Weathering With You – Taking a Chance on Love || Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 2019 anime original film “Weathering With You” or “Tenki no Ko,” animated by CoMix Wave Films, and directed by Makoto Shinkai.

hodaka in the rain


Fate Brews a Storm

The rain hasn’t let up on Tokyo for weeks, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. It’s an unusually long rainy season, and the endless showers have started to dampen the lives of those residing in the city, including runaway high school student Hodaka Morishima. He has no money or place to stay in Tokyo right now, but fate delivers him to a writing gig at a small-time journaling outlet helmed by the unkempt and scruffy Keisuke Suga. While he may not be living the Tokyo dream, Suga’s beautiful assistant Natsuki makes the crammed office feel like home.

Also struggling under the dreary Tokyo skies is the orphaned Hina Amano, who is doing all she can to find work to financially support herself and her younger brother Nagi. When Hodaka recognizes Hina as the girl who offered him free food during his first days in the city, he attempts to rescue her from shady men in suits. In their fleeting escape, Hodaka discovers Hina’s bizarre power to call out the sun whenever she prays for it. Seeing potential in Hina’s supernatural gift, Hodaka helps Hina become a “sunshine girl”—someone who can part the clouds for people when they need it the most.

Under thunderous skies and pounding rain, fate intertwines two young lives as they are forced to dig deep within themselves to try to find their own purpose in life. But while the miraculous sunshine girl is able to bring smiles to those she helps, all gifts come with a price—and what is graciously given by the elements can just as easily be taken back.

the morning sun

Visionary director Makoto Shinkai is back with another beautiful fantasy romance film that perfectly balances the daily trivialities of a slice-of-life drama with the more sincere and heartfelt emotions that we all know human relationships bring to the table. While the plot is simple in the grand scheme of things, parts of the middle (and especially the road to the end) feel somewhat disjointed. Whereas Shinkai’s other films typically feature a shocking twist that unexpectedly plays on one’s expectations (yet still directly ties to the punchline), I felt like I was just watching a sitcom of these characters’ lives with no real end goal in mind.

That’s not such a bad thing, however, as it allowed me to connect with these characters more than I have with any other Shinkai film cast, especially some of the secondary characters. And yes, while somewhat divisive, the film’s plot twists will shake up your viewing experience. Although the film lacks some of the logical build-up necessary to pull off a truly astonishing finale, emotions still run high in this story about throwing caution to the wind and taking a chance on love.

sunshine prayer

Shinkai’s Most Personable Cast

I said this about Your Name., but it would seem that with every film he makes, Shinkai gets better and better about attaching more than just spontaneous feelings and circumstantial likeness to his characters. Whether watching these Hodaka, Hina, and Nagi channeling the sun’s energy for money or following Hodaka and Natsuki as they chase down urban legend sightings, I only think, “Wow, what an incredible waste of time.” Yet, on the other hand . . .

It looks like they’re having so much fun.

When I mention above that I felt like I was watching a comedic sitcom for the earlier half of the film, I mean that I could watch these kids running around Tokyo with the wind against their backs for an entire series. Through hard work and happenstance, Hodaka quickly realizes that living the “best Tokyo life” doesn’t come from how you spend it—it’s who you decide to spend it with that makes it fulfilling. And I think we lucked out with just the kind of cast you’d want to spend part of your life with.

nagi hina hodaka

Hodaka and Hina stand for so much more than young love and determination—they represent the adversity faced by youth poverty, the ones the world left behind as it continued to spin round and round. As the rain only continues to pound on poor Hodaka’s shoulders, I can’t stress enough how central this theme is to the film. The resilience he develops thanks to his newfound Tokyo friends allows him to transform into an admirable character who can make one of the toughest decisions imaginable. Even if the whole world was against him, Hodaka draws from his own experiences and judgments to challenge the very heavens above him, and I think that’s a fantastic message for today’s youth who are growing up in a world where the deck seems stacked no matter where we go.

Having Hina, Nagi, and Natsuki by his side are just about the best companions Hodaka can ask for. Hina’s hardworking spirit and natural optimism show Hodaka that people his own age also going through dark times can not only survive but blossom on their own. Nagi’s charm and whimsy reveal a hidden wisdom as he is able to support his sister in a way that few others could. Natsuki may seem like your token “hot biker chick,” but really, she’s trying just as hard as anyone else to pull her life together and find her own path in this giant metropolis. And Mr. Suga may be the sketchiest side protagonist I’ve ever seen, but even he’s got ones he wants to protect from life’s downpour of troubles. As always with Shinkai, friends and family are just as essential to life as love itself, and that sentiment echoes in this fun, endearing cast.

family

“I Can’t Believe it Got Prettier”

Those were my immediate thoughts when watching the opening sequence alone. Sprawling cityscapes, dazzling lighting, majestic skies of clouds, and painstakingly delicate attention to detail make this CoMix Wave Films’ prettiest production to date. If you can’t vibe with the story or characters for whatever reason, you can always rely on the visuals in a Shinkai movie to be nothing short of stellar. I know he preaches about expanding past the achievements of Miyazaki and Ghibli, but honestly, I’ve always preferred Shinkai’s aesthetic when it comes to portraying reality in fiction. And he’s only. Gotten. Better.

I haven’t even praised the RIDICULOUS level of beauty the rain is animated in, cause WOW, that’s where the money’s at. I can’t even begin to imagine the sheer amount of effort and work the staff poured into making every single drop sparkle and shine as it would in real life—no, calling what I saw would only disgrace such beauty. This looks BETTER than real rain, as does everything else in Shinkai’s astonishing vision of Tokyo on a rainy day. For any architecture junkies out there (like myself), you’ll also be pleased to find a copious amount of cinematic cityscape shots and wide panoramic skies.

tenki no ko tokyo

A New Soundtrack to Love

Japanese rock group Radwimps is back to produce the soundtrack for Weathering With You, and man, these guys never miss a beat. The OST ranges from mystical harp expressions to touching piano themes, mixed in with some silly or suspenseful tracks to balance out the film. It’s crazy how well the music fits with the emotional roller coaster of the story! Truly, from the thunderous beat of the rain to the climactic drop of Radwimps’ own vocal tracks, this is outstanding sound direction.

Speaking of those vocal tracks, we are blessed with five new Radwimps songs to enjoy on endless repeat. “Voice of Wind” opens with loud, uplifting, and freeing country vibes. “Celebration” (feat. Toko Miura) serves as a wonderful transition to showcase Hodaka’s exciting adventures in Tokyo. Toko Miura comes back for “Grand Escape,” the trailer piece that guarantees to break hearts during the exciting free-falling finale with its chorus of chanting. “We’ll Be Alright” rounds out the film on a high note, if not a bittersweet ballad. And lastly, “Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do?” doubles as the catchy, emotionally stirring main theme and the film’s feature credit song. Seeing as how the music may have inspired much of the story itself, it’s no wonder that Radwimps leads the film with fervor and a hearty sense of lyrical direction.

soundtrack

No More Regrets

Known for portraying the messiness and longing often felt between two people, Weathering With You continues to deliver messages of young love, purpose, and connection that are iconic to Shinkai’s style while also appealing to larger issues than simply romance and recklessness in youth. These include impoverishment, climate change, the impact of weather in our daily lives, and the challenges thrust upon youth on by previous generations. But unlike Your Name.‘s focus on regret for missed opportunities, Weathering With You emphasizes the power of taking action for yourself, even if it’s not what others may want. In a world rocked by rapidly changing climate, it’s up to the young to decide where we go from here.

As he has always done, Shinkai portrays his lessons on regret in relationships through his breathtaking works, and Weathering With You is no exception. If anything, Weathering With You offers more than most of his other films can compete with—including the masterpiece Your Name.—by opening the conversation to how our personal relationships can make waves, affecting other’s relationships and the cascade of lives that follow. Our attitudes, our feelings, and our actions are irrevocably connected, much like the ripples of a raindrop splashing on a puddle—or the radiant warmth of the sun that shines when the clouds finally part after a long day’s rain. 

Even in disaster, Makoto Shinkai’s direction, visual aesthetic, and willingness to jump off the deep end make this film a breathtaking experience from its humble beginning to its unpredictable ending. Weathering With You was nothing like I expected it’d be, but I am so, so glad that it exists.

the sunshine girl


I want you more than any blue sky. — Hodaka Morishima


Afterword

This is a film every anime fan should see—it’s already established that much for itself. Regardless of whether you prefer Your Name. to this or vice versa, the fact remains that Shinkai is a visionary director who helms a team of artists and animators that deserve to be seen on the big screen. WATCH THIS MOVIE if you can, and if it’s not showing near you, I implore you to consider booking a day off for a road-trip. As someone who looks up to Makoto Shinkai and his work for creative inspiration in my own life, it’s no surprise that 2019’s Weathering With You is certified a “Cafe Mocha” film, a rating only for the best and brightest!

Did you make your way down to the theater to check out Weathering With You? If you did, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film! What did you like most about it? What did you dislike? I’m all ears, always. ‘Till next time, everyone!

– Takuto, your host

Idolmaster SideM: How Personal Branding Shapes Our Image || OWLS “Visions”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” For the OWLS blog tour’s first monthly topic of 2020, “Visions,” I wanted to engage in a side of me that I’ve been neglecting for some time: My interest in idol culture, and how idols can actually inspire their fans to strive to become their best selves.

Happy New Year! Since it is a new year, it’s a new you! This month we will be talking about various pop culture mediums that focus on envisioning “the future.” What type of future do we want for ourselves, our communities, and the world? Also, we will be sharing our goals and plans for the new year.

The New Year’s celebration is my favorite time of the year. I buy hard into that whole “New Year, New Me” business, so really, it’s all one big self-care holiday for me. Thanks Lyn for the prompt!

315 producer.PNG


A brief discussion of the 13-episode fall 2017 anime “Idolmaster SideM,” stylized as “The iDOLM@STER: SideM,” animated by A-1 Pictures, directed by Miyuki Kuroki, and based on the franchise rhythm game of the same name.

A Fresh Change of Pace

Talent recruitment and entertainment agency 315 Productions may be in its infant stage, but the calm and caring producer of 315 promises his idols a place on the world stage so long as they work hard toward their dreams. Specializing in scouting prospective idols who previously held other jobs, all have a place at the agency, whether a former lawyer, pilot, or even a surgeon. As these men—some in their mid thirties, others still living their high school days—grow to understand their new positions, they’ll have to make sacrifices and trust in each other if they are to achieve their dream of becoming top idols!

Is this really a story about grown men who are sick of their lives and willing to gamble away their careers to sing and dance on a stage? Wow, it’s no wonder I liked this anime so much. Idolmaster SideM is a tale of reinvention for its stunning ensemble of idols, each with an origin story more different from the last. In just 13 episodes, we hear from a whopping 19 different men and how their individual lives have aligned at the crossroads of music and fame.

Some accounts are far more detrimental than others, say, the pilot who left his job because his anxiety overcame him in a near-fatal crash vs. the quiet boy who just wanted to come out of his shell. Or the twins who abandoned their professional athletic career due to one being burdened by a substantial injury compared to the guy who went along with it cause his buddy did. Again, each story is different, but not one of their ambitions are to be deemed “lesser” than the other’s. In fact, it’s thanks to this variety of perspectives on seeking change and self-improvement that Idolmaster SideM allows itself to be light-hearted yet feel grounded and real—inspirational, yet with one foot in reality’s door.

315 idols.PNG

Creating the Idol “Brand”

What does it take to be an idol? Geez, one could go down all different routes to answer that one. To keep things relevant to this post, I want to focus on the concept of brands, AKA one’s identification or signature style. For example, my blogging brand (or so I hope) is marked by its connections to good vibes and clean aesthetic under the theme of an urban city cafe. How does an idol group go about designing their brand? The six young idol units of SideM quickly discover that there’s a lot more to it than color-coordinated costumes and snazzy photography. 

For idols, especially the bigger name groups like 315’s Jupitereverything down to the very way you live your own life determines how the group is perceived. If a famous idol were to be seen drinking a specific soda type or repping a certain fashion brand on a given day, their fans might perceive this beverage and that jacket as elements common to the idol’s life (even if purely coincidental), thus branding the idol’s group with these particular companies. Fans may eventually try to match their favorite groups by supporting these companies and buying their products, which feeds back into the industry itself. So yeah, brands matter.

315 dramatic stars.PNG

When it comes to envisioning their own brand, the ex-lawyer, pilot, and surgeon of DRAMATIC STARS struggle with what to wear during their first photo shoot. Jupiter’s black leather is too cool for them; High×Joker and Beit’s wild colors and textures seem too childish. So, they settle on wearing the uniforms of their respective careers in hopes of representing the most true versions of themselves. While it’s not the most pleasing collection of outfits, it’s certainly an original look that they feel most comfortable with being known for.


Tsubasa and I, and everyone from 315 Productions, have led different lives, and different circumstances brought us all here together. We all have our reasons, but the goal has always been the same. We’re chasing the same dream together!Teru Tendo


Connecting Brands to Reality

All this talk about idols and branding and representation got me to thinking about how I want to market my own personal brand. Between falling back into K-pop hell and observing how real idols create the personas they desire, to expanding my own platform with an Instagram, it’s definitely been on my mind. 

What do we, as bloggers, want our personal brands to look like? How can we achieve this vision of ours? Takuto is obviously not my real name, and unfortunately, I do not own my own cafe, let alone work at one. These were decisions I made to “create” the Takuto you know today. Everything from my blog’s theme colors to the way I interact in the comments (like how I use the ~ all the time) were choices. 

So, how do we do it, creating our “online selves”? Just like with the DRAMATIC STARS trio, it’s a tricky balance of being true to yourself while also pursuing the change you desire in life. The anime and manga I review inform you about my tastes in entertainment. Thus, it should be my goal to highlight the types of shows and series I personally love and collect through my posts (with exceptions to sharing an honest opinion), be it with words or pictures. And if I find my tastes changing, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to address any waning interests, or invite you to witness any exciting new finds either in my watch list, on my shelves, or even in my personal life.

dramatic stars party.PNG

As bloggers, as writers, we have one goal: to connect with our readers. In that way, we aren’t that different from pop idols that strive to connect with their fans. If we hide behind fake interests or write a lackluster review over a series, they will be able to tell. They always do. If you don’t have anything to say about a given series (yet feel “forced” to review it anyway), perhaps you should dedicate that time and energy into a post you could absolutely gush over, be it for something you intensely love or extremely dislike.

However, we should also acknowledge that interests can also change—if a blogger wants to add a new segment to their site, try out a new platform outlet, or simply take a break from their normal content to just write about themselves, we should embrace their efforts and support them in all their new endeavors. I mean, unlike idols, you can become truly close friends with an internet content creator. Why would you not pay it forward while you can? In all that you do, be cautious, but be yourself—the best things will come from doing just that.

side m jupiter.PNG

We’re All Just Trying to Create

As creators of some kind of content, it can be easy to let the issue of personal branding slide under the rug. Little do we or they (the ones that get paid millions to stand on the world stage) realize the impact that even the most seemingly insignificant aspects of our lives have on the perceptions of others. Especially as bloggers, these are points that we don’t really ever lend coverage to, and I think that’s part of the reason why it might seem difficult to become a socially “successful” internet blogger. We’re a quiet people often hidden behind walls of text. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are impersonal people—in fact, I find writers to be some of the most relatable humans out there, but that’s a post for another day. 

In a roundabout way, Idolmaster SideM tackles very similar issues about perception and personal branding that internet content creators must deal with. Additionally, the series confronts the realities of what it means to be “associated” with a particular vibe or energy, as well as the physical and mental training idols must undergo to achieve that vision. It’s an awful lot, and at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to create something people can love. So, whether a complete novice or one of the billboard’s top hits, one thing’s for sure: There’s no such thing as a lazy idol.

idolmaster stage episode 13.PNG


They are the ones that worked hard. All I did was talk to those brilliant people.Producer


Afterword

Frankly speaking, there’s a lot of “good” going on in Idolmaster SideM. Watching each of 315 Productions’ idol groups grow is a daunting task thanks to the short series run, but an incredibly fulfilling one despite the odds. Following these guys side-by-side as they stumble in practice and struggle with clashing personality differences is an endearing process. I can walk away from this anime saying, “YES, they’re all good boys!!” as I finally grasp the appeal behind male idol anime. Simply for its inspirational premise of throwing caution to the wind and saying “Screw it, I wanna be famous,” Idolmaster SideM is a certified “Cake” here at the cafe! Got any thoughts on the series or idol culture in general? I’d love to hear them down in the comments. 

This concludes my January 14th entry in the OWLS “Visions” blog tour. My good buddy Matt (Matt-in-the-Hat) went right before me with a personal post over the hit film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse that you can read right here! Now, look out for Aria (The AniManga Spellbook) this Thursday, January 16th! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Five CRITICAL Things I Learned About Collecting Anime in 2019 || Cafe Talk

Hello all,

Welcome to the first Cafe Talk of 2019! It’s been a while, has it not?

As I mentioned in my December OWLS post, “Unhauling” for the Holidays, the year 2019 was too good for the collection. From a size standpoint, I was definitely packing some full shelves. However, it got to a point where, in the last couple weeks of 2019, I went from receiving packages daily to hating everything in my collection. All of it. It made me sick. It was unexpected, and hit very, very hard.

What had happened was that, at some point in my mindless buying ventures, I stopped collecting what I truly love. Don’t get me wrong, I love anime, manga, figures, and everything else associated with them. Still do, too. But, in exchange for buying shows that I thoroughly enjoyed and would continue to enjoy over and over again, I started collecting, well, “stuff.”

I had no personal connection to approximately 30% of my collection, and so in the grand spirit of the holidays, I ousted much of these titles to my siblings (whom cheerfully accepted my hand-me-down books and Blu-rays).

Going forward in 2020—and the rest of my life if I can help it—I’ll still be collecting (once a collector, always a collector), but in a different way than I did before. 2019 was a very telling year, and although parts of it were painful, I realized a lot about who I am, who I want to be, and what I want to put on my shelf—because a bookshelf can represent one’s entire personality, and I would never want to clutter up my soul the way I did in 2019.

Thus I present to you five things I learned about collecting anime in 2019. Take these as cautionary pieces of advice, my friends, for I wouldn’t want to wish upon any of you that which happened to me: to feel burdened with having a collection.


5. Use Bookends

Sounds simple, but MAN would you believe how unnatural it feels to buy black metal bookends from Amazon in bulk. Your room may literally start feeling like library, but wow what a difference these simple little wedges make. Although I encourage you to use your LTD ED anime releases, box sets, picture frames, and the like when you can as bookends (see next tip), you should definitely consider investing in a set of 10 or 20 of these guys, especially if your collection is of substantial size (or foresees growth in the near future).

4. Alternate Your Display

The first thing that made me despise my own collection was seeing the rows upon rows of book and movie spines. It actually made me nauseous. If bookends are not an option for you (even though they are quite affordable), you can use other objects to vary up the look of your shelves. Place DVDs or manga volumes in vertical stacks; add some greenery with plants; mix in some picture frames or coffee mugs; take some of the figures from your figure cases and place them among your Blu-rays. The possibilities are endless.

I encourage you to get artsy with your collection. I’ll post pics of my own shelves here in a couple days, but my go-to for instantly aesthetically pleasing shelves are fake succulents!

3. Do NOT Blind Buy

Ever. Or, at least if you can help it. With online streaming and reading seeming like the popular option these days, the point of buying physical releases anymore is to put something you already know you like into your possession IMO. Even if it’s just the first couple episodes of a show, it’s much better to stream something as a sample than dive straight into the physical if you know it’s something you’ll enjoy. Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of strangers in your home taking space on your precious shelves, and that’s no way to do it.

Plus, unopened/unwatched/unread movies and books tend to pile up over time, much like your own anime backlog—you’ll definitely NOT want to throw money away at something you probably won’t get to for YEARS (trust me, it happens) when you could be spending it on stuff you enjoy now. Or, you know, groceries and stuff.

2. ONLY Buy What You Will Rewatch

Like all of these tips, this one sounds like a no-brainer. But trust me, it’s much harder to think in the long-term than it seems. I often find myself on a feel-good “high” after finishing an anime, whether I actually enjoyed the show or not. This leads me to inadvertently searching for the title in sales just so I can have a physical copy of my watch history on my shelves.

DON’T. DO. THIS. We buy DVDs so that we can one day rewatch them (and for books, reread them). If we never end up putting the disc in the player, we might as well have just thrown money down the river. So, next time you finish a show, wait a little while before deciding to pick it up. You may realize that, hey, it was a great show—but perhaps not something I plan on rewatching, let alone need a physical copy of.

1. ONLY Buy What Will Bring You Happiness

In other words, only buy what you truly love. This last tip pretty much sums up all the others, but can also be the hardest one to practice. Try this: Take a look at your own anime/manga collection right now. Skim each title with your eyes one by one. For each title, ask yourself, “Does owning this title bring me happiness?” We’re essentially applying basic Marie Kondo tips here, but with the added caveat that it must also be a title we plan to someday rewatch/reread (and trust me, it’s pretty damn hard to say you “love” something that you haven’t even seen yet).

So what do we do with the items we decide to take down from our shelves? Well, just unhaul them! Sell them to willing buyers, or perhaps give them to an interested friend. Remember, at this point, getting your money back is second to achieving happiness. We all want to make up for what we spent, but if it ends up taking you years to sell off that which you wish to unhaul, you might as well have left it on the shelf.

Whatever you decide, just remember going forward with any future purchases that you truly dig down and ask yourself, “Will this thing make me as happy as it should?” If not, consider that money saved on your part that you can now use toward something even nicer than that which you just passed up!


Well, I hope you came for the lecture but stayed for the life advice, cause if you follow all of these tips with your own collection, you can only expect it to continue bringing you happiness in the future. And hey, isn’t collecting because it makes one happy what this whole thing’s all about?

By learning these critical things through my own failures, my collecting habits have taken an entire 360 within just the past couple weeks. I’m a new man, I tell ya! And you have no idea how incredible it feels to be able to say, “Yes, I love absolutely every single thing that I own.” After applying these tips to other areas of my life, from eliminating old papers and personal belongings to reassessing what music I listen to and what foods I put in my body, I feel more confident about myself by the day. Buying stuff is fun, but unhauling can be even greater self-care.

Give these suggestions a try if you are seeking to maximize the satisfaction and joy out of your own collection. Because honestly, if there’s one thing that I learned, it’s “Why wait to be happy?” You can quote me on that. Anyway, how do you collect your anime, manga, or figures? Do you have any advice for fellow collectors out there that you’ve stumbled upon? Your wisdom would be most appreciated by us all! Thanks for joining me on this little cafe talk, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Five Things You May Not Know About Me!

Hello all,

There was this thing going around on Twitter where people were sharing five things about themselves to their followers in honor of the new year beginning. Because I thought this kind of content might make the best “first” personal post (with much more spontaneity to come), I figured I’d share my answer here on the blog as well.

So, in case you didn’t know . . .

  1. I’ve always wanted to be famous, but only for creating something I love.
  2. I’ve recently gotten back into Kpop.
  3. I made an Insta (plz follow).
  4. I’m currently growing out my bangs.
  5. I’ve never been more serious about diet/exercise than I have now!

This tweet also made me realize that I’ve kinda neglected those who are new to my blog. To my latest followers, a warm welcome from me to you! I don’t know why you decided to follow my blog, but I hope you stick around for a long time to come. I’ve got lots of fun stuff coming in 2020, and it would mean the world to me if you were there by my side!

Now, I’ve shared something about myself. What’s something about you that I don’t know yet? Please, share something about yourself in the comments so we can get to know each other better! Thanks for stopping by~!

– Takuto, your host

Blog Goals & Resolutions for 2020!

Hello all,

We are officially one full week into 2020! Crazy, right? I remember the holidays like they were yesterday, yet behold, two weeks have passed since. In case you missed my last quarterly update, I achieved ~3.5 out of my 5 goals. (Not bad considering it was my first time actually setting AND making plans to stick to my goals.) Given my low standards, I’m gonna say I kicked 2019’s ass pretty hard.

But the coming of a new year brings with it a new set of blogging goals and resolutions. And so, with your blessings and support, here are five goals I’d like to achieve in 2020.


#1 – Read More Posts

Yeah, kind of a cop-out choice given that it was also last year’s first goal, but it’s something I really do need to improve on. I love being a part of this community and writing for it, but that also means that I need to do my part and read your guys’ stuff. I’ll work harder in 2020!

#2 – Write More Succinct Posts

I know what you’re thinking, “Not another duplicate goal!” Nah, it’s exactly as it looks. On top of reading more posts, I’d like to write shorter posts myself. This may encourage you all to read my stuff more, sure, but I like the prospect of having more posts that chunk up my ideas as opposed to one mammoth-sized write-up that frankly even I don’t want to read. More posts may also increase blog productivity, so there’s that too.

#3 – Read & Review More Books

Within this past year, I’ve noticed myself gravitating more towards manga and light novels than anime. Hell, lately I’ve even watched more K-drama than anime. Yet, it it would seem that I never write about the books I’ve read. So, starting in 2020, I not only want to read more (to justify all the money I’ve spent on books in 2019 that are slowly accumulating dust) but also share my thoughts on what I’ve read here on the blog.

#4 – Write More About Me

In the least self-centered way possible, this goal is basically saying “Make this blog more about Takuto, the writer.” I want to write more posts about myself. You’re all my precious readers, but also my dearest friends. And after doing this for FIVE years, you deserve to know more about the guy behind the keyboard. You can look forward to more log/diary-like posts chronicling my thoughts and feelings as I go through life, be it in the form of Cafe Talks or other spontaneous write-ups. I hope we can get to know each other better in 2020.

#5 – Build Up My “Personal Brand”

This is more of a fun bonus goal, but working on my “personal brand” entails me building up my Instagram. (Follow me @takutoanimecafe if you haven’t yet!) Ever since I started blogging I wanted to become someone personable, someone who you feel like you know and can relate to in your own lives even though we’ve never physically met before. I don’t just want to be some faceless blogger anymore—I’ve outgrown that mentality, and firmly believe I can become someone you and I can both be proud of. Essentially, I want to become closer with you all by presenting a better, more true version of myself. Opening up the Insta is one way I can do that. Looking forward to sharing our life adventures together one photo at a time!


We are healing in 2020, and working on presenting the best, most true versions of ourselves that we can.


Or, at least, that is my main goal. I want to connect with this community more than I have in the past. I realize that I’ve kinda been isolating myself in No Man’s Land for all these years, and I apologize. 2020 will be different, I assure you—I feel like a new person, reborn and refreshed to take on whatever comes next!

But there you have it, five new goals for a brand new year—and the start of a new decade at that! What is something you want to improve on in 2020, either for your own blog or in your personal life? Let’s talk resolutions down in the comments. Until the next post, I hope you’re all having a fantastic 2020 so far!

– Takuto

I made an Instagram (and You should follow it) || Celebrating 500 Followers

Hello all, welcome to 2020!!

Happy New Year to everyone out there! It’s crazy how much I’ve resolved to change myself in this new decade within the past couple weeks. It is as if a light just suddenly clicked on and I was like, “Wow, ok 2020, let’s NOT keep on doing what we have been our entire lives and try something new for once!”

So I am: I’m taking the plunge into the world of Instagram in celebration of 500 blog followers. I only briefly mentioned my gratitude for achieving this milestone in a quarterly update post. But, to reiterate, I am eternally grateful for all of your support.

Every single like, share, or even comment just to say “hi” brings me so much happiness. At the same time, I can only wonder, you must have a lot of time on your hands if you’re willing to stop by my little blog, haha.

500 followers

Seriously though, thank you for sticking with me these past five years. I love interacting with you all, and I hope the Insta can bring us that much closer into each other’s lives. Many of you have been begging for me to get this, and I hope I can deliver the content you deserve!

You can follow my Insta adventures at the handle @takutoanimecafe

Thank you for a wonderful 2019.

Cheers to 2020.

Love you all!

– Takuto

Chasing After the ~Vibes~|| Quarterly Update (Winter 2019)

Evening all!

As the title of this post suggests, I have for you all the final big update post of 2019. In the last update, I spoke briefly about how I hadn’t watched much anime due to school and, well, not much has changed since finals haha. Goal reflection in general will be pretty weak this time around, but hey, it’s the last couple days of 2019—new goals will be on the way before we know it!

Goal Reflection


#1 – Read More Posts

If any of these goals had the greatest crime done to it, it’d be this one. Guys, I am criminally behind on keeping up with the community. My phone home screen is once again backed up with posts I’ve been wanting to read, and that doesn’t include all of the OWLS posts I’ve missed out on since January. Yeah, not good. But with the New Year, hopefully I’ll dedicate some time to some much-needed housekeeping.

#2 – Write More Succinct Posts

You know, just scrolling through the site’s main page at all of the posts, I think I have done a better job at keeping things on the short and sweet side. Between October being nothing but Animanga Festival posts and November and December being full of hauls, there hasn’t really been too much to say for each post. Thinking in terms of the entire year, I’ll count this one as a win.

#3 – Post More Often

Ten posts in October, four posts in November, and so far five posts in December makes my initial four-posts-per-month goal a success! Productivity definitely slowed down for school, but even with a three-week study hiatus in there, I’ve still managed to blog as often as I wanted to in 2019. Maybe I’ll kick things up a notch in 2020, who knows, but for now—WE DID IT Y’ALL.

#4 – Bring Back Cafe Talk

Hahaha nope. I don’t know what’s stopping me from writing these kinds of posts, especially when they can be the easiest things in the world sometimes. But here we are. Overall, this was 2019’s most-failed goal.

#5 – Write More Haul/Collection Posts

Guys, GUYS—I’ve done like SIX haul posts this winter season, and honestly, I could totally throw together another one if you guys were interested in seeing the straggler TOM pick-ups or what I got for Christmas. If goal #4 was my worst-achieved goal, #5 is 2019’s big winner. Hooray for hauls!

What I’ve Watched


Well this part isn’t gonna take long (LOL). For Halloween this year I binged all of Castlevania seasons one and two on Netflix. Excellent series, full of incredible action sequences and bloody good comedy (surprisingly). It was easily one of my favorite watches of the year, especially for the spooky season, and I honestly can’t wait for season three. I’ve actually got notes for the entire series ready to be transformed into a review, so hopefully I’ll muster the energy to finish that and get my thoughts out there.

Around the same time before finals started hitting hard, I picked up a little extra time to watch Fairy gone in the mornings. While I’m only five or six episodes in, I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone said it was when it aired. Plus, the dub is really good. (Special shout out to Caitlin Glass for making that one of the show’s redeeming qualities!)

Skipping ahead to the colder days of winter, I began an unexpected watch with Yumeiro Patissiere, which I actually featured in my November OWLS post that you can read right here! Most of my thoughts on the series are contained within that, but long story short: Watch Yumeiro Patissiere. It’s light-hearted and fun, but also sometimes bittersweet and full of heart. Easily a better food competition series than Food Wars! in my humble opinion.

Fall simulcasts have also been slow for me. Like, really slow. Notice how I never posted a fall seasonal line-up post like everyone else did? Yeah, it’s cause the only show I’ve managed to keep up with has been Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia, and my motivation for watching that namely stems from seeing anime Gil once again. Even still, it’s also been one of my favorite watches in years, and just might end up being my favorite Fate anime besides the glorious Fate/Zero where my love for the franchise all began. Can’t wait to see how it ends!

While we’re still on Fate, I’ve rewatched the first 12 episodes of Apocrypha since the entire series is on Netflix. Only this time it’s dubbed, and the English dub is FANTASTIC. I think all the VAs were perfectly cast, and I’m excited to watch the epic second half!

Obsessed With BTS


In case I never make it apparent, I’m a half white, half Korean 21-year-old currently residing in the U.S. I’ve liked K-pop ever since I became an anime fan, but never really rocked out to it as much as I did J-pop or even Western pop music. Until now.

To make a long story short, I’ve fallen back in love with BTS. They’ve had my heart since 2017, but this time I tripped BIG and fell down several flights of sparkly stairs into K-pop hell. And I have no regrets. I’ve listened to BTS, Super Junior, Girls Generation, NCT Dream, and Red Velvet albums literally every second of the past two weeks, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Please share your K-pop recommendations with me in the comments!!

Naturally, my rekindled love for K-pop brought me to K-drama and idol culture in general, so I’ve been bouncing between Hello, My Twenties on Netflix and The iDOLM@STER SideM on Crunchyroll. If you have any K-drama/idol recs (and the places I can watch them), please send me those too!

I feel like I’m chasing a vibe whenever I do my daily workout to these pop icons, or even unhaul more parts of my collection to make space on my shelves for some added greenery. For sharing these personal parts of my life, I think these quarterly updates work the best both for me as the writer and you all as readers. So, expect these to continue throughout 2020. A goals and resolutions post for 2020 will be out very soon, along with a very, very special surprise announcement for all my followers!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrated it. Mine was quite pleasant and relaxing—in fact, I’m still in vacation mode, which is why I haven’t done much of anything (besides listening to BTS, of course)! I’ve got one more post for 2019, so please look forward to that. Till then, this has been

– Takuto, your host