What is anime filler? And can you avoid watching it?

I recently had a conversation where I bemoaned the inevitability of filler episodes in popular anime. After a while, it was clear that not everyone in the conversation knew what filler was and why they were often a necessary part of any long-running anime series. More importantly, most people didn’t realize there are easy ways to avoid watching filler for the most popular shows…

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[Anime] Review – In Another World with my Smartphone: A Blatant Self Insert Fantasy


In Another World with my Smartphone, originally titled Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni, is technically about a teen who is transported to another world, one filled with magic and mystical creatures. Any reasonable description of the show would have you believe that it’s about how Touya – the main character – adapts to this new world while having unique adventures made possible by his smartphone.

A few episodes in, you quickly realize that’s not the case at all. The show is actually a very blatant self insert fantasy with an overpowered main character and no overarching plot, and half the time, you forget he even has a smartphone. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start with some context. Continue reading

[Manga Review] Robot x Laserbeam: A Rollercoaster of Sports Tropes and Writing Pivots

Hatohara Robato, nicknamed “Robo” by his classmates due to being as methodical and expressionless as a robot, is seemingly friendless until entering Eiai Academy, where he meets Tomoya Nakata, an extremely friendly fellow first-year. Nakata instantly attaches himself to Robo, and in the process, recruits Robo into the high school golf club. While highly reluctant in the beginning, Robo soon develops an interest in the sport (likely his first interest in anything…) after meeting prodigy golfer Youzan Miura.


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Impressions of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card – A New Season after 18 Years


The original Cardcaptor Sakura anime series was one of the most popular of its time. We followed Sakura and her friends – Syaoran, Tomoyo, and of course, Kero – as they fought and caught the spirits of the Clow Cards that had run loose. We accompanied Sakura as she made the cards her own and grew into a capable magician in her own right.

And 18 years after the last episode originally aired in Japan, Madhouse has begun airing a new season…

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[Manga Review] Investor Z – Grooming the Next Generation of Finance Professionals

Have you ever wanted to learn how to invest in stocks? Or do real estate? Or engage in day trading like the pros?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you should probably go buy a textbook on the topic and start reading up.

For anyone who’s not sure if they’d be interested in any of that stuff, though, I’d recommend you check out Investor Z. Written by Mita Norifusa, the author of the acclaimed Dragon Zakura series about preparing for college entrance exams, Investor Z covers the adventures of protagonist Zaizen Takashi, a middle school student who is suddenly whisked into the high-risk world of stocks and investing.

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[Manhwa Review] Catharsis: How to Literally Fight Your Inner Demons

Leon Mori is a stereotypical high school outcast, bored with life and bored with school. The only person he interacts with on a frequent basis is Ami, his middle-school tutor, stand-in guardian and current teacher, whom he also has a secret crush on. All very normal so far, except for a few niggling tidbits, like the fact that he is born with synesthesia and see sounds in colors. Or that he has been having a recurring nightmare for weeks, where he wanders in darkness running from disturbing laughter that paints his world in red. He sinks into the nightmare whenever he dozes off, and it is so vivid that it blurs his sense between dream and reality, turning his everyday life into something … monstrous. Soon though, Leon realizes his dreams may not be just dreams…


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[Anime] Haikyu!! Season 2 Impressions – Still endearing and still awesome

Haikyu Cover

[Warning: Contains Season 1 Spoilers]

If you haven’t seen the first season of Haikyu!! (or Haikyuu!!, however you spell it), go watch it now. It’s a sports anime done right, very much in the same vein as Eyeshield 21 or Prince of Tennis. The sport is volleyball, which means a cast of 6 regulars and 4-5 benchwarmers, plus a manager, coach, and a couple of side characters. Not too few and not too many. And after you’ve watched the first season, you will come to appreciate and empathize with every single one of them.

The first season was amazing, which meant I was super excited for the second season. Would it live up to the high expectations set by the first season? Would it be worse? Could it possibly be better?

Here are my impressions after watching the first four episodes of the second season:

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Death Note the Musical – Kwang-Ho Hong vs. Kim Junsu


Death Note, the unexpected gravy train franchise that has produced an anime, movie, live drama, has now expanded to musicals. This is not new news to hardcore fans – the Japanese show premiered earlier in April and the Korean version followed in May. The Broadway counterpart, depending on which source you sought, may be coming soon (there are demo tapes of the English soundtracks), or may not be coming at all (those tapes were then removed from the official site).

When I first learned that Death Note would be made into a musical, I thought it must be a joke. It’s like one of those abominations that shouldn’t have ever existed, if not for the funniness of demand meeting supply. Fans of the franchise still lusts for more material almost a decade later, and which company ever says no to money?! I was content to close my eyes (and ears) to this farce, … until I heard Light’s song “Death Note” by Kwang Ho Hong. Check it out below:

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[Manga] DICE: The Cube that Changes Everything Review

DICE title

The conclusion of the Liar Game Kdrama left me searching for another story like it, another world with a psychologically intense plot and interesting characters. That’s when I stumbled upon DICE: The Cube that Changes Everything. The written summary for this manhwa speaks of a game that can change a player’s life and a bottom-of-the-social-ladder main character who is given the opportunity to play this game. While DICE isn’t as intellectually intense as Liar’s Game, it does have some strong story elements that make it a good series in its own right.

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 11: Cool Techniques, Demikas Redemption and Shiroe’s Final Showdown

shiroe 4

Overall. I’ve realized that life is pretty fair sometimes. Everything that failed to happen in Episode 10 went down like a dream in Episode 11  (except perhaps Shiroe’s grand revelation but I had stopped hoping for the impossible). Shiroe and party began what looks like the last and final try to finish up the raid, and the whole episode was basically an epic fest of second by second strategy, shiny equipment, and showy techniques. Demikas also reached the final stage of his redemption path by dragging Shiroe kicking and screaming into the final stage of the dungeon. No doubt this is my favorite episode of Season 2 to date.

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