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Tatsuhiro Sato has been shut inside his Tokyo apartment for four years. Unable to function in social environments he had to drop out of university and isn’t capable of getting a job, instead being reduced to becoming a hikikimori forced to live off an allowance provided by his parents. Things start to look up for him when a strange girl named Misaki Nakahara suddenly takes an interest in him and wants to help him make his life better, even if he insists there’s nothing wrong. Sato also discovers that an old classmate from high school, Kaoru Yamazaki, has been living in the apartment next to his for quite some time, and the two are determined to finish their hentai game and prove to Misaki that Sato isn’t a hikikimori, he’s just too busy working to leave his apartment. Now if only he could stop jerking it long enough to actually get some work done. I know the premise of the series makes it seem kind of... okay, really weird, but rest assured that the series is much better than what can be expressed in a simple plot synopsis. Yamazaki first comes off as an annoying otaku obsessed with virtual girls. He frequently rants about how real girls are just vile and manipulative trash while girls from his anime and games would never do anything to hurt him. At first this just seems like him taking out his aggression caused by a girl who rejects him, but his problem goes deeper than that, to his childhood when he felt he was deeply betrayed by a girl who had lied to him. He’s a very interesting and well thought out character. When Misaki first appears she seems like an angel sent down to help Sato overcome his problems. She devotes all her time to him, accepting all of his flaws, and wanting nothing more than to help him get better. She seems like some perfect dream girl, until that entire view of her is deconstructed. Misaki is rife with her own problems, all centered around her poor self image caused by things that happened to her when she was a child. All her life she’s seen herself as nothing but a nuisance, bringing misfortune to everyone around her. This is what causes her to seek out Sato, someone who is more worthless than she sees herself. She starts out seeming like a cliché archetype, but soon becomes a much deeper character that you really start to sympathize for. Sato is completely unable to interact with people. His social anxieties make him feel like everyone is looking down on him and making fun of him. This leaves him unable to trust anyone, even Misaki who wants to help and support him. Throughout the story we’re exposed to Sato’s insecurities and troubles, and how he manages to eventually overcome them. He’s an excellent lead character for a series that focuses on the lives and problems of people. An excellent lead... who really likes porn. While the series does go through the depressing lives of depressing individuals, with some particularly dramatic and emotional moments towards the end, it’s still mired in comedy. So if a show being super depressing is something you don’t really care for, you don’t have to worry. There are plenty of silly moments and often the characters’ problems get played in a humorous light, which is good because if the series was just depressing the entire time it would most definitely be difficult to get through. Those moments of hilarity are really needed to make you realize, “Hey, they may all be horribly depressed, but at least we can still laugh about it.” There’s a good balance between the two so that the comedy never really steals the show, it’s still about these people learning to cope with their problems and learning to lead normal lives. It’s really a great story about a man coming to terms with his life and finally learning to be happy. While the characters and story of the series are exceptional, the animation is another thing altogether. For the first episode the animation quality is generally good, unfortunately in the rest of the episodes it tends to vary wildly. Things can look great during one scene, and then all of a sudden characters are animated with so little detail that they’re barely recognizable, with some shots having the characters look like nothing more than multi-coloured, human shaped blobs. The lowest point comes later in the series where I honestly had to wonder if maybe they were doing this for a reason and I just wasn’t getting it, I really couldn’t believe they’d let something that bad end up in the show. It’s kind of a shame really, a show as well written as this one would have been phenomenal if the animation could have been consistently good, but if you’re willing to look past it’s still a great series. When I first started watching the series, I noticed that the music was excellent, and for the more dramatic scenes in particular it fit really well, really making the scenes come alive and feel more emotional. Even for the comedic scenes they have decent light hearted music to accompany them and it makes them all the more enjoyable. Unfortunately as I continued watching I realized I was hearing the same songs over and over again. Every dramatic scene had that same guitar track; every faux action scene had that same piano track. While the music is excellent, it would have been nice if there had been more variety in it. Even so, a handful of great memorable tracks is better than a large number of mediocre forgettable tracks. The dub for the series is fairly well done, though much of the cast consists of voices you’ve likely heard dozens of times before. Chris Patton and Greg Ayres play Sato and Yamazaki respectively. Both give great performances, and Greg Ayres in particular seems well suited to play the role of an otaku. The much less commonly heard Stephanie Wittels plays the role of Misaki, and hearing a voice I hadn’t heard before was somewhat refreshing, and as a bonus she fits the character really well. The overall quality is good, and if you’re someone who likes swearing in their shows then you’ll be glad to know the dub drops numerous f-bombs throughout the series. Strangely, there was next to nothing as far as extras are concerned on these DVDs. The only things they have are textless opening and closing themes, and a few trailers. It’s also worth mentioning that they have by far the most bare bones menus I’ve seen on a DVD. Each one consists of a list of episodes, textless opening and closing themes, and trailers. There’s no multi-screen menu like most DVDs have. I highly recommend watching this series. While it does have a few flaws, it’s still an excellent story with great, well written characters. It’s definitely a must see, and if you’re looking for comedy or drama then you certainly won’t be disappointed. <iframe align="left" frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src=";o=1&amp;p=8&amp;l=bpl&amp;asins=B002BWD73W&amp;fc1=D5D3D3&amp;IS2=1&amp;lt1=_blank&amp;m=amazon&amp;lc1=0000FF&amp;bc1=000000&amp;bg1=060606&amp;f=ifr" style="height: 245px; padding-right: 10px; padding-top: 5px; width: 131px;"></iframe>
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