Pride Month 2020 Recap + Aftermath (WE DID IT!)

Hey guys!

I decided to take a week off following my last Pride Month post to refresh myself after reading and writing for 30 days straight! While on my little holiday, I also filmed, edited, re-filmed, and re-edited a YouTube video recapping my month’s reads and watches for you all. YES, after much exporting headache, WE DID IT, and I can finally rest having delivered on my promises! If you haven’t seen it yet, you totally should! 😉

I’ve had a lot of fun recording videos this past month. To think that 39 people have already subscribed makes me so happy! I put a good deal of work into this one, so if you have watched it, I’m extremely grateful. (Thank you!!!)

What started off as a small feat of tackling my shelves (mainly to validate having bought all this LGBTQ manga) ended up becoming a journey of self-searching and enlightenment. This past month brought with it lots to read, of course, but also lots to learn. These characters and mangaka come from all different walks of life, and as such tackle LGBTQ themes in slightly different lights. No two stories were the same; similarly, I found that all of these reads were worth having on your shelf. Truly, I had an amazing time!

Here is a list of everything I reviewed for Pride Month 2020:


Ten Count: My First Yaoi Manga Series || Review

Seven Days: Will You Still Love Me When Monday Comes? || Review

Candy Color Paradox: Sweet Yet Sour || First Impressions

Claudine: Sexuality, Tragedy, & Growing Up Transgender || Review

Melting Lover: The Shadowy Side of Affection || Review

That Blue Sky Feeling: Preciously Queer & Wholeheartedly Delightful || Review

Love Stage!! – A Coming-Out Worth Celebrating || Review

Escape Journey: Chasing After Love in a Heteronormative World || Review

I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up: Gentle Romance & Silly Humor || Review

Hitorijime My Hero: Unrequited Feelings & Forbidden Love || Review

Goodbye, My Rose Garden – A Poignant Victorian Romance Between Women || First Impressions

Our Dining Table: Growing Closer One Meal at a Time || Review

Our Dreams at Dusk: Ending Pride Month on a High Note || First Impressions


Every like, comment, share, and follow gained over the last month became fuel for me to try my best and to not give up. Some days I just woke up not wanting to write, but it was reading your kind and supportive words that encouraged me to get the next post out. Really, we did this together. THANK YOU for following me on this journey!

Lastly, I want to let you know that I’ll be archiving these works (in addition to their respective review category in the menu) under the “Projects” tab for future reference. (I mean, it is a series of 13 posts PLUS a 28-minute recap video!)

While I’m here, what can you expect next? Well, I’ll be posting my big quarterly update in the next day or two, which will tell you everything that I’ve been doing behind the scenes, as well as what big things I have coming right around the corner. It would seem that now, at the end of a wonderfully long month, new things can finally start to take root. Please look forward to it, as you have my June Pride Month posts! Thank you again for reading this, and ’till next time!

– Takuto

I MADE MY FIRST YOUTUBE VIDEO!!!

Hello all!!

I’ve got some pretty big news to share today! As of a couple hours ago, MY FIRST YOUTUBE VIDEO WAS UPLOADED TO THE INTERNET. Crazy, right?? I never thought I’d make the leap to YouTube, even though I’ve been wanting to for probably a decade now. WELL, things change, and people change, and I finally mustered the courage to sit down in front of my camera (that is, my iPhone XR) and film myself.

What is the video about? I wanted to make my first video something relatively easy that I wouldn’t regret making. SO, I filmed one of my favorite types of videos to watch: an unboxing video! It’s pretty basic, I realize, but I have plans to expand, absolutely. It’d be cool to make video essays about my favorite anime, discussions over the manga I read, video diaries about collecting and being an otaku (or a K-pop fan)—anything and everything, really!

Basically, I want to expand into video-making because it looks fun. As much as I enjoy blogging, there’s something very personable and relatable to seeing someone’s face and hearing their voice—aspects which can’t be attained with online writing alone. I don’t just want to archive my words anymore. I think I’m ready to be seen, to be heard, and to finally get out of my comfort zone.

In case you’re worried, I WILL NOT be neglecting the blog in favor of my YT channel. Blogging will always come first. Whether I make 10 videos, 100 videos, or even stop after the first, I will always return to blogging at the end of the day. This is my home. BUT, I hope YouTube will eventually yield its own fruit. Give it time, I suppose.

What can you expect? Pretty much the same stuff I do here, just in video form. AKA, you’ll HAVE to look at my ugly face, muahahaha. I’m honestly not sure how long I’ll last, but at least I can cross “Make a YouTube video, you coward!!” off the bucket list, right?

So, that all said, below here is THE first of hopefully many videos to come. And did I really decide to make this first K-pop related?? YOU BET I DID!!

To my readers, followers, and my friends, thank you for all your encouraging words—especially my fellow anitubers out there. You are my endless inspiration, and—wherever this journey takes us—I hope we’ll stick with each other. It’d mean the absolute world to me if you decided to subscribe to Takuto (channel link) and kept him company as he explored this wild new land.

Thank you for reading, and (if you clicked the link) thank you for watching! 🙂

– Takuto

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

 

I’M BACK + Celebrating 600 Followers Giveaway!

Hello all!

I’ve missed you guys! I thought multiple times these past several weeks to come on and say something, even if just to tell you that I’d need a couple more weeks until school was done. Buuut, you know how these things go. Time and energy got the best of me, and before I knew it, five weeks had passed.

But school is DONE now, or at least till the fall rolls around. It’s crazy how time flies—I distinctly recall those early days of blogging in the library during my sophomore year of high school. And now we’re here, ready for my senior year of college to begin. Oh how far we’ve come together!


Speaking of time and progress, Takuto’s Anime Cafe has officially hit 600 followers!!


I’ve been averaging a (slow) pace of +100 followers per year, but here we are hitting the 600 milestone before my next blog anniversary! It’s this kind of unexpected success that has me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I can hit my ambitious goal of 750 followers at the end of 2020. Who knows, but it’d be so cool, wouldn’t it!?

In celebration of 600 followers, I’ve decided to do a little daily giveaway of sorts. (My first ever!) Nothing big, just a chance to express my gratitude to you guys!

Starting tomorrow, May 18th, 2020, and each day after for about a month, I will be posting the Funimation Digital Copy Code for one of my favorite anime titles. From the website, Funimation Digital Copy is “a digital streaming version of episodes or movies included in a DVD or Blu-ray release. A Digital Copy can be added to My Library by entering the code found in the DVD or Blu-ray release.” (NOTE: You do NOT have to be a Funimation Premium Subscriber to unlock the Digital Copy.)


Anime you can expect to see include . . .

Steins;Gate, Free!, My Hero Academia, Attack On Titan, Code Geass, Space Battleship Yamato, A Certain Magical Index, and more!


How can you enter to win? Easy, just follow my Twitter @TakutoAnimeCafe and each day on Twitter I’ll randomly upload a pic of a Digital Copy Code from the little stack I have. THE GIVEAWAY WILL BE ON A FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED BASIS. In other words, your chances of winning will be solely based on how quickly you can see and unlock the code before someone else takes it! And yes, I will tell you the series title so you know if it’ll be a show you want to download.

Now, you can increase your chances of winning by also following my Instagram @ takutoac! On my Insta story, I’ll tell you the EXACT TIME that day in which I will be uploading the code to my Twitter. Since the times will be random, this will be the only way to guarantee your shot at winning the code. If you’re playing to win, following my Insta will be the way to go!

takutoac


Those are the terms of the giveaway. Pretty simple, right? Since I personally don’t utilize Funimation’s Digital Copy service, I figured this would be a nice way to use the codes besides just tossing them. Plus, it’s ENTIRELY FREE to participate! The giveaway will end when I’m out of codes to share.

Should you be the lucky winner of a Digital Copy Code, PLEASE, tweet me in the replies or message me so I can share your blog as well. After all, it’s thanks to you guys that I’m here where I am today! 🙂


Regularly scheduled blogging will resume in a day or two. Since I’m kind of wanting to try new things with the blog, I’ve been gathering a lot of good info about what you guys may be interested in reading on Twitter. (I appreciate the feedback!) While I do have some anime reviews planned, more manga and collection-related content will be on the way, so please look forward to it!

I’m eternally grateful for these years I’ve been able to blog for you all. Blogging really has helped me grow as a writer, but also as a curious human. The writing skills and experience I’ve gained through blogging have helped me learn how to express my feelings and opinions while social networking. These are irreplaceable skills. Truly, I believe everyone should try blogging at least once in their life.

I’m just amazed that 600 people (and bots, probably) were willing enough to hit that follow button for more content. Blogging can seem like a difficult platform to get your work seen, but when you’re not doing it just for the likes and views, it can be one of the most rewarding art forms. Going forward, I hope to show you an even better side of me, as well as strive to learn more about this crazy medium we’ve all fallen in love with.

Being back has never felt better.

Thank you for 600!

– 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

My First Mystery Blogger Award (Megan’s Nomination)

Hello all!

I’m back today with another one of these cool award posts. The blogger who was kind enough to nominate me was Megan (A Geeky Gal), who is known for writing all sorts of fun and nerdy posts. She’s a prolific blogger, and someone who I always have a ball talking to. If you aren’t following her blog, you’re missing out on a great time and a wonderful person!

Now, of all the award and tag posts that have been floating around these past five years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve yet to receive the Mystery Blogger Award—until now, of course! According to its creator, Okoto, this award denotes a blog that “not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get.” High words to live by, so I’m grateful to Megan for noticing what I do here. 🙂

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • List the rules.
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  • Answer five questions from the nominator.
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, including one weird or funny question.
  • Nominate from 10 to 20 bloggers.
  • Notify the bloggers by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Share the link to your best post.

I won’t be nominating anyone in specific because I know this award just went through the community. However, I’d love to see how you would answer Megan’s questions down in the comments!!

Three things about me:

  • I started learning the viola da gamba this semester just to shake things up
  • I bleached and dyed my hair for the first time a little over a week ago and it’s been fun having light-colored hair
  • I’m currently in the middle of switching my educational focus from psychology to English (wish me luck!)

Megan’s Questions:


If you could meet any anime/book/TV character, who would it be?

Oof. This is always a question I never give much thought to because, you know, characters are fictional. BUT, I wouldn’t be opposed to sitting down with Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame just so I could give the poor kid a hug. He doesn’t deserve half the shit people give him—and *tea* the people who dislike him for being a depressed whiny kid kinda miss the entire point of the series.

Name your top 3 favorite websites.

Excluding app services, I often find myself looming around the sites I use the most: RightStuf Anime, MyAnimeList, and this place, Takuto’s Anime Cafe. Is that too conceited? Well, even if it is, I love this place; it’s my home away from home.

Which anime/book/TV character would you marry?

Hmmm, again, I don’t have much to comment. BUT, some of my waifus are Mami Tomoe (Madoka Magica) and Haruka Tenoh (Sailor Moon), my husbandos being Makoto Tachibana (Free!) and Todoroki Shouto (My Hero Academia).

What anime changed your life?

SO many. EvangelionSteins;GateFree!Yuri!!! On ICEGhost in the Shell, and Sailor Moon are some of the ones that immediately jump to mind.

What’s the background on your phone/computer right now?

Well this will be revealing. No surprise to see this lovely Eva fan art for the lock screen. The home screen, however, is the boys of Tomorrow X Together, a junior K-pop boy band that I happen to be very fond of. No, it’s not a phase. >.<

IMG_0630


Again, I won’t be nominating anyone in specific just because I know many of you already recently participated in this award; however, I do want to thank Megan again for the nomination—I enjoyed answering your questions! Till next time, everyone!

– Takuto

Expect the Unexpected: Social Distancing & Being Jobless || Update

Hi all,

I almost don’t know where to begin. It’s been a wild past couple weeks (as I’m sure you all can attest to). Here’s what’s up . . .

School & Work

I got the announcement that my university would be officially shutting down on-campus classes for the remainder of the semester just a couple days ago, but that we would still meet for this week before transitioning to spring break. Well, things change, and now all classes are cancelled starting today, extending break another week. Naturally, the pool that I work at on campus also closed.

So yeah, just yesterday I was a full-time student with two part-time jobs. Today I’m out an education AND a job. Life’s gonna be a little different for a while.

To top it off, I’m in the process of prepping myself for grad school, which has been scary as hell. Why? Well, I’m basically jumping ship on psychology (still getting my BS) and pursuing a Master’s in English. Or at least, that’s the new plan. If I can get lucky, I’d love to do something in the fine arts, maybe screenwriting? Otherwise, I’ll eventually try and take on the editing and publishing world. Any advice for a panicking undergrad?? o___o

Film Journey

I haven’t let quarantine life stop me from trying to make the best out of this all. I’ve made it a mission to watch as many films (that I bought but never got around to) as I can, and it’s been so incredibly freeing and fulfilling to just be able to sit down and watch movie after movie.

Hopefully I can muster the energy to review some of these for you all, as there’s a LOT of underrated anime films out there that kinda just went under the radar.

I’m chronicling my film journey over on my Instagram (@takutoac) for anyone wanting to follow along! ^ . ^

Back to Reading

As with my slowly getting back to anime (primarily with films at the moment), I’m also gradually creeping back into reading my manga and light novels what with social distancing and all. I blind bought all these books and series, and it’s been pleasant reading all this stuff for once. I’ll try to share more of what I’ve been reading on Insta.

Making Music

I’ve found other ways to occupy my time, one being that I started a TikTok just for the heck of it. It’s been fun covering my favorite pop songs and playing around with video editing. I’ll have lots of time to film those now!

And of course, my love for BTS only continues to grow stronger. After three years, it feels weird to finally be collecting my favorite photo cards and albums. But in many more ways, I just feel happy I can celebrate these passions I’d held mostly hidden for years. I hope it’s not too annoying for you all. >.<

Cosplay Endeavors

With Naka-Kon (and pretty much all anime conventions) getting cancelled or postponed, I’ve been left with all this cosplay and no place to show it off at. Or maybe I do . . .

FOLLOW MY INSTAGRAM. It’s where I’ll be posting all my cosplay pics, in addition to the books I’ve been reading and the movies I’ve been watching!! I’ll try to get on here and blog more, but it just seems silly to publish a post with just pictures on it. BUT, if it’s something you’d really like to see here, I’m willing to make it happen. 🙂


In these long, lonely, quiet days ahead that we’re about to have, I’ll be reading, watching, and posting more than I ever have before. If you decide to stick around with me, I’d be eternally grateful. Heck, I already am, you guys are too awesome.

I’ve missed a lot in just a month, and I apologize. As I (we) get back into the swing of things, I look forward to seeing all the great work you all have been creating!

So, until the next post—whatever it may be—stay busy, and stay well! We got this!!

– Takuto

Idolmaster SideM: How Personal Branding Shapes Our Image || OWLS “Visions”

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 first monthly topic of 2020, “Visions,” I wanted to engage in a side of me that I’ve been neglecting for some time: My interest in idol culture, and how idols can actually inspire their fans to strive to become their best selves.

Happy New Year! Since it is a new year, it’s a new you! This month we will be talking about various pop culture mediums that focus on envisioning “the future.” What type of future do we want for ourselves, our communities, and the world? Also, we will be sharing our goals and plans for the new year.

The New Year’s celebration is my favorite time of the year. I buy hard into that whole “New Year, New Me” business, so really, it’s all one big self-care holiday for me. Thanks Lyn for the prompt!

315 producer.PNG


A brief discussion of the 13-episode fall 2017 anime “Idolmaster SideM,” stylized as “The iDOLM@STER: SideM,” animated by A-1 Pictures, directed by Miyuki Kuroki, and based on the franchise rhythm game of the same name.

A Fresh Change of Pace

Talent recruitment and entertainment agency 315 Productions may be in its infant stage, but the calm and caring producer of 315 promises his idols a place on the world stage so long as they work hard toward their dreams. Specializing in scouting prospective idols who previously held other jobs, all have a place at the agency, whether a former lawyer, pilot, or even a surgeon. As these men—some in their mid thirties, others still living their high school days—grow to understand their new positions, they’ll have to make sacrifices and trust in each other if they are to achieve their dream of becoming top idols!

Is this really a story about grown men who are sick of their lives and willing to gamble away their careers to sing and dance on a stage? Wow, it’s no wonder I liked this anime so much. Idolmaster SideM is a tale of reinvention for its stunning ensemble of idols, each with an origin story more different from the last. In just 13 episodes, we hear from a whopping 19 different men and how their individual lives have aligned at the crossroads of music and fame.

Some accounts are far more detrimental than others, say, the pilot who left his job because his anxiety overcame him in a near-fatal crash vs. the quiet boy who just wanted to come out of his shell. Or the twins who abandoned their professional athletic career due to one being burdened by a substantial injury compared to the guy who went along with it cause his buddy did. Again, each story is different, but not one of their ambitions are to be deemed “lesser” than the other’s. In fact, it’s thanks to this variety of perspectives on seeking change and self-improvement that Idolmaster SideM allows itself to be light-hearted yet feel grounded and real—inspirational, yet with one foot in reality’s door.

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Creating the Idol “Brand”

What does it take to be an idol? Geez, one could go down all different routes to answer that one. To keep things relevant to this post, I want to focus on the concept of brands, AKA one’s identification or signature style. For example, my blogging brand (or so I hope) is marked by its connections to good vibes and clean aesthetic under the theme of an urban city cafe. How does an idol group go about designing their brand? The six young idol units of SideM quickly discover that there’s a lot more to it than color-coordinated costumes and snazzy photography. 

For idols, especially the bigger name groups like 315’s Jupitereverything down to the very way you live your own life determines how the group is perceived. If a famous idol were to be seen drinking a specific soda type or repping a certain fashion brand on a given day, their fans might perceive this beverage and that jacket as elements common to the idol’s life (even if purely coincidental), thus branding the idol’s group with these particular companies. Fans may eventually try to match their favorite groups by supporting these companies and buying their products, which feeds back into the industry itself. So yeah, brands matter.

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When it comes to envisioning their own brand, the ex-lawyer, pilot, and surgeon of DRAMATIC STARS struggle with what to wear during their first photo shoot. Jupiter’s black leather is too cool for them; High×Joker and Beit’s wild colors and textures seem too childish. So, they settle on wearing the uniforms of their respective careers in hopes of representing the most true versions of themselves. While it’s not the most pleasing collection of outfits, it’s certainly an original look that they feel most comfortable with being known for.


Tsubasa and I, and everyone from 315 Productions, have led different lives, and different circumstances brought us all here together. We all have our reasons, but the goal has always been the same. We’re chasing the same dream together!Teru Tendo


Connecting Brands to Reality

All this talk about idols and branding and representation got me to thinking about how I want to market my own personal brand. Between falling back into K-pop hell and observing how real idols create the personas they desire, to expanding my own platform with an Instagram, it’s definitely been on my mind. 

What do we, as bloggers, want our personal brands to look like? How can we achieve this vision of ours? Takuto is obviously not my real name, and unfortunately, I do not own my own cafe, let alone work at one. These were decisions I made to “create” the Takuto you know today. Everything from my blog’s theme colors to the way I interact in the comments (like how I use the ~ all the time) were choices. 

So, how do we do it, creating our “online selves”? Just like with the DRAMATIC STARS trio, it’s a tricky balance of being true to yourself while also pursuing the change you desire in life. The anime and manga I review inform you about my tastes in entertainment. Thus, it should be my goal to highlight the types of shows and series I personally love and collect through my posts (with exceptions to sharing an honest opinion), be it with words or pictures. And if I find my tastes changing, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to address any waning interests, or invite you to witness any exciting new finds either in my watch list, on my shelves, or even in my personal life.

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As bloggers, as writers, we have one goal: to connect with our readers. In that way, we aren’t that different from pop idols that strive to connect with their fans. If we hide behind fake interests or write a lackluster review over a series, they will be able to tell. They always do. If you don’t have anything to say about a given series (yet feel “forced” to review it anyway), perhaps you should dedicate that time and energy into a post you could absolutely gush over, be it for something you intensely love or extremely dislike.

However, we should also acknowledge that interests can also change—if a blogger wants to add a new segment to their site, try out a new platform outlet, or simply take a break from their normal content to just write about themselves, we should embrace their efforts and support them in all their new endeavors. I mean, unlike idols, you can become truly close friends with an internet content creator. Why would you not pay it forward while you can? In all that you do, be cautious, but be yourself—the best things will come from doing just that.

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We’re All Just Trying to Create

As creators of some kind of content, it can be easy to let the issue of personal branding slide under the rug. Little do we or they (the ones that get paid millions to stand on the world stage) realize the impact that even the most seemingly insignificant aspects of our lives have on the perceptions of others. Especially as bloggers, these are points that we don’t really ever lend coverage to, and I think that’s part of the reason why it might seem difficult to become a socially “successful” internet blogger. We’re a quiet people often hidden behind walls of text. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are impersonal people—in fact, I find writers to be some of the most relatable humans out there, but that’s a post for another day. 

In a roundabout way, Idolmaster SideM tackles very similar issues about perception and personal branding that internet content creators must deal with. Additionally, the series confronts the realities of what it means to be “associated” with a particular vibe or energy, as well as the physical and mental training idols must undergo to achieve that vision. It’s an awful lot, and at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to create something people can love. So, whether a complete novice or one of the billboard’s top hits, one thing’s for sure: There’s no such thing as a lazy idol.

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They are the ones that worked hard. All I did was talk to those brilliant people.Producer


Afterword

Frankly speaking, there’s a lot of “good” going on in Idolmaster SideM. Watching each of 315 Productions’ idol groups grow is a daunting task thanks to the short series run, but an incredibly fulfilling one despite the odds. Following these guys side-by-side as they stumble in practice and struggle with clashing personality differences is an endearing process. I can walk away from this anime saying, “YES, they’re all good boys!!” as I finally grasp the appeal behind male idol anime. Simply for its inspirational premise of throwing caution to the wind and saying “Screw it, I wanna be famous,” Idolmaster SideM is a certified “Cake” here at the cafe! Got any thoughts on the series or idol culture in general? I’d love to hear them down in the comments. 

This concludes my January 14th entry in the OWLS “Visions” blog tour. My good buddy Matt (Matt-in-the-Hat) went right before me with a personal post over the hit film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse that you can read right here! Now, look out for Aria (The AniManga Spellbook) as she walks us through antiquity and the future in Dr. Stone this Thursday, January 16th! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Blog Goals & Resolutions for 2020!

Hello all,

We are officially one full week into 2020! Crazy, right? I remember the holidays like they were yesterday, yet behold, two weeks have passed since. In case you missed my last quarterly update, I achieved ~3.5 out of my 5 goals. (Not bad considering it was my first time actually setting AND making plans to stick to my goals.) Given my low standards, I’m gonna say I kicked 2019’s ass pretty hard.

But the coming of a new year brings with it a new set of blogging goals and resolutions. And so, with your blessings and support, here are five goals I’d like to achieve in 2020.


#1 – Read More Posts

Yeah, kind of a cop-out choice given that it was also last year’s first goal, but it’s something I really do need to improve on. I love being a part of this community and writing for it, but that also means that I need to do my part and read your guys’ stuff. I’ll work harder in 2020!

#2 – Write More Succinct Posts

I know what you’re thinking, “Not another duplicate goal!” Nah, it’s exactly as it looks. On top of reading more posts, I’d like to write shorter posts myself. This may encourage you all to read my stuff more, sure, but I like the prospect of having more posts that chunk up my ideas as opposed to one mammoth-sized write-up that frankly even I don’t want to read. More posts may also increase blog productivity, so there’s that too.

#3 – Read & Review More Books

Within this past year, I’ve noticed myself gravitating more towards manga and light novels than anime. Hell, lately I’ve even watched more K-drama than anime. Yet, it it would seem that I never write about the books I’ve read. So, starting in 2020, I not only want to read more (to justify all the money I’ve spent on books in 2019 that are slowly accumulating dust) but also share my thoughts on what I’ve read here on the blog.

#4 – Write More About Me

In the least self-centered way possible, this goal is basically saying “Make this blog more about Takuto, the writer.” I want to write more posts about myself. You’re all my precious readers, but also my dearest friends. And after doing this for FIVE years, you deserve to know more about the guy behind the keyboard. You can look forward to more log/diary-like posts chronicling my thoughts and feelings as I go through life, be it in the form of Cafe Talks or other spontaneous write-ups. I hope we can get to know each other better in 2020.

#5 – Build Up My “Personal Brand”

This is more of a fun bonus goal, but working on my “personal brand” entails me building up my Instagram. (Follow me @takutoanimecafe if you haven’t yet!) Ever since I started blogging I wanted to become someone personable, someone who you feel like you know and can relate to in your own lives even though we’ve never physically met before. I don’t just want to be some faceless blogger anymore—I’ve outgrown that mentality, and firmly believe I can become someone you and I can both be proud of. Essentially, I want to become closer with you all by presenting a better, more true version of myself. Opening up the Insta is one way I can do that. Looking forward to sharing our life adventures together one photo at a time!


We are healing in 2020, and working on presenting the best, most true versions of ourselves that we can.


Or, at least, that is my main goal. I want to connect with this community more than I have in the past. I realize that I’ve kinda been isolating myself in No Man’s Land for all these years, and I apologize. 2020 will be different, I assure you—I feel like a new person, reborn and refreshed to take on whatever comes next!

But there you have it, five new goals for a brand new year—and the start of a new decade at that! What is something you want to improve on in 2020, either for your own blog or in your personal life? Let’s talk resolutions down in the comments. Until the next post, I hope you’re all having a fantastic 2020 so far!

– Takuto