Halfway Through 2019 – What’s New, & Where Are We Headed? | Quarterly Update (Summer)

Hello all!

Can you believe another three months have passed since the last time we met for an update? Why, that was the beginning of April, and now we’re already a week into July. JULY. Crazy, right? I hope all my friends in the U.S. had a happy 4th of July full of friends, family, and good food. To everyone else, I hope you’re summer hasn’t been too hot!

In other news, I’ve been watching and reading a decent amount—which is great considering that one of my 2019 goals was to watching all of the stuff I’ve bought (yet haven’t touched) to justify buying it in the first place. Unfortunately, as soon as I finish one movie, three new ones somehow appear on my shelf. Weird. It’s not me, I swear!

Ok, so maybe the sales have been good to me lately, but I am enjoying getting around to all this stuff. These novels, manga volumes, and Blu-rays were bought for a reason, after all! Without further ado, let’s see how much stuff I’ve been able to knock off my To-Watch backlog! First though, some goal updates . . .

Goal Reflection


#1 – Read More Posts

I’m sorry everyone. My phone’s home screen is once again becoming filled with your posts so that I can read them . . . but they just continue to amass, as opposed to being read and shared. WordPress has made mobile blogging a pain in the ass, in that I cannot comment and like without being logged in—and yet even when I try to log in, it still won’t let me respond to you all! Instead, my phone wants me to use the app and WP reader to communicate with other bloggers, and that’s a real nuisance given that I get most of my reads from Twitter posts AKA posts shared online, not via app. I’ll work hard to clean up my home screen in the meantime, even if it means individually typing out every single post in the search bar and finding it that way.

#2 – Write More Succinct Reviews

I think I’ll be changing this goal to “Write More Succinct Posts (in general),” as it has happened for the most part with all my other posts besides my reviews. And I’m ok with that. Personally, I don’t see 1,300 – 1,600 words as that much for a full-series review. Otherwise, I’ve posted a couple posts that were just like 300 words, and y’all don’t even know how good that felt for someone as wordy as myself! Even if just simple announcement posts, I like to think I’m improving on this goal.

#3 – Post More Often

I’ve continued this next set of three months by successfully managing to publish about one thing a week, which was my goal! In April there were four posts, while in May and June there were FIVE posts per month. Again, it sounds like a really sad goal, just five posts out of 30 days, but this is a huge step for me. I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far, and hope I can keep up at least this much content, if not more, as the summer goes on!

A side note, last year I wrote 27 posts. Yup, that’s it, and that’s not much. As of July 6th, 2019, I’ve already written 30 posts, so I’ll easily double the amount of posts I wrote last year if I continue down this track!

#4 – Bring Back Cafe Talk

Nope, lol. BUUUUT, I did create an entirely new segment on my blog in its place. Called “Anime Revisited,” the posts in this category are just that—shows that I’ve already reviewed, but would like to look at once more under a new light or fresh perspective or whatever. Basically, I rewatched Gurren Lagann and wanted to talk about it again. But “oh no, I’ve already reviewed that series.” No problem, just revisit it! And so I did, and it was received quite warmly by you all, thank you very much.

#5 – Write More Haul/Collection Posts

Yeah, this one has gone no where, and here’s why: I’m really considering an Instagram for all my haul, collection, and cosplay related musings. Like, really thinking about it. Like, it could happen tomorrow, or even today. I’ve still been getting tons of crap, but I’m not sure if I want to junk up my blog with pictures of the stuff I’ve bought as opposed to talking about or analyzing that stuff like an intellectual would. If Insta happens, you all will be the first to know!

What I’ve Watched


Aside from the last couple simuldubbed episodes of Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life, I’ve finished all the spring shows I’ve been following, including Sarazanmai, Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2, and Wise Man’s Grandchild. Really tempted on going back for the music drama Carole & Tuesday and Mix, a little baseball series that silently aired this spring. Plus, I haven’t started the new Fruits Basket yet. (I know, I SUCK!) Reviews for the spring content will be rolling out here soon, fingers crossed.

As for Blu-ray watching, I watched Lu Over the Wall, Liz and the Blue Bird, and Mary and the Witch’s Flower, three adorable films that I was supposed to review but haven’t yet (spoiler alert, watch them). I also finished Asobi Asobase, a great comedy series which contains some of the STUpidest shit I’ve ever seen, as well as the second half of Re:ZERO. Definitely not as good as the first half, but still epic (and nail-biting, heh heh).

In the past month, I finally watched Blood Blockade Battlefront, which I’m pretty sure I didn’t like as much as everyone else, yet liked it enough to apparently impulse buy the second season the minute RightStuf’s 32nd Anniversary sale started (my dumb ass, right?). Apparently it’s a fantastic sequel though, so I’ve got high hopes.

Speaking of another questionable move, I watched Majestic Prince and, well, won’t get the time back from watching that LOL. I also rewatched Izetta: The Last Witch, but that one was actually pretty fun to visit again.

One of my favorite watches these past three months was The Great Passage, the dictionary anime that aired in 2016 that everyone (myself included) slept on. After hearing it was by the same person who wrote Run With the Wind, I hustled on down to Amazon, gave it a watched, and fell in love. Review coming soon!

Oh, and I finished Sailor Moon SuperS and the movie Black Dream Hole, too! Although I won’t review anything Sailor Moon (as the nostalgia lens are very foggy with this one), you can bet I loved it. Excited for Sailor Stars!

Another incredible watch was Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu-hen, the first in a masterpiece trilogy by studio Shaft. It was a pain to spend $50 on a 60 min film through eBay, but it beats the $70 that Aniplex is asking for. At least the set is drop-dead gorgeous. (Which I could show off if I, you know, had an Insta.)

As for what I’m currently doing, I’ve been rewatching Neon Genesis Evangelion since the new dub hit Netflix. The dub is serviceable. Not as near as personable and heartfelt as ADV’s dub, but it works if you’re new to the series or can’t afford the old DVDs. Regardless, I’m still having tons of fun rediscovering why I fell in love with it in the first place. I also started God Eater . . . not much else to say on it. It’s pretty for a monster-slasher series, and I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts once I finish it!

Despair Returns: A Danganronpa Playthrough


I know how all the Danganronpa games go. Same for the anime, and even the novels. I’m a huge fan, a mega fan. An Ultimate Fan, if you will. Since I’d never actually played the games myself and let the LPs and walkthroughs entertain me, however, I thought I’d change that. Oh, and challenge my siblings at the same time!

So now, every chapter, every trial, we switch of players. We finished the first game early June, and are about to finish the second game. The Danganronpa games are tons of fun, so despite knowing how things play out, I’m not sick of it yet. Totally hyped to play V3 all over again, especially since it’ll be their first time with Danganronpa‘s thrilling finale!

My New Job Has Kept Me Away


That’s the simple truth of it all. As you can see, there’s a lot I’ve been watching, but now that I work 30 hours a week (and a 5-hour part time thing), I’m pretty exhausted when I get home. What do I do? I left my old job in food to reunite with my passion: the water. I’m a lifeguard at my university, but also a swim lesson instructor. I love my co-workers (a first!), and oddly enough working with kids is refreshing. I feel more physically and mentally fit than I have in probably a whole year, and even though this job is time-consuming, I thank it for flushing out all the icky in my life. I feel good, great even.

I go to bed at 10:30 each night now, not 2 a.m. I’m home with my family on weekends, and don’t feel bad for going in to work since I now leave for work at the same time everyone else does. It’s win-win, plus I get to swim on the job!

So, I don’t want to push my luck. I could be at the keyboard more often, but it’d cost my anime-watching time, my time with my siblings, and I don’t want to trim those anymore than I already have. I should be writing a little bit more this month, though, so we’ll see if that improves things on this end.

What’s new? The job. Where are we headed in the meantime? Easy: Writing posts for all the anime and manga in my collection that I’ve been watching and reading!

That’s about all I got for now. The 95-degree days are killer, but working at an indoor pool softens the blow immensely. Now, if only the rainy season would last longer, I’d be truly happy, hahaha! It’s crazy to think that the next time I write an update like this it’ll be October. Till then, thank you so much for reading, and take care of yourself!

– Takuto, your host

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Rejoice! Evangelion is Officially On Netflix!

What a day to celebrate!

The legendary Neon Genesis Evangelion and it’s films, Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelionhave officially arrived on Netflix! Long-awaited by fans of the series and greatly anticipated by curious newcomers alike, now everyone around the world can enjoy streaming this groundbreaking title with ease.

Along with the relaunch of this classic came a new English dub. To old fans of the ADV dub like myself, this’ll be quite the adjustment to make. But hey, this also means we get to celebrate Eva‘s arrival with something new and exciting for everyone!

I’ll always have a place in my heart (and on my shelf) for Tiffany Grant’s feisty Asuka, Allison Keith Shipp’s smokey Misato, and Spike Spencer’s troubled yet innocent Shinji—but that’s why I own the old DVDs, so that can enjoy both the old and the new whenever I want to.


In case you missed it, here’s our new cast:

ADR DIRECTOR | Carrie Keranen

SHINJI IKARI | Casey Mongillo

REI AYANAMI | Ryan Bartley

ASUKA LANGLEY SORYUU | Stephanie McKeon

MISATO KATSURAGI | Carrie Keranen

GENDO IKARI | Ray Chase

KOUZOU FUYUTSUKI | JP Karliak

RITSUKO AKAGI | Erica Lindbeck

RYOJI KAJI | Greg Chun

TOUJI SUZUHARA | Johnny Yong Bosch

KENSUKE AIDA | Benjamin Diskin

KAWORU NAGISA | Clifford Chapin

ADDITIONAL VOICES | Julie Bersani, Christine Marie Cabanos, Daniel MK Cohen, Billy Kametz, Zach Aguilar

STUDIO: VSI Los Angeles

Source: https://dubbing.fandom.com/wiki/Neon_Genesis_Evangelion


Here for a New Generation

I’ve already heard several mixed opinions about the new dub, including entire script changes and even omitted tracks (how dare you remove “Fly Me To The Moon”). But I still have hope for the new cast, and am anticipating my own little watch party later this evening. And hey, if you like what you hear, be sure to give all the actors a hearty “Congratulations!” over on Twitter—I can only imagine the immense stress and honor behind voicing in such a renowned series!

Love it or hate it, Eva is here for a new generation. So rather than pass it off, please, enjoy the happiness, sadness, and emotional highs and lows of this classic. And watch all of it, too—as it was originally intended! To skip any episode is to miss out on an entire chapter in the wild lives of these incredible characters struggling—both against the wrath of the heavens and themselves—just to live another day.

Share the gospel with all your friends, and feel free to laugh, cry, be excited, and especially confused by the sheer depth, complexity, and outreach of this tale of what it truly means to love yourself. It’s a very special series that holds a lot of weight for so many people, and alas, now people everywhere can experience it.

Evangelion is officially on Netflix, and all’s right with the world.

Happy Eva Day!!

Takuto

Devilman Crybaby – Ugly Tears, Bleeding Hearts, & The Pain of Modern Tragedy | Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 10-episode winter 2018 anime “Devilman: Crybaby,” produced by studio Science SARU (and Netflix), directed by Masaaki Yuasa, written by Ichiro Okouchi, and based on the manga by Go Nagai. 

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A Wild Night Out

Akira Fudo is a crybaby. He’s always been, and he always will be. Akira’s high school career takes a trip to the wild side when his best friend from many years ago, Ryou Asuka, suddenly reenters Akira’s life. This surprise reunion excites Akira, but unfortunately, Ryou isn’t back so the two can play on the playground again. Instead, he informs Akira that hiding amongst the shadows of their picture-perfect reality are monstrous demons, and that soon the demons will revive to reclaim the world from the humans. To combat their brute, supernatural strength, Ryou has a plan: to fuse a human with a demon.

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Those who conquer their “literal” innermost demons can master the power over them. And thus, after violently loosing his innocence at an infamous nightclub rave suspiciously titled the “Sabbath,” Akira becomes Devilman, a being with the power of a demon and the heart of a human. Finally seeing the darkness that humans have hid for so long, Akira feels blessed to now be able to save others, but more so cursed because he will likely never be understood ever again. But he has Ryou, and for Akira, that’s enough to make the pain worth suffering. Or so he hopes.

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A Tragedy Fit for Our Time

By mere story alone, Crybaby is a masterpiece. Having heard the crazy amounts of praise that have been circulating already for a couple weeks now, this should be no surprise. It starts at zero, at everyday life for a young boy and his relay mates, and quickly escalates into a bloody, traumatic, world-ending experience for both the characters and the viewers. As a standalone piece of fiction, it’s a modern tragedy made fit for the decade—complete with its OWN FREAKIN’ CHORUS in the form of some swaggy J-rappers—a series that is and should be celebrated for the, might I say, “daredevil” tale it sets out to tell. So many countless symbolic, societal, and sexual metaphors make the story incredibly compelling, and the religious undertones work wonders in creating this gritty, larger-than-life epic.

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And the best part of all is that the series isn’t just “depressing” to be called tragic—rather, it lives up to the classical standards of Greek tragedy by existing to A) prove the faults in our own lives, B) present a heroic attempt at handling them, and C) leave us with a cathartic end to cleanse the insanity that just befell the cast. It’s a masterful formula from the humble beginning through to its apocalyptic end, and as the media outlet Polygon states, the finale is “beautiful, devastating perfection.”

The only [minor] problem with a story of this magnitude is that Crybaby has very little time to tell it: only ten episodes, to be exact. While the pacing for the first several episodes feels spot-on, there is a significant push, particularly in the last two episodes, that does seem rather hectic. To be fair, however, the gruesome content and big reveals in episodes nine and ten ARE time sensitive; dragging these plot twists and dramatic developments out beyond an episode’s time would ruin their effects. Besides, perhaps that rushed sense of mayhem is what contributes to the explosive, catastrophic nature of the Devilman franchise.

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Akira and Ryou: Cuter When They’re Young

As far as characters are concerned, I won’t go into much detail simply because half of the thrill stems from witnessing just who some of these characters really are, and exactly what they will eventually become as the plot edges further and further on borderline insanity. Akira Fudo’s deal with the devil surprises all those around him, sure, but his grotesque change conjures up more mental conflict than physical ailment. He’s honestly a gift to mankind who doesn’t belong in this cruel, cruel world, and as he teeters on the edge of his own humanity—of a dying hope vs. an unflagging despair—he realizes that, at the darkest roots of their heart, people can be even more vile, disgusting, and sinful than any demon to roam the planet. Compared to his cute, scrawny self at the series’s beginning, the superior antihero Devilman that Akira becomes is stronger in nearly every way—all except for that tender, still-broken human heart of his.

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Ryou’s fluffy, blonde-bowled, bishounen design may seem inviting, but don’t let that charismatic baby face fool you: underneath that puffy white coat is a deadly machine gun and cunning wit, both which are fully loaded at all times. From that first smooth car ride Ryou and Akira share together, you already get the feeling that Ryou is scheming something (as if the glaring camcorder he films on 24/7 wasn’t evidence enough). Still, he is doomed to a fate just as tragic as Akira’s—if not more so. Ryou is one baaaaaad boi, but I loved his development way too much to hate him.

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I Don’t Know How to Rate The Animation . . . 

I’m not kidding. Devilman: Crybaby has some of the downright UGLIEST animated sequences I’ve ever seen. From the hilarious attempt at depicting just how “speedy” devilmen can run to the blobby, disproportionate, and completely uncensored sex scenes, by visual standards, Crybaby is not a pretty-looking show.

But does an anime need to be “pretty” to have it’s own beauty? Absolutely not. Or, well, at least Crybaby says so.

You see, the series has this certain edge to it, a certain grit that is hard to explain. The animation outlines, for instance, are cleanly drawn and look quite fresh (faces in particular). But then you have the action scenes, which are just SO freakin’ bizarre to watch. Like, I couldn’t even tell you if some scenes were, in fact, “poorly animated” because the ENTIRE SERIES has that same exact look. The lack of detail in light-hearted moments (like Akira’s high school, or his quiet past) compared to the almost sickening actions of other demons and humans alike gave form to a style that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s as if the animation is “untamed,” or “knows no bounds”—yet it all flows well as its own style within the context of the story. Not to mention that the compact 10-episode run and smart directing allow for each and every shot to carry some sort of secondary meaning, however unnecessarily violent or sexual or BOTH the risqué presentation seems to people.

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I, for one, felt that all of the overly grotesque scenes brutally tread some sacred ground of entertainment that hasn’t been touched in decades with a bloody tank. It’s a unique visual style that I frankly haven’t seen anywhere else, and it was depicted brilliantly.

But I Know I Loved the OST!

As I am currently writing this, the Devilman: Crybaby soundtrack is humming in the background for inspiration. What about it is so special? Well, it has great balance; it’s epic (“D.V.M.N.” – Main theme), startling (“Miki The Witch”), playful (“Wishy Washy”), intense (“Anxiety”), entrancing (“Beautiful Silene”), heart-pounding (“Smells Blood”), uplifting (“Prayer”), cathartic (“Pathetique”), and so much more. Composer Kensuke Ushio (Ping Pong The Animation, Space Dandy, A Silent Voice) knows how to write excellent orchestral/synth pieces, I tell ya!

There’s a little tune that is repeated throughout the entire soundtrack that can be any of the emotions listed above, so long is the right instrumentals is paired with the mood. My personal favorite IS a reprise of this gorgeous melody line, and it just so happens to be the very last song played in the series, the End of Devilman: Crybaby, so-to-speak. It’s appropriately titled “Crybaby,” and if it doesn’t move your heart to the point of tears, forcing you to recall Akira, Ryou, Miki, and Miko’s shared heartache and tragedy, then I’m not sure what will.

Oh yeah, there’s also a remake of the original Devilman opening included with the soundtrack, which, if you SOMEHOW haven’t heard yet, is SUCH A BOP HOLY SHIT. I STILL listen to it religiously.

The Destructive Darkness Within Us All

By Devilman:Crybaby‘s end, there is arguably no sadness left for the characters, no more tears to cry. It should feel complicated, as the amount of despair is simply undefinable. But instead, all you can wonder is how things got to this point, and how what you witnessed was, in fact, the end brought upon by humanity. The ending is completely unfair, yet it balances the scales with terrifying perfection. You could feel sad, or depressed, or enraged at how BLIND people can be, but instead, all of it feels pointless, as if nihilism just inducted you to suddenly became one of its patron saints.

The ending of Devilman: Crybaby is indeed a very empty one. And that very catharsis, that feeling of emptiness and pointlessness, is what lies at the heart of a well-written tragedy. 

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As happy and sad memories alike resurface for these two boys, Akira and Ryou come to realize that, without one another, life before friendship was boring and often cruel. It was lonely, and it was meaningless. But through the ugly tears they cry, the bleeding hearts they endure, and the tragic fates that they cease fighting against, the two learn to finally accept love, for it is really love, not hate, which makes the world go round. And so to tear up the ENTIRE world just to tell this seemingly small message—Yes, such is what completes the horrifically tragic Devilman: Crybaby as a modern masterpiece.

You’re crying too, Ryou-chan. You’re crying too . . .  – Akira Fudo

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Afterwords

Devilman: Crybaby is raw, brutal, yet oddly honest about its understanding of cause and effect and the power of compassion. It doesn’t forget to throw in a few laughs, though. As the community has already remarked, this show is ABSOLUTELY NOT for the faint of heart. This series showcases the worst aspects of humanity—of vengeance, overindulgence, paranoia, and immorality—and for many, that can be hard to watch (plus, it’s like, mega gory and sexual). You’ll be asking yourself “WTF is this even real?” many times, and you’ll feel absolutely disgusted with humanity. But have faith that there is a reason for the madness. I walked into this action series not knowing a lick about the Devilman franchise (aside from the old dub clips, heh heh) and obviously enjoyed the HELL out of it.

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If such disturbing material doesn’t bother you, then I’m sure you’ll also enjoy this wild ride through the bloody and the occult, as there are a fair amount of life lessons to be learned. I’m giving Devilman: Crybaby the honorary “Caffe Mocha” title because of its unexpectedly high emotional impact (you gotta love the indirect End of Eva references, too)! There’s a particular scene in I think episode 8 or 9 that absolutely wrecked me, and the powerful ending . . . wow . . . I’m sure I won’t be forgetting about that for a long time. If you are thinking about watching this anime, or have already seen it, you HAVE to let me know what you thought about it! I’m dying to dig the series back up, even though much of the hype has died down, haha! Let me know if I did a decent job by hitting the like button (I appreciate it!), and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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