This blog is coming out much earlier than usual! This is mainly because when I was going over the draft of this winter blog, it was getting very long, and I still had a full month to watch stuff and add to that length. So instead, we are cutting this post into two parts. The first one is right here, and the second one will be coming around this time next month! Hopefully this will be easier to read, since it is a few shows with a lot for me to say!
Quick obligatory reminder this is all just my opinion. I do try to be as objective as possible, but inherently I have biases, preferences, and a specific viewpoint and worldview. If you disagree, let’s keep it civil and write to me either in a comment, or wherever you saw this, why you disagree! Onto the ratings!
Oshi no Ko offers a deep dive into the underbelly of the idol industry, and we see through our main characters the difficulties of being an idol. The work hours, the social pressure, tying your self-worth to the content you produce, and even how you view relations with others. To a large extent, this also applies to Youtubers, Twitch Streamers, and other social media marketers, but it should be noted that obviously this show was made from a Japanese viewpoint, so overworking and some idol-specific topics are here as well. Oshi no Ko is a solid way to understand just how all of that industry works.
But what if I told you that the best episode had very little to do with that? Episode 1 of Oshi no Ko will go down in history as one of the singular best episodes in anime history. It tells a beautiful and painful story of Ai and her struggles through a toxic industry and finding her self-worth through being one of the best idols.
The main “problem” is that, through very spoiler-y reasons I won’t get to, episode 1 and the rest of the season are very disconnected. There is a time skip, and Ai takes a backseat while the real protagonists are now much older and ready to start their story. This is actually what demoted it from S tier for me. I previously said after having seen just 3 episodes that I could not see myself putting this show below S tier, but here it is, at the top of A+. I think there is a very real chance that you could fall in love with episode 1, and not really like episodes 2–11, which is a very strange situation for an anime. You have the hook, but the meat of the anime is actually distanced quite a bit from that hook.
It’s not that episode 1 is meaningless, quite the opposite in fact. It is the driving force for the protagonists to continue on. However, the time skip and the tonal shift actually creates this separation. Regardless though, Oshi no Ko is an absolutely fantastic anime and is easily a must-watch for anyone interested in a good drama driven through exposing the dark truth of idols.
Chainsaw Man is the first Shounen anime I have ever seen. Shocking, I know. Fun fact as well, it is the 100th unique anime I’ve seen as well, not counting season 2s and 3s as separate entries. I’ve just never liked the idea of shows like Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece. Their stories did not appeal to me. However, there are a handful of Shounen I was interested in, and Chainsaw Man seemed like the most appealing one for me to start with.
Chainsaw Man is gorey to an extreme. Probably obvious given that chainsaws are prominently portrayed, but even I was surprised at the sheer amount of gore. The action and fight scenes are amazingly animated. I’m not a CGI hater, and the CGI was used sparingly and at perfect moments. The characters are so unique and honestly kind of relatable. Denji just wants to be with a woman because he has been deprived all of his life, and it shows. His actions are lustful, and he has less drive than the other characters, but he doesn’t need to have it. Power accurately depicts a fiend who thinks highly of themselves and nobody else. Makima is scary in a subtle way, which is perfect for someone in charge, and you can very much tell she is not someone to mess with. Aki is a bit of a flat character, but his sheer amount of drive to push past all of the horrors he has faced in order to bring justice is cool.
Really, Chainsaw Man was a perfect gateway Shounen for me to get into. This is the only Shounen I’ve watched so far, but I no longer view all Shounens as Naruto clones, and I have a few planned to watch down the line!
Horimiya: The Missing pieces is the second and seemingly final season. It’s… interesting, for sure. The first few episodes have quick cuts and somewhat jarring transitions, as there are a lot of small side stories that were cut out of season 1. The latter few episodes acted as an epilogue to season 1, and as far as I could tell, has wrapped up where the manga has left it. I do think this execution is messy, because season 1 feels like a clean transition that skips over some side stories, and this “second season” fills in all of the gaps. Even though slice of life romance anime are not for their story, you do still feel jolted around. The continuity is off, and if the directors planned on more than 1 season, I think this was a poor way to go about it.
Despite all of that though, it’s still Horimiya. Honestly, I’ve come to appreciate Horimiya quite a bit as a show that just has an awesome friend group. It’s what we all idealize having, a bunch of people who are chill, poke fun, and come from different backgrounds and interests. A lot of friend groups in anime, high school or otherwise, tend to feel like the same kind of people hanging out together, but not here. The romance isn’t furthered a lot in this side season, but there are a few moments still.
Overall, it’s the same Horimiya you know from either season 1 or the manga, with slightly less continuity.
Verdict: Remains A
Rent-A-Girlfriend season 3… I cannot tell you why I keep coming back. However, I was not disappointed this time. For the past two reviews of this anime, I’ve talked about the degeneracy, toxicity, and general overwhelming cringe that the show offers. Season 3 however, provides minimal amounts of all of that. This season focuses heavily on Kazuya’s and Chizuru’s movie, meaning that the best characters get the spotlight. Sumi gets more screen time as well, though still not a lot. Everyone loves Sumi. But most importantly, Ruka gets her screen time cut drastically, and Mami is completely absent. Mami and Ruka cause so many problems that make the show unbearable to watch, and taking them away is such a relief. I actually found myself caring about the story! Because the story is no longer “We have a secret and Ruka is so jealous that she has to blab about it”, but is now more about Chizuru’s goal in life, Kazuya’s determination, and Chizuru finally starting to come to terms with her feelings.
There were still some cringe Ruka moments, and right in the final seconds of season 3, we got a hint towards Mami making a return, so season 4 is probably doomed. But if you’ve been on the fence about rent-a-girlfriend, maybe check out season 3. It actually had some great moments, for once.
Verdict: Still C+, but higher in C+ (for now)
This blog post is only half of this part. I think in terms of number of entries, I could’ve made it work, but I had a lot to say about most of these shows, so it ended up getting quite long! Expect part 2 to be around this time in December! Thanks for supporting me, and as a little sneak peak, keep an eye out for something interesting coming in the new year! 😮