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21 May, 2018

Ghost Story - Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia) Review/Discussion

"A ghost could be wandering the halls of this school as I speak!"
-No sh** Sherlock.

TL;DR: Interesting art style (not in a bad way). Other than the somewhat predictable sub-plots in the mystery department and a bit of excessive comedy, a great horror/mystery + romance that doesn't mind going very dark very quickly. Special episode was definitely worth the watch as well.

After OreImo let's go back to something more normal, shall we?
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
15 y.o. ghost who died 60 years ago seduces and haunts 14 y.o. boy

Sooooo technically one is 75 and the other one is 14. I thought I said more normal?

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, or "Dusk Maiden of Amnesia" in English, revolves around a private academy that was built on top of a shrine. Of course, this results in a lot of ghost stories within the walls of the school, some of which are just pure fabrication, while others, as we learn in the anime, are undoubtedly true.

Meet Yuuko Kanoe, an amnesiac ghost who doesn't remember anything except for her name and where her dead body is located. She is trapped within Seikyou Academy, where she died 60 years ago in the oldest building of the school. Being a ghost, most people can't see or touch her, and even when they do, it is usually not in her true form (more on that later). However, this changes when she meets...

Teiichi Niiya, the 14 year old romance male lead who stumbled upon Yuuko's dead body when he was trying to find the exit to the maze of the old buildings of the school. For some reason (that I think is implied later in the story), not only can Teiichi see Yuuko as her true form, but is also able to touch her as well. For a girl who, for the first time in 60 years, is able to be seen and touched (by a boy no less), you can imagine her excitement in this. She latches on to Teiichi due to this, basically haunting him in the school, while establishing the Paranormal Investigation Club in order to find out the truth about her own death.

One of the things I like about Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is it's interesting interpretation of paranormal activity. Without spoiling too too much of the plot, it basically boils down to "ghosts are seen as what you want to see". The picture above is the depiction of Yuuko from the perspective of Kirie, who believes that Yuuko is an evil spirit, trying to lure Teiichi to the spirit realm. After hearing the explanation from Kirie, Teichii starts to see Yuuko as this form as well. The concept that everything is just in your head is used heavily and effectively throughout the plot of this anime, which just makes me go "Hmmmmmm.... Interesting...." all the way throughout the show. Of course, if you think of it in another way, this also makes the subplots kind of predictable, but I'm not complaining whatsoever.

Speaking of paranormal activity, the anime is not scared of using VERY dark plot alongside VERY dark imagery to prove its points. And that's not just restricted to the main plot of Yuuko's mystery. Even in the subplots that comes up, where they try to solve the ghostly rumours in the school, I find myself in shock and going "oh my god is this actually happening in a school of a bunch of teenagers?". The art style used throughout the anime is one that I don't often see much of, but it really helps to set up the horror atmosphere of the story. Even at times where there's no dark imagery involved, the anime uses various interesting visual techniques which I don't have the knowledge to describe using words that makes the show even more unique.

Oh, I haven't even gotten into the romance part of this show yet. While the romance builds quite heavily upon "I'm a girl who hadn't touched a boy for at least 60 years, so come here you!", I can't help but sympathize from Yuuko's point of view. I mean, 60 years is a LONG time, and while she's trapped in the school for that period nobody can even see her. Of course she's lonely, and of course she is REALLY excited that the first person that could actually see AND touch her true form in such a long time is coincidentally a boy. I don't want to get too deep into the romance plot as it is part of the main plot, but it actually made me kinda emotional during the climax and throughout the resolution. The ending was kinda cliche and cheesy, but after going through the emotions in the plot I didn't really mind it at all.

Of course, there were some problems in this show as well, mainly in the form of Momoe Okonogi, the idiot I used in the first picture of this post. She is the comedic relief character of the show, whose sole purpose is to make jokes. While I appreciate the fact that they don't want the show to be just DARK DARK DEATH DEATH DARK, Momoe takes away a lot of the horror atmosphere whenever she is on screen, basically because she doesn't have any character development other than "this girl will make you laugh". Plus, just the interaction between Teiichi and Yuuko (mainly the *cough* fanservice *cough*) is quite enough to act as a breather between the dark plotlines. [Also I hate Momoe for forcing herself as a romance rival when she clearly doesn't have a chance. I guess in the romance genre there's always some sort competition, but can't you make an exception sometimes?]

Of course, it's not just Momoe that brought down the show with excessive comedy. One of the dramatic scenes later in the show involves Teiichi and Yuuko, which ended with a weird *ahem* hand-grabs-certain-female-body-part *ahem* by Teiichi. This was one of the few moments I went "What. In. The. World.". I could only speculate what could be done to resolve that scene without said weird grabbing action, but surely anything else would be better than that right? [Dear writers: I have a lot of questions about that scene. Where in the world do you get so many fallen leaves on the roof of a fairly high building? Also, did you really think that the heart is under the right breast? Seriously?]

There's also times where I feel like the show "conveniently forgot" that Yuuko is a ghost. This happens mainly around Momoe (of course), who isn't able to see Yuuko. There are certain scenes like Teichii talking to Yuuko or Yuuko hugs Teichii until he falls down, both of which Momoe was present, where Momoe doesn't even respond to. And this isn't just Momoe, even in the scene where Yuuko basically carried cotton candy through a crowded hallway, nobody acknowledges the fact that there's a floating object in the middle of the freaking hallway.

Watashi yo moete~ Moete~
The most surprising part of this anime is probably how much I enjoyed the opening. It wasn't catchy like Death Parade, or as pretty as Clannad: After Story (Wait, I haven't had a post on this yet. Oh well), but for some reason I just keep listening through the opening every episode. Maybe it's the meaning of the lyrics that I felt connected to? Oh hey its 鈴木このみ! Konomi Suzuki! The person that did the No Game No Life opening! Maybe that's why I like this opening so much.

Sankarea? Is that you? Oh it's just you Yuuko.
I also want to give credit to this anime for slightly modifying the ending animation in the climax of the show based on what had happened (Episode 7). Not a big change, but it's a nice touch nonetheless. Also, the ED in Episode 11 has a surprise. Didn't realize it in my first watching session. My reaction on the second watch-thru: "Wait, this sounds different.... Oh. AHHHHHHHHHH! This is amazing."

Overall the show was a good horror/mystery/romance. Even though the mystery was a tad bit predictable and the romance is slightly cliche-ish, I enjoyed my time watching (and re-watching for writing this post) this anime. I would personally add the comedy genre to the show, since there's seems to be a fair bit of it, but it's not a full out rom-com so I can understand why they didn't include that.

On a side note, the special OVA episode (Episode 13) basically shows you this anime in full rom-com form, which is quite nice after the emotional ride through the main plot. More Yuuko x Teichii didn't hurt, and I probably say this a lot, but I like the modified opening in the special episode. It completely caught me off guard and I was laughing my butt off before I realized it.

16 May, 2018

Anime is trash and so am I - OreImo Rant (Spoilers Everywhere)

*Why is this not canon?*
-I'm looking at you, PSP game.

TL;DR: Anime is trash and so am I for enjoying it. OreImo is absolute trash. I hate the ending. But I still enjoyed my time watching it.

Ever wondered what kind of anime stands on the border of the stuff I'll admit I watched? Stuff like OreImo. Its not the type of anime you would normally recommend to other people since you would probably look like a weirdo for watching it, yet it's still so far from your almost-hentai ecchi anime or the "I don't even want to know what is going on" anime or the "it's so bad I will actually die if I continue to watch" anime.

Today I want to talk about OreImo. And this will probably be more of a rant than a review, unlike my previous posts. So, spoiler alert, people. I'll be going through the key plot points of both OreImo S1 and S2.

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
 Little sister plays erotic games about little sisters with her brother in her room using her computer.

Wait, I think that actually was dialogue said in the show. Wait, nope. It was something similar though, and it was from their freaking parents.

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, OreImo for short, "My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute" in English, is basically Game of Thrones minus the politics or dragons or zombies or war plus comedy. Haven't seen Game of Thrones? Umm... So... It's a romantic comedy. Where the main protagonists are siblings. Yup. Siblings.

OreImo follows the story of Kirino and Kyousuke Kousaka (left and right), siblings who have been in a cold war with each other for who knows how many years because, well, sibling stuff. I'm sure people with siblings would know what I mean. Kirino is your typical overachiever girl who seems to be good at basically everything she does. Secretly, however, she is an otaku who loves playing erotic games. About little sisters. Yes. Typical, right?

One day, Kyousuke stumbles upon one of her erotic games, completely shattering his perception of his seemingly perfect little sister. However, this event also led to them finally talking to each other after many years as Kirino asks her brother for counseling on her secret hobby, while also introducing her world to Kyousuke. Yes, this of course includes the erotic games about little sisters.

Comedy ensues as Kyousuke helps his sister in keeping her hobby a secret, while helping her make friends in the otaku community, while ALSO being forced by her own little sister to play erotic games about little sisters. Can you guess where this is going? Add some ecchi misunderstandings/coincidences between the main characters and basically you have OreImo Season 1. It was basically your normal Ecchi/Romance/Comedy with a bit of incest plot on the side. A bit weird? Yes, of course, but not too too bad.

One of the things I actually liked about OreImo was how they actually have different OP animation every episode. Although it wasn't big changes, it made watching the entire opening every episode kind of worthwhile even though the song wasn't really that good like Death Parade was. Even the ED is completely different every episode (but I don't really like watching ED in general). OreImo S1 was also quite interesting as it had different plot endings, something that I haven't seen before when I watched OreImo (but have seen in an absolutely beautiful anime that I hopefully will talk about in a future post).

Speaking of different plot endings, this is about where I felt the show started to get good, and then spiraled out of control very quickly (and VERY BADLY) after that.

[SPOILER ALERT AGAIN]
In the final episode of Season 1, it is revealed that Kirino plans to go to America for training.
In the good ending, made for the TV broadcast, Kyousuke finds out the night before and was disappointed that Kirino never told him. Being the dishonest romance main character that he is, he tells Kirino to go ahead with her decision. Kirino on the other hand, being the tsundere b**** that she is, beats him up and, as revealed the next morning, decides not to go to America. Everyone's happy. Yay(?).

In the true route, which was released online and is based on the original plot of the source material, Kirino never told Kyousuke, which left him shocked at the sudden absence of his little sister, whom he had spent so much time with lately. You can guess what this is setting up for if you watched ANY romance genre show before.

In the end of the true route's first episode, Kuroneko, one of Kirino's otaku club friend, reveals to have joined Kyousuke's school becoming his junior. Why is this important? Because it sets up Season 2, that's why.

After the true route's first episode, several additional episodes were released online, which mostly depicts Kyousuke helping Kuroneko fit into school. In the canonical last episode of Season 1, which takes place 3 months after Kirino left for America, Kyousuke decides to also go to America to find Kirino. To play an erotic game with her. Yup.
Oh and to ask her to come back to Japan with the "I'm so lonely without you" cliche.
Oh, right. This happened before Kyousuke left for America as well:

And hence, we continue to one of the most controversial anime that came out as a sequel to an already-controversy-inducing anime. 
Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai.
Main character makes the absolutely worst decision in anime history

Yes, the period/dot/full stop is the sign they chose for its sequel. Don't ask me why. It's a mystery to me too. 

Before diving into Season 2, let's talk about Kuroneko. Kuroneko (黒猫, thanks again kanji), literally meaning "black cat" in English, was initially introduced as this egoistic snobbish girl who seems to be always cosplaying her favourite character in both fashion as well as personality (she speaks in character all the time too). However, during the true route episodes of Season 1, where her real name Ruri Gokou was revealed, we start to see a different side of her. She was in fact very insecure with herself, being uncomfortable and shy talking with people when she started her new school. Now, I wanna be honest here, when I first watched Season 1, I skipped through most of the true route episodes since in my head Kuroneko was still this egoistic b****. Only during Season 2 did I realize I was wrong. SO WRONG. And it was not just a sudden character change midway through the series, it was hinted at throughout Season 1 which apparently I was so against her in-character character that I completely missed them.

Can you tell by now Kuroneko is my favourite character? No? Kuroneko is my favourite character in this anime. And possibly the only good thing to come out from my time watching it.

[SPOILER ALERT AGAIN]
 
Season 2 was weird. And that's saying something for a series with this kind of plot in Season 1. Season 2 picks up directly after the canonical ending of Season 1, where Kirino is back in Japan. Kirino and Kyousuke goes through this weird phase of trying to figure out what they're relationship actually is, due to the whole "I'm so lonely without you" thing Kyousuke said to get Kirino back. Kirino brings a fake boyfriend to try to get Kyousuke to be jealous, which of course worked. And just when I thought this anime was actually going to go fully down the incest path, we get greeted with this:

You do not know how I felt when he ACTUALLY ACCEPTED HER CONFESSION. I WAS ACTUALLY GOING CRAZY. THE DUMB ROMANCE MAIN CHARACTER ACTUALLY MADE THE SMART DECISION OF CHOOSING THE CORRECT GIRL!. We get to see them going out as a couple, including going on their first date, visiting each other's houses, seeing the summer fireworks festival (which apparently every romance show has for some reason)........ For one and a half episode.

You know, I kinda expected this to happen at some point, since they started going out on E7 in a 12 episode season. But one and a half episode? Why?! I usually have a bias towards the main heroine. This anime was basically the first time I actually preferred a side character over the main heroine in the romance department. Why?! Why the little screen-time when Kuroneko is actually the best female character in the entire anime. Screw the childhood friend Minami. Screw the yandere Ayase. Screw the rich girl Saori. And for f***'s sake screw (on second thought I take that back before this backfires on me) Forget your damn incestuous tsundere sister. Ugh. And this anime just goes downhill from here.

Coming back to the plot, after breaking up with Kyousuke, Kuroneko transfers to another school. To whom does the now-lonely-as-f*** Kyousuke go to to seek help? His sister of course. With Kirino's help, they manage to find Kuroneko in a hot springs village, and here the plot kind of gets lost on me a bit.

Kirino berates Kuroneko for leaving everyone without any trace, of which Kuroneko used to force Kirino to speak out her true feelings towards the fact that Kyousuke and Kuroneko were going out. Kirino basically confessed that she was jealous yet she couldn't stand her brother being sad over losing his girlfriend. After Kirino reveals the truth, Kuroneko reveals that she was currently on a family vacation, and she is only transferring schools to a nearby city due to his father changing job positions.

So..... My question is WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU BREAK UP WITH HIM? They tried to explain that Kuroneko was trying to use the break up to mend the relationship between Kirino and Kyousuke, but that clearly 100% would have backfired on Kuroneko, and it definitely did. She just created the opportunity for Kirino and Kyousuke to be closer than ever, especially now that Kirino spoke out the truth of her not wanting Kyousuke to have a girlfriend.  Author of this light novel, did you do all that just to set up Kyousuke & Kirino's relationship? I think you did. And I hate you for completely pushing Kuroneko down the staircase just to make that happen.

The whole break up seems to be the tipping point that skews Kyousuke towards Kirino, as both of them start to get close again, and the anime goes into another weird direction. Apparently after the break up every single female side character is in love with Kyousuke now. Because of course we need a Harem plot in an Ecchi Incest Romance Comendy. One of the more prominent side characters who were affected by this "Harem Spell" was Ayase, Kirino's obsessive yandere best friend. She confesses to Kyousuke, who of course declines since we all know where this is going by now...

The TV version of OreImo S2 ends prematurely again, with the final episode of the TV broadcast being a flashback of Kirino's past before the cold war between her and her brother started, where it's shown that she already had feelings towards Kyousuke back then. Yup. This show really wants to end with Kyousuke and Kirino being together. Which of course can't be shown on TV, cause you know, incest and all. 

On the first of the online-only episode, I was given one last hope as it seems like Kyousuke and Kuroneko were going out on a date again..... And then my hopes and dreams were thoroughly crushed.....
...As Kyousuke rejects Kuroneko for real this time (RIP my heart)...

...So that he can confess to his sister, who of course accepted...

 Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Hold the f*** on. IS THAT A F***ING RING?!

WHAT THE ACTUAL F***?! ARE YOU ACTUALLY SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?! HOW IN THE WORLD WOULD THAT WORK?!

Of course that wouldn't work. The author knew that. The show knew that. Us viewers knew that. Apparently, however, none of their friends knew that, as they were all like "Oh you guys are dating now? Cool, cool. A bit weird but cool." SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY? Does no one actually want to comment on how wrong that is.
Of course, here comes in the one character that I'm pretty sure everyone hates (whether or not that hate is larger than that towards Kirino doesn't matter). Minami, Kyousuke's childhood friend, confronts the now engaged(? Let's call them dating...) Kyousuke and Kirino, which caused an actual fight between the two girls. Can I just say right now what in the world is happening to this show? Like, seriously. They actually fight.
Minami. The person who basically did nothing in the entire two season run except for walking to school with Kyosuke and sometimes give barely usable advice. Suddenly comes out and punches Kirino in the gut. If it's not for the wayyyyyy too fast of a personality change, I would not have blamed her, since Kirino was kinda pushing her b****yness a tad too far before getting punched. They proceed to slap each other, pulling each other's hairs in true girl-fight form before Kyousuke finally steps in to stop them.

Ugh. Really? Thank you Minami for slapping the f*** out of Kyousuke after this. This is probably the most useful thing you've actually done in the entire two seasons. And just when I thought maybe Kyousuke and Kirino would actually listen to what Minami tried to talk to them about, we were shown the impossible. The ACTUAL IMPOSSIBLE MANIFESTED IN FRONT OF US.
I quit. They even kissed. I don't even want to show that here. It was showed later that this "marriage" was just make-believe, since they promised to only be lovers until that point. But still, really? Really? REALLY?! I don't even know how to describe this anymore. You actually went all the way and completely blew my expectations with this. Thank goodness this is the last episode and I don't have to know anything more about what happens to these two.

This show is trash. Really. It's garbage. It went fully down the most trashy romantic plotlines in the history of romantic plotlines. Kirino had one of the worst personalities compared to every single other female character, and that's overlooking her little sister fetish.

But you know what? I enjoyed my time watching OreImo. As much as I hated how the show went all in with the incest route, I enjoyed watching their initial struggle to figure out how to deal with each other. The comedic incidents throughout both seasons helped too. And of course I loved the Kuroneko arc, and I really really really wished that they continued after that. I'm looking at you, PSP game. If only I actually understood Japanese...

But seriously though, the author went way way waaayyy too absorbed with the incest route. If only they stopped with just something along the lines "I like you too but we can't", kinda like Eromanga, it would have made OreImo a lot better in my opinion.

[Post-Writing Addition]
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F***. I did some extra research just to make sure I didn't mess up my facts on the show (GG my browser history). There was a scene after the "marriage" where Kyousuke kisses Kirino on the cheek, using his "one time wish" privilege that he won in a past episode. I thought that was just a harmless kiss just to tease Kirino. Turns out. It is not over. Based on the OreImo wiki:
  •  So he asks Kirino to come closer, and as Kirino closes in, Kyousuke casually kisses her in the cheek, implying that he uses his '1 Time Wish' to break the promise of them 'being couple until graduation'. 
  • While in the anime, it shows Kyousuke kissing Kirino on the cheek, in the light novel, it just said kiss (キス Kisu) which would usually mean on the lips. Based on the author's interviews, many fans speculate that the kiss actually happened on the lips.
  • Based off of the interviews with the author, it seems that Kirino and Kyousuke's relationship with each other truly has not ended
  • There is an after story named "A Momentary Chance Encounter", in which it is implied that Kirino and Kyousuke are still together
And of course, I went and read the translation of the after story after seeing that.

Burn this sh** from my mind now please. I can't unread that anymore. Why did I do extra research. Why. Oh god this means that they were still a couple in Eromanga. Sh**. God damn it. My mind has been tainted now (as if it hadn't already before, Rubin).

12 May, 2018

Funky Psychology - Death Parade Review/Discussion

"WOAH!~ YEAH!~"
-This opening is stuck in my head now. And in my Spotify playlist.

TL;DR: The opening itself is worth watching the whole season for. If the anime sucked that is. Which of course it didn't. Get ready for some dark, existential, psychological and a little philosophical stuff.

 
DEATH PARADE
Two people walk into a bar. They play a game. Both come out dead.
(Well, they were dead in the first place anyway)

Hey. Hey you.
Have you listened to that opening?
No? Go listen to it (5 times or so probably should be good enough).
Yes? Well here's another poster of this anime:
Not so pretty anymore right?  
Death Parade is a show about the afterlife. In a non-religious kind of way. Once people die, they will either be reincarnated or be thrown into the void . To paraphrase the anime, "we tell them Heaven and Hell just so they get a clearer picture", so yes, reincarnation or void.

 
We follow the work of the emotionless bartender Decim (right in the image) and his assistant "the black-haired woman". Seriously, she literally is called "the black-haired woman" even in the credits (黒髪の女, thank you kanji for being similar to Chinese so I knew exactly what that meant when I saw it). Together, they operate Quindecim, Floor 15 of what is implied to be a whole tower of bars. 

So, what does the bar have to do anything with the afterlife and the whole "reincarnation or void" thing? Well, two recently deceased people, who don't remember they're dead due to shock, are sent to one of these bars, where they are forced to their mental limits by playing a game against each other with their lives on the stake. Of course, their lives aren't really on the stake since they are already dead, but they don't know that, which helps to bring out their true human nature due to the way the games are designed. Don't understand? Let's use a slight spoiler of an example in the picture below:
The game presented in E1 is darts, where each section of the board represents a body part/organ of their competitor. Hitting a part means the actual body part/organ of your competitor feels an immense amount of pain. You can pretty much guess what would happen at that point. What the players don't know is that the outcome of the game doesn't matter, it's what they do during the game that the bartender, also called the arbiter, will use to decide if they get another chance to live or suffer in the void. Adding to the competitiveness of the game is that the players are usually in some way related to each other, such as the players in E1 actually being newly-weds.

What would you do if you are forced to play a game against your new wife/husband, where if you score you would hurt them, yet your lives depend on the game? That is the kind of question this anime asks. Every episode really succeeds on testing the whole spectrum of the moral compass, as things usually aren't just black or white, but arbiters still have to choose what judgment to apply towards their guests. By the way, that's just the tip of the premise that happens on the surface of the main plot. Once you get into the main plot, you start to wonder. What am I doing with my life? Am I satisfied with my life? Are we just living with no purpose, going to school, getting a job, raising a family, but yet still having to face our inevitable death? Is it worth the effort to even do anything? Am I just trapped in this body?....... [Shhhhhhhhhh.... Go listen to the opening song again.]

Everybody~ Put your hands up~ Honestly this is probably one of the best opening song + sequence I've experienced since I've started watching anime. Every episode I listen to the whole opening while bopping my head and tapping my hands with the beat of the song. I really like the pure contrast in tone of the opening and the actual story, which really made the show even more memorable than it already was. And don't misunderstand this as criticism, the OP does a good job of showing small little important details about the anime that you'll be like "ohhhh so that's what its referring to" throughout the show. Plus, it helps to have a light-hearted song every episode to balance out that emotional meter.

One minor complaint I have is the uncanny valley feel I get from the black-haired woman's character sometimes, which might just be me personally. Her face just seems, I don't know, a slight bit too long? It feels weird to me sometimes, especially when she smiles. If you feel this way from the picture as well, take note that the animation in the anime is actually pretty well executed, it's just maybe the character design on her is a bit off.

Overall, Death Parade was a fun yet dark as hell (no pun intended) show that makes you ask about what is right and wrong on the surface, while having a really well written main plot underneath it that makes you question your own existence. I was really surprised that this was an original written anime (meaning not adapted from a manga etc), but it looks like Madhouse did a really good job again.

10 May, 2018

Proof of life - Made in Abyss Review/Discussion

 
"I tried putting some of the meat I cooked for dinner in there.... The thing got loose and started running around..." 
- This is about the time you should realize this is not just a cute show.

TL;DR: Crunchyroll's Anime of the Year for a reason. Great visuals, great soundtrack, great plot. Don't let it's cute-ish appearance fool you, there's a lot more to it than what meets the eye. Watching it blind recommended.

Apparently I'm still alive, and apparently I have loads of time to spare, so I asked myself why not I use this website for some actual use other than posting cryptic messages once every year. I've been getting into anime quite recently, so I guess I'll start talking about some of the ones I've watched, be it good ones, bad ones or even weird ones (trust me, there are some REAL weird ones I watched).

Let's start off with something simple......

MADE IN ABYSS 
An anime about a girl and a robot exploring a gaping hole.

Yup, that's the most easily misunderstood yet technically correct description of this show I can come up with.

Jokes aside, Made in Abyss revolves around a huge hole known as the Abyss, which is said to be the only place in the anime's world that has not been fully explored. This attracted a HUGE amount of explorers known as "delvers" or "cave raiders", not just to figure out what is at the bottom of the Abyss, but also to collect mysterious objects called "Relics" which are said to be of unknown origin and sometimes even having magical properties, which are mostly sold for money. 

 
Of course, things aren't as simple as just jumping in, taking any relics then climbing out. When ascending from within the Abyss, delvers are afflicted with what is known as "The Curse of the Abyss", which causes a range afflictions from slight dizziness to hallucination to even death based on layer where they are ascending at. 

The story follows Riko the orphan, who aims to be as good as (or even better than) her mother Lyza, who is one of the five (I think) delvers with the classification of "White Whistle" (basically the legends of the delver society). Even though she has a strong spirit, she is only allowed to descend a few hundred meters from the surface as a Red Whistle.

In one of her explorations, she meets Reg, a robot(?) of unknown origin, which was speculated to be a special grade relic from within the Abyss. However, Reg does not seem to remember anything from before their encounter (including being a robot himself).

Following several events, both of them decide to descend the Abyss together, hoping to not only unearth the mystery behind Reg's origin, but also to search for Riko's mother as well.

Now, what makes this anime considered as the best anime of 2017? Well, let's just say it excelled in basically all of the key components that make up a show. In the beginning it looks like a "aww everything's beautiful and pretty and cute" show, but even in the first episode I started to find myself in awe of this huge hole that not only looks amazing, but also contains these mysterious creatures and relics. Where did the relics come from? What is this Curse of the Abyss? Why does the creatures in the Abyss look unlike anything else in the world? A bunch of questions start popping out from my normally-already-noisy brain.

The soundtrack is amazing as well. There's a specific fake-language song that actually got me into an ear-gasm the first time I heard it, and it was used in such a beautiful reveal that I can still imagine the animation in that scene whenever I hear the song. The other songs in the soundtrack are great as well and definitely were used well in the show accompanying the visuals.

Story-wise, it definitely succeeded in making me wanting to know more each episode. Without spoiling too too much, the story goes through a lot of twists and turns without overdoing it. The final episode was apparently twice as long as a normal episode, but during my first watch-thru I never even noticed it, that's how glued I was towards the end. The climax shocked me to the core (Episode 10 anyone?), and one of the events during the few final episodes that involved a certain side character just broke me. When a story made you care about a side character to the point of shedding tears you know that its a good story.

Overall, I feel like Made in Abyss is one of the shows that any anime watcher should definitely watch. Even as I re-watched it (for the third time? fourth time? I lost count) just before writing this post, this anime still touched me in a lot of ways. Of course, these opinions are solely my own, so some people may disagree with me, but this is definitely on the top of my list of anime watched. I'm so happy that there's a Season 2 coming out soon, can't wait for it to arrive.