For the Team – Free! & My Swim Story | OWLS “Team”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s  sixth monthly topic, “Team,” I decided to incorporate what would have been a “Cafe Talk” about my high school swimming experience, along with my thoughts on the anime Free! into one big post over sticking with a team to the end.

While the prompt was more intended as dedication to “Pride Month” and all of those who support the LGBT & Queer communities both in real life and in anime, the generosity and flexibility, as well as the promoted creativity that OWLS is known for, allows me to bend this topic back to its home nature: companionship found in teamwork. Thanks Lyn for the prompt!

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A brief discussion on the 12-episode summer 2013 anime “Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club,” and its 13-episode summer 2014 sequel “Free! – Eternal Summer,” both produced by Kyoto Animation, directed by Hiroko Utsumi, based on the original story by Kouji Ooji.

“After High School, You’re Ordinary”

This was what Haruka Nanase was told long ago and, nearing the end of his own high school experience, Haru is still unsure of what to make of his future. Swimming as early as elementary school and winning races and a tournament with his childhood relay mates—all boys with very much girlish names—Makoto, Nagisa, and Rin, Haru has always loved the water. When they all went their separate ways for middle school, Haru dropped swimming entirely. Now he’s about to enter the real world, all dried up for a life of normalcy.

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That is—until the boys reunite in high school. Only desiring to race Haru after all these years, however, Rin could care less about the old team being together—he only wants to find out that HE is indeed the better, faster, stronger swimmer.

Without Rin, the three boys form a new Iwatobi High School Swim Team, and it turns out that their first challenge is not training and practicing hard, but actually recruiting a fourth member so that their relay can face off against Rin’s team later in the season! Eventually, these boys, bound by friendship, the spirit of competition, and the love of the sport, will discover what swimming in a relay means to each of them!

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And Just Like That, We’re Off the Blocks! 

Free!, like a well-trained athlete, balances episodes of training and technique with bits of fun, slice-of-life ventures and some emotional turmoil inbound. By using races and competitions as peaks of interest (and a way to execute the boys’ hard work), everything flows smoothly and as such makes time fly by. By the end of the two seasons, all relationships and story developments feel comfortably resolved—and that’s all I can ask of most adapted works these days!

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If it’s not apparent to you yet, the boys of Free! are very beloved by its fans in the community, and for good reasons, too. They all have such great . . . chemistry, and truly, they’re more than just friends—they’re family, the kind that look out for each other before themselves, as well as value each others’ strengths and weaknesses alike. Each so unique and diverse, they all have their own personal demons, but rather than facing them alone, they fight each battle as a team, causing their bonds to develop even further. I’d dare say that Free!’s characters form one of the most heartwarming squads out there; if not the best, they’re at least favorites of mine!

Name a Better-Looking Sports Anime. I Dare You.

Looking back, Free! was the first Kyoto Animation show to leave its signature mark on my viewing experience, and boy is it delicious. Not the muscles, well, maybe the muscles. I’m talking about the water—to quote Haru, it’s as if it’s ~alive~. Their attention to how water actually flows in real life is incredible. You could almost call it “liquid smooth.” KyoAni has a splendid color palette, which is bright, airy, and cheerful, not to mention that their eye for the cool, modern aesthetic is top-notch. Color and tone values help to distinguish between scenes of comedy and rivalry. I almost feel as if I’m cleansed when I watch this show, if that makes any sense at all.

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But the boys, oh yes, they are youthful, breathtaking creatures with beautiful physiques. I said it. No regrets.

The seaside OST also provides a flowing atmosphere from scene to scene, specifically those “go out and do something wonderful” tracks like “Rhythm of Port Town” and “Revelry of Student.” What the show’s probably known for music-wise is its energetic openings “Rage On” and “Dried Up Youthful Fame” by the wild OLDCODEX. And then there’s that ending “SPLASH FREE” by STYLE FIVE, a group composed of the five lead seiyuus (loudly sings 50% OFF ver).

For the Team: My High School Swim Club Story

My 8th grade summer ushered in a whole new set of problems: high school was right around the corner, and I was a) waaaay out of shape and b) wanted to fit in. So I was just like anyone else, right?

That’s when I told myself to do a sport—my first one ever—that no matter what happened or how bad I looked, I’d do it just for the sake of doing it. I was considering track for pole-vaulting since a close guy friend of mine did it. Then I looked at tennis.

Tennis couldn’t be that bad, right?

Then summer got real hot. Like, sure, it was 90+ degrees each day, but, early on during my anime experience when I was unfamiliar with simulcasts, I ran into a 30 sec trailer for something hot.

Really hot.

It was other peoples’ phrasing, not mine!

But there was NO WAY I’d “wear a speedo.” Heck, I didn’t even know if my high school had a boys swim team. So I rummaged the yearbooks and did a little online looking and sure enough, there it was.

As the summer drummed on, Free! kept calling be back to YouTube each week where someone would upload the episodes. Not the best streaming service, but I didn’t mind. Anyway, the way their club started off so small and so closely knit, and then the fact that they were STUNNING to look at—I had to do swimming, I just had to.

Season one ended leaving me in high spirits and hopeful that whatever came that coming winter (cause that’s when swim season was here), I’d be more than ready.

Flash forward, the school announcements read off an early interest meeting for the sport. I was overly nervous, of course, but I showed up, and just like a lost freshman EVERYONE knew each other already. Like 20 guys that all were buds with each other. I was already lost, and ready to give up.

Then the first practice came, oh god, the first practice. I received swimming lessons from a countryside town growing up, and so I thought I was a champ at it. But in fact I sucked. Really bad, hahaha!

The next practice came and five or so of the team didn’t show up.

They quit. Each with their own excuses.

Wat.

There were so few members on the team that we were all considered “varsity” swimmers, so at least that was neat. Little ol’ me was varsity as a freshman!

I somehow finished that year improving times meet after meet with the other first years. But my eyes never stopped wandering off to our lane four relay. Coincidentally, or perhaps by fate, there were four of them: one for each of the strokes, one for each of the boys in Free!

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I wanted to be like them. So I worked my ass off at morning practices and afternoon practices day after day after day.

I was even awarded the “Most-Improved” on the team! Still got the medal displayed in my room.

Then they all graduated. Except for one, since he was a junior, but yeah, they all had left me. They left the team, leaderless.

My sophomore and junior years ushered in new issues. New coaches, new members joining then quickly dropping for all the same things, but the core members of the team never left, and now they’re some of my greatest “upperclassmen” friends. Facing the facts, the others just couldn’t take the heat of practice.

But I could, and I did.

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Senior year came. Three other seniors joined me, but then those same three quit the very next day. By the end we were eight strong, but became eight of the closest guys you could ever imagine. We were all swimming Free!.

But there was this one freshman in particular. He was good. Very good. Like crazy good enough to make State qualification times in our first meet.

*gulp*

Then there was me, who had actually peaked his junior year and suffered all season with a young hot-headed coach who didn’t even know what “mercy” meant.

I suddenly felt unqualified. Alone, if you will. Days grew longer, my body grew more tired, and yet my times never improved.

I even remember crying myself to sleep one night, swearing to myself that I’d quit at practice the next day. “Who even needed to say they swam for four years during high school?? It’s not like I’d remember any of it a decade later!!”

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But then I thought about me—myself, that scared little guy who, during his freshman year, witnessed several of his upperclassmen leave the lanes for good. If it weren’t for those four boys, our A-Team relay, I probably would have—

I WOULD HAVE QUIT A LONG TIME AGO.

That’s when it hit me: I wasn’t staying there for me anymore. Heck, I didn’t need swimming, or an in-shape body anymore—it’s senior year.

But what kind of message would that have sent to them, their families, this community, that a team of only freshmen and sophomores were left senior-less after they all quit??

Nope. I was there for them. For the team that never left me when I was a first year.

For the team. 

So I whipped myself back into shape, my psyche ready for any challenges that came my way, because I wasn’t swimming for my own times anymore—it was for the relay, for the team!

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This past spring, we finished seven strong with one of our guys leaving us due to his parents moving away. But we never forgot him, and we never forgot about us.

And it was that fleeting member who got us to compete at State. Relay times are generally left permanently for the team, which is why, when he left, we met consideration time. It was just a few aching days after that we found out that our qualifying time got us in.

We stayed overnight in a fancy hotel, exploring the town together with our coaches, shopping, laughing, making those kinds of memories.

The kinds you’ll never forget.

And then we swam at state. That one really good freshman OF COURSE placed in the top ten. Our relay . . .

We didn’t make it to the second day, hahaha! But we were lucky enough to even be there in the first place, right?

When our splits (individual times) were captured by our coaches and the timing mats, my own time came in:

I swam a 24-some-second 50-yard freestyle in our relay. That is, to date, the fastest I had ever swam, and I nearly cried. We were all yelling and screaming and cheering so loud that we nearly lost our voices, but we didn’t care at that point, cause we all for the most part had swam our best when it mattered most, and ya know,

That means the world to a Team Captain.

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Like Free! tries to tell us, you can be the best swimmer or the worst swimmer, but if you don’t work together as a team, you’ll never win what truly matters: friendship, companionship, brotherhood—they’re all synonymous at this point.

We go about our lives thinking and acting like we have to carry our own weight, and to an extent, that’s true. But like a relay, everything we do is ultimately for the team, for some group, tangible or not, that is bonded together through incredible triumphs, pitfalls, or just good memories.

And if you find yourself losing passion with something, or are stuck with a team that frankly isn’t filled with the most wonderful of people, then BE that wonderful person for the team. Do what I did and work your butt off, sweat your tears away, and devote everything you’ve got just to say that YOU never left them when it mattered most.

Cause ultimately, you, too, are part of a team, their team, and you should do things just like that:

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 This was a very long post (laughs) and I apologize, but there’s a lot to be said about Takuto here. A lot indeed. And if you read it all, from beginning until now, I can’t honestly thank you enough! Free! may be male fanservice to everyone’s eye, but to me, it’s a beautiful and inspirational coming-of-age story filled with compassion and teamwork that inspired me to take on a seemingly impossible journey—impossible alone, that is. It’s about growing up and finding out who you really want to be; about dedication, self-motivation, and life after graduation. Through Free! I made friends and fell in love with a sport, but more that I made memories to last a lifetime, and that’s irreplaceable.

As such, both seasons of Free! are awarded solid “Caffe Mochas” ratings, and should be watched on Crunchyroll or Funimation’s sites for FREE (hah) at one’s earliest convenience. That is, only if you’re craving something really hot.

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This concludes my June 5th (now 6th, apologies) entry in the OWLS “Team” blog tour. Being the first one to kick off a tour of this magnitude is quite a heavy weight, but hopefully I did a decent job, and now we can carry that together, right? Please tune in to Remy Fool (The Lily Garden) as he discusses the poor perception of male crossdressers in Japanese media this Monday, June 12th.

To all the guys I swam with throughout my four years, from the team that inspired me to the one that I, myself, hopefully inspired, thank you for all of the laughs and the memories—this one’s for you. Stay silly my guys. 

And to you, my favorite readers, an even greater thanks! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, once a team captain, now just another blogger

Rei

 

Happy New Year! I’m Going to Try Harder in 2017!

WOAH, who’s this guy? “Takuto . . .” Wasn’t he some self-named “aniblogger” who we stopped hearing from back during the fall of 2016?

Well, you’re not wrong. I kind of dropped the ball–Just like New York did.

HAH

It’s been another crazy-busy year in the personal life of Takuto the host. For that reason (and a lack of blogging enthusiasm), you probably noticed me vanish off the face of the blogosphere several times. Let’s look back on the few achievements sprinkled here and there in 2016, shall we? I’ve linked each header to the related posts for those who like archive browsing like I do. 🙂

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EVA-Week Takes 2016 by Storm

During the past new year festivities and up through the spring, I was ON FIRE. To celebrate the long-held-off U.S. English release of the third block in the Rebuild of Evangelion movie series, Evangelion 3.33, I hosted “EVA-Week,” a week-long journey through the franchise’s other entries besides the main series Neon Genesis Evangelion, beginning with a throwback to Valentine’s Day 2015 when I began my life-altering quest and ending with concerns and cupcakes dedicated towards the latest installment. Boy, was that the time of my life. Many of you already know and some can relate, but this franchise really, really means a lot to me. 2016’s high came early, the 3.33 release easily topping anything that came after it–and that was in FEBRUARY!

Escaflowne, my First Kickstarter

This was one of those unnecessary but fun events to partake in. Though much controversy surrounds the project, I think it’s safe to say I enjoyed participating in a bit of anime history. Ignore my taking the measly $15 pledge, however, for after careful consideration I upped the ante so that I myself could actually hold that piece of history.

IRL Meet-up at Naka-Kon

The highlight of my spring for the past couple years has been attending an anime convention called Naka-Kon in Overland Park, KS. What made this year so special was getting to meet blogger buds Crimson (Crimson Blogs at Night) and Kausus (Otaku Gamer Zone) IN THE FLESH. Our time spent together was brief but nonetheless legendary, and I hope that we’ll be able to reunite again this year. Looking back, I had to include my announcement post (here) because it contained the countless comments (pre-Twitter days) regarding a conversation between myself, Crimson, Kausus, and Lyn (Just Something About LynLyn) where basically they were trying to track my location in the universe. 70 comments of hilarity, and I remember every bit of it!

Watching the Oldest Anime I’ve Ever Seen

I don’t think I can classify myself as a “well-rounded, knowledgeable anime fan” until I have dabbled in a little of every genre from all ages. So, representing shoujo minds of the late 70s/early 80s is The Rose of Versailles. Don’t let its antiquity fool you, for its glittering beauty is eternal, a masterpiece of romance, tragedy, and historical fiction.

Defending Fairies in the Spring

March marks an impressive month for this cafe. After finally being fed up with all of the bashing against Sword Art Online‘s second arc, the “Fairy Dance,” I decided to take flight to the original light novels and compare them to the anime adaptation. Safe to say that in SAO‘s case, the books are better than the movies. Not by a long shot, haha, no, but they make pretty entertaining (and less disgusting) reads. “In Defense of Fairy Dance” remains my most ambitious project yet, spanning over 10,000 words across five distinct parts–Not that more words means better writing, but I think you understand that it was quite the undertaking. This series of posts strengthened my voice in writing and helped me to use graphics in a more effective way. I’m glad I took the time to visit ALO.

Space Cowboys w/the Fam

Do you watch anime with your family? Not many do (and I totally understand and respect each person’s choice in the matter), but here at my place anime was something we all shared growing up. From the ridiculously long speeches about a children’s card game in Yu-Gi-Oh to the lands where creatures and man share the world in Pokemon; from the magical realms of escape in Studio Ghibli works to the even more magical and sparkling city where a young girl recalls her legendary past in Sailor Moon; from the arenas dominated by flaming, spinning tops in Beyblade to the conflicted domain where two worlds collide in Bakugan; my siblings and I (as well as our parents whenever they feel entranced by our joy) have stood by each other’s side, and though I lead the herd, I dare say I’d be nothing without my followers. As part of my 2015 Winter Movie Theater, we fled for space in Cowboy Bebop, a show that my dad remembered watching when he was younger. Though we didn’t finish it until spring the following year, it was a delight to watch this classic, and to witness the end of a journey through the blues that my own dad started many moons ago.

Finding Strength in Hero Week

The third and what would be final big project of 2016 was somewhat a failed one–“Hero Week.” While the intent was to write a review for four shows I was watching that happened to have a hero trend going, there ended up being a day or two of space between each post with a recap about 2 weeks later–2 WEEKS! That’s not good. I don’t regret my actions, for they sort of gave me strength and a view of the big picture in regards to specialized reviews. ERASED, One Punch Man, Yuki Yuna, and My Hero Academia all taught me that no matter how hard things get, we must dust ourselves off and hang in there as best as we can.

More Movie Theater Madness

Summer eventually reared its hot head, and as such the 2016 Summer Movie Theater was under way! The movie theater thing is something I hold for my siblings, but if you’re wanting more info on that, I wrote a Cafe Talk over it quite a while back. Some of the titles that “wowed the crowd” included A Lull in the Sea, Danganronpa, and KILL la KILL, all favorites of mine and excellent pieces that hold on their own!

Joining the Twitter Aniblogger Fam

When I had thrown out a “coming soon”post with bluish tinted wings in the featured image, I wasn’t expecting so many of you to think that a Takuto on Twitter was becoming a reality!! What that announcement ended up being was a teaser to my “Fairy Dance” series, and I felt somewhat sad for disappointing a few of you, haha. But never fear, for I finally got around to that Twitter and all I can say is “why didn’t I do this sooner?!”

Ice-Skating Boys Changed My Life

Yuri. On. Ice. Who knew that an anime about guys gallivanting around on frozen water would forever lift my spirits and revolutionize my winter season? I wasn’t even intending to watch this show, but the constant images of one boy yelling at another boy with the same name in a bathroom stall that flooded my Twitter feed after the season premiere  aired ended up being enough to convince me to boot up the first episode. I was blessed–I think we all were–and so I converted that raw inspiration into a post reflecting the series’ critical third episode. Eros and Agape. Without these two, my blog activity in the latter half of the year would have been quite sparse, so I thank Yuri!!! On ICE for all it has brought into my previously-low-motivated life!!!

Becoming the Change

I was recently recruited into the OWLS, the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect. We are defined as:

A group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. We emphasize the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being.

More information can be found at my pal Arria’s place (Fujinsei).


Of course, my typical reviews, updates, and other posts like hauls and Cafe Talks filled the gaps between each of these major moments, so please, check those out if you feel so inclined. They are the backbone of this fine establishment, after all~!

A Happy New Year to you all, and cheers to 2017 where I promise to work harder on the blogging front!

Like last year, I delayed this post because I wanted to be the last one on the anime blogosphere to wish you a Happy New Year! But, unlike last year, I had to write ALL of this lengthy post. Part of it is a self-motivation plan, another part is that I’m tired of not being around more. I want to be with all of you, followers of my Anime Cafe or not, because you make up the conversations being laid here–You, the reader, are here because we both share a similar passion, anime, and I want to talk about that with YOU! I want to get lost in the worlds of our favorite animated works and experience all of the joys and sorrows that our beloved characters feel.

My art teacher posted this on her dry-erase board sometime in November, and I couldn’t have summed up 2016 better. What happened to be my theme by the end?

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This wasn’t my greatest year (of only 2 lol) for blogging, but I have zero regrets on the path I’ve paved thus far. December provided much self reflection, and it only made me realize how much I want to be here. There is such unique thrill in hitting the “Publish” button that no other hobby can satisfy for me. I need to keep creating content for me, for you, and for anyone else who stumbles across my little digital cafe in the vast sea of data, communication, and connection. My plan? Four posts per month:

  • Anime Review
  • Cafe Talk
  • Monthly Update
  • Another Anime Review/Miscellaneous (haul, analysis, other)

It sounds weak (because it is), but I need to do only what I CAN do. If I can do this much then maybe I can maintain my blogging motivation and [eventually and hopefully] write more!

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I offer the warmest THANK YOU from the bottom of the coffee pot for sticking with me these past few months, both the active comment-leavers (you know who you are) and the quiet readers. Also, to any of you who recently walked through the door, HI, I’m Takuto, your host at my Anime Cafe. I hope you enjoy the fruits of my efforts, the wonders to come and the gifts I’ve left behind~! 

Let’s aim for a another year ripe with hearty conversations and memorable moments in this little cafe of mine 🙂 AS ALWAYS, until next time, I cherish you all more than words can express!! Good night!

– 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.

30-Day Song Challenge Day 30 (FINALE): Songs That Would Be The Theme Song To A TV Show About Your Life

It’s finally arrived. 30 days later, we finally made it, minna! Enjoy the finale ~

I feel like I should be making some sort of elaborate speech, but truth be told, it’s just another day of the challenge XD. One last time, I shall be breaking the rules by uploading as many songs as I freakin’ can just to prove my point. What is today’s topic anyway? A theme song for a show about my life? Well, that’d be pretty boring, IDK, probably just some awkward little string pizzicato diddy. But if it’s like any TV show nowadays, the theme song’s grandeur would be exponentially higher than what the show actually makes out to be. So let’s just blow my life story out of proportion and get to rockin’!

These songs, by the way, will be considered the “opening theme” for a show about my life.

From Gosick, “Resuscitated Hope” by Lisa Komine

If my life was a mystery-occult-romance-drama thrown back in the 1920s, then my opening song would easily be this masterpiece. I’ve been waiting this whole challenge just to fit this song in the mix, and I think it’s more than appropriate here, wouldn’t you? The anime Gosick, by the way, is totally epic! It’s a rarity that surprisingly many people don’t know about, so go check it out as soon as you can. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the time period and the characters, not to mention getting wrapped up in all of the intense mystery horror (too bad my life’s not like Victorique’s)!

From Haiyore! Nyaruko-san W, “Koi wa Chaos no Shimobenari” by Ushiro kara Haiyori-tai G

If my life was a rom-com-harem-fan-service-ecchi anime, then hells yeah this is what it’d sound like! Now, I haven’t seen the show at all, let alone this sequel, but with the way it bounces all around just makes me think of ecchi things. WOAH, Takuto, you’re a pervert? Well, as much as the next guy I suppose, but doesn’t this song sound kinda . . . naughty . . . ? Think about it.

😉

“Endless Tears” by CLIFF EDGE feat. Maiko Nakamura

If my life was a romance-intense-drama-heartbreaker, then here you go. “Endless Tears.” Yes, I know I’ve already talked about this one, but seriously, this is my drama-bomb cry-forever song. My life will most likely never be so complicated in the field of love (cause I’m a loner), but if things did take a drastic turn and BAM, sudden dramatic twists, then I can’t think of a better match. Enjoy it this last time ~

From The Heroic Legend of Arslan, “Lapis Lazuli” by Eir Aoi

If my life were a fantasy-tragedy-action anime, then you’ve got “Lapis Lazuli.” I mentioned a cover of this song, but try out the original sometime. It’s fantastic! It’s got just enough sass and swing to carry the melody, and the beat is perfect for imagining all kinds of exciting adventures over various lands. But I include tragedy because I feel a bittersweet longing in this song – a craving for something special. In the end, I don’t think I would ever find it, so I mark my ending as tragic. At least it was one hell of an adventure, right?

From In Search of the Lost Future, “Le jour” by Satomi Sato

If my life were a romance-drama-sci-fi-thriller, then I think this would be a decent fit. Now for those who have not watched this obscure anime (or haven’t even heard it before), don’t watch it. It’s sh*t. But it had several wonderful aspects to it that made me want to see it through to the end. What was the best thing I got out of it – this song, the opening. It’s rejoicing, tragic tone just reminds me so much of, well, myself! I probably didn’t match the genres up as well as I could have, but here it is nevertheless.

From Neon Genesis Evangelion, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi

If my life were a psychological-supernatural-sci-fi-thriller, then what else would you expect from me?? Honestly, if you didn’t expect this infamous song to hit the list, then you probably don’t know me LOL Seriously though, this song kills me every time – but in a good way, mind you. Eva always manages to remind me of how the world works for some odd reason, and that’s probably due to the way it destroys its characters over and over again until you can hardly not stop crying for them. It’s got giant aliens, giant robots, comedy, romance, tragedy, action, drama – Everything for me!! If my life were anything like this, then this would easily be my theme song without a doubt.

But my life is none of these exciting things, and most likely will never be so exquisite. I manage, day by day, facing the harsh reality like anyone else. I live a normal slice-of-life-rom-com whether I want to or not. As such, there’s really only one song that can capture my struggles:

From Kyoukai no Kanata, “Daisy” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION

It’s casual, light-hearted, but also has this relatable passion of feeling like another day is passing by. Fleeting is perhaps the word I’m looking for. While most episodes would take place in the classroom or at home, besides being the opening, this feels like the song that would burst out when I chase the one I love . . . whenever I find them. “Daisy” is very well-rounded, and as such I think it’s the ideal match. It’s slow-drumming groove and slightly delicate chord work timed with the incredible male singer transforms this into a song befitting of my average life. If you listen closely, you can hear the anguish of this normal life within the song, and its subtlety grabs me by the heart every time.

[listen to one of these as you read the rest for maximum feels]

This right here is magic.

And there you have it. 30 days; a ton of songs to listen to! I won’t lie, I’m pretty sad that it’s all over now 😥 We’ve gone through so much together in just these last 30 days. You’ve probably learned so many new things about me, whether they’re personal quotes or whatnot. Thank you for all of the support during this challenge 🙂 If you’ve stuck it through from day one to now, then you’re a really dedicated trooper! I found so much love from you guys, reading boat-loads of comments at three in the morning, or receiving text alerts all throughout the day (*sniffs, stifles back a tear). I’ll really miss this.

If you happened to miss a day during the challenge, or are curious to compare before and after certain days, then never fear. I’ve linked the challenge in the header menu above. If that’s too much work for you, I’ll just leave a convenient listing below. Click on a day and take in all of these feels!!

Day 1: A song that makes you happy
Day 2: A song that helps you clear your head
Day 3: A song that makes you laugh
Day 4: A song that reminds you of something sad
Day 5: A song that has a new meaning to you every time you hear it
Day 6: A song you can always relate to
Day 7: A song that holds a lot of meaning to you
Day 8: A song that makes you cry
Day 9: A song that makes you want to dance
Day 10: A song that annoys you
Day 11: A song that reminds you of summer
Day 12: A song that reminds you of your best friend
Day 13: A song you sing to in the shower
Day 14: A song you liked when you were younger
Day 15: A song people wouldn’t expect you to like
Day 16: A song that is your guilty pleasure
Day 17: A song you like hearing live
Day 18: A song you have as your ringtone/want to be your ringtone
Day 19: A song you’re currently obsessed with
Day 20: A song from a new album you are waiting for to come out
Day 21: A song you want to dance to at your wedding
Day 22: A song that you haven’t listened to in a while
Day 23: A cover song that you like
Day 24: A song that makes you angry
Day 25: An acoustic song you love
Day 26: A song by your favorite band
Day 27: A song you make fun of
Day 28: A song that reminds you of your boyfriend/girlfriend (if you don’t have one, make one up)
Day 29: A song currently stuck in your head
Day 30: A song that would be the theme song to a TV show about your life

[Challenge Starting Date: August 14, 2015]

[Challenge Completion Date: September 13, 2015]

Did you have a particular favorite day of the challenge? If so, tell me down below – Let’s have a party in the comments! Wow, I guess I could go back to watching anime and writing reviews now. Also, I have a crap ton of lovely nominations for various awards to follow up with. I guess wherever the wind takes us next will be our new quest! Thank you all again for your support throughout this challenge. I had way too much fun writing for each of these special moments 🙂 WE DID IT! This challenge was so, so incredibly tiring, but well worth the new friends and songs that I got to meet and listen to. I recommend this 30-Day Song Challenge to anyone daring to take up 30 within a month. I thought it was supposed to be done day-by-day, but apparently other bloggers have been posting to their own liking, which I won’t lie, it probably would have been an good idea to try 😛 BUT I’m crazy like that, so there you go! Until next time everybody, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Takuto’s Anime Cafe One-Year Anniversary!

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Wow, where to start? Umm, hi, my name is Takuto. I’m the host hear at the Anime Cafe. While I can’t serve actual food and drinks to you, I can bring you some savory anime reviews and worthwhile conversations. One year ago, I shyly put out the chalkboard stand and turned the “Welcome” sign facing the skies. Since then, I’ve accumulated . . .

115 posts,

about 1,451 curious visitors,

about 3,797 positive views,

about 703 gracious likes,

about 905 lovely comments,

and 98 faithful followers.

If you’ve ever liked one of my posts, followed me around, left a comment, read one of my little posts, and/or even stopped by just to see what’s up, Thank You. From the bottom of my heart. I honestly cannot think of a happier and more positive place to be in than in this very cafe – in the WordPress Aniblogger community. Thank you so much.

But I can’t stay serious for too long, you know me 😉 I’ve honestly had such a fantastic, memorable time with all of you. Whether you’ve been with me since the beginning, or we just started tagging each other >.< I hope I’ve impacted you in some sort of upbeat, smiley way, as you have on me! Please keep up the awesome support, as I will continue to boost all of you with my dull humor and fanciful comments (not really, but really) 🙂 I honestly love you guys too much, and I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed what I have been able to give you, albeit just some words on another random anime site! *raises tavern mug* Here’s to the passing year, and to the next incredible one to pass!!! *drinks heartily*

But I think I owe you all something else, too. It’s a cafe, yet not once have any of you been visually served. ENJOY~

I know it’s not nearly enough, but we’ll definitely have more celebrating in the future (like my 100 followers special, which is coming up really soon *cough cough, wink wink*) Thank you for the adventure, and until next time, this has, and always will be

– Takuto, your host

Under, Over, and About 100 (a congratulations and thank you)

Hello, all,

I still haven’t read your comments about the past couple of posts, but there’s a secret reason why – and I’m about to spill the beans. First, however, I have a cheesy little poem for you all that I wrote (but it rhymes, so we’re all good). EHERM, here we go . . .

100 is a milestone,

It’s quite the special feat.

But when you have it more than once

It’s an even greater treat.

99

Once I hit this ‘Publish’ button

I would have posted 100 posts.

It sounds small now, and it kinda is,

But that’s 100 times as “Your Host.”

Upon my birthday celebration

I was catching up in my reader.

Commenting a ton, readin’ some fun,

My notification count grew steeper.

115

Yes, it finally rang 100 –

It has never been so high!

Now I have some replies to make

Before they all slip by.

95

So 100 posts, 100 comments,

What can possibly be next?

Well, (nearly) 100 Cafe-goers

Can’t simply be expressed in a text!

Also, remember when I inquired you all

To recommend a 100th show?

All of that feedback is now in my backlog

And I’ve found one to continue the flow!

He’s actually my mascot; the symbol of myself,

From a show that I have surprisingly not seen.

I have heard oh-so many good things

About this chocolate-haired, mystery teen.

I hope and plan to start this anime soon

And award it with a “Caffe Mocha.”

Though first, just to put you at ease,

It will be the lovely Hyouka.

Hyouka

100 is a milestone,

It’s always been one of my dreams.

But when I have such a nice bunch like you all,

It’s not as hard as it seems.

So thank you very, very much

I do hope you have enjoyed my content.

For after all of those late nights, and more to come,

Without a doubt – My time’s been well spent 🙂

So that’s all I had to say. Sweet and simple if you ask me! I’m just overjoyed that I can now go read all of your comments and responses to things that I might have said on your post(s). 100, man, that’s awesome – the coffee’s gonna taste even better tonight 😀 Oh, what? You wanted some? *blends ice, adds ground beans, blends again, adds chocolate, tops with whip cream and more chocolate* Here you go – It’s on the house tonight! Haha, until the next post, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Ray of Sunshine! (Sunshine Award)

Just yesterday morning I woke up to a normal, hot summer day, that is, until I found out that I’ve been nominated again, but this time, for the Sunshine Award!! I can’t say anything else, however, until I extend my thanks to Shiroyuni over at “thelimitlessimagination.” She’s not only a great blogger friend but she writes very, very interesting posts, so please check out “thelimitlessimagination” if you haven’t already!

Paraphrased from Shiroyuni herself, the Sunshine Blog Award is given to those who exhibit positive attitude and “creatively influence” other bloggers. To the questions!

  1. Do you think you’ll ever stop blogging? If yes, why and if no, why not?

Ooh, this is a hard one to answer, considering that I do not know what the future holds in store for me. While I can’t give a straight answer, I can confirm that I’m not going anywhere for the time being. In fact, it’s summer – I should be blogging more!

  1. How do you juggle between real life and blogging commitments?

I don’t, haha. I’ve always lived by “work first, play later,” so that’s what I do. I’m not sure if I would call that juggling real life or squeezing in whatever free time I can for blogging, well, that and anime >.< I won’t lie, it’s a pretty hard task, and that’s why these awards are such a good idea – let peoples’ work get noticed and the appreciation they deserve! Go anibloggers!!

  1. Do you let people you know in real life read your blog? If yes, why and if no, why not?

My blog is one of my most heavily guarded secrets known only to those dwelling on the interwebs, haha! Even though it will probably never happen, I want one of my friends to be on the web, find my blog and go, “Woah, this is pretty neat,” cause then I could say, “Hah, I am Takuto, and welcome to my cafe!” (*sigh* I’ll probably just tell them in a couple months or something)

  1. What anime / manga / movie / TV series character do you resemble the most, in terms of personality?

This right here was easily the hardest question. I want to say Oreki from Hyouka, as I’ve heard about his personality, but I’ve never watched the anime so I can’t confirm that 😦 If I had to pick, though, I’d go with Mikoto Misaka from A Certain Scientific Railgun. Even though she’s a girl, we both have this facade of being high class and pretentious when we’re actually down to Earth and relatable. Misaka is unyielding to challenges and always performs tasks with such unwavering dignity. She’s kind, a bit selfish at times, but is always looking out for others. We also both have secret hobbies (fu fu fu :3)

  1. What is the biggest concern you have right now?

My biggest concern right now is my future career. I don’t really know what I want to do yet, and I’m crunching down on time. Yeesh, scary! I need to get a job . . .

  1. Name one virtue/value that you think is extremely important and why.

To me, honoring integrity is incredibly important. I was once told that if someone was to describe another with only one word, “integrity” was the best thing they could say. It’s one of the heaviest values and it encompasses other virtues like honesty and uprightness/dignity. Truly an honorable value!

And now for a few people whom I nominate, as they are all great, positive influences in the anime blogging community:

Shay-shay’s Anime Blognot only super nice, but she posts great questions where she always responds, we have great conversations

ZeAnimethey haven’t posted in a while, but the content that’s there is amazing, pleasant to talk to as well

LitaKino Anime Reviewsliterally the funniest aniblogger that I know, a ray of positivity who also has a YouTube account you should check out

The Huge Anime Fan (Cassandra)a great blogger friend who enjoys writing about the anime in season as well as being extremely fun to talk to

The Otaku Judgethe definitive place to find constructive criticism on anime/games, very supportive of other anibloggers and myself as well

Let’s Talk Anime (tcondon1)another blogger buddy who always answers my dorky questions (go ask some yourself) 🙂 , I appreciate all of the replies and everything that they post

Rocco’s Anime Journala long-standing blogger friend if I do say so myself, posts in-depth episode-by-episode reviews as well as supports my own blog with anime-related knowledge

***If you’ve already been nominated and you’re on the list, no problem, just comment below with a link to your Sunshine Award Nomination post because I want to read it! If there is a question here that you feel the need to answer, feel free – comment away! 🙂 Thanks and Congrats ~

Questions for my nominees (again, you can simply comment below with an answer to one if you have already been nominated):

  1. Do you prefer anime films or series?
  2. Why do you write on your blog?
  3. Gun fights or sword showdowns?
  4. What was the last anime character that you related deeply to, if any?
  5. What’s your opinion on this spring anime season – simulcasts?
  6. I liked Shiroyuni’s question so here’s “ How do you juggle between real life and blogging commitments?”
  7. At this exact moment, what anime and episode are you on/watching, if any?

Official Rules of the Sunshine Award:

If you have been nominated for The Sunshine Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Sunshine award in which you:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate a few other bloggers.
  • Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you nominated.
  • Notify the bloggers on their blog.
  • Put the award button on your blog.

Ahh, such a long post to write, so many interesting blogs! Each of you write such positive things that honestly, everyone deserves the Sunshine award! I had tons of fun writing this and answering Shiroyuni’s questions – thanks again for the nomination! Can’t wait to read your responses and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host