She Flies Again! The Stellar Women of Space Battleship Yamato 2199 | OWLS “Feminine”

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 third monthly topic of 2019, “Feminine,” I’ll be veering far off the path of my usual writing format to hone in on one particularly stellar aspect of this classic sci-fi remake: the incredible women aboard the Yamato and the challenges they persist ad astra per aspera, or to the stars through difficulties.

In honor of Women’s History Month, the OWLS bloggers will explore the concepts of femininity and feminism. We each have our own definition of these two terms and we will explore our definitions using “feminine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “feminine” or show signs of a feminist agenda. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing women that supported us in our lives as well as sharing experiences involving women’s rights, oppression within the patriarchy, and/or issues of growing up as a woman or having a feminine persona.

Although seemingly simple, March’s theme has proven itself to be one of the trickiest ones yet. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer, and thanks again Lyn for the challenge!

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A brief, spoiler-free discussion on the female characters of the 26-episode 2012-2013 OVA series “Space Battleship Yamato 2199,” also localized as “Star Blazers 2199,” animated by Xebec and AIC, directed by Akihiro Enomoto with story by Yutaka Izubuchi, and based on the original 1970s television series created by Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto. 

Hope Lies 148,000 Light Years Away

The year is 2199. Our once magnificent blue and green mother Earth has been reduced to a radioactive desert wasteland by unyielding attacks from the hostile aliens of planet Gamilas, her remaining population forced into underground cities. But a glimmer hope arrives in a message from a distant peace-seeking planet of Iscandar, whose queen sends along with her sympathies the blueprints to build an admirable spaceship capable of making the long trek to Iscandar and the technological device to power it. What lies on Iscandar will supposedly help clean and restore Earth to her former health.

With haste, the United Nations Cosmo Navy resurrects the long-sunken battleship Yamato by installing the mysterious Iscandarian technology to its core, transforming it into the titular vessel: the Space Battleship Yamato. Collectively placing what little faith and courage persists in the crew and its leader, the distinguished Captain Juuzou Okita, the Yamato departs Earth in the quest to receive Iscandar’s aid.

As she sails throughout space experiencing numerous technological issues and dealing with the onslaught of Gamilas fleets, the inexperienced crew of the Yamato must summon every inch of their resolve if they are to survive the storm of hardships and complete their mission: to save humanity before its estimated remaining time of 365 days expires.

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Feminist Strength Aboard the Yamato

Strength manifests in many different forms for many different people. For some, it’s physical might; others possess unwavering character and moral sets. With this post specifically, one of Yamato‘s greatest appeals is its approach to gender equality in crafting a well-rounded crew. Men and women alike share all kinds of important duties, be it navigation, operations, the fighter squadron, or the medical force.

But not all of these leading ladies got their roles handed to them—let’s take a quick look at how four of the main female characters define strength by their own values.

Lieutenant Yuki Mori

Leading with the Heart

Responding to Iscandarian expressions as if she were one of their own (or is she . . . ?), the Yamato‘s operations division head is always willing to meet discourse with a cup of tea. Literally. She feels deeply into the Iscandarian’s ultimate pursuit of life—that is, the salvation of all intelligent life in the universe—but is equally willing to stick up for her fellow comrades in arms, even when under scrutiny by said comrades for suspicious origins. Personally, I find that part to especially require guts.

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Lieutenant Mori’s approachable nature suits her well, her charm pulling in the admiration of both men and other women alike. Despite a rocky start with main character Lieutenant Susumu Kodai, we find that Yuki guides the Yamato’s course with compassion, sensitivity, and care for all life, and her ability to empathize and immediately form genuine connects with others serves Yuki as her greatest strength.

Kaoru Niimi

Willingness to Pursue Curiosity

Lieutenant Niimi is a bit of a tough nut to crack. Possessing a multi-faceted intelligence in technology and the sciences, Niimi’s many responsibilities as information chief and ship counselor kind of lie all over the ship. Although knowledge is her game, Niimi’s a dreamer. Having run the calculations herself, she sees very little chance of Earth ever rehabilitating, even with foreign aid. As a result, she finds herself drawn to stopping off at every Earth-like planet capable of sustaining life throughout their arduous journey (which, by the way, stirs a lot of good drama later down the line).

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In a way, Niimi uses her skills and impressive brain to benefit all of mankind by thinking in the long run: I mean, let’s face it, we can’t live on Earth forever, not if we keep acting the way we do. But unfortunately for her, Captain Okita and most of the crew is dead-set on reviving Earth. Her duty as the guardian for mankind’s future is a noble one, but also a very lonely one, and as frustrating as her decisions can be at times, Niimi goes beyond all of the ship’s crew in one crucial area—weaponizing her failures to fight on the side of good.

Melda Dietz

Valuing Honor in One’s Craft

Without spoiling too much about this next admirable female, Lower Storm Leader Melda Dietz does indeed fight on the side of Gamilas, but not in the way the other Gamilan soldiers do. A fighter pilot for the enemy, Dietz originally enters the Yamato as bargaining chip, but quickly becomes a wartime buddy on the front. A warrior for justice, Dietz realizes the corrupt ways of her homeland and commits herself to the side of righteousness. It’s a valiant thing to go against one’s mother country when you know it has deteriorated from what she originally stood for, and that’s what makes Melda Dietz a figure worth remembering.

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Did I also mention that of all the pilots, she’s also one of the most admirable to fly in the black abyss of space? Dietz values pride on the battlefield, as well as capability, independence, and the willingness to deter from the norm. Being bold just comes second nature to this wild red baron.

Akira Yamamoto

Embracing Diversity

Last but certainly not least is Ensign Akira Yamamoto, an often unsung heroine with arguably the biggest feminist energy going for her. Even though her elder brother fought bravely as a pilot for Earth, Yamamoto was assigned to accounting because of her status as a woman. She also suffers from occasional discrimination for being the only Martian aboard the ship. But what does she do with these differences of hers? How does she quell the warrior’s spirit residing within her?

She cuts her long silver hair, steals a fighter jet, and proves her self-worth on the battlefield. Now she’s the best fighter pilot the Yamato’s got, and nobody’s complaining. What a badass.

Yamamoto uses her rare talents to the best of her ability, not letting anyone stop her from applying her unique origin and skill set to the betterment of the entire crew. She knows she’s an exception to the rule, but she nonetheless embraces these differences as her core strengths, driving her to become a fully realized character.

Embracing her diverse nature as her greatest strength, Yamamoto transforms societal disadvantage into an inspirational force for militaristic equality. And if that’s not the feminist spirit, I’m not sure what is.

The Future Looks Bright

With all of these old sci-fi series, it’s becomes somewhat disappointing to look back and see a male-dominate crew with perhaps a few token women (usually used more for fanservice) or female nurses. But not Space Battleship Yamato 2199. The cast and crew is as expansive as the widening universe, and as we go along creating more wonderful works of fiction, our scope only becomes more diverse—our focus becomes more about real people as opposed to idealized standards. Sure, there are a few carbon copies here and there, but that only goes to show that the struggles that women face are universal issues felt by all.

The Space Battleship Yamato franchise revolves around themes of brave sacrifice, noble enemies, grandiose ideological feuds, resilience, and the respect for heroes lost on the battlefield. But it also ventures to the far edges of space to prove that no matter where you are in the universe, there will always be struggles concerning gender—and that there will always be courageous heroines out there willing to fight for our equality and our integrity.

Men read science fiction to build the future. Women don’t need to read it. They are the future. — Ray Bradbury


Afterword

There’s so much more to be said on 2199—so much so that I may make it the focus of my next OWLS post given that the theme for April just might fall under the same lines . . . ‘Till then, let’s celebrate the wonderful women of the Yamato along with the remainder of this tour!

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This concludes my March 13th entry in the OWLS “Feminine” blog tour. Kind of a shorter OWLS post from me, but I know the lovely folks running the monthly live-stream will appreciate it, haha! Aria (Animanga Spellbook) went right before me with a post on the leading ladies of Zombieland Saga, a series that from what I understand is equal parts bizarre and sheer fun—so check it out! Now, look out for my good friend Crimson (My Fujoshi Life) with a post on finding a voice in a special category of music this Saturday, March 16th! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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The Biggest Anime DVD Box Set I Own: RahXephon Limited Edition | Unboxing

Hello!

I’ve got a bit of a different post today. Believe it or not, unboxing and haul posts are some of my favorite to write because once the pictures have been taken, all I have to do is write a couple sentences and upload, easy-peasy.

Specifically though, I’m writing this post because, like any well-researched collector, I wanted to know whether this was the edition of RahXephon that I wanted to buy. But when I began scouring the web for pictures of this box, I found nothing. Now, maybe someone will be able to find security and satisfaction in this A-grade product.

Because oh man, what a fantastic set this is.

I’m gonna boast for a minute here and hail the RahXephon limited edition as the biggest anime DVD box set I own. I know these kinds of box sets have been around in anime for quite some time, but this is my first foray into the classic anime collecting scene (where you’d supposedly spend $30 on a DVD containing four episodes and do this seven times until you eventually roped in all 26-odd-some episodes), so let me have this one.

I was lucky enough to buy from a seller who not only sold it for just $45, but kept it in mint condition. Seriously, this beast is IMMACULATE—and it’s over 15 years old!! Proof that there are good collectors out there who take care of their stuff. And they packaged it so nicely too, bonus points! Really happy with this find.

But you just want to see this beautiful box, don’tcha? Alright, me too, so let’s go!


(NOTE: All of these images are placed in slide shows, so you might have to change browser to view them fully.)

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Here’s the box’s exterior: the front, back, top, and sides. I love the holographic foil printing on the logo (which is consistent on EACH of the DVDs as we’ll see here in a bit. The artwork is also particularly exquisite, capturing the mysticism of the story with these divine pieces worthy of framature in any museum. It’s really cool to see all 8 of the DVD spines together as well. Each is consistently laid out and color-coded, almost as if they were meant to go together or something!

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Onto the DVD cases themselves, each one contains key art from the series on a pristine white background overlaid with that holo-foil logo. Each set matches the color dot on the spine, which is a nice touch. Also included in this set is a hefty artbook for the film, Pluralitus Concentio, which makes the 8th DVD in this complete 8-disc set.

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The backsides of each DVD maintain the same white and color-coded schema. The designers also utilized the series’ theme of music to tie in clever phrases to each progression of the plot, beginning with the prelude and ending, of course, with an encore. I LOVE IT.

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Cracking into the DVDs—if you thought this set couldn’t get any better—you will find a miniature artbook for each set. The cover and back pages have the art printed on a specialty paper with a parchment/wax-like texture, which adds to the classiness of this set. Each pamphlet includes approximately 10 pages of character information, as well as art of the various robots and Dolems that appear throughout the series.

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Want a closer look? So do I! Here’s each DVD set complete with its disc and art pamphlet, as well as the film artbook. I really like the landscape art included on the inside pages of each little book. When you think about it, I guess this is what each DVD contained when it was individually purchased back in the day.

Again, this seller kept the box and its contents in such spotless condition that it truly feels like I’m owning a product that just came hot of the press, let alone an artifact from well over a decade ago.

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So to any fellow anime collector out there looking for a proper review of this set, I hope this post helps. If anyone is wanting an even closer look than I provide here, feel free to ask me in the comments. When I was still laying out my purchase options, it came down to either the thinpack (and then I’d buy the film for a separate $10) or this mammoth set, and I’m glad I stuck with the latter.

Will I buy more boxes like this in the future? Hahaha, good question, if my shelves can support it I guess. RahXephon was a special case given that its main accessibility from a physical standpoint was this, the thinpack, or a couple other thinpack-like options. Only time will tell, I suppose.

That’s all I’ve got for this one. In case you missed it, I watched RahXephon as part of my annual V-Day marathon and enjoyed it so much I also reviewed it on my blog (which you can read right here)! I’d be delighted if you checked it out. Friends and fellow collectors, ’till next time!

– Takuto, your post

 

 

The End of a Lovely Month! (Keiko’s Nomination)

Hello all!

As the title indicates, to wrap up this month of love and affection I’ll be responding to the “One Lovely Blog Award” that Keiko (Keiko’s Anime Blog) nominated me for back in, what, November of 2018? Yikes, little behind, but better late than never, right?

I always enjoy chatting with Keiko, and I particularly like seeing what she’s been up to reading-wise in her “Weekly Reads” segment. She’s also currently at the end of the 28-Day Shoujo Challenge for February 2019, so now’s a great time to catch up on what she’s been up too. Thanks for nominating me Keiko!

Rules:


1.  Display Award.

2.  Thank the person who gave you this award (and include a link to her/his blog).

3.  Share 7 things about yourself.

4.  Nominate 15 bloggers (I won’t be doing this part just because it’s been way too long lol).

7 Things About Me:

1.  I recently wrote some poems about memory for a cognitive psych class and the professor(s) approached me with an offer to print them in the updated version of the course textbook! I’ll keep you posted if they decide to move forward with that.

2.  Even though it’s winter, I don’t actually own much of a winter coat. Instead, I prefer to wear layers of light jackets.

3.  My most recent hobby collecting obsession is acrylic stands of anime characters. I never thought I’d buy one, and here I am sitting with three with a fourth on the way. It’s an obsession that came fast and without warning. Perhaps I’ll save the rest of the story for a Cafe Talk . . .

4.  I love buying anime for my collection, but I like buying anime for siblings and friends even more.

5.  Believe it or not, all of my blogging work is done on a tiny hand-me-down ASUS tablet/laptop thing. I’ve never owned a desktop set-up, and while I never plan to, I do wish to upgrade to a nicer laptop sometime this summer. ^ . ^

6.  Recently, I’ve seriously picked up healthy eating and daily exercising to lose weight for cosplaying. The scale may not be giving me lower digits, but I certainly do feel better about myself.

7.  Spring is my favorite season. Like New Year’s, it’s a time for cleansing, revival, and of course, spring cleaning. With the warmer weather coming soon, I plan to strip down my old wall fabric patterns and put up a new bracketed shelf system for all my anime, manga, light novels, and other related items. It’ll be a lighter colored wood, which will be a nice change from the dark browns and blacks of my current furniture. Excited for spring!


And that’ll be all for this one. I hope you all enjoyed your February festivities. Thanks again Keiko! ‘Till next time!

– Takuto

The V-Day Sci-Fi Special Returns for 2019!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

It’s officially February 14th, the day of love and romance, and I’m looking forward to spending another V-day alone this year. Oh, no, wait, don’t get me wrong—I actually prefer it this way!

Every year since 2013 I’ve tried to give myself some “me” time around the middle of February. I like to think of it as self care. After all, what’s wrong with celebrating the love for oneself?

Anyway, although it’s traditionally been a sci-fi title (odd genre choice, I know), I have mixed it up a few times, 2018’s V-Day special being a sports anime. The point is that the holiday is dedicated to cracking open a decently sized franchise and all its pieces. As a refresher, here’s been the past selections:

2013 ~ Steins;Gate

2014 ~ Kokoro Connect (I think . . . )

2015 ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion

2016 ~ The Rose of Versailles

2017 ~ Ghost in the Shell

2018 ~ Haikyuu!!

Now, having actually just recently finished Haikyuu!!‘s third season (whoops!), I can proudly erase my board (which has had the episode listing on it since last February, yikes) and move on to announce the V-Day Special anime of 2019. And guess what? We’re returning to sci-fi classics. Aww yeah, give it up for . . .

2019 ~ RahXephon

Wooohooo!!! I’ve been wanting to watch this show ever since I figured out what Evangelion was and noticed everyone always kept comparing the two shows. Well, now it’s time to unearth another long-lost sci-fi classic uncover what secrets it holds. It looks so bizarre TBH and that excites me immensely. As you can see, I’m clearly well-prepared, heh:

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This year’s V-Day special will actually begin this upcoming weekend, and the marathon will last three days: Friday the 15th through Sunday the 17th. RahXephon will be streamed in English via Amazon’s Prime Video services. In the event something goes wrong, one of the alternatives I have picked out will be selected instead. Since I am a student, hopefully I’ll be able to make time for both homework and the binge-watching.

As always with this thing, I’m looking forward to stockpiling the sweets and locking myself in my room for three days straight, haha! Please enjoy this time of the year with someone (or something) that you love, and be sure to make time for yourself, too! Following the marathon, a review will eventually be published, so I look forward to reporting my findings in that.

Until then, much love and chocolates from me!

– Takuto

Reflecting on my 2018 Watch Log + 2019 Blog Goals | Update

Hello again!

On this cold Monday morning, I present to you the last of my 2018 clean-up spree! Does anyone else use the term “watch log” anymore? Well, in case you didn’t know, this refers to all the anime shows/films I watched in 2018. I’ll also include the MyAnimeList rating I gave each title as a quick way to express how I feel about them. (I mean, this post would be waaaay too long if I wrote a paragraph about each one, so for your sake and mine, let’s keep it short.)

In the *rare* instance that I wrote about a certain title on my blog, I’ll include a link to that post so you can check out my more in-depth thoughts. Also, this list differs from my Top 10 Anime of 2018 post in that it is NOT LIMITED to shows that aired solely in 2018; it will include EVERYTHING that I watched/played in 2018 that relates to anime. What it will NOT include are the books that I read, because let’s be honest—keeping track of individual volumes of a specific series is both tricky and somewhat pointless.

The reason for writing this post is simple: there’s a LOT of stuff I didn’t write about on my blog. Although I may have wanted/planned to initially write about a show, for some reason or another, it didn’t always happen.

So, at the very least, I wanted to share with you all—in the quickest way possible—my adventures through anime in 2018. I owe you, my dear cafe goer, and to keep us both from constantly trudging along in the past, I have formulated the most efficient way to tell you about where 2018 took me, and where I’m at now.

But without further ado, here’s a quick reflection on my 2018 watch log—a brief retrospective glance at all the cool stuff I watched this past year. If you’ve seen any of these shows or would like to know my further thoughts on it/them, hit me up in the comments and I’ll respond!


HOW TO READ: The list goes in chronological order, starting in January (2018 End of Winter) and ending in January 2019. Since my own personal anime list that I keep on my phone’s notes section (classy, right?) is written in chronological order, so will this list. Also, in case you haven’t noticed, I group my anime adventures by season, as seasons seem to have the greatest influence on my watching experience. It’s got to do with emotions and timing stuff, IDK I’m just weird like that, hahaha. 

2018 End of Winter 

Land of the Lustrous     9/10

Diabolik Lovers     5/10

She and Her Cat: Their Standing Points     7/10

The Place Promised in Our Early Days     8/10

She and Her Cat -Everything Flows-     8/10

Cross Road     8/10

Made in Abyss     9/10

Love is Like a Cocktail     7/10

Patema Inverted     9/10

2018 Winter Simulcasts

A Place Further Than the Universe     10/10!

DARLING in the FRANXX     7/10

Devilman: Crybaby     9/10

Fate/Extra: Last Encore     6/10

2018 Spring

Haikyuu!!     8/10

Animation Runner Kuromi (Seasons 1 & 2)     7/10

Haikyuu!! 2nd Season     8/10

Sailor Moon Crystal Season III     9/10

My Love Story!!!     9/10

Whisper of the Heart     9/10

The Cat Returns     8/10

ChaoS;Child     7/10

Sailor Moon SuperS     [currently watching]

Colorful     8/10

2018 Spring Simulcasts

Steins;Gate 0     9/10

SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online     7/10

My Hero Academia 3rd Season     9/10

2018 Summer

Granblue Fantasy The Animation     6/10

Children of the Whales     [need to finish]

Only Yesterday     8/10

Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace     7/10

Princess Jellyfish     9/10

Bokurano     9/10

Summer Wars     9/10

Waiting in the Summer     7/10

A Sister’s All You Need.     8/10

The Royal Tutor     8/10

Amagi Brilliant Park     8/10

Texhnolyze     [need to finish, may drop]

No-Rin     [need to finish, may drop]

2018 Summer Simulcast Season

Cells At Work     [need to finish]

Banana Fish     8/10

Attack on Titan Season 3     10/10!

Angels of Death     7/10

Grand Blue     6/10

Free! – Dive to the Future     8/10

High Speed!: Free! Starting Days     9/10

Free! -Take Your Marks-     8/10

2018 Fall

Assassination Classroom     [need to finish]

Ranma 1/2 (Viz Set 4)     [currently watching]

Magical Girl Raising Project     8/10

When Marnie Was There     9/10

Ocean Waves     7/10

Kino’s Journey     8/10

2018 Fall Simulcast Season

A Certain Magical Index III     [currently watching]

Sword Art Online: Alicization     [on hold]

DAKAICHI -I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year-     8/10

SSSS.GRIDMAN     9/10

Run with the Wind     [currently watching]

Tsurune: Kazemai High School Archery Club     [currently watching]

2018 End of Fall-Winter

Emma: A Victorian Romance     9/10

Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight     [need to finish]

Napping Princess     7/10

Emma: A Victorian Romance Season 2     10/10!

Genocidal Organ     8/10

Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer     8/10

The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star     8/10

Scrapped Princess     9/10

Tokyo Godfathers     9/10

2019 End of Winter

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4)     11/10!!

The Promised Neverland     [currently watching]

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai     9/10

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet     [currently watching]

WorldEnd: What are you doing at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?     [currently watching]

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My Most-Liked Post EVER!!!

I realize this is pretty much old news by now, but in case you missed it, 2018 was the year that I finally published my big meta analysis on Makoto Shinkai’s works in this post: On Love, Loneliness, & the Growing Distance Between Us | The Works of Makoto Shinkai. This project is utterly massive, clocking in at just over 5,000 words, and it encompasses every single animated work Shinkai has ever created. I’m really, really proud of how it turned out—all the countless hours of rewatching and research were definitely worth it.

And to top it all off, it has become, to my knowledge, my most-liked post EVER. With over BOTH 40 likes and 40 comments, it is now a central part of my blogging portfolio, which I do hope to expand upon in 2019. These stats may not seem like much to you guys, but to me, it means that if I work hard, others will appreciate my efforts, and that seemingly small sentiment means the world to me. Seriously, thank you—you guys are awesome! ;__;

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Some Blogging Goals for 2019

See, I told you I’ve been busy! As you can see, I kinda just *stopped* reviewing stuff after the summer, and that’s mainly because I took a hiatus, but also because I didn’t really feel like reviewing content. So instead I did nothing, and it definitely hurt my blog in the long run. And no, rewatching old favorites like From the New WorldDanganronpa 3, Aria the Animation, Railgun S, Cowboy Bebop, Lord Marksman and Vanadis, and so many others didn’t help much to expand my watch log . . . whoops. 😛

But now that lazy phase is over, and I should be back in the saddle. Should. Since this post is just one big update thing, I’ve compiled a few goals I want to accomplish blog-wise in 2019. Since I didn’t do anything like this last year, maybe writing my goals out will help me stay inspired and at the keyboard.

1. Read More Posts

Pretty self-explanatory; if I keep up with all of your guys’ content better, then there will be less for me to play catch-up with. Also, I want to be involved with you all again like I used to when I started blogging. For those of you who tweet out your posts, there’s a good chance that I will read them. But I realize that many do not use Twitter for that reason, so this goal involves using the WP reader more.

2. Write More Succinct Reviews

This one’s more for me—there’s a lot of shows from 2018 that didn’t get coverage even if I may have wanted to eventually write about them. While I don’t want to review every single thing I watch, this will at least help stimulate blog traffic again. It’ll be much easier to make this happen now that I FINALLY feel comfortable with my reviewing format. Now I just need to up my game. Plus, I hope to make these shorter and more succinct, bringing the word count from 2,000+ down to 1,500 or less again.

3. Post More Often

I’m thinking to upgrade from my 1-2 posts per month of 2018 to 3-4 posts per month, and although that doesn’t sound like too much for you guys (cause you’re all pros!), it’ll be a huge step-up for me—and I think I’m finally ready for it.

4. Bring Back Cafe Talk

Hey, yeah, where did this little guy go? I want to revive the segment in a new, fresh way by reformatting the way the posts are written. They’ll ideally be much shorter (think less than 500 words) and and personal, I want this to be a way to connect with you guys in case the reviews don’t (because hey, I get it). Short stories, thoughts, and whims from my life as an anime fan, collector, cosplayer, blogger, and kid suffering through college studies. Sound fun?

5. Write More Haul/Collection Posts

Although 2019 will be a year of saving money for me, I always get excited when it comes to writing haul posts. So, I thought, why don’t I just write more of them? As you may know, I’m an otaku-based collector; my shelves are full of DVDs, manga, and figures. And after reorganizing my room for the New Year, I couldn’t help but feel the urge to write about the new stuff I get and the old stuff I have. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, let me know in the comments!

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Ready for 2019!

After the big OWLS catch-up, a reflection on my own OWLS experience, a compilation of my favorite shows from 2018, and my 2018 watch log + new blog goals up and out there, I’m finally ready to get 2019 started. Sure, I’m three weeks late, but better late than never, right?

Thank you so, so much for sticking with me throughout my slow year. I feel like we’ve all got one/will eventually get one, and it is so heartwarming to see that you guys are still interested in what I have to say. And to all my new followers, hi! Hello! Thanks for following, and I hope you are enjoying your stay.

With the past three posts done I’ve officially rambled enough. Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my watch log and goals, and if there’s a show up there that you want me to talk about further, I’d be more than happy to elaborate. Ah, I’m so excited right now, and I hope this inspiration sticks with me for months to come! Thanks so much again for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

My Top 10 Favorite Anime of 2018!

Hello!

Happy Friday evening everyone. I’m back with more 2018 clean-up, and although several weeks overdue, I wanted to give each of the Fall 2018 anime a couple more weeks to see how some of them further progressed.

And boy was I glad I did that!

There was a lot in 2018 that I didn’t get around to watching: Violet Evergarden, Laid-Back Camp, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Megalo Box, Wotakoi, Planet With, Bloom into You, and the rest of Revue Starlight to name a few. But while much went unwatched for me, I did manage to watch a small handful of shows each season to compile a list such as this.

Anyway, enough stalling. As the title of this post indicated, listed below are my top 10 favorite anime of 2018!


NUMBER TEN:

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Angels of Death

Despite the incredible flack it got for drawing out the climax another four episodes (only to end in more controversy), the multi-interpretive ending of Angels of Death is actually one of my favorite aspects about it. The impossibly large setting with countless floors of traps and mazes reminded me of my first experience in Danganronpa‘s Hopes Peak High (which simultaneously frightened and amazed me), and for that matter, the mystery elements of the plot were surprisingly entertaining.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t so edgy about death and better incorporated the floor boss villains into the narrative rather than just treating them as sadistic criminals. But alas, for an anime based off an old JRPG horror fave, I’d say Angels of Death was a worthwhile investment.

NUMBER NINE:

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DAKAICHI -I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year-

I know, I know, it’s SMUT. If there was an award for guilty pleasure anime of the year, DAKAICHI would’ve taken it hands-down. I’m actually somewhat embarrassed to put this BL rom-com on the list, but hey, I should give credit where it’s due, right? And I really did love this silly little anime about much-beloved, A-list Japanese actor Takato Saijou boldly pursuing the love for the first time in his life. Cute characters, nice animation, yup, not much else to say here!

NUMBER EIGHT:

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Free! – Dive to the Future

Oh geez, one title full of bishounens after another—Who wrote this list?? Wait, I can explain!! I’ve loved Free! ever since it started airing back in the summer of 2013, and even if they decide to draw out the franchise (and unnecessarily so) for five more years after this, I’ll still love Free!. While this season’s additions of Ikuya and Hiyori brought all kinds of ~meh~ drama into the water, it was nice to still be able to follow these guys in college (cause, ya know, I’m also in college now).

Plus, Rei as Iwatobi’s captain, YASSSS! Since it just kind of “ends” after one of the meets, I’m looking forward to the film to hopefully bring resolution to Haru’s newest rivalry.

NUMBER SEVEN:

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Steins;Gate 0

In case you didn’t know, Steins;Gate was my favorite anime of all time for several years in the running. It has one of the best endings of all time, and even though many didn’t care for the film, it only added to my love of this title. When it was announced that we’d FINALLY be receiving an adaptation of the story’s “lost timeline,” the game known as Steins;Gate 0, I was positively thrilled. And for the first six, heck, even 12 episodes, it didn’t disappoint. But there was one episode, episode 18 to be exact, that really ruined the entire show for me. To quote ANN on the matter, “I’ve never been so frustrated and disappointed by an episode of Steins;Gate.”

Now, I’m a firm believer in how one episode cannot ruin an entire series, but when it needed to be strongest—to execute its immense build-up of time-altering tension and deliver shocking plot twists one after another—Steins;Gate 0 absolutely dropped the ball. It’s odd, considering that with every single episode after that, the show only goes up until its thrilling, chilling ending. But man, how tragic it is for the great Steins;Gate to fall flat due to an issue with unusually lazy directing, animating, and adapting.

NUMBER SIX:

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Tsurune: Kazemai High School Archery Club

I’m really, really glad that KyoAni has given this series everything it’s got to make it stand out on its own as a fantastic high school sports drama. We’ve seen the studio churn out somewhat lukewarm stories in the past (Beyond the Boundary and Myriad Colors Phantom World as the most infamous ones), and I was definitely afraid of the same happening to Tsurune just because they marketed the series with some cute archery danshi.

With only one episode left to air, I couldn’t have been more wrong—Tsurune is beautiful. Its animation is top-tier, its music is fantastically gorgeous, its direction is powerful, and its characters are more soulful than any of us expected them to be. Can’t wait to see how this wonderful little show ends!

NUMBER FIVE:

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Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Given that I only just watched this series a week ago, talk about a last-minute pull! I may have covered Bunny Girl Senpai in my latest OWLS post, but all I was able to do was barely skim the surface of its first three episodes. In actuality, the entire series and all of its self-contained story arcs are layered with the same character complexity as its brilliant intro arc, and I highly recommend checking out the series beyond those three episodes if you get the chance.

But yeah, as everyone’s been saying, it’s like Bakemonogatari for dummies, but in many ways better. The stories are easy accessible (compared to the madness of the massive Monogatari franchise) and the comedy is always on-point—what more could you ask for? Most surprisingly-enjoyable series of the year: Bunny Girl Senpai.

NUMBER FOUR:

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SSSS.GRIDMAN

Of all the shows on this list, Gridman became the one that I looked forward to each week the most. Although initially turned off by the ugly color palette and clunky CGI kaiju fights, by episode four or so I quickly became ADDICTED to the Gridman aesthetic Trigger creates. If there’s one word to sum up this show, it is “atmospheric.” Shiro Sagisu’s musical score not only plays off both the retro nature of a giant robot anime and the epic, not-of-this-world scenario, but also the subtle, somber, and hauntingly atmospheric moments that require solo piano or mere silence alone. I really appreciate how involved the main trio of high school kids are with the plot—no one is forgotten about, including the lesser of the leads.

To top it all off, we got Akane Shinjo, one of my favorite female characters of 2018! Between the high intensity kaiju fights and the mysterious nature of this very world, SSSS.GRIDMAN knew exactly what kind of story it wanted to be—and it never held back. 

NUMBER THREE:

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Devilman: Crybaby 

Since I’ve already talked at length about this wild series in my review way back in February, I’ll keep my reasoning for its top-three spot concise: Crybaby is epic. It is ruthless to its cast and unyielding to the audience. Gory, over-the-top, and emotionally devastating until the very end, there’s rarely a moment to breath. Crybaby also became my entry point into the Devilman franchise, as it did for many others. And like the Yuri!!! On ICE and Banana Fish epidemics, there was—and still is—no end to the amount of Devilman: Crybaby artwork floating around on Twitter. That pleases me immensely.

Crybaby is going to be on a lot of top-10 lists and for good reasons. If you’re willing to stomach the copious amounts of gore and nudity, you should, without doubt, check out this series—it’s an absolute heartbreaker, and often those are the best kinds of anime.

NUMBER TWO:

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Run With the Wind

I really, really, really, really wanted to put Run With the Wind in the #1 spot, but for the obvious reason of “it hasn’t finished airing yet,” I couldn’t cheat out the true number one when anything could still happen in the second cour of this amazingly fun and relatable sports anime. Like Welcome to the Ballroom, Production I.G has teamed up with musician Yuki Hayashi to create a well-animated, motivational story featuring a sport. This time, it’s cross country running, and since my sister ran it all throughout high school, I kinda know what’s up.

Simply, I enjoy Run With the Wind because it doesn’t try too hard to make me smile, laugh, angry, heartfelt, or inspired. The ten boys of the Kansei University track team are full of spirit, heart, and their own motives in life. As they each struggle with the daunting goal of running in the great Hakone Ekiden, we quickly find that to say something is vastly different than actually doing that thing. No matter what it is, you have to work for it, and you will encounter roadblocks along the way that must eventually be dealt with if you wish to do whatever it is you’re trying so hard at.

We all get frustrated, jealous, and mad at ourselves and others, but at the same time, we also feel triumphant, proud, and happy when things turn out as we want them to. For an anime about something as seemingly simple as running to make me feel all these emotions and more, I can only hope that Run With the Wind sticks with its greatest strength—its heart—until the very end.

Honorable Mentions:

Violet Evergarden

Because I DON’T HAVE NETFLIX UGH I have yet to actually watch this Evergarden. But if I did, you can bet that it’d be on this list.

Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight

Like some of the others here in this section, I’m only halfway done with Revue Starlight (love it BTW), so I didn’t want to put an anime on this list in which I’ve only seen six episodes of. Makes sense, right?

A Certain Magical Index III

While I was initially STOKED to get more Index, this third season has left me quite, err, confused. Like, Index isn’t known for connecting its arcs together as smoothly as most others, and the burn of abruptly dropping one story arc and diving straight into another really hurts the enjoyment factor. Fellow blogger Karandi even voiced her frustrations with the story so far and has stepped away from this third season, and I totally understand why. I want to like Index III, but is that the mentality I should be having with any anime—or anything for that matter?

Sword Art Online: Alicization

In case you don’t follow my Twitter adventures, I’ve actually been trying to read the Alicization light novels PRIOR to watching the anime so that I can compare/enjoy both mediums. This newest arc covers a whopping ten volumes, from 9 to 18, and I just finished 13 today. This means that in about a month or two, the anime will be caught up to where I’m currently at. Given how volume 15 just released in English, I’m fighting a losing battle, I know, but that’ll make watching all 50-some episodes of Alicization when I’m done reading that much greater of a reward. Of the six episodes I’ve seen thus far, it’s safe to say that had I watched more, SAO: Alicization would’ve made a spot on the list easily.

Attack on Titan Season 3 & My Hero Academia 3rd Season

A LOT of people have taken these two powerhouse third seasons out of their top-10 lists, and it makes sense: they would utterly DOMINATE otherwise. So, I shoved them here with the absolute recommendation to #GetOnThisShitASAP if you’ve been living under a rock. If you were wondering, however, I really did enjoy the new reveals and further characterization/world-building in AoT, and MHA continues to be the epitome of a well-done anime. Looking forward to more of both!

AND FINALLY, NUMBER ONE:

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A Place Further Than the Universe

It’s rare for me to switch up my simulcast schedule and jump on a series mid-season. Seriously, it never happens. But once I saw that 2-minute clip of the YoriMoi girls running throughout the city (for unknown reasons at the time), it instantly dawned on me that I’d be missing out on something truly remarkable if I were to pass up this unsuspecting slice-of-life/drama series. Just, man, everything about this series is perfect. Utterly incredible and enjoyable from beginning to end.

I also find it rare for a series to inspire me as much as this. A couple years back it was Yuri!!! On ICE, and in 2017 it was Welcome to the Ballroom. I could argue and say that Run With the Wind would be the next natural candidate, but YoriMoi was able to make me think about things in a way that none of these other wonderful titles could. What does it mean to try? What does it mean to fail? What does it mean to do both, repeatedly, yet keep on going until you make it to the other side of the world and leave everyone else in shock? What does it feel like to leave it all behind? And what does it feel like to find suddenly what you’ve been searching for all your life? 

The reason I never properly reviewed A Place Further Than the Universe was because, at the time I finished the show, I couldn’t. I was pretty much speechless, cathartic, and cleansed. Even now, I still don’t know how to put my thoughts for it in words. At the time of finishing, I wanted to leave parts of my own life behind, in fact, and that caused me to briefly leave blogging until I was ready to reopen the cafe. In the short time ToriMoi was actively was in my life, it changed everything—or rather, it paved the way for me to make my own changes for once: to chase after my own desires, throw caution to the wind, and try something new.

And all this and more is why A Place Further Than the Universe is my irrefutable pick for anime of the year.

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Thanks 2018 for all the great anime!

That’s all I got! What did you think of my top ten anime of 2018? Were some of my picks predictable or even cliche? Probably, haha, but you can’t deny what’s good when it comes for you, am I right? I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of your guys’ top-10 posts, but in case I missed yours, you’re more than welcome to leave a link down in the comments for me to read! I’ll soon be posting a 2018 “watch log” post of sorts detailing everything I watched in 2018 aside from seasonal stuff, so stay tuned for that. Thanks 2018 for all the great anime, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

My Top Five Favorite OWLS Posts That I Wrote in 2018

Hello! Happy New Year!

I realize 2019 has already begun, but there are still a few 2018 round-up posts I plan to write, one of those being this one right here. My top five OWLS posts of 2017 listing was fairly well-received by you all, so I decided to bring it back! As I mentioned last year, it’s hard to pick favorites. But, in the spirit of the New Year and bidding the old farewell, I’ve managed to select five OWLS posts that accurately represent the sum of who I am, why I write, and what I want you, the reader, to learn!

As previously mentioned, all of my OWLS posts are my babies—in fact, they’re probably some of the best posts I’ve ever written, if not THE best of what I’ve got so far, and I thoroughly LOVED writing ALL of them—so enjoy my reminiscing, and feel free to scope them out if you missed them, or are feeling the urge to relive each month’s thought-provoking topic.

On the header/taskbar thingy of my site, you’ll see that OWLS has its own tab (and rightly so), so you can find the rest of 2018’s posts there! Alrighty then, let’s take one last look at some of the posts I wrote in 2018!


RUNNER UP:

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Tour #19 July – The Royal Tutor: A Heartfelt Lesson on Judgement | OWLS “Mentor”

Like several of the titles I featured for each month, my watch of The Royal Tutor came at just the right time. I recall desparately searching my watch catalog just nights before the post was due, and then Heine Wittgenstein waltzed into my life and all was well. Not a single episode goes by where Heine fails to offer a valuable lesson on what it means to be human, and its that strict attention to theme that gives this OWLS post an easy runner-up position on the list. Heck, Heine practically wrote the post for me!

Life Lessons Learned:

  • Before quitting something you want to do, you should always explore alternative solutions.
  • This world is very big. Do not deprive yourself of people who will understand and care for you.
  • We should all believe in second chances.

NUMBER FIVE:

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Tour #24 December – Finding a Place to Belong: Tokyo Godfathers & the Gift of Kindness | OWLS “Miracles”

Here’s another one of those last-minute struggle watches that I managed to cram in right before the deadline, and boy am I glad I finally watched this anime cult Christmas classic. In the post, I dabbled a bit on how “God’s miracles” are what guide these three crazy homeless friends through an eventful Christmas Eve in Tokyo. The unfathomable number of plot conveniences can be explained by the presence of this guiding light, and this wild series of events—which can only be described as miraculous—are what make it the perfect fit for not only the monthly theme, but the holiday season.

Life Lessons Learned:

  • Life has a funny way of dealing with some situations—embrace chaos with faith.
  • A simple conviction to kindness will surround you with good company and food aplenty.
  • We will always have the opportunity to be kind to others.

NUMBER FOUR:

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Tour #13 January – All That Glitters IS Gold in “Land of the Lustrous” | OWLS “Revival”

Similar to our first tour of 2019, “Metamorphosis,” January and the New Year revolve around change. It involves a spirit of revival, an air of renewal, and the determination to change oneself for the better. Similarly, I found Phos’ journey to find purpose and self-worth to be an excellent fit for 2018’s first monthly topic. (I also happened to be watching it at the time, but I digress.) Just as how humans are fragile beings at heart, the Gems of Land of the Lustrous can shatter into hundreds of tiny pieces—some Gems more than others, namely Phos. Although the post is a tad bit on the longer side to accommodate every aspect that I wanted to hit on, I still look back on it fondly as how 2018 started—a shimmering, hopeful time to try new things. 

Life Lessons Learned:

  • Change is scary. It can be painful, it can be sudden, and it can be dangerous. Change involves suffering, but that grief is a necessity for growth.
  • Self-worth isn’t determined by the people around you, but rather what YOU make of yourself.
  • So long as we can hope to become better individuals—actively seeking to help others in return—change and improvement just might someday find us, too.

NUMBER THREE:

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Tour #20 August – From the New World: Through Horror, Calamity, & the Truth | OWLS “Journey”

This show, oh man, how far we go back together. I find it quite rare for a series to impact my views on critical concepts like justice and dignity so easily. And then comes along Shinsekai Yori to flip everything that I knew on its head. Absolutely loaded from head to toe with painful themes of reality and the duality of man, From the New World represents so much more than sci-fi series about good and evil. Rather, it’s a journey through horror, calamity, and the truth, and how the truth can sometimes be the cruelest thing of all. Given how complex it is, I was quite satisfied with how I was able to sum up each of the story’s arcs and how they impact Saki Watanabe, the lead character. (Also, I really, really like the header image I designed for this one.) It’s riveting, it’s meaningful, it’s powerful, and of all the shows I’ve EVER scene, few deserve the title of masterpiece quite like From the New World does.

Life Lessons Learned:

  • To feign ignorance is the greatest crime of all. Corruption breeds from within when we close off our minds and our hearts to new peoples and ideas.
  • People are twisted, easily corrupted, and worst of all, easily scared. But while we are weak when we are desperate, we are strong when it counts.
  • “We have to change our way of thinking if we really want to change the future.”

NUMBER TWO:

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Tour #16 April – Yūki Hayashi: Music to Motivate the Soul | OWLS “Melody”

I try to dedicate a solid paragraph in each of my anime reviews to the series’ soundtrack composer. What can I say, I’m a music man, and Yuuki Hayashi just so happens to be my favorite anime soundtrack composer! He’s done the background music for so many of my favorite shows, and it was about time that I dedicated an entire post—a very special OWLS post at that—to Hayashi’s genius. At long, long last, I got to practically fanboy about all my favorite anime soundtracks, but there’s another reason I picked a composer rather than a single song or series to focus on. You see, Hayashi’s music isn’t just epic—it’s also inspirational, a set of notes and sounds designed to motivate the very soul. And although this one low-key has my favorite header graphic, it’s missing one final relatability factor to push it into number one.

Life Lessons Learned:

  • Music encapsulates and can provide inspiration to lift us off our feet, motivation to push us forward, heartache to make us grow, the strength to go beyond, and the ambition to fulfill our dreams.
  • Know that the view from the summit is one that exists ONLY for you—so chase after it relentlessly.
  • Try new things, make mistakes, meet new people, but never, never give up on your reasons for wanting to improve. Because maybe, in the process of overcoming your own impossible odds, you’ll inspire someone else to be a better human.

AND FINALLY, NUMBER ONE:

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Tour #18 June – Princess Jellyfish: Confidence, Community, & the Beauty Below the Surface | OWLS “Pride”

Here’s your number one for 2018! Did it surprise you? Princess Jellyfish burst onto the scene of my life and totally changed my views on confidence, community, and the inner beauty we each possess below the surface. It features a dynamic, hilarious, and heartwarming cast of otaku NEETS who are all just struggling to get by in society, as well as the one queen who will unite them all in their effort to freely express themselves. Princess Jellyfish is the epitome of pride, a story that is attest to how vast our personalities truly are, and although I was a bit long-winded with other technical aspects of the series, this post really is just one big expression of love. Princess Jellyfish is a series about loving what you want to love, and bonding with those who share that same incredible sentiment. At its very end, the story of Princess Jellyfish embodies something so pure, hopeful, and passionate that it becomes impossible to not enjoy—and it’s for all these wonderful reasons and more that I select June’s “Pride” post as my favorite OWLS post of 2018.

Life Lessons Learned:

  • Sometimes you need to see yourself in a different way in order to appreciate who you’ve been this whole time.
  • Beauty is not something you simply put on: it’s an emotion you feel when you’re at your best. 
  • Above all else, so long as you take pride in yourself and the things you love, all people—including us adults—still have plenty of room for growth and change.

A HUGE Round of Applause to the OWLS Crew!

WHEW! After binge-reading ALL of the 2018 OWLS posts from January 1st to December 31st, I can officially say that each and every one of us deserve a pat on the back. Seriously though, all of lovely individuals in OWLS are not only fantastic people, but awesome writers as well, and while I didn’t share every single post over on Twitter (for fear of clogging up everyone’s feed), each one of them most certainly deserves the read.

This post compiles my favorite OWLS posts that personally wrote. As bloggers, I’m sure we can all identify our stronger posts compared to the rest of our catalog. So, if you are an OWLS member, I’d love to read what you found to be your own favorites! Think of it as celebrating your accomplishments for being a member of such a cool group. 🙂

Speaking of accomplishments . . . to my knowledge, I am one of the few who has posted for every single tour. That’s 24 posts since our debut in 2017! While I plan to write more posts aside from OWLS ones (as that is what became of me this year, whoops), I am happy with myself for not giving up and sticking with the group through each thought-provoking monthly topic. It’s just a small sidenote, but I’m proud for having come this far, and I look forward to hopefully adding 12 more posts come December 2019!

Anyway, that’s it for me. What did you think of the line-up? Did you have a particular favorite month to read/write for, either of my posts or everyone else’s? Or are you, like I was less than a month ago, still in the process of catching up? Haha! Either way, thank you so much for supporting me throughout my 2018 OWLS journey, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host