My Top 10 Long-Awaited U.S. Anime Releases from This Year| Blogmas 2017 Day 2

Hey everyone, welcome to day 2 of Blogmas, or as everyone else calls it, the “12 Days of Anime!” This year was pretty BIG for us anime collectors in the states; several titles that had gone unlicensed for the looooongest time were FINALLY license-rescued and saw physical releases this year. Most were given that Blu-ray touch for the first time ever, and some even lucked out by getting an English dub, despite the YEARS of neglect. That’s pretty awesome of them.

Particularly, from 2016 September to the earlier parts of 2017, Funimation led the rescue front, releasing long-awaited titles like Haruhi Suzumiya, Code Geass, The Vision of Escaflowne (via Kickstarter), and more. For this post, I’ll be highlighting my favorite titles that I picked up from this year alone. So yeah, these are my top 10 releases from least to most anticipated. Here we go!

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TOP 10 U.S. ANIME RELEASES IN 2017

Honorable Mention:   The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

This film needs no introduction, as it means A LOT to many, many, MANY fans out there. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, I have not seen Haruhi Suzumiya. BUT, I did manage to snag one of the last copies of the collector’s edition before they went out of stock, as well as a copy of this film when it came out. In other words, I’m saving it for one epic rainy day, but should I had seen it by now, I’m sure it would’ve been close to the top. GOD BLESS FUNI for saving this film and bringing it to Blu-ray with the rest of the franchise!

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This set’s simple red-lettered theme is to DIE for

#10  The Vision of Escaflowne

Escaflowne may have been my first Kickstarter I campaign to participate in, but it most certainly won’t be my last. Recorded over with a brand new English dub (I did try out the old one, wasn’t too big a fan), Escaflowne was a blind buy, and I have to say it was a pretty neat show. Surprisingly, I haven’t reviewed it yet, but maybe after I get around to the film I’ll just review the entirety of the franchise. While this limited edition Kickstarter exclusive box is fairly nice looking, it’s nothing compared to the gorgeous hand-drawn art style of the collector’s edition. At least the reverse covers make it look like a complete set.

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I showed the back side of the box because the front is the same as the little art pamphlet. It’s also cooler.

#9  Miss Hokusai

By far the oddest entry on this list that you will read, this film has some very odd history. To be fair, I hadn’t heard of this film before either—it wasn’t until I came across a English trailer on YouTube featuring Erica Lindbeck that I immediately put everything that I was doing now to rush and preorder it on Amazon. There was just an underlying charm or witty humor in its delightful trailer, and Erica’s brief yet strong and somehow resilient portrayal as the lead (presumably the titular Miss Hokusai at the time) was enough to convince me it was worth it. The film ended up being fairly good, nothing like a Ghibli film (though it’s not really fair to compare like that). I think a second rewatch would have allowed me to place it higher up on this list.

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MAH GURL, KILLIN’ IT

#8  Code Geass: Akito the Exiled

Ever since I heard that more Code Geass existed—and it served to fill in events that took place during the series—I knew that Akito was a must. And though it doesn’t quite live up to the original’s masterful characterization and story (not even close, but it’s a tough show to beat), I did enjoy this little set of OVAs—the dub was pretty solid too, complete with accents! And ooh look, pretty art cards!

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Shin Godzilla was definitely a highly-anticipated release, but I’m just reusing pics here to save me time 🙂 

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#7  Sailor Moon Crystal Season II

Now, y’all already know that I love me some Sailor Moon, especially Crystal for its more accurate take on the manga’s rich story of betrayal and tragedy. Despite what anyone says about the CG animation or the ridiculously long legs, I still love Crystal, almost as much as the original; for me, both are necessary to bring out the depth of Usagi’s tale. That said, Crystal II was definitely a step down from the first. The plot was fine, accomplishing what took R +30 episodes in like 12, but the same main problem prevents Crystal from matching its predecessor—the characterization (particularly of the villains this time around) is incredibly weak. Aside from Usagi, Mamoru, and Chibiusa, there is very little time left for everyone else. I still love this saga, however, and I CANNOT wait to pick up Crystal III! The English dub is excellent for this one, BTW.

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The holographic finish on these Crystal covers is gorgeous—I only wish there was a consistent theme between all of them.

#6  Sailor Moon R The Movie

Anyone remember when this film was subtitled “Promise of the Rose” by Dic? Yeah, well I still call it that >.< and I have no regrets. Though a technically A-OK film, much of the nostalgia was lost with the removal of the English insert song “The Power of Love,” which I still jam to daily! The original Japanese song is, to be fair, still kickass. I didn’t get to witness R The Movie on the big screen like everyone else, but now I’ll be able to watch it whenever I like!

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I think this cover art was exclusively created for Viz’s release, so HUGE props to them on that cause it’s absolutely gorgeous.

#5  Sailor Moon S 

YASSSS SAILOR MOON S AND THE OUTER SCOUTS!!!! Of all the releases to come before it, this was the one I was most excited for—and boy did it live up to its reputation! You see, as a child, I watched this series on like 4 or 5 VHS tapes. Those tapes chronicled all of the Sailor Moon knowledge that I had, until I picked up Viz’s first release of it and watched the whole thing in sequential order. My childhood self was absolutely SHOOKETH to find out just how dark the real, uncensored story was. I’m still partially in disbelief at S‘s ending. But alas, the show goes on, and I cannot wait for SuperS in the spring!

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Viz’s other Sailor Moon DVD sets continue to look pretty bland, but at least they look nice together as a set.

#4  Your Name

Does this film even need an introduction? I mean, seriously, it was advertised like hell in 2016, and has been praised ever since. And you know what? It’s deserving of every good thing said about it. Now that I own the Blu-ray myself, I’ll elaborate more on this one in a review and theater experience coming up soon, heh heh heh. But for now, know that this one was a short, painful wait, yet one made all the more worth it because of the immediate NEED to experience it all over again.

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THE HOLOGRAPHIC FINISH ON THE SLIP COVER IS EVERYTHING. I tweeted my reaction to this surprise and Funimation retweeted it, causing it to blow up to 200 likes in one day. I’m famous now.

#3  Steins;Gate The Movie – Load Region of Deja Vu

In terms of looooong-awaited releases, this entry is hard to beat. I’m a huge Steins;Gate boy. In fact, it’s in my top 5 favorite anime of all time. When the film first came out in Japan, of course I -illegally- streamed it somewhere on the internet, and I have no regrets for doing so, as little did I know that it would not see a U.S. release for FOUR YEARS. Well, after a little bit of time travelin’ myself, four years are up, and now I can relive—what I like to believe is—one of the most perfect films to follow up an anime series. Long story short, I’m very happy to have this, and to FINALLY listen to J. Michael Tatum, Trina Nishimura, and the rest of the spectacular English dub in all their glory!

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I’m at a loss for words. The art parallels between this set and the series is just so damn clever.

#2  Hyouka 

We’re down to the last two—IT WAS SO HARD TO PICK. But of course it made a spot in the top five! Hyouka‘s lead, Oreki Houtarou, has been the face of this cafe for years now. That said, you can probably expect this to be one of the most celebrated releases for me in recent times. Hyouka was one of those Funimation license rescues that took FIVE years to get here. This is why, upon its announcement, that many thought the show would receive the sad DVD/sub-only treatment. Boy were we surprised. Not only would it get the Blu-ray combo pack special, but IT GOT A FREAKIN’ DUB. To make things even better, THE DUB IS FANTASTIC!!! (Sadly, there was no LTD ED box, but I made my own thanks to Simply Gee’s help, so we’re good I guess.) No words can honestly express my excitement, but there is still one title that deserves the real gold here . . .

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I was absolutely stunned with how much official artwork Funimation was able to obtain for these releases. Where they don’t have a cozy official box to slide into, the art more than makes up for it. Also, what do you think of my own DIY box? 😛

#1  Gosick

I watched this show in the spring of 2014. That’s three years ago, but it’s not as long as some fans have been waiting for. Gosick is SIX, almost SEVEN years old. SEVEN, and it had gone unlicensed for all this time. Some of you may argue that Hyouka is far better than Gosick, both as mystery shows and physical releases. And you know what, I kinda agree. But riddle me this: How much do you value the first anime you ever watched? Gosick is not that title, but it was one of the firsts that wowed me as a youngster—everything from the silly, lovable characters, the old-fashioned European atmosphere, and that EPIC ending theme that triumphantly rang at the end of each episode just enthralled me, it really did.

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And just like with Hyouka, holy crap—Funi was able to get like every single cover from the Japanese releases, and used them in a practical way that features all at once. I JUST LOVE THIS SO MUCH. (Also, another homemade box.) 

So here we are, so many years later, and so many anime have gone by since. On over 20 occasions, I was THIS close to just buying a bootleg of this series (heck, not sure how, but it supposedly even came with a soundtrack!). But I had faith, a near-unwavering faith that one day, however long it would take, someone would save this show. Once it left Crunchyroll a few years back, I had officially lost all ties with it—but I still carried my faith with me. And then Funimation finally lifted my prayers: “GOSICK Blu-ray/DVD English Dub & Sub COMING SOON.” That’s all it took to make this year awesome for me as a collector and a fan. Even though the dub is merely serviceable, I still have the sub; Even though it didn’t come with a fancy box to house the two parts, I made my own; EVEN THOUGH it took SIX YEARS to be rescued, it’s always better late than never.

God, I love Funimation. And for all these reasons and more, this why I love the exciting, unpredictable industry that is anime. 

(still praying for ya, Tales of Symphonia and Black Rock Shooter—you got this!)

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Let me know if you had any favorite anime releases from this year! Heck, I didn’t even get around to the magic happenin’ at Sentai lately (to be fair, I haven’t picked up their latest LTD EDs yet, though—still lookin’ at you, Haikyuu)! This wraps up Blogmas Day Two of the 12 Days of Anime! Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you all tomorrow!

– Takuto, your host

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Chill Season is Here | End of September Update 10/3/17

Hey everyone, what’s up? I did a header image thingy for an update! Like it?

Cool weather is finally here, ahh, yes, no more 100-degree F days. I’m in college now, in case you didn’t know that, and hey, I’m surviving (yay)! While I haven’t been utterly dumped with challenging homework yet, I am keeping busy, what with symphony orchestra and the long hours of practice that accompany it.

With all this “extra time,” I’ve done a lot of anime watching, some manga reading, and more posting. That’s always exciting. Now I have to get over the second slump—catching up on the millions of comments I’ve left unanswered. If I haven’t hunted you down in my posts yet, don’t worry, I will! I just need more energy within myself to keep the conversation going, and that can be tough. Blogging is a social sport, after all.

But slowly and steadily I am catching up. Painfully slowly, but it’s better than no progress at all. Anyway, let’s briefly check out what I’ve watched, read, and written within the past couple months!

RECENTLY FINISHED:

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Netoge: And you thought there is never a girl online?—I’ve finally signed up for a Funimation Now account, and this was one of the first shows I decided to watch. At the time, I was looking to satisfy simple needs: pretty characters, comedy, and a dash of nerd humor. And what do you know, Netoge was perfect for the job! I loved this show, and I’m not gonna lie, being able to stream a dub LEGALLY felt pretty good. This was my first time hearing Dallas Reid as Hideki “Rusian” Nishimura, and though I spent a lot of time deciding whether I liked him or not, I finally decided that if I kept needing to debate it, then he likely did a good job at it. We’ll likely hear A LOT more from Dallas Reid in upcoming dubs, I can just feel it. Anyway, fun show. Would watch more, but I likely won’t follow the novels.

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Saga of Tanya the Evil—After Netoge, I was craving something gritty, loaded with dark humor and kickass characters. Remembering Tanya from a couple seasons back as a big hit, I booted up the first episode on Crunchyroll and couldn’t put it down after that. Solid action, fantastic cast, and an engaging story of man vs. fate, or in this case, “bird mouth” Tanya vs. the cruel God who laughs from on high. It was just such a solid production that it left me here screaming, “WhErE iS sEaSoN tWo?!” I definitely plan to follow Tanya’s scheming and mocking of God in the novel series, which sees its first release I believe this winter. Awesome, high energy show that never lets up. When I watch the dub, expect a review!

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Aria the Animation—I participated in the huge Aria Kickstarter by Nozomi Entertainment AKA RightStuf back in September. At first, I donated blindly at the limited edition. Then I thought, “How stupid am I? Am I really going to blindly throw $60 at a title I don’t even know if I’d like??” And just as I questioned myself, Crunchyroll put the first season on their site to help with the campaign. After a watch of the first season, I can comfortably say that my gamble was a worthwhile one. Hopefully the +$200 that went into it will be everything that I wanted and more.

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Sailor Moon S—Awww yeah, I continue to knock through Viz’s releases of the beloved 90s series and I absolutely loved every bit of it! As a child, this was basically the first anime I was ever introduced to without knowing what anime was. It brought my whole experience of running around with sparkly ribbons and costumes full circle, and by the end (which I had never previously seen or known), I couldn’t help but melt down into an emotional wreck. I could never review a series that’s this close to heart, let alone slap a numerical rating on it, but maybe for an OWLS post or something I’ll get to dig out this series once again. Looking forward to seeing Crystal III this winter with all my heart—PLANET POWER!!!!

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Death Parade—This one you might recognize from my birthday haul! And while it’s quite up on this list, I actually started it in August and finished it just a day ago (hahaha that’s what I get for trying to watch it with my sister). Anyway, it was a wicked cool trip through the afterlife, and can’t help but think that the series needed something more for its ending . . . maybe for a future installment, right? It wasn’t as 10/10 masterpiece as everyone was making it out to be, but it was dark and fun, which is what exactly what I pegged the series for. Maybe I’ll review it, maybe I won’t. We’ll see.

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Code Geass: Akito the Exiled—Another from the b-day haul, yay! After breezing through the original Code Geass this past summer with my siblings, I was craving more of the universe. This calling just happened to be answered by Funimation’s rescue release of this spinoff, which takes place between the two halves of the original series overseas in the European Union. The dub had accents for the French and other nationalities represented, which was kind of a neat touch. I especially loved Jeannie Tirado’s resilient yet caring Leila Malcal. CG was used for the mechs this time around, and while one might find that originally distracting, the wild and dynamic movement and cinematography made for some excellent fights. My only great disappointment with it was the lack of involvement from returnees LELOUCH VI BRITANNIA and Suzaku Kururugi, as they were the main reason I even wanted more Geass. Oh well, cool show nevertheless.

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Shin Godzilla—It’s not anime, but it certainly counts for the reason I wanted to watch it: Evangelion. Director. Hidaeki Anno. Need I say more? Well, HAH, I wont’ actually, because a review of this titanic hit is coming very soon, so keep an eye out!

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Orange (anime and manga)—YES, I read some manga, and YES, it was an entry ruled off of the loooong backlog!! When the books were released and the anime adaptation of it aired, the ONLY thing people talked about was Orange. That popularity has since calmed down greatly, but the series is still definitely not one to be missed—especially that manga, dang! (I can officially recommend some manga to people, this is so fun!) The anime dedicates one episode to each chapter or two, so the pacing is absolutely flawless in terms of time/scene adaptation. Each frame of the manga held so much gorgeous facial expression, and the characters were each quirky yet very attractive. I wish the anime kept up with the quality on that front, but hey, taking a picture is easier than a video, I get it. Also, the manga was significantly more emotional than the series was. I’m not sure if that was just because I knew how it was all going to end, but hmm, yeah if someone wants the tear-jerker route, read the books. Both are still wonderful!

As a last note, though I never did actually cry, I was significantly touched by the morals of friendship, and how something so simple as friends can create beautiful moments and prevent terrible tragedies. It’s all about treasuring what we have, together, and living within each moment, not through them. I based my entire September OWLS post on the Orange manga, so if you’d like a spoiler free rundown on what it presents us with, consider checking it out! It gained a lot of traffic, and I consider it to be one of my bests posts because of how it was received. So, thank you if you decide to read it (link right here)!

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Re:CREATORS—OOH, OOH, now THIS is a show that saved itself during its run!! I was so happy with how it ended, and I won’t lie, I didn’t think the series had it in itself to finish with both story and emotional satisfaction, but it did, and because if that I do plan to review it! Until then, my lips are sealed—just go watch it!!

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Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBUKatsugeki had it all: incredible animation production, excellent digital effects by Ufotable, epic music by the composer of Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]‘s score, a solid franchise, and, of course, an overly supportive fanbase. So where did it go wrong? My theory is that it simply didn’t use the weight of each mission to fully impact the characters. From what I gathered, this is supposed to be a predominately character-driven franchise, so by not involving all of the characters, it walked away with only a couple of decently developed studs. Not to offend the fangirls, but it didn’t help when they decided to add a second wave of characters—the flashy First Unit—into the mix. Now you have +12 characters running around and all I can say was that the finale was very pretty. It was all more along the lines of “not my cup of tea” than “it sucked.”

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My Hero Academia Season 2—Bro, who wasn’t watching MHA this past season, cause like, dang! I thought the first was pretty good, but this second pulls out all the stops, especially with the famous TOURNAMENT ARC in the first half. Hell, I marathoned that shit cause I didn’t want to watch it at the time, and even though the Hero Killer/Hosu Incident Arc was a bit of a slump for me, I realize the importance it will have on not only the heroes but the villains as well. I won’t say too much more because I’d like to review it, but let’s just say it inspired me so much that I’ll be cosplaying the KING Todoroki #bestboy. Also, the first OP and the second ED were FIRE, man! Can’t stop listening!

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DIVE!!—So many thoughts. So much conflict. I think I like this show? See, I’m on the fence: I’ve admitted to the fact that this show did not turn out so well, but you can still like something that’s complete trash. I want to believe there is something of sustenance in this show, and that’s a very hard thing to do. It looks like I’ll be a bit against the crowd on this one, but don’t worry, I know that it’s garbage LOL. Review coming soon for sure!

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

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Tsuredure Children—Last spring’s trashiest show made its way to my Funi account and now I’m watching the dub. Not the greatest dub, but it’ll suffice for what I’m after: romantic nonsense. I want to watch curious kids fail miserably and hilariously with their love lives . . . is that sad? Beats me, but Tsuredure is defs fillin’ the cup up! It’s lighthearted, humorous, and charming in its own way, so sure, I’ll keep tagging along.

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Knight’s & Magic—Started this one yesterday night out of straight curiosity since half of the crowd said it was awesome and the other half hated it. I tend to like things that nobody else does, so here I come Ernesti! Episode one was good so far, but I can totally understand why people thought him being from another world was kinda pointless. I mean, in Saga of Tanya of Evil, it was part of the dude’s sin cycle, but here, IDK, Ernesti could’ve been a child genius and that would’ve rolled better with everyone. Anyway, the main reason I want to watch it is because the mechs look cool, so there’s that.

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I Hear the Sunspot—This is actually a manga that was recommended by Simply Gee over on YouTube. She found it to be lighthearted, soft, and simple; a story that doesn’t need to do very much to make our hearts warm. And she’s absolutely right. It follows a squirrely young college boy named Taichi who can’t seem to hold a job without getting into fights. This particularly sucks because he’s always hungry, that is, until stumbles upon Kohei, a quiet fellow college student who has a hearing disability. The two make a deal: Taichi be his note-taker and Kohei will provide him with free lunch!

Thus we watch the two struggle to understand just what they mean to one another, and how a problem isn’t too big of a problem when two people deal with it together. It’s got just the faintest touch of shounen-ai, but don’t let that turn you off—in fact, it’s half the magic. You’ll never know how friendly the two will get, but I’m willing to follow them throughout this standalone volume. Apparently it’s author Yuki Fumino’s first manga (which is overly impressive, my god), and due to its success, a sequel is on the way, hooray!

FALL SIMULCASTS:

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Fate/Apocrypha—I’m starting to understand characters, motives, and plugging their historical pasts with the present war. Apocrypha is getting better, but it’s still pretty rough given that only one servant has bit the bullet and we’re already halfway into this thing. I just hope they don’t start knockin’ down characters one by one. That always sucks. I don’t have much else to report on this one other than that it’s still engaging, action-packed, and rich with ancient lore. Did I ever mention the soundtrack? Besides the twisted Egoist OP (which I did finally decide that I like), the epic strings and main melody behind the show is just fantastic!

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Welcome to the BallroomBallroom is, ergmm, more fun to watch when it’s moving. There are SO many still shots it’s insane! And this is done by Production I.G.—aren’t they a powerhouse in the anime industry? That’s not to say that each frame is bad (cause they’re all friggin’ gorgeous), but man, it’s a sports show that requires a great deal of movement—so GIVE IT TO US, PLEASE! Otherwise it can sometimes be hard or embarrassing to watch. On several occasions during the first half’s Tenpei Cup, Tatara makes a comment on Gaju’s moves (“so powerful;” “oh he messed up here;” “he’s doing ___ move”), but then we see . . . nothing, it’s a SINGLE FRAME. Between the lack of movement, the loss of the season’s good first OP and ED, and the introduction of a potential new partner,  I just hope Ballroom knows what it’s doing in this second half.

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Food Wars! The Third Plate—Not much to say. It’s more Food Wars! and that’s about the best thing you could have for this fall season! I’m eagerly awaiting a tango with the Totsuki Elite Ten (dat alliteration tho) and all of the funny antics to follow! Cheers to more food porn!

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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War—The only reason I’m going to watch this series is because it sounds like the Holy Grail War. It’s a survival game; personifications of each Zodiac animal come to life and duke it out for the chance to make a wish come true (or at least I think that’s what it’s about). Sounds cool, looks cool, sure, count me in.


Blogging Projects

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Let’s see, in the last “Cafe Talk” I wrote about how “Having Unpopular Opinions Can Suck,” where I finalized my thoughts on the 2017 Ghost in the Shell Live-Action (spoiler alert: I loved it), as well as how frustrating it can be when nobody takes your side. There, I’ve jotted down just a few of my own “unpopular opinions,” so if you’re curious or feel I’m relatable, check that out. I’ve shared several great conversations with people on that post in the comments section, which is awesome—that’s what it’s there for!!! I’ll see if I can get on and answer some more soon!

I also recently partnered up with fellow gaming blogger NekoJonez on his expansive Legend of Zelda project, which brings in 13 of us to tackle the entire franchise from the first game to the latest. It was a surprisingly great deal of fun, especially at the end with those last couple hours before show time, and I made some awesome friends while reminiscing on a greatly beloved title. Honestly, it opened my eyes to the possibility of future collabs and projects with bloggers, but perhaps I should build up my own personal brand a bit more, right? Who knows, but I had a very fun time, and that’s all that matters in the end. Here are the games I covered if you are curious about Gaming Takuto!

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The Great Sea: Phantom Hourglass

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The New World: Spirit Tracks

I’m Tired of Playing Catch-Up

Whew! What an update! It’s just as large as last time’s, which means I need to get back to monthly ones, not this bimonthly nonsense! I mean, who wants to stick around for nearly 3,000 words of “I did this, and that, and didn’t do a lot of something else . . .” But inconvenience is how I roll, right guys? Haha, moving on.

I guess my biggest challenge right now isn’t “not wanting to write” as much as I’m sick and tired of playing catch-up! There are just WAY to many posts I want to read and comments that I need to respond to that, when I find myself going to draft another post, I just sigh at all of the responsibilities that should come first: responding to my readers, to my guests. What kind of host leaves their customer without their order? Not a very good one, that’s for sure. I’ll work on this more for this month as my biggest goal, and hopefully I can get out of this rut that I’ve sat in for MONTHS now.

I’m tired of playing catch-up, so I’ll change that. 🙂

I’m curious to know what you guys are following this fall season! Also, did you read any good manga or light novels recently? The new SAO series coming soon makes me want to purchase and read the Alicization books, as apparently it’s the best part of the franchise so far. But time is short, so we’ll see. ALSO INDEX III WAS ANNOUNCED HOLY CRAP I THOUGHT IT’D NEVER HAPPEN!!!! Now if we could just get an adaptation of Railgun’‘s Level Six Shift Arc, I could die happily with that franchise. I hope nicer weather has made its way to you as it has me, cause I’m partying in my fall jackets and hoodies now! Hahaha, take care you guys, until next time~!

– Takuto, your host