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

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

hodaka in the rain


Fate Brews a Storm

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

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

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

the morning sun

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

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

sunshine prayer

Shinkai’s Most Personable Cast

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

It looks like they’re having so much fun.

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

nagi hina hodaka

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

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

family

“I Can’t Believe it Got Prettier”

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

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

tenki no ko tokyo

A New Soundtrack to Love

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

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

soundtrack

No More Regrets

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

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

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

the sunshine girl


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


Afterword

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

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

– Takuto, your host

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

Hello all,

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

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

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

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

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

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


5. Use Bookends

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

4. Alternate Your Display

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

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

3. Do NOT Blind Buy

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

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

2. ONLY Buy What You Will Rewatch

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

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

1. ONLY Buy What Will Bring You Happiness

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

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

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


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

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

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

– Takuto, your host

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

Evening all!

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

Goal Reflection


#1 – Read More Posts

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

#2 – Write More Succinct Posts

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

#3 – Post More Often

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

#4 – Bring Back Cafe Talk

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

#5 – Write More Haul/Collection Posts

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

What I’ve Watched


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

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

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

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

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

Obsessed With BTS


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

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

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

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

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

– Takuto, your host

“Unhauling” for the Holidays: Why I’m Giving, Not Getting || OWLS “Holiday”

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 twelfth monthly topic of 2019, “Holiday,” I wanted to sit down and have an honest little conversation with you all on my anime collection. Specifically, how I will spend the remainder of 2019 with a focus on giving rather than receiving gifts.

We are at the end of the year! For this month’s topic, we will be discussing what the holidays mean to us. Some of us have a religious perspective on Christmas, while some of us see Christmas as a celebration of family. For this prompt, we will be exploring how the holidays are celebrated around the world using various pop culture media. We will also describe what the holidays mean to us. Happy Holidays! – OWLS Team

Sounds pretty first-world, I know, but maybe you’ll read this and take it as cautionary advice for any eager collectors out there currently doing their own holiday shopping. Thanks Lyn for the freedom with this prompt!

Image result for anime cleaning from up on poppy hill


To Haul, or to Unhaul

We begin this post with a brief etymology of the subject word here. As you’ve probably guessed by now, “unhaul” is not a real word. I was introduced to this term by fellow anime and manga-collecting enthusiast Simply Gee over on YouTube through her video, “The Great Unhaul: Unburdened for 2020.” If to “haul” something means to address recent pick-ups or goods that are new to one’s possession, ‘un’haul means just the opposite:

un·haul (verb): essentially, to oust items from one’s possession, either by selling or donating. 

It’s not a novel concept by any means; people have been tossing out old junk or selling their collectibles on eBay for ages. And yet, the video struck a powerful chord with me. “What does a collection represent for its owner? What does it mean for someone to own something that they a) do not like or b) will not watch/read/use/wear/etc.”

Image result for up on poppy hill school

Just when I thought my collection was at its peak and brimming with success, I found these fundamental questions to be picking at my brain all through the night. I couldn’t sleep. I had too much stuff, and only now just realized it, which brings me to my next point.

2019 was TOO Good for the Collection

I mean this in the least bragging way possible. Guys, despite posting all kids of crazy hauls of fancy anime limited edition boxes and figures (especially as of late, yeesh), I am not a wealthy individual. Really, this is money I should be saving for my higher ed stuff to come later. But like most of us, I find ways to pocket money to my hobbies.

Within these past couple of telling days, I finally realized that maybe I am spending a bit too much on hobbies, though. 

I never understood it when anime collectors talked about “running out of space,” or “putting stuff in storage.” How could someone have so much as to put some of it away? I didn’t get it, until this year I found myself stressed that I couldn’t maintain the balance of white-space-to-object ratio.

AKA I have too much crap, and if I get more I risk losing any sense of aesthetic or clean organization. 

Guys, I spent a lot of money on hobbies this year. A LOT. From cosplay and books to anime and figures, I spent far more than an undergrad student in college should. And now, I’m gonna get rid of some stuff.

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Unhauling for the Holidays

I’ll skip the part where I stayed up till two each night the past couple days just going through everything I own and throwing away “old shit.” (Yes, I recycle. And YES, I have plans for proper dispersal of all this stuff from my room.) I got rid of clothes from freshman year of high school, recycled tons of old papers from middle school, and disposed of the junk that just plain didn’t work. It was, as I reported on Twitter, “the most intense decluttering of my life.”

You may ask, “Why have you held onto all this crap all these years, Taku?” The easy answer is I’m a hoarder, but the more truthful one is that I genuinely apply the same collecting mentality to my school work, old hobbies, etc. as I do my anime and manga.

Until now, that is.

It was “a great unhaul” indeed, and once I got started (following my mental breakdown where even looking at my shelves started making my breath heavy), I couldn’t stop. I got rid of everything. ALL of my possessions were thinned, combed through for the usefulness and happiness each item brought me. Only the things that gave me #goodvibes stayed; for all else, it was the great purge. Eventually, all that remained for me to examine were the shelves themselves: the heart that I’ve been filling for the past six years of my life.

Methodically scanning through each shelf, one-by-one I started pulling various manga volumes, novels, and eventually anime down from my shelves. “If you have (or I know can) make me happy, you stay,” I told myself as I held each book, each Blu-ray, and weighed their fate. The volumes, series, prints, and knick-knacks that my siblings don’t want will be sold online to any willing buyers. As for the “good” stuff . . .

I’ll be giving away parts of my collection, my very soul, to my siblings. By reading my personal posts, you may have realized that I’m very close with both my older brother and younger sister (yeah, I’m the middle child). I’ve watched just as much stuff with them as I have on my own. Through this unhaul, it finally dawned on me, like a light-bulb clicking on in the dark:

Why don’t you give the shows that your siblings like more than you do to them?

I’ve always been the one they came to for entertainment; rarely was it the other way around. If they want to watch something physically, they’d come to my room and peruse the shelves, not unlike how someone would at a library. I have so many wonderful memories with all different kinds of anime—but half the reason I have those memories is because I didn’t watch those shows alone.

So for the holidays, in addition to whatever gifts I had already bought, I’m giving back to my siblings the shows and series that mean something to both of us, in addition to the memories we made along the way. I think this focus on giving rather than getting will prove psychologically beneficial, as well as help free up shelf space.

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My Recovery from Unhealthy Collecting Habits

Yeah, I spent a lot of money on anime stuff this year. Yes, I realize I have accumulated some stuff that I know I’ll never get to, but bought anyway cause it was “on sale.” And yes, my own collection, that which I hold most dear—which I *literally* look up to each day for inspiration and motivation—was somehow able to make me physically sick just looking at it.

That was where I was two days ago. Through ousting piles of old papers, clothes, and junk from a decade ago—and by listening to lots, and lots, and LOTS of BTS—I’ve come to realize that receiving can be a deceptively more draining and daunting act than giving. When you get something, it’s gotta go somewhere, and I had finally run out of space for new stuff to go.

So, what goes in that space I just made? Love for myself. Happiness for myself. I’m not kidding: I’m keeping these blank spaces on my walls, in my closet, under my bed, and on my shelves to remind me that if I can’t breathe in my own room, I’m doing something wrong.

This enlightening philosophy has also transferred to other aspects of my life: I filtered through my phone’s photos and music, only keeping the pictures and songs that make me feel happy about myself. Additionally, I’m eating healthier AND exercising to k-pop music every day, and I honestly haven’t felt this much body positivity in ages—perhaps BTS is the real hero of this story, hahaha!

I’m unhauling pieces of my collection for 2019 because others might be able to get more happiness out of something than I could have, absolutely. But also, I’m unhauling because I have to. This is self-care for me, and thanks to seeing that life is much better when you can feel light and weightless—physically and emotionally—I can finally charge into 2020 feeling unburdened, content, and lighter than ever before.

And honestly, I’ve never felt better.

Image result for bts mma 2019 dionysus


Twinkling starlight
Building with blinking light
We’re shining brightly
In our own rooms, in our own stars

Mikrokosmos – BTS


Afterword

Wow, that’s a load of my chest. This holiday season, I encourage you all not necessarily to toss out a bunch of shit like I did, but just to sit down for a moment and get in touch with your own belongings. What brings you happiness? If something doesn’t, why have you held onto it? Would my life be better without this thing I won’t ever use? You’d be surprised how such simple questions can lead to life-changing moments. I’ve always been a cheesy one for liking that “New year, new me” bullshit. But this year, more than any other before, I actually feel in charge of my life—who knew all it would take was leaving behind all the weight that held me back.

This ended up being much more personal and diary-like than I initially intended, but I hope you, too, might be able to help yourself out with my story. Be cautious of hoarding stuff and overbuying this holiday season; it’s a terrifyingly easy thing to do. Love each and every thing you own—if it doesn’t bring you happiness, chances are you’re better off without it, trust me!

Guys, this officially completes three full years of my being with OWLS. I’ll have another Top-5 post for that coming out soon. Until then, this concludes my December 19th entry in the OWLS “Holiday” blog tour. The incredible Irina (Drunken Anime Blog) took to the keyboard once more to write about her beloved Natsume that you can read right here! Now, look out for THE Lyn (Just Something About LynLyn) of OWLS herself with a post this Sunday, December 22nd! Thank you so much for reading, and remember, pursue happiness—you owe it to yourself!

– Takuto, your host

2019 Holiday Haul #2 – Cyber Monday Deals || RightStuf Pickups

Hello all!

I’m back for day two of showing off all the stuff I bought for the holidays this year. Honestly, I spent waaay too much on myself, haha. But it’s so hard to pass up great deals on anime and manga you know you’ll want to have in your collection eventually, right?

So I splurged, as I often do, and here’s what I picked up through RightStuf’s 2019 Cyber Monday sale—enjoy!

Oof, we’re starting off with a strong one, and one of my favorite releases of the year no less. Space Battleship Yamato 2202 is one of those sequels that I normally wouldn’t recommend, if only the studio didn’t do such a fan-FREAKING-tastic job at reanimating the story for the modern day. This is my personal favorite remake of a classic series, and although it’s not everything I wanted Yamato’s sequel to be, it is told EXACTLY as the original story was, if not better on every front.

More pictures of the box and the art book. Funimation did such an incredible job making this as similar to their 2199 release as possible—as a collector, I am thankful to own such beautiful cohesive sets. The back of the Blu-ray shows off stunning art of the series’s villains, and while the art book is a little more bland than the previous one, it’s still a great bonus!

Ughhh the reverse side of the Blu-ray features gorgeous art of the side protagonists of 2202 preparing to engage the enemy. I love the violet sky and ship looming in the background. The discs are also uniquely designed with artwork from the series.

And if you were wondering what was inside that silver box up top, YES, we got some high quality art boards featuring artwork from the original Japanese releases. Really wish I could frame ALL of them, but alas, I’ve got very little space to spare. Kinda weird how there’s a duplicate of one of the cards . . . maybe I’ll give it to my brother or something, as he’s also a fan.

Up next is some more classic mecha stuff, this time with Gainax’s hallmark Gunbuster and it’s sequel recap/rebuild film Diebuster. Other than the fact that this franchise is absolutely iconic to the genre, I know very little about it. Spoiler alert, there’s a high chance that this will be my pick for my Valentine’s Day special, but we’ll see!

While the first season from the 70s or 80s (can’t remember) is long out of print here in the states, the second season is fairly easy to pick up. Here are all three volumes I picked up for like $2 each, and just like the films each release comes with its own little art book—such a pleasant little addition! Happy to finally be able to explore this lost gap in my Gainax history!

Lots of Aniplex stuff was/is on sale this year, and while I had no original intent on picking up the second half of Aldnoah.Zero (those who’ve seen it know why), I decided to snag them up before they went OOP like all of Aniplex’s older releases seem to be doing.

For half price off, just $15 each, I really didn’t want to miss out on owning this series complete if I ever turned the other cheek in the future. It’s not a great sequel, but I love this series nevertheless. Here are the reverse arts of the DVD, which I personally leave on display this way cause the warm color palette for these two DVDs congrats nicely with the cool-toned blue and turquoise of the first season sets.

Lastly for anime is this little one, Maria the Virgin Witch (clearly keeping up with the space/mecha theme, I know). In all seriousness, I picked this series up because it was recommended to me years ago at Naka-Kon and I never ended up watching it for some reason. Well, that changes now, and for $11 how could I resist!

Last but not least, I bought more manga! Continuing with volumes 4-9 in my collection, here we have the majority of what the second cour is currently adapting if I’m not mistaken. Guys, I unashamedly LOVE Fire Force. I find the series to be tons of fun, the bits of unnecessarily flashy fan-service aside, and the character outfits/designs are just the coolest in my eyes. I’ll actually be cosplaying little Shinra Kusakabe in March, so I’m really excited to beef up my manga knowledge of the flame hero!


There it is, the second of more holiday hauls to come. Like the first haul’s unintentional blue-green blend of items, this haul is also by chance themed out for a color. Can you tell what that is? (HINT: It’s the color of FIRE.) Feel free to share your thoughts on any of these pick-ups down in the comments, and I’ll see you all tomorrow with yet another batch of anime-related goodies!

– Takuto, your host

2019 Holiday Haul #1 – Black Friday Sales || RightStuf & Sentai

Hello all!

Apologies for dropping off suddenly for another two weeks, I was ridiculously busy with finals (and pretty much everything else since Thanksgiving). But finals are OFFICIALLY behind me as of last Wednesday. I took a couple more days off to relax with family, and now I’m back. Glad to be here in this space once again!

As the title of this post implies, this is the first part of MANY a holiday haul posts, some being orders made during the sales, others being orders that were placed months ago and are now slowly trickling in. I hope you stick around with me as this month of holiday sale shenanigans goes on.

With part one, I’m taking us back nearly three weeks now to the Black Friday sales of our favorite online retailers for anime goodness: RightStuf and Sentai Filmworks!

First up from the epic Sentai sale this year is the Princess Principal LTD ED set. This thing is absolutely stunning, with gorgeous gold foil printing layered over a soft matte box. The spine alone speaks volumes about the quality of this set.

Peeking inside, we’ve got the Blu-ray, the signature Sentai box-of-stuff, and not one, not two, but THREE art books. WOW. The first is a storyboard collection for the first episode, while volume two contains character art, scenery, the goods etc. The third is loaded with staff and cast interviews, which is perfect for fans of the sub. Personally, I have no idea what this show is even about, aside from the fact that it’s got steampunk vibes and it was dubbed in English with ACCENTS. I’m shook.

Gosh, there’s so much to love about this set. I originally told myself that I’m holding off on Sentai LTD EDs due to space, but I couldn’t resist this one for just $40 (although it did go even cheaper the next sale :/).

Also, ALSO, the box isn’t full of nicknack stuff that I wouldn’t care about. Instead, it’s got a lovely cloth poster (with unique art!) and a metal steampunk coaster set, which I am legit currently using. Nice one, Sentai!

I picked up some other Blu-rays from the sale for other’s gifts, but they won’t go in my collection so I won’t bother showing them off. Instead, you can indulge in Love Stage!! with me—and yes, it’s got the new dub! I haven’t actually seen this series, so this’ll be a fun one for me to dive headfirst into, heh heh.

Onto the books, we’ve got the two newest volumes of my favorite LN series, SAO volume 17, “Alicization Awakening,” and A Sister’s All You Need. volume 5. Really hyped to continue reading the War of Underworld story!

Next is the third volume of Our Dreams at Dusk, another series that I’m waiting to have the volumes of before starting, as well as some VOFAN stuff. Here’s the novelization of Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters per Second: one more side and VOFAN’s art/storybook Colorful Dreams. I bought it thinking it’d be your typical art book, but instead it ended up being an anthology of 1-4 paged short stories with full art spreads. Hopefully it’s a good one.

Last for this haul is the long-awaited Millennium Actress Blu-ray release by Shout Factory! Continuing with the rescue of Satoshi Kon’s masterpiece films, I’m stoked to see what the buzz has been about this one. Since this one is technically a pre-order from the Shout Factory store itself, it came with an exclusive lithograph/poster of the release’s cover. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but it’s nice to have!


And there you go, the first haul of many for this holiday season! I didn’t realize it until I had all of the items together, but there’s a beautiful blue-green theme going on here. It’s certainly nice when odd stuff works out like that, isn’t it? Anyway, let me know your thoughts on any of these pick-ups down in the comments. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

– Takuto, your host

Yumeiro Patisserie: The Strong, the Savory, & the Sweet || OWLS “Failure”

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 eleventh monthly topic of 2019, “Failure,” I wanted to dabble just a bit into the sweetest little show that’s been on my plate as of late. We’re talking about Yumeiro Patissiere and a young girl’s road to becoming a pastry chef—and don’t worry, I’m not gonna sugarcoat any part of her great struggles!

One of the best ways we can learn is through failure. This month we will be talking about the failures of our favorite characters in pop culture media and what we can learn from them. We will also reflect on our own mistakes and failures and how those experiences have allowed us to grow as human beings.

I’m gonna keep this sweet and simple, just as the show would serve it to you, so thanks Lyn for the prompt!

strawberry crepe cake.PNG


A brief discussion of the 50-episode fall 2009 anime “Yumeiro Patissiere,” stylized as “Yumeiro Pâtissière,” animated by Studio Pierrot and Studio Hibari, directed by Suzuki Iku, and based on the manga by Natsumi Matsumoto. Minor spoilers for the first 12 episodes will be present. 

Thrown Into the Culinary World

Ichigo Amano may just be a middle schooler, but she’s nothing when compared to her piano prodigy of a kid sister. In fact, Ichigo hasn’t ever been successful at anything, but she does have a passion for eating cakes. This unique tongue of hers leads Ichigo to Henri Lucas, a famous patissier who not only recognizes Ichigo’s tasting talents, but points her towards St. Marie Academy. This prestigious culinary school specializes in the art of desserts, and just so happens to be her late grandma’s alma mater, who was an accomplished confectioner in her own right.

Despite being a beginner lacking all of the essential skills for the craft (and thanks to being recommended by THE Henri sensei), Ichigo is placed in the elite A Group with the “Sweets Princes.” Famous throughout the school for their enchanting treats (and charming good looks), the trio is composed of Andou, an analytical, traditional Japanese sweets specialist; Hanabusa, a delicate boy who crafts elegant candied flowers; and Kashino, a gifted chocolatier with an attitude that’s not afraid to bite back.

While they’d likely fair well on their own (save for poor Ichigo), each of the kids in A Group are accompanied by their “Sweets Spirits,” fairies from a distant land who make patissiers’ dreams come true by aiding them in the kitchen with tips and tricks. Together, they all work towards their unique goals in the competitive world of sweets, and pray each day that their combined efforts will pay off in the future.

ichigo sweets

The Strong Must Protect the Sweet

The culinary world will always be a scary one to me, so it’s no wonder that Ichigo is freaking out when she’s placed among the school’s elite from the get-go. Easily the kind of girl to mistake the salt for sugar, Ichigo is a total klutz—and this doesn’t take too long for her new classmates to figure out. Every minute Ichigo spends with the esteemed Sweets Princes soils their perfect reputation.

However, as she works her saccharine magic on their hearts and they bond together through late night practice sessions in the kitchen, the Sweets Princes slowly start to care less about what their peers think and more about what their savory sweets mean to those that fall for their confectionery. By bouncing their knowledge and creativity off one another, the members of A Group learn most of all that love is just as essential an ingredient as flour, eggs, or sugar are.

sweets princes.PNG

Criticism & Self-Destruction in Academia

Japan has this thing about letting us know how exploited and overworked students can sometimes feel in elite academic settings. The tiniest compliments can give such students the greatest confidence boost, but the slightest criticism can be absolutely devastating. It’s a fine line us students pressured by high standards find ourselves tight-roping across, and that’s exactly where Ichigo finds herself at St. Marie.

At its earliest low in the series’ first twelve episodes, Ichigo almost quits school entirely. The moment before she left her dorm for home, she got ahead of herself and thought she’d do well in the upcoming cake-baking tournament without having had more experience behind her. Of course, she was just joking around with the Sweets Princes, boasting because they had recently served up something incredible as a team, but Andou and Hanabusa, who are normally very kind and supportive, snapped back and told her how wrong she was—that the competitive world of a pastry chef is much more arduous and complicated than baking a cake for some kids.

sweets princes practicing.PNG

This revelation—and it coming from the nicest people in her class—throws Ichigo from the top of the summit to the bottom of the ravine. One minute she felt like she could joke around and laugh at her successes and failures alike with her esteemed peers, the next she couldn’t feel more distant from them. Here, we have a middle school girl voicing the concerns of every struggling honor student in academia:


I got into the school fine, but it was just screw up after screw up, day after day. And once in a while, when someone complimented me, I got way too carried away. I think I’m just not cut out for that place. — Ichigo Amano


Inspiration Lies In Our Humble Beginnings

It takes going back to her creative roots—to her grandma’s old sweets shop, and the source of her inspiration—to jump-start that confidence and motivate Ichigo to get back on her feet. Ichigo even gets the chance to flex in front of her incredibly talented younger sister, showing off all the skills she learned at her fancy academy. It turns out, when she has to fend for herself, Ichigo knows a lot more than she gives herself credit for

When she asks her uncle to make the house special strawberry tart, only she—not even her talented sister—notices that her grandma’s recipe was changed. It is at that very moment that Ichigo realizes she is qualified for this career, and she becomes even more deeply connected with her grandma’s unique style as a patissier.

grandma amano.PNG

Having turned a new leaf, Ichigo feels ready to get back to baking. Of course, kind hearts attract good company, as Ichigo’s mom had her packed bags ready to go in the trunk the whole time. Imparting precious wisdom, Kyouko Amano drops her clumsy yet dedicated daughter back off at the academy. Honestly, that’s #familygoals, but she also wouldn’t be coming back were it not for her friends in A Group who covered for her abrupt absence.

When the going gets tough, sometimes we have to take life one chocolate cake roll at a time. We should take chances, and even if we suck, we should never give up. We should polish our dreams like jewels, and even when we want to cry, if we try smiling while doing something we love, we just might be able to change our whole day around all on our own. Sometimes, all it takes is going back to our humble beginnings to realize just how far we’ve traveled. There are more takeaways one could make, but hey, sometimes the shortest explanations are the sweetest ones. 

ichigo baking.PNG


It’s ok to get depressed sometimes. But what’s important is to get back on our feet when we’re ready. — Kyouko Amano


Afterword

Just like the opening says, Yumeiro Patissiere is “Light and soft and fluffy! Melt-in-your-mouth sweet! It’ll bring you so much unbridled happiness.” So on and so forth. Yumeiro Patisserie is a gem, a certified “Cake” like you’ve never had it, and one that has a fun flavor you’ll never forget! I doubt anyone’s ever heard of this anime (I hadn’t, until the Blu-ray was recommended to me in a sale so I snatched it up), but don’t sleep on this shit—it’s GOOD. The young hardworking patissieres, the beautiful string music, the decadent, delectable desserts—this show is so friggin’ charming, and I’m so excited to see where it goes. After all, there are 50 episodes in the first season alone!

This concludes my November 28th entry in the OWLS “Failure” blog tour. My friend Crimson (Read At Night) went right before me with a post over the heartbreaking geisha drama novel Snow Country that you can read right here! Now, look out for my blogger buddy Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews) as he rounds out the month with his crack at Haikyu!! and what failure means to the Karasuno Team (so excited to read!) this Saturday, November 30th! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host