Here’s What I Got From the ARIA Kickstarter!

Hi there! How are you doing?

A couple weeks ago my life was super hectic (and it still somewhat is), but right when my ARIA Kickstarter backer awards had arrived on my doorstep in a big unsuspecting package, you already know that my week only got better from there. I had torn into the unusually large RightStuf box and immediately plugged in the first Blu-ray to hear new English dub (which is fantastic BTW).

Suddenly, I found myself at ease with everything that was going on in my life at the time, and I spent the next couple of relaxing nights enjoying the rippling canals of Neo Venezia and the charming allure of the acoustic guitar. From the tender voice cast (well, maybe except for Aika, teehee) to the slow-moving episodic nature of Aria‘s storytelling, I briefly covered my thoughts on Aria‘s healing qualities in my September OWLS post. You can check it out here in case you missed it (and yes, I’ll be getting around to answering your comments, I swear!)

Anyway, you’re probably just here to see all the neat stuff I got as a backer of Nozomi’s Kickstarter campaign, so on to the goodies!

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Starting with the box, here’s an image of the slipcover (O-card?) and the chipboard box. Although the design for the slipcover is, like, really basic, I feel it better represents the show than all the loud, bright, and colorful character art we’ve seen again and again. Don’t get me wrong, I love ALL of Aria‘s art, but not every episode of the series is as cheery as its characters. Sometimes the clouds roll in, the sea lulls, and the characters have to deal with the stirring emotions in their hearts. (Speaking of, the last time I did one of these was way back during NIS America’s A Lull in the Sea release, another excellent sea-side title to make LitaKino jealous, might I add, haha!)

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And here’s the backside of each. While the slipcover is a little flimsy for my liking, what with being just a piece of cardstock wrapped around a sturdy chipboard box, I’m glad that the release came with it anyway. IDK, it just completes the clean, simple aesthetic that I live for. Also, I believe someone mentioned that the art on the chipboard box was created just for this release, which would explain why the characters look so darn good compared to some of the older artwork out there. Not sure if that’s true, but I love the complimentary orange and brown sunsets against the solid aquatic blue sea!

Man, they sure did go overboard in making sure this box was covered in art! That’s alright–I’m a sucker for background art anyway. Here are the top and side spines respectively, and they continue to contrast wonderfully with their bright orange and yellow hues against the rich blue exterior and logo.

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This is the paper insert for the first Blu-ray of Aria, which contains the entire first series—Aria The Animation—on three discs that mirror the basic cover design. It features the three lovely ladies that comprise the main cast of this first season. I appreciate the full image wrap around design, as well as how the art includes more of Neo Venezia’s gorgeous architecture. Once the other seasons are finished, this’ll be one nice set with wonderful continuity in its design!

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And here’s the interior, AKA the art you see when you open the case. Set against gray clouds and the first snowfall of the season, this art perfectly depicts how the series concludes with the onset of the wintry New Year’s celebration.

IMG_7474.jpg The set also contains 5 art cards featuring poster art for each season (designated on the back) and a sticker set. Not sure what I’ll do with the stickers, but it’s nice to get artwork not only for the first season, but the other ones to come—you can see the quality increase as the years go on (not to say that any of this art is weak)!

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We’ve also got a blue and white Aria-themed stationary set and a mug. While they’re not necessarily physical extras that I desire, the mug is really nice, and currently it’s being used to hold business cards and letters from artists I’ve purchased from either on Twitter or at conventions! (Also psyched because the simplistic design I voted for won!)

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We’re not done yet, though—for some reason, patches are still a thing, so the set includes the logos for the three main gondola companies, as well as magnets for each company’s feline mascot. Again, not sure what to do with these, haha, but I’m glad the patches are logos and not characters. As for the magnets, hmmm, I’m sure I can find something metal to stick them to. 😛

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Last but not least is this: the giant-ass lithograph. You see, when I first pledged for this award, I assumed that the numbered lithograph would be the size of your standard art card, much like most limited edition releases have. Well, Aria and Nozomi Entertainment are both exceptionally extra, and art this gorgeous couldn’t just stay rolled up in a cardboard tube and abandoned in my closet. Soooo, I cleared off my wall and framed it, and you know what, it looks pretty damn official, doesn’t it?

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Although the print doesn’t have as high a color contrast as it should to properly show off the vibrant, sparkling blue water, it’s still nice to have something that is exclusive—it’s one more thing that makes paying like $200 worth it as a backer. And 1555/1600? Nice!

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So here’s everything that came in the package! This DOES NOT include the big fancy hardback art book, as well as the first part of the second season: Aria The Natural. Those will be shipped as soon as they’re completed, and if you’d like, I can probably review the art book and give you a glimpse into all that it contains once it arrives (EXCITED!). But yeah, if you pledged for Nozomi’s Kickstarter of Aria The Animation at the Prima Plus tier, this is exactly what you would’ve gotten! As a bonus, I’ve listed my real name in the on-disc credits (the backer wall), so good luck searching for me once the standard release is ready to be sold!

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2,648 backers pledged $595,676 to help bring this project to life, and I’m stoked to have been a part of this little slice of anime history. Nozomi did SUCH a nice job updating us via campaign emails, including pre- and post-production notes, videos from the Englisih VAs, and mini clips of the dubbing process—and to think it’s not even halfway done yet since they’ve still got season three and the OVAs to go! Personally, I found it more enticing than the Escaflowne campaign by Funimation if you participated in that, NAMELY because the actors felt more like friends we helped support rather than “stars.” Maybe that’s just me, but regardless, I’ve enjoyed both campaigns, and I’ve already set out for the next one—Emma: A Victorian Romance!

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Did you participate in the Aria Kickstarter, and if so, how far did you pledge, and what did you think about it? Let me know! If you’ve got any thoughts on the backer awards or campaign itself, we can talk about it in the comments together! Again, in case you missed it, you can read about how I took life slowly with Aria in my OWLS post. You guys have no idea how much I appreciate each and every comment, like, share, and conversation we have, even if it does seem like I’m MIA all the time. I’ve got some more posts planned, including thoughts about the Summer Simulcast season, as well as some other anime-related experiences, and I’m looking forward to sharing those with you as well. Thanks so much for reading, and until next time this has been

– Takuto, your host

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Takuto’s 2015 RightStuf Holiday Haul #3

Evening all! I realize that this 2015 haul is a little late (“so last year” yadda yadda), but gifts are always better late than never, am I right?! Because the sale is over, I will not be posting links. Don’t let that stop you from browsing for these neat titles, though! Alrighty, here we go!

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches Volumes 3 and 4 (manga)

I haven’t actually started this series, but after winning a mini YouTube giveaway (FIRST TIME EVER WINNING), I received the first two novels of this bewitching franchise. Supposedly it’s a really great rom-com or something of the sorts, and I plan to start reading . . . whenever I find the time 😛

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Redline on Blu-ray

Oh dang, y’all, it’s mutha-flippin’ Redline. I think I had busted into this high-energy film the night after I got it and remember loving every single frame of it. This was a recommended pick up by Gigi from Animepalooza, and boy she wasn’t wrong when saying you shouldn’t miss out on Redline! Whew! What a ride! Both this title and the two manga volumes were courteous Christmas gifts from my sister, so thanks girl!

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Danganronpa The Animation on Blu-ray/DVD Limited Edition

You should probably know that I’ve been anticipating this physical release since I watched it over two years ago. Let’s also say that it was an oh~so rich and bloody reunion muahahaha! Despite the criticism it gets for being a short 13-episode adaptation of hit game, I still savor every bit of Danganronpa that I can. Every last drop. I also hit this one up ASAP and OMG the English dub is fantastic!! The shiny rainbow/pink film that coats the hard box and the beveled logo also makes for nice touches. I thought that FUNimation’s tamer LTD EDs were lacking recently – Not with this release! I only wish the cases themselves had art of locations in the show rather than 4 close-ups of a few characters. Oh well. This was a gift from my older brother, so nicely done, bruh!

The Rose of Versailles Parts 1 & 2 on DVD Limited Edition

Also another blind recommendation from Gigi, but I’m taking her word (and that of the community’s) that this is a must-watch shoujo masterpiece. I do love the French Revolution, though . . . I don’t dip into shoujo anything unless my sister is watching something, but when I watch shoujo – I WATCH SHOUJO. You’ll probably find me swooning over royalty and daydreaming by the window during class once I start watching this 🙂 This was the last “gift to myself” and I hope I’ll enjoy it as much as everyone else has!

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And there you have it! The end of my gift-receiving days has crouched upon us, and I will say that I spent quite a large sum of money this holiday season. No regrets – yet – but it was a fair amount between gifts for myself (LOL) and others. With the never-ending expansion of my collection only growing, I’ll now have several titles I can just pull off the shelf without having seen them – It’s like having an instant store right in my room where everything is free (kinda, not really, sorta)! Anyway, it’s been an incredibly busy week, returning to the “s” word and all, and hopefully I’ll find the time to push in a review. If it’s any consolation, I do have a draft of something in the works, even though it’ll probably turn out like dung >.< Haha, we’ll see, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Takuto’s 2015 RightStuf Holiday Haul #1

Konnichiwa minna-san! If you purchase anime or manga from RightStuf.com, you’ll probably know that their annual holiday sale cuts the prices of thousands of products just for us fans! Let’s just say I spent way too much . . . Today I have one of possibly two or even three anime/manga hauls, so let’s get to it (I’ll even leave you guys links in case you want to pick up these great titles yourself)!

ef – a tale of memories and ef – a tale of melodies on Blu-ray

First is the hit drama and its sequel that’ll bring you to tears. Ef was one of the first ten or so anime I ever watched, so you can only imagine how long I’ve been waiting to pick this up for a decent price. Being licensed and dubbed by Sentai Filmworks, both halves are normally $35-$45. In this exclusive sale, both halves can be purchased for just $14 each (DVD $12)! That’s $28 for two seasons on Blu-ray! If you don’t like having two collections, however, the recently released complete collection is $35 (DVD $28). Go get ef – You’ll only have emotional breakdowns for weeks after 🙂

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http://www.rightstufanime.com/ef-A-Tale-of-Melodies-Blu-ray-Complete-Collection-Hyb

http://www.rightstufanime.com/ef-A-Tale-of-Memories-Blu-ray-Complete-Collection-Hyb

Fate/stay night on DVD

I honestly never thought that I’d be purchasing stay night – EVER. I thought it was pretty boring, not bad, just boring. When I noticed that the complete DVD collection was selling for just $10 (Blu-ray $35), I JUMPED ON IT. Licensed and dubbed by Sentai Filmworks, you can own the beloved yet infamous 2006 anime for just $10!

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http://www.rightstufanime.com/Fate-Stay-Night-DVD-Complete-Collection-Hyb

Fate/ kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA on DVD

WHAT? More Fate for just $10?!? Apparently, and it, too, is complete with an English dub (Blu-ray $25)! I didn’t see myself wanting to own this wacky first-season spinoff either, but for the mere cost of two Starbucks drinks, it’s all yours. I’m starting to realize that coffee is incredibly expensive . . . good thing my digital coffee is FREE, haha!

http://www.rightstufanime.com/Fate-kaleid-liner-Prisma-Illya-DVD-Complete-Collection-Hyb

Girls und Panzer on DVD

While we’ve got the $10-DVD train rolling, here’s the famous “girls x giant-a$$ tanks” anime, or so I’ve heard. Anyway, it’s released by Sentai with an English dub (Blu-ray $25) and the $10-OVA collection is also on sale (Blu-ray $14)! I haven’t picked it up yet, but I probably will here soon. Go get yer some high school girls in a tank. A FREAKIN’ TANK.

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http://www.rightstufanime.com/Girls-und-Panzer-DVD-Complete-TV-Series-Hyb

Diamond Daydreams on DVD

I’m not really too into romance/dramas unless they have other elements to them, but here’s a little title that I know nothing about. Why’d I pick it up then? IT WAS $5. It was limited edition (well, it’s in a hard thin pack box), English dubbed, and only $5. GUYS – 5 freakin’ dollars! It also had a decent rating on MAL if that counts for anything. Whether it sucks or not, I still think it’s worth the ridiculously cheap price. I hardly ever blind-buy anime, especially one this obscure, but I’ve paid less on a burger than what I just paid here. Check it out before it’s gone!

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http://www.rightstufanime.com/Diamond-Daydreams-Complete-Collection-DVD-Hyb-Thinpak

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That’s all I’ve got for now. Pretty darn good deals, am I right? Whenever my next package arrives, I’ll post another haul post. I hope you enjoyed seeing what I picked up! Do you like anime hauls? Have you picked up any of the things I talked about? Let me know in them comments below, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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?

 

Sword Art Online Novel 02 Mini-Review & Chance to Win $50

Evening all,

For those who get the RightStuf.com emails, you would know that recently (or at least I noticed recently) that each month they apparently raffle off $50 as a giveaway incentive to those that write a review for a product in their store. All you need is an account (FREE and easy to make), but if you shop there regularly, then you probably already have one! All you have to do is follow their instructions that I’ve listed below. Be wary that there is a character limit – That bit me in the rump. Anyone can enter. Simple as that!

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I make this announcement because their system just caught wind of my Sword Art Online Novel 02: Aincrad Part 2 mini-review, and I had just double-checked to see if it was posted in their store. IT WAS! I can’t believe that I’ve just embedded myself into the RightStuf system, but I’ve done it, and there’s no going back – It’ll be there FOREVER muahahaha! If you’d like to check out my mini-review over the product, CLICK HERE. Maybe it’ll inspire you to pick it up yourself! I’d be overjoyed ^.^

But that’s all I’ve got for now. Stay tuned for a review of The Heroic Legend of Arslan or Sound of the Sky, whichever comes first! Who knows, maybe something else random will pop up and I’ll have to brag about it XD. Have a wonderful Friday tomorrow, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host