The Year of Anime on the GO! | Blogmas 2017 Day 5

Hey everyone, welcome to day 5 of Blogmas!

Today’s post will be pretty short, as I have skipped out the past few days of reading through the monthly OWLS tours due to being busy. But of course, we still have something from 2017 to celebrate today, and that is the rise of mobile apps relating to anime. While most if not all of these have been out since before this year, 2017 was when I found myself using them to their fullest potential.

So yeah, in no particular order of favorites, here we go!

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Favorite Anime-Related Mobile Apps of 2017

Crunchyroll 

Startin’ off easy. EVERY anime fan in the U.S. should have Crunchyroll. It’s FREE to download, and you get access to basically everything in their catalog—which is a lot, a lot, of subbed anime. From seasonal simulcasts to binging old classics, Crunchyroll is about the best you can get. I do pay for a premium membership ($60/year), and that gets me instantaneous access to the latest episode of simulcast shows in near-real time. Pretty sweet.

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Funimation Now

What would be one best girl without the other, right? Funimation made major improvements over their old streaming app, the biggest being that you do have to pay up front to use it (if you use their website, most not new, age-appropriate titles can be viewed for free). I believe it’s also around $60/year, BTW. So between Crunchyroll and my Funimation Now account, $120 gets me access to just about 4/5 of all the anime I’ve ever wanted to watch, subbed AND dubbed. I admittedly haven’t used the Funimation account to watch their simuldubs yet, but I’m sure in 2018 that I’ll cave in.

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Vudu

This year, I did start utilizing those “digital download codes” that come primarily come in anime films, and you know what, this app was surprisingly nifty! With the exciting announcement of newly released full SERIES by Funimation including digital downloads, I can only see myself using this app more and more in the future.

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VRV

Acting as a partnership app between Crunchyroll and Roosterteeth (with a little Funimation in the mix), VRV mixes parts of both catalogs as well as some J-dramas and cartoons into its own interface. I haven’t used this app much at all, but I did download it, and for the most part, its basic features ARE free!

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Pokemon GO

With its worldwide popularity seemingly plummeting after its summer 2016 release, there are surprisingly still many who play Pokemon on the go, which is cool! I’ll admit, I didn’t go Pokemon hunting much this year myself (I wish it didn’t take so long to load >.<), but seasonal events like the Halloween special did bring me back into the digital world. I just LOVE its simple use of virtual reality, and I really do hope it doesn’t die out completely in the coming year.

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Fate/Grand Order

I’m pretty sure Fate GO was the app I used most this year, and it absolutely deserves the shoutout! Highly anticipated by myself and much of the the Fate fandom, Aniplex of America’s version of the hit Japanese mobile game was widely received when it came out this summer, scoring quite well into the top 100 apps at the time. Though I have lost a little steam thanks to the large time gap in story content being updated, I still loyally check my phone DAILY to rack in all of the streak benefits. Like Pokemon GO, I’m definitely not “the best” or a “pro” at the game, but I do have fun playing, and hey, that’s all that matters, right? I’ve lost so many hours playing this amazing game, and it’s so awesome being able to plug in the fragments of what I knew and what I now know with the greater universe of Fate!!

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I told you it’d be a pretty short read! What anime subscriptions do you use? Which ones do you pay for? Does ANYONE use Amazon’s infamous Anime Strike? Also, what anime-related apps did you use this year? Any saucy otome games for iOS LOL?? Askin’ for a friend, heh heh, so let me know!! If I want to stay on schedule, I’ve got three months of OWLS tour posts to go read now, so this’ll wrap up Blogmas Day Five of the 12 Days of Anime! Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you all tomorrow!

– Takuto, your host

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Eros and Agape: Behind the Lovely Ice-skating Veils | Cafe Talk

A light analysis and comparison of, in regards to love, Eros and Agape, and how they are represented in the fall 2016 anime Yuri!!! On ICE (eps. 1-4).

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The struggle to find love, either in others, oneself, or both, remains one of life’s greatest conquests. When world-junior-class figure skaters Yuri Katsuki and Yuri Plisetsky faced-off against each other in a competition for the gorgeous and professional Viktor Nikiforov’s coaching attention, the two took on opposite personas assigned by Viktor himself: Eros and Agape. But what lies beyond the romantic nicknames, and how do these titles represent each skater on more than simply a physical level? Welcome to “Cafe Talk!”

“Love,”a How-To by the Greeks and Christians 

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There exist arguably six different interpretations of what exactly “love” translates into from original Greek texts (geez, leave it to those Greco-Romans to complicate matters). The four listed above are the famous ones, and all but Eros (the smexy one) can be found somewhere in the Christian Bible. We will only be looking at the two that matter under Yuri‘s light: the red and the blue, opposites in every way. We’ll also sort this out in performance order.

“On Love: Agape” – Yuri Plisetsky, a Lover Deflowered by Cold Submission 

Our Russian punk Yurio wasn’t too pleased when he was denounced “the unconditional lover.” The show translates agape love as follows: “God’s infinite love is self-sacrificing and uncalculating.” That’s actually a pretty good first impression.

Agape love mirrors the sacrificial giving of God to humanity. Graceful, unselfish, unbiased, and possibly unknowing to or of love. Agape lovers give freely and seek nothing. It still functions as active love, but it remains “spontaneous and unmotivated.” In other words, agape lovers seek love by giving in return. They’re typically submissive as well, and value the worth of love above all else. Nygren (see works cited) depicts their value as such: “Those who are loved become worthy because they are loved.”

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Since Yurio hardly embodies any of the agape traits, perhaps they represent aspects he is deprived up. He knows neither of innocent love nor of self-sacrifice, demonstrating only that he is passionate and fierce, hence his epithet the “Russian Punk.” While it’s amusing for us fans to watch his battle against the unselfish, Yurio truly is an unappreciated boy by his Russian coach(es). They respond to success, technique, and poise, not to sympathy and affection. By assigning the Agape costume to Yurio, Viktor has given him everything he could have wished for — to be loved unconditionally and embraced with care. Yurio, if only for a brief moment in the rink, became a lover deflowered by submission.

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But you have to be devoted to the agape all the way . . . That is why Viktor picks Yuri.

And this piece, oooh, this heavenly chamber voice overflows with an innocent, perfect love! Can you feel “someone who doesn’t know what love is yet?”

“On Love: Eros” – Yuri Katsuki, a Lover Instilled with Fiery Passion

Our home-team Pork Cutlet was left stuttering “It’s enough to make even me, a man, pregnant! Such eros!” when the fabulous Viktor crowned him “the sexual lover.” The anime depicts eros love as follows: “Pleasure followed by pleasure. One just drowns in it.” This, too, hits the mark of a passionate lover.

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In stark contrast to the tender and giving apage love, eros love is not found in the Bible’s purity, tracing origins more closely to Greco-Roman antiquity. Nygren notices a sharp reflection of love “to Plato and to Plato’s heirs and followers.” Plato treated love as two different forms of the same “eros,” one being vulgar and the other “heavenly.” Yuri interprets this more on the raunchy side as a vigorous, demanding, and sexual love. It is seeking pleasure for oneself, not necessarily for others (though that is a plus, *wink wink*).

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The differences between Yuri and this controlling love honestly mirrors his relationship with others. Unlike Yurio, Yuri follows the orders of his friends and coaches, causing him to have weaker self-esteem and a poor sense of leadership in the art of skating. He doesn’t want to disappoint others, which is why Yuri lets his coach pick out an earlier song to skate to when he notices the coach’s lack of care for the tune a friend of his created.

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Yuri also tends to hide behind his appearance: longer bangs and glasses, both which shield the face. Just as how Yurio performs at the skate-off with a surprising sense of calm and devotion, our Pork Cutlet slicks back his hair, tosses aside the glasses, and makes passionate love with his footwork on the ice. Viktor has given him bold confidence and sexiness with the eros title, and to that, Yuri expends this energy in his fiery tango.

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And this one, ooh la la, the snappy guitar and sassy violin shine with passion!  To see him take the persona a step forward and declare himself the most beautiful woman seducing the playboy goes to show how much Viktor’s teaching has truly given him.

“On Love: Eros and Agape” – A Tale of Two Lovers

Neither of the boys have given love much thought, which is why the episode carries so much emotional weight in the grand scheme. Episode three (if it wasn’t apparent from the start) firmly presents us with the case of two lovers in search of filling the holes that occupy their minds and hearts. One desired confidence, the other pursued innocence. If I had my wish, Viktor would be teaching them both. But alas, the competition must go on and tear our lovers apart! If Twitter’s given us its two cents on the subject, it’s “Get a man who can do both.”

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“You have to do the opposite of what people expect. How else will you surprise them?” – Viktor Nikiforov, the perfect blend of power and grace

Yuri!!! On ICE claims a hot spot (oh the irony) as one of fall 2016’s bests, and I wholeheartedly agree! Catch it streaming over on Crunchyroll.com for FREE, or check out FUNimation Entertainment’s rockin’ English dub (complete with Russian accents), though you must be a subscriber to access the dub. And where would we be without the incredible music to accompany the performances? Fantastic, I say!

For our “Cafe Talk” conversation down in the comments, I ask, “What do you align with more – are you an Eros or an Agape Lover?” Also, “Who do you feel won the skate-off?” I wish I was more of a “go get ’em guy,” but I digress with my agape language. For the match, my eyes yearned for Yurio, but my heart and body told me Yuri. Let me know, and hey, glide over to that “like” button for more content like this, or the”follow” to keep up with me (OR BOTH)! Don’t forget to share with the other Yuri!!! On ICE fans! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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Intrigued by the topic? Here are the works I used compile this post:

Crunchyroll – Yuri!!! On ICE

The Ancient Greeks’ 6 Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life)

Agape and Eros Summary – Anders Nygren

The Four Kinds of Love – Greek Agape, Phileo, Storge, Eros, 3 are in the Bible

The More Excellent Way, Four Greek Words for Love: Agape, Phileo, Storge, Eros

EDM Difference between Eros and Agape

Rokka Ushers in a Fresh and Bloody-Fantastic Fray | Review

A spoiler-free review of the 12-episode summer 2015 anime “Rokka no Yuusha” or “Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers,” produced by Passione, based on the light novel by Yamagata Ishio.

 – View in browser, not app, for best experience –

Whenever you’re out driving, do U-turns scare you? Oh man, they do me in. Usually swift and unannounced, what was the car ahead of me casually cruising along suddenly burns rubber and whirls around to oppose me.

So maybe I’m dramatizing U-turns a bit (also, they’re probably illegal in most areas), but doesn’t that abrupt 180-degree flip potentially ruin a nice drive? Well, if the other driver knows exactly how to pace it, direct it, and drive it on home, then no, not at all.

That’s what Rokka here did, and boy was it a spectacular turn.

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This setting is gorgeous.

Long ago when the Demon God plagued the world with darkness, the Goddess of Fate came down and sent the demon back into the shadows – Not before splitting her powers amongst six heroes, though. Now in a present-day yet still fantasy-Aztec land, the Demon God has awoken numerous times, only to be quelled time and again by new rotations of these “Heroes of the Six Flowers.”

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See? Not lying at all.

The self-proclaimed “strongest man in the world” Adlet has been selected to be one of these six braves. To prevent the Demon God’s next return, the six heroes band together and venture into the dark lands in hopes that they will save the wor–

Woah woah, slow down there. It sounds like a feasible action/adventure anime thus far, but right after episode four, it’s time to slam the breaks – Rokka wants a complete change of pace. What happens to our heroes?

Nothing. All seven meet up at the rendezvous point before plotting their attack. Wait . . . I thought there were just six braves . . .

There are. A magic barrier goes up around the temple, thick fog fills the air, and everyone is trapped in. Someone is an imposter

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If that’s not a 180-degree flip, then I’m not sure what is (I get chills just reading it). Rokka spends the first third showing off its heroes and their skills as such. It acts like your normal fantasy anime but then decides to try something new. The introduction of mystery to the fantasy/adventure genre is something I’ve never seen before. And through its fresh direction and pre-establishment of the cast, it moves forward without hesitation.

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Squad goals.

The sheer amount of suspense that Rokka builds up is absolutely incredible. Its clever hashing-out of your typical fantasy party members makes it a hot game of Dungeons & Dragons runnin’ around on the Clue game board. You wanted adventure? Not anymore. Take this murder mystery instead because it’s cooler. The gimmick works so well because we know these characters – All we have to do is roll the dice and start throwing accusations. You’ll have so much fun watching your options drop out as the game soars to its climax.

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Spooky spooky ~ Who is the Seventh???

As a side note, I was a bit spoiled by the identity of the fake, but even that didn’t faze me. Seeing how all of the clues slid into place and watching the insanity unfold gave me more than my fill of entertainment. The anime still kept me guessing to the very end, regardless of those damn trolls. That goes to show how exciting Rokka is.

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I have to mention the studio behind this anime because their name was completely new to me: Passione. I was 100% impressed by the superb animation quality and fantastical artwork. Due to the unusual yet intricate designs of each hero and their unique repertoire of arms, action scenes were bloody intense and wicked smooth.

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“I am the bone of my –“ Not now? Oh, okay.

For music, we had the reoccurring yet beloved fantasy artist Oshima Michiru (FMA, Sora no Woto) who filled the still, foggy air with an engaging score. Of its many OPs and EDs, my favorite was “Secret Sky” by MICHI for being everything I listen for in this wonderful genre.

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With puzzling motives, characters we’ll all recognize, and shocking plot twists at each episodes’ end, Rokka no Yuusha was without a doubt 2015’s hidden gem. The only reason you don’t remember this title was because you stopped after episode three.  Rokka‘s not without its flaws, however: Some less-major characters could have used more backbone, the opening is admittedly a bit slow, but biggest of all – This is ultimately only a preview into Rokka‘s grand scheme, and as such leaves us with jaws dropped begging for a sequel. I hate this. Don’t worry, we still get an ending that ties all of this up, but for those wanting to know how the legend ends better start supporting the franchise.

You should watch Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers because it’s something new. It takes a wild idea and runs hella far with it, leaving you clinging on for your dear life! Fans of the adventure genre especially won’t be disappointed with Rokka‘s new entry to the fray.

“That’s the first thing my master taught me. To laugh.” – Adlet

+ Despite being abrupt, fantastic new direction taken with strong, clever writing

+ suspense, Suspense, SUSPENSE

+ Studio Passione did an incredible job putting everything together

– ‘Supporting’ heroes could have been given more background, little more depth for all

– Unfavorable localization (Ponycan’s ridiculous prices without an English dub)

– Cliff-hanger ending = WE NEED MORE ROKKA, DAMMIT

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Now, I’m still cautions with those U-turners, but Rokka really impressed me guys. It’s a solid “Caffe Mocha” in this little establishment, but again, you should spread the word so we can eventually devour more! You can watch the entire anime on Crunchyroll for FREE if that site is available to you, to which I recommend “full speed ahead.” I only cry because Ponycan USA is releasing this epic without a dub. If you took a liking to my tentatively new and less-wordy format, let me know by hitting that “like” button and commenting below. It helps me immensely! Thank you all for reading and as always, until next time this has been

– Takuto, the Seventh Brave

MASSIVE End of November Update 12/14/15

WAHOO! So I’ve kinda been absent for +2 weeks (not that anyone actually noticed my disappearance), and while I would apologize about it and regret life for the next month, I thought I’d celebrate my return instead. Hence,

WAHOO! I spent all of yesterday to catch up on everyone’s posts :), so now I’m ready to resume writing reviews. First and foremost, however, here is the list of excuses reasons I’ve been out of the blogging world, and hopefully these reasons will suffice:

  1. School (y’all can relate), Swim, and Music
    • ‘School’ of course is just school work, finals, exams, mini-quizzes from Satan, the usual. It’s also swim season (even though it’s an indoor sport, so all the time), so I am physically exhausted by that. I also reek 24/7 of that chlorine/pool water scent, which sucks. Lastly, music has been lurking in the background. If you remember that recital I mentioned forever ago, yeah, it’s over. I did pretty well if that means anything to you! But between concerts, contests, and auditions, I’m pretty drained.
  2. Shopping, Saving, YouTube, and Not Wanting to Write
    • Rightstuf.com basically puppets me around the sales this year, like guys, I’ve never spent this much money on anime and manga at one time. So after school, practices, and all other work is wrapped up for the day, I head on over to Righstuf.com and see what I can get my hands on, muahaha. All this spending and saving via the internet leads me to my next issue: YouTube – What was life like before it? Yeah. I can’t remember either. These are my time wasters of the day.
    • And by the time a long day of online shopping, video watching, and school concludes, I have NO energy nor creativity to write! I don’t know if you knew this, but I am not a writer by nature – I swim against the current to write posts. But I do this to get better, and hopefully you notice a slight improvement from day one.
  3. Free Crunchyroll Trial
    • When Crunchyroll offered their 30-day free trial + free Japan Crate, I hopped aboard as soon as possible. Turns out, however, that I was “unfortunately too late” and was downgraded to their standard 2-week free trial, even though I signed up during the event. Several email messages later, I finally received my Japan Crate code (thanks!) but they couldn’t do anything about the extra missing 2 weeks, which is why I really signed up. It would have lasted all of my winter break! But instead, it expired yesterday 😦 Now I am a hopeless pleb, abandoned by the Fractale System. Anyway, I bring this up because (thanks to my losing 2 weeks), I had to cram all of the watching I wanted to do. “Watch now, write later” mindset. If you had no advertisements, you’d know what’s at stake!

But because of that trial, I got A LOT of anime watched! Here’s what I recently finished:

Sound of the Sky – I actually finished this one beginning of November, but if you happened to miss my review, it’s right here (click me). Go read: I thought I did a good job, but it could really use some love . . .

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers – HOLY SHIT I didn’t even notices that this anime slipped by last season but it’s absolutely incredible! GO WATCH ROKKA NOW. Watch it before the spoilers destroy it for you. It is a fantasy action at first, but quickly turns into a mystery thriller when one too many heroes show up at the rendezvous point. One of them is a fake. Hopefully, a review will arrive to you soon!

Voices of a Distant Star – I’m not very good at reviewing movies, so see what you think for yourself by watching this 25-minute flick. Don’t let its short run time fool you, though. You’ll be surprised at the amount of emotion that can be conveyed in that short time. 25 minutes earlier, I was so happy . . . now my heart is distraught. Great watch!

GJ Club – After Rokka and all of the busyness around me, I really needed something to calm me down. GJ-bu did the trick alright! Take your average set of cute highschoolers and set the scene in a random afterschool club in the winter. BAM, relaxing AF. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but I didn’t need it to be. I’ll see if I can get a review out soon, but don’t be shocked if I don’t have much to say. :3

Akame ga Kill! – But happy-cub-time is over. I needed assassins, gore, betrayal, action – the whole package – and this anime delivered spectacularly! If you are for whatever reason unfamiliar with this over-hyped shounen, it’s basically a battle royale of assassins that clash in the shadows to overthrow their gone-to-sh*t corrupt capital. I know I’ll be talking about this one, so stay tuned!

So it was a pretty great time of anime-watching and attempting-to-relax for me. Hopefully now you’ll understand my absence. As for reading, shoot, SAO’s Fairy Dance is on hold now, but I want to finish it sometime this or next week.

But anyway guys, that’s what I’ve been up to these past few weeks. I’m back on the blogging trail, and I don’t plan to stop for the rest of this month! It’s been a lot of fun (and hard work) catching up, but it’s rewarding to get to speak with all of you wonderful people again!! Thanks for keeping the cafe warm while I was away 🙂 I also want to do a holiday haul(s) for those that are into that kind of stuff, just let me know in the comments! Expect hauls, reviews, and more sporadic conversations from me this December. Stay warm, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

PS: Does anyone else hate the new WordPress? It’s been like a month and I’m still not used to it. Why must we fix something that’s not broken? Just why?