End of February Update 3/1/21

Hey guys,

With school ramping up for midterms, I haven’t had much time or energy to blog. Even my anime watching has diminished, and I can’t remember when I last picked up a volume of manga that wasn’t for the Manga Love Readathon on Valentine’s Day weekend. (You don’t know how badly I just want to drop all my school work and crack into some Yona of the Dawn >.<)

So, this monthly update will be pretty sparse, but I hope you enjoy reading about what I’ve been up to. First, let’s discuss goals.

Goal Reflection


Write Five Posts Each Month | I fell two posts short of this goal. School is tough!!

Review More Anime | I published two anime reviews this month, one for Gunbuster: The Movie and another for its sequel, Gunbuster 2 or Diebuster. We’ll see if I write another post about Diebuster: The Movie. An “Anime Revisted” post for Emma: A Victorian Romance is in the works!

Continue Writing Manga Reflections | As previously mentioned, I was able to book off the entire Valentine’s weekend to read for the Manga Love Readathon. During the readathon, I read from five different titles, yet I never got around to writing about them! I’ll see if I can give some of them proper reviews, but until then, I hope my recap vlog will suffice. ^ . ^

Write Posts for Video Content | All four of my February videos were uploaded here as blog posts. I’m one short of my YouTube goal there of five videos a month, but please check those out if you’re interested!

Achieve 750 Followers | Current count is 714. Thank you so much for reading and following along~!

What I’ve Watched


Gunbuster: The Movie — A mere 1200-word post cannot describe the magical experience that is the classic Gunbuster. This year’s V-Day Special was dedicated to the popular GAINAX franchise, and I couldn’t be more pleased with what I watched. In case you missed it, I wrote an entire review that you can read here!

Gunbuster 2 — Most of the same glowing compliments could be said about Gunbuster‘s sequel, Diebuster. While I enjoyed Gunbuster more, I found the zany nature of Gunbuster 2 (review here!) to scratch that itch that the Evangelion Rebuild films left for me. (Who’s excited for the final Evangelion film to come out March 8!?! DEFINITELY ME!!!)

Diebuster: The Movie — I just finished my journey through this franchise with the Diebuster recap film last night. It takes on the daunting task of cramming six 30-minute episodes into a single hour-and-a-half-long film (like its predecessor). Despite the cuts, I really enjoyed it! I’ll try to write a post over this film, but should this be the end for now, check out my two reviews. 🙂

Attack on Titan Final Season — SASHA NOOOO. I’m about ready to YEET a dumb little kid off the face of the planet if we continue this frustrating BS. My anger aside, however, I LOVE where this series is going. The War Hammer Titan rises to the top as my favorite of the Nine Titans (so cool!), and I continue to soak in the wondrous sounds of Hiroyuki Sawano’s OST. Still a little scared about how this is all going to wrap up in the coming months!

The Promised Neverland Season 2 — I’m a little disappointed, not gonna lie. If y’all are following this one, you’ll know that the latest episodes deviate from the manga significantly (or rather, jump ahead seeeveral chapters). A certain character makes a comeback, and I couldn’t help but feel it wasn’t milked for all its worth. Like, we knew, we knew, but it’s still weird to know that hey, this is it. We’ll see if things get better.

Wonder Egg Priority — I’m behind the latest couple episodes, but where I last left off, the four girls have gathered together! Looking forward to catching up on egg time ~~

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation — Rudy leaves home and we meet Eris. She’s a brat, but I’m sure Rudy can handle her. I’m also behind on this one, but I’ll catch up!

Skate-Leading Stars — While I don’t “love” this series, I do find it entertaining enough to be worth finishing. That said, I’m behind on the latest couple episodes, but I hope to finish it soon.

Horimiya — Annnd I’m also terribly behind on the season’s most popular romantic drama! (See a reoccuring theme here? Yeah, school bites.) I’m loving the screencaps that I see of this series on Twitter, though. 😛

What I’ve Read


5 Centimeters Per Second: One More Side — This is the only novel I’ve been able to follow since February started. It was a spontaneous decision to pick up, but then I remember telling myself I would reward my reading efforts by picking up Shinkai’s hardcover published novels from Yen Press–IF and only if I read what I already had. So here we are reading this alternate perspective story of Shinkai’s popular 5 Centimeters film, and I’m surprisingly enjoying it a lot. If the film is a favorite of yours, consider picking up this novel which explores the other side of the story!

This begins the titles I read for the Manga Love Readathon, so check out the vlog for more information!

Love in Focus — This is my first Yoko Nigiri manga and OMG, I love her style so much! Love in Focus is a quaint little three-volume series which follows a high school love triangle between two members of the photography club and an ex-child model (who is now an introverted high school boy living at their dorm). It’s cute, quick, and I like the childhood friend (AKA the other boy, Kei). Love in Focus is the perfect Valentine’s read!

A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow — I read the first three volumes of this sweet yuri series and I love the main couple so much! Anything aquatic will generally catch my eye, so the days spent doing activities with the aquarium club are pleasant. This is kind of one of those healing manga, but it does have a romance plot. Looking forward to picking up the rest of the series!

Let’s Dance a Waltz — After YEARS of sitting on my shelf, I finally gave this short three-volume shoujo drama manga a read. The good news—it’s earned the spot on my shelf for a long time to come! The series follows a girl who picks up ballroom dancing because she fell in love with a boy. At the boy’s family studio, she meets two other professional youth dancers, and the four grow to enjoy each other’s company (some wishing to push the boundary of friends). The characters are so kind to one another, and if you’re wanting a fast-paced manga that showcases the beauty of ballroom dance, definitely give it a shot.

The Young Master’s Revenge — I finally got around to reading volume one of this series and omg, no regrets! Rich boy Leo wants to get revenge on rich girl Tenma for making him look like a fool during their childhood. However, upon reuniting as teenagers, Leo finds out that the Tenma’s family business has gone under, leaving her out to dry. She wishes to serve Leo as a personal maid to make some money, but Leo’s not sure how this change of events will affect his plans for revenge! Such a fun premise. I’ll pick up the other three volumes sometime.

Komi Can’t Communicate — Last but not least, I started Komi! This is the highly beloved shounen comedy manga about an antisocial girl who just wants to make 100 friends. Komi leans far more on the gag comedy side, so I’m not sure if I’ll keep up with this digitally or find copies at my library. It’s a fun series, but IDK how long I’ll keep up with it. Glad I read this first volume, though!


If you couldn’t tell, the whole of my February was occupied by two projects: the Manga Love Readathon and my Gunbuster marathon. Not much else got done, but I still enjoyed myself immensely. February is one of my favorite months, perhaps because I always use the Valentine’s holiday as a time for self-love. We also slowly emerge from the slow cold of winter (hope all my midwestern pals withstood the sudden freeze!), and the onset of spring begins. I hope the warmer weather will boost my productivity, and I also hope to work harder on the blog and my channel in March.

School continues to be tough, but we never asked for the easy way out, did we? Hahaha, oh how I can taste the end! Only three months of my undergraduate career remain, and as I gear up for graduation, I hope you’ll continue to come back and read my posts. But what am I saying, we still have all of March and April—and this update has gone on too long! Please let me know what you all enjoyed this past month, and remember to take care of yourselves! Thanks for reading, and ’til next time!

– Takuto

Gunbuster: Aim for the Top!!! || V-Day Special Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the Fall 2006 anime film “Gunbuster,” animated by Gainax, directed by Hideaki Anno, and based on the original story by Toshio Okada. More specifically, this is a review of the series recap film, which is adapted from the 1988 OVA series of the same name.


To the Stars

In the near future, humanity has shot for the stars, and space travel for the elite defending the Earth is commonplace. Just as an expedition to the furthest reaches of the galaxy gets underway, however, giant space monsters lurking in the darkest depths of the universe devastate the ship and her crew. Unresponsive to human communication of any kind, the space monsters attack indiscriminately. Soon, they will arrive upon the defenseless planet Earth.

Shortly after the discover of these horrifying aliens, Noriko Takaya, the daughter of a famous deceased space captain, enters a training school for the space fleet. Although her talents as a pilot are questionable, Noriko remains determined to aim for the top. At school, Noriko comes into contact with her polar opposite: the cool, beautiful, and intelligent Kazumi Amano. Noriko reveres Kazumi in the highest for now, but the unlikely pair make an unexpectedly good team as they attempt to save mankind from the space monsters. Together, two girls bravely dare to cross the blank abysses of space and time—piloting their giant robots of justice—and all for the sake of love.

Gunbuster revolutionized the giant robot anime game when it burst onto the scene in the ’80s. Many fans adore the film’s straightforward story and quality production, and I can’t blame them. Gunbuster seamlessly weaves together action and comedy with a high octane, high stakes sci-fi mecha plot set in space. Plus, the main characters are enrolled in a military school, which just fuels the tensions that could take place between girls, teachers, and the higher echelons of power. No doubt, human drama is a central theme in Gunbuster. Despite the conflicts, the characters manage to set aside their feelings (or resolve them outright) to focus on the vital mission at hand, and I really respect that about the entire cast.

As the light years between Noriko and Earth continue to expand, we see a different face to Gunbuster. The tone shift from cutesy high school life in the film’s beginning to the epic and gritty final battle of the film’s climax occurs exponentially with each big mission, almost like a play in three acts. Anticipation and anxiety snowball until the film’s last couple seconds which resolve the burning question at hand: Just how much has Earth changed by the time we return home? Thankfully, the answer was worth the wait. I could think of few better ways to end a film such as this one.

A Human Drama

Much of the narrative focus of Gunbuster centers on the development of our two leads. Noriko is a bag of surprises. She’s sweet and headstrong, yet also incredibly insecure. This leads Noriko to frequent episodes of self doubt, which usually requires either her idol Kazumi, her coach Ota, or her own strong-willed spirit to pull her out and steer her back on the path. Noriko is not the best mecha pilot in her class, and she and everybody else knows it. But, a space captain’s daughter does not give up so easily. Piloting the Gunbuster, Noriko is a force to be reckoned with, a real fury with fire in her eyes.

I love characters like Noriko that dare to explore the sleeping potential within themselves, but I love onee-san figures like Kazumi Amano even more. When I tell you that Kazumi is a WOMAN, I’ll have you believe it. Tall, graceful, and adorned by her signature long, deep blue hair, Kazumi is the archetypical pretty lady, a bishoujo worth looking up to. All the men and women swoon when their beloved “Onee-san” comes strolling down the halls (they literally call her this, I’m not joking), and wow does she live up to the reputation as a skilled pilot and respectable upperclassman.

Related to drama, another theme Gunbuster explores is time. More specifically, how does the rapid passage of time in space affect the relationships between the girls and their friends and lovers back on Earth? Is that feeling of constantly living “in the past” heavy enough to crush the human spirit? Couple that with the expansive distance from Earth that only seems to lengthen as the story progresses and you have a pretty mean premise—no one wants to watch their loved ones grow old. Similarly, it hurts to feel “stuck” in a relatively young body while your friends and classmates age significantly before your eyes.

To our valiant pilots, a 10-minute mission at the edge of the galaxy is tantamount to six months back on Earth. It’s not fair. And the only endearing sentiment from it all comes from those few souls who are able to cling to their memories and send their prayers to the pilots fighting for all their lives. That act, in itself, takes serious guts.

The Classic GAINAX Look

Visually, the aesthetic for Gunbuster is about as classic as one can get for an ’80s sci-fi anime. These kinds of vintage watches harbor a unique quality to them that can’t be reproduced today, and I’m actually glad the grainy feel is still somewhat intact in the Blu-ray of the film. Don’t get me wrong—the explosive action and fluid character motions are top notch and look quite nice after all these years. The same goes for the big-haired, fun, and memorable character designs. It’s just that Gunbuster carries itself differently than even mecha anime of its time, and I appreciate all the hard work that went into making the title one for the history books. Naturally, we can lend much of the film’s timeless look to Anno’s solid, artistic, and iconic directing style.

Likewise, the sound department remains strong, some of the gun and laser effects feeling especially retro sci-fi. It’s worth mentioning Rei Sakuma’s vocal performance as Kazumi Amano, as she quite honestly cemented the “big sister” vocal tone and personality for me. A legendary and beloved seiyuu for sure. Also deserving of my respect is Kouhei Tanaka’s work on the soundtrack, as I couldn’t imagine the Gunbuster gearing up for its final takeoff without Tanaka’s signature score. His music in Gunbuster suits the militaristic anthem energy needed to command your ears, but also the heroic techno pop to hype you up. I’m going to have to go listen to the soundtrack after writing this review!

A Saga Through the Stars

Where has Gunbuster been my entire life? This was the main thought running through my head as I sat through every glorious minute of this classic mecha film. As a huge Eva fanboy, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed Gunbuster in its fullest. I loved the delicate character drama worked up between these two fantastic female characters. The film moves at a quick pace to make up for the full six-episode length that the OVA series had, but that doesn’t stop Gunbuster from elaborating on nearly every point it raises, as well as providing a satisfying conclusion to this saga through the stars.

GAINAX will always have a special place in my heart. The studio brought us not only Evangelion, but also other faves like Gurren Lagann, FLCL, Nadia, Dantalian, Gunbuster‘s sequel series, Diebuster, and so many more. Some works are a hit, others are a miss. But Gunbuster is a hit, and a surefire one at that. In fact, Gunbuster is one of the studio’s first major works that is still being discussed today. To have longevity over three decades is a feat in itself. Going into its fourth decade, I hope the franchise will continue to invite fans back, old and new, to the magnificent tale about overcoming all odds and always, always, aiming for the very top.


“History will come to judge us. All we can do is survive at any cost.”

Kazumi Amano


Afterword

I really, really, enjoyed my time with this throwback watch. My only regret is that I didn’t watch the original OVA series first, as it has yet to be licensed in the states. I suppose this could be a blessing, though. Now I’ll get to watch Diebuster, the Diebuster film, and then tag back to the OG series if I feel like wanting to revisit the story (and put up with finding a site to stream it off, yeesh). Until then, however, Gunbuster is a certified “Cafe Mocha” title here at the cafe, a rating reserved only for the best of the best—and dare I say those titles which sit at the very top. Certainly, I owe the series this much, as I can already foresee this film being an annual watch of mine for a long time to come. 🙂

Have you ever watched Gunbuster or any of the Gunbuster films? Let me know your thoughts and stories in the comments! My next review will be over the series’ sequel, Diebuster, so please look forward to it. Thanks for reading my V-Day Special review (albeit it came a little late), and ’til next time!

– Takuto

The V-Day Sci-Fi Special Returns for 2021!

Happy Valentine’s Day~!

The annual time for me to lock myself in my room and binge anime has finally come again. I love Valentine’s Day, but not for the same reason most do. When I think of V-Day, I value it as a time to love myself, to spend time on me. Really, it can be a day for whatever you want, I just use it to celebrate self-love!

Normally, I like to pick popular sci-fi or sports anime franchises to tackle for the marathon (don’t ask why it’s just those two genres, as I have no explanation). Can’t remember what we’ve done in the past? Here’s a refresher for ya!

2013 ~ Steins;Gate

2014 ~ Kokoro Connect (I think . . . )

2015 ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion

2016 ~ The Rose of Versailles

2017 ~ Ghost in the Shell

2018 ~ Haikyuu!!

2019 ~ RahXephon

2020 ~ [SKIPPED DUE TO HIATUS]

And so, for this year 2021, I’d like to welcome 2020’s attempted title back to the stage for a second try—give it up for . . .

2020 ~ Gunbuster

I failed big time last year, and I wanted to make amends for that by trying Gunbuster one more time. To tell the truth, I didn’t even give the series a first try, as I was in a big anime and blogging slump during this time last year. It never got the chance it should have, which is why I’m excited to dive into this legendary title once again.

I even brought back the roadmap sheet I drafted last year!

This year’s V-Day special will actually take place during next weekend, February 19-21, as I was booked this past weekend by the Manga Love Readathon!

I’ve got all the DVDs and Blu-rays that I’ll need to make this marathon a hit already locked and loaded. Oh yeah, we’re ready for this one. 🔥🔥🔥

So until next weekend, spend these next couple of days with the ones you love most. And if you’re rockin’ it single like many of us are, TREAT YO SELF, and use this holiday for some self-care—you deserve it!

Much love and chocolates from me~!

– Takuto

The V-Day Sci-Fi Special Returns for 2020!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

It’s that joyous time of the year again, a season of love and spending time with the one you cherish most—or in my case, locking myself in my room and binging anime until the wee hours of the morning!

The mecha gods also bless the cycle with back-to-back giant robot franchises for this annual celebration. Can’t remember what we’ve done in the past? Here’s a refresher for ya!

2013 ~ Steins;Gate

2014 ~ Kokoro Connect (I think . . . )

2015 ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion

2016 ~ The Rose of Versailles

2017 ~ Ghost in the Shell

2018 ~ Haikyuu!!

2019 ~ RahXephon

And for this year, the big 20-20, we’ve got an extra special title on the menu. Give it up for . . . *drumroll~~~~~*

2020 ~ Gunbuster

YAY!!! There it is, my next adventure awaiting me ahead!! Guys, I’ve been holding off on this precious piece of Gainax history ever since watching the groundbreaking Evangelion as the V-Day feature for 2015. FIVE years later, Gainax takes the stage once again with a classic mecha title that I’m sure to enjoy with all my heart.

This year’s V-Day special will actually take place during next weekend, February 21-23, on account of the fact that I am busy performing at a Valentine’s Concert this weekend!

In terms of watching methods, fear not! I recently picked up all of the DVDs and Blu-rays I’ll need to marathon the Gunbuster franchise in the RightStuf holiday sale (with exception to the 1988 series, which I’ll hopefully find online) so everything will be viewed in the best quality that I could get a hold of. Oh yeah, we’re ready for this one.

So until next weekend, spend these next couple of days with the ones you love most. And if you’re rockin’ it single like many of us are, TREAT YO SELF, and use this holiday for some self-care—you deserve it!

Much love and chocolates from me~!

– Takuto