Tag: anime

Shows

The Dragon and the Tiger Play Cupid

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

Overview

Pros

  • Unique characters
  • Fun character dynamic
  • Even the animals have quirky personalities
  • Well written slow-burn romance
  • Attractive animation and design

Cons

  • Taiga’s violent nature is abusive
  • Occasionally uncomfortably bizarre
  • Drags at times
  • The ending could have been better

Observations

  • One of the most awkward friend groups ever

Review

This blog article was co-written by Ashley Ostrowski and P. A. Wilson. We decided to watch Toradora! after we went through a list of romantic comedy anime. P.A. Wilson had already watched it a few months before, and said it was pretty good. We’re both fans of romantic comedies, and gave it a try.

Toradora! was created in 2008 by Yuyuko Takemiya. It is currently available to watch on Netflix, Funimation, and Crunchyroll.

Ryuji Takasu, a kind high schooler who is often mistaken for a delinquent, runs into the notorious Palm-top Tiger, a vertically challenged and short-tempered girl. They discover that they both have crushes on each other’s best friend and make a pact to help each other out with their crushes.

What ensues is completely awkward and entertaining. Ryuji’s crush, Minori Kushieda, is a quirky and athletic teenager who is always full of optimism and spunk. The Palm-top Tiger, whose actual name is Taiga Aisaka, has a crush on Yusaku Kitamura, a talented member of the school council. They meet Kitamura’s childhood friend Ami Kawashima, a self-centered model who plays the part of the perfect girl but has her own deep-seated flaws.

Ryuji, Taiga, and Ami are typically referred to by their first names in the anime, while Kushieda and Kitamura are referred to by their last names. We intend to do the same for this article.

Ryuji is a clean freak and germaphobe who takes delight in keeping things clean. This is one of the first things we learn about him. It’s quirky and makes him an interesting character, and also pretty likeable. His habit of taking so much work upon himself is one of the first indicators that he is used to being his own guardian, in a way. He cooks for himself and his mother, and his father left him a long time ago.

He seems to almost raising himself because his single mother works a lot, and when she is home she is incredibly immature. Her childlike behavior goes to extremes, and Ryuji has almost become the head of the household.

Ryuji looks like his father, and is constantly told stories about how his father put magazines under his shirt to protect himself from being stabbed. It is obvious that his mother still loves his father, even though he is gone. Because of Ryuji’s appearance, he is often mistaken for a delinquent. People give him their wallets sometimes because they think he is trying to rob them. He always turns wallets into the lost and found, which looks really suspicious.

To us, Ryuji does not really look like a delinquent, except maybe when he is angry. We think the other characters may think he is sketchy because he has tiny eyes, which look like just pupils. Everyone else has big, colorful, innocent-looking eyes.

Ryuji meets Taiga when he runs into her. He did not notice her because she was so short. (P. A. Wilson understands how she must feel.) She is nicknamed the Palmtop Tiger because of her ferocious attitude, and she quickly lives up to her name by knocking him to the floor.

It is funny because they both have reputations for violence and danger, but only Taiga’s reputation is merited. Ryuji is such a sweet guy, and is only ever aggressive toward germs and mold. Taiga is aggressive toward anyone who annoys her in the slightest.

When Taiga tries to put a love letter for Ryuji’s best friend Kitamura in his bag, she accidentally puts it with Ryuji’s stuff instead. He takes it home and is amused to discover that she had forgotten to include the letter and it is actually just an empty envelope. Taiga breaks in with a weapon and tries to kill him–hopefully not for real–until he assuages her. Taiga discovers that Ryuji is in love with her best friend Kushieda, and they decide to help each other out with their love lives.

Now, a quick side note. In this episode we learn that Ryuji has a bird named Inko who is hilariously ugly and freaky. Ryuji and his mother are always trying to get Inko to say its own name. Unlike most pets, Inko has real character, and the show just wouldn’t be the same without it. We wouldn’t want to have Inko as a pet personally, but he is a permanent fixture in Ryuji’s small family.

What kind of surprised us is that Taiga confessed her love to Kitamura so early in the season. It seemed like she would pine away in silence, but she had guts. If it had ended out better for her, the pact between her and Ryuji might have ended almost before it had begun. But Kitamura basically friend-zones Taiga. He used to have feelings for her, but after she rejected him, those feelings faded.

Taiga lives directly across from Ryuji in a fancy apartment while he lives in a run-down house. Taiga lives alone due to a difficult family situation and starts eating meals with Ryuji and his mom. She becomes like a member of their family, and Ryuji even makes Taiga lunch for school days to make sure she has something to eat.

We liked how the creators included little details about the characters. For example, Ryuji has a habit of tugging at his own hair.

The two bond pretty quickly despite their differing personalities. Within one scene, Ryuji and Taiga are so frustrated that they start kicking a pole. While they do this, they rant about the rumors that they are dating and that Ryuji is a delinquent.

Taiga repeatedly calls Ryuji her dog, but he insists that he is a dragon, because that is the only animal that stands on equal footing with a tiger. Even if it seems like Taiga is the one bossing Ryuji around, they treat each other like equals. Taiga appreciates Ryuji, and she keeps coming over to hang out with him.

There are times where Taiga goes too far with her violence and she makes their relationship seem abusive. For example, she attacks Ryuji’s eyes at one point. That’s a pretty awful way to attack someone. The eyes are sensitive. Taiga also kicks Ryuji at different points. That wouldn’t go over the same way in real life, because it would be viewed as a toxic relationship. Even though her violence is animated, it does make it harder to sympathize with Taiga. She does tone it down later in the series.

The series gets more complicated when a new character, Ami, is introduced. She is a teenage model and Kitamura’s childhood friend. Ami is spoiled and self-centered. She puts on a nice girl/airhead act, but she can be very selfish and causes a lot of drama. She changes the entire dynamic of the friend group, making it an even more awkward friend group. She grows as a person as she learns to deal with stalkers and comes to terms with herself.

The show gets more awkward as it goes on. Ryuji made fake boobs for Taiga because she is flat-chested. Taiga panics when Ryuji nearly drowns. Kitamura dresses up as a shirtless Santa. Taiga dreams that she marries Ryuji and gives birth to puppies. Kitamura dyes his hair blonde. The show likes its metaphors, whether it is talking about ghosts, aliens, or stars.

Taiga’s dad is terrible, pretending he wants to be a part of her life and then not showing up when it matters. She is never his first priority. Ryuji convinces Taiga to give her dad another chance because Ryuji will never get another chance with his own dad. So he kind of guilts her into it and then it blows up in her face.

One of the reasons Ryuji and Taiga connect so well is because they both do not come from stable, consistent households. They take care of each other and help each other become better people.

The ending left some people satisfied while others were just disappointed. Some people believe Kushieda should have ended up with Ryuji. We did not ship Ryuji and Kushieda as much because they did not have as much chemistry, and Kushieda is really confusing sometimes. The whole anime was building up the relationship between Taiga and Ryuji, so if it had ended differently it would have been odd.

At the end, Taiga and Ryuji elope, but end up separating while Taiga tries to get on better terms with her family. They end up together again after that separation, but it was weird considering Taiga did not care what her family thought of her very much before that.

The show kind of got boring in the middle because it dragged out the drama but it was not super entertaining. The show picked up again later on.

The intros and outros are fun but not especially notable. They fit the characters well without spoiling anything, so that’s good.

We wish that Taiga had been nicer to Ryuji because a lot of times she seems abusive. Their relationship is okay, but they have a ways to go before they have a healthy relationship. They are cute together, but it would have been better without so much violence. Overall, the show was fun, and we would tentatively recommend it to anyone who enjoys rom-coms.

Links

Chronicles of the Muse, Shows

Violet Evergarden Shows That Empathy Can Be Learned Through Writing

Anime Review (with spoilers):

Violet Evergarden Season 1

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Trigger Warning: This show covers a suicide attempt, PTSD, and war violence.

Written by Paige Wilson and Ashley Ostrowski.

Overview

Pros

  • Shows the power of writing
  • Beautiful animation
  • Amazing art style
  • Accurate depictions of trauma and PTSD
  • Emotionally impactful episodes
  • Realistic development of empathy through interaction with others
  • Great music

Cons

  • Many viewers found it boring, at least at first
  • It would have been a bit better to get more character development for characters other than Violet
  • It was never explained how she became a killing machine or why she became a weapon
  • Episodic feel can leave one wanting more

Observations

  • Violet’s experiences are not very relatable for most people

Warning: Spoilers below!

Review

Violet Evergarden Season 1 is an anime that was released in 2018. It can currently be streamed on Netflix.

Violet is a 14-year-old orphan who was trained to be a weapon of the military in the fictional country of Leiden. Even though Leiden exists in a fictional universe, the anime feels like it takes place in 19th century Europe.

After a pivotal battle in which Violet loses her arms, she wakes up in the hospital and immediately wants to return to her post. The war, however, has been declared over. Having lived her whole life as a soldier as long as she can remember, she does not know how to live a civilian life and act without taking orders. She chooses to work as an “auto memory doll,” which is basically a nickname for the ghostwriters who write other people’s letters for them. Her reasoning behind this is that it will help her to learn the meaning of the words “I love you,” which are the last words spoken to her by Major Gilbert. Gilbert was the one who taught her to read and write and treated her like a person when other officials in the military treated her like a tool.

Gilbert gave her the name Violet; before that she didn’t have any name. Violets can symbolize truth, loyalty, grace, and gentleness. These are all qualities Gilbert wanted for Violet. He wanted her to just be able to live her life well, to not be resigned to a life of violence, and to grow up to be a wonderful young woman.

Violet already has some of the qualities symbolized by the color and the flower violet. She is very honest and straightforward. She does not lie and cannot understand when other people are lying. She is intensely loyal to Major Gilbert. And she is kind of graceful in a way, in the way that martial artists are graceful even when meting out violence. Gentleness is not a quality she has in great supply–she only knows how to be a soldier.

Major Gilbert helps her transition to civilian life even while in the military by treating her like a person rather than a machine. For example, he takes Violet into town and says that she can buy anything that she likes at the market. Violet is confused at first and doesn’t know what to get. She spots an emerald broach at a street corner that is the precise color of the Major’s eyes and she wants it. He buys it for her and she wears it all the time to remember him.

Violet is 14 when we meet her and she is stunted emotionally. At the beginning she is also expressionless nearly all of the time. It is not until she hears the sad story of a father who lost his daughter that she cries for the first time ever.

It is the process of writing letters for people that teaches her empathy. At first, her letters are excessively formal to the point of being more like a technical report than a heartfelt message.

As she continues to write letters, she grows in empathy and in her fluency of writing emotions on paper. She begins to feel regret and guilt for the deeds she did as a weapon of the military. She gains a much deeper understanding of human emotions with every letter she writes.

Violet develops short but meaningful relationships with several of the people who ask her to write letters over the course of each episode. Her episode with Clara Magnolia stands out in particular. Clara is a dying widow with a young daughter, Ann, who asks Violet to write several letters over the course of a week. Violet acts as a sort of babysitter to Ann, as Ann wants to spend time with her mother in the last days of her life, but her mother insists on writing letters. We as an audience get more and more frustrated with the mother for not spending more time with her child. It turns out that Clara was writing birthday letters to her daughter for the next fifty years. It was so sad. Did you cry? We both cried. The audience sees Ann receiving her first letter on the next birthday and we see Ann read more letters as she reaches a new birthday. It is a twist we hadn’t guessed, and it hits hard.

Princess Charlotte’s episode is also particularly memorable. Charlotte is going to be in an arranged marriage with Prince Damian of Flugel. When she is first on-screen, it seems like she is a young girl who is put into a marriage that she does not want to a man she has never met. She tells Violet she has no idea what to say in her letters, which are supposed to be flowery and romantic so that the public can see them. It turns out that Damian was the one who comforted her at a party when she was upset, and she really appreciated him. She did not know what to say because she liked him. Violet’s letters to Damian seem emotionless, and Damian’s letters to her also seem overly formal. She knows how she feels about Damian, but she doesn’t know if he feels the same. Princess Charlotte is upset. Violet suggests that they should write their own letters and it turns out he does. The kingdoms are intrigued by their passionate letters to each other and their wedding is a big celebration of love.

After a while, Violet finds out that Gilbert is presumed dead. It devastates her at first and it takes her a long time to recover. Nevertheless, she never truly accepts or believes that he is dead. It takes her a while to form relationships with the new people in her life, her new coworkers.

The first person to care about Violet is Claudia Hodgins, a man Gilbert asked to take care of Violet for him. He helps her find her first job. Violet meets many people when she gets her new job. Cattleya Baudelaire, Benedict Blue, Iris Canary, and Erica Brown are her coworkers. We get to know Iris in an episode, but the others aren’t as developed. They are likable, but they don’t get much screentime.

Is Gilbert alive? The story ends with an airshow where letters are dropped from the sky. Violet writes a letter for the Major where she tells him she believes that he is alive. We see Gilbert’s wounded body and we see him tell Violet to live, but we never see Gilbert dead. We see Violet at the end visiting a person to write a letter for them, and see a look of surprise when she sees their face, but we are not shown for sure whether this is Gilbert or if she is surprised for some other reason.

Another thing to note is the realism of the series. On Youtube, there is an excellent video where a veteran was interviewed about whether Violet Evergarden’s experience during and after the war was accurate compared to the experience of actual soldiers and veterans.

The veteran said her experience was exaggerated and yet largely accurate.

Some points that stood out to him:

Violet at one point tries to strangle herself. Her suicide attempt was true of many veteran experiences since suicide rates are relatively high among that demographic. The veteran said the episode with the suicide attempt “nailed it,” and was one of the hardest parts for him to watch because he lost several of his own war buddies to suicide.

When Violet tries to save the Major in the last battle before the end of the war, she fails to think straight and clear the area before rushing in to save him. The veteran said that was an instance of her emotions getting the better of her and said that was probably part of the reason she lost her arms and had to have them replaced with metal prosthetics.

The veteran also said that the way she crushed her emotions down was very understandable based on his own experience, and that he could appreciate why she had trouble interacting empathetically after living her entire life in the military.

He also said that he was annoyed about Violet saluting civilians randomly. He said that sort of thing didn’t really carry over into civilian life, but he could see why the creators chose to do this since all Violet ever knew was the military.

A final thing he noted as important was Violet’s nightmares–he said he experienced many nightmares and could relate to that.

The music in this anime is absolutely beautiful, the intro especially.

The intro song is called “Sincerely” by TRUE. It is about the power of words. The singer sings about learning words she didn’t know, which brings memories to the surface. She explains that there are words she may be incapable of understanding without the help of others. Specifically, the words “goodbye” and “I love you” are held up as special and powerful. They cause longing. The lyrics say that words do not have to be spoken to hold weight, they can cut to the heart even while they are unspoken but felt or read.

The outro song is called Michishirube and is by Minori Chihara. One of the lines from it, when translated into English describes a nameless flower that has found peace. This, to us, really describes Violet as she comes to terms with her actions during the war and accepts her new life as an auto memory doll.

The art style and animation are beautiful, especially when they show water or light as you can see above. The attention to detail is excellent and the character design is stunning. We see the characters in the snow, farmland, below the starry sky, and on the lake–among other settings.

In conclusion, we fully recommend this anime. We are aware that many people found the beginning boring, but we found that the development, in the beginning, was necessary and not really that boring. Although the anime has a very episodic feel that at times left us wanting more, there was a continued theme of Violet developing empathy. It is confusing why the military would choose a random 14-year-old orphan girl to use as a weapon, but we hold out hope that this will be explained in later seasons.

We will be putting out a podcast episode next week where we will share our opinions, so keep an eye out!