Cafe Talk #3: Sacrificing My Soul to Simulcasts

Ahh, konnichiwa, it has been a while since I last sat and talked with you guys ~

Everyone in the aniblogger community has been spreading the good cheer about all of the fantastic new 2015 summer shows, yet Takuto hasn’t peeped a word. Why isn’t he speaking to us???

The answer is simple. This season, I wish not to sacrifice my soul to simulcasts. Let me fill you in.

Last spring included the largest amount of simulcasted anime that I have ever followed at one time. I’ve only been watching anime like this for two years now, my first technical simulcasts being A Certain Scientific Railgun S and Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club (two fine anime, might I add), but when you up the count to +7 anime, it can be a bit hard to juggle your thoughts.

Who is this? What is that? WHAT IS GOING ON NOW!?

The season started off phenomenally! There were too many shows with interesting concepts and superb animation that I couldn’t resist myself! It was a free cake eating contest and I was the judge, who could blame me.

But that’s when I made my first mistake.

Best not to mess around with cake . . .

You see, the more shows you add to a watch list, the greater amount of stories you’ll have to keep track of. While it was all fine and dandy for the first five or so episodes, I found myself eventually caring less and less as the season went on. Dan Machi made me ‘hoop and holler’ for more SAO-quality fantasy, but I was sighing more and more by the end. Plastic Memories ripped out my coal-black heart with intense robot x human drama, only to spend all of its remaining tickets, despite the other thriller rides it could have ventured through, on one boring-ass unmemorable Ferris wheel ride.

LITARALLY.

Really? I didn’t even know it had started! AHAHAHA [Gendo Ikari abridged voice]

On top of it all, I feel inclined to not only finish the shows (damn you, completionist me) but to write a review containing all of my thoughts just to feel closure. And unless it’s a rant, it’s quite frustrating to write about a show that was just ‘meh.’ Do you ever feel this way?

Though I had my fair share of disappointment, there were stand out shows like the rather vulgar Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, the enduring Sound! Euphonium, and occasionally more twisted Fate deliciousness. *drooling mouth at production quality*

With all of the confusion stacking up on my plate, I didn’t dare start an already-completed show that had been chillin’ in my dusty backlog. So I stuck it through, thank heavens, and have emerged enlightened! After clawing my way out of the pits of weekly trials, it occurred to me that, and hold your seat folks, here it comes, OH GAWD:

Why don’t I just wait the season out, in the meanwhile start hacking at my back log, and see which shows came out on top from you guys?

*gasps* This might actually WORK!

Sure, I’ll be sad not to chase after new sights with all of you, but I have my own personal nightmares that, in due time, need to be faced head on. As they say, “The list of anime only grows longer, not shorter.” So that’s the scoop. Takuto will ‘man the battlestations’ while you lot are off fighting in the summer simulcast war, and upon your return, shall present your finest treasures to the café king!

I will keep my soul thank you very much and hope for the best that this summer turns out great! I already keep eying Charlotte, Snow White with the Red Hair, and God Eater among several others, so hopefully they yield bountiful fruit. But regardless, how are you? Do you ever feel the weight of many simulcasts just crushing your soul at times? What’s piqued your interest this 2015 summer? We are well into the introductions for shows, and your guys’ reactions are enjoyable to read, so the judging can commence! Comment below – let’s chat!

And just watch: I’ll more than likely buckle in and hit up the first episode of Gate or Prisma Illya. 🙂

Because ” By the Gods, you are one sexy beast”

For now, however, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more Code Geass to watch *mischievous hehehe* Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Triumph! Sound the Euphonium!

A review of the 2015 spring anime “Sound! Euphonium”

I’ve been joined at the hip with music since a young age, and, having been a first-chair orchestra member for seven years and counting, I have not only the right but the responsibility to announce that this series exemplifies the hearts and minds of every concert band and orchestra member to T. Putting KyoAni’s ideal cuteness aside, Sound! Euphonium accurately depicts how rigorous classroom music can be when kids become critical of themselves.

Talented euphonium player  Kumiko Oumae enters Kitauji High School’s brass band club during her first year (‘Euph’: a “good sounding” small tenor-pitched tuba, sometimes referred to as a baritone). There, she encounters her old classmate Reina, and memories of a previous junior high incident flood back, causing Kumiko to be hesitant. As Kumiko remains strong buddies with other girls, though, Reina slowly opens up and the two become very close friends. Looming in the darkness is the national contest, which their meticulous new teacher, Taki-sensei, proposes to have the students decide for themselves whether or not they should pursue the gold.

Much like in real life, hours of practicing, enduring hardships, insanely challenging musical passages, kids who have talent that start to waver, competition among new and old recruits, wanting to drop out to focus on education and countless other issues bring a shining realism to the table – a characteristic that I haven’t sampled for a while now. From start to finish, the show knows exactly where it wants to go, and as much as I want to say it was the practical setting to thank, it’s because of the characters that this drive was so truthful.

Euphonium‘s cast does not rely on one or two characters, but rather the entire ensemble. Kumiko herself is strong-willed, though sometimes acts a little empty-headed, and her budding romance with the silent yet brilliant Reina is certainly our sweetest relationship. But there are several other duos that bring the issues listed earlier to light. The vigilant Asuka and occasionally sheepish Haruka tackle youth leadership with unsurety. The lackadaisical yet easy-going Nakagawa manages to keep Kumiko on her toes in terms of skill. Sub characters like the hot-headed Yuuko and gentle Kaori pose a nagging trouble to the professional Reina when they all duke it out for the trumpet solo. Seeing as how I play a string instrument, I was dying to hear more dilemmas from the only string player in the band: On the oversized contrabass everyone, Midori “Sapphire-chan” Kawashima! Too bad she only existed to cheer on the other girls 😦

I was overly pleased with what the anime had in terms of cast, as nearly each member of the band, major and minor, received standout character designs and individual thoughts and scenes. Having Taki-sensei  as a rather disoriented teacher also made situations more ambiguous. For instance, he’d ask “Are you having trouble with that?” Then instead of following up, Taki would declare, “Please have that ready by next week.” There were just certain aspects to his character that made me want to cuss, but then he would return on scene with a heartwarming smile and encouraging speech, kinda how a real director would.

If I had to pick something about the plot that seemed off, it would be the sudden love interest and misplaced drama. In the first few episodes, we clearly see that things between Reina and Kumiko are really awkward. After climbing a mountain trail path in a certain middle episode, however, POOF! The two become super intense friends – for some, too close for comfort. It’s not really yuri, but you could ship the two by just looking at the poster art now.

The non-music drama stems from a miniscule love triangle between Kumiko, an energetic girl pal Hazuki and Tsukamoto, Kumiko’s childhood friend. Seeing how Tsukamoto only cares for Kumiko, who feels indifferent, Hazuki becomes a forced trope just to milk some sort of depressing drama out of the whole shebang, not that the show already played perfectly fine without it. But like the sudden love, it’s all only one episode, so it can easily be overlooked.

I KID YOU NOT when I claim that Kyoto Animation performs their finest job I’ve ever seen from them in terms of animation!! All of the shining brass instrumets, the natural movement of people breathing during practice, the beautiful people themselves, and that side-of-the-river bridge where Kumiko always goes to chat and play the euphonium – it’s all so soooo gorgeous; a true crime not to watch the opening at least once to get a glimpse of BREATHTAKING EVERYTHING!!

The OST is also remarkable! Orchestra tagged along with a piano for melody hits up feels from slice of life to cliff sunsets to tension in the classroom . “Flow of Destiny,” the simplest variation of the main theme can be elegantly heard throughout the series. Real classical music is also pulled into the soundtrack for during performances and practices. Especially noted is Reina’s ditty of the “From the New World Symphony’s 2nd Movement,” which everyone stopped to listen to. 🙂

Hitting off each note is the exciting opening “DREAM SOLISTER” by TRUE! I love the inclusion of the brass instruments – it makes the song coherent to a show about a brass club, ya know? The ending “Tutti” by the Kitauji Quartet is also tons of foot-tappin’ fun!

In terms of character interaction, the featuring of the entire class as a whole and as individuals, stunning animation, topnotch voice acting, realistic musical presentation and content, Sound! Euphonium did several things right and executes everything with near perfection! The ending is also standing ovation-worthy for including the uncut concert performance rather than just cutting that out to view the results. Concert band and orchestra kids were given the best representation in anime – for most, more than what we could ever ask for. 5/5 stars, a triumphant “Caffé Mocha!” Congrats, Kitauji High School Band – You most definitely deserve the Gold in my eyes!!

+ Relatable and realistic anime for high school band and orchestra classes (or at least some); best representation anime has given us students

+ Themes of hard work VS raw talent are executed quite well

+ Absolutely breathtaking visuals, instruments look excellent, actual music is awesome, too

+ Story knows exactly where it’s headed, and delivers with a triumphant, satisfying end

– Sudden romantic relationship drama unnecessarily threw plot off course, though only for an episode

Thank you for reading my review over the wonderful Sound! Euphonium! It was definitely one of the most fun and fulfilling shows to follow this past spring. Did you have similar thoughts on this show? Were you as impacted as I was? Leave your comments below so that we can chat! Now while the inspiration is hot, I’m gonna go work hard myself and practice my cello! Haha, until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

End of June Update 7/5/15

Konbanwa mina-san ~

For those in the U.S., I hope you all had a great Independence Day! Mine was pleasant. I stayed at home with my family and my mom had invited one of her friends over to spend the day. My favorite part – we ate tons of watermelon and pineapple! After dark, we went to lay out on our driveway to watch all of our neighbors light fireworks which is always a blast (hehe, get it), though the thought of getting bitten by a bug was overwhelming >.<

With all of the spring simulcasts coming to an end, I’ve been experiencing all kinds of feels! I know this update is already pretty late, but I figured I better shoot this out there before the wave of reviews hits me (gosh, I’ll never get some sleep). So here is the list:

Recently finished:

From the New World – yeah, I realize this was done a long while ago, but I have to bring it up again because I’m still thinking about it! Such a wonderful piece of entertainment, nearly a masterpiece, if you missed the review the first time, click here!

Tokyo Ghoul – a very gripping horror series that has/had a lot of potential. This first season was pretty good, though. I wrote a review on it here

Tokyo Ghoul √A – a disappointing sequel that, though not bad per se, just filled with a gazillion plot holes. The ending was nice. I have my reasons, and a review will be out sometime tomorrow

Seraph of the End – I have mixed thoughts on this one. Really darn entertaining, but when analyzed closely  it’s so terribly flawed! If you wanna, I have a review here you can read!

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – it was much more fun during the start, but at the end I was kinda sick of watching it. It wasn’t horrendous, but nothing like I thought it’d be, review on the way!

Plastic Memories – ironically unmemorable by this point. A slow romance built on a tragic concept that could have taken advantage of the setting, but sadly didn’t, review coming soon

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – man, I’m really gonna miss one:'( Easily one of the best watches this season despite the rocky dialogue these past couple of weeks. Nine months have passed since I started . . . this was a good journey, stay tuned for my thoughts

Attack on Titan OVAs – YESS! More AoT! They actually came out shortly after the original series did, but I’m now just getting to them. They remind me so much as to why I fell in love with the series in the first place. I still have two left

Currently Watching:

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – Megumi finally gets the spotlight, though the reason is not necessarily a good situation. I’m loving every single episode, and I can’t wait for the gang to return to the academy rather than remain at this fancy shmancy diner dash hell! 🙂

Sound! Euphonium – OMG episode 13 is going to be great, I can feel it!! This show is nearly flawless in my eyes, so please don’t let me down like some of the others! I’ll watch the contest on Tuesday, then shortly after you can expect a review

The Heroic Legend of Arslan – everyone is giving this show so much praise, but I don’t see what’s all the buzz about. I mean, it’s interesting, sure, but the animation inconsistency is driving me insane! I’ll watch episode 12 (or 13?) tomorrow and hope things get better

I also finished volumes 13 and 14 of the manga for Neon Genesis Evangelion. I didn’t read the whole series, as I just wanted the bits covered in The End of Evangelion. Things made so much more sense in those books than in the film! Like holy moly! I also finished Pandora Hearts volume 4. I’ve been wanting to make this my first manga series to read from start to finish and own, but I realized that this is going to be an expensive project that I just don’t have the money for. I’ll find it online somewhere and see if things get good. It’s pretty confusing, but the art is some of the best and characters are cool!

A few days ago I purchased an Attack on Titan Survey Corp jacket because a) I want to try out more cosplay and b) my sister wore one to Naka-Kon in March and the OVAs have rekindled my love for this show, not like it ever went out ;). I got it in the mail a couple days ago and, though the color is disappointingly and significantly lighter than the orange ones in the show, it’s still freakin’ epic! I also went cheap and only spent $16 on it, so hey, wasn’t expecting the highest quality, but this works perfectly fine. I’m waiting on that brown leather short skirt to arrive, so hopefully this all comes together well. *fingers crossed*

How have you all been? Who is excited for the summer simulcasts?! After watching so many this past season, I might hold back for a while just to ease the stress. I’ve been reading everybody’s pre-thoughts and you all have gotten me super excited – stop it! XD I’m also going to try a slightly different approach to my reviews, so I hope you notice them and enjoy the changes. I always enjoy the conversations we have, so please continue to stick around! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

TCTX Aniblogger Club: Favorite OPs and EDs of Spring 2015

Hello everyone, I’m here with something a little different. Trystan over at Let’s Talk Anime proposed this genius idea of starting an aniblogger club, and naturally I said H*LL YES! Well, not quite as aggressive, but the passion was all the same. Together with Cassandra aka The Huge Anime Fan, we of TCTX Aniblogger Club each present our fave OPs and EDs of Spring 2015. Let’s get rolling! (PS, I made the logo plastered above, do you like it?)

Most of these have been edited to avoid copyright. I know it sucks, but hey, at least it’s here!

From Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) 2nd Season comes “Brave Shine” by Aimer

Gawd, I haven’t heard Aimer since No.6 during my anime exploration days, and let me just say that I nearly cried when I heard them again. *sniff sniff* Anyway, the song is one of my favorites this season because the vocals feel so soft against such a passionate, slow rock song. It feels sincere, almost apologetic for all of the chaos the show itself carries. Visuals by Ufotable are the best in animation, like always, but in this opening they feel even more fresh. The best part is after the cool intro and the verse, when the chorus explodes like the very rock Berserker is sliding on – crazy EPIC! UBW is without a doubt spiraling towards the end, masters and servants killed left and right, and it’s only a matter of time before Shirou and Saber uncover the truths of the Holy Grail War where all of hell will be unleashed.

My second fave opening this season is “DREAM SOLISTER” by TRUE from Sound! Euphonium

This song wins my fave status because of its relevance to the actual show. With its bright brass intro followed by a bass polka groove, the girls spin around as they are each introduced. After that, the overly catchy chorus breaks through like a girl jumping through the sky! It’s such a fitting song for a high-energy, positive, youthful, fluffy show about the love of music – specifically concert band. I dance jig around every time this opening plays!

Onto fave endings, first is “Lapis Lazuli” by Eir Aoi from The Heroic Legend of Arslan

I’ve loved Eir Aoi’s works ever since Sword Art Online and Fate/Zero, but this is by far her best song ever. Kicking off with a powerful vocal solo, the song ushers in a beautiful melody. The electric guitar and the drums continue on until the singer comes back in with smooth, argumentative rhythm. Then that intro tune flares back up in the chorus, ending on a suspenseful note. All the while, we get scenes from Arslan’s journey and flashes of the moon radiating above. This is probably my fave out of the entire spring season just because I love the bass drum beat and the catchy tune! Overall, the song sounds sad, but feels like rejoicing at the same time, almost a longing for something . . .

Lastly from Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) 2nd Season again is the ending “ring your bell” by Kalafina

This song feels very different from Kalafina’s usual works, and that’s because it feels . . . happy? No, it’s celebratory? Kalafina is known for their darker, Baroque style choirs (my fave music :3), and this song feels like a wedding to me. As I mentioned earlier, UBW is definitely reaching the end with its opening, but this song takes that to a whole new ending. REBIRTH! Maybe that’s the word I’m thinking! Everything’s going to be fine/renewal type of thing. The visuals show a bit of the servants’ pasts, similar to how they did things in Fate/Zero. But that final grove scene with Shirou on lucious grass against Ufotable’s model sky with Archer’s gears completes the entire scene. All things in this new Holy Grail War come to a tragic yet beautiful end!

And that is what I think of a few of this spring’s songs! What do you think – have any favorites? Comment below. Also be sure to check out other TCTX club members Trystan and Cassandra’s favorite songs!! They picked great ones from Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma as well as Seraph of the End. I may not be the best at explaining my picks, but these IMO are the best songs of spring 2015! Thanks for reading, and until next time this has been

– Takuto, your host

End of May Update 6/3/15

Mina-san, konnichiwa (sorry about that gif, I just had to) ~

First off, good God – it’s already June. Where did the time go?? Secondly, a warm welcome to all of my new followers and viewers, and a welcome back to my usual guests. I hit the most likes yesterday, and it’s all thanks to you guys. Thanks so much!

I’ve been scavenging for a new anime just to buy, sit down, and watch, but my pockets are empty 😦 On another note, I have a ton of shows on my list (like everyone else), so the river never runs dry!

Onto the usual anime update:

Recently finished:

Love Live! School Idol Project (1st and 2nd Season Review) – such a joyride! I am a μ’s fanboy! For a fun review under “Cakes,” look no further

Bakemonogatari – hmm, I’m not sure what to think of the Monogatari series yet, not as epic as I heard it’d be, but still an enjoyable watch, a “Coffee” review here!

Currently watching:

The Heroic Legend of Arslan – while extremely slow and dragging at first, the latest episode (was it 8 or so?) really started to kick it in, mildly interested

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – ugh, little by little we’re uncovering more info regarding the setting, but the characters and the story are so weak, that car scene with Yuu, Shinoa, and the guy with glasses was hilarious, though!

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – not really sure where this show is even going, the villain better make a move soon, Bell, Hestia, and Lili are still fairly enjoyable to watch, latest episode with Bell really shocked me, though

Fate/ stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season – while I’m getting lost in some of the heroic dialogue, the action is still phenomenal, Lancer in UBW is X10 more loveable than the original series

Sound! Euphonium – with that last episode featuring relationships and Kosaka, everything is reallly coming together, one of the best shows this season!

Plastic Memories – it waddles around playfully with Tsukasa and Isla’s relationship; not its strongest point, cases with taking back more Giftias are still very emotional, wishing for more of that before Isla’s time expires

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – still food porn, though everyone says otherwise, I’m having the best time with this show, love it so much!

I would write a review but I haven’t finished anything else, so I’ll get started on something soon. For those interested, I am writing another “Cafe Talk” because it was fun to write and the first one received a lot of positive feedback – Thanks! I was also recently nominated for the Sunshine Award, and you can check out my responses here! How are all of you doing? What simulcasts this spring season do you enjoy watching? Comment down below, I appreciate you reading and liking my posts, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

End of April Update 5/2/15, 50 Followers Q&A!

Mina-san, I have a lot to say ~

About 4 days ago, I caught the flu circulating around the city, and yeah, that has made me MIA in the anime community. But I think I’m slowly recovering – I hope – which means you’ll hear more from me as the days go by. Yay >.<

More importantly, I’VE HIT 51 FOLLOWERS!!!! Coincidentally, I have published 51 posts! I honestly never thought that anyone would notice me [notice me senpai], and here I am sitting with +51 people who are interested in the things I have to say about anime. I’ve met some great new people through my anime blogging/reviewing experience – THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!

In celebration of breaking the 50 mark, I have proposed a small Q&A, in which you LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS POST and I will answer the ones that I can – pretty much ask me anything! I think it’d be cool if I got to know you better and you got to know me 😀

As the usual, here is my anime update:

Recently finished:

Soul Eater – got to watch the infamous cartoony shonen anime, and I liked it a lot, great fun and cool fights, for a review, click here!

Currently watching:

The Heroic Legend of Arslan – it’s got an interesting setting and a beautiful ending, but I don’t know if it’ll keep up with the other great shows this season

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – while the first episode was so, soo intense, the last couple have been toned down a lot, kinda disappointing, but still makes me curious

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – absolutely love the art and characters, such a neat little show!

Fate/ stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season – wins the award for best filler material compared to the original source, such epicness!

Sound! Euphonium – hasn’t really progressed too much, but as a musician familiar with the struggles, it keeps me entertained with it’s cute animation

Plastic Memories – this one I was definitely looking forward to, and so far, it hasn’t let up with the sad stories, I hope episode 3 was the only comedy episode, though

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – literally food porn, oh my gosh it’s tons of fun!!

I’m thinking about starting this new post series called like “Cafe Talk” or “Food for Thought.” There, I would talk about other anime-related things besides my typical full-on reviews. What do you guys think? Would you be interested in reading it?

And I guess that’s it. Again, LEAVE YOUR 50 Follower Q&A QUESTIONS BELOW so that I can answer them soon and we get to know each other better! What are you up to? The spring season is well under way with many awesome shows, so what is your favorite so far? Thank you all so much for reading, liking, commenting, following, etc, and it’s never to late to become a cafe-goer (hint hint)! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host