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?

 

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Sora no Woto, How Oh~So Sweet the Sound

A spoiler-free review of the 12-episode (+2 OVAs) winter 2010 anime “Sora no Woto” or “Sound of the Sky,” produced by A-1 Pictures, directed by Mamoru Kanbe (original work).

In the outbreak of world war between namely Rome and Helvetia, Kanata Sorami was saved by an enchanting trumpeter who appeared to her like a goddess. Years later, 15-year-old Kanata, still driven by the savior music, enlists in the 1121st Platoon of the Helvetian Army to learn not to fight, but how to play the bugle. This particular all-female platoon is located on the edge of “No Man’s Land” in a tiny town called Seize, however, and as a result becomes the butt end of a joke, isolated from combat and mocked by other platoons and even townspeople.

This doesn’t faze the lackadaisical girls, though. Instead, through Kanata’s cheery smile, they seek sounds of joy and beauty even in a world ravaged by war.

I already know the first thing you’re probably wondering: Rome?

Why yes, Rome.

Sound of the Sky is set in a post-apocalyptic world where that “No Man’s Land,” hundreds of miles of desert wasteland, presumably dominates most of the continent – Perhaps even the world. What we zoom in on is the budding town of Seize and its Strike Witches-esque vibe minus all of the, well, boobage. Clearly, the story is set in the future, as both armies pilot giant spider-like mechs and tear each other to shreds. Plus, Japan is but an ancient culture by now. What’s interesting is that the overall tone and use of technology is reminiscent of WWII, heck, even WWI.

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And that’s when this anime strikes a favorite ambience of mine. The “Old Ruin Dystopia.” It’s a term I invented for European-inspired worlds where, despite the obvious advances in technology, people still cling to old-fashioned devices and living (no offense to Europe, that’s just how the architecture looks). Familiar settings include Castle in the Sky, Fractale, Megaman Legends (not an anime, but it fits) and very few others. Call it what you will, but the concept’s interworking with not only the setting but with the characters, too, is what truly makes this a kind of utopia for myself.

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The 1121st is not a platoon, but rather a family considering its lax position. Commanding officer Filicia Heideman functions as the squad’s mother, being at times aloof yet completely wary of the moods of others. Sergeant major Rio Kazumiya AKA 2nd-in-command would be the metaphorical father of the family, whipping the other girls into shape yet with a compassionate demeanor. Private Kureha Suminoya is the easily-flustered and strong-willed “younger sister” that begs for attention but is easy to talk to. Meanwhile, Noel Kannagi is that “younger brother” who, although always falling asleep, is both smart and supportive. That leaves Kanata, the runt of the litter whose optimism is overwhelmingly contagious as she tries her hardest to progress in trainings – Athletic and musical.

The gang’s all here, including warped owl-kun

BEEPBOOPBEEEEEPBEEEEEE . . . don’t worry, my private lesson teacher had the same face

The structure of the story manages to round out each of the characters wonderfully, even placing backstory for each girl logically within the plot. They might be based on regular anime tropes, but WHO CARES? Contrast between these fine women works brilliantly in the military theme, while the personality also uplifts many pleasant slice-of-life moments. These characters just work in Sound of the Sky’s favor!

‘Moe’ is one word to describe the animation, but ‘lovely’ is a better one. Characters are drawn up in that slice-of-life firsthand look, which is odd coming from A-1 Pictures. Regardless, their naturally pure look and moving flow gives them an adorable aesthetic quality that helps lighten the mood. CG combat with the tanks was also pretty badass. Even better yet was the astounding scenery of Seize and its neighboring land, like wow! The atmosphere established in the animation department brings out those rare moments where no words could describe the enchanting landscape.

And yes – An anime about music is complete with a fantastic soundtrack provided by Michiru Oshima! Her rendition of “Amazing Grace,” albeit not my favorite song, was made most appropriate for this anime. The rest of the score encompasses heavy string and lute tunes with solo trumpet that are all equally enchanting. Music has not made me so emotional such a long time, however, until “Servante Du Feu,” a French ballad, played during the most impactful moment of the show (episode 12). Guys, it’s a feels trip.

But we can’t forget the reason I got hooked on this anime – the opening, “Hikari no Senritsu,” and I’m proud to announce, my all-time favorite Kalafina song! If an opening had ever fitted its show so well, it’s right here! Rich and bold, yet delicate as a flower at the same time. Not to mention, its animation depicting the girls in the goddess garb is hauntingly beautiful. Ending theme “Girls, Be Ambitious.” by Haruka Tomatsu also deserves a shout out for being so radically upbeat!

soranowotodanceSound of the Sky, through the tragedy of war, remains a tale dedicated to finding beauty in music and friendship even during desperate times. It shines in revealing how music can really change the world and empower minds to overcome the toughest of challenges. Though the characters might slide you by, the ambience of the show is unforgettable. It’s a shame that it leaves us believing there is so much more for Kanata and friends, but what we got is – without a doubt – a phenomenal anime. Don’t let the obscurity of this title slip by – Its message of peace is simple, powerful, idealistic, and full of heart. So much heart . . .

“Hey, Rio. You were asking if there was some meaning in this world. When I was the only one who survived, it was all I could think about. Why had I, alone, survived? What did it mean? And I realized, I’m sure there’s no meaning in this world. But isn’t that wonderful? That means you can find your own. And I’ve found mine. The meaning to my being here . . .” – Filicia Heideman

+ Characters guide the show and its message fittingly and passionately

+ “Old Ruin Dystopia”ambiance established perfectly

+ Quality of scenery is astonishing

+ All music nails the atmosphere

– Poor localization (no Blu-Ray nor English dub)

This one stole my heart. Let it steal yours by watching it for free on Crunchyroll! Just know that if you own that Limited Edition 2011 version released by Nozomi I’d be willing to trade my SOUL!!! That’s right, if you want Takuto’s soul, just send LTD ED moe soldiers my way. A “Caffe Mocha” whipped with happy and sad feels. Thank you for reading! I’ve nothing more to say. Enjoy your day 🙂

– Takuto, your host

End of October Update 11/4/15

Konbanwa minna-san, when was the last time we connected?

Yes, it feels like an eternity passes between each of my posts, but hopefully that hasn’t lost any of your attention. If you didn’t already know, I play the cello. Due to the inconveniences that the Christmas season brings, the private lesson teacher I meet with bumped the entire traditional winter recital a whole month. On this Saturday, I am supposed to have a solo ready to perform for the small get-together, but that has been rough in coming along. Awfully rough, I’m afraid. So when I’m not studying for tests or filling out the copious stack of homework, I’m practicing long and hard, metronome and tuner in hand.

As it is, Nagi-Asu and Hyouka have been the only ‘new’ anime that I’ve tackled. That’s pretty sad, considering it’s been a WHOLE month. Granted, I did spend my Halloween weekend hitting up Another with my siblings (I had already seen it, so more “Movie Theater” stuff). They LOVED it, though because I was unaware of their fright-tolerance, I kind of heavily foreshadowed the umbrella and teacher/knife deaths (even though it was fairly easy to predict). I didn’t want them to have nightmares, what can you say? I’m a nice guy. Though looking back, I wish I hadn’t put so much focus on “Ok, here’s that scene I’ve always been talking about.”

The second set of ALDNOAH.ZERO came out at the tail end of last month, so I pre-ordered and received that. Now all I need is some time to actually sit down and enjoy it, gosh darn it! Speaking of, I still haven’t even cracked open Baccano! nor A Lull in the Sea. In my defense, however, I might be upgrading to Blu-Ray for Nagi-Asu, budget permitting, so until then, that’s on hold.

For “Cafes Talks,” I had an interesting run-in at a Renaissance Festival, so if you are curious as to what happened to me, click here! Even though Halloween is over, here are ten places that you still should NEVER go into for the fear of dying a terrible death! That was fun to write. I am working on another “Cafe Talk” post, so stay tuned for more shenanigans.

But you’re here for the anime update, so here we go!

Recently Finished:

Another (previously-seen) – What can I say, guys? It’s freakin’ Another, one of the best horror anime to hit my list. Does it live up to a rewatch? Absolutely. My stomach was shaking right before all of those gruesome deaths, but after seeing them over and over again, they do tend to lose shock value. It was a spooky way to spend the break, no doubt, so if you haven’t checked out Another yet, I encourage you to do so if you’re hankering for good mystery and thirsting for blood!

The Heroic Legend of Arslan – This. Show. Just. No. I’ll admit, Arslan came to clean itself up a bit at the end. But the announcement of a FREAKIN’ SECOND SEASON just astonished me. HOW?? This twenty-some episode mess gets a sequel but The Devil is a Part-Timer doesn’t? I really question Japan and more specifically Arslan‘s sales. Rant coming soon, so if you enjoy those, you’re in for a good roasting -_-

Hyouka – This one I finished way back in the beginning of October and I even wrote a review about it! Click here to see if we shared similar thoughts or are interested in a school/mystery anime with many other great things going for it.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma – I actually finished this before my last update, and a review just went up yesterday (oops). It was quite hard to wrap my head around all of the crazy fun that Food Wars! delivered, but I managed to settle on a rather lengthy review. I’d be overjoyed if you checked it out (if you haven’t yet) right here so that we can talk about this amazing anime!

Currently Watching:

Sound of the Sky – Weren’t expecting this entry, were you? I briefly mentioned back in the summer that this would be my breather anime for when I got busy, and boy did I choose just the right show! I’m so absorbed by the setting and the musings of the characters, but . . . Where is the show taking me? I’m about 8 episodes in, a good two-thirds, so I’ll be finishing this one very soon hopefully. I haven’t had a breather anime like this in months, so I feel very refreshed watching this mini wartime slice-of-life series. You can also expect a review, as I have many things I would like to say about Sora no Woto

ALDNOAH.ZERO (eps 7-12) – I’ll be starting this up as soon as Sound of the Sky reaches its end :'(, and I’m quite excited to see how the dub handles the end to this mecha tragedy!

Currently Reading:

That’s right, Takuto actually reads books when he’s not sifting through everyone’s wonderful posts (holy crap, some of you post way to often JKLOL)! I just finished Sword Art Online Light Novel Volume Two: Aincrad. Let me just say that this novel was TEN TIMES better than the first one. I loved each of the four stories about the different heroines of SAO, and it was a special treat to hear from Lizbeth’s side, specifically. Of the four stories, Lizbeth’s story was the best – and that last page for it, oh lawd, the feels! “Red-Nosed Reindeer” was still pretty depressing, but I think the anime actually handled that better. Same with the story of Yui. Silica’s story, the first one, was my second favorite. I never noticed how reminiscent to country life Silica’s character was based on. It’s all about details, I guess.

But as for what I’m currently reading, I’m 20 pages into Volume Three: Fairy Dance. And the mockery of the “Fairy Dance” begins! Let loose the sparkling fairies and soar into the sky with feelings of lust for a fairer world. Like I mentioned last update, “books are better than the movies that spawn from them” is the stereotypical debate that rears its ugly head, and I want to test that theory with “Fairy Dance,” considering all of its unanimous hatred by fans (even though I enjoyed it). We’ll have to see what ALO brings! Volumes 3 & 4 came in the mail with ALDNOAH.ZERO DVD Set Two, so hooray for Rightstuf sales!

If any of you follow NichiFix over on YouTube, then you would know that he unboxes anime and does manga hauls. While I don’t attentively search for that kind of stuff, I find what he has to say entertaining. He’s also nice (and a RailDex fan ^.^). Anyway, I won his nonchalant giveaway that he hinted at in a monthly manga pickups video about a month ago. I KNOW, I ACTUALLY WON SOMETHING!!! It was Volumes One and Two of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 17 of Negima!, and, due to his lateness (even though I forgot about it too :P), he threw in Haganai Volume 1. How kind! This was probably even more exciting to open than my mini Rightstuf haul!

And that about covers everything. Sorry for the long update, if you skipped over some parts, I don’t blame you. I just wanted to let everyone know why there’s been a huge lack of content. Once this dreadful recital is over, however, things should return to normal. I’ll be hitting up the simulcast for Seraph’s second season, Nagoya-something. That should be interesting. But it wouldn’t be an update if I didn’t complain about the passing time – Oh, where do the days go?! I’m still alternating with shorts (as in pants) over here even though fall has descended upon us. Maybe, just maybe, if it rains even an inch, I’ll marathon Baccano! like I’ve been wanting to for so long now. But how was your Halloween? Did ya do anything crazy, scare any kids or get spooked yourself? I ate candy, and Matt-in-the-Hat and MarvelouslyMismatched know that, haha! Feel free to talk to me at any time through the comments, as I always – always – look forward to what you have to say, even if it’s just a “hello.” Until next time everyone, this has been

– Takuto, your host

30-Day Song Challenge Day 19: A Song You Are Currently Obsessed With

Evening all, I have a night full of studying dreadfully planned ahead, so today’s log will have to be a quickie. Thankfully, I know just the song! But first, how long does it take for you to obsess over something – specifically anime? For me, you can recommend and rant all you want about a show, but it I won’t be hooked until I either A) see the artwork, promotional poster or whatnot, or B) hear the opening/music from the anime. I have heard oodles of fans gawk about how pleasant this cute little show is, but it wasn’t until after I heard the opening – bestowed to us by the Goddesses of Kalafina themselves – that I truly met my love ~

From Sound of the Sky, “Hikari no Senritsu” by Kalafina

I found this, what two days ago, and I love it so much that the words are literally bubbling and foaming at my mouth! I CANNOT stop listening to this elegant song. Such poise, free spirit, and sense of adventure; apparently, the anime has these elements, so straight after Hyouka you all know what I’ll be chasing after! But yes, what an enchanting melody – definitely one of Kalafina and Kajiura’s finest works to ever grace my ears. All I want to do is lay down under a tree, a breeze fluttering in the air, my knees propped up on one another, arms thrown behind my head, and chill. I just want to take a terminal break from school work and taste the liberation I seek that’s found nowhere near this wretched thing we call an “agenda.” But this’ll have to do for now, and it’s one hell of a substitute 🙂

So what are you currently raving over? Did the fire erupt overnight or has it been a week-long curse to have it stuck in your head 😉 Also, what did you think of Sound of the Sky? Ya’ll need to let me know in the comments! Have a fantastic day, and milk all that you can out of the few seconds of free breath you can manage, because they’ll fly by in an flash. Till tomorrow!

– Takuto, your host