In This Corner of the World: A History Lesson on Hope & Healing | OWLS “Warmth”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s twelfth monthly topic, “Warmth,” I decided to incorporate what would have been my standard review of In This Corner of the World into a sympathetic discussion on the hardships of war and loss, and how love gives us the strength to continue being compassionate through even the worst of times.

It’s the season of joy, thankfulness, and love. This month’s topic is “Warmth.” Whether it is spending time with family members during the holiday season or with that special someone during New Year’s Eve, we will be discussing moments in anime and pop culture media that convey a feeling of happiness in our hearts. During times of struggles, we look towards the things that matter to us as a source of strength, hope, and happiness. We hope you enjoy this round of posts and that you, too, will have a wonderful holiday season!

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I’ve nothing else to say for the intro! Thank you Lyn for twelve consecutively thoughtful topics to ponder each month—I’ve enjoyed writing for all of them!


A brief spoiler-free discussion on the fall 2016 anime film “In This Corner of the World,” produced by studio MAPPA, directed by Sunao Katabuchi (“Black Lagoon”), based on Fumiyo Kouno’s award-winning manga of the same name.

New Life, New Opportunities

In 1944, life for Suzu Urano starts slipping through her tiny calloused fingers. For one, she is married to Shuusaku Houjou, a reserved young clerk, and is sent off to the small town of Kure in Hiroshima where her husband works at the local naval base. Now living with the Houjou family, Suzu must adjust to her new life, which is made especially difficult since she quickly becomes an essential meal-making, chore-doing crutch for the family. She does all of the daily housework during the tough wartime conditions, and the familial disconnect Suzu experiences between her sister-in-law—timed with the regular air raids—makes both the political and household climates feel like battlefields.

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When intense bombings by the U.S. military finally reach Kure in 1945, devastation to Hiroshima and its townsfolk, as well as its culture, forever shake the nation, and Suzu’s life is permanently impacted by the tragedies. “Much is gained by living in Kure, but with war, many things cherished are also lost.” It is only through the greatest perseverance and courage that Suzu manages to continue caring for those around her, and to truly live life to the fullest.

“Torn apart by war. Brought together by love.”

By its end, In This Corner of the World is a somber ode to history, wherein the tragedies of WWII’s Hiroshima bombing are experienced firsthand by the main characters. But before the bomb is dropped, the entire first half of the film winds us back to the 1920s, Suzu’s peaceful childhood. It starts this way to not only show Suzu’s developing story from beginning to end, but also to create the picturesque vision of pre-war times in Japan, specifically Hiroshima and its surrounding towns. As every 5 or 10-minute interval—marked by on-screen dates—brings us closer to that horrific day, August 6, 1945, your stomach starts churning in dreadful anticipation; you know what’s about to happen, and you’re almost left disbelieving how Suzu’s whole life could just fall apart in an instant.

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Akin to African author Achebe’s world-renowned novel, Things Fall Apart, which was written to show that life, law, and liberty already existed before the white man saw the need to organize, colonize, and, get this, “save” Africa, Fumiyo Kouno’s story serves to inform the viewer about the other side of the Pacific. You are put through the trials and tribulations of Suzu’s daily life, from learning to properly make a meal using rations to understanding the familial benefits of marriage, in order to hopefully understand that despite their differing customs, both the attackers and the attacked have things they want to protect.

I set up a pretty overwhelming historical background here, but the film really isn’t that political at all. Rather, its a drama centered around one little girl’s average life during WWII, and how no matter the global circumstances plaguing a household cause ruin and chaos, life goes on. That’s right, life will always go on. There are always things to be fixed, clothes to be washed, and food to be cooked. Suzu understand this, and that’s why she faces each painstaking day blessed that there’s still a roof above her family’s head. In This Corner of the World, though rife with tragedy, is ultimately a heartwarming tale of Suzu’s prevailing love and healing hands.

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A Hero at Home: Suzu Urano

Characterized as tiny, optimistic, and a bit aloof at times, Suzu Urano goes through great lengths to help in anyway she can, even if her assistance comically ends up backfiring in the end. She’s also incredibly creative, shown in both her beautiful landscape sketches and paintings, as well as when she wields her knowledge of samurai food rationing to construct some, at the very least, “interesting” dishes. Her artistic talents act as a sort of sanctuary for her, and it is through her simple yet gorgeous works that she meets many new friends and even potential lovers. But like all artistic endeavors, chores come first, and slowly you start to see the hobbies that she once did for herself fade away to make room for aiding the family.

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On top of working her hardest around the house (her efforts eventually exceeding those of everyone around her), Suzu is a girl, a soon-to-be-woman who undergoes all of the same treatments that Japanese women received during the 1900s. From stricter expectations in the kitchen and household to family-controlled courtship, rarely is Suzu the master of her own fate. Yet somehow, Suzu makes the best of what is given to her, for merely being allowed to experience the tranquility and joys of everyday life in Kure is enough to give her hope and purpose. Honestly, what a woman!

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Suzu only speaks out once or twice in the entire film—remember, this is a film that chronicles Suzu’s ENTIRE life! She many not be honest to herself all the time, frequently disregarding her own happiness and well-being for the sake of her family and her nation’s pride, but Suzu knows how to fight the good fight, as well as when to keep pushing on through the toughest of hardships. Between watching her frugal attempts at fitting in with her husband’s family, her struggle to adjust to life in Kure, and the tragedies of war she later encounters, it feels as if you physically and emotionally cannot go through as much heartache that is thrust upon her and make it out ok. Yet Suzu manages to bandage up her scars and continue making herself useful to everyone. The warmth she brings to the war-torn world embodies the purest light of hope in a time of darkness.

Visually, the Softest Movie I’ve Ever Seen

“It was like Studio Ghibli meets the Peanuts and together they talk about some pretty serious stuff.” This was my immediate reaction to the film which I posted on Twitter, and I still stand by these words now. The backgrounds are painted so smoothly, giving off an immense sense of ease, and the magical watercolor touch just feels so right. Even the characters, for a lack of a better word, look so . . . “soft.” There’s a lack of detail in their physical features, but it’s their sometimes cute, sometimes sorrowful mannerisms and words that convey their true characters. Seeing characters this adorable almost feels wrong for the tone of the film’s second half where the air raids become prominent, but it somehow works altogether as one moving, breathing, snapshot of history.

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(If you watch the special feature clip “Hiroshima & Kure: Then & Now,” you’ll understand how and why it all looks so historically accurate; the attention to detail in re-creating several destroyed sites where famous architecture once stood was very commendable.)

The luscious animation is accompanied by equally gentle music, as kotringo’s (Rieko Miyoshi) soundtrack matches perfectly with the tone. At times uplifting, other times more tender or melancholic, tracks like “Kanashikute Yari Kirenai” or my personal favorite, the ED theme “Migite no Uta (みぎてのうた)” provide lovely messages to live by: “Even in this painful and broken world, there IS hope.”

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Learn From Fiction: Heartwarming Tenderness Comes From How We Live

It is stories like Suzu Urano’s that give us all the fuzziest feelings of contentment and comfort. But like all stories, they eventually end, and once they’re over, the books get placed back on the shelves, and the DVDs and Blu-rays are ejected from their players. And that’s it. It’s all just entertainment, anyway.

*If you’ve ever thought this, then you completely missed the point as to why certain works even exist in the first place.

All fiction is written with messages, no matter how significant or insignificant. With the case of In This Corner of the World, it’s to showcase the tragedies of war firsthand, and the devastation that comes with violence. That should’ve been apparent from the synopsis alone. Looking deeper, we can understand more big takeaways from the film:

  • Hardships exist everywhere—someone is always struggling
  • Protect family, for without it we are fundamentally alone
  • Gender roles can limit individuals from reaching their full potential
  • The youth of today ARE our future
  • With destruction comes the joy of rebirth
  • By rebuilding from the ground up, we build a stronger foundation than the one before it
  • Make the most of your life—you only get one, and it goes by incredibly fast
  • WE ALL have the choice to be happy or sad, rude or nice—live the way you want to
  • Be thankful for what the earth provides, and what you can do for it in return
  • And lastly, to quote The End of Evangelion, “Anywhere can be paradise, so long as you have the will to live”

Just LOOK AT ALL OF THOSE THINGS I CAME UP WITH. And that only took me a couple minutes of reflection.

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History will always be our greatest teacher

Authors, directors, artists, musicians—Creators improve on what skills they already have in order to teach us invaluable lessons about the human experience. They have the power to take all the world’s evil and tell us that life can be incredible, so long as we don’t repeat history’s mistakes. Don’t just watch a film: enjoy what it is trying to show you. Don’t just read a book: revel in the messages left in-between the lines. Take what you learn and monopolize on it! Essentially, BE the good in the world!

In This Corner of the World presents the catastrophic effects of humanity’s cruelty, savagery, and barbarity—yes, absolutely. But it also exists to tell us that through the ashes, we can rebuild; that we can be kind to others, even if they treat us harshly; that most of all, we have the choice to see the good in this wild, wicked, unfair world.

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As a race, we have this terrible tendency to appear on the wrong side of history (if you know what I mean). The title In This Corner of the World refers to both Suzu’s tiny Kure house on the hill AND a state of harmony achieved by acknowledging and balancing the positives and negatives that life throws at us. A heartbreaking historical ballad for those we have wronged, and the terrible things we have done, In This Corner of the World is here to say that life goes on, and that as long as we try to understand one another, hope and a warm heart will always allow us to move forward.

We can love. We can rebuild. We can move on. But we’ll never truly forget.

There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self. – Aldous Huxley


This can be a hard film to watch, but it all depends on how seriously you decide to take it. It has several comedic points of value in it, as well as a very cute presentation style, but don’t let those two aspects close you off from In This Corner of the World‘s subtle brilliance and emotional depth. As a powerful, touching work of art, this film is awarded the “Caffe Mocha” seal of approval, a rating for those special titles that I consider to be a must-watch!

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This concludes my December 20th entry in the OWLS “Warmth” blog tour. Arria Cross of Fujinsei went right before me and expressed her sincere gratitude to all of her fellow readers, bloggers, and OWLS members in one emotional, heartwarming post. Now, look out for fellow aniblogger LitaKino (Lita Kino Anime Corner) with a surprise celebratory birthday video this Friday, December 22nd! Thank you so much for reading, from my first OWLS post in January to here at the end—I do hope you have enjoyed them, as I do really, really like writing them! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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THIS IS WHY WE CAN (NOT) REDO | Comprehensive Review

Here lie my thoughts on the 2012 anime film “Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo,” also known as “Evangelion Theatrical Edition: Q Quickening,” produced by Studio Khara and Gainax, original story by Hideaki Anno. Specifically, this is a bit of a review, analysis, and diatribe . . . thing . . . over FUNimation Entertainment’s February 2nd, 2016 release of the prolonged English dub and translation. Be forewarned, we breech SPOILER TERRITORY, and this post will be rather lengthy and out-of-the-ordinary in comparison to my typical reviews. This compilation will (not) be for everyone, clearly, but if thus far you have enjoyed the musings of Takuto the host as a person, do consider taking the time to carefully read. I would greatly appreciate it.

While my Eva celebration concluded a week ago, I held off on this review. It’s not only hard to talk about from a statistical standpoint, but difficult to pass judgement on an emotional level. I think I’m finally ready to wrap this up, though. No spoiler, I enjoyed myself. However, my voicing of CONCERN for a franchise has NEVER been stronger than what is contained below – And I watched PMMM: Rebellion! For both of us to navigate this wasteland of crushed dreams and abundant thoughts, I’ll be dividing this into sections. Read parts of it, all of it, just the end, none of it – Whatever you’d like.

CG Evas never weighed so little! Also, best soundtrack to date!

This’ll be the easiest area to cover, as the quality of the Rebuild continues to impress. The dynamic perspectives in space, the desolate tone of old NERV HQ, the unbelievable action sequences, that godly piano scene, oh my!! I only hope that the last film (whenever it gets here, *sigh*) doesn’t rely so heavily on CG mapping because seriously, the entire first third of the series (which really feels like its own episode) is all CG, save for the characters. It’s not a bad thing, per say (the Mark.04’s last form looks like a shitty CG fan blade and the Wunder, Misato’s flagship not only lacks explanation for its abilities, but also looks dorky), I just remember when the Evas had so many moving CG parts and details, and now just a black line down the middle can replace that? Um, no. Also, not sure how I feel about the sharper face designs.

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Yeah . . . ten-year-old me might have been a fan, but now . . . 

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Unit-08 in the trailer in 2.22

 

What we actually got in 3.33. Yeah, it sucks.

This was from the trailer (not that we should trust them anymore) for the last film. Doesn’t it look kinda ugly?

And why are they now weightless?? Giant robots are flyin’ all over the place towards the end looking like sprinting drunk fools. Also, do you remember when beast mode was a special thing only Shinji could do in NGE and 1.11? Well, not only can Mari do it (2.22) but so can Asuka now *facepalms*. Is best mode just a gimmick now, because it’s not even cool, neither does it make sense. The animation otherwise is absolutely stunning, and I mean that with every sense of the word! I still hope Khara is saving the good stuff for last . . .

Shiro Sagisu has done it again, that is, knock the atmosphere of EVANGELION OUT OF THE PARK!!! This was probably my favorite part of the entire film, his epic and otherworldly soundtrack elevating the stakes on every scene. While I love the reprisal of his old stuff, his new pieces, full orchestra or melancholic piano, are not something to cast aside. “The Ultimate Soldier,” “The Wrath of God in All its Fury,” “God’s Gift,” and “Scarred and Battled” are all bone-chilling masterpieces. They add SO MUCH to the movie! While at first I was very disappointed with Hikaru Utada’s new ending theme “In the End (or Sakura Nagashi), as the anticipation from the first two blew me away, I have come to delight in this change of pace. As for the English dub, it too is excellent! Not sure why a translation took so long, but hey, the acting is wonderful, and it’s so great to hear Allison Keith as Misato and Tiffany Grant as Asuka once again.

Not the world we thought we knew: Reintroduction and Basic Summary

Following the cataclysmic Third Impact initiated by Shinji Ikari at the end of 2.22, 14 years of undefined strife have passed, leaving the Earth stained red. SEELE, revealed to be nearly crippled by mysterious attempts behind the scenes, has entrusted “World’s Best Dad” Gendo Ikari to carry out the remaining mission of returning mankind to a world free of human suffering and sin: Instrumentality. But Dr. Ikari has anticipated this, and instead proceeds with his own selfish plan of using the Evas to eradicate God in return for a reunion with his wife, Yui, who is revealed to be “trapped” inside the purple Unit-01.

Not all of the adults were very pleased with NERV’s true motives, however, and as a result Wille was born out of the crimson fires of rebellion. Headed by Misato, Ritsuko, three familiar NERV faces, and some new recruits, this “Will” is the only remaining organization fighting for the People.

While a decade and a half has transformed everyone around him (the “Curse of the Evas” preventing Mari and Asuka from physically aging, though), Shinji remains the same old idiot brat. He clearly still hates himself, and, upon hearing that he is no longer useful to anyone he loved AND that he failed to save his beloved Rei, fleets in anguish and rage.

Upon returning to old NERV headquarters, the third child encounters SEELE’s boy, Kaworu Nagisa. The majority of the film develops their intimate relationship, but when even more lies and secrets sneak their way out, Shinji once again mentally teeters on the brink of destruction, setting the stage for the beginning of the end of humanity.

The first ten minutes were fascinating – that space battle entranced me and left me dazed! What was so promising, however, became unexplained motives just for SHOCK VALUE. I wasn’t digging the Wunder or any of Wille’s musings at all simply because I don’t recognize anyone there! I can’t sympathize with something that has no feelings for its viewer! After, when we return to Shinji at NERV, things get a little more interesting but continue without regard to us watching. It was a deadly cycle of WTF after WHY?

This is how felt.

3.33 is set in a world gone to shit. Our favorite mentally-disturbed NERV-lings now grit their teeth and point guns at each other. I understand wanting to shock the individual through Shinji’s dusty reopened eyes, but there is a difference between sudden character development and dun-dun-dun PLOT TWIST. The tonal shift is absolutely effective, but everything just feels wrong with this movie. It’s as if I’m stuck in the worst dream of my life, yet waking up is impossible not because I’m trapped, but because this intangible hope still fascinates me; an urge to scratch an itch.

Despite my love for its previous “Angel of the week” setup and watching the robots fight, Evangelion has always been more than that – It’s an assessment of the human condition, how we cope with loss, and the relationship between troubled individuals . . . With the Rebuild, I almost have to discard both of these beliefs because, after reading the pamphlet the set came with, it read:

“Volume 3 plunges headlong into unknown territory as it presents the viewers with unconventional plot twists that they never could have imagined. At the same time, it brings together all the story elements as “Shinji Ikari’s Story.”

That second bit could possibly explain the entirety of this new direction. It’s “Shinji Ikari’s Story” now, not necessarily being about the others. Shinji’s new development is much less noisome compared to the original. That might be a plus for some, but for others (NGE fans) the choices he makes and the unexpected backbone grown feels even more disconnected than before. He’s suddenly able to save chicks and initiate Third Impact just by going berserk, which makes NO SENSE considering that Third Impact is a ritual of sorts contained with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then you want us to believe that Third Impact was prevented, yet it still managed to destroy the world?? What the hell?! 3.33 is more emotionally invested at the cost of its linear storytelling built by the first two films, and that investment is totally dependent on ridiculously high stakes timed with over-the-top action sequences – NOT character mentality. I want my real characters with real problems back, not heroes saving princesses.

Familiar faces . . . or are they?

I’ll get right to it. I hate this new Misato. The Misato that we’ve come to love from the previous two films would have understood Shinji and tried to comfort him like a mother. At the end of 2.22, she even remarks that he shouldn’t care about the rest of them or the world. “Do what you think is right” coaching. The only subtlety of her kindness is when she refuses to detonate the DSS choker around Shinji at the end of the first third. That part makes sense, but THAT’S ABOUT IT. It doesn’t help when she, being a main character in the first two films, gets a combined 5 minutes of screen time, if that. I despise those who keep comparing this series to the original, but we were cheated out on the beautiful relationship between Kaji and Misato. It was one of my favorite moments from the show that dives into the complex mind of NERV’s bossy gal.

And Ritsuko, HOLY GOD WHERE IS YOUR HAIR?!?! Like Misato and the rest of the crew, no explanations as to what occurred during that 14-year gap were given. In the original series, this would’ve been the point when Ritsuko fought with her past – her mother. While the absence of Misato and Ritsuko’s stories isn’t world-crushing for fans of the original series, it would be such a disappointment for someone who only knows of the Rebuild. At this point, Misato and Ritsuko are just hot husks for shock value, and that makes me cry.

Don’t even get me started with Asuka and Mari. At this point, they’re both in it just to say they were in it. Asuka is mad at Shinji and continues to bring the best fights in the entire franchise. Wow, that’s new. Had I only watched the Rebuild, I wouldn’t have even thought that she suffered from acceptance issues by her mother, and that the Eva is the only way of showing how awesome she is. Want to know why? BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW IT! It’s that stupidly simple!

And Mari, oh poor Mari. She gets 2 minutes of screen time standing in the background sniping things that DIDN’T MATTER IN THE SITUATION. She’s clearly back up for Asuka at this point, but god is she unappreciated. Also, her psychologic state receives zero background, adding nothing new here. It only adds fuel to the fiery debate that Mari is pink fan-service that serves no purpose in the Rebuild. Is it sad that I’m starting to side with them? I feel disoriented with the Rebuild’s characters, much like Asuka spinning around in the dark loneliness of space.

As for Touji’s sister Sakura and the other old/new recruits? Either give us more than 10 minutes of Wille interactions or don’t add them at all. To quote the new Misato, “You do nothing.” Interestingly, for as much that explodes in our faces, 3.33 is the shortest film in the series. Would 20 extra minutes of integral building on Asuka, Misato, Mari and the others have helped the movie? You bet your sweet ass. This is yet another reason why I feel so cheated on by 3.33.

. . . Rei fans? Not anymore . . .

Ignorance of the hedgehog

SHINJI IS FOR ONCE A RELATABLE CHARACTER. If you woke up after a 14-year-long coma and everyone wanted to wring your neck – yet not tell you why – How angry and disoriented would you feel?? Shinji has every right to storm out of the Wunder. Wille did NOTHING to better the situation. By leaving Shinji in the dark then getting mad at him and scolding him, of course he’d be sick of it all! He didn’t intend to destroy the world, let alone do it a second time at the end. Why doesn’t someone inform him? Kaworu tried, but he’s too cryptic for Shinji to understand. Fuyutsuki told him about his mom, but this information only explains Gendo’s motives – NOT what he has done “wrong” as a human.

Finding love in a war-torn world, A “fanfiction come to life?”

Sittin’ in the cock . . . pit.

That’s right you KawoShin fans, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. The film takes on the emotional side of the franchise, especially the pinnacle of Shinji’s depression: The rejection of others and the loss of a dear friend. 3.33 invests more emotional build up through this pairing and the opposition that Shinji is once again faced with, though this time feeling more artificial. In a world where no one will accept Shinji for whom he is anymore, seeking refuge with a new-found friend was the happiest thing for me. I was ready for the movie to end when they were tangled up in the magic of music, THE MOST beautiful scene in the entire movie in terms of emotion – I dare say of the entire Rebuild. I fangirled HARD. Kaworu filled the holes (in more ways than one *wink*) left after everyone’s betrayal and gave the first child a purpose for still living. More than that, he gave Shinji a friend. He needed that. The DSS choker, bearing the weight of sin, is taken by Kaworu, which signifies that atonement can be achieved through hope. “What was caused by an Eva can be fixed by an Eva.”

The HOPE for rebirth is out there . . .

I read a comment on YouTube a few days ago:

“Don’t worry Shinji, Rei’s got your Walkman, Asuka’s got your hand, Mari’s got your back, and between them they’ll eventually talk Misato around.”

The only problem with this is lovely statement is that in order for Shinji to cope with his depression in this route, the radio has to be left behind. It is, in short, the unwillingness to open up; the grudge against a cruel world and his father; a pact with solitude. I have a strong feeling that we won’t be hearing the next track in that same old player – It’ll be something new and full of hope because it HAS to be. 3.33 leaves us with Shinji, Asuka, and Rei (no Mari, see, even Anno doesn’t care anymore) ready to traverse the bloodstained wasteland. By themselves. No one else. This is very exciting!

The Rebuild has given up on coping with issues like depression and loss. That much is clear. Instead, it goes for a more conventional theme: Hope. 3.33 ends with neither closure nor satisfaction, and that is very frustrating. If EVERYTHING is explained and built upon in the fourth installment, then cool, this is a masterpiece. But that is highly unlikely. The Rebuild doesn’t need to look back at this point. The stage is set for the final act, and its heading is definitely fixated forward. In its third chapter, we were thankful that the ROE was focusing all of its energy on cohesively developing its main character, “Shinji Ikari’s Story.” Sadly, this comes at the incredible cost of its other leads and a cohesive plot. I fear more than anything that these great sacrifices and risks won’t be worth it.

Consider me shocked and impressed, but I’m not at all comfortable with these new developments quite yet. The Rebuild of Evangelion is still in the closet (with this film, in more ways than one). Not a whole lot was accomplished, as yet another step in Gendo Ikari’s ever-expanding, world-deconstructing plan was fulfilled, and it only leaves us on another verge as to what will ‘impact’ us next. Though it has blinded us with myriad shades of red, it has yet to show us its true colors. What will unfold? Only God knows.

– Takuto, your host

Cafe Talk #1: Movie Theater Madness!?

Mina-san, konbanwa ~

Welcome to the first Cafe Talk, a new segment to my Anime Cafe where I pretty much chat about anything that I want to – hopefully interesting and engaging conversation, though! Unlike my reviews, I literally have no structure for this bit, so here we go! 😀

Every summer, my siblings and I like to get together and do lots of fun, youthful activities, whether it’s playing cards, games, drawing, etc. Two years ago, our little games were starting to get old, and it seemed like there was absolutely nothing else to do but browse the web – a rising pastime. Now, a year prior to this, I stumbled upon anime, and was slowly yet secretly watching some in my free time – my greatest private haven!

Without knowing how the others would react, I bravely proposed that “I have a couple of shows I think you guys would like, are you interested?” We’re all teens that had lived up Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Sailor Moon, so I thought, “What the hell, ya know?” What’s the worst that could happen?

I printed up a schedule, lined up the shows, started my first anime collection, printed posters of each show, “advertised,” and finally, the day came – the first showing of the 2013 Summer Movie Theater. How would they react? Was my secret hobby too much/not worthy of them? *Gulp, sweat beads*

They loved all of it. Every single show.

Since then, I have been showing them more and more anime through my seasonal theaters, summer being a slew of shows with fall and winter receiving one overly-hyped title each. As silly as it sounds, it was successful, ridiculously fun, and most of all, I stepped out of the looming shadow of my love for anime – I was accepted by others, sure, siblings, but for nobody knowing to now my whole family – whew!

Now marks the third summer movie theater, and though budget problems arise, I’ve managed to pull together a pretty solid set:

Act One – Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, Yamada’s First Time, Log Horizon, and The Devil is a Part-Timer!

Act Two – Psycho-Pass, Rebuild of Evangelion 1.11 & 2.22, A Certain Magical Index II (with Endymion movie), and Puella Magi Madoka Magica (with Rebellion movie)

The Raildex universe is always featured towards the finale of our theaters, as it just feels like a great way to end the summer. But otherwise, what do you think? Is that a good lineup or what!?

Did you ever bond with your siblings like this? Yeah, we’re dorks with our business-like format and all, but hey, we have a great time! How did you “come out” as an anime fan? Was it just a small hobby of yours or did you come out with a bang like I did? Also, what do you think of Cafe Talk? Comment below – I love hearing from you guys! Tickets are on sale now :P, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance. Review

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that Evangelion is much more than a robot fight . . .

The Evangelion franchise holds a very biased but special connection with me, for reasons unknown. I get thrilled by the interesting story, the amazing action, and especially, I love the characters. But what happens when one of my favorite series throws a world of hurt on my favorite character? I get angry, and 2.22 did me in.

Leaving off from the first film, 2.22 centers on four psychologically-damaged teens that pilot synthetic humanoid robots called Evangelions, where their mission is to protect mankind from the wrath of the heavens. On the horizon looms a secret organization that plans to initiate the Third Impact, which will somehow destroy the world.

Possibly one of the best anime openers I’ve seen, the film kicks off with two new Eva pilots taking out two new Angels. These couple of introductory fights really draw the viewer back into the chaotic world where mass destruction became commonplace.

All of the intense Angel clashes are exhilarating, as execution timed with high stakes makes for desperate situations that are completely entertaining in all aspects. You can’t  simply call it a Rebuild anymore, as Studio Khara has outdone themselves by completely transforming a beloved series into a dazzling spectacle. Evangelion will be around for a while, and these Rebuild films make it cut in stone. Animation of architecture is clean-cut, the CG Evas and Angels are terrifyingly gorgeous, and the characters stand out wonderfully against the detailed, digitally remastered world.

The movie rolls along smoothly between fights, developing Shinji and Rei’s relationship in a quicker and more delicate manner than the original series. Possibly because a lot of their uninteresting scenes are taken out, I definitely like the Rebuild‘s Rei over NGE‘s. Shinji and Rei’s characters act much more natural, allowing personal growth and maturity to take its roots earlier on. I mean, boy-wonder makes a couple decisions for himself and quiet girl grows emotions – it’s already miles ahead of their original status!

Then there’s the mysterious Mari, a character who, despite not knowing much about, adds a new enjoyable level to Evangelion. The fun fourth pilot reveals she fits the pattern for traumatized individuals when she brutally forces control over a transformed Eva Unit 02 towards the end, a gruesome scene so aggressive that it still stuns me now! It’s interesting to note, however, that she’s always in full control, never once letting the Eva take her over instead. This one intriguing difference sets her piloting abilities above the Second Child, whom I’ll talk about next.

Here’s where I really hate 2.22 and what they did. First off, Asuka’s name has been changed from Asuka Langley Soryu to Asuka Langley Shikinami – it just doesn’t sound very German anymore, which she is. Second, Asuka is known for her dominating attitude and brash, “high and mighty” sass-talk. They reaffirmed that, which was awesome, but they took out a scene where Asuka, speaking in German, answers a call from her home. It was a small yet memorable scene from NGE that created my love and interpretation for one of my favorite anime characters EVER. She’s still an ass to everyone, yes indeed, but she doesn’t feel like the same Asuka I came to love from the original.

*Spoiler Rant Ahead*

The true “break” starts when Asuka test pilots the new Eva Unit 06, rather than Shinji’s friend Touji. If you remember NGE, Unit 06 ascends into the next Angel, which Shinji must kill – pilot included. So when Asuka gets brutally crushed and torn to pieces (shortly after she was revealed to be still alive), I WAS FURIOUS! Never have I ever seen something in anime so insulting that left me more enraged than this gut-wrenching horror scene. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes to see Asuka ripped to sh*t like this, and it didn’t help that the calm child folk song “Tsubasa wo Kudasai,” sung by Megumi Hayashibara, was the only thing you could hear. Well, that and the screams.

Rebuild 2.22′s ultimate climax invokes similar feels to Instrumentality in The End of Evangelion. The film even has its own relaxing slow song “Komm, süsser Tod” scene infamous to Hideaki Anno’s work, where chaos, death, and transcendence has never looked so beautiful yet depressing. Ending the film is an acoustic version of Utada Hikaru’s “Beautiful World,” which is a reprise of 1.11’s ending. Such a fitting trance song ~

As much as I abhorred the abuse of Asuka in this film, I can’t help but admire the fact that an anime made me feel something so powerful and emotional. Because Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance managed to rip at my heartstrings, provided top-notch animation quality, and proceeded with its own continuation of a spectacular series, I must award the film a 5/5 in the entertainment category. The Rebuild rekindles my mind and emotions, and most of all, it reminds me why I fell in love with Evangelion in the first place. Though it is not the same mindset, it is still the same, great Evangelion.

+ Stunning, crisp animation, most effective CG

+ Improved character development, great new additions

+ Music adds to film, interesting insert songs

+ “Break” route proves a masterful addition to the franchise

– Asuka swap with Touji is inconceivable

– Song that plays during Unit 06 scene could have been more epic

– It’s only another movie in the series, still needs an ending

There! I’m finished with my Evangelion experience until 3.33 comes out, which it better this year cause it’s 2015! You should immediately pick up 1.11 and 2.22, as they are fairly cheap, house cool extras about the animation, and are both dubbed by FUNimation, who knows exactly how to execute an English dub! I recommend the Rebuild series to fans of NGE, individuals who are exploring the mech genre, and to those looking for something that’ll rack your brain. This film was an exhilarating, surprising, and brutal follow-up – I Was (Not) Disappointed! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host