Early Impressions: Urara Meirochou [Dropped]


(This series has since been dropped. There will be no entry for it for the foreseeable future.)

Three episodes in, Urara Meirochou is a sugary treat for all those looking to develop diabetes.

There is nothing about Urara Meirochou that will challenge you. The anime is incredibly simple in every capacity, never failing to depress every scene’s weight and make light of situations that could conceivably be seen as suggestive. Its feel-good manner is one that will hardly be of use to anyone within a sharp mental capacity. Urara Meirochou prides itself on being a spectacle of moe, and while there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, it somewhat impedes the potential of what the anime could be by remaining safe and within a certain demographic.


Seeing as this is the case, character development will be minimal and the story may as well be a placeholder for goofy antics. I’ll give credit to the series for not completely abandoning the premise outright, though the attention put forth to it is questionable. There are a few things that come about that the series can focus on that could enlighten some genuine development and intrigue. Whether or not these things ever become resolved (or without showering the viewer with clichés) is yet to be seen.

I don’t entirely hate the series, as I find myself charmed by some of the pleasantly-designed women and their diverse attires. J.C. Staff is more than capable of making a show be as blatantly moe as possible, and for those who want that kind of situation, Urara Meirochou is a great choice. The all-female cast and their cutesy voices and one-dimensional characteristics are heightened by the creamy color palette. The emphasis on animal characteristics and chibi overreactions and occasional oblivious sexual fan service makes the show an enjoyably dumb concoction. It’s not afraid of relying on clichés, however, as those may be the one thing that makes me regret picking it up.


Though not quite as lighthearted as other slice-of-life titles, there isn’t a whole lot to really look forward to going into an episode other than cute girls being subjected to situations within their environment. Sometimes they’re serious, usually they’re not. However, as noted before, there are things that could reap some emotional response from the audience. Whether or not Urara Meirochou decides to capitalize on this is a different story, but for the time being, the anime, at its worst, is a forgettable blob of moe disguised as something slightly different. Notice how I never once talked directly about the aspect of fortune telling? Because the characters have barely done anything with it, other than some foreshadowing about the potential of the wild girl with the long white hair. Should you want something to immerse yourself in that will make you think, avoid Urara MeirochouI’m sure many could guess from the cover alone, but for those with some obliviousness, it’s pretty dumb. Emphasis on both pretty and dumb.

Thoughts on Nana to Kaoru


To finally see the end of this manga is a very gratifying feeling. I started this back in May of 2013, the seventh manga I had ever started (not counting one-off manga based on Nintendo titles I purchased throughout my life). Even then, I was enamored with the possibilities of manga and the wider range of ideas that could be presented through this medium that couldn’t with anime. One such idea that intrigued me (along with its high rating on MyAnimeList) was a manga dedicated to the blossoming romance between two polar opposites through a mutual passion for S&M. Of course, the female lead wasn’t keen to the idea at first, as a story based upon something such as S&M, which is slightly taboo for many people, should probably require an entry-level character to experience the sensations of the subject along with the reader.

As a means of an early spoiling of the tone of this post, let it be known that I dropped this manga prior to its finish. The only reason I went back to finish it is because by the time I had dropped it, I was unaware of when it would ever conclude. Conveniently enough, some weeks after dropping it, I noticed that the end had been announced and I was but a short twenty-five or so chapters away from the finish line. While still waiting for the manga to be scanlated, an earnest sense of being able to finish and score the title became the sole motivator of continuing, as the manga’s story and characters had well worn their welcome by that point.


A good place to start is to speak upon the elephant in the room. Nana to Kaoru is about S&M; not the kind of squeaky, innocent S&M that might be watered down to appeal to every audience, but dirty, raunchy, and in some ways sadistic (Pun intended) ways of dominating and humiliating another human being. There’s a reason the act is frowned upon by some, as on the surface, it’s a disgusting fetish that may promote a number of more serious deviant activities. Prejudices aside, the one thing Nana to Kaoru does well is place the act of S&M into a moral equilibrium. In this case, S&M is more about the people who partake in it rather than the act itself, with a lot of dedication and love put into perfecting the craft to fine-tune the “comfort” between two (or more) people involved. A lot of what is shown within the manga may be a tad uncomforting, however the (relative) purity of the major characters help alleviate some of the darker undertones the activity provides.

What better way to help showcase the intensity of something like S&M than with very vivid and detailed artwork? While the style could come across as “uncanny valley,” Nana to Kaoru has a fairly distinct style that’d be hard not to recognize from the male lead alone. Kaoru’s face is very toad-like, with a rounded jaw and wide, oval eyes. This better suits his “deviant” persona, almost like a symbolic representation of society’s view of him and his interests. Nana, on the other hand, is beautiful, busty, and uptight; the very image of a prime and proper dutiful young woman of society (with an enlarged bust). Something of an emphasis on both characters are the lips, which are accentuated in the more… explicit scenarios. It does well to make it stand out from others in its genre and/or target demographic, and the constant use of sexual fan service (justified by the act of S&M) is sure to attract more than a few. One last great emphasis in play is the use of little, but abundant sound cues and symbols parading the panels around the characters faces and bodies to stimulate quick breathing and involuntary sounds. It cranks up the intensity of the “breathers” that Nana and Kaoru take part in and, admittedly, make the act more stimulating to read. If there’s one thing Nana to Kaoru does very right, it’s the intensity of its central subject influenced by its accurate and lustful design.


However, this is just about all it does tremendously well, as the strong start and set-up is quickly dissolved into a far too drawn-out, pseudo-emotional tirade of the two main characters trying to figure one another out without being direct. Literal entire chapters occasionally dedicated to one of two main characters moping that they can’t understand what the other is thinking or what they need. If not that, crying about their own perceived uselessness and inability to be of use to the one they cherish most. I chalk a lot of these events up to the tremendously long chapter count of the manga, as I feel it would’ve been better suited chopped in half. The last forty chapters or so feel like a filibuster of sexy proportions, full of S&M without the added passion of what made it so appealing in the first place. So as to not give away too much, the characters are, whether literally or figuratively, running away from one another out of fear. The ending is incredibly anticlimactic and beyond sugar-coatedly cliché. Had the manga decided to resolve a lot of these issues earlier (and faster), Nana to Kaoru may have been recommendable. Unfortunately, no amount of chained-up cuties can save itself from a frustratingly slow pace and lackluster conclusion that effectively paints the characters in a trivial light.

Nana and Kaoru are not the only characters, although. There are the occasional side-characters-turned-major situations that crop up every so often. The most notable example is Ryouko, a track star that attends the same school as Nana and Kaoru. Her presence within the manga serves as an enjoyable side story (and another love interest) for Kaoru and his S&M fetish. She evens takes part in a few of the breathers, with or without Nana there (much to Kaoru’s dismay). Of all the characters, I feel she’s the most relatable from a “normal” standpoint, and her development is nicely fashioned to suit her “Kind of important but not entirely” position in the story. She, too, suffers a tad from her almost uncanny fascination with Kaoru to the point where she develops a one-track (Pun intended) mind. Still, she has the courtesy of being one of the few bright spots story-wise of Nana to Kaoru‘s narrative.


Other characters don’t receive the same treatment, however, as the extent of importance past Nana, Kaoru, and Ryouko vary between “Semi-important for a couple arcs” and “Who was that again?” Cast members such as Mitsuko, Hiroshi, and Kaoru’s mother are only brought to the stage for occasional purposes—many of them being obstructive and annoying. They don’t receive the same amount of attention necessary to make them believable or empathetic, despite a few of them saying a few insightful lines of wisdom. A few even come off as unnecessary to the general scope of things, or are introduced so late that any sense of development they could get is deemed less important than the growing conflict between the main characters. I suppose one could say that this manga isn’t one could point to as a potent character study, despite the themes present to challenge those who view it and those involved in an unsightly manner.

There are no regrets to picking up Nana to Kaoru, despite the length it took me to finish it and the headaches it caused picking up with the last arc of the story. It has a way of tenderizing the juiciest of meats to make them seem all the more succulent, especially early on. The major issue at hand is it keeps tenderizing, beating, and massaging the meat until it’s nothing but bones—hardy, indigestible bones. Again, had the manga stopped halfway through its massive chapter count, it would probably be recommendable as an interesting study piece of S&M and those new to the spectrum. Instead, it throws in a predictable (and woefully repetitive) love story between two growing teenagers who can’t seem to open their mouths when it counts… gag-play aside.

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

Updated Thoughts on Onidere


For a more formal (and outdated) review of this manga, click here.

As the number of manga I’ve read grows, I’ve noticed a correlation of what I tend to enjoy within comedies, specifically. While I parade around the idea of realism being the key to success and an integral point in making a story impactful, sometimes a complete lack of that can have the same effect. The first time I read Onidere was back in January of 2014—nearly three years ago. At the time, I was almost strictly an anime connoisseur, not believing manga could give me the same sense of wonder that anime (sometimes) did. Even now, the amount of manga I’ve read in my lifetime compared to the number of anime I’ve watched is far outweighed in one’s favor. Onidere was something a little different for me, as the premise intrigued me and I was willing to have a go at something the lines of “Weak boy dates delinquent girl.” While I scoffed at its ridiculousness, I heralded it the position of “Favorite” among the (limited) manga I had read up to that point. Even more bizarrely, favorite it was, I only rated it a six out of a possible ten. I suppose my critical tendencies win out over sheer enjoyment, even back then.

It is now the first day of 2017, and I’ve given Onidere the honor of being the first manga among my list I’ve went back and re-read. With all the nostalgic attachment, one wouldn’t expect me to change my tune very drastically, right?

Onidere is a bit of a hard sell. When thinking of all the positives attributed to the story it tries to convey, a sense of numbing begins to override the basic functions of the brain. The most convenient moniker one could use to properly describe the story would include words such as “random, nonsensical,” or my personal favorite, “stupid.” Despite the premise’s promise of a young girl who’s willing to kill her boyfriend should word get out that they’re dating, she’s but a shy, ridiculously pure-hearted girl who just so happens to be the strongest delinquent in the prefecture and capable of destroying anything without effort. This ultimately destroys any sense of reality present in the story, as one wouldn’t possibly believe her willingness to kill someone she so earnestly cares for in spite of her own pride. When the foundation of a central focus becomes so unstable, it makes a story subject to wander off and do what it wants without reason, or undermine its own strength to pursue another plotline to leech off of.


Almost as if it was fated to do so, Onidere changes face three times within the bulk of its 140 chapters. It begins as the premise describes, with the main couple, Tadashi and Saya, hiding their relationship from Saya’s cohorts and the school while also trying to maintain said relationship by doing “couple things.” This leads to some development between characters, wacky situations arising to pressure the main couple’s relationship, and a hopelessly repetitive three-act play that goes as follows: 1. Saya and Tadashi want to do something. 2. They try to do it unsuccesfully. 3. When they’re close to (or are) succeeding in said something, someone shows up to ruin the mood and supplant the illusion that Saya and Tadashi are sworn enemies. Once the author decides that’s boring, they move to a more slice-of-life atmosphere, where characters act weird for the sake of it and nothing really challenges the characters outside of their petty problems or desires. This is also the point where about three-hundred more characters are introduced, making the entire character roster bloat to blimp size, weighing down the already erratic focus. Finally, the ending sequences somewhat combine the first and second transitions, creating a constant revolving door of important and non-important events side-by-side to amuse both the gag enthusiasts and the drama enthusiasts (but also still focusing on comedy). This works for the sake of bringing a balance to the story and making it at least somewhat serious, but the pacing assumes the form of a straight path with road bumps every other minute. If one isn’t enamored with the characters at this point, it’s going to be a long stretch to the finish line.

Another aspect that makes Onidere hard to recommend is the artwork and overall design. I mention in my formal review that the series’ artwork improves as time goes by, and that still holds up three years later. However, what I neglected to really highlight is how ugly the characters look starting off. For the first volume or two, characters genuinely look as though they came right off the draft board. There doesn’t seem to be any consistency present, with character constantly changing shapes and body sizes without warning. Even if they do look normal, the characters simply look incomplete. A strange combination of professionally chibi and amateur shounen, the manga is a face only its mother could love. Again, the art improves over time, and character begin to look tolerable by the third volume or so, but the quality of the work within its first fifteen chapters or so by artwork alone makes it almost unbearable. As terrible as this seems, one positive that comes out of the zany, slice-of-life turn makes the art more justifiably absurd. Characters do things incapable of normal human beings and bring out a sort of bombastic nature that better suits the weird, almost child-like artwork. I found it infinitely charming back then, though now I find it almost required for me to continue to find anything about this work charming.


With as little the story really provides and the artwork nearly in shambles, its become the duty of the characters to uphold any possible enjoyment one can have with Onidere. The result: hit and miss. With as enormous as the cast of Onidere is, it’s very apparent that only a handful of them matter. Some that are shown more prevalently early on become background characters, as well. The only characters that have any degree of safety surrounding their focus of the “plot” are Saya and Tadashi, their friends Mitsuki, Yuna, and (debatably) Momo, and perhaps student council members Tomeo and Saki. Those are seven of about thirty characters that become important at some point in the series. That is not an exaggerated number. The manner at which Onidere adds and throws away characters is almost alarming, constantly recycling a single joke out of new characters, dropping them for what seems like forever, then bringing them back to become a nuisance to the more major characters. While this seems as though the characters are expendable, their ties to the major cast are typically resolute. Only the events that arise out of these characters’ antics are the main source of irritation.

If I may, I’d like to describe something in stories I absolutely loathe: characters bending the rules of reality to their whim to force an “OTP” closer (but not completely) together. Onidere does this a few times in a few different ways, but they all carry the same smug, jingle-the-keys-in-your-face tone that makes me ponder the integrity of the author. While I feel arousing romantic chemistry between two characters isn’t bad in of itself, the execution of this by means of having a character who clearly knows of an attraction and serving as the “Cupid” feels horribly stunted. Of course, one could argue that if they never did this, the romantic inevitability would never come to fruition because Japanese writers hate writing bold characters. That I understand, though it does little to quell my disdain.


Of all things, the chemistry between certain characters is what makes Onidere worthwhile to read. Mitsuki, as one-dimensional and childish as she is, is able to make a pun every so often that will have me chuckle. Tomeo is also endearing in his pursuit of “justice,” which becomes more flexible as he never elaborates on what, exactly, that is. While these characters alone are hardly developed, the one thing I enjoy about the slice-of-life turn is that the comedy was at its high point. It almost seemed like the mangaka was having fun with every chapter, drawing weird reaction faces and absurd situations. Above everything else, this level of craziness and strangely immersive chemistry that develops between certain characters and the events that unfold have a profound impact on a reader’s impressions. It’s what made me fall in love with the manga three years ago, and while I don’t care for Onidere nearly as much as I used to, I still reminisce fondly over the in-between periods of innocent romantic developments and stupid character gags. Y’know what the craziest thing of all is? Tadashi, the male lead, is actually decent.

As far as recommendations go, Onidere is something I would probably recommend to a younger, less cynical mindset. Or those who really, really enjoy gag comedy with a penchant for breaking its own rules. Everything else falters between the line of passable and downright embarrassing. Despite the hostility, I still view Onidere as an enjoyable read. Only in parts, though, as the beginning and end have a tendency to employ scenarios that are too cliché to even seriously follow. Despite the name, Onidere is mostly dere.

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