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  • Madness in Bloom

    Madness in Bloom

    ★★★½

    The frenetic visuals are an absorbing treat to behold. You are immediately bombarded with an aesthetic that is equally arresting as it is uncomfortable. Kubozuka is also really impressive as a vehement nationalist who lets his irrationality guide him towards destruction. Some of the narrative gets kind of muddled and the introduction of a potential romance goes absolutely nowhere, but the overall portrayal of the characters' steadfast ideals as a violent mess is captivating to behold.

  • The Boy Inside

    The Boy Inside

    ★★★

    Some of the characters' decisions are pretty illogical to the point of annoyance, but this is altogether a touching story about trying to recapture a lost youth in the face of an inevitable adulthood. This could have easily been overrun by sentimentality, but there is enough of a pragmatic push-back so that the characters don't feel completely hokey (barring a few supporting roles that don't work at all). The three leads (Matsuzaka, Suda, and Nikaido) are all really effective as a result.

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  • Tremble All You Want

    Tremble All You Want

    ★★★★

    This is primarily a welcome excuse for Mayu Matsuoka to emanate the most charm possible, which works exceedingly well. It's been pointed out that the story isn't the most original. A young woman cannot let go of a past crush while a new suitor in her life waits for his moment to shine. The synopsis sounds incredibly overdone and more akin to the fluff that Takahiro Miki churns out nowadays.

    However, Tremble All You want excels for a number of…

  • All About Lily Chou-Chou

    All About Lily Chou-Chou

    ★★★★★

    The mesmerizing music and stunning visuals make All About Lily Chou-Chou one of the most powerful viewing experiences in all its unbridled melancholy. This sentiment is only intensified upon repeat viewings once you become more immersed in the story's unconventional structure. There are sequences where one cannot help but feel deeply involved in the characters' emotional turmoil as they confront the unbelievably cruel world that surrounds them.

    At first, Iwai's narrative can feel too aimless and meandering (hence why a…