The Eminence in Shadow: Shadow Gaiden Manga Ends – News

Spinoff manga launched in 2022

Image via Amazon Japan

The November issue of Kadokawa‘s Comp Ace magazine published the final chapter of the Kage no Jitsuryokusha ni Naritakute! Shadow Gaiden (The Eminence in Shadow – Shadow Side Story) manga by Seta U on Tuesday. The sixth volume will ship on October 26.

The spinoff manga is based on Daisuke Aizawa‘s The Eminence in Shadow (Kage no Jitsuryokusha ni Naritakute!) light novels. Seta U launched the manga in the magazine in July 2019.

Aizawa began serializing the story on the “Shōsetsuka ni Narō” (Let’s Become Novelists) website in May 2018. Kadokawa published the fifth volume in December. Yen Press publishes the series in English and released the fourth volume in June 2022.

Yen Press describes the story:

Shadowbrokers are those who go unnoticed, posing as unremarkable people, when in truth, they control everything from behind the scenes. Sid wants to be someone just like that more than anything, and something as insignificant as boring reality isn’t going to get in his way! He trains in secret every single night, preparing for his eventual rise to power—only to denied his destiny by a run-of-the-mill (yet deadly) traffic accident. But when he wakes up in a another world and suddenly finds himself at the head of an actual secret organization doing battle with evil in the shadows, he’ll finally get a chance to act out all of his delusional fantasies!

The light novels inspired a separate manga adaptation by Anri Sakano that launched in Comp Ace in December 2018. Kadokawa shipped volume 11 in May. Yen Press also publishes the manga in English. Volume 8 ships in English on November 21.

The series has been adapted into an anime, with the first season premiering in October 2022. Season 2 will premiere on October 4.

Source: Comp Ace November issue

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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Blue Exorcist Manga Takes 1-Month Break After Author Gets COVID-19 – News

Image via Blue Exorcist’s Twitter account

The official Twitter account of Kazue Katō‘s Blue Exorcist manga announced on Wednesday that the series will take a break for a month as the artist recovers from COVID-19. The manga will return in the December issue of Shueisha‘s Jump SQ. magazine.

Katō added that a planned autograph signing would be also be delayed until January.

Katō launched the manga in Jump SQ. in 2009. The manga went on hiatus in July 2021, and resumed in May 2022. The series also went on hiatus in January and resumed in May 2023. The manga’s 29th volume shipped on July 4.

Viz Media is releasing the manga in English, and it describes the story:

Raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist, Rin Okumura never knew his real father. One day a fateful argument with Father Fujimoto forces Rin to face a terrible truth—the blood of the demon lord Satan runs in Rin’s veins! Rin swears to defeat Satan, but doing that means entering the mysterious True Cross Academy and becoming an exorcist himself. Can Rin fight demons and keep his infernal bloodline a secret? It won’t be easy, especially when drawing his father’s sword releases the demonic power within him!

The manga inspired a 25-episode television anime series in 2011, and the Blue Exorcist: Kuro Runs Away From Home OAV also premiered in 2011. The Blue Exorcist movie then premiered in Japan in December 2012. The Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga television anime premiered in 2017 and aired for 12 episodes.

The franchise announced in December that the manga will get a new television anime series, titled Blue Exorcist: Shimane Illuminati Saga, which will release in 2024.

The franchise also includes several novels and a series of stage plays.

Sources: Kazue Katō‘s Twitter account, Blue Exorcist‘s Twitter account

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The Misfit of Demon King Academy Season 2’s 2nd Half to Air in 2024 – News

The official Twitter account for The Misfit of Demon King Academy anime announced on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday that the second cours (quarter of the year) of season 2 will debut in 2024. The account shared a teaser visual with the announcement.

The new season is airing in split cours , the first of which premiered on January 7. Episodes 7 and beyond of the anime were delayed due to the impact of the increase in COVID-19 infections on its production schedule. The anime began airing the first six episodes again starting on February 18, and again in July. Crunchyroll began streaming the English dub of the anime season on February 27.

Shin Oonuma (Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, A Sister’s All You Need) returns as the chief director for the anime, and Masafumi Tamura (Two Car, Wise Man’s Grandchild) returns as the director. SILVER LINK once again produces the animation. Kazuyuki Yamayoshi (Chaos;Child) again adapts Yoshinori Shizuma‘s original character designs for animation. Jin Tanaka (Laid-Back Camp) is again in charge of series scripts. Ryousuke Naya serves as the sound director, and Keiji Inai returns to compose the music

The anime’s first season premiered in July 2020. Crunchyroll streamed the anime as it aired in Japan.

The anime is based on Shu‘s The Misfit of Demon King Academy: History’s Strongest Demon King Reincarnates and Goes to School with His Descendants (Maō Gakuin no Futekigōsha ~Shijō Saikyō no Maō no Shiso, Tensei Shite Shison-tachi no Gakkō e Kayō) light novel series.

Shu launched the novel series on the Shōsetsu ni Narō website in April 2017.

The series inspired a manga adaptation, which was cancelled in 2021 due to the artist’s health complications.

Source: The Misfit of Demon King Academy‘s Twitter account via Otakomu

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Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Part 3 – The Conflict’s Promo Video Reveals 2024 Release – News

Part 2 of anime aired in July

Viz Media unveiled a promotional video, a new key visual, and the 2024 release date for Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Part 3 – The Conflict on Saturday. The key visual features Ishida in his Quincy outfit.

Image via Viz Media’s Twitter

The anime’s second cours (quarter of the year) premiered in the United States on Hulu, Latin America on Star+, and in select other countries internationally on Disney+ on July 8.

The anime’s first cours ended in December with a one-hour special that combined the anime’s 12th and 13th episodes. The anime will run for four cours with breaks in between.

The show premiered in October 2022 in Japan on TV Tokyo and its affiliates, and is streaming on 20+ services in Japan, including Hulu and Disney+. Viz Media began streaming the anime on Hulu in the U.S. later that month. The English dub of the anime premiered on Hulu on November 4. The anime is streaming on Disney+ internationally, and Ani-One Asia is streaming the series in many Asian countries.

The anime covers the rest of the original manga up through its ending. The Thousand Year Blood War arc is the final arc of the manga, and covers volumes 55-74.

Kubo launched Bleach in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2001, and ended it in August 2016. Viz Media published the manga in North America digitally in English as Shueisha published new chapters in Japan. Viz Media also published the manga in print. The manga has 130 million copies in circulation.

The manga inspired a television anime adaptation that ran for 366 episodes from 2004 to 2012. Viz Media obtained the television and home video rights to the anime in 2006. The series premiered with an English dub in Cartoon Network‘s Adult Swim that same year, and eventually aired all the episodes by 2014. Crunchyroll and Tubi TV are no longer streaming the original series, but Hulu is streaming the series.

The anime franchise also includes four films and two OVAs. Additionally, the franchise has also inspired video games, novels, stage plays, and a live-action film that opened in July 2018.

Source: Viz Media‘s YouTube account

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Japanese Animation TV Ranking, September 18-24 – News

The Detective Conan: The Darkest Nightmare film aired on NTV on Friday, September 22 at 9:00 p.m. and earned an 8.3% rating.

Title Station Date Time Length Average
Household Rating
Sazae-san Fuji TV September 24 (Sun) 18:30 30 min.
Detective Conan NTV September 23 (Sat) 18:00 30 min.
Chibi Maruko-chan Fuji TV September 24 (Sun) 18:00 30 min.
One Piece Fuji TV September 24 (Sun) 09:30 30 min.
Doraemon TV Asahi September 23 (Sat) 17:00 30 min.
MIX Season 2 NTV September 23 (Sat) 17:30 30 min.
Soaring Sky! Pretty Cure TV Asahi September 24 (Sun) 08:30 30 min.
Crayon Shin-chan TV Asahi September 23 (Sat) 16:30 30 min.
Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 TBS September 21 (Thu) 00:01 30 min.
Oshiri Tantei NHK-E September 23 (Sat) 09:00 20 min.
Animated O-saru no George (Curious George) NHK-E September 23 (Sat) 08:35 25 min.
Gigantosaurus Season 2 NHK-E September 23 (Sat) 08:10 25 min.

The television ratings above are an estimate of the percentage of the population that watch a given program, based on data from a survey of households in Japan’s Kanto region. The ratings do not count recordings that viewers watch later.

Source: Video Research (Kanto region)

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Cosplay Gallery Day 2 – Tokyo Game Show 2023

The games have been played, the news has been announced, and the cosplayers enjoyed one more day of cosplaying at the Tokyo Game Show 2023. Are there some familiar faces? Sure. But why settle for dressing up as one character for two days? Or hanging with the same group for two days. Here’s a highlight of the great cosplay we saw on day two of the Tokyo Game Show 2023.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Leon Kennedy and Jill Valentine from the Resident Evil series. Cosplayer (left to right): Wolvie and Roise.

Ken Iikura-Gross

TakemichiHanagaki from Tokyo Revengers. Cosplayer: You.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Princess Daisy and Frye from the Super Mario series and Splatoon 3. Cosplayer (left to right): limone and NemuEimi.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Wario from the Super Mario series. Cosplayer: Nakadai.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Hunter in Stygian Zin Beta+ armor Felyne in Slagoth armor, and Hunter in Odogaron Beta armor from the Monster Hunter series. Cosplayer (left to right): Kazuha, Ayame, and Ichigo.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Lacus Clyne from Mobile Suit Gundam: SEED. Cosplayer: Arisun.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Murrue Ramius and Natarle Badgirel from Mobile Suit Gundam: SEED. Cosplayer (left to right): Aruma and Kasumi.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Minato Namikaze from Naruto. Cosplayer: Kagami.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Miku and Ulala from Space Channel 5. Cosplayer (left to right): Aoi and Ryo Haruma.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Link from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Cosplayer: Bakenuko.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Skull Kid from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Cosplayer: Toyo.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Jeanne d’Arc Alter from Fate/Grand Order. Cosplayer: Ren Ueno.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Bradamante from Fate/Grand Order. Cosplayer: Komo.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Chun Li, Ryu, and Blanka from Street Fighter 6. Cosplayer (left to right): Meiko, Anonymous, and Josui Chiba.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Cammy from the Street Fighter series. Cosplayer: Soshi.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Son Goku from Dragon Ball Z. Cosplayer: Anko Sakura.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Perona and “Red-Haired” Shanks from One Piece. Cosplayer (left to right): RUNA and MASA.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Sir Crocodile and “White Chase” Smoker from One Piece. Cosplayer (left to right): Ray and Soma.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Aloy from Horizon Forbidden West. Cosplayer: sck.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Yi Sang, Ishmael, and Ryoshu from Limbus Company. Cosplayer (left to right): Shikura, Medaka Samura, and Sana Mizuki.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Aerith Gainsborough, Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, and Yuffie Kisaragi from Final Fantasy VII Remake. Cosplayer (left to right): Michiru, Monet, Chika, and Chan.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII Remake. Cosplayer: Miya Shirogane.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Celes Chere from Final Fantasy VI. Cosplayer: Hisawa Midori.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Malboro from the Final Fantasy series. Cosplayer: DATIWAWA.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Athena Cykes and Miles Edgeworth from the Ace Attorney series. Cosplayer (left to right): Tomehi and Coyochi.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Baran from Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai. Cosplayer: Yahiro.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: 9S and 2B from NieR:Automata. Cosplayer (left to right): Chin Ryu and Fuco.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Xiangling from Genshin Impact. Cosplayer: Rei TouUdon.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Tingyun from Honkai: Star Rail. Cosplayer: Misako Yagi.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Big Boss (Snake) from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Maker. Cosplayer: Potato Masher.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Lupin III from Lupin the Third. Cosplayer: Anonymous.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Rika from Pokémon Violet/Scarlet. Cosplayer: KazukiIsshiki.

Ken Iikura-Gross

MisuzuKamino from Air. Cosplayer: Anonymous.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Roll Caskett from the Mega Man Legends series. Cosplayer: Raitaros.

Ken Iikura-Gross

KatsukiBakugo from My Hero Academia. Cosplayer: Mike NekoKyoju.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Lilith Aensland and Morrigan Aensland from the Darkstalkers series. Cosplayer (left to right): Kamuko and Yuna.

Ken Iikura-Gross

Left to right: Kazuma Kiryu, Taiga Saejima, GoroMajima, and Kazuma Kiryu from the Like a Dragon (formerly Yakuza) series. Cosplayer (left to right): Zukki, Gun-KYO, Parakin, and Syo.

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Marvel Future Avengers Season 2 Anime Streams on Marvel HQ YouTube Channel – News

Anime based on Marvel comic book superheroes premiered in Japan in July 2017

Marvel HQ’s official YouTube channel began streaming the first episode of the Marvel’s Future Adventures anime on Tuesday. The channel will stream episodes of the anime every Tuesday. All 39 episodes will be available on the channel by summer 2024.

Marvel Future Avengers is a television anime based on the Marvel comic book superheroes. The first season premiered on Dlife in Japan in July 2017. The anime’s second season debuted in July 2018, and it focused on the Inhumans. Disney+ began streaming the first season of the anime in February 2020. Disney+ began streaming Marvel Future Avengers Season 2 in May 2020.

The anime aired with an English dub by Studiopolis on Disney XD in Southeast Asia.

The anime follows Makoto, a young boy who gains superpowers due to an evil gene manipulation experiment by Hydra. Makoto and other youths join the Avengers as apprentices named “Future Avengers.” The anime shows Makoto and others as they train, fight villains, and grow — all under Avengers members Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, and Wasp.

Yuzo Sato (Iron Man, Gokusen, Kaiji) directed both seasons of the anime at the Studio Madhouse, and Japanese writer Ryuu King (Dragon Ball Super scripts, Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers) was in charge of the series scripts. Takahiro Umehara (Iron Man, Beyblade, Claymore) designed the characters.

Teruaki Mizuno (Kyōryū Taisen Dinobout, Metallica Metalluca) drew a manga version that debuted in Shogakukan‘s Bessatsu Coro Coro Comics Special magazine in February 2017.

Source: Press release

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Episode 13 – Undead Murder Farce

Now that was a finale! As if in response to my misgivings last week, Undead Murder Farce closes out the season with action, deduction, and enough last-minute twists to tie a lovely and blood-red knot on the series. The adaptation dials its strengths back up to eleven, with Mamoru Hatakeyama returning to storyboard the heck out of this conclusion, and the werewolf arc ends on a surprisingly uplifting note for the major players involved (if you ignore all the ones who were killed). It’s an ending befitting of ANN’s nearly unanimous favorite from the summer docket.

Before we get to Aya’s lengthy explanation of the evidence, Murderface (look, I had to call the show that at least once before I wrap up these reviews) treats us to a handful of fun fight scenes. Depending on your preferences, this might feel like eating dessert before dinner. To me, however, this whole episode feels like dessert. Kyle’s demise arrives quickly, but it’s difficult to complain when the finishing blow involves Frankenstein ripping off his arm so he can use it as a ranged weapon. Maybe we could have gotten more visual mileage out of Kyle’s chain technique in a perfect world. I’m also sad to see Alice shot down in her prime. Her projectile-based matchup with Crowley made sense, though, so at least this spunky gunslinger goes down with her pistols drawn.

The true highlight of this opening salvo is Shizuku’s rematch against Carmilla, where the direction and storyboarding go hog wild. Creative paneling and negative space make the most out of limited animation. The glowing red effect pops out of the screen and matches Carmilla’s lips against the blood drawn from Shizuku’s thigh. And when her poison takes hold, the scene turns psychedelically sapphic as the reams of colored cloth coalesce into a kaleidoscope of rainbows and nude women. It’s a perfect example of this adaptation embracing extravagance and often doing so in polarizing extremes. For instance, this scene becomes a gorgeous and intoxicating expression of the eroticism inherent in their conflict. Still, the first thirty seconds of the episode also feature the triumphant return of the garish pixelated chroma key effect. Both, to me, are indelible facets of Undead Murder Farce‘s style.

Once Aya gets talking, the show shifts gears back into detective mode, although the presentation remains just as delightfully ostentatious. Without breaking down every single clue, I’d say overall, the murder mystery comes together in a satisfying fashion. I was glad to see my Jutte = Louise = Nora theory confirmed, although I’d wager that was the most obvious part of this picture. One detail I liked—and didn’t even think about—was how the two villages’ opposing diurnal/nocturnal schedules aided in Jutte’s deception. While it doesn’t take into account the unconscionable amount of sleep debt she must have accrued; it exhibits the degree of convoluted cleverness I want from a story like this. I similarly award points to the presence (or lack thereof) of the underground moth scales, which is another smoking gun I would have never considered.

While Aya correctly fingers (to the extent that a disembodied head can) the culprit in front of both sets of villagers, she falls just short of finding Jutte’s true motive. That revelation ended up elevating this entire arc for me. Like Aya, I had assumed Jutte’s plan was stoking a war of vengeance that would wipe out both sides, but her ambitions were instead emancipatory. She rebels against Wolphinhel’s obsession with creating a lupine Übermensch, and more broadly, she rejects the whole binary supposition that she must side with one village or the other. She chooses instead to side with the other werewolf girls trapped within Wolphinhel’s regressive ambitions, and she gifts them (and herself) a chance to forge a life unbound elsewhere. It made me do a total 180 on Jutte. I wish we got more closure regarding the other girls left in the village, and I would have liked even more perspective on Louise’s role in aiding and abetting Jutte’s plot. Did Louise do so only to atone for what she did to Jutte, or did her own experiences lead her to sympathize with the girls in Wolphinhel? Her arc had to be every bit as interesting as her doppelganger’s.

The episode wraps up with some callbacks to the prior cases and a teaser for the gang’s approaching confrontation with Moriarty. I’d love a second season, but Yugo Aosaki may need to write a few more novels first. In the meantime, I leave Undead Murder Farce with two major takeaways. First, Mamoru Hatakeyama remains one of my favorite storyboarders and series directors in the industry. His unique approach injected an air of artfulness that played wonderfully into the macabre camp of this penny-dreadful detective romp. Second, I love the leading trio a whole lot. Aya, Tsugaru, and Shizuku are all individually strong characters with distinct personalities, but they shine brilliantly as a unit glued together with equal parts affection and adversity. They made these farces a ton of fun to follow, and I hope our paths cross again.


Undead Murder Farce is currently streaming on

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. He’s just trying to get ahead in life. You can also catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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A Playthrough of a Certain Dude’s VRMMO Life Anime Reveals 2 More Cast Members – News

The official website for the television anime of author Howahowa Shiina and illustrator Yamaada‘s Toaru Ossan no VRMMO Katsudō-ki (A Playthrough of a Certain Dude’s VRMMO Life) light novel series revealed two more cast members on Friday. The new cast includes Hiroyuki Yoshino as Ward (pictured below right) and Mutsumi Kaneko as Myun (below left, character name romanizations not confirmed).

The site is also streaming a preview for the show’s first episode.


The anime will premiere in Japan on October 2 on the TOKYO MX channel at 25:05 JST, and on BS11 at 25:00 JST (effectively October 3 at 1:05 a.m., 1:00 a.m. respectively). The anime will also stream on the d Anime Store, U-NEXT, and Anime Hōdai streaming services on October 2. The anime will then premiere on the AT-X channel on October 3 at 11:30 p.m. Crunchyroll will stream the anime starting on October 2.

The anime’s cast includes:

Yuichi Nakazawa (animation director for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Welcome to the NHK, Accel World) is directing the anime at Maho Film. Touko Machida (Lucky Star, Show By Rock!! Stars!!, Wake Up, Girls!) is overseeing the series scripts, and Yūko Watabe (Glass Fleet, Surgeon Elise) and Yūko Ōba (I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss, My Unique Skill Makes Me OP even at Level 1) are the main character designers. TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND is composing the music.

saji is performing the opening theme song “Magic Writer,” and Miho Okasaki is performing the ending theme song “Kibō no Recipe” (Recipe of Hope).

AlphaPolisAlpha Manga service is releasing the novels’ manga adaptation in English, and it describes the story:

A new type of VRMMO called “One More Free Life Online” is out. He logs in as a young boy avatar called “Earth”. Taichi Tanaka (38, single) has a regular office job and enjoys playing video games in his free time. In a world where the player is free to do as they wish, he decides to master a skill that’s been deemed to be useless! He makes potions that are too much of a hassle to make, cooks food that is excessively too good, and uses bizarre original weapons to hunt monsters… An adventure manga about an ordinary middle-aged man leisurely enjoying his VRMMO sandbox game!

AlphaPolis began releasing the novels in 2014. Shūya Rikudō launched the manga adaptation in 2014.

Sources: A Playthrough of a Certain Dude’s VRMMO Life anime’s website, Comic Natalie

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Sasaki and Miyano: Graduation Anime Film Review – Review

To call Graduation a movie is a bit generous. Even with the inclusion of the Hirano and Kagiura short, this thing just barely reaches an hour with credits. Since it also inherits the slow, vignette-based pacing of the TV series – along with its visual quality – it’s perhaps better to think of this as an extra-long final episode. While the final lines of this film assure us Sasaki and Miyano’s romance will continue beyond this graduation, this also acts as a pretty tidy capstone to the property in animation.

Like the TV series, there’s not really a central plot to Graduation outside of the premise of Sasaki’s impending graduation. You might think that would give everything a sense of foreboding, with how often high school anime treat graduation like a character disappearing forever, but that’s not the case here. While both boys are a little sad that they won’t be able to see each other every day like before, there’s no question in either of their minds about continuing to be together. That’s refreshing, as it allows the film to pair the bittersweet evolution from high school to adulthood with our central couple’s deepening intimacy, following them as they reach two new thresholds in their lives simultaneously.

While not always connected by story, each vignette that makes up Graduation is connected by that developing intimacy. With Miyano and Sasaki both primarily over the hang-ups that kept them from confessing, the two get to explore what being a couple means. Sometimes, it just means chatting like normal, sharing time together, and enjoying each other’s company just like when they were just senpai and kouhai. Other times, it means pining, like when Sasaki has to study for exams, and their time together is far more brief and precious. On at least one occasion, it means a cuddle session in an empty classroom that unexpectedly turns into some very heavy petting. Individually, these scenes are charming enough, but packaged together, they paint a cozy and endearing portrait of young love. There are also some key moments involving their friends and family, like Miyano coming out to his mother, who immediately insists they invite the nice young man her son is in love with to dinner, instantly diffusing his worries. SasaMiya has always been a property that runs off good vibes, and the vibes here are almost always excellent.

The one segment that sticks out, however, is the movie’s biggest flaw. After roughly 40 minutes of good times, we take a hard left turn into drama when Sasaki reveals their relationship to his older sister. What follows is, on paper, a solid exploration of internalized homophobia that can cause friction even among well-meaning and supportive loved ones. Regarding being respectful to such a sensitive topic, it’s handled about as well as Miyano’s struggles with toxic masculine expectations in the TV series. The issue is that it feels like a cliff notes version of itself, speeding through the plot point as quickly as possible with a character we’ve only briefly gotten to know and gracelessly dumping exposition about Sasaki’s family life on the ground in its rush to resolve the only real drama of the film. While something like this could work here, it would need far more time and focus to achieve its goals – probably necessitating this being a much longer movie that builds toward this conflict rather than introducing and resolving it in under seven minutes. As-is, it’s an underbaked plot cul-de-sac that yanks the atmosphere out from under you just long enough to feel jarring.

Outside of that one admittedly large hiccup, Graduation is a welcome return to the intimate, personal character interactions that defined its predecessor. The production’s still far from an animation powerhouse, but its signature eye for evocative framing and expressive body language returns in perfect form. Countless moments of soft affection, nervous passion, and just a general sense of attraction between our leads does so much to communicate their emotions without dialogue. They also keep making Sasaki ridiculously hot throughout. A guy laid up sick in bed probably wouldn’t look like he just stepped out of a cologne commercial, but you won’t hear me complaining.

The included Hirano and Kagiura short is nice enough, introducing us to the spin-off couple and their basic dynamic. However, it feels like a backdoor pilot for a potential TV adaptation rather than a self-contained short. The titular boys have a sweet dynamic, and their dorm domesticity has a distinct flavor from Sasaki and Miyano’s chemistry, but that’s all we get from them. Fans of the manga will likely enjoy seeing these two animated and interacting, but for anime-only viewers, it’s more like a pleasant appetizer before returning to the couple we’re already familiar with.

While the manga is ongoing, Graduation feels like a farewell, using its final moments to reminisce about our main couple’s romantic journey as they walk the halls of their school one last time. It’s sentimental as all get out, and if you’re invested in these two, it’s easy to get a little choked up as you see them step forward together into a new stage of their lives and romance. In all, it’s safe to say that if you loved the TV series, you’ll love this film.

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