Pride Month 2020 Celebration Announcement: Anime & Manga Edition!

Hello all!

I realize that these are some of the most important times we are currently living in. Crazy times, but crucial nonetheless. However, it would be a crime to forget the importance of June to the LGBT+ community. After all, they make up a huge part of our own anime and manga community, as well as include some of my dearest friends.

In honor and celebration of gay pride and equality, I’ve decided to dedicate the entire month of June to posts about BL manga and anime! These posts will range from soft shounen-ai to some of the, well, harder subjects in yaoi and BL. Such posts may be full series/book reviews, first impressions, or anything in between. Really, I haven’t figured out how I want to talk about all these works. But, I do know some of the titles I want to recognize on my blog.

I’ve never celebrated pride month in such full capacity. Truly, though, I owe it to the LGBT community for being a pillar for acceptance and visibility of all people on the sex and gender spectrums. I want to highlight some of the prominent works being discussed, not only because I have a lot of BL manga sitting on my shelf just waiting to be talked about, but also because I love and support this community and what it stands for 100%.

I also want to recognize all the people and companies working their butts off to bring these works to us. Really, I’m thankful to be able to buy these kinds of books and be part of a discussion that is much larger than myself.

So, in addition to my usual reviews and shenanigans, please look forward to this exciting month of content ahead of us! If you’re also doing some pride month posts, feel free to link those below or tag me on social media so I can share them.

Stay wonderful, and stay safe, my friends.

– Taku

Give it a Light Novel Title Challenge (Keni’s Nomination)

Hello all!

I thought I’d mix this up a bit for today and do a tag post. This one comes from Keni (The Anime Basement) and it’s the Give It A Light Novel Title Challenge. Reading through other bloggers’ posts, this challenge seems like a lot of fun, so thanks Keni for tagging me! Be sure to follow The Anime Basement if you haven’t already!

Rules:

  • Choose up to five anime, manga, or visual novel series with short titles
    • Light novels are allowed
  • Give these series a new title based on those incredibly long and ridiculous new anime/ manga/ light novel titles!
  • If someone already picked the anime, don’t worry! You can still challenge them to a fun showdown.
  • Link back to the original post.
  • Include Give it a Light Novel title in your tag so everyone can find them easily.
  • Nominate around 1-6 bloggers

To make this even more challenging, I’ll try to stick with titles I’ve recently been watching. Alright, let’s see what I can come up with!


shirobako ln

Shirobako

So Long As I Have My Friends, Working In Anime Can’t Be That Hard!


shinra smile ln

Fire Force

I Want To Be Called Hero, But My Fiery Feet Make Me The Devil!


princess principal ln

Princess Principal 

We Wanted To Save The Country, So Our Princess Became A Spy!?


karneval ln

Karneval

I Joined The Circus To Find My Long-Lost Friend


penguindrum ln

Penguindrum

To Save Our Sister, We Have To S-Serve The . . . P-PENGUIN QUEEN??


Nominations:

(If you’ve already done this, feel free to pass or reply with your post!)

Mel (Mel in Animeland)

Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews)

Miandro (Miandro’s Side)

Matt (Matt in the Hat)

Megan (Geeky Gal)

Lynn Sheridan (The Otaku Author)


This was such a fun little post to make, so thanks again Keni for tagging me! Which one of these titles would you be most interested in watching? Be sure to let me know in the comments. ‘Till next time!

– Takuto

 

Netflix’s Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is Enjoyable, But Not in the Way You’d Think || Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 12-episode 2020 anime “Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045,” produced by Netflix, animated by Production I.G and Sola Digital Arts, directed by Shinji Aramaki and Kenji Kamiyama, and loosely based on the manga by Shirow Masamune.


A New Threat Emerges

The Synchronized Global Default changed everything about societies all over the globe. Now, in 2045, the economic disaster continues to impact the human race as the world enters a state of “Sustainable War” via AI technology just to keep money in the pockets of policy makers. But, as the Stand Alone Complex world continues to prove, people really do not possess any idea of the capabilities of these AI—as well as the potential threats to their own privacy and safety—while living in this rapidly accelerating cyberization age.

As a result of the economic fallout, Public Security Section 9 was kicked off government payroll and reduced to hired mercenary jobs out in the hot American southwest. Given the opportunities to engage their enhanced cyberbrains and combat skills, it’s not the worst outcome for full-body cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi and her partner-in-crime Batou. However, the emergence of extremely potent AIs with remarkable intelligence and physical might, dubbed “post humans,” just might be the global threat Section 9 Chief Aramaki needs to pull the old team back together again.

Off-the-grid sci-fi action and cyber crime dominate the scene as the classic Ghost in the Shell: SAC story returns with this latest installment. Don’t count your Tachikomas before they hatch, though, as this is far from the sequel longtime fans have been waiting for. Overrun with loud action stunts and a hardly tactical approach to most combat, 2045 may be the weakest entry thus far—and the switch to all 3D CG doesn’t give much to boast about. But, this is still a Ghost in the Shell story, mind you, and any GitS is worth watching if you love this universe like I do.

major in the tachikoma

The Old Gang Reunited

With a new Ghost in the Shell comes a new look for the Major. Although she doesn’t carry the same maternal air as the original SAC‘s Major, I do really like the pretty and iridescent quality that this Motoko bears. It’s as if the short bob and rebellious spirit of Arise‘s Major met the violet, cool-toned and commanding authority of SAC‘s. While Batou largely retains the same figure, including his signature prosthetic eyes, Togusa’s new look suits him quite well. I wasn’t particularly happy about hearing that his marriage fell apart in the time since SAC 2nd Gig (honestly the biggest crime here), but at least the shortened mullet makes him feel like a fresh man.

Perhaps my favorite single part of Netflix’s crack at GitS doesn’t even pertain to character designs, plot points, or the music—it’s the dub cast. Somehow, Bang Zoom was able to track down the all-star cast of the original SAC dub, including the incredible Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as BOTH the dub’s director and the Major herself. Add in Richard Epcar’s rough-around-the-edges Batou, Crispin Freeman’s rich yet naive Togusa, William Knight’s authoritative yet flighty old man Aramaki, and Melissa Fahn’s iconically squirrelish Tachikoma voice and, ahh, it’s a wonderful nostalgia trip. Mary Elizabeth’s Major really does embody the soul of this franchise. It was only after hearing the old Section 9 again that I was reminded just how much I’ve missed this world.

So, as you can tell, I wasn’t one to hate on the new character designs. The characters themselves aren’t necessarily here to be dynamic so much as to be badass cyber soldiers and carry out the plot (except maybe Togusa), and to each their own on that. But, if there’s one major gripe I have about the characters, it’s the facial expressions, which is a perfect segue to the show’s biggest controversy: the animation.

section 9

A Bold Switch of Style

As you may have heard fans gripe, directors Aramaki and Kamiyama decided to have all of 2045 animated in 3D CG. In addition to story focus and heightened emphasis on explosive action, this changed visual style makes 2045 feel even more removed from SAC‘s old roots. At what point do we stop calling it a sequel? I don’t even know where to begin on this one except for with the negatives.

For one, the lip flaps hardly match the voice acting—this is consistent across the English and Japanese dubs. Lots of dialogue may be spoken, but the mouth hardly moves. Now, 2045 can sometimes get away with this since A) half the characters are cyborgs, and B) much of the dialogue is communicated via connection to the Net, thus no need for spoken words. But even the most human characters suffer from a general lack of expressive facial emotions.

My second big gripe is that everything is CG. From vehicles and landscapes to special effects and the hair on a person’s head, it’s all been animated using digital technology. This means that, when something is textured, it’s generally done well and with consistency. On the other hand, when there’s no texture work, it’s entirely flat to the eyes. The production feels cheap as a result, sometimes gross, even if I know that it’s actually decent quality CG work being done here.

That said, I do, in fact, like the way this series looks (shocker, I know). Sure, I would’ve liked a more traditional approach with 3D CG modeling being used for a minority of the production rather than the only technique, but this isn’t all bad. Japan’s towering skyscrapers and clean, futuristic architecture have never looked better in SAC than they do here. The Tachikomas shine brilliantly, and the action sequences are also entertaining and very well choreographed (even if they’re ultimately no more than added popcorn material). Chances are most people will dislike the CG, though, especially if they came in with expectations of the franchise.

major and tachikoma 2045

At Least it Sounds Great

Between writers and actors, it would seem that everyone came back to work on this universe again—everyone except for SAC series music composer Yoko Kanno. Thankfully, Nobuko Toda and Kazuma Jinnouchi carry the mantle of SAC with strong compositions in 2045. Between the jazzy interludes, lo-fi downtime, and high-octane cyber beats, I almost could’ve sworn it was still Kanno behind the keyboard. Toda and Jinnouchi also worked together on composing the score for Netflix’s recent Ultraman series, which may explain why 2045 also feels a little retro-punk at times.

As with the dynamic visual special effects work, the audio effects also fill in the sounds of this technologically advanced world. Whether the soft hum of a self-driving car on the highway, the relentless fire of Gatling guns, the blinking and honking of city sounds, or the digitization of bodies floating around in the Net, the sound design maintains a high standard across the series.

togusa 2045

Waiting for the End

From the occasionally nauseous CG animation alone, it’s easy to think that this is a poorly directed series. 2045 is also not as philosophically explorative as its predecessors; rather, it seems to look smart by skimming the surface without postulating the further impacts and implications of people living by and through the Net. As opposed to genuine curiosities or worries about our future with technology, 2045 favors absurd thriller tones to engage its audience. I wish it were deeper and more full of wisdom like the previous seasons were, but 2045 is not that story. Maybe it’s not that great . . .

BUT, I don’t want to lose hope because I did enjoy my watch. Heck, binging 2045 on Netflix in a SINGLE SITTING was loads of fun—questionable CG and all—and I only wish I could’ve listened to more of the Major and her team exchanging witty banter back and forth. For me, clearly, the dub alone made 2045 worth watching.

As it stands, this is only half the story, so I can’t completely say whether or not 2045 is worth passing on. With the second cour green-lit but yet to be announced, I await the end of this new story with cautious optimism. When that day comes, I definitely plan on joining the Major once again. If Ghost in the Shell is your thing, you may want to consider putting 2045 on hold until the entire series is out. Otherwise, strap in—this ride is already proving to be a bumpy one.

major batou and togusa 2045


You think I like this? There are too many unknown variables. It doesn’t smell right. But, then again, we always enjoy coming along with you for the ride—it’s the only reason we’re all here. — Batou


Afterword

If that last quote from Batou doesn’t encapsulate my feelings on Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, I’m not sure what does. Until the second half can solidify my opinions on this series, I’ll pass 2045 as a “Coffee” rating for now. It’s mediocre at most points, but when it’s good, you may just remember why you fell in love with this series to begin with. Have you watched Netflix’s Ghost in the Shell yet? If so, what are your thoughts? Given how optimistically I tend to view this franchise, I’m eager to hear about them. Otherwise, ’till next time!

– Takuto

Shirobako: A Creative’s Guide to Happiness || OWLS “Hope”

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 fourth monthly topic of 2020, “Hope,” I wanted to put aside my more elaborate thoughts on the entertaining and endearing Shirobako and just kinda ramble about creativity and the future. (Worry not, I’ll have more to say in a series review forthcoming!)

We are in the midst of a pandemic which has led people to live in fear and anxiety over the coronavirus. For this month, rather than seeing the dark side of the situation we are living in, we will be exploring anime and other pop culture mediums that bring hope for humanity and why they have such a positive impact on us.

This is such a wonderful topic, and yet I feel so unprepared for it. I hope you guys will enjoy what I’ve got to share. Thanks Lyn for the prompt!

miyamori shocked


A brief discussion of the 24-episode fall 2014 anime “Shirobako,” animated by P.A. Works, directed by Tsutomu Mizushima, and based on the original story by Michiko Yokote. 

Being Creative is Tough

Five high school girls had dreams of creating an anime together after showing off the labors of their club’s hard work in a school festival. Skip forward a couple years and we see that while Aoi and Ema made it into a reputable studio in the industry, all five of them are struggling to find a greater purpose behind the work. It would seem that the path to one’s dream job is littered with all kinds of trials and unexpected turns. 

At Musashino Animation, Aoi Miyamori has it pretty decent as a production assistant compared to her animator friend Ema. Miyamori’s job entails coordinating emails between departments and outside sources, scheduling meetings, running errands, maintaining public relations, and generally keeping everyone on task—including a notoriously nervous director and a whole crew of constantly tired animators, key artists, and the like. Half the battle, as one can imagine, is not with the work itself, but the people behind it.

But where Ema’s sights are clearly set on becoming one of the best animators the industry’s ever known, Miyamori often finds herself asking why she even joined the animation world in the first place. Despite the job suiting her better than she realizes, Miyamori feels adrift in an industry that’s been chewing people up and spitting them out for years. While the road to success is rough now, it’s only bound to get rockier—not to mention veer off the path more than once. Still, this is the world that Miyamori dreams of working in, and dreams—as she realizes—can still be achieved through unyielding perseverance and a splash of creativity. 

miyamori sleepy

A Future Unknown

Office stress, annoying coworkers, late nights, instant meals—oh Miyamori, how I feel for you. As a young twenty-something myself, it can seem near impossible to try exploring other potential avenues of interest when all our time and energy is drained just by living day to day. In struggles like this where future seems unclear, we want simple work, mechanical work. Even if it’s repetitive and dull, it is stable, and reliably puts food on the table each night. Because she does not yet know what she truly wants to do in life, Miyamori continues to slave away, giving her current job everything she’s got despite its tedium. 

On the other hand, when we have something to look forward to—a goal or a higher purpose in mind—we find ourselves more willing to take risks, and risk is always a scary thing. This isn’t just as a feeling of general optimism, but a yearning for something more in life. It’s a feeling of being destined for greatness, even if the path to that future lies completely unpaved. Miyamori knows deep down that she’s just as creative and visionary as her friends are—now she’s just got to figure out what niche she belongs in. As we see for her, others will help pave this path, and brick by brick, slowly, everything will come together in the end.

It sounds easier to just coast the less pleasurable route out, but that’s the trap. Before you know it, more time has passed by, and seldom do second, let alone third, fourth, or fifth, chances come along. Through her interactions with some of the big wigs who have been in the industry for decades, Miyamori finds that they all had specific goals to strive for. With this realization comes aspiration, and soon it dawns on her what she must do: Once one’s goal in life has been found, you should take time to figure out how you can achieve it. If you’ve done everything right, you’ll probably end up having to make a critical decision: Will you play things safe, or risk it for the chance to dream big?

crossroads

At the Crossroads of Happiness & Hope

Life is full of choices we have to make, crossroads we have to pass. But it’s because crossroads exist that people can get a true start on their lives and do the things they’ve always wanted to, whether that is explicitly known to them in the moment or not. Crossroads are a curse, but they also provide hope—the hope that people can choose their own path in life and make something fantastic out of their time on earth. They’re a necessary evil, the riskiest kind of choice, but once you know deep down that you made the right choice, there truly is no better feeling.

As Miyamori’s friends start to see the crossroads lay out before them, they decide to chase down the path of their dreams. In the end, Ema, Shizuka, Misa, and Midori each chose the riskier path—the hopeful path—over the one guaranteeing security. All at once, everything starts to look a lot brighter for them. Sure, there will be rough days and hard nights ahead, but at least they can sleep knowing that this is indeed the path for them.

Suddenly—as if all the clouds parted at once—tomorrow seems a heck of a lot brighter than the day before for these ladies. The air is lighter, the sky looks clearer, and all because they realized what they really wanted to do in life. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful feeling? That is what gives people hope—pursuing passion and happiness even if the future seems uncertain. I wonder what path Miyamori will choose . . .

happy miyamori


There is no occupation that doesn’t have its difficulties. That’s why the rest is how much you’re able to endure after all of the humiliation you face. — Rinko Ogasawara


Afterword

Shirobako spoke to me with all kinds of wisdom, I love it so much. Again, I’ll have a full series review out for Shirobako here in a bit, hopefully, so please look forward to that! I’ve really enjoyed watching Shirobako, and I’m so glad I held off on it until now. The series is full of pathos that I’m sure any creative can relate to. Sorrows and frustrations blend perfectly yet realistically with the joys and satisfaction of being involved with the arts, and the whole experience has been absolutely healing for a soul like mine. Thus, I hope you enjoyed some of my takeaways from the series here today!

This concludes my April 11th entry in the OWLS “Hope” blog tour. My dear friend Lita (LitaKino Anime Corner) went right before me with a sweet post on Cells At Work that you really shouldn’t miss! Now, look out for my buddy Matt (Matt in the Hat) with a post on one of his favorite superhero icons, Spiderman, this coming Monday, April 13th! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time!

– Takuto

Filling Gaps in the Anime Collection

Hello all!

Even though I’ve exponentially pulled back the reigns on what I buy for the collection, that hasn’t stopped me from picking up a couple new Blu-rays for some of my favorite ongoing franchises. After all, it’d be kinda crummy to cut cold turkey with a bunch of “Part 2” and “Season Three” gaps in the collection.

So, over the past month or two, I’ve been meticulously eBay hunting, haggling back and forth with sellers for the sets I want—and only at a price I’m willing to pay.

Enjoy the spoils of my hunt—there’s not much here (compared to normal collection updates), but everything here I love, and quality should always usurp quantity!


Up first is the second half of Steins;Gate 0. You may recall the boxset from a previous haul, and this set completes it. I’m absolutely in love with the art, and I’m glad Funi was able to snag so much of the Japanese Blu-ray art.

One of these days I’ll do a complete watch of the series, starting with the original and instead continuing down the 0 route with the Beta Episode like we’re supposed to!

Here’s another Part 2 to go with the first part’s limited edition set. Star Blazers 2202 isn’t my favorite sequel ever made, but it continues to be THE best reboot a vintage franchise has ever received. Period. I love the art for this franchise so much that I’ve collected almost all of the movie posters (called chirashi) for each theatrical release (since the series was released as a collection of OVAs).

More gorgeous art, ahhh my heart! So happy to have all of Yamato in my clutches.

Onto yet another franchise that I love—any RailDex fans out there? I realize that despite needing the most “hype” the third season is actually the weakest installment. But hey, I still liked it, and will probably rewatch it more than once in the future. For this release, love seeing how much Kiyotaka Haimura’s illustrations have improved (on the right), but something about the main visual for this season has me absolutely LIVING. The clouds are everything!

Funimation included a little art/character booklet with both parts of Season Three, and they’re actually quite nifty guides given Index’s lofty sum of characters that make their first (and last) entrance in this wobbly final season. It’s a nice edition, although it makes me wish each season came with one.

Annnd here’s Part 2, the climax of Index’s main story, and what an ending it is. (Yikes.) At least the main visual for this one maintains the intensity that the final confrontation *should’ve* had. It’s a really pretty cover, don’t get me wrong! I just wish Season Three wasn’t so, IDK, *shudders* mediocre.

Again, it’s got that nice little booklet to help keep you straight with all these crazy mages and organizations, religious or otherwise. I’m just thrilled to finally be up-to-date with all the releases for one of my favorite series ever!

Now here’s a third season that doesn’t disappoint in the slightest! Attack on Titan is fantastic, and I know it’ll be a masterpiece of entertainment once it’s all complete. This set includes the traditional limited edition digibook-artbook hybrid thing that Funi’s been doing for all their AoT sets.

The backside has Captain Levi lookin’ all fine and stuff. (I mean, when does he not?) It’s surreal to have the third “wall” completed on my shelf—that is, each of these giant LTD ED boxsets is modeled after one of the three walls, this last one being the most interior Wall Sina.

As you can see, the art book is actually imbedded with the release. A lot of people complain about it, but I don’t mind. We’re also blessed with the stunning Wit Studio Blu-ray covers, this one featuring Levi and Kenny in an active shot.

Flipping the cover page of the book, I see Eren lookin’ stoic and beautiful as ever. God, I’d buy an entire art book of this stuff. This little book continues on for another handful of pages, and it’s chalked with all kinds of great character materials and notes.

I just wanted to show off the back page of the art book cause DAMN, ERWIN LOOKS SO GOOD. Not as good as Eren, but this mans be FINE. And oh look, some DVD discs.


This pretty much concludes the collection update. I’m thankful to be able to continue collecting from my favorite franchises, especially during times like this. Yes, I want to support the shows I love, but I also want to be able to enjoy them for years to come. Only buy what won’t be a burden to you later on, and don’t spend what you don’t have. The anime will always be there, even if you have to do a little hunting around.

I’d love to hear what shows you guys have recently picked up. Got any franchises that you particularly enjoy collecting from as the years go by? Let’s chat in the comments! Thanks for reading, and until the next post! –

Takuto

Keeping Busy in Quarantine || Quarterly Update (Spring 2020)

Evening all,

I realize I recently posted an update a couple weeks back on how this whole pandemic has suddenly impacted my life, but I figured I’d keep consistent with my quarterly updates anyhow. In case you forgot how these things go, in my quarterly updates I will be reflecting on the five blog resolutions I set for myself at the beginning of 2020. This was a pretty successful system that I gave a trial run for last year, and it’s certainly less redundant than the monthly updates I used to do. Plus, it puts my resolutions into perspective each season, which helps reaffirm what I want to do better and how far I’ve come. Let’s see how 2020 has treated me thus far!

Goal Reflection


#1 – Read More Posts

Ok, so I was on top of this one until about mid January when school started up again. Then I was pretty much off the WP grid until this past week where I spent a couple afternoons scrolling through the feed and checking out all the content I missed. I guess you call this one a flop on my part, but I do have intentions to do better—and with all this social distancing, I plan to spend a lot more time online. So yeah, fear not, I’ll read your stuff!!

#2 – Write More Succinct Posts

Except for my big SAO Alicization review and my lengthy Weathering With You write-up, I don’t think I’ve gone over the 1,500 word mark on any of my posts (or at least not more than a couple hundred over). I hope this helps make my content easier to stomach, as I know long posts can lead to blog fatigue (for both you and me). I realize it will “always depend on the content” yada yada, but what do you generally prefer, longer or shorter posts? I personally like short reads, but I understand it excruciatingly difficult to evaluate every single quality of a piece in a review with less than a thousand words. It’s just not possible. For now I’ll take the win, but I’ll try harder to write more frequent, quicker reads for you all.

#3 – Read & Review More Books

So I DID actually review one book this month, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, and I had a lot of fun just sorta free-writing my thoughts away. Such a cool read. Thanks to self-quarantining, I’ve done a lot more reading—and I don’t plan on stopping. I’m trying to read all the manga and light novels I’ve accumulated over the past couple years that I bought but never read (DON’T DO THAT). If it all works as it should, I’ll have several manga reviews and first impressions posts coming your way here shortly!

#4 – Write More About Me

Interestingly, this has taken the form of me trying to fulfill those award/nomination/tag posts that circulate around the community. Do y’all like reading these? Cause they’re SUPER easy to write, and lots of fun! I’ve made sure to do one of these each month, so if you’re wanting to know more about me, here’s January, February, and March’s nomination posts. Thanks to the bloggers who keep tagging me in these—I’ve got more coming, just wait!

#5 – Build Up My “Personal Brand”

Like with the blog nomination posts, I’ve found myself writing at least one non-review/analysis post each month (that is also not an award or haul post). In January, I shared some of my anime and book collecting tips with my readers (specifically, what you shouldn’t do). In February, I used a tripod that I recently bought to do a little photoshoot for my first-ever clothing try-on. It was really fun to experiment with, even if not many people read the post. Hey, something different. And just a couple days ago I did the whole social distancing and what I’d been up to update where I just kinda unloaded some of my stressors and aspirations alike for the next coming weeks. Maybe I’m not as interesting as a thought (*laughs*) but I hope they’re still posts worth reading!

What I’ve Watched


Back in January when I was on my idol grind (still am, BTW), I watched iDOLM@STER SideM and discussed the nature of idol culture and personal branding for my OWLS post. I even started watching IDOLiSH7, which I still need to finish. Then, as previously mentioned, I went out to theaters and thoroughly enjoyed Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You. Lastly, I started the K-drama Cinderella and the Four Knights on Netflix. I’ve been holding off on the end because, well, I don’t want it to end!! But, perhaps it about time I finished it LOL.

We skip most of February because I wasn’t in the mood to watch anime. This was carried over from the end of 2019 though, so I wasn’t surprised; I just didn’t want to force myself. So I took a break, which also affected my Gunbuster marathon. Don’t worry though, it’ll still happen, just at a later date!

Most of my winter stimuls joined my watchlist in March (none of which I’ve completed yet because I’m waiting on the last few simuldub episodes). These are A Certain Scientific Railgun T (watching this one subbed, but waiting for more episodes to air so I can watch it all at once), ID: INVADED, Darwin’s Game, and Smile Down the Runway. I love all these shows a lot, actually, and cannot wait to see how they end—especially Smile Down the Runway and Darwin’s Game for some reason! I already know Railgun T will be great, so there’s no worries there.

I also ended up starting a lot of random shows cause of spring break, one of those being Hozuki’s Coolheadedness. I actually had no plans to watch this until Simply Gee brought it up in a recent haul vid, but it’s alright so far. I also decided to watch the Azur Lane (review here!) anime on Funimation cause the poster art was so epic looking, and it ended up being much better than everyone was saying it was.

I even dug into my personal backlog with the first K-Project anime, which I just reviewed. Now, had I watched this series a couple years back, it’d probably be one of my all-time faves. But in 2020, it’s just a good little series. Excited to explore the rest of the franchise! Oh, and I FINALLY STARTED Shirobako—unsurprisingly, it’s GREAT SHIT. Defs planning to review it.

Just a few days ago I published my March OWLS post, which gave spotlight to Millennium Actress, one of my favorite watches of the year so far. I loved it so much that I even hung up the exclusive lithograph that my preorder from Shout! Factory came with, so that’s cool. In other news for films, I finally busted into the Code Geass film trilogy, having watched all but the third. It’s quite good, surprisingly!! I just need to pick up the final film ASAP cause I know I’ll want NO breaks between the third film and the grand finale. Looking forward to seeing how this new iteration comes to a close.

Finding Enjoyment in Solitude


That’s pretty much all I’ve been up to these past three months. I’ve learned to balance my rekindled spark for K-pop with my long-time love for anime a lot better, so expect more anime content here soon. I gotta say, it’s been immensely pleasurable just being able to throw a random watch on screen and binge it all the way through. It feels like I haven’t done that in AGES. Man, anime is good.

Beyond idols and anime, however, I’ve been trying to monopolize on this time by reading as much as I can. I’ve read all of Ten Count (boy, that was a thing), picked up Snow White with the Red Hair once again, and also started Yona of the Dawn since I bought the first NINE FREAKIN’ VOLUMES a year ago cause I have NO restraint apparently. In times like this, though, I can only be thankful that I picked up what I could, as it’s wonderful being able to read a little Yona each night with no fear of running out anytime soon. (And if I do, there’s, like, 15 more volumes I could pick up—and THEN I could justify spending more money on books.) Until that time, I’m just enjoying what I have.

I hope you’re all managing yourselves well during this time. Do you find yourself picking up any old hobbies, or perhaps starting new ones? I haven’t watched, read, and written this much since I started blogging years ago, so that’s the biggest thing in my life. Are you getting enough sleep? Enough food to eat? I hope you and your friends, family, and loved ones are staying safe.

Although spring is here, the cool weather has continued to linger. I’m fine with it though, as I love the fresh chill and cloudy skies. As we move forward these next couple weeks, I’ll try to update you on any big changes in my life—as I’d hope you would, too. Until the next post, friends, stay well. Much love for all your support. ❤

– Takuto

K-Project: Supernatural Secrets & Seven Kings || Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 13-episode fall 2012 anime “K,” animated by GoHands, directed by Shingo Suzuki, Hiromichi Kanazawa, and Susumu Kudō, and based on the original story by Tatsuki Miyazawa (and GoRA).


Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Yashiro Isana seems to be an ordinary boy—and as far as he knows, he is. When a video of the unassuming white-haired teen maniacally shooting a young man is broadcast all across the net, however, “Shiro” finds himself in the midst of a manhunt. To make matters worse, his predators aren’t your typical PD, but rather various vengeful members of the Seven Clans of Color. Ruled by seven unique Kings, these psychic clans are truly the ones responsible for making Japan the technologically advanced superpower that it is currently is.

Wanted for supposedly killing a Red Clansman, Shiro is hunted by the Red Clan as their King, Mikoto Suou, faces his own grievous trials in Blue Clan captivity. Also out to weigh the justice of Shiro’s crime is the infamous “Black Dog” Kurou Yatogami, a skilled swordsman determined to follow the will of his late master, the Seventh King. As Shiro struggles to prove his own innocence for a murder he doesn’t even recall committing, a strange conspiracy starts to unravel that calls his own existence into question. Far from concrete, perhaps memory is just as fragile as a floating cloud.

yashiro isana

What started as a puzzling murder case spirals out into a war between supernaturally gifted Kings. Although this first series centers on the conflict between the fiery Red and tactical Blue Clans specifically, I have a hunch that later entries in the franchise expand upon this calamitous war of honor, duty, and brotherhood. Season one in itself has quite a high entertainment value on its own, however; if you were to stop here, you’d still be satisfied by these 13 episodes alone.

primarily falls under the action and supernatural genres, but isn’t afraid to sneak in a joke or two here and there. In fact, the entire first half of the series—besides following the whole mystery plot about a boy trying to find evidence for a crime he didn’t commit—shows off the rather ordinary daily lives of Shiro and his classmates. It’s a peaceful beginning to what will eventually be an all-out war in the latter half (and subsequent adaptations). All the tensions gradually build to this superb midway twist, ending with a grand identity reveal and the inevitable, explosive duel between the Red and Blue Kings.

These first seven or so episodes are spent watching Shiro and Kuroh gradually warm up to one another, and the addition of the mischievous shape-shifting cat girl Neko adds a layer of gag comedy that’s surprisingly effective. I’d even go as far as to say the first half is stronger than the second, but that’s just me being picky—the whole narrative is tons of fun. Finding out how Shiro—unbeknownst to even himself—is deeply woven into the lives of all these characters is really cool. If you enjoyed any of the Science Adventure Series or Eden of the East, you’ll likely be entertained by just as much.

red clan

Kings, Clans, and the Cat Girl

I’ll be up front with y’all, I had a lot of fun with this cast. Shiro’s an adorable and innocent little space cadet, yet holds an allure that you just can’t trust entirely . . . Due to his suspiciousness from the get-go, we are treated to an exciting narrative trick: the unreliable narrative. We can’t seem to want to trust Shiro 100%, even if we didn’t see him do anything wrong, and that’s half the battle we have to overcome. Shiro’s dub VA Sam Riegel completely sells the role, even if his voice is a little lower and more hollow-y sounding than you’d expect.

The rest of the cast is also PERFECT. Matt Mercer’s Kuroh is deep, but believably young-sounding for his age. Listening to him recite his Master’s teachings at the most odd yet pinnacle moments was hilarious—same for whenever he yells at Neko. Speaking of, Stephanie Sheh’s Neko is everything you’d want from a cat girl—and without being annoying, it’s great! If Kuroh’s view on Shiro is “Guilty until proven innocent,” Neko is the other way around, representing companionship, warmth, and trust for our protagonist. I could’ve watched this goofy trio dicking around in Shiro’s apartment for hours, their banter balances out so well. But alas, we have a story to tell—and a murder to solve.

kuroh and neko

I also love how the cast is divided into these Clans, which are, of course, colored by their respective attributes. You can expect Red Clan members to be hanging out in alleyways like a gang, roughing up opponents and violently trying to get their way in literally everything, no matter how childish. Blue Clan members are reserved, focused, and assemble formally at their base desks. They act as a vanguard of knights loyal to their King for his authority, whereas Red Clansmen protect one another out of brotherhood and respect for hierarchy through strength and acknowledgment by “the boss.” Color plays a bigger role in than simply dividing the cast up.

On the Blue side, I enjoyed Johnny Yong Bosch’s devilishly deceptive Saruhiko Fushimi and Tara Platt’s sultry yet strong Captain Seri Awashima. For the Reds, Todd Haberkorn’s suave bartender Izumo Kusanagi and Benjamin Diskin’s *holla at ya boy* Yata Misaki were so much fun. Ahh, Yata, DAMN I love this little shit. 

yata skateboard

The Vivid Colors of K

Visually, is just about one of the most unique series out there. Yes, the fight sequence animation is superb, and the character designs are very signature to each role. But what clearly stands out the most is the cool tone filter that overlays the screen 24/7. Some may find it irritating on the eyes, and I wouldn’t disagree—the bright color contrast and over-saturation can feel overwhelming. When your eyes finally adjust to this artistic decision, however, you find that this omnipresent blue-green color tone could only work on a series like K. The series is oozing with style, from the sharp uniforms and hairstyles to the meaning of color itself in the story. has a one-of-a-kind aesthetic, and I am living for it.

Can I talk about the soundtrack for a minute, because wow, Mikio Endo really knew how to deliver the directors’ vision. K‘s OST is comprised of many laid-back jazz and bossa nova-inspired tracks which support the series’ chill atmosphere. Like the visuals, the music is stylish, but it isn’t afraid to pull out a little dubstep during the action sequences or some elegant piano work for the more intimate Clansmen scenes. It’s all great stuff, and angela’s iconic OP aptly titled “KINGS” kicks off each episode with excitement. Meanwhile the ED theme “Tsumetai Heya, Hitori” sung by Neko herself (Mikako Komatsu) nicely provides that dramatic sendoff we need.

blue clan

Power, Revenge, and Redemption

Just as K is this tale of power and revenge, it is also the saga of redemption for vital parties on all sides of a dangerous war. I really appreciate the series’ attempt to fully flesh out the Red and Blue Clans and their collective attitudes and ambitions, as unlike with most stories of good versus evil, no one Clan is truly more virtuous than the other. At the end of the day, each of these characters value their pride, love, and trust for their fellow Clansmen to an equal degree; their respective Kings are just as admirable for upholding the lives of their comrades over the pursuit of power.

This isn’t an all-out war of good and evil—it’s a calculated power struggle between two forces that actually want to understand one another, yet ultimately cannot due to varying ideologies of honor and unity. Rather than fighting for glory, these Kings clash to protect their followers and friends, and I can respect that. Sure, the show feels a little rushed here and there, and there are A LOT of characters. But, this series really is so much more than your average action flick. (And all the pretty men, OOF.)

From its original mystery story and chivalric writing style (with a modern day twist) to its vivid animation and unique lighting design, is a commendable project right from the start. As to where the story goes from here: I can only imagine that as more colorful and daring personalities join the fray, will gradually transform into the great supernatural drama it was destined to be.

shiro neko kuroh


It’s not about a man’s appearance, or even what’s on the inside. My policy is to judge a man by his actions. — Kuroh Yatogami


Afterword

So yeah, I liked just as much as I thought I would! My only qualms would be that the story doesn’t hit “as hard” as it should when I know it’s trying to. Perhaps that’s just on me, but feel free to share what you like most about this series down in the comments! As for the cafe, I’ll gladly welcome as a “Cake” title, one that is too sweet to miss out on. I can’t wait to explore the rest of what this franchise has to offer. I read that there’s a film, a sequel, and a series of movies after that—looks like I know what I’ll be doing these next couple weeks! Thanks for reading, and ’till next time!

– Takuto