Category Archives: Character Spotlight

Character Spotlight: Ikta Solork

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As you’ve probably noticed from the number of Character Spotlights I’ve done over this year, there’s almost zero male characters that get this treatment. That’s because well, let’s be honest…most male anime characters when it comes to the shows I enjoy watching, they’re dumb as fuck. They’re usually not that interesting.

Ikta from Alderamin on the Sky, however, he might just be one of the most interesting male characters I’ve seen in a long time!

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Yes, there is total bias because this guy is an intelligent young man who is all for science and could care less about religion. I love the fact that for the first time that I can remember, there’s an openly atheist character in anime. If there’s more, let me know in the comments below, but I can’t think of any others off the top of my head! That’s crazy to me!

But it’s Ikta’s intelligence is what really separates him from so many characters. Generally speaking, most males are portrayed as badass warriors, guys capable of the largest kill counts. Ikta is a lazy piece of shit that wants to do the least amount of work possible and still win. How does he operate on the battlefield? He makes opponents go into certain places, he creates forest fires to prolong the battle, he does whatever it takes to do the least amount of work and create the least amount of deaths. As we see through this first season, we’re watching as he earns his moniker as “The Lazy General”.

For Ikta, everything is like a chess battle. His tactical prowess is incredible, guessing enemy movements, positioning his troops in unlikely places that even the brightest tacticians wouldn’t guess. Hell, he’s got a poker face like no other, he bluffs the fuck out of people at times!

But aside from his tactical ability, Ikta still can’t escape a classic trope for male characters:

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Ikta is a giant womanizer. Of course he is. It doesn’t bother me, because I’m not easily offended, but it’s perplexing as to why someone so intelligent is still so candid about his sex life. You’d think with all that intelligence, he’d know when to keep his mouth shut once in a while. He makes no bones about it, he’s gotten himself in many beds over the years and yes, he slept with another girl’s mother that he talks to in the anime at one point. What a guy!

But in the end, that’s just filler space, the real Ikta we see is just a young male who didn’t want to be a military man, got dragged into it anyway and is doing everything in his power to avoid as much fighting as humanly possible. He’s a kind man, he wants the best for his soldiers. He doesn’t want them to die, he doesn’t want them to get seriously hurt, hell he doesn’t want them to risk their lives at all. He wants to find ways to win every battle without doing too much work and avoiding as many casualties and injuries as possible.

Not dying and not doing much work? Now that’s a guy I can get behind!

Character Spotlight: Kou Yagami

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Last week, we shined the spotlight on my favourite character from the recent anime, New Game!, Hifumi. This week, we take a look at the girl above Hifumi and the other character designers and my second favourite character from the show, Kou Yagami.

So take off your pants, get comfortable and let’s talk about this blonde beauty!

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At the start of the series, we look at Kou in the same way main character Aoba does, as a legendary character designer well-known for being a part of some major JRPGs released over the years. She also looks like a very normal, nice girl, the kind of boss you wish you had. If we left it at that, she’d be a fine character, a nice, caring boss who while wants to be strict with her employees, has a tough time doing so.

Instead, she gets a gimmick that really fleshes out her character (pun intended) and makes her an extremely memorable character, not just in the series, but throughout all anime. What’s that gimmick, you say? She doesn’t like to wear pants.

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While she understands that you don’t do this kind of shit in public, Kou is the kind of girl that wants to feel comfortable and liberated whenever she can. So it’s safe to say that at home, pants are not an option. But in the studio, she puts up with it and wears pants or a skirt. But when she’s staying overnight to get more work done and it’s just her in the office, those pants come right off. As she explains to her best friend and producer of the game they’re working on, Rin, she really does feel liberated when able to work and walk around in her underwear and as we see later on when Rin takes her advice and tries it, it’s certainly the case.

Now a lot of people probably looked at this as a sad excuse to have a girl in her underwear a lot, like Kou was decided as the girl who would get the majority of ecchi scenes in the show. But in my opinion, I don’t think that’s true, especially the latter part. Yes, Kou during many points of the show has the camera focused on her butt when her pants come off and yes, she has a shower scene, but there are other opportunities that she doesn’t get involved in. She could’ve easily been with the girls when they went to a bath house, but she wasn’t there, she could’ve been seen changing when they were getting their checkups, but she wasn’t. Her ecchi moments are the majority of the time, tailored to her specific gimmick and desire to not wear pants and as far as I’m concerned, that makes her character not a source of ecchi material, but a legitimate character with a real-life desire. She’s not the only person in the world who enjoys being able to walk around without pants on, hell I said it in my New Game! spotlight, if I lived alone, I’d totally do that in my own house as well!

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Kou also plays a major part in the entire series, she’s not just the token panty shot character. She fleshes out three separate characters for sure in the lead, Aoba, her best friend, Rin and even the girl she loves to piss off, Umiko. While Umiko’s isn’t too major, as realistically their relationship serves and comic relief (and Kou getting shot several times with a pellet gun), her relationship with Aoba and Rin both really have a lot of significance to the show.

With Aoba, Kou serves like a mentor to her. Granted, it’s a mentor that scares the hell out of her sometimes, as for some weird reason Aoba has a fear of being forced to take her pants off while at work because of Kou’s lack of hesitation in taking hers off and often being found asleep with the blankets failing to cover up what they needed to. When not freaking Aoba out with panty nightmares, she serves as the guiding hand for Aoba in her new career as a character designer. She’s very tough on her in the early going, making her redo several 3D models again and again so she doesn’t pick up any bad habits from the start and also so her transition later on is smoother for her and she doesn’t have to worry about any issues when that happens. It’s nice to see Kou in almost a big sister sort of role with Aoba, though it’s arguable that at some points Aoba looks at her as far more than just a mentor and an idol.

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But when it comes to a potential love interest, the only one that for sure has some merit to it is with her relationship with producer Rin Tooyama. Taking away the scene where the two of them were caught by Aoba both without pants on (Aoba’s worst nightmare), there are a ton of moments where there’s hints here and there of these two being more than just friends and colleagues at work. They’re constantly around each other, both taking care of each other when the other’s down, as Rin happily takes good care of Kou when she gets sick. What really grabs my attention though is just how comfortable they are with each other, especially Rin when it comes to Kou and her pantsless shenanigans. You could argue that it’s because she knowingly doesn’t feel any sexual attraction to Kou that causes Rin to deal with her gimmick with ease, but I think it’s more due to her seeing it so many times before that it’s not a surprise to her anymore. I truly do think that off-camera and in the future of the series beyond the show’s existence, these two will become a couple, if they aren’t already secretly.

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Kou is a fantastic character in not just New Game!, but anime in general. Despite what the average feminist or SJW may think about her character, I truly do look and Kou and think she’s not a subject of ecchi content and an endless supply of panty shots. She’s a real-life representation of a young woman who transcends the average girl who’s just supposed to look pretty and be a strong girl. She has those two things, but she’s also her own person, she’s a free-spirited girl who doesn’t shackle herself with what society expects from her. She’s living in a time where anything sexual is now suddenly offensive and yet she doesn’t care. While she doesn’t view herself as a sexual character, she does enjoy a kind of lifestyle that the idiots out there would look at as being overly sexual, when in reality she just thinks pants aren’t that comfortable and would rather not wear them.

Which I can get behind, jeans fucking suck!

Character Spotlight: Hifumi Takimoto

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Tomorrow the Anime Spotlight will be shined on my favourite anime of the summer season this year, New Game!, but since the Character Spotlight comes first, let’s talk about my favourite girl from that show and my favourite girl of the entire season: Hifumi.

Hifumi is a part of game developer, Eagle Jump’s character design team. And what makes her so great is her shyness, her absolute fear of directly talking to people and even making eye contact with them. So while she puts in the work, the only way to communicate with her, at least without turning her face bright red and causing smoke to rise from her head, is to message her over the company’s instant messaging system, which she is shockingly light-hearted and lively when speaking on there, lots of emotes being used.

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It’s when she’s at her shyest that Hifumi is at her best, I don’t know if there’s a character in anime that I’ve fallen in love with more due to her aversiveness and her immediate over-the-top reactions to being spoken too directly. Hell, the first time she smiles to main character Aoba, she tries to pay her off so she’ll forget what she saw. The pure ridiculousness of Hifumi’s shyness is what makes her so unique and so memorable, every moment she’s on screen, you take notice and you remember her, whether it’s her evasive nature, or her super adorability that you know she’s trying ever so hard to hide.

And then you mix that with her pet hedgehog, Soujirou and it just adds onto things. It’s so fitting that Hifumi’s pet is a cowardly hedgehog, who hides in a little cave in his cage whenever Hifumi tries to speak with him. They’re a match made in heaven. It’s when she talks about Soujirou though that we see a side of Hifumi she suppresses, where she’s very calm and sweet. But that’s not a side you’re going to see very often.

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On top of her adorable personality, Hifumi is still designed to be an extremely attractive girl. Depending on what you’re into, Hifumi’s either at the top of your list when it comes to the most attractive girls on the show, or she’s damn near close. She dresses very cute, her normal outfit is very nice, but the skirt really adds a sexy edge to her. Then you take into account her cosplaying and she also has that nerdy sexy vibe to her, though at least from what we see in the show, she’s not cosplaying in skimpy outfits, she leans towards more badass looking cosplays.

But in terms of her body, she’s arguably designed to be the hottest girl on the show and that’s saying something when Kou basically has the gimmick of not wanting to ever wear pants. But Hifumi’s designed to be super cute in the face and then super hot in terms of her body. She’s got one of the largest busts on the show and she’s really the only “sexy” girl of the entire cast to be in the bathhouse scene of the show. Kou isn’t there, Rin isn’t there, it’s Hifumi, Hajime (who’s designed as a tomboy, regardless of her large bust) and Aoba and Yun, who are both smaller girls. So in actuality, the focus in that scene is solely on Hifumi when you really think about it.

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As much as I loved girls like Kou, Rin, Umiko, Aoba and Hajime during the entire season of New Game!, Hifumi was the standout on that show and by a large margin, no one came close to her and that includes Kou, who I absolutely adore as well. That’s just how great a character Hifumi is, she’s impossible not to love. I can only hope more characters in future anime will follow her example, because as far as I see it, the best girl award at the end of the year is already decided and it may be a while before anyone takes Hifumi off her throne.

Character Spotlight: Nayu Hayama

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In a world where generally speaking the average anime girl would freak out (and then some) if anyone caught them holding a pair of underwear, let alone seeing them wearing underwear, you would think a show all about underwear would be an endless supply of slaps to the face, right?

But then you see the main character isn’t male and everything goes topsy turvy. Enter female main character, Nayu Hayama.

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Unlike the usual anime girls, Nayu has absolutely zero shame when it comes to underwear. With her older brother being a women’s underwear designer, she was exposed to various kinds of underwear at a young age, wearing underwear that you wouldn’t see girls wearing until at least high school, before she even became a teenager. So because of this, Nayu was looked at as an oddball by her classmates. Hell, some of them brought down the ‘indecent’ hammer on Nayu, because how dare she wear pretty underwear that isn’t just white panties with a ribbon on it or a teddy bear on the back!

It goes back to my old article about my own experiences in elementary school and how after years of wearing “tighty-whities”, that the norm suddenly changed and you’re looked down upon for not falling into that norm. Granted, my case is more of a not changing with the cultural norms whereas Nayu’s situation is more a shaking the foundations kind of change, I still feel for Nayu and the idiotic opinions that the girls had of her, which I truly do believe that in real life would’ve actually happened.

I’ve said it before, we especially here in North America have a real problem when it comes to sexuality and sexual content in media. Underwear is no exception to this, we almost try to hide the fact that we wear them sometimes. It’s funny when malls are littered with La Senzas and Victoria’s Secrets and other such sexy underwear stores, but there’s still that connotation of being ‘slutty’ if you wear a certain type of underwear. And this falls into Nayu’s situation in the anime, many other girls think she is just that, because she doesn’t come to school wearing plain old white bra and panties, she wears frilly underwear, striped underwear, skimpy underwear, all that jazz.

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What I really like about Nayu the most though, is her carefree attitude. She doesn’t allow the ‘norm’ in society to alter how she lives her life, she’s more than comfortable in the skin she’s in, even if that skin is considered by many to be tainted and impure. She wants to wear what she wants to wear and not only that, but she has no problem letting you know that this is how she is. It’s to the point that she begins the Underwear Club at her school, the main focus of the show’s plot and conflict. She doesn’t care that people will look at her differently because of it, this is what she wants to do, this is what she loves and this is what she believes in. She’s willing to take the consequences, believing that in the end, she’ll come out better for it.

And this goes beyond just talking about underwear, she goes above and beyond the course of duty. Granted, going up to a classmate she’d only just recently met and sticking her hands into this girl’s bra to show her how the girl’s current bra is too tight for her and why that is. Obviously the anime is going this route because what straight male wouldn’t be interested in watching high school girls groping each other, but putting that aside, let’s assume this is Nayu’s true persona and she has no real boundaries for this sort of thing. It’s not out of the question that she might be overstepping her bounds just a little bit.

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In the end though, I think beyond her very likely pervert side, Nayu’s genuinely trying to help all the girls out there, because she knows how important it is for girls to have underwear that is not just cute, but comfortable. Through her own experiences and through what she’s learned from her brother, she’s really just looking out for all her female classmates. That’s it, she’s not trying to turn them all into slutty girls, she’s not trying to get her hands down the pants of all the girls in her school, she’s just trying to help them.

She doesn’t do the best job of showing that by squeezing girls’ breasts all the time, but hey, no one’s perfect.

Character Spotlight: Vash the Stampede

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This might be a shorter article, specifically because there’s only a certain part of the entire Trigun series that I really enjoyed and that’s the goofier first half of the anime series. The more dark and serious half of Trigun was not my forte nearly as much. And that’s large in part due to the show’s main character, Vash the Stampede.

When the first episode kicked in and we see Vash for the first time looking all badass, it sets the stage for a massive twist when you see what really happened. Did the man with the 60 double-billion dollars bounty on his head once again wreak havoc on those who tried to assassinate him and claim the bounty? How did the Humanoid Typhoon do it? Did he blast them all away with one shot? Did he fire one headshot for each enemy in a matter of seconds? Nope! He aimed his gun, fired and realized he forgot to load the chamber and then freaked the fuck out anime-style and ran off screaming.

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While I still did enjoy the entire series, it’s this part of Vash that really drew me into Trigun. I was thinking when my friends first showed me the show it was going to be some super serious Western anime (I was half-right in the end), but the moment that facial expression showed up on Vash’s face, along with that “GAH?!” he screams out, I was sold on the show. In anime form, I prefer comedy over drama because it suits anime so much better, at least in my opinion. So between super serious Vash and super goofy Vash, there’s no contest between the two, it’s super goofy Vash all the way.

I mean, what isn’t there to love about the guy? He is the most passive, unserious person in the world. Even when faced with death, he acts like it’s like it’s nothing. To be fair, he acts the way he does in attempt to hide his true identity from people, but there’s gotta be some part of his personality that’s actually like that. It’s just so hilarious to watch him and his shenanigans, whether it’s being a lecherous guy trying to peep on pretty girls and such, his over-the-top love of doughnuts, or just his fighting tactics in general, like messing with a grunt soldier by having him shoot a picture of himself in the rocks.

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His objective of not killing anyone also opens the door for so many more silly and ridiculous possibilities for how he manages to get out of all the sticky situations he’s in, whether it’s whipping a pistol yards away to drill a soldier, trying to pretend he’s a fellow soldier by somehow hiding behind an unconscious soldier he’s propping up around, or simply pointing his finger from under his trenchcoat to make it seem like he’s got a gun pointed right at his enemies. It makes every moment with Vash unpredictable, you never know what you’re going to get with him.

I’d talk more about Vash where it’s about the more serious side, but truth be told I don’t recall that much about it, I’ve pretty much set aside that part of Vash’s history. Once the goofy stuff started to fade away in the anime, I remember less and less of the show. Even through re-reading the plot of the anime version of the series, I completely forgot about characters like Rem and Wolfwood, amongst others. My core memories of Trigun lie with Vash, Meryl and Milly and the various characters they come across in the more comedy-based sections of the anime. So I feel like talking about the more dark, depressing and lonely side of Vash really wouldn’t add much, because I’m not an expert on it.

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It’s not to say that part of his character isn’t important though, from all accounts from my friends who loved the entire series, they all think he’s a very well-developed character with a real troubled past and many different sides to his character because of all the things that have happened to him over the years. It just a matter of preference for me, I really like the comedic side of Vash and didn’t make much of an effort to recall the more lonely, dark side of him.

He’s still a fantastic character though and I wouldn’t trade anything away when it comes to him. Because of the first half of the anime being as goofy as it was, he remains one of my favourite male characters in anime. I love his design with the hair, glasses and trenchcoat, his flamboyant over-the-top personality is so goddamn funny and he’s just overall a person you can’t take your eyes off of, he’s just so interesting.

And come on, how can you not be interested in a character with a crazy laugh like Vash has?

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Character Spotlight: Cayde-6

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I’m a huge Destiny player. So in honour of the new Rise of Iron expansion that just came out on Tuesday, I thought it’d be a great idea to gush about my favourite character in the series thus far, Cayde-6.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Cayde-6 is an Exo, a race of humanoid machines. He’s also the Hunter Vanguard, aka the leader of all Hunters in the game and the person you go to for quests and gear after completing them. But what makes this robotic being so goddamn special? Two words:

Nathan fucking Fillion.

Okay okay okay, that was three words, I know, but come on! It’s Nathan Fillion! How is that not awesome?! It’s like having Nolan North or Peter Dinklage as your Ghost, or as my personal favourites, Shohreh Aghdashloo (Shala’Raan in Mass Effect) as Lakshmi-2 and Crispin Freeman (Alucard in Hellsing) as the Awoken Male. They’re awesome voices and they’re a part of a badass MMO shooter! How could you not be ecstatic about that?!

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Unfortunately in the early stages of Destiny, Cayde-6 and the majority of characters that aren’t you don’t really get any screen time. They all have lines of dialogue but they’re more limited to just background chatter. Unless you’re Peter Dinklage as your Ghost getting the majority of screen time, or the odd scene with The Speaker (played by Bill Nighy), pretty much all the minor characters that you see at the Tower, they don’t say much.

It wasn’t until The Taken King expansion that we really saw the true colours of these characters, in particular Cayde-6. I don’t know if these lines were recorded before the game came out, but if they weren’t, it feels like Nathan Fillion walked into that sound booth with a chip on his shoulder and intended to blow his sections out of the water. Every single scene, every single line of dialogue is spoken with full-on Nathan Fillion sarcasm and that smug attitude he’s known so well for in Firefly and Castle. There’s a certain line that he’ll echo over the Tower PA that really gets the gist of the Cayde-6 character:

“Hello, this is Cayde-6 of the Vanguard. I realize that this is an abuse of the Tower PA, but whoever took my Sparrow (vehicle), I will find you. And you’ll wear a sign that says you stole…n-never mind. It’s right here. Sorry.”

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I could go on and on about how much I love Cayde-6, but I’ll limit myself to this final bit. Cayde-6 is a fantastic example of what happens when you take a side character and pair him with a voice so perfect for his character that it turns the character from a side character, to a marquee character in the minds of the players. Nathan Fillion absolutely crushes the rest of the voice cast, in particular during The Taken King when he has the screen time to do so. The majority of Destiny players will agree that there is no better character in the entire game that Cayde-6 and it’s not even a close game between him and whatever character is in second place below him.

Character Spotlight: Seishirou Tsugumi

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I don’t know how the core audiences in Japan are when it comes to anime and the various cliches and plot devices that are used in various shows. But I feel like if there’s any cliche in anime that I don’t understand how it gets drawn up like it will totally fool people, it’s female characters that are first introduced as a “boy”. They’re dressed like a boy, they “act” like a boy, they “talk” like a boy and they “look” like a…okay, no. Anime, I don’t know how dumb you think your audience is, but in my case specifically, I haven’t fallen for this once. I can call these cliche characters a mile away.

Not that it matters too much, because I love those girls. I always have. And recently, I got exposed to one of my new favourites, Seishirou Tsugumi from Nisekoi.

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Pretty boy? Check. That’s the first giveaway for a female character in a male disguise. Feminine voice? Check. That’s the biggest giveaway, something I don’t get why anime doesn’t try and have a masculine voice in the early going at the very least put me off the trail.

In the early going, Seishirou comes to us as a hitman from the Bee Hive Gang, the mafia that Chitoge is the next in line to be the head of. “He” is overly protective of Chitoge, as “he” promised Chitoge that “he” would protect her and is under orders to do so, the belief that main character Raku has Chitoge forced into a relationship with him.

But as all romantic comedy harems go in anime, when there’s a boy challenging the main character, there’s only one possible outcome…

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Turns out to be not only a girl, but a girl with the largest breasts on the show? Ding ding ding! All the checks! Upon the shocking revelation that Seishirou is actually a woman, this is when the show is at its best. I actually believe that the addition of Marika and even Paula and Haru overdid it when the idea of Chitoge vs Kosaki was already in full swing. Having Seishirou into the mix at least had one person (without a key) on the outside looking in, so there was that extra piece in there. Not only that, but Seishirou finished the triangle of characters, Kosaki the sweet, shy girl, Chitoge the violent tsundere and Seishirou as the secret tomboy. For me, that’s all I could ever want from a harem anime.

Because upon the addition of Seishirou into the mix of the harem already being heavily fought between Kosaki and Chitoge, the story had a chance to separate people at random now, instead of it being forced like Raku and Chitoge constantly were in the early going. With Seishirou, her flippant multiple personality breakouts could happen at any moment and pull Chitoge out of there so Kosaki and Raku are alone, or by pulling Raku away from Chitoge, now Seishirou’s alone with Raku. And as the anime shows us, at least in my opinion, those are the best moments.

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The initial scene where Seishirou’s true gender is revealed (in the most shocking fashion *sarcasm*) is really good from the standpoint of being from a minor ecchi harem anime. After a duel where Raku surely would’ve died, he manages to somehow knock Boy Seishirou unconscious by jumping into a pool (that part doesn’t make as much sense, but whatever) that’s conveniently placed not far from a classroom window so no one suffers broken legs. Upon fleeing into the boy’s changeroom with the unconscious Seishirou, Raku decides that undressing the boy is the best option now, so he doesn’t get a cold. Of course, upon taking his pants off and undoing his shirt…something is amiss! To make matters worse, not only has SHE woken up and is about to freak the fuck out, everyone looking for him is about to enter the changeroom so Raku grabs her and they hide in a locker, that must be double the size in terms of width to any locker I’ve ever seen. While in hiding, Seishirou completely removes that badass male attitude she had earlier and goes full-blown embarrassed and humiliated young girl. To cap off the scene, Raku calls her cute and that completely throws off Seishirou, fully completely her transformation into an adorable young lady.

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Anything Seishirou does from that moment onward is incredibly adorable. Regardless of the fact that she tries so hard to get back her tough guy image that she sort of had going in, it’s immediately destroyed any time Raku says anything remotely classified as nice to her. She drops her entire badass attitude and starts blushing madly and denying everything under the sun. The longer the anime goes on too, the more we see of her in a more girlish light, we see her wearing cuter clothes, we see her liking cute things, we see her being herself, the part of herself that she kept hidden for so long because she had to keep her image as the best hitman in the Bee Hive Gang as prevalent as possible. No one was to know that she was a woman, so naturally the main character had to be the one to literally strip her down to her true self.

And I’m more than happy that he did, because it gave me one of my favourite female characters in quite some time.

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