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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Having Unpopular Opinions Can Suck (GitS LA + more) | Cafe Talk

Uf, I can’t believe I have to write this post. But something has to be said so that I can have closure on this subject.

That’s right, we’re diving back into the live action Ghost in the Shell 2017, which I had previously covered in my review. Before we get too deep, however, I had written a more formal review about the film which you can view right here. It’s got most of my thoughts, from casting and cinematography to world-building, set design, and the soundtrack. Speaking of, Lorne Balfe has been graciously releasing a couple tracks each Friday in response to the fans’ call (mine included), so that’s really awesome of him!

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Welcome to “Cafe Talk,” a comment-welcome segment that, while it doesn’t happen as often as it should, is pretty fun to write! With this one, frankly speaking, we’re talking about being pissed off when no one likes your opinions, and exactly how much of a downer it can be. Sound relatable?

Your Opinion Doesn’t Suck, People Do

What can I say? You’re typically never in the wrong for harboring an opinion (unless that thought potentially threatens, harms, outcasts, etc. a person). Opinions are just personalized ideas, views, or judgments, and ideas are just that—intangible concepts. Alone, opinions and ideas can’t do much of anything, but when tagged together with a voice, that’s when things can get interesting.

Communication tends to happen after one’s opinion is formed; they seek out other individuals, groups, or even communities to see how their opinion stacks up, and whether it’s a favored or disfavored belief. More often than not, your position is accepted (YAY) as the popular opinion (hence the world “popular”).

You’ve done it! You’ve got nothing to fear!

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Last day of shooting, posted on Instagram by Juliette Binoche (Dr. Ouelet, right) and Scarlett Johansson (Major, left). They’re so happy I’M CRYING

Unless you’re like me, in which a chorus of crickets followed by intense booing ensues upon opinion delivery. You’ve just created an unpopular opinion (DAMMIT), and should you choose to continue to be vocal with your convictions, you’re life is about to get a bit harder. Just remember, this is NOT your fault—it’s a very human thing to stick with groups and label others as outcasts. You’ve just decided to bring something new to show-and-tell, and that scares the weak, the non-creative, the non-accepting, the unadventurous, the unappreciative, the crowd-followers.

Here, to console you, I’ll share a few of my own unpopular anime-related opinions cause, like, we know your thoughts can’t be as near as bad as mine, heh heh heh . . .

  1. I like Sword Art Online (oh crap, we’re starting with a strong one)
  2. I like Sword Art Online II more than the first (yes I just went there)
  3. Sailor Moon Crystal is a pretty enjoyable and strong adaptation of the original manga (no going back now)
  4. KILL la KILL‘s fanservice isn’t that off-putting (hi Kausus :3)
  5. Danganronpa: The Animation is a great adaptation of the game
  6. I don’t mind Kickstarting anime localizations
  7. Typically, I’d rather meet the English voice actors of a show rather than the Japanese seiyuus
  8. I thought The Empire of Corpses was a cool film
  9. Bryce Papenbrook is a good voice actor (in most cases, NOT Kirito)
  10. The Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) is fantastic NOT just because of Yuno Gasai
  11. “Monster girl anime” seem stupid
  12. Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) should NOT be skipped; both it and Brotherhood hold well on their own, respectively (same goes for Deen’s Fate/ stay night)
  13. Free! is NOT just about muscles and wet boys
  14. No Game No Life is not recommendable because it doesn’t end (same goes for Deadman Wonderland)
  15. Madoka Magica: Rebellion is a masterful film
  16. I love Robotics;Notes and Chaos;Head almost as much as Steins;Gate, even if Steins;Gate is the best
  17. The Viz Media English dub of Sailor Moon is better than the DiC dub
  18. I enjoy all of the Pokemon films
  19. Higurashi’s second season Kai is better than the first
  20. The Eden of the East films complete the story wonderfully
  21. Watamote is a funny anime, not a sad one
  22. The live-action Ghost in the Shell (2017) is an incredible and artistic film that respects its sources and holds quite well on its own

. . . Wait, that last one, “That’s not even cool bro . . .”

*cries*

So now that we’ve broken the ice (and melted it), let’s get this out of the way.

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My Unpopular Opinion, an Argument

Ghost in the Shell (2017) was a film that I walked out of not pondering endless sci-fi wonders, but feeling warm and tingly inside instead, which is quite unlike any entry in the franchise thus far has made me feel. But rather than chastise it as “something so far off of the original path that it’s unrecognizable,” think of it as a new side to the franchise. Ghost in the Shell has always been about vast interpretations and new ideas anyway, so why not welcome this unique artistic approach regardless that it looks like the black sheep in the herd.

Even Mamoru Oshii, director of the original 1995 film (which is much of 2017‘s inspiration) only wished for Directer Sanders to not be bogged down by his and Kenji Kamiyama’s Major (Stand Alone Complex), but to create his own as another face to the franchise.

Clearly, a lot of heart was put into visualization of the world—you can feel that the director was going for something GitS, but altogether a new and innovative vision [more relevant to our times].

I loved this fresh spin on the franchise, even if it admittedly bit off a little more than it could chew by trying to tie in so many homages to the franchise that, in fact, make each installment distinct from one another. And like any adaptation, if I wanted to see the original story all over again, I’D JUST WATCH THE ORIGINAL.

And about the casting, I’ve paraphrased a YouTube comment that quite honestly deserves a million likes:

“It’s controversial, but not incorrect casting. Major is an “Asian woman” in a European frame (robotic body), sure, yet part of the theme of cyberpunk and the series/movie revolves around self identity and what truly makes someone themselves—their experiences and actions. The people who said she should have been Asian were not only missing the entire movement of the franchise, but were critics just trying to push their political agenda onto a beloved title. Likely, they didn’t know the source material and went, “Oh, but, it’s Asiany and it’s made in Asia, sooooo.”

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What it Feels Like to be Crushed Your Unpopular Opinion

After I put myself out there, I definitely got “politely flagged” by other community members. They were responding to me, just trying to kindly say that they didn’t care for the movie—and that’s fine, especially since they were so nice!—but you kind of feel, I don’t know, down. It’s like you’re floating on your own raft out on the open waters, which are filled with bloodthirsty hate-filled sharks. And then you’re suddenly reminded that nobody is going to come and save you, so it’s either hold strong to what you value, or let it all go to the sharks.

And you know what? I’m still here, floatin’ away in this little hell all because I like the live action Ghost in the Shell. Stupid, right?

When you value something that others simply don’t, you start to get lonely. Nobody wants to waste their time attempting to scrounge up the very few “pros” that exist (if any) just to please you. They’ll notice, maybe console you saying something like, “Yeah, it could’ve been better,” or perhaps remind you once again as to why your opinions are dumb. But then they’ll go and find something else to talk about, and it almost leaves you feeling guilty for liking (or not liking) what you do. After all, you just missed out on a potentially awesome conversation—if only you shared the same opinion, that is.

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By having an unpopular opinion, you can feel isolated and at its worst, ashamed. You almost wish you could naturally hate something like everyone else did, or fall in love with something the way everyone else did. And then your problems would be gone—But THAT itself IS the problem:

Without your differing ideas, there would be only one main belief about something, and where’s the fun in that? Because you decided to explore where no one else dared, you walked out with something that no one else has, and you should embrace that, not hide it away!

Which is why I’m going to say it:

 “IT’S NOT JUST A SHELL. THE LIVE-ACTION GHOST IN THE SHELL IS NOT JUST A FREAKIN’ SHELL.”

I’m sick and tired of people—reviewers, critics, heck, even the media—calling it that just to make some stupid-ass pun. The SAME stupid-ass pun at that.

So from this experience that I had, I learned that you should always:

DELIGHT in the fact that your opinions may be different than the rest.

BE HUMBLE with your beliefs, proud but open to suggestions, discussions, and different viewpoints.

SUPPORT the things you love, for they brought you joy.

And for goodness sake, ENJOY something because YOU like it, not because others tell you not to or that you’re supposed to.

Don’t let all of the negative opinions and hate bog you down like it did me. Don’t let it! Hate puts your mind in the gutter, and honestly doesn’t feel good at all. You start second-guessing yourself, “Should I really be liking this,” which is EXACTLY what happened with this film for me. Instead, we should all keep on loving anime and the opportunities to ponder, interpret, and discuss that it has brought us. THAT is all you have to do!

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Have you ever had an unpopular opinion that struck you so deep that it brought unwanted hate your way? And did you defend your case in the respectful way you should have? Also, have you ever felt lonely or isolated for liking something that nobody else does? List some for me like I did, as I’m very curious! And almost more than that, I’m SO HAPPY to finally put my thoughts on this film and its controversy to rest. When it was in theaters, I had gone it THREE times (and saved the tickets just for this post), and as of now, I have purchased the artbook, the Blu-ray, and an adorable little Funko Pop of the iconic Geisha! And whenever the soundtrack comes, I’ll buy, support, and listen to that, too! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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Takuto Helped Back The Vision of Escaflowne Kickstarter!

That’s right! I participated in my first ever “Kickstarter” program. Albeit a measly $15 patron, I’m still entitled to some pretty neat gifts (even though that’s not the main reason I participated, well, sorta). See below:

Watch the announcement for a groundbreaking new Kickstarter project for The Vision of Escaflowne–and join us in creating a new definitive dub of this classic that finally matches the uncut HD content!

Read more and back the Kickstarter today at http://funi.to/1n4Rq2a!

The uncut HD Japanese version of the classic anime The Vision of Escaflowne includes scenes that have never been seen in North America, meaning that English speakers have never experienced the show fully in dubbed format. Help make a fan-demanded complete dub finally a reality!

If you are at all interested in a Blu-ray/DVD re-release of this anime classic with never-before-seen-in-English scenes from the original Japanese release . . . Did I also mention a BRAND NEW ENGLISH DUB by FUNimation Entertainment? Then consider throwing a few bucks at this kid. It’s their first Kickstarter and mine as well, and I hope my $15 token helps bring the project closer to its steep $150,000 goal (even though they are well over 3/4 there.

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If you are interested, click below for more INFORMATION!

ANN’s post over the project

The Vision of Escaflowne Kickstarter itself

Being my first, I didn’t want to overspend, you know? But contributing even a little bit was thrilling, and I hope it pays off! Only the name The Vision of Escaflowne is familiar to me; I know virtually nothing about the franchise. Nevertheless, you can expect Takuto’s REAL NAME to appear on the on-disc credit listing if everything works like it should, haha!

Just thought I’d pop by with my thoughts. Support NOW while you can, as this Kickstarter is FLYING BY! Spend wisely ~

– Takuto, your host

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Bring it on, 2016

Helloooo everyone, so it’s like 4 AM and the only other person awake in the blogosphere right now is freakin’ mirrorpurple. Figures, right? Anyway, it’s been a long festive day, but the party never stops because HAPPY NEW YEAR, minna!!! If this post doesn’t show my dedication to blogging then I don’t know what will.

I thought I’d keep this short and sweet because ultimately I’ll be another “2015 Year In” post cluttering your reader, and you’ll be like “Dammit Takuto, I can’t even close the lid on this stupid reader.” We’re all thinking it, no need to sugarcoat it (even though that’s all I do in this café).

I just wanna shout THANK YOU from the top of my lungs to all of my café-goers, those quiet and those constantly keeping my mouth running!! I honestly can’t write. I have no experience with it, and I doubt my future occupation (whatever it may be) will involve writing. All I can do, and have been doing, is utilizing the skills I’ve learned through school, working and coping with what I’ve got in hopes that my façade as a “brilliant blogger” holds up and I can contribute to the anime community and chat with all you wonderful people. Also, a café isn’t very fun without visitors, is it? YOU have all been my spark for blogging, and though it’s only been what, a year and a half, my friendships with you (Especially you, yeah, you. You know whom I’m talking about) is priceless.

So why the late post? Well, I didn’t want to wish everyone a happy new year just in case the apocalypse came early, because I got lazy, and because I wanted to be the last aniblogger you heard from. With that, “Happy New Year!”

I have no New Year’s resolution because I think I swallowed it when I downed a dozen mini-red-velvet and buttercream-frosted cupcakes and Oreo truffles that I made with my sister. If that didn’t do it, then the five glasses of sparkling grape juice certainly did.

It’s been a rough year for finding my writing voice, particularly with my reviews, and the hunt is still ongoing. This year, I’d like to find it, so I suppose that would be one resolution. Please excuse the different formats and such. Your feedback fuels my drive, you know?

I don’t want to compile a list of all of my active followers because YOU ALL drop in quite often, and I yearn for every new conversation I can have with all of my dearest friends. To my newest followers and viewers, I am delighted and gracious that you have decided to stick around (I must be doing something right)!! To you, I am Takuto, your host at my anime café. It’s just another tiny nook in the interwebs where I can serve you digital drinks and cakes as my thoughts for what we love – Anime. I would cry, but then I wouldn’t be able to differentiate the cause: My overflowing emotions for all of you or the damn brightness of this laptop screen. Probably both.

Have the Happiest of New Years! I have a strong feeling that 2016 will be a good ‘un!! Let’s aim for a year full of hearty conversations and memorable moments in this little café of mine 🙂 AS ALWAYS, happy Friday, and until next time, I cherish you all more than words can express!! Good night!

– Takuto, your host

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys have apparently prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Check out my stats if you would like! They may be small compared to others, but I don’t care. I’m hella proud of what we’ve done here 😀 CELEBRATE ~!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.