Day Seven: Majo no Takkyuubin (MotM 2017)

kiki delivery cover

Also known as Kiki’s Delivery Service. Rather, I’m not sure anyone has ever called it Majo no Takkyuubin outside of Japan.

Another short post today, as I’m a little worn out from the constant day-by-day analyses. I’ll do the bare-bones version, with just enough to get my points across without sounding entirely lazy with it.

Studio Ghibli is basically the Disney of the anime world. Their movies are praised by most audiences around the world and have a nice focus on embellishing the everyday life with fantastical premises. It’s not often that one studio becomes known for cranking out hit after hit after hit for decades without fail. While not the most popular of their films, Kiki’s Delivery Service still stands as a classic in the eyes of many Ghibli enthusiasts.

I don’t get it.

By no means is it a bad film. Animation is solid, characters are likable, and the atmosphere is predictably magical. The major issue is that there isn’t any real impact to it. There’s no “oomph.” No real drama that the audience can care about, no developed moral message or social commentary (though there’s some attempt at independence vs. dependence), no resolve for the surface goal of the film. It almost feels like a slice of life, where things happen on a daily basis that feel a little more magical based on the witchiness of the female lead. Should people read my blog often, they’d know my stance on most slice of life’s.

Kiki’s Delivery Service doesn’t really take many chances. Perhaps for its time the plot could be seen as something out of the ordinary. However now, it doesn’t exactly scream “unique.” While not necessarily a problem, the possibility of a little more meat to the meal would definitely help the audience leave with a full belly—especially those with large expectations. I suppose my biggest issue with the film is the lack of an overall point. Combined with being anywhere between mediocre and above-average in most respects outside of animation and atmosphere, it doesn’t have that glaze of “classic” to me that many others would argue for it.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t something I wouldn’t watch again. It has a nice tranquility to it that makes it worth watching over and over. Though, I feel as though I’ll forget it before too long, as even with the strength of naivety and animation, it comes across as somewhat bland. It’s a nice treat made with the utmost care, but even the best of professionals have times when they’re not on fire.

Final Score: 6/10

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

Katawa Shoujo Review


The concept of a dating sim has been done to death on a number of different platforms. Particularly popular in an indie (and Eastern) sense, one is likely to find some variety in the genre on sites hosting games developed by independent studios or aspiring game developers such as Newgrounds. The origins of Katawa Shoujo are a tad more spontaneous than most would imagine, beginning as a simple thread on 4chan about a visual novel involving “disabled girls.” Soon enough, the idea became so influential that a studio was formed with the desire to make the game a reality. In early 2012, that single thread, which would likely disappear into obscurity among 4chan’s hive of daily threads, gave birth to one of the most beloved (online) visual novels of my generation.

True to form, Katawa Shoujo is entirely reliant on the story and characters to provide its worth as a game. The level of interactivity is nearly nil, only requiring a steady hand of mouse-clicking and the occasional choice every so often. It would be more appropriate to say that you’re “reading” Katawa Shoujo rather than playing it. Despite this, there’s a sensation of immersion present when playing the game that’s unlike most visual novels. I’d likely attribute this to the casual—and amusingly sarcastic—writing of the game. The down-to-Earth sense of atmosphere, despite the circumstances of the plot, allows an approachable nature compared to other visual novels made by bigger studios. I suppose one could say that the relatable dialogue and accessibility of the “source material” is an advantage against the big-wig, otherworldly standard that bigger studios try to emulate based on what they assume of the general public.


Youthful antagonism against corporatism in check, there’s something to be said about the dialogue of the characters and overall appeal to the setting of Katawa Shoujo. When a game can entrance you alone with the pacing of its set-up, that’s commendable. It clearly establishes the origins of the player, what the conflict becomes, and the transition which occurs because of it. It’s simplistic, but there’s no need to overindulge in a slice-of-life-like scenario. Other than the health concerns, of course. Some would argue that the starting scenario comes across as too long, with the path leading to a specific girl’s route taking longer than it should. While I would agree to some extent, especially after repeated playthroughs, I think it does a well enough job of setting up every scenario to make it desirable. In a visual novel/dating sim, this is probably the most important aspect.

Characters are what drive Katawa Shoujo, as they should. The variety in characters and their distinct quirks shine a bright light across the foundation of the game’s core. Even side characters hold a distinct pleasure of making the game feel more alive in hindsight. With a place like 4chan, which can be off-putting for a lot of people, a lot of assumptions can be made about the way they would treat the girls as characters. One might be surprised at the level of care and love placed into making them seem as realistic (while also sexually aggressive) as possible, with even an underlying moral message attached to every route. The fresh relatability of the story, combined with the vivid flesh and bones of the pursuable girls makes the game all the more enjoyable to experience.


While the game has the pleasure of “variety” to its credit, that doesn’t excuse the overall quality of writing for every story arc. There are some stories that blew me away with their strong structure and comfortable parlay of conflict and tenderness. Others came across as dull, overexcited, or otherwise incomplete. Of the five story arcs present, only three of them are really worth going through, which is a shame considering the impact that has on the rest of the game. To have only 60-65% of the game be of capable quality is not something that can be easily recommendable, as one would have to hype up the good to the point where the bad doesn’t seem entirely repugnant. Some of these are due to the characters, while others are simply subject to the monstrosity of poor writing. One could also argue that the stories are only subject to the character’s disabilities at hand (or foot), and for the most part it’s justifiable. It still doesn’t allow for one to throw every gap or obstacle in the way of getting to the final, inevitable resolution (which may not even mean anything by that point).

Story doesn’t necessarily have to carry a visual novel, as the characters offer a lot of leniency on that ground. Still, it’s hard to find a character enjoyable and/or developed if they don’t change or behave in a realistic or likable manner under extensive conflict. Story goes hand-in-hand with making those characters all the more three-dimensional, and Katawa Shoujo simply doesn’t have the firepower to make all of those characters as inflated as they desire. Again, three of the five story arcs are all I feel are truly worth playing—due both to the story and their characters. There are a few scenarios where characters outshine their story, while others less involved than the main girl end up shining more. Most presently in the case of Shizune’s route, where I found myself more empathetic of Misha’s situation than Shizune, who… didn’t have much of a situation whatsoever. There are times where it seems the story tries to embark on a journey of its own and drags the characters along, while others have the characters outrunning the story at every turn. The most enjoyable scenarios involved are when the story and characters work together in harmony. The side characters pick up after the incessant droppings of the weaker leads, but it isn’t quite enough to get the smell out of the hallway.


A lot of what people find most appealing when going into a visual novel is the way its presented. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been entranced by one of the covers of the “Sakura” series of works. Katawa Shoujo has a structure of artistic quality dependent on the situation. However, there is some debate as to what is and isn’t better than the other. The more “dramatic” artwork that is displayed during tender or harrowing events has the artistic intrigue of the emotions put forth, while the typical sprite work is a lot more clean, structured, and varied overall. I also believe that the artwork of some story arcs outshine others; whether this be because they came out more recently or not is beyond my knowledge. What’s shown in Emi’s route might be better than what’s shown in Rin’s route, or vice-versa. They’re (relatively?) the same style, but they appear different in small details. I almost prefer the ever-changing spritework that expresses a lot of the characters’ quirks and charms, but there are a few high-quality drawn scenes that make my heart aflutter. While it doesn’t have the splendor of top-quality artwork from the best designers in the business, it holds up well enough to make the game both beautiful aesthetically and emotionally.

My experience with Katawa Shoujo began on a whim; a desire to partake in visual novels and another juncture of (typically) Japanese culture. There’s an odd perplexity to “amateur” works I find immensely appealing (see: post on Marble Syrup and Paper Waifu), and discovering the odd origins and development of this game had my interests at peak capacity. Not only am I more than happy that I was able to download and experience this story for myself, but it gave me the hope that many more games like Katawa Shoujo could be born from the desire to create and share a story with the world. While not perfect in the slightest, the attempt is a damn good one, a testament to what’s important in a visual novel-type game and what time and effort can do for a simple project. If not for the game itself, Katawa Shoujo is recommendable to help share the love that was put into the idea that anything is possible if one is willing to go through with it. One just has to make it happen.

Final Score: 7/10

The rating for this title and more can be found on MyVideoGameList.

Thoughts on Kimi no Na wa.


The essence of beauty has become something so abstract to any individual that one can’t seem to describe it without relying on what has been told through prior discourse. What one might find beautiful another would find mediocre. While some may dig deeper into the metaphorical mine to find the most precious of shiny stones, others see a decrepit pit of darkness and monotony and don’t bother taking the time to see it any further. Movies are a testament to those willing to find that inner beauty through the creativity and dedication of a director, producer, or whoever else involved. Of course, not every movie has that amount of effort put into every frame. Even so, sometimes beauty can come in the form of the most basic qualities such as character interaction, development, and execution of story. A commitment to establishing symbolism and depth into a visual spectrum is more than appreciated by those both within and outside the mainstream audience, but to make a film work as well as it could, one must make everything pop; a task no doubt difficult to overcome.

I have to bring this up, as I’m sure many others would, but the popularity of this film is mind-blowing. Within a few days of its release to anime-streaming sites, it shot to #1 overall in terms of average rating on MyAnimeList, past series such as GintamaOne Punch Man, and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. As of now, according to Box Office Mojo, it’s accumulated $174 million in Japanese currency. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an average rating of 8.3/10; 8.8/10 on IMDb. Both financially and critically, this movie has been an overwhelming success. Was this a surprise? Maybe. The director, Makoto Shinkai, is known for other films such as 5 Centimeters Per Second, a well-received film in its own right. The amount of praise garnered for this film is more than I’ve seen in a long time, even more than ErasedOne Punch Man, and now, Yuri!!! on Ice. When a film becomes that prevalent, that universally-accepted, cherished as a modern masterpiece of animated film making among the heights of Studio Ghibli, there’s no doubt I will be intrigued to the highest degree. No matter the subject, anything that can shoot to #1 that fast is on my radar.


Kimi no Na wa is a film that has a lot of what people enjoy in animated features (I think). Teenage girls, teenage boys. Body-swapping to authorize another’s perspective. THE POWER OF EMOTIONS! Destined lovers. Fantastical elements (but only to a degree). Great visuals. Humorous side characters. There’s a lot of elements at play here and there’s a lot of charm dedicated to making them seem as brightly stylized as possible. The important thing, however, is whether it all works when put together in a long, Tom & Jerry-esque contraption served to capture something. In this case, capturing the viewers’ hearts. There’s a lot of praise going towards this film for its ability to manipulate the hearts of its viewers. The emotions involved with the characters and their efforts to remain with one another under horrible duress. It’s all understandably relatable, but as always, the concept is debatable.

Haven’t really said much about the film at all, have I? Allow me to alleviate this.

More than anything, I believe Kimi no Na wa is above average in almost every aspect. Characters, story, drama; though animation is little less than spectacular. There’s a lot of emphasis on pacing and setting up the scenes in the background that help the movie feel like an actual, progressing story—something most anime struggle with tremendously. The first half of the movie is intriguing with its focus on the characters and their improbable situation. Setting up a relationship with the use of body-swapping is something of a strange twist, though I acknowledge that it’s been done before. I enjoyed the interaction between reality and fiction, and the humor that arises because of it.

Characters in general are fairly believable and likable. Interactions have a genuine aura of familiarity and comfort, something that others would try to overemphasize with physical intimacy and feigned gleefulness. Little quirks and actions also show a heavier emphasis of intimacy between the characters present that may not be discernible to those not paying attention. This isn’t the type of film where the characters are going to blow you away with outward charisma, but there’s something to look forward to when characters appear onscreen. It’s a sort of relatableness with the characters and their desires to escape from a place or pursue an interest (or person) in their own way. One could say the characters are successful in remaining within the atmosphere of their situations, while showing their true spark under the most strenuous of situations.


Artistry is a fun thing. It allows people to do whatever they wish to do so long as they have the tools to do so. With animation, it provides a much broader spectrum than most live-action can. Kimi no Na wa has a lot of artistic spectacle to its name, both in a realistic and metaphorical sense. The overall quality of animation is fairly good, ranging from decent to amazing depending on what’s happening in a particular scene. Transitions of time fast forwarded to show the sky changing shape and lightness is a thing of beauty, and certain tense scenes have characters moving with a fluidity that feels almost uncanny valley. The animation has a tightness to it that boosts it past others, while the design of the environment and settings around the characters inevitably leaves quite an impression. Many view the film’s overall art direction as among the greatest of the greats seen in anime cinematic history, though I feel that’s going a tad far (limited experience as I have). It definitely has a say among the best-looking anime films of the last ten years or so, but I’d rather not pretend it has anything rivaling that of modern Disney films or Laika.

Events that unfold and the manner at which they occur are where the film begins to show its mediocrity. I’ve mentioned in past entries where fantasy or media that employs fantasy elements can either abide by the rules set by what they show or simply do whatever they want under the guise of “It’s fantasy.” Kimi no Na wa falls slightly within both categories. The manner with which the two central characters switch bodies is never really explained, nor is the reason behind it. However, it is shown that the switching is methodically constant and triggered by a certain action. This is fine, as with time, things will begin to unravel themselves. Unfortunately, the unraveling relies almost solely on THE POWER OF EMOTIONS! and begins to go rogue soon after. No reasonable explanation for how or why things happen, they just do. Because fantasy. For someone who enjoys logic (or at least an attempt) in insightful stories, this doesn’t suit well for my immersion. If one can ignore this, it’ll likely pass right over their head.

One other major flaw I see with the film is the impact of the romance. With one of the defining genres of the film, romance would certainly be something to look forward to. And I really like romance. To my chagrin, I felt the romance of Kimi no Na wa was incredibly lacking, with the relationship that had developed between the two central characters to be not just underdeveloped, but almost out of nowhere. Upon each character’s corresponding “I realized I’m in love!” scene, I couldn’t help but squint in confusion. The only means of communication they had with one another was leaving messages and changing their lives however they saw fit (Good thing they happened to switch with kind-hearted people, huh?). I find it a bit of a reach to have them develop feelings for one another over the course of three weeks based on being in one another’s bodies/arguing with one another through bi-daily messages left on body parts/phones. Because of this, a lot of the empathy I could feel for the destined pair goes moot, especially during the climax. Thankfully, the emotional explosion of said climax was enough to garner some tugs at my heart strings. All two of them.


Somewhat of a quick note, but I actually found the comedy of the film more entertaining than the romance. There are the occasional running gags and character reactions that are actually decently funny, adding both to character charm and entertainment value to the film. It’s not stark enough to feel overbearing nor does it feel forced into the situation. It’s almost as fluid as the animation. If anything, I think this would do well as a slice of life flick.

The success that this film has amassed over the past few months is almost unprecedented by a major anime film (other than Ghibli). However, based on my own interpretation, it’s yet another film that feeds upon the demographic’s easily manifested emotional peak by adding in just about everything that’s appropriate enough to entice them. Little comedy, little fantasy, little sexual hunger, and lots of emotional dependency… with great visuals. Despite my snarky perceptions, the film stands on its own with a number of different positive attributes, including characters and their interactions with one another, an intriguing start, and great artistic style and animation. #1 overall is hilarious. Within the top 100 is also a stretch. Anywhere within 300 or so is about where I see the quality of this film compared to what I’ve seen. Which, setting everything aside, is still a pretty good standing. I’d recommend it as an analytical study-piece, but for those with a similar mindset, it’s not exactly fulfilling entertainment. Unless you adore all those little symbolic notes that I hardly declined to mention.

The rating for these titles and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.