group of young athletes pool their talents in time to resuscitate their club, or will they make the ultimate belly flop? It’s time to sink or swim as the whole team leaps for the gold!


Dive!! jumps into the deep end of the many sports and swimming anime that have littered the screen over the last few years thanks to the popularity series like Free and Haikyu!!. Most of the series that come out tend to be heavy on sports and drama and light on character development and substance. Dive!! on the other hand play lightly with the sport and focuses on the character development. This helps the short series rise to a level most don’t manage to find.

Being a serious fan of Haikyu!! I expect a sports anime to give me more that just cheesecake I want to care about these young athletes and really want to see then succeed. Dive!! manages to provide me with 3 characters that each have their own reason to compete and also have good reason to become friends. The fact that we don’t have the revenge rivalry amounts these 3 is great. They have their reasons to compete and go for the top, but they also see the best in each other. Often you find a team spirit that is only at the surface with some other deep seeded envy or unhealthy competitive nature lurking in the dark areas of the characters existence. Dive!! makes these young athletes friends before they become true competitors which helps them root for each other in a very natural way. That in itself would make the series work watching, but add that to full character development and you have a solid series that makes you smile more often than not.

Overall Garde: B+

I know you are asking why is it that I praised the series so highly and only give it a B+. The answer is simple, there series is just way too short. Everything seems to flow naturally through the first 10 episodes then like a flurry the story is wrapped up. There is a rush to complete that both disappoints and also lets these wonderful characters down. I wanted to learn more about all three of these main characters and get a better feeling of the struggles they each have to go through. In other words the series let itself down by being so short.

The rest of the production was solid from the animation to the voice acting. There were a few moments that I felt a softer tough with cell shading would have worked better, but they are not paying me to be a technical advisor so I guess that is just a personal issue.

If you enjoy sports anime and are looking for a quick fix then all I can say if Dive!! into it, you will walk away with a smile.



UQ Holder! (anime review)

Title: UQ Holder! on Blu-ray

Director: Youhei Suzuki

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 27th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 12 episodes + 3 OVA / 375 Minutes

Genre: Shonen, Harem, Super Natural, Romance, Fantasy

Are Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: B+


When you’re the grandson of a famous hero, you’d think that your life would be interesting, but Tota Konoe is stuck in the dullest place he can imagine! He can’t even leave his tiny village until he can defeat his teacher and foster parent Yukihime, and she seems to be impossibly powerful. Then everything changes when Yukihime is attacked and Tota learns that both she and Tota himself aren’t who or what Tota thought they were! Now Tota has a new, impossibly long life ahead of him and an amazing destiny that ties in with the fate of his grandfather, the legendary Negi Springfield! Get ready for vampires, demons and magic users galore as Tota discovers the perils of being a member of the world’s most exclusive organization as a UQ Holder!


UQ Holder! is a continuation of the much beloved Negima series it might be hard to live up to all the hype surrounding the past. UQ Holder! manages to do a fine job of taking the past and melding it into the current series. I am a little disappointed that some of the answers that are provided are rather simplistic and maybe a little over contrived, but the simple fact is that UQ Holder! is fun. The plot is straight forward with few surprising twist and a rather solid underlying hopefulness that makes many Shonen anime so popular. The main character, Tota, is very much as simple as his forefather Negi, but he also has a naivety that Negi did not completely have. It is almost as if there was a mix of Goku from Dragon Ball Z and Negi to make this odd rather incomplete being. Of course his discovery of himself along the way is all part of the strength of the series.

Overall Grade: B

There is something wonderful about Tota and some of the other characters, but the insane mix of harem anime culture really detracts away from the true positive aspects of the series. The area that it shines is the real love story amount Tota and Yukihime along with his simplistic bonds with some of the other characters. I found myself liking Tota against my will and also feeling sorry for Yukihime when maybe she didn’t deserve it. Most of the others were more or less comic relief and sometimes got in the way.

My great sadness comes form the week reliance on fan service to provide silly events and even push some absurd moments forward. I would have really like to see this series put forward without the major loss of clothing if only ended up detracted from the content of the plot and making serious situation rather silly isn the end. I understand that the audience for the series is that 16 to 25 male group, but there is also a latent fanbase of young women who loved the manga series and who would have really like this series if the girls managed to keep their cloths on.

Bottom line is that UQ Holder! is a fine continuation of the Negima series and also opens the door for more to come.

Hitorijime My Hero Anime Review

Title: Hitorijime My Hero Complete Collection

Director: Yukina Hiiro

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: 10-30-18

Format: Blu-ray /300  Minutes /  12 Episodes

Genre: yaoi drama

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Personal Grade: C


Mashahiro is a student with things to deal with that makes life difficult. He often avoids being home since his mom often brings in her “clients” over to the apartment. Being lonely, he’s been getting involved with a bad crowd, and it is difficult to get out. One day, he meets a new friend, Kensuke, when they find a homeless kitten. They take it to his friend’s house and there Mashahiro meets Kousuke, Kensuke’s older brother. Now, through the years, Kousuke has been a guide and mentor to Mashahiro. This is what he always wanted and needed.

With the start of high school, Kousuke becomes a teacher at the boy’s school. It can be difficult to keep things professional when they all know each other so well. Kensuke begins dating an old friend while Mashahiro finds that his mentor wants their relationship to deepen in a different direction. Their student/teacher situations makes things complicated and Kousuke’s job may be in jeopardy if they pursue the forbidden relationship.


Okay, I’m not the target audience for this anime. Truthfully, the coercion and trickery to get their love interest to consent to fooling around and/or being in a relationship ruined it all for me. I don’t like the aspect of boy’s love/yaoi that includes the “You don’t know you want it, but I’ll force you to see that you do.” I know it is common in the genre, but it is such a negative way to enter into a relationship and I certainly wouldn’t want any of my friends to experience something like that. I prefer to see someone fall or grow into love instead of pressured or tricked. And do I need to mention, there is a reason student/teacher relationships are taboo.

Now, with all of that, I’ll focus on the anime and what and who it is intended for. Hitorijime My Hero is an average yaoi anime. I didn’t find anything really different or out of the ordinary. (Well, there is a moment when another kid in the gang questions why Mashahiro was able to get out, I would have like to have that explored.)  What it is and has is all standard characters and elements that boy’s love anime often does. Both couples that formed were already friends of sorts, and one falls for the other, who doesn’t seem to get the hint because they’ve not thought about a same sex relationship before. Through pressure on one side and embarrassment on the other, the challenged one begin to accept the new elements of their relationship. Things seem to settle down until the community and people around them begin to notice. So, it will be enjoyable to yaoi fans, but probably won’t be in their top ten.

The characters are personable and easy to invest in. Mashahiro has plenty to deal with, but took the opportunity when someone was there to protect and guide him. Kensuke is the enthusiastic friend who really cares and wishes the best for everyone. Kousuke is the sexy tough guy who expects everyone to do their best. There is a few other guys in the friend circle that help drive the humor and some plot elements. I liked the blue haired, “Why is he here?” guy. You know, the kid people generally don’t notice, and when they do, don’t know why or  how  he ended up with them.

I watched some of the anime in subtitled, mostly watching the show in English dubbed. I thought the voices worked most of the time and preferred the English.

Overall Grade: C

Hitorijime My Hero has lots of the elements that a fan looks for in a boys love/yaoi relationship drama. Nothing explicit, less than Junjo Romantica in action, but you get the idea.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Take On Me- (anime review)

Title: Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Take On Me-

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara

Studio: Kyoto Animation

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: November 20th, 2018

Format: Blu-ray, Feature Film, 94 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, Romance

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A


Yuta and Rikka may have finally started to come to terms with the various delusions that have run their lives, but as their relationship becomes progressively more real, their development as a couple seems to be increasingly in danger of stalling out! When your relationship is partially the result of a series of fantasies, what can reality serve up that’s equal to the make-believe?

Rikka’s sister decides that she’s going to move to Italy and take Rikka with her, and the solution that Rikka and Yuta decide on is both improbably logical and unrealistically practical: They’re going to elope! For real! Get ready for the ultimate fantasy road trip as our two young would-be lovers take off a whirlwind tour of the real Japan in Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Take On Me-


Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Take On Me- takes us further along in the saga of Rikka and Yuta which finally gives us some real closure on their relationship in ways that make total sense and feel very natural for such an absurdist type of romance anime. Honestly, the struggle for these characters to deal with their chunibyo is worth the watch and at the same time begin to understand that the real world has a great deal to offer.

This installment of the series points us to a bright future for everyone and allows us to continue to like everyone for who they are and not what others might want them to be. Yuta may just be the only one that understands this more than anyone but he also appears to be further along on his road to maturity than the other, especially Rikka.

The real fun to the film is the way they all interact to help Rikka and Yuta evade Toka. The beauty is that there is a symmetry to everything that goes on and a blast of humor that does not deny the original series.

Overall Grade: A

I am often worried when I come across short films that could be nothing more than toss of money grabs for a series. In the case of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Take On Me- it is clear from the very beginning that the intent is to tell even more of the store and find a wonderful stopping point for the story. Now I can’t be sure that the series is done with this film, but I would not be disappointed if it is. I feel like I can believe that they will all be fine as they mature and that Rikka will grow into a beautiful person who maintains a rich fertile imagination that will blend perfectly with Yuta’s pragmatism.

For all the fans of the series I know you will not be let down by Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Take On Me-.

Made in Abyss (anime review)

Title: Made In Abyss

Director: Masayuki Kojima

Studio: Kinema Citrus

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Oct. 23rd, 2018

Format: Blu-ray / 325 Minutes / 13 Episodes

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Grade: A-


No one knows what’s at the bottom of the Abyss. No one who’s ventured that far has ever returned. What is known is that the Abyss is filled with strange creatures and priceless relics that have lured generations of fortune hunters into a diabolical trap. Because while anyone can descend into the Abyss safely, coming back up triggers a nightmarish series of transformations and madness. And the deeper you go, the less chance you have of coming back unchanged.

But when 12-year-old Riko receives a message that her missing mother might still be alive deep in the Abyss, she knows she has to go to her. She must go even if it’s a one-way trip for her and her robot friend Reg as they brave the ultimate darkness in Made In Abyss.

Special Features: Japanese Trailer & Promos, Kevin Penkin Interview, Jouel Event, Making of Made in Abyss 1 & 2, Music in Abyss, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation.


Made In Abyss is good, very good. It manages to take a simple adventure anime and turn it into something much deeper and provide a real mirror into what make us all so very human even when it is reflected in the form of a robot boy. Made In Abyss reminds me of why I like anime and that is simply the way the stories are more complicated than they seem and the overall outlook on the universe that surrounds us. We often just move through life without the wonder of what is happening around us and small things can be great wonders. There is a real symbiosis with life in Made In Abyss that is magnified by the abyss itself and there is also a metaphoric relationship between the abyss and life itself. The series gives us much to think about in a rather simple story telling fashion and also provides us with the escapist vehicle that take us to places very unexpected.

Overall Grade: A-

Made In Abyss does all this well, but the best thing it does is develop a few wonderful characters. Riko and Reg both are rich full wonderful characters that are very easy to like. Then we are given a few mysterious side characters that end up being something of a overwhelming positive support cast and finally we are introduced to Nanachi, an outstanding character that has such a tragic back story that it make you want to just hug her and hold her close.

The animation is lovely and very easy to watch even when it is giving us the brutality of the Abyss. There is a simple art design that is rich and colorful without being overbearing and allows for some of the hard edges to be just a little softer.

My real complaint comes with the overall story development and where we are left off. I guess this is a sign that I really like this series because I want to see more and am eagerly awaiting the films that will follow.

So, if you are ready for a great fantasy adventure anime then Made In Abyss will be a must have in your collection.

The Princess Principle Anime Review

Title: The Princess Principle

Director: Hasaki Tachibana

Publisher: Sentai Filmworks

Format: Blu-ray /  12 episodes  / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama

Release date: 9-25-18

Age Rating: 14+

Overall Rating: B-


The story takes place back in an alternate Great Britain, where a civil war has split the county (called Albion-on a side note, this is an old name for the island of Great Britain).  The “Kingdom” is ruled by the traditional monarchy and the “Commonwealth”  made of the working class that split off.

Inside the Kingdom’s Queen’s Mayfair school where Princess Charlotte attends, Dorothy and Ange, who are spies for the Commonwealth, have taken roles as students. They are joined by Chise, an student from Japan, who retains her cultural identity. The skill and tactics she brings assist them in many ways. Unexpectedly, Princess Charlotte joins them along with her attendant Beatrice. Can these two be trusted? What are their real motives?

Missions are assigned to the group in order to protect the Commonwealth. Violence is common in these cases and the women can handle a gun. They are spies willing to take the risk and carry out the orders.

There is more to the uncanny resemblance between Charlotte and Ange. They have a history that could destroy them both.


Twists and turns with the characters and relationships are the star of this anime. Included in this are trying to figure out who really works for which side and who is in charge. The history and relationship between Charlotte and Ange was my favorite part. That’s all I will say about that, the surprise is part of the intrigue.

Visually, I felt the anime to be okay. The costume were interesting in the context, the character designs were fine. What didn’t work for me was they mixed art and animation styles which did not mesh together, like overlapping universes.  The Queen especially looked comically out of place.

I watched all but one episode in English. It just comes across odd to watch a show set in an England type of world and everyone speaking Japanese. It was also true for the anime Emma, but my disc was only in English subtitles. I am glad they dubbed Princess Principle. It was done well and really added to the appeal.

Most of the episodes are stand alone “cases”.  The mission is completed by the endow the episode. There is an thread of story that winds through the whole season. Some of the background information is revealed through a step back on the timeline, but it never gets confusing.

I found the ending to be satisfying but open to the possibilities of more episodes.

Overall Rating: B-

Just when you think they are friends, they’ll say they are just spies. So when you expect them to be all business, they’ll do something friendly. The Princess Principle has an interesting story and a small touch of steampunk, but not the qualities I watch anime for.