5 Reasons Why Diamond no Ace Stands Out from Other Sports Anime

This is partly a personal post, and partly a reflection of a synthesis of the core values of Diamond no Ace that I hold dear. Extremely mild spoilers ahead.

My Relationship with Anime Over the Past Five Years

Over the past five years, I stopped watching anime almost entirely. My reason was that I believed that adulting is dedicating time to actual pursuits that contribute to organic growth and self-improvement, better equipping myself with skills to be able to survive in this world – whether its communication skills to make more friends in real life and to get to know more people, technical competency for being a better lawyer, financial literacy to plan for the future etc. Fitting all of these into my routine meant that I was unable to squeeze out time for anime (and other forms of TV), which was a two-dimensional hobby which just involves me staring at a screen. It was also tough because there remains a dearth of interest in anime in the place I live in and especially, the social circles I run in. It felt like anime was part of a past which was long forgotten and should belong and stay there. While I still told the people I met about the feats of anime as a genre and sought to dispel the misconceptions surrounding the general perception with it, my growing unfamiliarity with the genre diminished my arguments and I became less able to build a persuasive stand on the issue.

Thankfully, with my dedication of time to the other areas of my life, I did manage to achieve small milestones in the areas I was putting time and effort in (which I may elaborate in a separate post another time, if I do sense some interest). Some events did also occur which made me re-think about how I had been going about my life the past five years, and forced me to take a hard look of my habits, mindset and goals. Together with the global pandemic which also gave me more time at home, I suddenly thought about anime again. There were various times where I felt like I missed watching anime, but I still questioned its utility. What is anime to me? Is it just pure entertainment – more of an addiction – and thus merely an unproductive use of time? Was it really escapist in nature – is it really a medium that looks into human beings’ hearts, picks out their innermost desires and plays it in the form of a story across a screen, thus allowing its viewers to experience whatever they can’t in real life for whatever reason, and enabling them to vicariously live life? If there is anything that I learnt from it, can it actually be applicable to not only my life? Is it something that can be applicable to others’ life as well? Can I still be a proponent of anime’s usefulness to the world without knowing the answers to these questions?

Diamond no Ace Season 2 - Episode 30 - MyAnimeList.net
My expression is the same as Eijun’s when I think about too many of these questions.

At the same time, the other, non-critical part of my mind saw the various pandemic-triggered lockdowns and work from home arrangements as an opportunity for me to loosen up a bit. Prior to that, my mind had been continually tense – like on a tightrope – trying to make full use of everyday in what I deemed to be a meaningful manner. With more time at home and with the world moving at a much slower pace, I finally had the luxury to think about returning to more time-consuming forms of entertainment. I still recall how addictive anime can be and how it can easily result in days of binge watching if I wasn’t being careful enough with my time. But I also felt that staying away from it was chipping away the parts of me that held on due to my constant interactions with anime – the ability to sense and appreciate subtly shifting emotions, the ability to feel those subtle emotions, the wonderful feeling of seeing good story telling and multi-dimensional character development mesh together and synergize to create such value in entertainment that I am still unable to see or find in the other genres. Staying away from this had perhaps made me into a more callous person, I thought.

So I restarted watching anime and of course I was pleased to find that, there were not only plenty of new anime which looked promising, there were also re-adaptations and second and third seasons of some of the older titles. Titles like Steins; Gate got their next season, which made the reason more holistic and really fleshed out the story and its characters. Series like Attack on Titan and even Haikyuu as well got more seasons – which was always a pleasure given that their preliminary seasons were excellent adaptations to begin with.

But what was the best surprise was that my series most close to my heart, Diamond no Ace, actually got an ‘Act II’ (making it, technically, a third season). And that gave me the motivation to re-watch the series.

It is actually pretty interesting that each rewatch of an anime series really enables the viewer to pick up new subtleties that were not as apparent before. I have briefly mentioned this in my previous Steins; Gate post here. Most importantly, what stands out to me actually reflects the evolution of one’s own tastes and preferences, as well as mindset and values and is perhaps, a mirror of my own personal journey over the past 5 years.

I last watched this series in 2015 to 2016. That’s really 5 or 6 years ago, after which I graduated from university and plunged myself into the challenges and upheavals of real life and tried out many different things.

But now, when I look at Diamond no Ace again, I am even more floored by how precious and valuable such an anime series is. Rereading reviews, and comments on anime forums on Diamond no Ace makes me feel more indignant that there is so little appreciation of this series despite it being about a sport which I understand to be pretty popular in the USA, and despite it being the most realistic portrayal of the struggle of rising to the top and being a champion not only in the real life sports, but also in other aspects of life as well (if you know how to spot the resemblance, of course).

But let’s backtrack. It may be appropriate at this point to include a summary of Diamond no Ace for the uninitiated (it astonishes me that I have not done this on this blog before).

Summary: What is Diamond no Ace About?

Some of the best characters in Daiya

Diamond no Ace is a story which follows Eijun Sawamura, a pitcher who is invited by a scout to Tokyo’s prestigious Seidou High School after seeing the potential in his unusual pitching style and his spirit. Eijun declares he will become ace of the Seidou baseball team, a team with many skilled and talented players. However, he has a rival in the form of Satoru Furuya, a fellow first-year who pitches fastballs at a ‘monster’ speed. Together with other players in the team, the Seidou baseball team aims to defeat the other equally talented and skilled teams to become the champions of Nationals in Japan.

While all of the above sounds like the setting of any typical sports anime, there are many elements in the Diamond no Ace form of storytelling that subvert the conventional storytelling norms of sports anime. In this post, I am going to identify five reasons why, in my honest opinion, Diamond no Ace stands out from other anime – and is in fact head and shoulders above the rest of them.

Reason #1 The main character is trying to play catch-up to his teammates, rather being the one making the sole positive difference to the level of the team.

Eijun starts off as a noob … much to the chagrin of his teammates

In anime like Kuroko no Basket and Haikyuu!!, the team that the protagonist joins is an all round weak team – most likely a team that has not made past the first few rounds in a national competition i.e. a typically underdog team. The story then focuses on the main protagonist and accentuates how his addition to a team begins to subtly make changes in the team dynamic, the level of the team and together with the team, they jump through rings of fire to reach the top.

In Diamond no Ace, the Seidou baseball team is not actually weak by any objective nature. It is revealed very early on that they are a baseball powerhouse and one of the ‘big’ names of Tokyo. They also have a huge team with many people to choose from, a vast amount of facilities to facilitate training, a good coach and many talented and skillful players in their mix. Most of the regulars have been scouted from all over Japan and brought to the team. The only catch is that they have not been to Nationals in the past 6 years.

When Eijun joins the Seidou team, he is very rough around the edges. He was clueless about the more intricate rules of baseball, could hardly bat or field, and did not even know what kind of pitches he could throw. All he had was a moving fastball, which he did not even recognise as one – he only knew that this was part of his style of ‘going head-to-head with enemy”. It is only when he joins Seidou, when he gets acquainted in the vast talent and skill available in the world of baseball – most of it in the form of his teammates.

Thus this story starts his journey to climb his way to the top of the baseball mound. Eijun starts off with the most basic of training and exercises, deprived of game time as opposed to his teammates as he realises very soon that he has no skills that were useful to the team. What is unique to this story is that Eijun spends a lot of time on screen trying to not drag his teammates down, being inspired by his teammates to work harder and to see his goal of becoming the ace and his newfound goal of being useful to the team as goals that are not mutually exclusive. In fact the skill level difference is so vast that Eijun spends a lot more time watching his teammates play than pitching – something I will elaborate further below in my next point.

Reason #2: It is a story of multiple main characters of a team, and about other teams’ hopes and dreams as well.

It is about everybody and not just Eijun

The story is not just about Eijun Sawamura. It is about his rival Satoru Furuya, whose talent for pitching powerful fastballs enables him to keep one step ahead of Eijun and gifts to him more game time than the protagonist and who also continues to grow in a manner that is inspired by and complementary with Eijun’s strengths. It is about the genius catcher Miyuki Kazuya, who is positive, logical, focuses on what is in front of him and also grows in his lead of the pitchers and as well as a core pillar of the team. It is about Mei Narumiya, who comes across as exceedingly arrogant and loud-mouthed, but has the skills to back it up and has gone through his own set of trials and tribulations. It is even about the characters that are normally regarded as “side characters), for example, Isashiki Jun, the guy who initially is the strongest competitor of his more skilful and focused comrade Tetsuya Yuuki (“Tetsu”), but who turns into somebody who single-mindedly focuses on connecting the offense of the game to Tetsu; on how to get on base; on how to push the team to victory; on how to perform his role to the best of his ability so that they can fulfill the goal that everybody dreams of – going to nationals. It is even about the coach, Kataoka-san, whose coaching style focuses on character and team growth of each individual and which the story delves into in greater detail.

I could go on and on about the characters – but you get the point. In Season 2, the story even goes into the characters who are usually on the bleachers and the sideline. The story does not focus on one batch of regulars – the third-years leave the team and new first-years join. The regulars are not set in stone and there is constant renewal. There is hence a sense of resonance with the viewers as they grow together with the characters and are subject to the same forces of life – where old people leave and new people come.

Even for the rival teams, there is always something in each of their backstory that that resonates powerfully with the average person and the feelings of failing at something despite working and trying hard, and those feelings of desperation and powerlessness. I had previously written a post about one of the rival teams, Sakurazawa, whose backstory contains some of these powerful messages.

In contrast, there is a obvious set of core characters for most other shounen and sports anime. The stories usually hesitate either to ‘kill off” people or to render them obsolete (e.g. to ‘graduate’ the seniors and make them leave the team’) and are usually more concerned in tweaking the plot to justify these characters’ continued existence on the team. Moreover, most sports anime are more focused on the growth of the main characters – who again, are usually identified by the writers from the start. Arguably, this may be due to the preference for more compact and efficient storytelling due to practical considerations, for example the inability to procure multiple extensions of the series and therefore having to choose to focus on one or two individuals. But it certainly doesn’t produce the effect that Diamond no Ace has – the feeling that you grow together with the characters (read: not just one or two, but all of them) on their journey, and the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment the viewer feels when they finally achieve certain important milestones.

Reason #3 It is not afraid to show the harsh realities of life – that even if you work hard and even if you are talented, you may fail and not just once.

Eijun will be great … eventually

Some mainstream sports anime like Haikyuu and Kuroko no Basket use the same formula – the main character’s team loses in the first game or first final of a major tournament to a major rival team, who is a rival team that gets more backstories than the rest. They have a period of reflection and more training, and then they restart the series of competitions, this time, winning all the matches. All of this concludes in a matter of a few two-cour episodes – perhaps within a total of 75 to 100 episodes. This means that mathematically, the first failure should have occurred within 25 episodes, which seems to be the maximum amount of time that most mainstream viewers’ attention can be held before they start to lose interest if the protagonist does not seem to be ‘epic’ enough.

Unlike Haikyuu or Kuroko no Basket, Diamond no Ace does not hesitate to be bold and go the long way around. Many complaints of the series are around the fact that Eijun’s journey to becoming ace seems to be taking two steps forward and one step back – it is fraught with difficulties as he is surrounded by competition. His development takes a slow start and he is most of the time sidelined while he tries to learn baseball, bit by bit, and what it means to not play for himself but for his team as he gets to familiarise himself with them. He is often often loud-mouthed, confident to an extremity of being not self aware, is the joke of the team, and thus hard to take seriously (or in some viewers’ terms, too ‘cringey’). Yet Eijun knows how it feels like to struggle, and observant or sensitive viewers may pick up his serious, competitive side – the side where he continues to struggle and strive for his best while still remaining positive and the joke of the team.

Furuya Satoru, Eijun’s biggest rival

In Diamond no Ace, failure is not just a plot device and not a temporary setback. You can fail, pick yourself up, only to fall prey to another cognitive weakness and fall back into a slump, where you have to look hard at yourself in a more deeper and thorough manner, and devise new ways of trying to improve. Most of Diamond no Ace’s early story centers on Eijun struggling to even participate in matches with the team. We see his rival, Furuya, basically blasting his way through the ranks while he is stuck. In contrast, we look at Eijun fail and fail again. Diamond no Ace also makes the bounce-backs from failure are pretty realistic as well; and the characters don’t suddenly become ‘flared up’ by the presence of their ‘nakama’ (i.e. comrades), and as far as I recall, they only used this excuse once, and this was pretty early on in the story). There is also limited use of plot armour as Eijun is really subject to the same abject trials as just about everybody else in the story.

The reliable third years

Diamond no Ace also shows that sometimes in life, there are no second chances. The world of competitive sports is especially cruel, something very small can trip you up and rob you from a second chance. Diamond no Ace is not afraid to pull out the rug beneath you by cutting out characters it had worked hard to introduce and build up, and is realistic in showing that even if one achieves a certain milestone, he still has a very long way to go. Protractors may think this is very ‘anti-climatic’, but it is this dose of realism that keeps the viewers’ exhilaration in check, and makes victory – if and when it comes – all the more sweet.

#4 It shows that people with talent, ability and skill will still have to work hard to stay on top.

Diamond no Ace is a series that takes its time to focus on building up most of its characters. This results in ample time in fleshing out each and every one of them. In a world where our protagonist is not the most special snowflake around, there would, of course, be worthy rivals and teammates that showcase the kind of talent which some viewers argue should have probably made them the main characters instead. But as we have established above, Diamond no Ace does not care much about pandering to conventional plot devices that would guarantee them that level of fame and viewership. Instead, we get a good focus on both the talented and the non-talented. But there is one thing for sure – all of them work equally as hard or harder. And this is where it gets interesting.

Most of the time, talent is used as a powerful plot device – it serves very good deus ex machina purposes in explaining plot conveniences. It can be used in varying degrees and extents to supplement a story that focuses on elevating the underdog to the top. At a more sophisticated level, talent is used to accentuate the prowess of the main rivals of the main team (i.e. they are usually many levels of skill and talent above the main team), making them seemingly so impossible to beat so that it makes the main team’s eventual defeat of them (made possible due to a variety of plot devices and maneuvers) even more impactful to the audience.

Diamond no Ace acknowledges talent, but hardly focuses on it. For example, in the Seido team, Miyuki Kazuya and Chris Yu Takagawa (both catchers for the team) (other than Satoru Furuya, Eijun’s rival) are the only individuals on the team that are widely acknowledged to have talent. Yet, the series doesn’t give them a lot of time to shine – when we got to know Chris, he is already injured and no longer in the main team and takes on mentoring and managerial roles within the team. Even Miyuki Kazuya, one of the main characters (other than Eijun the protagonist), is portrayed to rely more on his logic and tactician-like skills, rather than any innate physical talent (He is said to have a very powerful shoulder, but this is also something that applies to quite a few characters in the story and would not be a sufficient justification to be the sole reason of making the difference to the team).

Miyuki Kazuya – Both a strong batter and talented catcher for Seido

However as it was subsequent revealed in the later part of Season 1, it is revealed that his motivation to go to Seido was actually to challenge himself to be better, and to pit himself against what is known as the all-star team of Mei Narumiya and his group of top batters to see how good he can become. At Seido, Miyuki also does not have an easy time handling all the pitchers due to their different temperaments and skill levels, and does not make accurate calls 100% on the field 100% of the time. And yet, the ongoing challenge is what drives Miyuki to be better, and he genuinely enjoys not playing with the top dogs and being guaranteed victory all the time. He also works doubly hard in all his roles to ensure that he remains on top of the game in every capacity and every hat he puts on.

Interestingly, the same goes for Mei Narumiya, said to be the best pitcher in the Tokyo region. While he appears as the quintessential main rival for Eijun and gang, it is revealed that he has lost to his personal demons previously and came out top, and his journey is not as smooth-sailing as his obnoxious persona seems to suggest. Both Mei and Miyuki are talented, but they are also given more team responsibilities as a result. Diamond no Ace also portrays the conflict between their own pride and desire to be at the top and the responsibility towards their teammates (as they really do care about them despite not appearing), and their unwavering desire to confront and surmount that challenges that lie ahead. As the ‘talented’, they have less room for error and are inadvertently left alone in that lesser people assume that they would never be able to empathise with the ‘average person’s struggles’.

Mei Narumiya – Best pitcher?

Every single person in Diamond no Ace is a hard worker, and nobody is really overwhelmingly superior to another. We are also constantly reminded throughout the series that the first string positions are in constant flux and the first string people have to keep improving themselves so that the ones gunning for a position behind them don’t catch up to them. This is more apparent in Season 2 as the series progresses into fall as a new team. While most of the show is focused on what happens during the games, there is also a lot of focus on the training that occurs in between. It also focuses on fleshing out the sentiments of the ones that were left behind – the benchwarmers, the ones who aren’t even in the first and second string – and highlights their contributions as well. Arguably, this makes for a more nuanced and realistic difference in skill level as per real life – nobody is guaranteed to have a winning streak all the time, despite natural ability, and the audience learns to appreciate all the different levels of skill and talent more. It also creates a more unique appreciation of what it means to be a support role, and the Seido team genuinely acknowledges those behind-the-scenes efforts.

#5 It has a great OST, great character aesthetic design and great character development

What really completes the enjoyment of Diamond no Ace as an anime is the great battle OST that plays during all the moments of tension, as well as the great character design of the characters. Admittedly, not every character is a bishounen, but I would be fairly surprised if the consensus is that the characters are not ‘good-looking’ enough.

Each character also stands out as unique as the other. Its difficult to even find a favourite character in Diamond no Ace as each of them are just beautiful in their imperfections. Did I also mention that the way the characters are written are also very realistic? They are multi-faceted and hardly conform to their superficial ‘personas’ e.g. the loud-mouthed and ‘entertainer’ type Eijun actually feels a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, ‘self-centered’ Furuya also feels furious when he makes mistakes that cost the team, and the blunt and ‘evil’ Miyuki Kazuya is also extremely focused on bringing out the best in his teammates. And these are just to name a few of those characteristics, as the characters reveal their other sides and grow throughout the series.


For all the reasons above, Diamond no Ace is a more realistic counterpart to most sports anime which may make it harder to get through, but enables its viewers to reap lots out of it when the blood, sweat and tears that its characters pay off. It is a story that tries to defy conventional storytelling and oft-used clichés and does not hesitate to be bold in its approach. While it is definitely not for the faint-hearted, it is at its core, one of the most inspirational stories in both individual and team spirit, and in my honest opinion, personifies what the anime-watching experience should truly be – heavy in its values and life lessons, and a genuine diamond in the rough to all who have had the opportunity to step into it.

Thanks for all of those who read this post till the end! For those who have watched Diamond no Ace, do you agree with the points set out above? For those who have not, would you be encouraged to watch it? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Cheers!

How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes: Making Macroeconomics Approachable

How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes: Schiff, Peter D., Schiff, Andrew  J.: Amazon.sg: Books

In furtherance of my general objective to pick up general knowledge from all aspects of life, I have been trying to read more widely. Economics and macroeconomics as a topic feels a little strange and rusty to me, however, since the last time I was properly educated on the subject was when I was studying it at the junior college level (when I was 17 to 18 years old).

Thinking that it is a bit of a pity to let my knowledge of economics fade away without doing anything to maintain my memory of it, I have been trying to re-familiarise myself with the concepts. In attempting to do so, I picked up How an Economy Crashes and Why It Crashes, by Peter D. Schiff and Andrew J. Schiff (“HECWIC“). My experience with books on economics are that they usually assume that their readers already gain a certain level of familiarity with macroeconomic concepts, and thus they don’t usually function well as introductory books to economics concepts. Therefore, I expected myself to be re-reading sentences, trying to get it to click in my head, and doing more googling in the course of my read.

HECWIC was a pleasant surprise in how easy it was to consume. In this book, Schiff provides a bird’s eye view of current US macroeconomic policy through the lens of a narrative that spans throughout the book, complete with pictorial illustrations, on three men living on an island. Serving as an easy introduction to macroeconomics, the first half of the book explains the basic ideas of the components of an economy, the relationship between savings and credit, how an economy expands, and moves on to how this propels growth and economic development. This gradually makes way to the birth of the government and the republic and the narrative slants towards demonstrating how government influence (which is motivated by political considerations) sometimes creates incentives that distort the free market, creating inefficient resource allocation which creates the cyclical effect of economic booms and crashes.

It is easy to see that the narrative has a clear end goal in mind and is focused on fitting its narrative to that end – that Keynesian economics of expansionary monetary policy comes at its costs – mainly making future generations bear the cost of today’s uninhibited spending. The island-nation in the narrative depicts the US senate and its economy and its events in recent history (with just slight differences in the names used just so that they remain recognisable, where the changes made are for comedic effect and appeal). Towards the end of the book, the narrative also references Sino-US relations by introducing another neighbouring country.

All in all, HECWIC is a good introductory book to macroeconomics and why and how US macroeconomic policy has developed the way it has. Its humour and comedic style also make its concepts easier to digest, and it is definitely recommended for those who finds macroeconomics is too difficult to comprehend or boring. However, one should be more cautious in seeking to rely solely on this book to frame one’s knowledge on the topic – in simplifying macroeconomic concepts, the narrative makes multiple analogies to established systems which are based on certain key assumptions. I am no macroeconomist, but it is clear that these assumptions do not hold absolute as the world is multi-dimensional and there are many factors at play in shaping policy decisions. That said, this is absolutely a light-hearted, fun and witty book which I definitely recommend for all ages – no matter what level of macroeconomics knowledge you have.

(This post is not sponsored. Link to the book can be found here.)

He Who Can’t Marry and Tokyo Bachelors: A Thematic Exposition of the Bachelor Life in Japan

It should come as no surprise to anybody that the Japanese is at the forefront of showcasing societal commentary in their media. In particular, the themes that they like to explore are those surrounding generational issues, mental health issues, the aging population, and bullying, the lost and shattered dreams of their youth (due to a deflationary economy), just to name a few. Naturally, singlehood is also one of its problems, resulting in low population growth which further exacerbates the economy’s impending dearth. The prevailing narrative that is used to described singlehood is that of a personal lifestyle and a personal choice, shaped by personal circumstances. However, what is not often mentioned or shown is how much the development of society and its culture has very much a part to play in shaping that personal choice.

He Who Can’t Marry and Tokyo Bachelors just happen to be two of such Japanese dramas where the single life is featured as the core theme of the story, featuring bachelor(s) as the main character(s). He Who Can’t Marry (two seasons in total) tells the story of the life of bachelor Shunsuke Kuwano, a renowned architect who has built up his career and his name with it (as the pioneer of the “open kitchen” concept), but whom in stark contrast to his accomplishments, is socially awkward and unaware and often blunt to the point of being offensive. Proud of his solitary life and having a multitude of hobbies, he relishes being alone and often occupies himself with his various interests, and scoffs at the idea of marriage and the idea of building human relationships.

Tokyo Bachelors
Source: https://www.wakuwakujapan.com/en/program/detail/wj0000005533/

Tokyo Bachelors features three main characters, Taro Ishibashi, Reiya Miyoshi and Kazuhiko Iwakura, known affectionately as the “Bachelors by Choice”. If these bachelors are credit ratings, they would be the equivalent of the triple A standard amongst the eyes of all females – accomplished, high income professionals who own swanky bachelor pads in the middle of downtown Tokyo. The main protagonist, Taro Ishibashi, works as a analyst at Tokyo “Daiwa” Bank; Reiya Miyoshi is a divorced dentist who has opened his own clinic in Tokyo and curiously, manages to sustain his business amidst the stiff competition and sky-high rent; Kazuhiko Iwakura is a partner of his own law firm and the oldest of the trio.

Through daily happenings and the people whom each of the main characters in both stories meet, such events and their relationships with these people eventually begin to impact their mindset and views on marriage.

Singlehood vs Marriage, Logic vs Emotions?

In both series, the starting premise is similar. All the bachelors enjoy the freedom of singlehood, relishing the freedom to do whatever they want and the lack of financial responsibilities and being the sole breadwinner of a family (which is practically synonymous with “settling down” in Japan). The question is whether there will be events that happen and/or people they meet that would change their minds.

In Japan, the historical cultural baggage that accompanies marriage and the start of a family has long often been criticised to be archaic. The progress of gender equality and women’s empowerment has surprisingly been slower paced than most of its developed country counterparts and even arguably, its Asian counterparts as well. As such, women’s role in society is still largely confined to the household – the glass ceiling at work is still pretty much in place for ladies in the workplace, and marriage spells the end of her career trajectory as she is expected to give up her job and devote all her efforts to maintaining the household and taking care of the children. The workplace and family time becomes a binary choice for her, and this also creates a disproportionate burden on the husband, who suddenly has one or more dependents on him to care for (loans on top of a few people’s daily expenses). It is no wonder that as much as women would not like to get married, the men have equally lesser incentive to get married.

He Who Can’t Marry (Season 1)
Source: Netflix

It is within this context that our main characters thrive, as marriage becomes an increasingly senseless decision. All the main characters are self-righteous in making this choice at the start of the story, and tout various – logical – reasons why their choice for the bachelorhood is the more intelligent way of choosing to live one’s life. In He Who Can’t Marry, Shunsuke often repeats this mantra and analysis to his gaggle of starry-eyed lady friends who often rebuke his analysis and criticising his ‘wet-blanket’ approach to life. In Tokyo Bachelors, the trio often reiterate this to each other, using Reiya Miyoshi’s nightware of an ex-wife as an example, to justify their lifestyle of partying (replete with plenty of wine, lack of real commitment with women).

Roles of the Female Characters in a Story About Men

He Who Can’t Marry
Source: https://www.marieclaire.com.tw/entertainment/tvshow/45525

The story also introduces potential love interests for the main characters. Interestingly, most of them are women who are on par with these main characters from a socio-economic sense, meaning they are equally as accomplished in their careers as these male characters and are high earners as well. For example, in He Who Can’t Marry (Season One), we have Yui Natsukawa, a female doctor who is Shunsuke’s equal in every way and who challenges him to let people into his life and to interact with and build relationships with the people around him instead of keeping to himself. In Tokyo Bachelors, one of the female romantic interests is a fellow lawyer in Kazuhiko Iwakura’s firm. Again, this is a realistic portrayal of the dating scene in Japan and arguably modern Asian society in general – where individuals of similar socio-economic status are inevitably drawn to each other as they would be equals in every manner. Moreover, the inclusion of such female characters also offer a glimpse into the female psyche of being highly accomplished, career women in their 30s to 40s and why they have remained single – mainly because they chose to prioritise their careers in a society where the choice between career and family seems to be mutually exclusive.

For the other female characters in the story, their existence is purposeful – usually as a catalyst that enables growth and self realisation for the main characters, whether in terms of their views and opinions on romantic relationships and human relationships. In He Who Can’t Marry, it is clear that through Shunsuke’s repeated interactions with these women, he learns to relate to and interact with other people in a more socially aware manner. Even though he rubs people off the wrong way at the beginning, the people (including these female characters) gradually learn to appreciate the kindness underneath his gruff exterior, and Shunsuke in turn learns to be more empathetic and more sensitive to the emotions of the people around him. Such character development is noticeable though subtle, and masterfully worked upon each episode. There is no sudden change, but it enables the audience to look back from the last episode and feel a swell of pride for Shunsuke for having come so far since the first episode.

On the other hand, Tokyo Bachelors takes a decidedly more romantic approach to the life lessons that the bachelor trio learns. Taro Ishibashi has an ex-girlfriend to contend with, Reiya Miyoshi has an ex-wife with unresolved issues, and Kazuhiko Iwakura is thrown into a very real life situation which forces him to look at the concept of marriage seriously. As they realise their past mistakes, they grow to realise what they truly need from life and what they are really looking for in a lifelong partner, which overturns their previous convictions on the matter.

Tokyo Bachelors – the trio and the younger sister
Source: https://k.sina.cn/article_6770237875_19389a1b300100gmy6.html

While both dramas are comedies, He Who Can’t Marry arguably tries harder in incorporating characteristics in its main character which explain, logically, why he is somebody who “can’t get married, ever”, and those characteristics are also a very realistic portrayal of some of the single men in their thirties and forties and the kinds of people they inevitably come. Nevertheless, He Who Can’t Marry somehow still manages to make its main character lovable as his kind side gradually shows. In contrast, Tokyo Bachelors doesn’t take itself as seriously, and focuses more on drawing out the comedic dynamic amongst our three adorable main characters, on making its audience laugh, and following the spirit of the show – of being a ‘feel-good’ sitcom.

Interestingly, the fates of each of these bachelors are very different in the stories. Some find romance, some don’t. It is interesting how each of their endings serve to portray different grains of the same truth. The truth is when it comes to romance as with life in general, it is a bit of a Russian roulette. Some relationships don’t work out and there is nothing wrong with being single that way, some relationships enable one to find what one really cares about (which may not be finding a partner), and some relationships enable one to find who one really cares about and/or the qualities of a partner one is really seeking. The point however is that all of them end up achieving a better understanding of the self and what he is seeking from life, and essentially that is what the stories are really trying to show.


Both stories send very powerful messages of some realistic reasons and justifications for singlehood, and presents both the case for singlehood and marriage as evenly as they can and in as light-hearted a manner as possible. While one can easily breeze through both series, it definitely does yield more if one sits down to think about the messages behind each of them. Whether you are looking for a series that is a fresh breath of air from the usual rhetoric, or you are a happy single who wants to find something that finally does not advocate marriage as the predominant end goal of one’s romantic life, do give any of these two series a go, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Steins; Gate: The Story of the Beginning and the End

Steins Gate - Cover 1

Slight spoilers ahead – please be forewarned if you haven’t had the chance to acquaint yourself with Steins; Gate.

I stumbled across Steins; Gate on a whim. It was sitting in a corner of Netflix, looking a little forlorn and abandoned. It is the year of 2021, 10 years after Steins; Gate was released, 11 years since the summer of the Prologue of the Beginning and the End.

Truth be told, I was not looking for it. I was not even looking for any anime in particular. Subconsciously, I just wanted something edgy, exciting. Anything to kick me out of the slumber that I felt, have been feeling, in regard to my choice of entertainment in general. (My heart isn’t ready for the last season of Attack on Titan yet, but it will be soon.)

Truth also be told, when I looked at the thumbnail of Steins; Gate, I realised I couldn’t remember a single thing about it save the main characters’ names. Okabe Rintarou, Makise Kurisu, Shiina Mayuri. And the others. I knew it was a time travelling science fiction show, but that was it.

Okay, maybe it would be good to rewatch this at this point. I thought. I could hardly remember the plot at all, and it would almost be brand new. I couldn’t even remember whether it had a happy or a sad ending.

And thus I was transported back to Akihabara, August 2010.

The Prologue of the Beginning and the End

Mayuri - Reaching Out to the Sun - GIF

A good series is like a good book. Everything you revisit it, something new jumps out at you.

For a series that is based on time travelling, it is perhaps predictable that the entirety of the events of the story takes place over a span of what two weeks, in chronological order. The reason why time travel is such an interesting sub-genre of science fiction is because the science in relation to it has not been fully developed or excavated. Many scientific theories remain as hypotheses. And so pseudo-science comes in to fill up the lacuna. Couple that with a little imagination, good grip on pacing, and the exploitation of the paradoxes and human conflict that comes with it, and voila! you have a psychological thriller in the making.

Human conflict is the central core of a good thriller, and this is where Steins; Gate shines at its best. We see our main character’s obsession with experimentation and greed of knowledge lead him to make choices that literally changes the lives of the people around him forever. When the realisation hits him, the damage is done. But what he knows cannot be un-known to him, and that is the crux of his despair as he tries to undo the damage, altering the lives of everybody whom he cares and he loves. His ability to retain his memories is both a blessing and a curse; doomed to remember the lives he had fundamentally altered with his bare hands, with all these made the more excruciating because of the memories made with the people he cares about all zipped away the moment he decides to alter the world line yet again. On top of all of this, his ability to traverse world lines invites the burden of being the potential saviour of the world and only person [/start spoiler] with the power to prevent World War III [/end spoiler].

Steins; Gate starts out slow, almost deliberately. We see plenty of dialogue between the characters, carving out their personalities with the banter between them. The goofy, insider jokes and the Japanese NEET or otaku-centric references – specifically to anime festivals, maid cafes and other moe clichés, and the setting of Akihabara, make its target audience completely at ease and familiar with this eccentric bunch.

Not surprisingly, this has the effect of making the drama pack a huge punch to our guts when the bomb drops onto our characters. Like a hamster on a mill, Okabe races against time, with time, and through time trying to save the life of his precious childhood friend. Each other person’s life that he has forcibly changed weighs against him, heavy in his guilt as he knows the sacrifices they made, even if they no longer remember the same after he alters the world line. In the new role he has found himself in and through his struggles, he finds his light in the form of Makise Kurisu, who has not had the benefit of having the same time travelling abilities, but whose intelligence enables her to catch on quickly and deduce solutions for the harried, disconcerted Okabe who is on the edge of being hysterical in his repeated failures to save his friend.

The Human Conflict of the Time Travel Paradox

Steins Gate - Okabe and Kurisu - 1

True love is about sacrifice, and this weighs heavily in this story. Okabe sacrifices his sanity by living through his precious friend’s death repeatedly, Kurisu tries to sacrifice her life to give Okabe what he wanted – a living Mayuri, Faris sacrifices her family so that her prince, Okabe could achieve what he wanted, and Rukako sacrifices his wish to be a girl, Suzuha sacrifices her life in another world to give effect to her mission of saving the world. Arguably, what this series is really depicting is not really just about romantic love but about the emotional bonds between people that thrive beyond romantic love. As it is established in the series, while Okabe and Kurisu are in love with one another, their choices remain beyond the love between them – both of them still chose to do what they felt was the right thing, albeit this is motivated by wanting each other to be happy and not to regret the choice they are making.

Imaginative Pseudo-Science at its best

If there is one thing I think that makes Steins; Gate stand out as an intricate story is how closely it tries to follow the real-life concepts which it is based on. It never failed to astonish me, throughout the series, how real these concepts are, from CERN (SERN) to the LHC (large hadron collider), the black hole, John Titor, and the butterfly effect. Watching the series is like a lesson on the science of time travel itself, and objectively and for the most part of it, the pseudo-science of the series interweaves with the plot development in a manner which stands up to scrutiny (at least from the perspective of my simple mind). Steins; Gate exemplifies one of the core characteristics of good anime: the ability to follow the rules which it has established. It has arguably gone further to achieve the objective of expanding how the story can develop within the limitations of those rules, and that’s where its creativity lies. It is imaginative pseudo-science in the backdrop and emotional conflict in the foreground, the latter which propels character development and evokes sympathy and empathy as to Okabe’s less-than-enviable plight.

A Series Worth Rewatching?

Steins; Gate is a story that yields more when you revisit it. Looking back, my first visit to the Steins; Gate universe may not have created any lasting impression for me because there is too much to unpack and I probably did not bother researching on the concepts that form the foundation of the story. I was also probably too caught up with the fact that I preferred Mayuri over Kurisu – but rewatching the series from a clean slate of mind enabled me to look more objectively at Kurisu as a character of intricacies, and admittedly I would have to say that Kurisu and Okabe make more of a better match of equals than Okabe and Mayuri ever would be. In prioritising plot development and Okabe’s emotional conflict, Steins; Gate also had to sacrifice Mayuri’s character development, which did not help in the popularity of her character vis-à-vis the intelligent and tsundere (read: extremely lovable) Kurisu. I hope that Steins; Gate 0 (which I am still watching at the time of this post) would help to flesh out the side characters more including Mayuri and which gives me enough ammunition to update this post.

Thank you for reading to the end, and I apologise for being away for so long (too much things have happened in the past 5 years, which is a story for another day). To all new visitors, hope you have enjoyed this post; to all my old visitors, hope you have been well, welcome back and feel free to drop me a comment / message below. Hope to catch up with you guys, and cheers ^^ 

Joining UnimeTV & The Mega Life/Writing Update

I actually don’t like writing about myself. I do write a lot about what I feel towards writing and blogging in general throughout 1.5 years of the limitless imagination, but I rarely talk about anything other than what is acutely related to this virtual space and the ani-manga community surrounding it. That’s really because I don’t like to bring anything that is not remotely relevant to the focus of this blog, which had unknowingly become established over time to – anime commentaries, essays, and just lots of posts about having no writing inspiration.

But I figured its probably time to write about one, mostly because I have been in the community for so long and yet I think, people don’t actually know me much. They know only what I write and what I choose to put on here, but I rarely communicate with people about anything outside the context of this blog.

But at this point in time, there are really a few things about my life that I think my readers need to know. I actually thought of skipping out this post because I am so pressed for time at this current point, but I realised there was one less deadline I had to meet and hence I ended up writing this.

Sorry for the wall of text as usual people. Read what you deem important.

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15 Anime OPs/EDs that make me cry

Note: This post is actually meant to be of therapeutic effect for me, because I am currently rewatching Diamond no Ace and suffering through angst, frustration, sadness and accentuated anxiety problems that have been seething underneath in the first place. But in any case, this idea came from my bouts of screaming, crying and cursing in watching said anime above. Since I have also never written about anime music, I figured there isn’t a better way to do it than this.

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A Cross-Cultural Comparison of TV: Why Anime May Not Be for Everybody

Last month, I wrote about how my anime journey began. My point then was to show how anime is a conscious choice of visual entertainment for me, rather than a product of childhood association, as with the case with others, anime hence forming a part of self-identity or a nostalgic sanctuary of dreams and innocence. Today, I attempt to evaluate the general stance of anime as an objectively more attractive choice among all story-telling mediums through a cross-cultural comparison across different types of TV series and dramas (excluding written fiction and movies, story-telling mediums that share lesser similarities with anime.) Through this, I hope to highlight how different anime is from its contemporaries, but also explain why and how anime may not be for everybody.

*Disclaimer: This post is mostly based on 80% personal experience and opinion, and 20% research.  What is written is, to the best of my ability, knowledge, and experience, objectively representative of their respective genres. Please be aware that there may be exceptions.*

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Anime: My Beginning & My Present

Throughout the one year and close to three months of the blogging community, I have come to realise that I have never provided much context to my opinions on anime, and what anime means to me. I thought they were too unimportant and uninteresting.

That is, until I read numerous such posts from other bloggers, and I realised how my different my experience is with anime as compared to others. Most importantly, I realised that providing the context of my experience is to certain opinions I write is quite relevant, especially when my preferences may border on being ‘different’ from most of my counterparts.

I won’t proclaim to deliver the most entertaining of stories below, but I believe that there is something in this post that would be of interest to any reader.

How it all began

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