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

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” For the OWLS blog tour’s fifth monthly topic of 2019, “Happiness,” I wanted to share with you all something that I rarely talk about, yet is one of the biggest things that defines me as both a fan and a person: my anime collection!

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

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


 

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The Main Shelf

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

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


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

— Angelo Surmelis, The Dangerous Art of Blending In


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

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

New Shelves, New Room

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

the DVD that started my journey,

the title that impacted me the most,

the anime that made me want to try new things,

the book that made me fall in love with reading,

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

the art that inspires me to improve my own work,

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


Inspiration can come from anywhere. 


Why Do I Collect Anime?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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Afterword

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

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

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

– Takuto, your host

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Naka-Kon 2019 Experience + Haul!

Hello all!

Apologies for dropping off the face of WP suddenly for two weeks. School’s been kicking my butt (and I had been doing so well blog-wise, uff). But before school got out of hand, I went to Naka-Kon 2019 over spring break, making it my 5th year at the con!

I love Naka. I love the guests they bring in, I love the size (it’s a smaller con, but just big enough to not be able to attend everything if you catch my drift), I love perusing the vendor hall and the artist alley, I love all the wonderful cosplay spirit, and I love staying at the convention center’s hotel. It’s awesome, and it’s perfect for me and my family.

Getting out of town and escaping into the city for three days for Naka-Kon is like a spiritual revival of sorts. I come back to my room with new things to hang up that’ll inspire me to watch more anime and become more productive with my blogging. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend my spring break.


Meeting the Voice Behind the Mic!

This year was particularly great because it was super chill. Much more casual than the usual panic of making sure I attend panels and lines at the right time and such. The big reason for the relaxed tempo this time around was because there weren’t as many voice actors that I felt I absolutely had to meet.

Don’t get me wrong—I definitely went to all of the VA panels that I could, and I will continue to do so until I get sick of them (probably never tbh), but there’s a difference between being compelled to stand in an hour long line (alone away as my family are off doing literally anything that’s more exciting than standing ’till my legs go numb) versus just sitting down and listening to them for a bit.

But I did stand in a couple lines this year! In addition to sitting in on his YT panel, I got to meet the incredibly hilarious Alejandro Saab in the flesh! He was such a kind dude, and unlike the people in front of me who were in and out in 10 seconds, he spend what felt like an entire minute just chatting with me about creativity, motivation, business, anime licencing (regarding The Royal Tutor film) and life in general. (Plus he said he recognized my Danganronpa Komaeda cosplay after we took a picture together!)

Alejandro was well-informed about the characters he voiced (Haruto from A Sister’s All You Need, Prince Leonhard from The Royal Tutor) and was excited to impart his thoughts, which surprised me given that some VAs that I’ve met keep things pretty succinct (and understandably so). Such a generous guy. A positive experience all-around! ^ . ^

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The other actor I met was Jad Saxton, a big name on the dubbing scene and an incredibly sweet person in real life! My meeting with Jad went by a lot quicker, but like Saab she was overjoyed to tell me about the roles I approached her for, particularly Faris in Steins;Gate (which we talked about returning for the much darker Steins;Gate 0 and the simultaneous joy and sorrow it brought) and my gateway role to her, Hatchin in Michiko & Hatchin. Other favorite roles include Sena in Haganai, Ruruka in Danganronpa 3, and Akatsuki in Log Horizion.

As a last-second comment, I wanted to express to Jad my appreciation for the Magical Girl Raising Project dub, as the casting and accents made it my favorite dub of 2018. We each shared a hearty *in a deep-south accent* “Calamity Mary!”, laughed, thanked each other, and I was off!

(My siblings also wanted to meet Miss Saxton, so I lent them something to sign in addition to their own materials. Thanks again fam!)

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Game Rooms, Quiz Shows, and the Big Schedule Conundrum 

My only big issue with this year’s Naka was the substantial number of scheduling errors and lack of communication for changed events. Some VA panels that were supposed to be on Saturday were bumped up to Friday, and we unfortunately missed them without knowing.

And it wasn’t just the times, either; panels of all varieties swapped rooms with each other unannounced, confusing and frustrating a lot of people. Unfortunately, Kara Edwards was getting over a cold, so her stuff was moved accordingly and understandably to accommodate both her health and fans wanting to meet her. But even her situation doesn’t explain why literally sooo many panels were moved around.

But surprisingly, that didn’t bother me too much. In the end, since seemingly all VA-related panels but Kristen McGuire and Jad Saxton’s ADR panel (which was quite lovely and informative!) were shuffled around, we pretty much just went to a bunch of anime quiz show sessions and played in the game room. Still, both ended up being pretty fun, and it allowed me to freely strut my cosplay and take pictures with people that asked without having to worry about time constraints.

RightStuf ran a pleasant anime quiz show through Kahoot, which allowed everyone in the room to be a player (a novel idea!). Although I’ve never participated in these game shows, perhaps I should haha! Out of three rounds with well over 60 participants each, I ended up scoring third, seventh, and fourth place, respectively. 😀 Maybe next time I’ll muster up the courage and volunteer in a less-anonymous game show.

Stuff I Bought!

So a couple VA panels, lots of gaming, and even more picture taking both with and for fellow fans and cosplayers. But what about shopping? Here’s everything I got from the vendor room and artist alley this year!

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These gorgeous Sailor Moon prints by FalseDelusion were an absolute MUST as soon as I saw them, especially the Silver Millennium piece on the left. Not only is the artistry delicate, but the combination of mediums here (hand-drawn characters and kingdom with overlaying of lighting and watercolor effects) creates a really fantastic vision of each planet. The ethereal dreaminess of the Moon Kingdom and the stormy colors used on Jupiter, planet of thunder, add so much character and dynamism.

The artist made one for each of the inner guardians, so I picked my favorites. Also, at my request, I had them signed and dated!

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The artist also had a set of small militaristic My Hero Academia prints featuring bold, bright colors with equally fierce character portraits. Since it was buy 2 get 1 free, I had to snag #bestboy as my freebie. 😉

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The other print I picked up was this adorable yet deep Princess Jellyfish illustration. I actually saw this print last year, but hesitated because I had spent too much—Not this time, though! I bought it in a heartbeat!! And I hope you can understand why. I love how the two are faced away from us, but while Tsukimi is lost in the sea of jellies, Kuranosuke’s attention is elsewhere . . .

My favorite part—the sharp white boarder framing—creates a powerful emphasis on the characters and the dreamy blue waters. In case you’re curious, the artist is Alexis Moore (alexis-moore.com or @alexisparade), and although I didn’t get to interact with her directly, I’m really happy that I was finally able to reunite with this beauty!

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Buttons, bears, and setters, oh my! Of course, it wouldn’t be Naka if I didn’t pick up a few pins for my board at home, so I grabbed up my favorite two Haikyuu!! characters as well as a Monokuma pin: a rare find IMO!

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OMG this artist. She had SO MANY OBSCURE CHARACTERS, MY HEART. It was a no-brainer to grab the Gosick and No.6 pairings (honestly, nobody does art for these characters). I was also really surprised to see the Devilman: Crybaby boys, so they came home with me too. And while I was only planning to pick up Seraph of the End‘s Mika, she jokingly convinced me that Mika and Yuu must not be separated, and I totally agree (<3). It was a 10-pins-for-$20 deal, so I picked up Yuri Katsuki and Suzaku to top my unintentionally bishounen cart.

Seriously though, I could’ve bought EVERYTHING from this lady! And she was so kind and humble :’) We joyfully exchanged our passions for some of these obscure titles and ships—easily one of my favorite interactions from the entire con!

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Onto the merch, my sister wanted a shirt, and since deals come in pairs, I grabbed more Eva goodness. I’d never seen the design for this one, and it’ll be nice to have a white anime tee to contrast my black wardrobe lol.

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Although my hunt for Danganronpa figures and clear files turned up ZILCH, I did manage to find the D3 Despair Arc wall scroll I hesitated buying last year and decided to submit. It’s a fantastic key visual featuring all my favorite Danganronpa 2 kiddos—no regrets!

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I WAS able to add another rubber strap to my arsenal, however—and it’s male Ranma, a classic favorite no less! On Sunday, my sister and I cosplayed female and male Ranma, respectively, so he was bought to commemorate this moment. :’)

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Last but not least is this gift from my brother, a chibi keychain strap of the Yamato (my latest obsession in case you missed it). What’s ultra hilarious about this gift however is the texture. She looks like hard plastic, doesn’t she? Well don’t let the packaging fool you—this keychain actually has a gel-like exterior that, when squeezed, activates a light on the wave motion cannon! #SquishyYamato has become simultaneously the worst and the best meme of our house ever since the surprising reveal. >.<

(PSA: Please check the texture of packaged keychains before buying. Otherwise you get awkward moments like this one :P)


And that about does it for Naka-Kon 2019! I’m hesitant to post cosplay pics just because, ya know, once it’s on the internet, it stays on the internet. But I’m about to the point where I’m like, screw it, it’s something I love doing, and I’m getting much better at it. So I might end up doing an entire post (or even series, who knows!) on my cosplay ventures. Only time will tell!

Overall, I had a wonderful experience—easily my most chill Naka yet—and if you see something cool above or are curious about other con-related details, leave a comment and I’ll definitely respond! Thank you to all who made Naka ’19 a great one, and we’ll see you in 2020!

– Takuto

Naka-Kon 2018 Experience/Haul!

Hi everyone!

Since 2015, I’ve gone to this midwestern U.S. anime convention called Naka-Kon. That makes this my fourth year, which is kinda hard to believe! It’s a small convention, estimating around 8,000 attendees in 2015, but the population has grown exponentially in the past few years. Soon, I fear that the convention hall itself won’t be large enough to contain all our anime madness!

Anyway, this year was much less stressful compared to years past. Why? Well, I’m one of those eager youngsters that insists on meeting with English voice actor guests. I keep it brief, but try to walk away with a signature on one (or more if I’m lucky) of my Blu-rays, a picture, and delightful, positive memories to cherish. Typically, I’ll know (or at least recognize), say, 6/7 of the VAs—and you can bet that I’d try to meet with all of them if I could! At this year’s Naka, however, I only really knew (and loved) one or two roles per each voice AKA not enough to validate standing in line for a couple hours, sadly.

So I told myself to limit my VA line-standings to just one, and amp up my cosplay game so that I could spend time taking more pics and having fun. After 2017 when I cosplayed Mika from Seraph of the End, I didn’t realize what great fun cosplaying could be—SO MANY PEOPLE WANTED A PICTURE EITHER OF OR WITH ME (which makes me so happy and thankful), yet it was a tad overwhelming given how I had my own agenda of rushing from one VA line or panel to another. The guest line-up happened to work well with my intentions this year, and it all worked out swimmingly!

The unintentional VA-grab theme for this year must’ve been Cowboy Bebop (last year was Final Fantasy XV), as both Steve Blum (Spike Spiegal) and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Julia, also ADR Director) were both guests this year. While I love Bebop just as much as the next guy, I knew that his lines and panels would be crazy full, so I skipped out to avoid the hassle. Also, I only knew him as Spike and Todo from Code Geass. WE DID, however, manage to squeeze in to a huge panel hosted by Steve and Mary, as well as Ian Sinclair and Wendy Powell. I count my lucky stars that my sister persisted on us sitting down, as it was really cool to hear all these famous voices casually talking in one room!

As for Mary Elizabeth . . . SHE’S THE FREAKIN’ MAJOR FROM Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex!!!! If you’ve been following me for even the past year, you’ll know that GitS has quickly worked its way up my favorites list following my marathon of the franchise just one year ago from now (happy reunion!). She’s also my QUEEN, Cornelia li Britannia from Code Geass!! Long story short, she was my must-meet for 2018, and though I was only allotted one signing (as I wanted a picture for my second), she kindly signed my DVD copy of Stand Alone Complex, of which, fun fact, I had picked up JUST for this con! Our transient meeting—where we chatted about technology’s advancements and  possibilities, the internet, and finding our own path in this digital age—was brief, but one that will stick with me for a long time!

While at the con, I popped in on several of Xanthe Huynh’s panels. I only really knew her as Love Live!‘s Hanayo, Yuki Yuna‘s titular Yuki Yuna, PMMM Rebellion’s Nagisa, and A Lull in the Sea‘s Miuna (as pictured above). Her charming commentary on the industry and business as a voice actor for “all the cute characters” was very insightful, plus it was nice to balance out the wild loudness of, well, a con with a much smaller, calmer Q&A panel. After visiting like three of her panels, I made it my mission to nab an autograph, of which was quick, painless, and fun to meet her one-on-one!

Oh yeah, I also snagged a ticket for Ian Sinclair since I just could. It was a Sunday, lines were significantly shorter and moved much faster, so I thought “Eh, why not.” He’s not a personal favorite of mine, but I do think he does great work!

**Insert my frustrations when Wendy Powell, who had no people in line for like 20 minutes, left just as I had snagged a ticket to meet her after noticing the vacancy. Ughhh, oh well, at least I got to hear her voice IRL in that panel earlier. Also, the staff were very supportive in my endeavors to try and meet her. Shucks, thanks anyway! :3

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Moving on from my meetings with guests, 2018 was also a year to try out some other activities that the con offered given my greater schedule leniency. Each year, I fear that Naka will offer fewer and fewer surprises for me. Especially this year, I figured I’d be bored half the time—BOY WAS I WRONG, and joyfully so! My siblings and I went to our first cosplay shoot (for My Hero Academia), posed for countless many pictures, and even tried waltz lessons of all things together! It was great fun, and EVERYWHERE we went were nice, happy, positive anime fans! So yeah, new experiences all around—I shouldn’t have underestimated such a great con like I did!

But you probably just wanted my haul. Ok, so do I. 🙂

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Pins, pins galore! Each year I make it a mission to scout out new pins (especially from one artist in particular who designed the trio on the right), and this year my bag had nearly 20 some-odd pins from various favorite anime. With most ranging from one to just a couple dollars, it’s an easy, affordable way to support artists, as well as keep track of your favorite characters. Highly advised! In case you were wondering, those three on the left were gifts from my sister that she bestowed upon me as soon as we got home—how thoughtful of her! And of course, I had to get my Sailor duo, plus the almighty, all-powerful LELOUCH VI BRITANNIA!

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I also got some playing cards, this becoming my third set with anime artwork on them. I was a bit let down with this set, thinking that because the main image had the entire cast on it, it should have pics of the other YOI characters. WRONG, all main three, and all random close-ups, ahahaha! Should’ve gone with the other set they had, but oh well, more YOI to go around.

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Traditionally, I like to snag some new wall art (either as a scroll or artists’ prints) each year. Seeing as how I cosplayed a male version of Danganronpa‘s Junko Enoshima (which a crap ton of people recognized somehow and asked me for a pic), I thought it was only fitting to cap off the experience with something from the franchise. I’d never seen this artwork before, so I thought hey, let’s do it!

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I DIDN’T REALIZE CONS HAD CLEAR FILES until I stumbled upon a couple of vendors on the last day that had stacks full of ’em! These epic Fate/stay night: [Unlimited Blade Works] clear files had the absolutely stunning poster artwork on them that my DVDs had, and though I wish they had the last one from the second season, they make an awesome set to either hang up together (considering a Fate wall in my room) or to use them as actual files. (Does anyone use clear files like they’re supposed to? Let me know . . .)

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AND THEY HAD GHOST IN THE SHELL TOO, LIKE, WHAAAT?!? At either just $4 or $2.50 per file depending on the vendor, these are wonderful deals compared to the $10+ that buying off the net will charge. Like my Danganronpa wall scroll, these SAC files will forever be remembered as the ones that I bought when I met Major Motoko Kusanagi, the great Mary Elizabeth McGlynn herself! #unreal

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This right here was the biggest win for me. I knew that as soon as I passed it on day one, it would be mine come the end of the weekend. Because I was unexpectedly busy with all the cosplay shenanigans, however, I ended up waiting until later in the con ’till I finally snatched it up. Thankfully, the artist still had a few, and she was super happy that I was this excited over her Kiki’s Delivery Service artwork. I mean, WHO COULDN’T?! It’s like Ghibli meets Shinkai all perfectly contained within one aesthetically pleasing masterpiece! The artist is Alexis Moore, and you can reach her at both her website alexis-moore.com and social media (presumably Insta or Twitter?) @alexisparade. Love this so much~!

That wraps up the stuff that I personally bought. Much less money was spent than in years past, but that can be a good thing sometimes. Here are some gifts my siblings bought me (and don’t worry, I surprised them with some neat stuff, too)!

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This blind-pick horizontal poster of Yuuri and Victor that my sister got me, ahhh, so precious. You know how anime fans sometimes like to decorate their own spaces with that bit of anime-inspired flair during the holidays? Yup, I think this might be the winter holiday piece that’ll go over my door. 😛

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Here’s a Code Geass soundtrack (again with the con-specific merch to match the times, damn!) that my brother bought for me! It’s got quite a few quality jams from the series, and for only $8, ummm, duh one of us is gonna get it LOL! After I passed it up for a minute, he swooped in, bought it, then surprised me by giving it to me as soon as we got home (omg how kind). Part of it was as a thank-you for me creating the *coolest* part of his cosplay that everyone admired last-minute, so it was pretty nice to get this after he got all that recognition for my work.  >.<

But that’s not all—he also bought me a new wallet, and it’s Evangelion, holy shit! I’ve already swapped it out with my previous decaying Zelda one, and though this one is a bit bigger, I loving having fashionable anime that low-key celebrate my status as a fan. I was the one who introduced Eva to my brother (and sister), and although I know it was thanks for the cosplay accessories, I also see it as part of a return to introducing them to one of their favorites, too.

And that about wraps things up. Lots of cool voice actors, lots of neat stuff, and lots of pics (which are hopefully coming in a separate post). Even Mary exclaimed how cool my Todoroki ice effects were, and Ian knew exactly who I was as male Junko: “That’s awesome!” he said! All the praise felt good, and for someone with a mediocre body image thing going on, it felt nice to be admired for looks, even if just superficially.

This fourth year held all kinds of surprises, despite my thinking that I had Naka all mapped out. As my fifth year comes next spring, I want to do bigger cosplays, buy even more merch and art, and meet more cool people, be it big names in the industry or simply fellow fans wanting a picture together! Thank you to all who made this year’s Naka-Kon possible, as it’s become my favorite way to spend the spring break! Also, thank you for reading this post! Let me know if any of the art or merch I got was particularly neat to you, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Expanding My Anime Film Collection in 2017! | Blogmas 2017 Day 11

Hey everyone, welcome to (a very belated) day 11 of Blogmas (whoops)!

We’re nearing the final days, but there are still a couple of BIG things that made my 2017 a landmark year for exploration; one is on the anime side, the other on the blogging side. Today, we’ll briefly talk about anime movies, and how I went from disliking their short length and randomness to simply being enamored by their ability to tell a “complete,” charming story full of virtues. And yes, my film collection did exponentially EXPLODE this year as a result!

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Expanding My Anime Film Collection

(This is in regards to films that don’t belong to existing franchises. Ex. No titles labeled “The Movie”)

Like I was saying, I used to not be big on anime movies. Sure, there’s those fave Studio Ghibli films that everyone grows up with (special shoutout to Kiki and Laputa), but otherwise, you wouldn’t find me browsing for some little indie film or original short. Looking back on 2017 now, I think it was the tail end of 2016 where I caught the film fever.

I took a painting class during my last semester in high school. With little imagination (or teaching for that matter) to go off of, I turned to anime as inspiration, like we all do. I had seen Makoto Shinkai’s The Garden of Words sometime in 2016, and I was simply blown away with what I call the “Shinkai Aesthetic.” It’s clean, chic, picturesque, semi-realistic, and most of all, has wicked good lighting. I could go on, but there’ll be a HUGE post about this guy’s art coming soon! Many of my paintings were inspired by Shinkai’s style as a result (well, that and Studio Khara’s Eva Rebuild Series). Specifically speaking, Shinkai’s iconic skies. I’ll share some of them with you guys later if you’re interested!

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Anyway, I started to grow as an artist after creating these paintings, noticing the subtle (or drastic) differences in other anime directors’ styles: Hayao Miyazaki (and Studio Ghibli), Mamoru Hosoda, Satoshi Kon, the Project Itoh films, Mamoru Oshii, Yasuhiro Yoshiyura, and of course, Makoto Shinkai. Thematically, they all tackle different issues in different ways, and learning about not just how but why a director wants to send out a certain message through a particular scene became something that I could apply to my own writing, namely, my OWLS posts. As cheesy as they previously seemed, I learned to love life lessons and the things we can learn from entertainment.

During my Shinkai painting phase, I was also watching Ghost in the Shell for the first time, exploring the ENTIRE franchise from its first 1995 film to the Arise series and even Paramount’s 2017 live action. My mind kept expanding with every episode, every iconic shot, and the urge to recreate them in my drawing class just couldn’t be ignored. I was absolutely OBSESSED with cyberpunk by this point, and I thank all the directors and their unique styles for inspiring me so much!

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This brings us to my collection, and my [terrible] need to buy everything that I watch. Thanks to Amazon Prime’s wicked ability, which allows me to buy a single item WITHOUT reaching a certain paywall for free shipping (cause I ain’t ever gonna pay for that, mhmm), I would literally buy every single anime film that fell below $15-ish. One. At. A. Time. Spoiler alert: that’s a lot of them. Here was my anime film collection in 2016:

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Pretty basic, got classics like Paprika and Ghost in the Shell, and cool lesser-known titles like Time of EVE and The Empire of Corpses. Neat.

Here’s my collection now, at the end of 2017:

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Oh dear god.

I went out and bought every Ghost in the Shell Blu-ray that I could (excluding Stand Alone Complex, as the reviews for the Blu-rays were horrendous). I loaded up on Shinkai, I snagged some Hosoda (well, received them as gifts, rather), I picked up modern classics like In This Corner of the World and classic-classics like Akira that arguably shaped anime as we know it! Honestly, I’m not sure why it took this long for me to get around to Akira. As for that whole gorgeous-looking set of black on the far left . . .

Thanks to GKIDS and their re-licensing and re-releasing of ALL the Studio Ghibli films, I bought all the ones that were on “sale,” and you can already bet that I’m going back for more as soon as the others lower in price. These are some high-ass quality releases, definitely much better than Disney’s [ugly] shiny gold releases. Then again, ANYTHING is better than the oooold DVDs that were first released, so I bought all the new Blu-rays to replace the ancient DVD copies we’ve had (which were re-gifted as priceless memories to my siblings for their own collections, haha)!

But yeah, there it is, the physical representation of my growing appreciation for the art of film, all in the beloved media that inspires me to create and explore—anime. Throughout the years, I’ve neglected so many astounding masterpieces and modern classics, and all because I wouldn’t have wanted their short stories to end. What can you get out of a measly 2 hours, anyway? However, through some incredible directors and artists in the anime industry, I’ve learned that the journey can still be magnificent and awe-inspiring, regardless of how long or short the story is. Now I can’t wait to see which films I watch next, and the adventures that they take me on!

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How big is your personal anime film collection? Did you see any title up there that is a personal favorite of yours? What other anime movies should be in my collection? Let me know so I can go and buy it after writing this! This post will ALSO be logged as a “Cafe Talk,” so share your thoughts to your heart’s content!

I’m on a bit of an odd schedule now thanks to the holidays, but this concludes Blogmas Day Eleven of the 12 Days of Anime. Only one left! Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you shortly with the last post!

– Takuto, your host

Diving Back In! A Lull in the Sea Premium Edition Unboxing

Hey café-goers, today we’ve got a little something special to take a look at! To be exact, this is NIS America’s Premium Edition release of Nagi no Asukara or A Lull in the Sea. With its steep price (which I’ll cover later), I have been skeptical on picking this up since before they even released it–In fact, you could say that this set is what pushed me to watch the sub on Crunchyroll! I consider this one of my top 15 anime (cause 10 just won’t do), and finally having it in my collection is a milestone achievement. Because I couldn’t just settle for the DVD version I bought a while ago, let’s dive back into Shioshishio and into my favorite box set of anime that I own!

~As a side note, shout out to LitaKino, the undersea maiden of this blogosphere. This one’s for you, girl!~

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IMG_1281Here is the front featuring the main poster (my favorite pic). The front and back both have a standard gloss texture to them, yet the chipboard is much firmer than any release I’ve ever touched. It’s higher quality than FUNimation Entertainment’s ‘limited edition’ boxes, and I dare say it’s better than Aniplex of America’s sets.

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Now, you’re all probably eyeing that attractively themed spine, which shows the English logo and decorative bubbles and swirls that line many of the walls in Shioshishio and Oshiooshi. That attention to detail makes this not only a creative set, but one with actual designs from the show instead of plain color patterns companies usually make. My favorite part would have to be the little sea slugs (they play a role in the show), aww, so cute! To complete the design, all of the blue parts are actually slightly raised and have this glittery shine and texture to them. They don’t show sign of coming off either, which just completes the package.

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Just like the side, the top features an engaging blue sparkly-textured design. This time, it’s the legend of the Sea God and his wife, which plays a huge role in the series. Again, the attention to detail makes this set not only gorgeous, but the designs hold meaning, too.

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I honestly was not expecting this artwork to be on the back, yet here it was, and now I love it almost as much as the front art! Same glossy texture as the front, and same high-quality printing, too. Love the bold colors of the sea and our ocean kiddos!

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Here is the open side with all of the contents. I’m diggin’ the variety of blues from light to dark. Tired of being teased? Alright, let’s pull out the guts.

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Here are the lovely (yet kinda unnecessary) three DVD-size cases which each house one Blu-ray disc. The episodes are divided evenly, which is a plus. Each case features the main characters, and while I enjoy seeing young Miuna and sleazy Lord Uroko on the third case, I wish we instead got Akari Sakishima, as she plays a huge role in the story (and she’s one of my favorites).

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And here are the insides of each case in the same order. I love their cheeky smiles on the third one and the lovely Chisaki in the middle. More beautiful water color-looking artwork, which I am a huge fan of. Each of the discs feature the same artwork as their respective cover, so I didn’t bother to snap a photo.

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I’m honestly speechless here. Just wow, artwork, wow. As much as the text disturbs the masterpieces printed on each case’s back, I do appreciate the episode and extras listing. That helps me navigate around a lot easier. But yeah, that environment is truly magical.

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Ooh, now I really love this. Soundtracks one and two are stored in this DVD case which features the Shioshishio school’s music room. Melancholic yet entrancing at the same time, and same goes for the accompanying pamphlet that is decorated in more environmental porn.

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Here’s the backs of each one. Lyrics, song listings, and more environment. Now this takes me back to Nagi-Asu‘s world.

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The discs feature the same design yet with inverted colors. The back of the case paper shows two full-shot scenes, and every time I open up the soundtrack, I’m tempted to flip that paper so I can see the inside more! The soundtrack, by the way, is easily one of my favorites. It’s chill enough to pop in anytime while cleaning, cooking, reading, or just walking around. OPs and EDs are also included, though only the TV cuts of them.

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IMG_1271Gah! The artbook! It features the main characters on the front and back, and sports a glossy cover. The binding and horizontal makes the book really easy to open. The fact that it is indeed horizontal puts many other artbooks of mine to shame, especially Sentai’s Chunibyo book. The contents are good, but that other one is a pain in the rear to keep open flat. Wanna know what’s inside?

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I have it in slideshow version, but the book is loaded with character designs and profiles, episode summaries, commentary with the creators, and environmental porn. Lots, and lots, and lots of pretty visuals of the props, landscape, and setting. I only wish there were more full-paged pictures, but alas, having it all on print is more than enough for me to trip through nostalgia land.

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What’s this?! A sideways flag!? If you order from NIS America’s homepage (link at the end), they’ll throw in a smaller replica of the Ofunehiki flag that Hikari held up and Miuna fixed! Isn’t that awesome? And it’s FREE while supplies last!! For the layout, it’s as if they took two flags together and stitched them front to back so that A) it’s double the thickness and B) the design is fullproof on both sides. While I have a barrel of fun waving it around (heavy duty flag material makes it indestructible), you’ll want a nice place to perch it. sadly, the wooden rod that holds it up is a bit too short, but hey, you can always pull it off and hang it/frame it somewhere, right?

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Isn’t this the most gorgeous set you’ve ever seen? But you don’t just have to look at my photos–Purchas your own at NIS America’s site HERE or over on Rightstuf.com HERE if you frequent that place like I do. If you want the awesome flag, do it from NISA (I also didn’t have to pay for shipping because it’s over $75 or tax for some reason). It’s about $144 on NISA and about $153 on Rightstuf.

Now, that’s not a budget for everyone, and I totally get that. Only, and ONLY, purchase this set if you are an absolute fan of the series, and are wanting to rewatch it. This Blu-ray set is regions A and B with English and Japanese audio and all 26 episodes, so none of this Part 1/Part2 bullsh*t. If this anime was only mediocre to you, but you are interested in seeing the dub (which I wholeheartedly recommend, this dub is incredible), try Crunchyroll’s premium service, as they have the dub and sub for their premium members. That, or the DVD versions by NISA, which yes, are Part 1 and Part 2 and only come as regular DVD cases with a mini insert pamphlet. Here’s the dub trailer if you’re mildly interested:

I hope you enjoyed this slight change of pace from the café before I make another huge announcement! I love everything about A Lull in the Sea, and even wrote about it RIGHT HERE if you happened to miss it! I think it’s my most viewed or most liked review. I think. In fact, I met many of my best blogger friends through this show/review, so here’s a big thanks to all of you supporting me and to P.A. Work’s stellar anime and NIS America’s fantastic release of A Lull in the Sea!

My siblings and I just completed this anime as part of our 2016 Summer Movie Theater and absolutely fell in love (for me, it was all over again). You can read about that here! Comment below any questions or thoughts about this set or the show itself. If you feel the need, share it with a friend who happens to love Nagi-Asu like we do (I’d appreciate it ^.^), and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

 

The End of EVA-Week: Voicing CONCERN for the Rebuild | Cafe Talk

Hello cafe-goers, welcome to cafe talk, a segment where I ramble and you are more than welcome to ramble with me! Today’s post is the last one (for some of you thinking, thank goodness he’s done) concerning my recent EVA-Week, a celebration centering around the official English release of Evangelion 3.33. I hope you have enjoyed what has come out, and I ask you to join me on this last little voyage to Tokyo-3 for the foreseeable future . . . maybe . . . ?

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Here is the calendar on my board. I’ve been filling in the days with their respective colors as they pass.

This goes more along with my 3.33 review which was recently posted. I thought dividing this into two parts would tremendously help cut down on the word count (it is so far the largest post on this blog)! This comprehensive aftermath will also explain the mindset I currently have with both Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Rebuild, so SPOILERS EXIST FOR ALL OF THE EVANGELION FRANCHISE.

Three groups of people exist when it comes to the franchise, and here are my thoughts on them:

  1. Those who interpret the Rebuild as its own series of 4 stand-alone films.

Stand-alone meaning that I could watch 1.11, not look back, and be satisfied with what I got; the film should be able to support itself without additional knowledge like most movies. I’ll admit, this method works fairly well for 1.11 and I dare say 2.22 if you decide to overlook the last ten or so minutes. With 3.33, this all falls apart – and NOT because of the 14-year gap. I was honestly thrilled when Anno decided to take such a ballsy risk, and it would’ve worked if

A) the events between the gap were explained by the end (Shinji’s confusion is decently handled, so putting it at the beginning would be all for not);

and B) The mental states of each character, not just Shinji, were further delved into. This viewpoint, I believe, is defunct due to the lack of both of these. Sadly, 3.33 just doesn’t stand by itself no matter how you look at it (my review will further explain why).

  1. Those who interpret the Rebuild as its own singular story, requiring knowledge of all 4 films.

This interpretation kinda piggy-backs off of the first, but in more of a coherent fashion. It is comparable more to a series, in that imagine if you watched the films back-to-back in one long slew (taking out credits, disc switches, etc.). This helps support the idea that the third leg of a four-person race is most tiring, complex, and occasionally (if you already assume how it’ll end), most climactic. I swam the 100-yd free, which is down-back-down-back. Without a doubt, that second down is the hardest part, as you have to manufacture your own adrenaline rush. For ROE, this means that 3.33 decides to take a more emotional approach and build up to the “beginning of the end,” much like a typical plot diagram. Still, this method lacks explanations for the unreasonable character motives and those deep psychological treats we savored in NGE. This viewpoint will be defunct should the last film present itself similarly to 3.33 or add nothing “new” like 3.33 did (I say “new” lightly, as causing the Fourth Impact isn’t something to just shrug off).

HEAVY THEORY/POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE FUTURE AHEAD, TREAD CAREFULLY

  1. Those who interpret the Rebuild as a rehashing of the original series, and believe elements between the two stories are interchangeable or that the Rebuild continues the story . . . somehow.

This is the wacky one. 1.11 is basically an exact copy of the first six episodes of NGE, only introducing Lilith earlier, showing off the red sea and the corpse outline on the hill, and sliding down the Angel appearance count by one – That’s it. It’s a wonderful remake of the original and deserves more appreciation. 2.22 is the break, the deviation. We get Asuka, but less Asuka (her name is even changed, WTF). Rei is kickin’ out hormones like crazy. Misato fails to tell her own story. Ritsuko is sidelined. Mari has little purpose other than to contrast against the others and be different. It’s a high-quality film, just a little lacking in the character department (nothing that the remaining two films can’t fix, right?). Then 3.33 comes along and breaks the flow. This is Anno’s different route, and unless that theory about the Rebuild being a successor to The End of Evangelion is trueThat it might all be a “dream,” another world route, or a chance to redo the past – then this is what we get. This viewpoint FORGIVES EVERYTHING that the Rebuild has caused thus far, as we fans can just plug n’ chug the backstories and memories, but should this fantastical theory prove false then this viewpoint is defunct as well. It is a well-constructed theory with much evidence, though. Then again, there’s the keyword. Theory.

I have much concern for this series, this franchise, at this point in time. Making 4.44, 3.0+1.0, Shin Evangelion Theatrical Edition 😐| – WHATEVER you want to call it – a masterful conclusion to the Rebuild series like The End of Evangelion was so many years ago is nearly impossible (unless something like option 3 happens, but it sounds all too easy). Its lack of characters which thought for themselves and had psychological issues that were conquered by individual experience and self-evaluation doesn’t even feel like the same Evangelion. And god dammit, SHOCK VALUE that receives no logical explanation is a SIN. Should the last film fail, ROE will be remembered as a series loaded with Grade A+ animation and soundtrack, a high-powered story full of twists and turns, and an emotional ride for some that found their calling with it. But hardly will you hear them say, “That doctor chick with the blond hair was an excellent character full of dynamic and emotional struggle,” because kid, the Rebuild‘s Ritsuko Akagi is not such a powerful woman.

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Here is EVERYTHING referenced throughout The Revisit of Evangelion, or EVA-Week. It is mainly here as a compilation for me to look back on and remember all the fun times we had. You’re more than welcome to browse the menu and comment/reminisce with me 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day: You Are (Not) Alone

Neon Genesis Evangelion Review

The End of Evangelion Review

Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone. Review

Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance. Review

The Revisit of Evangelion: We Have Begun Third Impact | Cafe Talk

Evangelion’s Rebirth isn’t so Sweet after this Disposable Death | Review

THIS IS WHY WE CAN (NOT) REDO | Comprehensive Review

ATTENTION: 2 More Treats EVA Fans Might Have Missed!

The End of EVA-Week: Voicing CONCERN for the Rebuild | Cafe Talk

This concludes the EVA-Week celebration here at the cafe . . I’m starting to get emotional now, trying to hold back the tears! If you stuck around to read, like, or even comment with your own meaningful thoughts once, I thank you! This series means a lot to me, to many of us, and we just want to see it do well – So damn well we cry our eyes out and meld into the proverbial sea of life. Do you have any similar thoughts on the subject, or are you completely indifferent and just watch it for the giant robots? How do you prefer to interpret the Rebuild? Any other interpretations?? Let me know so we can party hard in the comments! Thanks for celebrating this joy with me, and may the inevitable conclusion of a lifetime rock our world!~

– Takuto, your host

I’m gonna be humming “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” “Beautiful World,” and “Canon in D” for the next several weeks, aren’t I. . .

ATTENTION: 2 More Treats EVA Fans Might Have Missed!

Hello Evangelion fanboys and fangirls, it would appear that EVA-Week is nearing its inevitable end. But don’t worry, if you’re not already sick of me going on and on about this series, here are two treats to the franchise you might have glossed by. After all, they are only a few minutes apiece.

Gosh, I’m starting to sound like a teacher emailing his students the latest assignments . . . I thank Wikipedia pages for helping me with this one!

Evangelion: Another Impact (CONFIDENTIAL)

This was an anime short project from Studio Khara and the media company Dwango. It was, like everything else, directed by Hideaki Anno, but produced by Joseph Chou and Tomohiko Ishii. Released on February 6, 2015, the website of the project describes the plot as follows:

“Another time, another place. An activation test of a decisive weapon was underway. With its development and operational trials shrouded in complete secrecy, the Another Number – Unit Null, suddenly breaks free of human control and goes berserk. For what purpose was Another Number – Unit Null created?

The story of an Evangelion’s activation, rampage and howling in another world.”

Supposedly it’s cannon, but I don’t think that was the intent. The project was meant to see what Evangelion looked like in realistic CG animation, and you know what? IT LOOKS HELLA COOL!! You don’t even have to be a fan of the series to enjoy this EPICNESS! Just enjoy the little clip:

This is the full thing, HD quality, though there is a voiceover in another language.

For those English buds who need the translation, here it is with subs, though in lower quality.

 

Evangelion: until You come to me.

Now this one was specifically directed by Anno and released with more serious intent and style. It was an entry in the 2014 Animator Expo, and is designed as a sort of prelude/possible 3.0+1.0 hype/just-for-art for the Rebuild series, specifically set after 3.33 as it had “emotionally drained him.” The background song is Shiro Sagisu’s rendition of the popular Irish tune, “Danny Boy.”

You’ll have to click on this link to watch it:

https://vk.com/video1785371_170606473?list=07610468a6ce66812c

Don’t get parts of it? All of it? Here is an excellent analysis which I encourage ALL EVA fans to watch REGARDLESS of having seen the original, as YouTuber GoatJesus does a wonderful job picking apart this piece of art and appreciating it for the sadness, beauty, and hope it inspires.

 

Had you seen either of these Evangelion shorts, or were you living under a rock like I was? I do hope you enjoy something out of this, whether it was the high-energy Another Impact or the more delicate, melancholic, emotionally-touching until You come to me. Both are more Evangelion, and both do it pretty damn well, providing not only new material but different medias the franchise can be viewed through. If you’d like to chat about any of it, drop me a comment below! Until the next and final EVA-Week post, this has been

– Takuto, your host