Archive for the Guest Review Category


YNN Special Report on Yurimate, by Julia T

April 19th, 2017

Well, color me pleased and surprised. While I was sure that it was a complete fabrication for April Fool’s Day, Yurimate seems to have been real(!) if temporary. Sort of like a Yuri mirage. ^_^

To begin with, it’s probably worth pointing out that there are several Animate locations in Tokyo alone. The three I have personally visited are in Shibuya, (which, very cleverly, moved to the same building the Mandarake has occupied for years, thus making shopping at both a mere elevator ride,) Akihabara, where it is the grande dame of anime/manga goods stores on the main street and in Ikebukuro. This last location has been my home away from home for years. Because of Otome Road‘s location nearby, populated with BL-doujinshi and goods, Ikebukuro Animate tends to cater to the female fans. They typically do carry some Yuri manga on the shelves, and when I was last there, had Yagate Kimi ni Naru front and center when one walked in. The fact that it’s “women-focused” clearly doesn’t preclude it being Yuri-friendly. 

Imagine, then, how my heart soared when I saw that it was the Ikebukuro location of Animate that was being advertised with a “Yurimate” special area.  While it’s not a permanent feature, the Yurimate event is running and it is in Ikebukuro and it goes into May. And here to tell us all about it is YNN Special Correspondent Julia T! Thank you Julia for jumping in and taking the plunge for us! The floor is all yours.

As it turns out, the April 1st announcement from Animate Ikebukuro that they would open a new Yuri-only floor at least partially came true. From April 15th until May 14th, the third floor (or second floor for those not familiar with Japanese floor naming conventions) is hosting a special event: Yurimate

 

While it does not cover the entire third floor by any means, it does occupy a decently sized proportion of it, somewhere between a third and a quarter of the area. The pictures were purposefully taken to avoid including people in them, but even if it was not bustling with customers, there was a steady stream of women of all ages who purposefully visited the section, including some rather obvious couples, which I found quite gratifying. The collection includes manga, scrolls, and cell phone covers, as well as showing large sketches on the walls.

 

 

There are quite a few authors being shown, including pretty much all current works by Takemiya Jin, Takashima Hiromi’s Kase-san collection, Kurata Uso’s Linkage, Ohsawa Yayoi’s 2DK, G Pen, Mezamashidokei, Yukiko’s Room for Two, Kishi Torajirou’s Otomoe no Teikoku, various works by Itou Hachi, as well as the seemingly ever popular Citrus by Saburouta (and Kodama Naoko’s NTR, while it does show up on one of the posters, is not found in this part of the store).

 

Independent of this, you can also find a Yuri Hime shelf one floor down, which already has decent selection, but is of course limited to the entries published inside said collection.

 

Given that the magazines Comic Yuri Hime and Galette are both being sold off the shelves on the ground floor, this currently allows you to stumble across Yuri entries on all of the first three floors, which is still somewhat rare in Tokyo.

Erica here: Thank you Julia! My goal is to see Yurimate be a permanent shelving strategy. And if, as you say, stumbling across Yuri on the main floor – where new releases are given visiblity –  is still being encouraged, as it was last spring, this may just be a thing we will see. I’m also extremely gratified to hear that there were some obvious couples walking the floor. Of all the many things that pleased me in this report, the fact that NTR was not included, has to be counted among them. I wonder if it, like Yuri Danshi is for the editor of Comic Yuri Hime, rather than the rest of us.

If *I* were the boss at Animate, I’d take the Yurimate event over to Akihabara next, then bring it back to Ikebukuro. It would get a different audience at each, and give them an idea of who actually buys Yuri, then place the shelves where ever they do best. But that’s me. Thank you again for the report and the photos!

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Review of Yuri Webcomics on Lezhin Online, Guest Review by Nadia “Atarun” C

March 15th, 2017
We have a very exciting Guest Review today! Okazu hero and new Guest Reviewer, Nadia “Atarun” C. has a roundup and mini-review of English-language comics in the GL category on online manhwa platform Lezhin.
 
Lezhin offers free sample chapters, then readers purchase coins to read further chapters of their favorite comics.  Nadia is a big fan of the comics there, and has offered to walk us through some of the titles that might be of interest to us. Take it away Nadia!
  
 
 
The catalog of Yuri comics on Lezhin is growing and already counts 15 series, 11 of which are still ongoing and get new chapters weekly or close to weekly.
 
That count includes Lily Love by Ratana Satis, which Erica has already reviewed: 
 
Here’s a quick overview of what else Lezhin has in store for Yuri fans (the completely subjective order being from my most to least favorite):
What Does the Fox Say? by Team Gaji
(73 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Seongji just started working as a junior manager in a game dev company and she falls in love, for the first time and at first sight, with her team manager Sumin. Sumin likes Seongji back but carries a LOT of baggage, especially her love/hate relationship with her boss Seju which has been going on and off for years.
 
Besides the interesting love triangle between 3 adult independent women and the numerous sex scenes, this series also features plenty of drama around the three characters, most notably with Seju’s extensive and dysfonctional wealthy family.
 
Overall Rating – 9 I want Seongji to get what she wants, I want Sumin to make up her mind and I want Seju to have someone to support her… and it’s hard to picture all three things happening simultaneously. Love triangles are rarely that interesting for me.
 
Pulse by Ratana Satis (which has also been reviewed here on Okazu)
(41 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Heart surgeon Mel had given up on love years ago. She has casual sex with nurses (among which she is quite popular) and strangers met in bars, but she doesn’t want to try anything deeper… until she meets Lynn, whose life is basically on standby until she can get a heart transplant.
 
The story is not laser focused on the relationship between Mel and Lynn, instead spending a lot of time on secondary characters that bring a lot of drama around the couple.
 
Overall Rating – 9 Some parts of the story make little sense (like how Lynn’s parents let her move in with a complete stranger without question), but I can’t help rooting for Mel and Lynn.
 
My Girlfriend’s Ex-Boyfriend by Shinb
(31 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Lesbian Eunbyul and bisexual Sena are college students in a closeted relationship. They get along really well, but pretty much everyone they knew or get to know somehow tests the strength of their relationship, from ex-boyfriends (hence the title) to female friends and social media.
 
Drama, drama, drama. This series mixes drama that only exists because people don’t communicate with problems that would not be fixed even if discussed openly.
 
Overall Rating – 8 All the drama feels believable to me, none of it overblown for the sake of aaaaangst.
 
The Love Doctor by Chamsae / Bansook
(45 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Jung Erae is so aloof and clueless, she hires the love doctor Cha Yoon to teach her about love. As one would expect, Yoon quickly realizes that she has fallen in love with Erae, but it takes a lot longer for Erae to come to the same conclusion. The story goes on well beyond that point, though, as friends of both protagonists interfere with the newly formed couple in various ways, for various reasons.
 
This series talks a LOT about ballet and the cast runs the gamut from psychopathy, narcissism and sadism to extreme empathy, selflessness and masochism.
 
Overall Rating – 8 Erae starts as the klutz-whose-survival-is-a-miracle but grows much bolder through the story and just about every character has more depth that meets the eye.
 
Everyday Lily by Gom Mali
(35 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Seung Jua is a closeted lesbian college student with a few notches on her belt and is a bit cynical about love. Yang Nayoung is another lesbian in the same class, but, much to her dismay, she is only popular with boys and everything she knows about lesbian love comes from shoujo-ai comics. When Jua has a crush on Nayoung, she hides it masterfully, but when, later, Nayoung has a crush on Jua, she is completely powerless to hide it.
 
The story of their relationship is told through 4-panel slices of life (that are not always gags).
 
Overall Rating – 7 Sometimes funny, sometimes realistic, sometimes silly, always sweet.
 
Her Pet by Pito
(72 episodes)
 
High schooler Gayoon has had a crush on upperclasswoman Soha ever since she saved her from bullies in middle school. Soha has forgotten all about Gayoon, but when they meet again, she is reminded of her dead dog Happy. Gayoon decides to roleplay as Happy to help Soha work through some past trauma (but really, it’s a pretext to be with her).
 
The story revolves essentially around Soha and Gayoon’s weird relationship, but it also takes the time to flesh out many secondary characters.
 
Overall Rating – 7 The story starts in a very weird place, goes through a lot of dark places, but ends up in a happy warm place and I don’t regret the trip.
 
Serenade by Keum Kyesoo
(43 episodes, still ongoing)
 
A very dark thriller full of betrayal, lies and coercion that features an Evil Psycho Lesbian as crazy and creepy as they can get. I can’t really tell you anything about the plot without spoiling it…
Let me just warn you that it should come with huge trigger warnings for lesbian rape and murder and that everyone and everything revolves around piano music.
 
Overall Rating – 6 If the EPL was slightly less creepy, the professor slightly less manipulative and the protagonist slightly less clueless, I’d give it 8.
The Chain of Youth by Dead Sea
(19 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Average high school girl Jia is head over heels for borderline psychopath school idol Yoona. She writes her a love letter and Yoona asks her to throw it away as a proof of love. That scene is starting point of their unbalanced weird relationship, but also of a series of events rattling relationships all around them.
 
More than angst, there is a sense of dread permeating this story. It could go either way, but it seems clear that, as foretold in the prologue, things are not going to go and end well for all parties involved.
 
Overall Rating – 6 So far, I do not care for either Jia or Yoona, but I do care about two secondary characters and I keep reading with the ominous feeling that I’ll witness a lot more bad things happen to them…
 
Maison de Maid by Moonyang / Tarang
(17 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Klutz-whose-survival-is-a-miracle June is the newest maid in the manor. Even though she fails at everything (save for baking egg tarts), Madam forgives her, gives her a dress, takes her to see a play and generally treats her like a favorite. June starts by admiring her mistress, but her feelings quickly grow well further.
 
Overall Rating – 6 This series goes beyond subtext, since June clearly identifies the true nature of her feelings, but it is completely one-sided so far.
 
(27 episodes, still ongoing)
 
Catholic all-girls high school student Ayeon is bullied by a group of classmates including her former friend Dahye. Some day she is saved by albino “angel” Yeonhwa, whose agenda is anything but well-intentioned.
 
The series revolves around clueless, goody two-shoes Ayeon for a while, but then switches to Yeonhwa and her perverted sadistic schemes. Trigger warning for lesbian rape.
 
Overall Rating – 5 If Ayeon gets a clue and stands up to mother-of-all-bullies Yeonhwa, I’ll add a few points to the rating, but for now it’s more a story of how an Evil Psycho Lesbian gets her way while everyone thinks she is a fragile wallflower and that’s not my thing.
 
Vengeance by Aji
(22 episodes)
 
Closeted lesbian police officer Seolah is in charge of the investigation into her secret lover’s murder. Crushed by regret and guilt, she sacrifices everything to find the murderer and get revenge for her dead lover.
 
Aaaaaaaaaangst. There is no silver lining to that cloud.
 
Overall Rating – 5 I tend to really like murder mysteries and vengeance stories, but this one never clicked. Somehow, I never really cared about who killed Seolah’s girlfriend or how she would get away with avenging her death…
 
The Third Party by Enjelicious
(14 episodes, still ongoing)
 
I can’t say that I have understood the plot of this one just yet… A rich heiress is working in her father’s company, but no one knows she is the owner’s daughter. She is married to the company’s top news broadcaster, but no one is aware of that fact either. She instantly falls in love with her ladykiller boss and is almost open about that. Said boss is screwing around with a looooot of married women, inside and outside the company, but won’t touch the protagonist whom she believes to be single and many hints are dropped that she has a secret dark agenda probably involving the protagonist’s father and/or husband.
 
Overall Rating – 4 I might change my mind on that series later on, if they get on with the plot and its twists and turns amaze me… but so far, it feels to me more like What Does the Fox Say? done wrong.
 
My Joy by Pito
(26 episodes)
 
Track-and-field ace Namsu realizes she is in love with her friend Joy when the latter’s childhood friend Hye-Yeon moves back into her life after 4 years abroad and greets her by french-kissing her in public. Namsu and Hye-Yeon proceed to fight over Joy, who does not really understand why she can’t have them both.
 
Overall Rating – 3 It was impossible for me to care for this love triangle, because I can’t help despising Hye-Yeon and Joy. The ending made me dislike the story (and those two characters) even more.
 
Daily Witch by Sungwon
(65 episodes)
 
Sorry but I am powerless to tell you anything about this series. I could not get past episode 3. And at least until that point it completely defies description (like Yuri Kuma Arashi, except that one worked for me and Daily Witch did not).
 
Overall Rating – WTF
 
Erica here: This is absolutely fantastic Nadia, thank you! I know a number of Okazu readers are already Lezhin subscribers and I hope that this encourages more folks to try some of the GL manhwa on the site! 
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Sound Euphonium, Season 2 Anime (English) Guest Review by Michelle Denise N

February 1st, 2017

Woo hoo! It’s Guest Review Wednesday and we have a Guest Review! I love that so much. ^_^ Today, I hope you will welcome new Guest Reviewer Michelle Denise N of Lonelypond,and make her feel as welcome as possible.  The floor is yours, Michelle!

Sound Euphonium, the animated series, follows the haphazard learning process of euphonium (or baritone) player Oumae Kumiko, a somewhat reluctant first year member of the Kitauji High School Concert Band. Kitauji suffered a schism the year before, when the more serious first (now second) years quit over their lazy seniors’ lack of effort.  A new instructor, Taki Noburo, has taken over leadership, which attracted Kumiko’s fellow first year, trumpet virtuoso Kousaka Reina to the school. Kumiko had been trying to escape both band and Reina, after a ‘dud gold’ placement in middle school. SE’s first season built up a certain amount of dramatic tension between the two girls, which the second season glances at in the first episode, but then takes Kumiko and the rest of the episodes in an entirely unexpected ramble through the other relationships in the band.

If you love the trumpet, Sound Euphonium Season 2 is worth watching; the trumpet solos are sublime. If you watch anime not for music, but plotting and story pacing, SE2 would have trouble rating a dud bronze.

Kumiko is a mild, friendly, pleasant enough character. Through the first season, she spent most of her time with Reina. In the second season, they tossed Reina to the side, leaving her to pine over sensei while Kumiko wandered wide-eyed through relationships she didn’t really understand. There is also some attention paid to Kumiko’s relationship with her sister and Kumiko’s need to play music with someone she has an emotional connection to. The resolution to that plot point was shoehorned uncomfortably into the end of the season in a way that didn’t strike true for me with any of the characters involved. However, the smaller stories about other band members were short arcs that did actually catch my interest and my heart, unlike any of Kumiko’s antics. I mostly just felt like she was wildly out of her league emotionally, very naive.

Yuri: Let’s get the KumiRei question out of the way first off; it’s never really caught my interest as a combination, both girls seemed to be playacting. The first season of Sound Euphonium, Reina’s crazy boldness and how much I disliked her caused me to start yelling ‘devil trumpet player’ at the screen during her antics. The wonder and puzzlement of Sound Euphonium Season 2, is that just as I started to sympathize with her, she disappeared from the story.

If you look at Sound Euphonium Season 2, with no expectations it becomes the story of a young euphonium player’s innocent trampling through relationships more adult than she is capable of understanding, while searching for an emotional connection. Meanwhile, her weirdly intense best buddy from Season 1, the piercingly talented trumpet player with a crush on teacher, slips from story center to a near silent sideline participant, though still an epic trumpet player.

Non existent KumiRei chemistry gets eclipsed by the fragilely emo oboe player, Yoroizuka Mizore and the slightly swaggersome former flute, Kasaki Nozomi, suffering from one of those mutual misunderstandings that seem to plague fictional young girls who might have mad crushes on each other but never seem to talk about ANYTHING. This phenomenon always puzzles me when sighted in the wild. But this time, we get to an understanding, and a bonus nice moment that might lead the audience to think flautist and oboeist had kissed and made up at some point, but were refraining due to public location. And then Reina and Kumiko make fun of them, acing their callow youth best. There are also some exchanges that could be mistaken for flirting between several of the other band members, as well as the continued pining of trombone player, Tsukamoto Shuuichi, male, after Kumiko.

And we also have a pool episode, complete with bikinis.
 
RATINGS
Art 7 — some nice lighting, lots of outdoors moments, makes playing in band not visually boring
Story 5 — too unfocused
Characters 7 — many of them interesting, but leads let down by plot/pacing issues
Yuri — 3 (is that the right level for make it up and/or close your eyes and imagine)
Service 2
Overall 6 (watch it for the music and the flute player so get at least halfway through)

Erica here: Sound Euphonium, Season 1 and 2 are available streaming over at Crunchyroll. 

Thank you! I appreciate both the balanced perspective and the appreciation for music, although I’ll always be biased for woodwinds over brass. ^_^

The phenomenon you speak ofwhen characters just do not *talk to one another,  I refer to as “Jondalar syndrome” after the male protagonist of The Mammoth Hunters, who desperately wants to have sex with female protagonist Ayla, but just never tells her, for 400 pages. It was excruciating. Irritated the pants off me. ^_^

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Halloween Trip to Japan – Guest Post by Bruce P.

December 14th, 2016

Hello and welcome to Guest Review Wednesday! Today we have an extra-special report  by our dear friend and co-conspirator, Bruce P, who ran off to Japan without me. :-( Settle for what always promises to be a good time, in the company of a great writer! Take it away Bruce! 

 

On a trip to Japan this Halloween I was able to attend a couple of events that might be of interest to Okazu readers. The highlight of which was an exhibit of artwork by Yamagishi Ryoko, the exceptionally talented shoujo mangaka who authored Shiroi Heya no Futari, one of the earliest Yuri manga.

But first – a visit to the Akasaka Red Theater, venue for the live performance of Grand Stage, the Takarazuka-esque CD voice drama series that Erica has been reviewing. The final show was already in progress as I arrived in Tokyo, so it was a race from the plane to the bus to the hotel to the subway to Akasaka. Sweating, stumbling (long flight), I arrived in time, if I could just find the theater. Everything was working out so well. It really was a lovely autumn evening, and the Akasaka streets, sparkling with neon and echoing with gentle laughter, had a delicate nocturnal beauty, pole dancing places glowing softly in the night.

Problem was, I had real trouble locating the venue.  As it turned out I wasn’t looking low enough. Descending from the sidewalk, behind some outdoor tables with pumpkin candles, the theater entrance looked a bit like an access to a storage cellar. Grand stage indeed. But the display posters were colorful. It’s interesting that the title graphic includes both a lily and a rose, a wink at the spectrum of gender/orientation conflation possibilities.

 

Less than a minute after I found the theater the show let out, and that’s timing. The audience numbered half a dozen or so, mostly women in floppy hats and clunky shoes.

They all seemed pleased with the show and there was much picture taking as an earnest theater employee (left), with over-caffeinated efficiency, immediately began pulling down the posters.

It really was a nice night-before-Halloween, and I was happy to see that the nearby Akasaka Toyokawa Inari Betsuin had put up their pumpkin lanterns (or maybe not).

On Halloween itself the new Mayor of Tokyo had fun dressing up as Princess Knight.

In Shibuya a lot of other folks had fun dressing up too. Those having the most fun were shown repeatedly on the news being carted away in ambulances and police cars.

The Yamagishi Ryoko exhibit was in the Yayoi Museum near Tokyo University. The Yayoi is dedicated to exhibiting print illustrations and manga art from the Taisho and Showa eras – essentially the 20th century. I had been to this museum some years back for an exhibit of works by the illustrator Takabatake Kashou, at which I snapped up the poster below.

Happy to get reacquainted I headed out to the Museum:

Sign on chair: Closed Today. Improvising on a trip (‘blundering about Japan’) is enjoyable, and takes less work than planning, but I do see a lot of these signs.

I returned a couple of days later. The exhibit was absolutely worth the extra trip. Yamagishi-sensei was part of the talented group of female shoujo mangaka known as the Year 24 Group, which also included Ikeda Riyoko (Rose of Versailles), Hagio Moto (Heart of Thomas), and other exceptional artists. The exhibit was on display in two large rooms, with walls and center display cases in both lined with a tremendous selection of Yamagishi-sensei’s work. About a dozen people were there enjoying the art.

Here are just a few of many examples that caught my eye, imaged from a book that was essentially the exhibition catalogue. Photography was not permitted in the exhibit.

Dream (1978). 1930’s cool.

Left and Right (1969), debut manga.

 

Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi (1982), artwork for a record cover.

 

Secret Love (1986). Columbine and Camelia.

While I was busy taking notes (who knew there was a catalogue?) an older Japanese couple approached in curiosity and introduced themselves. Long-time Yamagishi fans, they had made the trip down from Sendai just for the exhibit. They were pleased, if puzzled, to find a westerner so interested in her work that he would take notes, when there was such a nice catalogue, and we had a lovely chat. They really wanted to make sure I knew that Yamagishi-sensei wasn’t just a manga artist, she was a real artist. While I believe the line to be a lot more elastic than that, there is no doubt that she is an artist in every sense of the word. Here is a link to the exhibition poster.

My only regret was that the original cover art for Shiroi Heya no Futari was not on display. There was too much art for the space, so the display items changed, and that one wasn’t up at the time. But the exhibit was absolutely worthwhile (and is running through Dec 25, so if you hurry…). Definitely the highlight of a great trip.

Well, um, that and the Perfume concert in the Nagoya Dome. If you’re partial to music with your lasers.

E here: Thank you Bruce for the report (and the copy of the catalogue. I’ve drooled over it many times already). It’s always great to hear your travel stories!

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Harmony Anime (ハーモニー) (English) Guest Review by Eric P.

November 30th, 2016
harmony
It’s Guest Review Wednesday and today we have a visit from long-time reader and occasional Guest Reviewer Eric P! Please welcome him as always! 
 
 
The ambitious Project Itoh trilogy is a trio of anime film adaptations based on the works of award-winning sci-fi author Satoshi Ito, spawned by Noitamina and animated by three different studios. It first began with The Empire of Corpses, followed closely by the middle story of the anthology, <harmony/>, (ハーモニー) animated by Studio 4*C and co-directed by Michael Arias, who did Tekkonkinkreet.
 
Set in the future, <harmony/> reveals a world where society has achieved a systematic Utopia. Everyone is connected to the collective WatchMe software program, where health and psychological well-being is constantly monitored and regulated, and “necessary” information is constantly provided so everyone knows the “right” things to do for better living, and everyone knows everybody just by looking at them and are likewise always supportive of each other. The vast majority have apparently become accustomed to and content with this way of life, but two high school friends, Tuan and Miach, recognize it as a imposing, oppressive regime robbing people of their free wills. The enigmatic Miach is the leader of the two, who learned of what the world once was through the books she read. She draws Tuan into her beliefs and actions through physical intimacy and affection (more on that later). They agree to rebel against the world through the ultimate act of selfishness, via suicide. Tuan fails in the attempt, while Miach seemingly left the world and her in it.
 
Resigned to live since then, the now-adult Tuan works for the World Health Organization, a kind of medical police force, but continues to find society a stifling birdcage as she tries getting by and retaining some personal control. But then chaos disrupts society’s superficial perfection, as minds are being hijacked, spurring mass suicides, followed by growing collective paranoia. The more Tuan looks into it, the more it mirrors the Miach she remembers, with signs pointing to her as the puppet master. The plot is a slide down a rabbit hole as Tuan uncovers Miach’s past and intentions along with additional puzzles and truths, and in the end, determines the fate of society and the world itself.
 
One of the major criticisms Harmony received was for its animation, with it’s uneven blend of 2D/3D-animation. While some of the CG moments were definitely a little crude and clunky here and there, some other moments I thought were interestingly done. There are some shots of the camera panning around the characters’ heads, which move fast enough to make it look like immersive 2D to me, but the scenes that might look most impressive to other viewers would be the virtual conference calls that Tuan attends. The one sequence that stood out the most to me was a restaurant scene, in which Tuan converses about Miach with a childhood friend from their past, and the camera circles around them within their environment, closing in. Even long before we find out the big reveal later, one already gets a gradual discomforting sense of an evil presence descending upon them before the big shock that takes place, setting the whole story in motion.
 
The story stays true to its discomforting atmosphere all the way to its end, which involves a final confrontation between Tuan and Miach. However you interpreted their past relationship from the flashbacks – whether or not Miach was just twisted and took advantage of Tuan, or what Tuan herself truly thought of their bond in retrospect after all this time –  their true connection ultimately comes to the forefront. Miach makes her final offer, and Tuan responds with making one last free decision, this time out of a personal act of selfishness. The ending is bleak, which that may leave some viewers frustrated. But after watching it twice, I realize the story itself was not a happy one to begin with. And if one were to ask if the characters were likeable, then the answer would be a general “not really.”
 
But after two Project Itoh movies, it is made apparent to me that a happy plot with likeable characters is not necessarily what one looks for when going into an Itoh story. One instead goes in for the hard sci-fi with the kind of world-building that is his distinctive personal style, and for the philosophical ideas and pondering that relate to the story being told, often generally about consciousness and the nature of the soul. With <harmony/> in particular, the characters mainly serve as vehicles for the viewer’s journey in Itoh’s world, and it can be philosophical to the point where the dialogue is almost pure info-dumping. But that is something I had grown used to after watching every iteration of Ghost in the Shell, and rather than putting me off it merely forces me to pay attention.
 
All in all, your mileage may well vary with <harmony/>.
 
Ratings: 
 
I would not call it either great or terrible, but I deem it interesting enough to check out at least once. For that, I give it my usual overall rating of 7.
 
Erica here: Thank you again Eric, for this review, next time I’m in a mood for dystopian futures (which is almost never, to be honest ^_^,) I know where to look. ^_^
 
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