Saving an Anime for a Rainy Day || Cafe Talk

Spring is my favorite season, if only for the rain.

Two years ago I came across a YouTube VEVO music video for “Arashi No Atode” by Galileo Galilei. The song was stuck in my head for weeks after, and I remember being spellbound by the breathtaking visuals of this little video. When I found out that it was made of clips from an actual anime short film, I freaked. After doing some research, I found that this anime, Typhoon Noruda, was not the most “beloved” film by most fans (a 6.3 on MAL, I mean, c’mon people, it’s not that bad). But I wanted to see it anyway.

A year later, I got that chance, when Sentai Filmworks license rescued the title in 2018. For some reason, I still held these feelings that it’d be a “magical experience” if I were to watch it on a rainy day, even if just an average-rated film. So, in favor of milking the most aesthetic out of this $8 Blu-ray, “Save it for a rainy day” was exactly what I told myself.

Another year passed. The stormy morning that I was desiring seemed like it’d never come. There were opportunities, but none where I felt I could fully dedicate myself mentally and physically to this highly anticipated effort. Winter, spring, and now it was summer 2019. Late summer, the beginning of a new fall, and the end of my chances, I knew.

Until today, September 9th, a Monday morning before classes. It finally rained. And it poured, too. I tossed my book bag aside, having woken up early to relax before classes, and immediately plucked the Blu-ray off my growing to-watch stack and plugged in the disc. 

And there I sat, for 26 unfiltered minutes, soaking in the compressed audio of a typhoon on screen, and feeling the hard rain and thunder pounding against the wall I was propped against. It was such a spontaneous decision to watch it when I did, but I have no regrets whatsoever with how things played out. I felt alive, as if I were truly living right then and there, in that storm of emotions. 

For that brief half hour, I was caught in the wind’s current, and helpless to the awe of the storm both on screen and right above my head. So much time and anticipation had coalesced into this single transient moment, and before I could comprehend that it had begun, it was over, just like that. 

I spent the rest of the morning letting the rain brush against my jacket and roll down my sleeves as I walked to my class. Rolling into my first morning class right on time, I didn’t mind that I was a wet mess; I was literally soaked in aesthetic, a feeling that I had been waiting years for. No one was about to take this self-care moment from me. 

Today I watched a film I’ve waited over 2 years for. And sometime this very week, I’m actually going to be publishing the review for it. That’s crazy to me, a true full-circle experience. Now, I can finally put the Blu-ray back on the shelf, and merely hope for another rain to bring another unforgettable experience—and a new story to tell all of you.

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Oh the things I do for ambiance! While I enjoyed the aesthetic experience and cathartic feeling of watching Typhoon Noruda more than the actual film itself, I do still have some thoughts on it. Mostly good ones, too, so please look forward to my full review of the film here in a couple days.

Have you ever held off on a book, a movie, or a TV series just because you thought you might enjoy it more under a set of specific conditions? What about even something as trivial as a special piece of candy you received as a gift, or perhaps that brand new jacket with the bright colors and big hood? Please, share your stories in the comments! If you’re currently saving an anime for a “rainy day,” I especially want to know what title that is and why. Thanks for joining me on this little story time, and hopefully I’ll see you all again for the review!

– Takuto, your host

These Silly Guys: What Makes Kazetsuyo A Very Special Anime | Cafe Talk

Hello, and welcome!

How often is it that you come across a group of anime characters and think, “Man, how cool would it be to hang out with them, even if just once?” For me, it’s not often. Aside from the fact that reality is reality and fiction is fiction, there’s almost always at least one reason for my hesitance, be it that they’re super eccentric (as anime characters tend to be) or I’d be way to awkward around them (which is likely more probable).

But in the case of Kazetsuyo‘s blend of accepting, humorous souls, I strongly believe I’d fit right in at Aotake—and you probably would too!

In fact, the more I thought about Run with the Wind or (also known by its shorthand, Kazetsuyo), I began to realize that beyond the uplifting story, well-paced plot, fantastic music, or wonderful animation, it was the characters that make Kazetsuyo so special.

Which brings us to now. This post collects my loose thoughts and musings over the characters of 2018’s Run with the Wind. These are bits and pieces that didn’t quite make it into either my review of the series or my April OWLS post, where I focused solely on Haiji Kiyose. Enjoy my ramblings and feel free to join the discussion in the comments!

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Takashi “Shindo” Sugiyama & Musa Kamara

Empathy and Dedication

Shindo and Musa, an honor student and a foreigner, respectively, gain esteem through their open-mindedness and positivity. Even when times are rough, they stick it out and give 110—no, 120%—just to make sure the job gets done. To let others down is not, and will never be, an option for these two! In many ways, Musa is a guru for relationships and personal advice, often meeting behind the scenes with his teammates in the bath . . . with the lights off . . . (it’s a Musa thing, ok?)

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Shindo, meanwhile, uses his overt social and business connections to help promote the team, be it creating a website or gathering sponsors. Though he may not completely know what Haiji is up to, he’s always open to new ideas. Special props to Shindo for his countless sacrifices and unwavering dedication. (If you’ve seen the final race, you’ll know what I mean!)

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Joutarou “Jota” Kizuki & Joujiro “Joji” Kizuki

Searching for Passion

The twins, Jota and Joji, may seem like a couple of troublemakers, and while that assumption wouldn’t be entirely incorrect, it should be noted that they, too, are trying to find their calling in life. They follow Kakeru side by side (literally) in hopes that whatever makes him special will eventually rub off on them. With Jota specifically, we find that it’s ok to try something new and realize that it’s not for you—I totally get that feeling! Beyond the laughter and the trickery, Jota and Joji are goal-setters, and they’ll support the team all the way if it means surpassing the summit together.

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Akihiro “Nico” Hirata & Youhei “King” Sakaguchi

Transformation and Improvement

Our two “parent” team members, aside from Haiji, would without a doubt be King and Nico-chan senpai. More mature beyond their years, these two veterans act as gatekeepers for experience. In a way, they are advisers for the team, aiding not necessarily through action, but by sharing words from the wise. Unlike the rest of the cast, Nico and King’s strength come from their failures in life; likewise, these pitfalls become their motivational springboards to improve and move on from the heavy weight of the past. They initially pose the biggest oppositional threat to Haiji’s plans, but they also arguably grow the most because of Haiji, too.

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These two are also the ones tackling the most severe “real-world” issues: King has no luck job-hunting as a senior ready for life after graduation, and Nico’s health is in noticeable decline due to years of smoking. In an effort to turn their lives around, however, both take up running to get out of the rut they’ve been stuck in. Prospective jobs slowly start to take interest in King, and Nico is happy beyond words to finally remember what it feels like to be healthy again—to taste the rich tinge of iron in his mouth.


When I’m running . . . For just a moment, I feel perfectly clean.Nico


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Yukihiko “Yuki” Iwakura

Something to Chase After

Like Haiji, Yuki’s a bit of an enigma. He has clear likes, such as tastes in music or food, but unclear motivations for running (until the very end, that is). He’s reclusive, sharp-tongued, and values his own time above all else. Naturally, he causes a stir of conflict with Haiji’s seemingly pointless mission. But like the others, Yuki eventually concedes to running, which leads us through a night journey of sorts as he finds something to chase after. And also like everyone else, he finds that something in Kakeru.

Kakeru’s ability to instill passion in his teammates makes him an easy icon to latch on to, but Yuki likes to view him from afar. Goal-setting, hardworking, successful—in many ways, Kakeru represents everything that Yuki is unable to achieve. Rather than put him down however, this gives Yuki a person to strive to be like. Whether with friends or family, they both struggle with building personal connections. After uncovering this weakness of Kakeru’s by chance, Yuki realizes how alike they really are, and sets himself on running even if it just means buying more time to run after the person who inspires him most—the only one who makes him feel good about his own potential in life.

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Kakeru Kurahara

Talent and Understanding

Kakeru is quite the hot-headed youngster when we first meet him. He’s distant, unapproachable, and would much rather do his practice stretches by himself while Haiji talks to the team. He’s understandably realistic when admitting the slim odds of their success getting into the Ekiden, but flat-out pessimistic when laying down his true feelings about the Aotake residents’ athletic skills. We observe this most notably with how he’s willing to ask Prince, Aotake’s manga-reading laggard, to leave the team just so they have even the slightest chance of competing. (Yikes.) Not exactly a team player.

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As much as you’d want to detest Kakeru in the beginning, I think we’ve all been in a similar situation where someone in the team imposes an impossibly large goal upon you all, and you just can’t help but want to admit that perhaps it’d be possible if we made some “cuts.” Despite being the most stratified from one another, however, Kakeru slowly realizes that being fast isn’t the only goal of running. For some, it can be a way to step out of one’s shell, and it is by getting on Prince’s level that the two go on to form one of the strongest connections in the entire series.

We watched Kakeru grow from a haughty teenager into a man who exudes genuine compassion and encouragement towards others, and his growth is equal parts satisfying and wholehearted. He finds that talent can get a person far in life, but it’s all pointless if you don’t have friends to share your gifts with. Finally, he learns how to smile around others and not let shadows from the past prevent happiness in the future.

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Akane “Prince” Kashiwazaki

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

Straight up, the writing for Prince is incredible. It’s rare for an anime to express outward hatred for something as a theme, the “I hate running, but I would hate myself more if I didn’t do it” moment. Really, it’s a simple thought, but no one wants to address it, almost as if it’s taboo. Disliking something yet sticking with it for reasons other than enjoyment  is a truth we don’t think much about. Were it not for Kakeru’s one-on-one aid, I don’t think either of them would’ve turned out as wholesome as they did. And it wasn’t a therapy session either; the two were just getting to know each other, even if it was in the mutual silence of reading manga together.

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Accustomed to his quiet dorm room stacked floor-to-ceiling with manga, Prince is invited into an entirely different (albeit scary) world, and that changes him forever. He has no special talent, and that causes him to have no big aspirations in his life either. But Kakeru and Haiji—people perceived to be more special than himself—make an investment in Prince, and that changes Prince’s entire view on what it means to try new things. Similarly, by coming to understand what it feels like to sit at the bottom of the totem pole, Kakeru realizes that you don’t have to be the best or the brightest to excel in life—you just have to know you tried your hardest. 

They practically live in entirely separate worlds, one full of accomplishment and recognition, the other lackadaisical and seemingly without purpose. But through their initial discourse, the two grow to respect one another’s differences, and that growth proves not only impactful but long-lasting and transformative, too.

Of all the amazing characters here, Prince’s path starts at the lowest of lows, yet soars as the highest of highs come the end of the journey. And it’s because he never gave up on trying to be not just a stronger runner, but a better human being. After living a secret life of immense self-loathing and anguish, Prince just wants to be happy with who he is, and I find that to be a perfectly admirable goal all on its own.

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Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. — Dr. Seuss


I could easily spend WEEKS writing over this cast, but I hope a short little write-up like this will suffice for now. Which of the boys is your personal favorite? Mine’s probably . . . Haiji . . . BUT, I also really love Nico-chan senpai and Shindo. And Yuki. AGH, I just can’t decide, they’re all so unique! So silly, yet so incredibly heartwarming. Also, they all use each other’s nicknames, which is not only funny but realistic given that most sports teams use abbreviations. I didn’t even realize it until writing this post, but I quite like that touch.

And this makes THREE back-to-back posts on Run with the Wind. Can ya tell it means a lot to me? Coincidences aside, it was fun getting to revisit the guys one last time. I think I’m finally ready to move on from Kazetsuyo, but I definitely won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. PLEASE feel free to share any thoughts you have on the series or the characters in the comments, as I really love reading what you guys have to say! Until next time, my friends!

– Takuto, your host

My Experience Buying Manga at a USED Bookstore | Cafe Talk

Hello, and welcome!

On the second to last day of winter break, I took a spontaneous trip to the city with my family for a brief vacation. (Or for one last desperate breath of fresh air before diving back into school work, take your pick.) Anyhow, as we were gliding through downtown, which was still lit by glistening Christmas lights, my brother reminded us of a bookstore he stumbled upon the last time he was here. Being people of culture (and idiots for picking the coldest night of the year to explore outside), we headed for the bookstore as quickly as the slick sidewalks would allow.

The outside of the shop was quaint; a rustic little cart sat just outside the door, which held the discounted-discount books. Lying dead center on the stack was Vol. 2 of A Distant Neighborhood by Jiro Taniguchi, an author whom I’ve heard about as a renowned mangaka, but nothing more.

Now, this was an ancient USED book store, so I was expecting a lot of dusty old books from the previous century stacked onto decaying shelves. To find manga—and without even opening the door—this had to be a good sign. I took the manga and walked in. Immediately, I was consumed by the scent of antiquity and a touch of lemon from presumably some dust cleaner sprayed just a few hours prior.

I had been looking forward to this visit, even if just to look and not buy, so my memory of walking in is a bit hazy. But I was right about one thing: there were a LOT of books, though not necessarily old. Some of the titles that my eyes hurriedly skimmed were, to my recollection, hot off the press from a month or two ago. That surprised me.

Brown wooden shelves lined the walls of the small shop, many of these towering shelves jutting out in to the walkway so as to divide the room into a dozen mini sections, pocket universes of thought for each genre: adventure, mystery, romance, drama, classical, science fiction, young adult, self-help, non-fiction, fiction, and the like.

Numerous unique chairs of all shapes and sizes from wooden to wicker sat pleasantly within reach, as if you were invited in to pull any book to your liking off the shelf, grab a seat, and lose yourself within the pages. It was a colorful place thanks to the thousand upon thousand of beautiful book spines (which were neatly arranged on the shelves, by the way), and despite the dark brown interior of the store, hanging industrial lights from both the ceiling and the shelves themselves lit the chamber with a warm ember glow.


Simply, I was in love. If you’ve ever imagined a fantastical library with a layout not unlike a labyrinth, in that it felt quite easy to get lost in, this was the place.


They had simultaneously less and more manga than I expected; it was just two or three rows of books on these narrow two-foot-wide shelves. The shallowness of the shelf itself was a perfect look for the tiny collection, so I took mental notes about how to remodel my own room once I made or bought new shelves.

There wasn’t much there, yet I was still thrilled anyhow to skim through the used manga. When was the last time I came to a used book store? I thought to myself as I borrowed the nearby step-stool to reach the top shelf where the manga was humbly lined.

I just had to buy something, I remember convincing myself at the time, so I walked away with two others besides Taniguchi: Devil Survivor by Satoru Matsuba (story by Atlus) and Merman in My Tub by Itokichi, two volume ones that I was acquainted with by name. With both in good condition and certainly cheaper than using Amazon’s used services, I consider this small haul a steal. The young woman at the counter rang up the items, wrapped them in a brown paper sack, and we were on our way back through the cold.

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Not a particularly novel (ha!) haul, but one I thought I’d share anyway.

This experience was special to me because it allowed me to reconnect with the charm of the bookstore environment itself. It was a magnificent little shop, and had I taken pictures, I definitely would have shared them with you all—I know you would’ve loved it.

In this digital age of online shopping and even browsing for digital books, I had temporarily lost that joyous feeling of walking out of a physical store, haul in hand. It’s not revolutionary thought; I just went into a bookstore and bought books, but even still, it makes me happy.

If ever you are offered the chance to peruse the shelves of a new or used bookstore—even if your goals in mind are larger than what the store offers—consider closing out of that internet tab for a reconnection with the physical and inviting yourself to the rustic charm of a dusty bookshelf. Trust me, you won’t regret your stay.


It’s always pleasing to use something for its specific purpose. — Mrs. Crocombe, a Victorian Chef at Audley End House


Now, I ask you: when was the last time you went to a used bookstore? What were you looking for at the time, and did they have it or not? For me, it had clearly been way too long, and I’m so glad I was able to spend the final days of my break absorbing pages and panels of so, so many books. I’d love to hear your personal stories if you’re willing to share! I suppose I’ll be off to reorganize my own manga collection, so 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

Anime at the Theaters: My “Your Name” Experience! | Blogmas 2017 Day 10

Hey everyone, welcome to (a very belated) day 10 of Blogmas (whoops)! I know today’s topic isn’t necessarily “new” for 2017 (nor is it for years prior), but this was the first year I was able to attend a theater to watch anime on the big screen!

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Anime at the Theaters!

From Funimation’s screenings of films for Project Itoh, Dragon Ball, Fairy Tail, One Piece, Black Butler, Attack on Titan, Psycho-Pass, The Boy and the Beast, and In This Corner of the World, to live action films like Tokyo Ghoul, Rurouni Kenshin, and Shin Godzilla, anime has been on the rise, as most of these titles were indeed screened this year. And they’re not stopping at 2017; they’ve already lined up the beginning of 2018 with theatrical releases for the widely anticipated first Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution film!

Heck, even Viz Media had joined in on the fun with its grand premiere of Sailor Moon R: The Movie this past winter (which was, by the way, promoted with the red carpet treatment, complete with a voice actor/pro-cosplayer meet-up, AND a spotlight on Snapchat—FREAKIN’ SNAPCHAT). The same goes for Aniplex of America and their latest (successful) efforts with Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale and Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel. Oh, and we can’t forget Sentai Filmworks with the big debut of the No Game No Life: Zero! Though Aniplex has been in the game much longer, it’s only now that their publicity has reached far enough to include theater screenings not just limited to the California area. And this trend will likely increase for all of these companies as the years go on, which is awesome because when more anime goes around, we get more of it!

I unfortunately wasn’t able to see this film (or any of the ones listed above, for that matter), but I did try, I did! ;_: Now I own the DVD. :3

It’s not often that anime “strikes rich” with U.S. audiences, though. The fan base and popularity expand, sure, but the monetary gain from screening anime films in the U.S. is nothing compared to what Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, or even some indie films earn. But every bit helps, and seeing as how screenings of our favorite niche titles keep popping up, we can only imagine that it’s all helping the anime industry in Japan. Anime News Network wrote an article during the film screening boom awhile back, so you might want to check that out if you’re curious to know the “science” behind it all.

As I was saying, very rarely do anime films earn household names thanks to theater screenings: Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and most Studio Ghibli films are pretty well recognized thanks to their unique artistic styles and of course, classic nature. Just this past spring, Funimation streamed a little title called Your Name.—ever heard of it? Yeah, I’m sure you have, and you’ll probably already know that it’s now the world’s highest-grossing anime film, finally beating out Ghibli staples like Spirited Away (2nd), Howl’s Moving Castle (3rd), and everyone’s favorite fish-girl with the round tummy, Ponyo (4th). No, it’s not a competition, but credit should be given where it’s due, and Your Name. IS one incredible, breathtaking film. While Japan is still loyal to Spirited AwayYour Name. did manage to climb all the way up to become the fourth highest-grossing film in the nation. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the film, I’m not sure what will.

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My “Your Name.” Experience

(This is not a review. That will come out in early 2018, fingers crossed >.<)

Have you ever been to a Warren Theatre? They’re apparently prominent in the big midwestern cities, but essentially, they are luxurious movie theaters heavily decorated and inspired by Hollywood during the Roarin’ Twenties. Very Gatsby-esque and decked out to the extreme, one wearing athletic shorts and a t-shirt (me) would feel very out of place. EVERYTHING is gold in that place—no, literally, there are tall pillars embossed with shiny gold-colored plating. Exquisite paintings hang on the gorgeously patterned walls, and the staff are finely dressed in slick black suits. Even the bathrooms are paved with solid ebony marble flooring with rows upon rows of ridiculously clean stalls. There are several open little outlets that line the curtained walls, each containing waiting rooms with comfortable maroon leather couches and, wait, yes, a fireplace.

 

[Pictures from Google]

All-in-all, my mom, dad, and sister and I were very shocked. Very shocked. The place was simply stunning, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. The Warren is an experience, not just another place to watch movies.

 

[They even had this cool giant promotional poster for the Ghost in the Shell live action, which I was absolutely enamored by! You can bet I took pictures posing by this, haha!]

So the Warren was hella lit, but what made the three-hour journey to see Your Name. all the more worth it was the meet-up. (Woah, Taku has friends that like anime IRL?! Yup, you bet.) If you didn’t already know, music was my thing from basically birth up through high school (and even now, too). I play the cello, and on my second year with the All-State Orchestra, my sister made friends with her fellow stand partner. He was also Asian, so there’s kinda that instantaneous bond right there, and we all kept in contact after that fateful encounter.

Flash forward, and he starts talking about this film he saw on his way back from Japan, a title that, though unfamiliar with my sister, was screaming at me because of all the recent hype: Your Name., Makoto Shinkai’s latest creation. He recommended the film because he’d seen it, I knew how to get us to see it, and my sister was the glue that held us all together. The only problem—he lives across the state, over three hours away, and while it might not seem like much for the average traveler, you can’t forget that we’re youngins, and that distance was enough to keep us apart.

So we agreed to meet halfway. He chose a conveniently located place where we’d meet up to eat (which was a really awesome and tasty Japanese restaurant similar to how Qdoba or Chipotle are fashioned—how fitting, I know), I found the Funimation-approved theater, and my sister kept us all excited (well, more than we were, at least)! Several laughs later, it was time to make our way across the parking lot, and before we knew it, we were ushered into the theater balcony where we were seated before a giant red curtain. That’s right, this movie theater opens and closes its screenings with the grand red curtain. God, did I mention that I love this place??

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So the great curtain raised and the great curtain lowered. The film was over, and it was admittedly hard not to cry. So many things had led up to this one moment:

  • Hearing about the rapid success of Your Name.
  • Attending All-State Orchestra and meeting a new friend
  • Funimation announcing a theatrical release
  • Reconnecting via technology and setting up a reunion
  • Traveling the distance, meeting the other halfway
  • Walking into the Warren
  • Reuniting for a delicious lunch
  • Seeing one of the greatest films ever created
  • Feeling the emotions of the characters, together

I mean, all this considered, it was so very difficult to believe that this dream of mine would quickly come to an end. It was not only a bittersweet ending for Mitsuha and Taki, but for the three of us, too. Honestly, bidding farewell to a friend had never been harder. But we agreed to meet again, and sure enough, just this past weekend, we met halfway once again to have fun at the city’s mall. We were going to ice-skate all together, but he had a piano competition coming up and his mom didn’t want him risking his wrist—perfectly understandable, and we had fun nonetheless. (Our family did go ice-skating, though :P)


Thoughts on Life, Transience, and Memories

It’s not often that an anime film gets screened here in the states. And it’s also not often that said movie becomes the highest-grossing anime film in the world.

Similarly . . . 

It’s not often that we get to have perfect long-distance friendships. And it’s also not often that we get to cross that seemingly great distance to have our own Your Name. experience. Little did we know it, we, too, traversed the state in search of the other and promised to meet up again someday. And when someday finally came, we were all just so, so happy.

We have to take advantage of the fleeting opportunities that life presents us with. Not every moment will be magical, but when you make the most of what you have—pouring all your heart into what you want most—sometimes chance grants you that picture-perfect moment . . .

Only for it to quickly fade into a memory. 

Cherish the friendships you currently have, relish in the art that entertains you, and I cannot express this last one enough: Take as many photos as you can. I say it all the time, but the reality is that life goes by quicker and quicker with each passing day. Don’t let thinking about the “could have beens” before they even happen stop the “can be” that you can make possible. There was a point where I considered not reaching out to my sister about the film because I thought it wasn’t going to work for some reason. I was wrong. We can make beautiful memories to last a lifetime, and we can take risks to pursue happiness.

It’s all a matter of taking the first step and hoping that it leads you to enjoying the step after that.

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Wherever you are in the world, I’ll search for you. – Taki Tachibana


Maybe now you understand why getting to see Your Name was one of my highlights of 2017. Did anyone else have the opportunity to visit anime in theaters this year? If so, what did you see, and how was your experience? I’d love to know! I’ll be logging this as a “Cafe Talk,” so feel free to let your thoughts loose on this post or anything else related to it!

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

– Takuto, your host

Hooked on Light Novels: The Amazon USED Blind-Buy Game! | Cafe Talk

Hey all,

I’m back with another “Cafe Talk” (woohoo it returns!), which is, for all my newcomers as of late, a free-flowing, comment-welcome segment that tends to lean towards anime “happenings,” or perhaps loose conversations related to my life and what’s new.

Today I wanted to discuss something that I’ve really been hammering down on in my updates (no, not my Danganronpa obsession). It’s reading, yup, I’ve gotten back into poppin’ open books and inhaling the words off of the pages. Specifically speaking, I’ve been getting into light novels more, partially to get to know them better (what they are, why they are so popular), but more so because I’ve been craving some light, short reads featuring our favorite anime characters. And what do you know? That’s exactly what a light novel is!

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I do not own this image.

Now, I have those couple series that I’ve been following on my own (Monogatari, Sword Art Online), but I was in search of something different at the time, a fresh tale featuring beautiful characters and all their cool adventures and mishaps. So I turned over to Twitter as a tool (and not just a place to retweet Yuri!!! On ICE artwork) to find out the kinds of light novels you guys are into right now. This way, I could also incorporate my Twitter with my blog more. Thank you to all who replied—it was very helpful, as I think I found some great contenders!

BEFORE I tell you the titles I plan to read, I want to let you know a bit about me: I’m a collector, a buyer of books, movies, and everything in between. This tends to put me at odds with libraries, as I find myself unable to simply rent/check out my entertainment—I NEED TO OWN IT, to hold it knowing that it’s MINE. Isn’t this terrible!? Gosh, I’m the worst, haha, but I might’ve found a remedy to my dilemma . . .

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Through Amazon’s USED books system (or eBay), if the volume I desire is available for, say, around $5 (shipping included), I’ll buy it, and hopefully review it, too! Doesn’t it kinda sound like fun? The idea just sorta came to me, and so long as I can get the books for cheap and have time to read them, well then, the more used literature, the better!

(I will ALSO be taking recommendations for single-volume/very short manga stories!)

AND SO, after weeding out the ones that didn’t intrigue me via synopsis, I present you with the following titles I picked up and the wonderful people who recommended them to me:

MelSeraph of the End—Guren Ichinose: Catastrophe at Sixteen

Simply GeeBook Girl and the Suicidal Mime

Lethargic RamblingsThe Empty Box and Zeroth Maria

MoonlitasteriaHarmony

MyselfA Certain Magical Index

As of right this moment, November 16, I’ve yet to actually purchase Guren Ichinose or The Empty Box, but I WILL, I promise!!

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So what do you guys think? Is this a great way to interact with the community, read the works that excite some of you, and give used books a nice home, or is it a terrible waste of money and a poor way to pick up new novels? You ought to let me know! If you see any improvements to this “game” that I can make, let me know those, too. And lastly, if you have a little spare cash, I encourage you to join in on the madness!

Should all of this go smoothly, look out for another spontaneous Twitter call, as I could end up reading one of YOUR favorites so long as it is daring enough to meet the requirements of the game! ‘Till next time, everyone!

– Takuto, your host

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Having Unpopular Opinions Can Suck (GitS LA + more) | Cafe Talk

Uf, I can’t believe I have to write this post. But something has to be said so that I can have closure on this subject.

That’s right, we’re diving back into the live action Ghost in the Shell 2017, which I had previously covered in my review. Before we get too deep, however, I had written a more formal review about the film which you can view right here. It’s got most of my thoughts, from casting and cinematography to world-building, set design, and the soundtrack. Speaking of, Lorne Balfe has been graciously releasing a couple tracks each Friday in response to the fans’ call (mine included), so that’s really awesome of him!

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Welcome to “Cafe Talk,” a comment-welcome segment that, while it doesn’t happen as often as it should, is pretty fun to write! With this one, frankly speaking, we’re talking about being pissed off when no one likes your opinions, and exactly how much of a downer it can be. Sound relatable?

Your Opinion Doesn’t Suck, People Do

What can I say? You’re typically never in the wrong for harboring an opinion (unless that thought potentially threatens, harms, outcasts, etc. a person). Opinions are just personalized ideas, views, or judgments, and ideas are just that—intangible concepts. Alone, opinions and ideas can’t do much of anything, but when tagged together with a voice, that’s when things can get interesting.

Communication tends to happen after one’s opinion is formed; they seek out other individuals, groups, or even communities to see how their opinion stacks up, and whether it’s a favored or disfavored belief. More often than not, your position is accepted (YAY) as the popular opinion (hence the world “popular”).

You’ve done it! You’ve got nothing to fear!

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Last day of shooting, posted on Instagram by Juliette Binoche (Dr. Ouelet, right) and Scarlett Johansson (Major, left). They’re so happy I’M CRYING

Unless you’re like me, in which a chorus of crickets followed by intense booing ensues upon opinion delivery. You’ve just created an unpopular opinion (DAMMIT), and should you choose to continue to be vocal with your convictions, you’re life is about to get a bit harder. Just remember, this is NOT your fault—it’s a very human thing to stick with groups and label others as outcasts. You’ve just decided to bring something new to show-and-tell, and that scares the weak, the non-creative, the non-accepting, the unadventurous, the unappreciative, the crowd-followers.

Here, to console you, I’ll share a few of my own unpopular anime-related opinions cause, like, we know your thoughts can’t be as near as bad as mine, heh heh heh . . .

  1. I like Sword Art Online (oh crap, we’re starting with a strong one)
  2. I like Sword Art Online II more than the first (yes I just went there)
  3. Sailor Moon Crystal is a pretty enjoyable and strong adaptation of the original manga (no going back now)
  4. KILL la KILL‘s fanservice isn’t that off-putting (hi Kausus :3)
  5. Danganronpa: The Animation is a great adaptation of the game
  6. I don’t mind Kickstarting anime localizations
  7. Typically, I’d rather meet the English voice actors of a show rather than the Japanese seiyuus
  8. I thought The Empire of Corpses was a cool film
  9. Bryce Papenbrook is a good voice actor (in most cases, NOT Kirito)
  10. The Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) is fantastic NOT just because of Yuno Gasai
  11. “Monster girl anime” seem stupid
  12. Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) should NOT be skipped; both it and Brotherhood hold well on their own, respectively (same goes for Deen’s Fate/ stay night)
  13. Free! is NOT just about muscles and wet boys
  14. No Game No Life is not recommendable because it doesn’t end (same goes for Deadman Wonderland)
  15. Madoka Magica: Rebellion is a masterful film
  16. I love Robotics;Notes and Chaos;Head almost as much as Steins;Gate, even if Steins;Gate is the best
  17. The Viz Media English dub of Sailor Moon is better than the DiC dub
  18. I enjoy all of the Pokemon films
  19. Higurashi’s second season Kai is better than the first
  20. The Eden of the East films complete the story wonderfully
  21. Watamote is a funny anime, not a sad one
  22. The live-action Ghost in the Shell (2017) is an incredible and artistic film that respects its sources and holds quite well on its own

. . . Wait, that last one, “That’s not even cool bro . . .”

*cries*

So now that we’ve broken the ice (and melted it), let’s get this out of the way.

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My Unpopular Opinion, an Argument

Ghost in the Shell (2017) was a film that I walked out of not pondering endless sci-fi wonders, but feeling warm and tingly inside instead, which is quite unlike any entry in the franchise thus far has made me feel. But rather than chastise it as “something so far off of the original path that it’s unrecognizable,” think of it as a new side to the franchise. Ghost in the Shell has always been about vast interpretations and new ideas anyway, so why not welcome this unique artistic approach regardless that it looks like the black sheep in the herd.

Even Mamoru Oshii, director of the original 1995 film (which is much of 2017‘s inspiration) only wished for Directer Sanders to not be bogged down by his and Kenji Kamiyama’s Major (Stand Alone Complex), but to create his own as another face to the franchise.

Clearly, a lot of heart was put into visualization of the world—you can feel that the director was going for something GitS, but altogether a new and innovative vision [more relevant to our times].

I loved this fresh spin on the franchise, even if it admittedly bit off a little more than it could chew by trying to tie in so many homages to the franchise that, in fact, make each installment distinct from one another. And like any adaptation, if I wanted to see the original story all over again, I’D JUST WATCH THE ORIGINAL.

And about the casting, I’ve paraphrased a YouTube comment that quite honestly deserves a million likes:

“It’s controversial, but not incorrect casting. Major is an “Asian woman” in a European frame (robotic body), sure, yet part of the theme of cyberpunk and the series/movie revolves around self identity and what truly makes someone themselves—their experiences and actions. The people who said she should have been Asian were not only missing the entire movement of the franchise, but were critics just trying to push their political agenda onto a beloved title. Likely, they didn’t know the source material and went, “Oh, but, it’s Asiany and it’s made in Asia, sooooo.”

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What it Feels Like to be Crushed Your Unpopular Opinion

After I put myself out there, I definitely got “politely flagged” by other community members. They were responding to me, just trying to kindly say that they didn’t care for the movie—and that’s fine, especially since they were so nice!—but you kind of feel, I don’t know, down. It’s like you’re floating on your own raft out on the open waters, which are filled with bloodthirsty hate-filled sharks. And then you’re suddenly reminded that nobody is going to come and save you, so it’s either hold strong to what you value, or let it all go to the sharks.

And you know what? I’m still here, floatin’ away in this little hell all because I like the live action Ghost in the Shell. Stupid, right?

When you value something that others simply don’t, you start to get lonely. Nobody wants to waste their time attempting to scrounge up the very few “pros” that exist (if any) just to please you. They’ll notice, maybe console you saying something like, “Yeah, it could’ve been better,” or perhaps remind you once again as to why your opinions are dumb. But then they’ll go and find something else to talk about, and it almost leaves you feeling guilty for liking (or not liking) what you do. After all, you just missed out on a potentially awesome conversation—if only you shared the same opinion, that is.

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By having an unpopular opinion, you can feel isolated and at its worst, ashamed. You almost wish you could naturally hate something like everyone else did, or fall in love with something the way everyone else did. And then your problems would be gone—But THAT itself IS the problem:

Without your differing ideas, there would be only one main belief about something, and where’s the fun in that? Because you decided to explore where no one else dared, you walked out with something that no one else has, and you should embrace that, not hide it away!

Which is why I’m going to say it:

 “IT’S NOT JUST A SHELL. THE LIVE-ACTION GHOST IN THE SHELL IS NOT JUST A FREAKIN’ SHELL.”

I’m sick and tired of people—reviewers, critics, heck, even the media—calling it that just to make some stupid-ass pun. The SAME stupid-ass pun at that.

So from this experience that I had, I learned that you should always:

DELIGHT in the fact that your opinions may be different than the rest.

BE HUMBLE with your beliefs, proud but open to suggestions, discussions, and different viewpoints.

SUPPORT the things you love, for they brought you joy.

And for goodness sake, ENJOY something because YOU like it, not because others tell you not to or that you’re supposed to.

Don’t let all of the negative opinions and hate bog you down like it did me. Don’t let it! Hate puts your mind in the gutter, and honestly doesn’t feel good at all. You start second-guessing yourself, “Should I really be liking this,” which is EXACTLY what happened with this film for me. Instead, we should all keep on loving anime and the opportunities to ponder, interpret, and discuss that it has brought us. THAT is all you have to do!

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Have you ever had an unpopular opinion that struck you so deep that it brought unwanted hate your way? And did you defend your case in the respectful way you should have? Also, have you ever felt lonely or isolated for liking something that nobody else does? List some for me like I did, as I’m very curious! And almost more than that, I’m SO HAPPY to finally put my thoughts on this film and its controversy to rest. When it was in theaters, I had gone it THREE times (and saved the tickets just for this post), and as of now, I have purchased the artbook, the Blu-ray, and an adorable little Funko Pop of the iconic Geisha! And whenever the soundtrack comes, I’ll buy, support, and listen to that, too! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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