Izetta: The Fairy Tale That 2016 Slept On | Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 12-episode fall 2016 anime “Izetta: The Last Witch,” animated by Ajia-do Animation Works, directed by Masaya Fujimori, and based on the original story by Hiroyuki Yoshino. 

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Die Letzte Hexe: The Last Witch

Back during the ages of old, a witch with pristine white hair wielded her powerful magic to protect her country of Elystadt, defending its people until her last dying breath. Years later in 1939, militaristic giant Germania invades a neighboring country, plunging Europe into a devastating war. Boasting far superior technological prowess in this industrial era, Germania sets her sights on Elystadt, a significantly weaker alpine country in the way of Germania’s great conquest.

To make matters worse for the tiny country, Germanian soldiers capture their princess, Ortfiné “Finé” Fredericka von Eylstadt, as she is heading to a decisive meeting with Britannia. When trouble aboard the transport plane breaks loose, another piece of precious cargo, Izetta, the last witch alive, escapes. Recognizing Princess Finé from a childhood memory, Izetta transforms a soldier’s rifle into a flying “broomstick” and rescues Finé.

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Now reunited with her princess, Izetta pledges to protect Elystadt from the clutches of Germania—just as the White Witch of legend once did—and with the last surviving witch on their arsenal, Elystadt hopes to turn the tides against the imperialist war titan.

Original projects excite me. There’s nothing more freeing than hearing a studio trying to bring together a story from the their own combined passions, and then seeing the results. Izetta was no exception. While underwhelming in its finale, Izetta provides a magical spin on a historical setting where a world war is fought . . . by a witch.

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What if a World War had a Witch?

Izetta is a bumbling little mess of emotions and crimson hair. She’s kind and overly humble, but often disregards her own well-being for the object of her affection: Princess Finé. Speaking of, our Princess of Elystadt herself is quite the noble woman. Just as Izetta, she’s loyal to her countrymen and responsible to a T. Respect is another quality that runs deep in the Elystadt family’s lineage (or at least the legend has us believe), but trust me when I say that Finé is the genuine article.

The two are a power duo, and many of my favorite scenes don’t revolve around the engaging combat, but rather the quiet nighttime conversations that are exclusive to the pair. Although they act selfishly so as to preserve the others’ safety, Izetta and Finé are undeniably a cool couple bound together by lore and destiny.

Aside from Izetta, Finé, and a young Germanian spy boy named Ricelt, none of the characters’ motives felt resolved, however. If this were an adaptation of a larger work, then I could understand why some details might’ve gotten left out. But Izetta is an original story with an entirely original cast, and to have interesting characters that serve little more purpose than to act as mere decorative pawns is a crime. If one character’s role can be performed by a separate entity and the story pans out the same way, then that’s a sign you should probably rethink your character count.

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Banking on Design: The Art of Izetta

Ajia-do isn’t a studio known for producing the most outstanding works (the most noteworthy to me being Emma: A Victorian Romance‘s second season), but they definitely did Izetta justice. The magical dogfights featuring Izetta flexing her powers are super fun to watch, as she enchants a variety of guns, swords, and missiles to fly by her side and “aid” her. All of the CG armaments gliding around the battlefield are well animated, and the background villages, landscapes, ballrooms, and regal offices are splendidly colored.

Speaking of colors, the character designs are surprisingly detailed and ornate, especially Ortfiné’s. BUNBUN’s light novel-esque character designs mirror the quality of Abec’s works of Sword Art Online fame. The hauntingly gorgeous ED theme “Hikari Aru Basho e” by May’n features the beautiful original artwork in an elegant slideshow fashion. As for the rest of the music, Michiru delivers wonderful militaristic anthems for on and off the battlefield. Overall, the soundtrack supports both the dramatic and the more lax moments of the series fairly well.

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For dub fans, Funimation’s got you covered with another high quality English script. Mallorie Rodak brings a nobility to Princess Finé that is very reminiscent of her lovely work as Space Battleship Yamato‘s Yuki Mori. Derick Snow’s young boy voice for the soldier-spy Ricelt was, wow, perfect, and Jad Saxton’s Sophie makes for a wicked antagonist, even if I dislike the character. I found Skylar McIntosh’s Izetta to be the weakest performance here, but even then I grew to enjoy her natural naivete that fits so well with the role.

The End of Magic and Fantasy

Amidst the hype of the incredible fall 2016 anime season (which included Drifters, Bungou Stray Dogs‘ 2nd Season, Haikyuu!!’s 3rd Season, and the phenomenon that was Yuri!!! On ICE to name a few), Izetta slipped by the radar fairly undetected. Its flashy moniker and simple yet exciting world-wars-meets-magic premise was pretty well received by fans that somehow didn’t have enough that season to chew on, although few stuck around for very long. (Don’t worry Izetta, I made time for you back then.)

After the first stunning and smart six episodes, the promises and high stakes let on by this thrilling first half see a weak follow-up (and even weaker conclusion) come the end of the story. The introduction of a villain, aside from the uninteresting Germanian emperor, in the latter half serves more thematic purpose than anything else. That is to say, the addition of an actual antagonist to directly oppose our titular witch doesn’t make this story of war any more exciting.

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Prior to this reveal, the series was building up to one big narrative conclusion: that war is bad. It’s not novel, but it certainly fits. Seeing as how there are radicals, spies, and heavy losses on both sides of the border, I would’ve been quite satisfied if Izetta had held a more neutral position.

But then they go ahead and say, “Aha, this new villain is TRULY evil,” and any hopes of an appeal to the enemy side are lost in the muddy trenches. Maybe that kind of story works for you, but I just wasn’t a fan of the big baddie because it didn’t feel like the finale Izetta was building up towards. As an original tale, you could’ve gone anywhere . . . and this is what you decided on? At least Izetta looked great soaring high in the sky on that rifle of hers—I’ll certainly miss our little witch and her magic, even if just for that.

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I, for one, am glad we saw the magic. It may not seem like much, but I think the fairy tale of the White Witch who appeared in modern times left something good inside the hearts of people all over the world. — Izetta, the last witch


Afterword

It’s been three years in the making, and it took receiving a physical copy of the Izetta Blu-ray as a gift from my brother to finally make the time for a rewatch and give this series a proper review. Even if I was disappointed with parts of the ending, the final sentiment of leaving magic behind and looking towards the future will always bring a tear to my eyes. More than not, I’m so happy this project became realized by the production team behind it—it’s a noble little piece, and an achievement in my eyes. Izetta: The Last Witch receives the “Coffee” rating, a title that you, eh, might enjoy, but I wouldn’t recommend like crazy.

Were you one of the few who stuck around to see the end of the magic, or did you bail out of the plane halfway like Finé did in episode one? Let me know, because literally no one talks about this series! Really, the show is kinda dumb, but it’s fun popcorn material if you just want to turn your brain off. On another note, I’m in the reviewing mood, so I’m hoping to churn out a few more before the inspiration passes! So, until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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I Finally Watched the Old Fruits Basket | Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 26-episode summer 2001 anime “Fruits Basket,” animated by Studio Deen, directed by Akitarou Daichi, and based on the manga of the same name by Natsuki Takaya.

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The Girl with a Big Heart

Despite losing her mother in a car accident and being kicked out of her grandfather’s house due to renovation, 16-year-old Tohru Honda manages to love life like no one else you’ve ever known. Lying to her friends and family that she’s already found a new place to stay (so as to not burden them) Tohru sets up camp *literally* in the woods.

One fateful night after a long shift at work, Tohru returns to her tent only to find it crushed and flattened by a landslide. Desperately digging through the rubble for the last precious picture of her mother, Tohru faints in the mud. Luckily, the prince of her high school, Yuki Sohma, and his author cousin, Shigure Sohma, come to her aid and even invite Tohru to stay with them until her grandfather’s home renovations are finished.

But as life (and the shoujo genre) would have it, a roof over one’s head doesn’t come free, and so Tohru works as a housekeeper at the Sohma house in return for room and board. The Sohma’s aren’t an ordinary family, however: if a Sohma is hugged by someone of the opposite gender, POOF, they temporarily transform into one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac! (Plus, they return to being human without their clothes on.) Toss in Kyo Sohma, the fiery zodiac cat, and you’ve got quite the crazy household.

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While the Sohmas’ secret causes more sticky (and silly) situations than not, this strange phenomenon isn’t all giggles for Tohru and especially the members of her new family. Rather, the curse of the zodiac has caused all of the Sohmas to bear the tremendous weight of their dark family history. Some are more complacent about the situation than others, but none of them are happy with what the curse has brought them.

As Tohru meets more of the family’s members, she continues to see the light casting such great shadows across each of their hearts. But even with her unusually big heart and kind yet resilient nature, is there a limit to the heartache that Tohru can take?

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Welcome to the Sohma Household!

Oh Tohru, where to begin with you! She’s just about the sweetest young lady you’ll ever meet, so determined and steadfast, yet also gentle and supportive. Full of gratitude for her life and warmth to spare, I couldn’t think of a better protagonist for such a story as this. I love Tohru’s character, I really do, and I totally get why you all do, too! But as a dub fan myself, I couldn’t fully appreciate Tohru without giving praise to Laura Bailey for bringing this clumsy yet polite high school girl to life. UGH, I just love listening to old dubs and hearing Laura Bailey as anything, but this, without a doubt, is a hallmark role for a reason.

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Now for mah boys, where are my Prince Yuki fans? Kyo Sohma stans?? Prior to watching, all I knew about Fruba was that all of the male Shomas were supposedly boyfriend material. I get it now. Kyo and Yuki are ICONIC, like fire and ice, cat and mouse (rat), respectively; the Asuka and the Rei of the shoujo world. The smart one perfectly imperfect, the stupid one imperfectly perfect. Although both are unable to open their hearts to “normal” people, these two rivals in arms compete for the affection of Miss Honda without holding back, unbeknownst to their own feelings in the beginning.

And yeah, in case you were wondering, #TeamKyo ALL THE WAY. After voicing Kaworu in Eva 3.33, I never thought I could fanboy over Jerry Jewell this badly. Turns out, I can.

I couldn’t wrap up the Sohmas without mentioning some of my other favorites, however; if Kyo is #bestboy, then Shigure is best man cause DADDY AM I RIGHT. Jokes aside, I really do love the zodiac dog and all his whimsical teasing. John Burgmeier’s Shirgure is just as slippery as his personality should be. Same could be said about Chris Sabat’s overly frilly pompousness for Ayame Sohma, our resident snake, cause wow, just such dream casting.

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Sweetly, Softly, Serenade Me

Ah, here we are, Fruba‘s biggest deal-breaker: the animation. Studio Deen isn’t known for producing the most beautiful works by any means, and it pains me to report that as much as I love the characters, the show kinda looks like ass. To be honest, not many early 2000s anime fair as well as those that came before (and most certainly those we have now), but the inconsistently drawn faces and blocky body structures make Fruba 2001 a pretty bland watch, especially when compared to the 2019 remake (I mean, I would hope so, at least). The chibi art style for the many comedic moments in the series is iconically well-done, however, so I’ll at least give it points for being extra cute and even hilarious at times.

There’s also a problem with the anime-only ending, but I can’t and won’t add more on that simply because I do not know how faithful that ending is to the manga. While it may seem totally out of touch given the fluffier content of the earlier half, perhaps the original story does go that dark, that suddenly, to which I can only really say . . . yikes. Emotional, absolutely, but it still hits hard from waaaay outta left field.

Much of the actual OST for me is a blur, but I loved the reprises and acoustic versions of the OP and ED featured throughout the series’ run. The actual theme songs happened to exist during the days of dubbing the music, so the OP and ED are in English. And I love that too. Hearing Laura Bailey softly signing along to “Chiisana Inori” at the end of each episode was the gift you earned for having to watch the drab animation. But to hear the bittersweet “For Fruits Basket” immediately following as the OP was, well, emotionally draining to say the least. (It really just HITS ya.) Ahh, my heart, what a lovely pair the two make!

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Acceptance Begins with Understanding

From the synopsis alone, I can see why the series has become so iconic to the genre. The scenarios in Fruits Basket are as classic as they get—I can only imagine, if there’s an anime romance trope out there, Fruba‘s got it. Whether the quirkiest or steamiest of situations, however, the series handles the delivery more gently than most. It’s almost as if the series, despite how depressing it can be, is too kind for its own good. And you can bet Tohru is a huge part of why Fruba manages to be simultaneously innocent and full of depth and heart.

The story is richly woven with character dramas and inspiring little tales reminiscent of a child’s bedtime storybook, Tohru serving as both the narrator and the characters’ guiding light. Each of the Sohmas possess an individually distorted view of their dark pasts, and after years of rejection, isolation, oppression, and feeling like an outcast, who could blame them? These are wounds that even time cannot heal—scars that will never fade—and yet, Tohru tries to bandage them up anyway. Through her accepting essence, Tohru allows Kyo, Yuki, and so many others in the family to vent their frustrations, their past errors, and their regrets.

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After what feels like a long, exhausting therapy session, our zodiac friends slowly come to peace with themselves and, at last, feel proud for being who—not what—they are. As someone willing to understand them, Tohru offers to do what no outsider has ever done before and help shoulder their burden, however tremendous the weight, and I couldn’t even begin to fathom how relieving that must feel. “Finally, I can tell someone. FINALLY, I can be me!”

From me to you, don’t sleep on this story as long as I did. With the new season airing, tons of fans around the world are reconnecting with their favorite zodiac friends and passionate OTPs and ships. To miss out on such fun would be tragic. So, whether the old, stale, yet genuine 2001 version or this latest vibrant retelling, watch Fruits Basket. Then you, too, will see what all the ruckus is about in the Sohma household—and why it’s such a heartwarming, endearing little place to stay.

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You never know what will happen tomorrow! If it’s not tomorrow, then maybe the next day. Maybe after a year, or even ten years . . . But even so, as long as you’re alive, things keep happening. As long as you’re alive, wishes keep getting made. — Tohru Honda


Afterword

What more can I say, Fruits Basket is a classic after all. So classic, in fact, that I’m awarding this long-awaited series with the “Cake” title, a series so sweet it’d be a crime to skip out on. That said, I’d only make it a true must for shoujo fans. If romance and cutesy fun stuff ain’t your thing, skip it, or better yet try the 2019 version. At least that one looks pretty (not to say I won’t crush over 2001 Kyo for the next year). There’s so much heart in this series, guys—I GET WHY Y’ALL LOVE IT SO MUCH. And the dub, oh my god, they really milked this one for all its worth. So honestly, truly wonderful.

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Do you have any memories with Fruits Basket 2001? Ooh, what about a favorite zodiac member?? You’re gonna have to let me know in the comments for sure! I’ll forever treasure this past spring, spending my weekends watching this beloved show with my sister. In fact, the remake may be why I decided to watch it now, but my sister’s the one who shared this series with me in the first place! Thanks so much for reading another rambling gush-fest of mine, and until the next post, this has been

– Takuto, your host

The Scope of the Universe: Gurren Lagann Revisited

A few days ago, I took to Twitter following my rewatch of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and tweeted this:

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If you didn’t notice it sitting there in my collection post, I recently (and FINALLY) got a hold of the Gurren Lagann limited edition DVD set released by Aniplex of America several years back. It’s a set that I’ve wanted ever since I laid eyes on it—and that was before I even watched the series! You can only imagine my elation when I managed to get this OOP set for just $60 after haggling with the eBay seller for a couple days.

Now, as the title of this post indicates, I’m not going to review the series. Nah, I’ve already done that, and I still stand by everything I say in my review of Gurren LagannRather, this is just to express my feelings about it now, three years after my first viewing. I like to think I’m a different person compared to when I first watched this series, and correspondingly, the show means different things to me now than when I first saw Lagann take flight in that iconic opening episode.

This isn’t anything new. Y’all are probably familiar with this show’s hype given how well it has been passed on from fan to fan. Heck, perhaps the only reason you watched it was because of someone else’s recommendation. And there’s a good reason for its constant spreading throughout the past decade.

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From Gainax’s off-the-walls animation to the high-octane soundtrack of ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWAHHH, Gurren Lagann delivers consistent quality, still holding up TWELVE years later as one of anime’s best-looking and best-sounding. I literally started CRYING once I heard “Libera Me From Hell” again in the finale, you guys. It’s the stuff of legends, I’m telling you. And with all this recent circulation of what it means for an anime to be “classic,” well, can I just say that whatever your standards may be, Gurren Lagann most certainly fits the bill.

And the ENDING. I can’t even begin to fathom the scope of Team Dai-Gurren’s galactic quest. From a tiny hole in the ground, to the Earth’s surface, the moon, and beyond the Milky Way. That’s just nuts! Since my rewatch, I’ve found myself sitting here just staring at the wall more and more, just trying to comprehend it all. What even is at the end of the universe? What other kinds of life are out there among the stars? Will we ever earn the chance to interact with such forces? I mean, this is a Gainax series, so I’m theoretically not supposed to risk a massive headache over trying to rationalize the impossible, but that’s half the fun, really.

According to Wikipedia, the universe measures 93 billion light years across. The freakin’ Universe. Proportionally, that’s how big Gurren Lagann‘s story is. Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but when you have a climax that ends in two cosmically sized robots (or energy beings at this point) hurling galaxies at each other, you know your story is kinda big. My point is, to discount any of the events of Gurren Lagann and label it as anything less would be, well, a lie.

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In my review, I called Gurren Lagann The Larger-Than-Life Story of Us.” Pretty title, right? That’s not simply me trying to be poetic, though. The series is all about evolution. Each and every day, we try to evolve—to push ourselves to the max—just to be better, EVEN IF only the slightest bit, than we were the day before.

The death of Kamina is one of many pathos the series evokes to inspire that drive to change, to improve. Within Simon, Yoko, and everyone else is this incredible swell of kinetic energy, a rawness that can only expressed through a studio like Gainax. Sometimes this spiral force spills over as a storm of chaotic emotions; other times it is love, a powerhouse which carries the potential to change this simultaneously rational and insane universe we live in.

Gurren Lagann is zany through to the very end. So much happens in such little time, it’s absolutely unbelievable. Lagann’s bombastic protagonists and equally bizarre antagonists thrust upon you a story that demands your attention as it dares to break through the heavens. It’s a weight that doesn’t have to be shouldered alone, however; the series has solidified itself as a timeless ode to the vigor of the human spirit, and a demonstration of the sheer audacity of the human race.

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I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this post anymore, but I do know one thing for certain: the day we decide to forget this classic story is the day the anime community will lose a monumental part of its core—but not without gaining something new to fill its place. What that new show or shows will be, only the future us will know. I do hope we never give up on Gurren Lagann, but the inevitability of fate that the series itself wields might prove my wish otherwise.

So, going back to my desperate-sounding tweet, please, PLEASE never stop sharing Gurren Lagann with all your friends and the wonderful people of this community. Such a vibrant star should never lose its light, but as we too continue to change and evolve, sometimes we have to leave even the best and most precious of our memories behind.

I only hope that the great Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann doesn’t fade from our hearts anytime soon.

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When does a man die? When he is hit by a bullet? No. When he suffers a disease? No. When he eats a soup made out of a poisonous mushroom? No! A man dies when he is forgotten. — Kamina


I really haven’t done a post like this before, but I had some thoughts I needed to vent and didn’t know how else to do it. If you share the same sentiments about this beloved title, I’d love to hear them! Tell me your stories, I’ll listen. In fact, merely sharing mine with you again led me to the creation of a new category on my blog: the Revisited titles. Since I tend to rewatch stuff a bunch, it only felt right to finally honor the series that are worthy of such revisits!

The weirdest thing about all of this was that, even just a couple months ago, I didn’t even feel that passionately about the series. But as soon as summer hit—the exact same time of the year in which I initially watched Lagann—man, it just kicked on like crazy. I HAVE to watch Gurren Lagann again, I kept telling myself. So I did, and I bought it, too. If you’re strapped for cash, however, the entire series is available on Crunchyroll for FREE!

Anyway, thanks for reading my loose ramblings. It was quite enjoyable being able to get these thoughts out here. Now, I can finally move on. ‘Till next time!

– Takuto, your host

What My Anime Collection Means To Me | OWLS “Happiness”

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 fifth monthly topic of 2019, “Happiness,” I wanted to share with you all something that I rarely talk about, yet is one of the biggest things that defines me as both a fan and a person: my anime collection!

Happiness is subjective. We all have different definitions of what happiness means to us and we also feel happiness in varying degrees. This month we will be exploring several questions describing our happiness in our fandoms, communities, and hobbies. Why do we find enjoyment watching anime or reading manga? Why did we decide to join the anime or pop culture communities? Why do we blog about our hobbies or cosplay as our favorite characters? This topic is all about the passions we have for our interests and why they are important to us.

Oh man, there was so much I wanted to talk about with this prompt! But, I love getting to share any part of my collection with you guys, so I settled on that. Thanks Lyn for going easy on us this month and giving me an excuse to share my stuff!


 

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The Main Shelf

Ah, here we are. Welcome to my room, my little safe haven in this wild world we live in. The main shelf here houses most of my anime and even a few volumes of manga. Littered throughout the display are Nendoroids, Funko Pop figures, and even some fake succulents (cause #aesthetic). Across the top is my Evangelion collection, which became an instant favorite of mine immediately after my first watching and has accumulated over the years.

My room is pretty large, but even then I have a lot of stuff, so for Eva to maintain an entire row to itself goes to show how much it means to me. You’ll find that a show or franchise’s meaning is almost a direct determinant of its shelf space prioritization in my collection. That means Evangelion gets its own shelf, and the same goes for Fate, Danganronpa, Ghost in the Shell, Sailor Moon, so on and so forth. Ain’t that nice?


I’ve squeezed as many bookcases in this tiny space as possible. Being surrounded by books and magazines makes me feel calm. It makes the room seem wrapped in a layer of protection. As if nothing or no one can get to me.

— Angelo Surmelis, The Dangerous Art of Blending In


Each mini shelf is compartmentalized to a certain genre, my favorite shelves being the sci-fi section, the mecha shelf, the anime classics, and my magical girl shelf with Ms. Mami Tomoe there. Between categorization by genre, height, and color, there’s a mutual method to my madness (that probably only I understand, let’s be honest). Each little box contains so many stories, and yet each tell a larger a story all on their own thanks to how I’ve arranged them—according to my thoughts and feelings about each title.

And that’s one of the many wonderful qualities of my collection that makes it just that: a collection all by me, for me. It won’t carry the same weight for someone passing by, and that’s just fine. But to me, these shelves encompass my entire world, as well as chronicle my entire life.

New Shelves, New Room

This is one of those “right time, right place” kinda posts, as I just completed remodeling my entire room this past spring and BOI am I happy with it. Previously, all of my manga and light novels were housed on this old, handmade, plywood box shelf that had three compartments to store my books. Not only was it kinda ugly, but it was rough textured and offered limited storage.

So, four days of work and $150 later, I opted to finally remove the tacky padding from my wall, repaint it all, and build five new shelves of (with my dad’s help). And they’re cut from entirely REAL birch wood this time. Here are the results:

 

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I wanted to share that little story with you all because it is just once instance of me trying to upgrade my collection. My room is in constant flux; I’m always rearranging books, movies, games, art, you name it, just to find the right feng shui. I like to think that every change I’ve made to the shelves and how things are arranged are a step in the right direction—one step closer to the ideal image in my mind. That said, this was quite the leap forward, but I’m really thrilled with the results.

In fact, I loved it so much that I ripped padding off my other wall to do the exact same thing, although on a much smaller scale:

 

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This set of five three-foot boards supports my innermost interests. From Free!‘s impact on my own personal swim career and these other seaside delights to my fandom favorites like Todoroki ANYTHING and the Danganronpa series, this small shelf carries so much weight beyond a few Blu-ray cases and acrylic stands. It’s an expression of love, of dedication, and a way to give back to the series that gave so much to me. 

With these new shelves, I can showcase all my favorite anime, manga, novels, figures, and other merchandise—pieces which, individually, contain stories, but combined together tell one giant story. If you were to walk into my room, I could point to . . .

the DVD that started my journey,

the title that impacted me the most,

the anime that made me want to try new things,

the book that made me fall in love with reading,

the figure that reminds me all about a character’s hardships,

the art that inspires me to improve my own work,

and so many more emotions and memories that words alone can’t properly explain.


Inspiration can come from anywhere. 


Why Do I Collect Anime?

Anime is an expensive hobby. It doesn’t help that I’m also interested in manga, light novels, figures, soundtracks, games, art books, art prints, rubber straps, and more recently, acrylic stands, chirashi posters, and shikishi boards. I’ve sacrificed a great deal of money and physical space toward my collecting hobbies, which has led me to spend even more money in compensating for the collection’s gradually increasing size.

So why do I do it all? Well, of course it makes me happy. I wouldn’t pour this much time and cash into something that made me feel worse than I did before. I’ve always been a collector, whether for Pokemon and Yugioh cards or Bakugan and Beyblades. On that note, perhaps collecting physical anime and related media was inevitable.

But on the other hand, while I love collecting for my own sake, I also like being able to share my library with my family and friends. I can’t even tell you the number of hours my siblings and I have spent chatting with one another as we admired the collection and all the adventures it has brought us.

Also, if you couldn’t tell by the way I’ve stylized my blog, I’m an archivist. I take immense pleasure in experiencing something and then filing that experience away in some sort of physical form. All my school work from years past is neatly organized and archived, and my books and movies are no different.

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While outsiders may see my collection as a costly stack of movies and merch (to which they’re not wrong), I see a wall of memories. It’s a wall that has built up slowly over seven years, starting with my S.A.V.E. DVD of Funimation’s Negima!? and accumulating until now where my $75 Hajime Hinata figure from Danganronpa dominates my shelf. But even then, it’s all still there: most if not all of the series I have enjoyed have been archived in this wall, and the memories have only continued to amass.

No matter how I try to look away, my eyes always wander to the collection—to this gigantic three-dimensional photo album which comprises sounds and sounds, textures and thoughts, musings and memories. Wherever I gaze, I am transported into another time, another place where another me was living and experiencing yet another story. This mental time travel serves as a constant reminder as to where I’ve gone, how far I’ve come, and even where I’m headed next. It is simultaneously the past, the present, and the future.

Reorganizing my collection’s display is a passionate, artistic, therapeutic, and fulfilling endeavor. The many parts and pieces of my anime collection are symbolic of who I am as a person. But beyond owning these items or possessing all this stuff, merely knowing that this collection of thingsthis wall of memories—has shaped who I am today and where I may go tomorrow is a thought that brings me true and unfettered happiness.


A bookshelf is a reflection of its owner’s personality.


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Afterword

A seemingly simple prompt at first, this post somehow managed to pull everything out of me! Reflecting at what collecting means to me and physically writing it down has made me really appreciate the availability of these kinds of goods to us fans. I mean, we can get a hold of nearly everything and everything, and all because there are people who are willing to create, and more people who strive to bring those creations to us. Even if you can’t get a hold of that $200 dream figure or $300 Blu-ray import, we really are fortunate to live in the times that we do.

Do you collect anime, manga or content from other related mediums? If so, why do you collect what you do, and what started you on your collecting journey? I love talking about hobbies (if you couldn’t tell), so feel free to ramble down in the comments—I won’t judge! Also, if I made an Insta, would you be interested in seeing more close-ups of my collection through that?

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This concludes my May 21st entry in the OWLS “Happiness” blog tour. Flow (Den of Nyanpasu) went right before me with a post about the joys of anime sequel announcements and how much gaming means to them, which you can read right here! Now, look out for the lovely Irina (I Drink and Watch Anime) with, get this, a post about NATSUME (plz never stop writing about this show) this Wednesday, May 22nd! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

400 Followers Q&A Celebration (Your Answers!)

Hello all!

Welcome to Part II of my 400 followers celebration! We’re here today because of how awesome all of you are, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing what I am still if it weren’t for all your support. Today, I’ll be giving all the long-awaited A’s to your tantalizing Q’s that I asked for over in the previous post and on social media.

Thank you to all those who asked me questions!! I went ahead and divided up your questions based on subject manner. So, without further ado, let’s see what my friends had to ask of me!


Writing & the Cafe

Matt (Matt-in-the-Hat): Do you prefer your coffee cold or hot or both?

Matt’s starting us off with a classic. Personally, I see coffee as a dessert drink, so cold!

Moyatori (The Moyatorium): Since you own a cafe, I gotta ask: what’s your favourite coffee (and dessert pairing)?

Lately, I’ve really enjoyed sippin’ on a green tea frappuccino with a chocolate muffin ordered to-go. 🙂

Aria (The Animanga Spellbook): Since people are asking about coffee, what sort of cafe beverage do you most like (not necessarily coffee)? [Also] why is your online alias Takuto? When I think of that name, I think Star Driver, but I’m not sure if I’m right…

You can never go wrong with mocha anything, so I’ll pick that! As for where the name’s origin, believe it or not, it was actually from an anime name generator. How original, right? After plugging in my own name, hittin’ GENERATE, and swapping out a couple characters, “Takuto” was born, and I think the name actually fits me quite well, don’t you? (As a side note, LitaKino has persuaded me to watch Star Driver on numerous occasions—maybe I’ll make that happen this summer!

Karandi (100 Word Anime): Which anime characters would you most want to invite to your cafe (assuming they were all in the one universe and your anime cafe was a real location)?

Ooh, such a good question. Off the top of my head, I’d love to sit down with Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service), Chitanda Eru (Hyouka), Makise Kurisu (Steins;Gate), and Mikoto Misaka (A Certain Scientific Railgun). Why? Kiki for her fun-loving nature; Chitanda for her aloofness and ability to keep the conversation going through constant probing; Kurisu so we can at least talk a little science while we’re at the table; and Misaka because she’s just such a fun, supportive friend that I know would laugh at our jokes (even if they weren’t funny).

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7mononoke (Anime Rants): Hmm… *instantly thinks of half a dozen questions that you’d never answer probably like how old are you* *reconsiders* … How about this question. Was there a blog you once loved that, more than any other, inspired you to be a blogger?

What a powerful question. One that immediately comes to mind is Shiroyuni over at The Limitless Imagination. Shiroyuni was a great online friend and one of the few bloggers who supported me the most back in 2015 when I started all this. She was respectful and kind, and always included me in on various tag and award posts that were so frequent back in the day. As a result, I went on to meet so many new bloggers, many of which are still close with me today, thankfully. I think Shiroyuni got busy due to school (and life in general) and had to leave, but Crimson would know more. I owe a lot to Shiroyuni, and wherever you are, we miss you! And we hope you’re doing ok!

Irina (I drink and watch anime): Ok tell me the truth, is there a little part of you that’s weirdly miffed about not having received a hate comment? [Also] are you open for collabs? *cough cough* (Animated Andy asked the same question)

I can be quite the “peacekeeper” both here and IRL, and cause of this I wondered: What if I’m not taking as strong a stance as I should in my posts? What if I come across as being so “on-the-fence” all the time that nobody finds my opinions interesting?? AM I NOT BEING MEAN ENOUGH??? (In other words Irina, a bit, but it’s somewhat a good problem to have.) As for collabs, YES, hit me up! I’m an introvert, so reaching out isn’t a strong suit of mine, but I’d be thankful for the thought!

What’s my Favorite ______ ?

Mel (Mel in Anime Land): Top 5 favorite male and female characters from Seraph of the End?

Oh Mel, you always ask the good ones. In order from 5 to 1, THE GORLS: Mahiru Hiragi, Mitsuba Sangu, Horn Skuld, Krul Tepes, and Shinoa Hiragi. THE BOIS: Crowley Eusford, Ferid Bathory, Shinya Hiragi, Yuichiro Hyakuya, and Mikaela Hyakuya. (Picking best boi was so hard omg)

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Naja (Blerdy Otome): Let’s see burning questions… What is your favorite non-anime show?

Such a good question, but thankfully an easy one, too. Without a doubt, I’d go with Avatar: The Last Airbender. So many good memories with this show.

Ayano (Kawaii Paper Pandas): What are some of your favorite so-called “guilty pleasure” anime?

THIS question. Alrighty peeps, take notes! Seraph of the End, No.6, Negima!?, Haganai, Yamada’s First Time, DIVE!!, and DAKAICHI. For an extended list, hit up my DMs. 😉

Gigi (Animepalooza): What is an anime you like that no one else seems to? One you hate? What would you recommend for me to watch above all else (not necessarily me specifically, but that would also work)?

Interestingly, most of the shows that fall under this category come from my earlier days, including: Negima!?, Chaos;Head, Fractale, and Danganronpa: The Animation. These were gateway pieces for me, and although I do view them more critically now, I still love them even if they get the hate. One anime that I DID not care for (that everyone seems to enjoy) was Bungou Stray Dogs (although I am giving this a second shot). As for straight-up hate, look no further than Corpse Party.

For EVERYONE, I always recommend three: Attack on Titan, Code Geass, and anything Studio Ghibli. To all my veteran friends, however: Steins;Gate, Evangelion, and From the New World. (Gigi, I’m recommending Eva again to you cause you need to finish it, hahaha)

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Other Fun Stuff About Me

Keiko (Keiko’s Anime Blog): What medium do you enjoy other than anime?

For story-telling mediums, I like manga—light novels even more. But on a more artistic side I also love anime and film soundtracks, a passion which is reflected in many of the reviews I write.

Krystallina (Daiyamanga): If you could be on any game show (currently airing or not, doesn’t matter), what would it be?

Oh god, none of them honestly, ahaha. What’s the one where I pick either curtain number one, two, or three?

Jamie (Jamie Talks Anime): How old are you, and what was an anime you thought you wouldn’t care for but tried anyway and was majorly surprised?

I’m currently 20! (Need to update my bio!) Hmm, I really didn’t think I’d like Fairy Tail, BUT . . . I’m just over 30 eps in and enjoying it much more than I thought I would.

Last but certainly not least, I’ve got a SLEW of questions from Crimson (Read at Night)!

1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Flight! I mean, how nifty would it be to not worry about height as a disadvantage, or have the ability to soar in the clouds?

2. Would you be the main character, the villain, sidekick, other? Why? And what kind of series would it be?

I’d want to be that reliable badass who graces everyone with their appearance and saves the day without raising a finger. Whether it’s the heroic All Might, the impenetrable Lady Satsuki Kiryuin, the inspiring Kuranosuke Koibuchi, the fierce Captain Levi, or the ever-graceful Mami Tomoe, there are some characters whose mere presence on screen is enough to calm the viewer and make them feel that everything is going to be ok, and I respect that. I wish I could have that kind of effect on people, to make them breath easier knowing that I am there, just as these characters have done for me. Given the need for high stakes scenarios, I’d go with sci-fi, fantasy, or supernatural. (Regardless, it needs LOTS of action lol.)

3. What would your (blank – the answer to q2) theme song be?

I always liked how powerful and imposing Kill la Kill‘s Satsuki Kiryuin’s presence was with this theme, so I’ll go with that. Go give it a listen!

4. You walk into a public restroom and there are 10 stalls to your left and 10 stalls to your right, which do you choose? (if you choose urinal…they’re in the stalls)

Hmmm, we’re asking the real questions now. Assuming the restroom is empty, the furthest stall from the door.

5. What does your perfect sandwich consist of?

Turkey, lettuce, spinach, provolone cheese, cucumbers, green peppers, and a dash of ranch or honey mustard depending on the day.

6. You find out you’re going to die tomorrow! How did you find out?

Oh shit! Well then, I’d say it was a warning from the aliens—after all, they told us ALL that we were going to die, remember!?

7. What is your greatest food weakness?

Olives. They’re gross.

8. You have been invited to a wedding and the dress code requires guests to cosplay. What will you wear?

Suzaku Kururugi’s white knight suit and tux. Classy AND ready for battle.

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9. How is school going? You’re kicking its butt, right?

Is this the part where I tell her it’s kicking mine? No? Ok. Uhh, it’s fine—now that it’s SUMMER.

10. You have been chosen to represent the anime community as their singer in a singing competition, what song do you choose to perform?

ZAAAaaannKOOOKKUUUU NAA TENNSHHII—

11. Same question but for dancing! Oh, and you gotta pick a partner. Who?

I’d love to share a dance with Mako Akagi from Welcome to the Ballroom. It can be anything she’d like, too, as the soundtrack for this anime is FANTASTIC. Mako’s a sweetheart, plus she wouldn’t tell me if I were stepping on her feet the entire time!

12. You come home to find all your furniture has been moved, what happened?

I get bored easily, and I love a change of pace. Oh yeah, and amnesia’s a b*tch.

13. It’s been days and you’ve been digging into the Earth nonstop. What have you found?

OMG it’s a core drill from Gurren Lagann! BRO, LET’S COMBINE!!

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And there we go, I hope you learned a bit more about who I am and what I do! Thank you all for celebrating this milestone with me. It’s not 500 followers, but since I missed out on 300 I figured I’d have some fun with this one. With uni out for the summer, regular content should be back on schedule, if you’ll allow me just a bit of time to settle into a routine. Until the next post, thank you so much for 400 followers! ‘Till next time!

– Takuto

My (Belated) Spring 2019 Simulcast Line-Up!

If you’ve followed me for even a month, you’d know that tardiness is a characteristic that I excel at, unintentionally.

Hello all, how have you enjoyed the spring anime season so far? Despite my not announcing it, I am following a couple shows this season. What might that be, you ask? Well—one month later than planned—let’s take a look!

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2

Y’all already KNOW I’m loving the return of AoT. Two episodes in and I feel like we’ve already covered so much ground, story-wise. Looking forward to more kickass Sawano, more epic cinematic animation, and more mysteries unveiled. So glad to be back in this universe—for me, any wait, no matter the length, is worth it for more AoT.

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Fruits Basket (2019)

Alright, I haven’t actually started this one on account of trying to finish the OG first. That said, I only have four episodes left, so I can’t wait to jump in on all the fun. While I really like what I’m currently getting with the old FB, I absolutely love what I’m seeing of the new stuff on twitter!

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Wise Man’s Grandchild (Kenja no Mago)

Sooo, it was pretty much the poster visual that convinced me to watch this series. (It reminded me of Negima!, which inspired me to revisit the Negi manga.) And while I want to lump it in with the rest of these generic stuck-in-another-world garbage heaps we’ve been getting recently, I’m honestly having too much fun with Kenja no Mago‘s story to really care. Its innocent, self-aware comedy timed with a magical world that pulls the viewer in makes for an entertaining enough combination.

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Carole & Tuesday

Oh man, Carole & Tuesday. Of all the titles here, I anticipate this will be the one that’ll squeeze the life out of me and leave me out to dry. As one of the few people who was actually looking forward to this anime before seeing the duet scene (which you should totally watch even if just for that), I have really high hopes for it (as in wreck me, plz).

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Sarazanmai

. . . And here’s one that I had absolutely no intention of watching, yet can’t seem to avoid no matter where I go. EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT THE GAY IKUHARA COP SHOW, and we love a conversation. This might turn into a spring leftover for me, but I’ll still dare to try.

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Sounds of Life (Kono Oto Tomare!)

Man, this spring really is full of pretty people, isn’t it? Last but certainly not least is Sounds of Life, a music drama anime that I’ve been looking forward to ever since the first promo came out. Not much to report on it, as I haven’t started (and unfortunately, not many are talking about it), but aside from Fruits Basket and Carole & Tuesday, if there’s one other show that’ll be going around and breaking hearts this season, you can bet it’ll be this one.

Other shows I may pick up as leftovers: Fairy Gone, One Punch Man 2


And there you have it, my highly anticipated line-up for the spring 2019 season! Are we following any of the same titles? If we’re not, is there something I should be watching? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Thank You For 400 Followers! (Ask Me Anything Q&A)

Hello, my friends!!

While I’m a little late to the celebration (21 and some-odd email goons behind), I still would like to extend my greatest thanks for following Takuto’s Anime Cafe! We’ve done it, we’re past the 400 threshold, and the road to 500 is on the horizon, yippee!!

From every view, like, comment, and follow, I sincerely appreciate your support. There’s nothing that gets me going more than hitting that publish button and receiving the notification flow (my phone doesn’t get many calls, if you couldn’t tell). You guys are my social sphere, my fellow mates who I’d die on the battlefield for (so extreme!), and would certainly sit down and share a cup of tea with.

Real quick, I’d like to boast one thing about my fellow cafe-goers that I’m sure not many blogs get to gloat over: I have NEVER received a single hate comment from anything I’ve written in all my four (nearly five) years of blogging. (Not even from spam, which is a miracle!) I’m dead serious, you’ve all been so kind and supportive, and I’m truly unworthy of your friendliness and goodwill.

Lastly, if you’ve had any burning questions about I, Takuto the host, feel free to ask them now—I’ll be throwing a casual Q&A celebration for any willing takers, so ask away! My A’s to your highly anticipated Q’s will be dished out in a subsequent post, so fear not if I don’t answer you properly in the comments section.

I could go on about how lovely you all are, but I’m sure you already know that. Since 2019 began, my return to active blogging has been met with nothing but positivity and support, and I look forward to sharing more about my journey as an anime fan and as a human in future posts to come. There’s a lot on the plate, and I just can’t wait to serve it up!

Thank you for 400.

Humbly yours,

Takuto