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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!

Anime Spotlight: New Game!

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There were a lot of really good shows this past summer season. You had a few close to the #1 spot in Sweetness & Lightning, Amanchu!, Alderamin on the Sky, and Tales of Zestiria The X. But at the end, there was no doubt. The best show from the summer season was without question, New Game!

I was really curious about this show when I was watching the previews. It was one of five shows that got a 4/5 rating in the previews, one of three shows to survive till the very end of the season and the only one to crack the top 5 at the end of the season. In fact, taking all the top 5 shows into account, it’s the show I rated the highest going into the start of the season. So it’s really saying something for the show to not only pique my curiosity, but also follow through when the show actually aired. A lot of shows in this season fell way under my expectations, while this was the lone show that not only reinforced what I had expected from the show, but still exceeded them as well.

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New Game! is a slice of life comedy featuring the ridiculous concept of a high-profile video game developer being a company only inhabited by not only girls, but girls under the age of 30. The realities of getting a job in the game industry aside, the show doesn’t hide what it is, it’s a moe anime featuring a ton of young girls that end up in various ecchi situations throughout the show (though not quite the levels of harem anime) and they all happen to be game designers. You’re pretty much getting your standard ecchi moe anime, just with the added bonus of getting a surprisingly realistic representation of the process of designing and producing a video game.

The realism of the process is actually an extra draw for me, I loved how much attention to detail was spent with this. Obviously it’s no secret that a lot of people working in the game industry end up pulling all-nighters, especially during crunch times. But what the show also does is not half-ass on things like showing programming code, showing the detailed bug reports that happen during QA testing and more basic stuff, like the programs being used in development, producing demos and trailers, going to promotional events and even being at the stores on release day to watch people excited to buy what they created. It’s actually really cool watching though moments in the show, you feel by the end of the series that you have a better sense of what it’s like working for game developer, regardless of the absurdities that the show also contains.

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The wide cast of characters really sells the series though. There really isn’t a single character on that show I hate (though Nene could’ve used just a slight change to her character, she can be annoying at times), all of them are not only enjoyable characters, but unique in various ways. You have Aoba who’s your classic proper Japanese girl, Hajime who’s a tomboy and loves collecting figures and props, Yun who’s a more gothic otaku girl, Hifumi (best girl) who’s extremely shy and aversive, Kou who’s super casual and doesn’t wear pants if she can get away with it, Rin who’s very dependable and almost like a motherly figure to the group, Shizuru who’s a bit of a slacker and a personal space invader, Umiko who’s scary and collects weapons and Nene is extremely childish and hyper.

All the girls have something different to offer, they’re all uniquely designed and while there’s no way they should be able to mesh together cohesively, over the entire show, there’s never really a time where it feels like anything is forced, there’s no classic “they learn to co-exist” story arc or anything like that, they just work together. Because they’re professionals, they’re at work, they ensure that they’ll work together, regardless of whether their personalities mix or not.

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Because I have no shame in admitting it though, a large part of why the show really stuck with me too, was all the great ecchi content the show has as well. It’s not like the show is going around having girls grabbing each other’s breasts or teasing make out sessions, or being caught naked or undressing, or any other classic moments that harem anime loves to do, but the show also doesn’t hide the fact that these are normal girls and sometimes girls change their clothes, take showers, go to a bathhouse together or in Kou’s specific case, enjoy walking around without pants on when she’s alone.

It’s why if not for Hifumi being the best girl ever in anime, Kou would’ve been the easy runaway favourite the entire season. She comes off so real, not an over-exaggeration of any cliched anime character. I live with two friends right now and I’m planning on moving into my own apartment next year, you know what I honestly cannot wait to be able to do when I move out? Walk around my apartment however I’d like to. Especially in the summer time when it’s hot outside, I want to wear the least I can so I can stay cool and comfortable. So I can sympathize with Kou, I cannot wait to be able to walk around in my apartment without jeans or shorts on. It really is liberating and it is very comfortable, you should try it sometime.

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The show is chalk full of great ecchi moments, obviously the most memorable being the scene pictured above. To those unfamiliar with what’s going on here, no Rin is not raping Kou. Actually, given how their relationship goes over the course of the anime, it’s not out of the question to think that maybe in the future these two actually become a couple. But what actually is happening is that Kou stays overnight at the studio a lot and because most of the time she’s also alone, she has a habit of working in her panties when this happens. Rin thinks it’s very unladylike of her doing this, but Kou tells her to try it sometime. So when one night both of them stay over, Rin wakes up early that morning, seeing the pantsless Kou again with the blanket off of her. But Rin out of curiosity decides to try Kou’s strategy as well and takes her pants off and notes that it really does feel liberating. However, Kou wakes up and teases her about this and Aoba has shown up early to work. So instead of rushing back to her sleeping bag and putting her pants on underneath, she tries to shut Kou up, while on top of her. So naturally what we see in the picture is what Aoba walks into. That’s just one great example of good ecchi done in New Game!

Another fantastic example is through the company’s medical checkup where we see the girls changing into their gowns, something that would normally happen. Then there’s a point where they get their waists measured and everyone takes a moment to marvel at Hajime’s well-toned stomach, including Yun getting a little too close. There’s also the main four girls taking a late night trip to the bathhouse together and Aoba coming out of nowhere, looking sexy as fuck!

And that’s what I like about New Game!, yes there is a lot of ecchi content, but in actuality, how much of it happens through ridiculous, unrealistic means like harem animes are common for? The majority of ecchi takes place through normal, everyday things, like undressing, showering, bathing and a somewhat rare but plausible occurrence in a girl like Kou enjoying walking around without pants on. It’s arguable that the only slightly over-the-top moment was the Kou/Rin scene pictured above, that’s about it. Everything else is normal, it’s not forced.

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New Game! is a great show, I don’t care what anyone says about the ridiculousness of its concept, it’s ecchi, or whatever else they have a problem with the show. I enjoyed it for its humour, its variety of characters and yes, its ecchi.

I’m into what I’m into, deal with it.

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.