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IN BRIEF: Uenoyama Ritsuka has lost his musical spark, which is a problem, because he plays in a band with two college-age men, and he doesn't want to quit. Suddenly he bumps into Satou Mafuyu, a spacey fellow student in his high school who carries around a mysterious guitar but doesn't apparently know how to play it. Ritsuka finds himself invested in bringing out Mafuyu's hidden musical talents, and he doesn't know why at first - until hearing about Mafuyu's past crystallizes his emotions into romantic affection. Can he bring a love interest into his band without ruining it? Can Mafuyu move on from his past and see Ritsuka as a dating option?
MY THOUGHTS: This series was a hidden gem of the summer 2019 season. Even with only 11 episodes, the story as told was a charming romance, told simply and without deviating from its central themes. Mafuyu's past is a tragedy that slowly unfolds, and the viewer is blown away when he lets out his emotions in his first public singing performance (I admit to rewatching that part of episode 9 close to a dozen times). Each main character has a clear personality, and they seem like real people with real emotional drives (in contrast to shows that rely on thinly veiled archetypes). While there are few women with names, those we see repeatedly can also be distinguished from one another, and feel very genuine (although the majority are only important due to their connections to the male characters, so that could stand some improvement). The older men in the band add humor and depth to the story, and I hope that the promised sequel film will continue their storyline (as Mafuyu and Ritsuka's story has been led to a satisfactory point).
My reviewing system for films and shows that are NOT anime: 1-5: I hated it. I also don't think it has redeeming qualities, so you shouldn't watch it either. 6: I didn't like it. It's not my thing, I didn't like the execution, I don't want to see it again. However, I don't think it is a BAD film or show - it has qualities that will recommend it to those who like that kind of thing. 7: It was fine. I didn't love it, and I don't need to see it again. I won't be sad if I never see it again. 8: I liked it. I didn't love it, and while I'd like to see it again, I wouldn't want to see it often. 9: I loved it. I would be sad if I never saw it again. I might want to see it every few years. 10: I loved it beyond description. I wouldn't mind re-watching it every year.
Clarifying my Anime rating system: My number key below is an attempt to parse the small differences between 5 and 6, 7 and 8, & 9 and 10. When I rate, I consider my own enjoyment, the characterization and the plot, the appearance of the animation, and occasionally the soundtrack - in roughly that order. An anime will lose at least 1 point for presence of deal-breaker tropes (for example, comedic pedophilia), and more if the trope(s) ruined my enjoyment. On the other hand, it will gain at least 1 point for artistry in animation or sound.
Never Recommend: 1-4, inclusive. Further clarification: I don't expect to rate anything 1-4, as I would probably never finish watching something in this range of rating. It's likely to have bad plotting, subpar animation, bland characterizations, silly and/or irritating tropes, etc.; I would consider it to be pure excrement.
Cautious Recommending: 5: In this case, it started out with a higher score and slipped over time... because I normally don't watch anything that I would score below 6, except for movies (small time commitment). 6: I may or may not have watched the whole show, but I recognize deal-breaker issues in it, and I'm unlikely to rewatch. It just wasn't enjoyable enough for me to forgive its flaws. There would be huge caveats to any recommendation.
Likely to Recommend: 7: Not my thing, but usually I at least respect it. Generally, I didn't like it enough to think I would rewatch it, but also didn't see huge problems in the plot, characterizations, etc. and thought it was worth finishing. I might suggest it to someone if I know they like the specific sub-genre or other work by the studio. 8: I had a good time watching it, but it didn't move me the way a 9 or a 10 does; it's possible that over time I would upgrade it if I liked it more on reflection. I would be willing to rewatch it. I'd recommend it with the occasional caveat.
Highly Recommend: 9: I enjoyed it very much. It may have had one or two issues, but not enough to diminish enjoyment. It's possible that over time I would downgrade it to an 8 (changing tastes) or upgrade to a 10 (realize it's never left my mind). I'm likely to rewatch, and likely to buy the DVDs. I'd recommend it to most audiences. 10: Virtually flawless. I'd definitely rewatch, and definitely want to buy DVDs. I would shill this to anyone.
EDIT: for 2021, I'm participating in the MAL Anime Challenge. Any anime in the Completed section with a * in the note was watched for the challenge.
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