Sounds Good To Me – A Sound! Euphonium Review

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Sound! Euphonium is utterly fantastic. In a glance, it may look like just an anime that caters to band geeks (I know it did for me, shame on me I’m awful), but it’s actually an astonishing amount more. From characters to visuals to musical direction, I can’t seem to find a single aspect that this show doesn’t nail. A funny, charming, heartwarming, inspirational, down-to-earth show, Sound! Euphonium delivers in a variety of ways, all while giving a subtle, delicately framed view of the human condition. Continue reading

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 8

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Yet another lousy setup for an episode, and it seems to be a reoccurring theme. Bungo Stray Dogs just doesn’t seem to know how to make a good trap. First a client leads them to an alley. Trap. Then they investigate an abandoned hospital. Another trap. And now this. They’re on a train…that’s it. Akiko and Atsushi just happen to be on a train and the mafia decide to attack it. Quite frankly, this setup is actually a little better than the alley way trap, because at least they didn’t walk right into this and make themselves look incredibly stupid for trusting a random stranger. It’s still a weak plot however, and perhaps only goes to show how brash and incapable Port Mafia is at the coming up with even a decent evil plot. Instead it’s just another bomb thing, something this series just can’t seem to move on from. Seriously, there’s been like three bomb threats so far. How about a fire or something?

Point is, the mafia is Team Rocket if Team Rocket just straight up killed people and didn’t spout mad rhymes. Or maybe I’m not giving them enough credit, but more on that later.

Actually, scratch that. All I really wanted to say was that the cliffhanger was interesting. There’s really nothing else pertaining to the mafia that I wish to comment on at this time.

I really wished we learned more about Akiko Yosano in this episode than we did. Basically, we didn’t learn anything. Her power was explained a bit with nothing new added to what I already learned. She can heal people who are half dead, which means to patch you up she needs to first almost kill you. Maybe this wasn’t explained previously in the show, I did read her MAL page prior so I guess this episode might have been somewhat enlightening for her as a character. Still, the way she operates isn’t demonstrated and how she saved herself isn’t explained either. An explosion of that magnitude probably should’ve been an instant death, yet she survived it and her clothes remained intact as well. Unless there’s something the show’s not telling us yet, that deadly fake out made no sense at all. Also, the villain she was matched up against seemed kinda stupid.

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Onto our newest character, Kyouka Izumi joins the mix! She’s a kimono wearing assassin girl that killed 35 people and worked for the mafia. Also, apparently she killed her parents or something. Her whole introduction was just incredibly weird and uncalled for. She just drops in exposition during the fight when no one even asked for it. Here’s my name, occupation, and deep dark secret! These quick interjections of characteristics were in no way satisfying to me, and I feel the ending of the confrontation would’ve been much more interesting if she had never said a single word. Atsushi thinks she’s pure evil until he sees her tearing up as she jumps off the train and sacrifices herself, and it’s at that moment that Atsushi gains the strength to save her, leaving it up to the next episode to explain what her deal is. They could learn about each other and find out that they’re both orphans, but the difference is that Kyouka murdered her own parents and Atsushi is shocked, or it turns out Atsushi killed his parents too maybe. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling ideas that I think would be a lot more entertaining than what actually happened this episode, which was surprisingly little. The two things to take away are Kyouka is saved and Dazai is in trouble.

The Little Things

-Enough orphan flashbacks! There hasn’t been anything new to come out of those flashbacks since the very first episode and I’m sick of it!

-The pulse lighting in this episode was pretty annoying to me. You know, when they’re riding through the tunnel and periodically passing lights, causing the car they’re in to flash for a moment. Except it’s not a flash, it’s a pulse and it’s very distracting for me. It just kept making me worry there was something wrong with my monitor.

-Lemons for grenades was actually a pretty good idea. Here’s why: All of the characters in Bungo Stray Dogs are actually based off of literary figures (novelist, poets, etc.). The bad guy that Akiko was fighting was Kajii Motojiro, a Japanese author from the Showa period. One of his most well-known pieces was titled “Lemon”. Hence, lemon grenades.

-I felt the dialogue was a bit flat at times this episode, so much so that I could barely pay attention, I was so bored.

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Despite all its flaws, I still this week’s episode had a nice conclusion. But maybe it’s not enough to redeem itself this time. I was really disappointed that we didn’t get even a slightly deeper look into who Akiko Yosano is, and I just hope that her time in the spotlight isn’t over yet.

+ Trains…for some reason

+ Intriguing Dazai cliffhanger

– Annoying lighting

– Akiko still not fleshed out

– Chatty assassin

Why Kamina Kinda Sucks

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Okay, maybe I just don’t like him. Sure, he has some nice ideals and emits an overwhelming sense of confidence and bravado, but when it comes right down to it, he’s just too stupid for me to really admire or respect.

Kamina tackles every problem that arises in only the most literal sense. He tackles it. Hits it, smacks it, beats it, smashes the living shit out of it and then moves forward to destroy even more inevitable things that are sure to get in his way. Instead of formulating any sort of strategy, Kamina’s only plan is strike even harder, and for the most part this works…until it doesn’t. His brashness can only take him so far, and what’s worse is that it puts everyone that looks up to him in danger.

I wouldn’t consider Kamina to be a “larger than life” kind of character. If anything, he only thinks that he is. It’s this ideal that seems to push him onward and upward, until his drill pierces the heavens. Or until he dies trying. But this isn’t the only ideal that he lives by. His second most prevalent ideal is that of exuberating manliness. Kamina tries to define what it means to be a man, and I must say I’m not quite a fan of what he’s come up with. In his world, men must be strong in pretty much two basic ways: Physically and strength of will. I think of myself as a man, but not because of those two standards. Really, the only thing that defines being a man to me is having a penis, and even that might be up to debate. But to Kamina, power and determination are all that matter and that’s why he dies lol.

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But on a serious note, I’m always a sucker for willpower. It’s one of the most aspirational themes to stick to in storytelling, mainly because success is something most everyone wants, and not giving up just seems like the most splendid, solid, unarguable advice you can ever give someone. Don’t give up on your dreams kids and one day you can reach the stars! But then reality kicks in and smacks your ass down, pushes your head into the dirt and makes you eat it too. There are a lot more things that you will need in life than just the will to keep carrying on. Sure, it’s important, but so is having a functional head on your shoulders.

My main issue with Kamina however, is not his manliness or thick-headed nature. No, my main gripe with this otherwise bearable character is that he is un-relatable on a very fundamental level. And that level is fear. Humans have fear. Animals have fear. Plants have fear? Everything has fear, except for Kamina. And that annoys me. Fear is absolutely essential when it comes to survival, because without it you never know when to back off, and that’s why he dies lol. And what gives him the right to be fearless? This barren wasteland hell scape that he was born into? Perhaps, but what about his comrades? Surely he must care for Simon and fear for his safety, and yet he always finds a way to put them in harm’s way.

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But what do you think? Is fearlessness stupid, or is there something worthwhile in being without fear? And how do you feel about Gurren Lagann? I personally haven’t finished the series yet, currently on episode 13. Nia is great, but I don’t myself liking much of the other characters. The mechanic is funny, I guess. Well, thanks for reading, and I hope you come back for more next week!

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 7

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“Love for the Disease Called Ideals”

Intriguing title, to say the least. Coming from last week’s cliffhanger, today’s episode actually managed to make sense of the situation and put my worries to rest…sort of. Don’t get me wrong, there were plot holes (or rather plain lacks of reason) and explanations glossed over for the sake of time. Really, the whole setup was kinda lousy, but it hit the points it needed to for the glorious payoff at the end.

A bomb threat from a mysterious unknown, somehow connected to the bombings of a past case that ended with the perpetrator and several officers in smithereens. That’s all it really needed to be, but Bungo Stray Dogs decided to make things a little more convoluted. A hacker for the agency had a father who was killed in the past incident. Okay. Kunikida was originally on that case. That’s interesting. Kunikida feels like he needs to fill in for the lost father of the hacker. Wait, what? Just kidding, he’s over that. Alright. Then there’s the hospital and the driver who was being manipulated. This was all in order to smear the Agency’s reputation, somehow. They save one woman from the hospital, and I called it in my mind that she would turn out to be the mastermind, although I don’t understand why she pretended to be the victim at all. Before that’s revealed, the bomb threat is issued and a time limit is given for the Agency to stop it. If they fail, this will ruin their appearance. And you know, lots of innocent people will die. But mainly, the bomber is only interested in ruining the Agency.

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This is probably my biggest problem with the entire story. It just doesn’t make sense that the Agency’s reputation would have anything to do with this. Law enforcement gets commended for their heroic deeds. That doesn’t mean they get reprimanded for failing. After all, so long as they tried, they didn’t do anything wrong. And only person to be blamed is THE FUCKER THAT DID IT. So I’ll chalk that up to bad writing.

And you know what else is bad writing? Implying that characters had sex when they didn’t! Okay, that’s actually not a bad thing. I’m just mad that Dazai’s not getting laid.

Onto a different, seemingly bold scene, I liked the three-way going on in the car. Three characters having three separate phone calls appeared to be an interesting and risky storytelling maneuver. A bulk of outside information dumped simultaneously across three people could have resulted in a very sudden change in direction. It also could have convoluted the story even further, and make way for some more unwanted exposition. Bungo Stray Dogs took an even easier way out of this however, because two of the phone calls were essentially the same, and only one piece of information of any significance was actually given to point them in a specific direction.

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They have to stop the bomb through some other means. In finding these means, Kunikida and Dazai get caught in combat. This is where the callback from the previous episode shines through. Why are two such incompatible people on a team? Well, the answer is simple. It’s because Dazai and Kunikida are total opposites that they are so in tuned and work so well together. Dazai lacks combat strength and Kunikida lacks the aptitude toward facing other ability wielders. And so the two swap opponents and finish the fights with ease.

But this isn’t where the contrasting in personalities end. In fact, it’s only the beginning, because their skills aren’t the only thing polarizing each other. Their very ideology comes into play as the case comes to a close.

I knew that the chick was going to be the mastermind behind it all, and I appreciated the subtle misdirects nearing the end that made the reveal come off as a lot more fresh than I would have thought it to be. Dazai arranges a meeting between the bomber and them, sort of a blackmail that ensures the “Azure Messenger” to come out of hiding. As Dazai and Kunikida are waiting, the hacker steps into the light. He’s not the bomber, he just intercepted the message Dazai sent and decided to join in. It all felt incredibly clever, as my original guess had been briefly thrown off, only to be blasted back into shot with surprising gunfire. The girl walks in and reveals she was behind the whole Azure King/Messenger thing. She shoots the hacker, Dazai pulls out his pistol, and now they’re at a standoff. After some conversing and brief exposition, Dazai lowers his weapon and drops it. Then there’s gunfire again. But this time she’s the one to fall. The gun dropped into the lap of the hacker, who was dying, yet still holding on and longing for vengeance.

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Why did Dazai let this happen? Kunikida can’t stand it, there must’ve been another way, a better way.

“Who was wrong?!”

“No one was wrong. This was the only possible outcome.”

“Shut up! You could’ve saved her! Are you saying this is justice?!”

“Justice is a weapon. It can be used to harm, but it cannot protect or save others. What killed Sasaki-san was, in the end, the justice of the Azure King…and of you.

Kunikida-kun, as long as you pursue your ideals, the flames that burned in the Azure King will one day take root in you…and raze everything around you.”

“Still! I’ll still push on until I push past it!

Do not underestimate my ideals!”

And then the music hits its first lyric and the credits roll.

A really great ending to a two part-er that really adds to the wonderful dynamic these two characters have going on. This is the first time we’ve seen their ideals clash, and hopefully it will not be the last.

+ Excellent ending

+ Excellent ending misdirects

+ Excellent ending music cue

– Subpar setup

– Flawed reputation logic

– Dazai didn’t get laid

Best Glasses of Spring Anime 2016

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You knew this was coming. It was inevitable. I mean, my current name on Twitter is “GlassesLoverN64”. Now, I know this all seems like some sort of gag, but let me assure you that my love of nearsightedness is no laughing matter. Of course, personality always comes first. That I would not deny. However, in my research I have found significant correlations between the glasses to cuteness, and glasses to endearment ratios that provide striking evidence to support my thesis. Glasses>Not Glasses. It’s a fact, damn it. And now without further ado, here are the best characters with glasses of the 2016 spring anime season.

Shiraishi from Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

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Oh, Shiraishi. You’re feelings toward Tanaka are adorable, if not ill-founded, but I love you anyway. I’ve always had a soft spot for characters that actually try, characters that try so hard to be the person everyone wants them to be that they start to lose sight of who they really are. It’s then that a certain protagonist comes along that accepts the reality behind the persona, earning them the reluctant compassion of the said character. Shiraishi was so far gone that she decided wearing contacts would make her more likeable. Can you believe that? Contacts! Ugh, so gross. Luckily, Tanaka unintendedly brought some sense, and some love, into her nearsighted world, giving us yet another glasses donning character to adore.

Honoka Maki from Kiznaiver

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Have you been watching Kiznaiver this season? If not, what the hell’s wrong with you? It’s great, and it has TWO awesome glasses wearing characters, the first being Honoka Maki. At the time of me writing this, we’re only just diving into her backstory and really getting to know her as a character. She interests me greatly, and only 25% of that interest is due to her glasses. Honoka has an odd, somewhat dark sense of humor. I’d use examples, but I feel they might be spoiler-ish, so I’ll refrain for now. She also has some skeletons in her closet, and it’s supposedly this that causes her to distance herself from the others. Hopefully by the end of her little story arc we will truly understand what her deal is, and she can finally feel like part of the group.

Hajime Tenga from Kiznaiver

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I’ve talked about Tenga before, but I’d like to retread what I said again. Tenga is Kamina from Gurren Lagann, except I don’t hate him. I actually kinda adore him. Sure, he’s a bit of a brute, but he’s nowhere near the level of asinine that Kamina was on. Kamina was an undeserved leader and a truly terrible role model that only offered one lesson that would prove to be his undoing: Never give up. It’s a fine motto, but you’re going to need more than that to be an interesting or likeable character. What does this have to do with Tenga? Nothing. I just really hate Kamina. But perhaps I should save that for another post. Anyway, Tenga is great because he’s much more down to earth and doesn’t have his head all the way up his own ass. Tenga has fears and doubts and a sensitive side that I would love to see more of. Also, he’s probably in love with Chidori.

Doppo Kunikida from Bungo Stray Dogs

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I don’t think I’ve seen many dudes with ponytails in anime. There’s Ling Yao from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and uh…that’s all I got. Comment if you know anymore. But anyway, it’s not his ponytail that makes Kunikida so cool. It’s his glasses. And also his fighting style and personality, I guess. Kunikida is particularly adept at fighting even though his power could be hypothetically squashed just by taking his book away. Still, he keeps Dazai in check and seems to be the most well put together person in the agency, although that may not be saying much.

Secretary from Space Patrol Luluco

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Shout out to the secretary of Space Patrol Luluco. Sure she has no lines, but she probably puts up with more bullshit than any other character in anime ever. Plus she looks good in glasses.

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And that’s my list. Feel free to comment on any characters I missed this season. Also, tell me how you feel about glasses and who your favorite glasses wearing character of all time is. Thanks for reading, and come back next week to learn more about why Kamina sucks.

Bungo Stray Dogs, Episode 6

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Dazai is on shrooms. That is the opening scene of this week’s episode. It’s a little…odd? I mean, of course it’s odd, it’s Dazai on shrooms. But I feel like it’s weird in more than just one way. What important things are supposed to be taken away from this scene? The mushroom bit was obviously just for the laughs, yet it also showed a clear contrast between Dazai and Kunikida. This leads to Atsushi thinking the question: Why are two such incompatible people on a team? I figured this would be a question answered at the end of the episode. Instead the question is left hanging, and it’s not the only thing, but I’ll get to that later.

There’s a new case. How fitting for a detective agency. The problem is, I feel this case was introduced poorly, to the point where I’m not even sure what’s going on. Some sort of serial abductor and the “Azure Messenger” and the mafia and stuff. These are just nouns, because I’m not actually sure what their actions are. Dazai, Kunikida and Atsushi go to this hacker informant that has a very thinly written connection to Kunikida for leads and that brings them to an abandoned hospital full of victims that have been caged and tortured and killed. Who’s doing this? No idea. But they manage to save a woman in her underwear that Dazai apparently bangs (later on, of course).

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Then Kunikida realizes who is behind these abductions with any actual evidence. It’s strange, how they get to the heart of the mystery just like that, without clues or lead up or any fair amount of tension. Even though the main characters work for a detective agency, I guess it’s not expected to be a traditional mystery thriller. Not that there’s anything wrong with straying from the beaten path, it’s just that Bungo Stray Dogs seems be taking a completely different route that doesn’t very much focus on the mystery aspects, at least not as much as it does the heroes and the villains.

The mafia is very blunt in the way they present themselves. In this episode, they literally walk out guns-a-blazing, trying to mow down our main characters and the snitch. Then Kunikida fights the super dangerous dude that we’re told to avoid at all costs in episode 3, and kicks his ass in a quick and surprisingly clever fashion. It is both strange and interesting how this bad guy operates (Ryuunosuke Akutagawa). Is he meant to be feared because of his incredible strength and apathy toward human life? Probably, but even just one member of the agency seems to be able to deal with him aptly, and Dazai can render him useless with just one touch. If Ryuunosuke is such a big deal, why does he seem to be doing all the grunt work? Is he just the most powerful grunt? I don’t know, but there are a lot of questions I need answered before I can start actually caring about this villain.

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Back to that thinly written relationship I mentioned earlier between Kunikida and the hacker kid, that’s all given in the backstory presented at the end of the episode. There’s a bomber and an Azure King (whatever that means), who was apparently also a bomber and stuff, and that King killed the hacker’s father so Kuikida is trying to fill that void or something. I honestly have very little clue what’s actually going on here, it’s just a little too convoluted for me at the moment. Perhaps it’s my fault, I finished Uncharted 4 today and it’s really all I can think about. I mean, goddamn, that game is fantastic. Definitely Game of the Year, and we’re not even half way through yet. A true masterpiece in its right and a brilliant sendoff for one of my favorite video game series of all time.

So, uh…that’s Bungo Stray Dogs for ya. I’m a little confused/concerned with what’s going on right now, but hopefully it’ll all make sense come next episode when we pick up from the cliff hanger. Speaking of cliffhangers, I think I’ll get back to playing more Uncharted 4. If you’d like to hear more about what I think of Uncharted 4, tell me in the comments! Also tell me what you thought of this episode of Bungo Stray Dogs, I guess.

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Uncharted 4 is awesome.

+ Sexy water girl

+ Kunikida’s a badass

– Phoned in relationship

– Confusing plot?

The Most Heartwarming Confession In All Of Anime Ever

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Has a confession in an anime ever hit you so hard that you were physically out of breathe?  That you had to cry or laugh or stand up and clap because what you just witnessed was so brilliant, so beautiful, so perfect that even your cold, dead heart exploded with emotions? Well I’m here to tell you that that’s NOTHING compared to Kokoro Connect’s most spectacular moment, a moment so great that I feel compelled to tell you to stop reading this post until after you have seen it yourself. This is something you will want to experience organically, without any expectations, so that the impact is all the more exquisite. Except I just told you it’s the greatest thing ever, so I guess I messed that up. Okay, temper your expectations. It’s not that great, you probably won’t even like it, but you should watch it anyway. Now go, watch Kokoro Connect, Episode 4 (work your way up though). It’s even on Crunchyroll!

Welcome back! As I was saying, it’s the most terrific, tremendously awesome thing to ever happen to anime ever! And ignore the thing I said earlier about you probably not liking it. That was a lie…well, actually, maybe it wasn’t. You won’t just like this moment. You’ll love it, because it’s fantastic. And also because I said so.

And to those who still didn’t watch it…fine, I guess. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“Hey, Inaba.”

“When you’re hiding a secret from the whole world, it puts a weight on your shoulders.”

“So I’m going to tell you a secret that I was planning to take to the grave.”

“What do you mean?”

“You spill yours, I have to spill mine?”

“Yeah.”

“If my secret gets out, I won’t be able to survive in this school, or in normal society for that matter.”

“This is a lethal secret I’m hiding.”

“Are you insane or something?!”

“Inaba, y-you’re too loud!”

“Whatever, just tell me this secret of yours.”

“I’ll decide after that.”

“Okay, here I go…”

“I’ve…”

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“I’ve masturbated to you before.”

What a perfect, splendid, wonderful, impeccable, paradisiacal, awe-inspiring thing to say. Truly a confession for the ages. But first let’s give some context. Inaba can’t find it within herself to trust others, even her friends. She worries that if they find out, they won’t accept her, that this is a flaw in her very being that can never be changed. Because she never developed this instinctive distrust in others through something traumatic in her upbringing. This is just who she is, and there is no changing that. But there’s no need to, according to Taichi. He accepts her, and he’s confident that the others will too.

But that’s not enough. Inaba can’t see any positive outcome from telling the others how she feels, and so Taichi needs to convince her by relinquishing his own deep, dark secret. The gentle piano music playing in the background rises and then stops at the reveal. There’s a pause, and they both look at each other. And it’s so stupid that it actually works.

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It’s shocking, in the best and most positively endearing way, and her reaction is even more delightful. Being able to laugh it off is so much more heartwarming and sincere than any sort of lashing out at the baka-hentai who just confessed his dirty impure thoughts. Kokoro Connect dodges clichés so incredibly well in this scene. The cliché thing to do here would’ve have been to have this melodrama play out until someone starts crying, then a character would perform an act of violence in a stupid (and overdone) attempt to literally slap some sense into someone. Or just have an out-of-the-blue love confession to take advantage of characters in their rawest, most emotional form. Instead, we get a different kind of confession, or rather, a different kind of love. Something so completely original, unexpected and borderline magical that I had no choice but to applause to my monitor. It’s remarkable just how powerful this one line is, how it manages to shatter the tension in the room and drive home the point about accepting who you are, and also make me giggle because he just said “masturbate”.

And we fast forward past the part where Inaba confesses to the group. They all understand and accept her because she’s their friend and that’s what friends do. After that the group is walking outside and Inaba hangs back with Taichi because she figures she now owes him a secret, and the smile after she says it is quite possible the most precious thing ever created.

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So there you have it folks, the most heartwarming confession in all of anime ever. I’ve been kicking around the idea for this post for a while now, and then I watched that Shia LaBeouf video and was like: You’re absolutely right! I should do a post about that masturbation confession in Kokoro Connect! What am I waiting for? Nothing! Thank you, Shia LaBeouf. And of course, thank you for reading.

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Also, comment down below if you loved Kokoro Connect as much as I did. The name of this blog is actually partially inspired by it.