Waxing Philosophical: What We Can Learn from even the Trashiest of Romances

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Valentine’s Day is behind us but I think it’s important to continue thinking about romance and the kind of impact these kinds of stories have on readers. It’s one of the reasons I created this blog and continue to return to romance series. Reading romance books and manga were majorly important to me when I was growing up. I started reading them back in middle school, or about 12 to 13 years old. I’ve never really thought about the significance of starting around that time until this article from Vulture pointed it out: the kinds of books you read in school are mostly stories of boys and men with the occasional dead girl so, in essence, romance books become a way to see girls and female characters in prominent roles. They’re thrilling, a way to experience and read about sex, something that is usually frowned upon in academia and some social circles. The US in particular isn’t very good about including comprehensive sex education in their schools, so for many girls, this is their first and sometimes only major way to learn about sex and sexual relationships.

The romance genre has gotten a bad rap over the years, considered “popular” literature or just not literature at all. Why? It could be because its an industry dominated by women who are writing predominantly for women. It could be the sometimes silly, “bodice-ripper” covers showing half naked women and men on full display. It could also be the escapist nature of romance fiction in general which tends to make people point at it and say, “there’s nothing good or intelligent you can get out of a story like that. It’s all just trash for bored housewives.” Which is completely and utterly wrong. Dismissing a whole genre in and of itself is wrong, and I’m here to tell you there are quite a few important life lessons you can learn from romance. Continue reading

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Valentine’s Themed Episodes to Get You in the Mood

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Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all! Even if you’re not celebrating with a special person today, you’re all welcome here. My fiancee has to work tonight, so I’m here to talk some anime and manga with all of you while I eat some sweet, sweet chocolate. So grab your candy and beverage of choice and a snuggly blanket cause tonight we’re looking at Valentine’s Day themed episodes and chapters from anime and manga. Now these are just personally my favorite episodes or moments that focused on Valentine’s Day in ways that were either amusing or touching in the context of the show or series. I know there are a ton of others I could put on this list, so I’m interested in hearing your picks down below, or even just your favorite treat to eat on Valentine’s Day. Here are four picks for some of my favorite anime and manga moments this holiday. Continue reading

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Anime Review

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This anime has to be one of the most talked about of last season, and for good reason. This is another contender for top show of the Winter season for me as it is just all-around a great series in terms of animation, story, and characters. Bunny Girl Senpai has an interesting mix of romance, magical realism, and drama with a touch of wit to really keep you hooked for the long-haul. It’s the type of show that I can see sparking so many discussions about the nature of human psychology and how we cope with society and stress. I’ve already seen quite a few interesting discussions on its subject matter not to mention its catchy opening. I highly encourage anyone who has been wavering about watching the show especially due to its title, to really give it a chance.

The story follows Sakuta Azusagawa whose life takes a weird turn when he meets the actress Mai Sakurajima in the library dressed in a bunny girl costume with seemingly no one noticing she’s there. Mai is intrigues that he seems to be the only one who can see her, and as Sakuta begins to speak with her more, he discovers that more people are slowly losing their ability to see her as well. Sakuta calls this “adolescence syndrome” or “puberty syndrome” and works to help her solve this mystery as well as those of other girls he meets along the way. Continue reading

Iroduku: the World in Colors Anime Review

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It’s rare that I come across a show that really hits me hard, but I seem to be stumbling on those more and more this past year. Maybe it’s true what all the anime bloggers and youtubers are saying, that 2018 was one of the best if not the best year of anime to date. We had some really hard-hitting series this year, from Violet Evergarden to Banana Fish to name a few. I’d like to make the case that Iroduku should fall into this list too, and not just because it got me to cry like a baby. Studio PA Works did an amazing job on the animation, character designs, music, and backgrounds. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this series and I absolutely loved how this story weaved magical realism, time travel, and regular high school romance into something truly engaging.

Iroduku: the World in Colors follows a girl names Hitomi who lives in the year 2078 and comes from a family of witches. From early childhood, Hitomi has not been able to see color and has lost all passion or love for magic. In an effort to help her granddaughter be happy again, Kohaku sends Hitomi 60 years into the past to meet her teenage self. Back in 2018, Hitomi winds up joining the Photography and Arts Club and focuses on learning how to take black and white photos. It’s here that she meets Yuito, the only person she’s met whose drawing appear in color for her. Continue reading

Manga or Anime? – Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

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What is it about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku that keeps drawing me back? So far I’ve probably watched the anime about three times now all the way through. I’ve also picked up all three US volumes (6 Japanese volumes) of the manga and have read through all of those at least twice. I’ve reviewed the anime before on this blog, and I stick by my assessment that it’s a genuinely great series about nerdy people falling in love. It’s an anime I think we really needed with its energy, comedy, and healthy older relationships. So after the anime ended I felt the need to pick up the manga and see what other content there was, and I have to say that the anime is a fairly faithful adaptation with some minor changes to pacing and story. Like a lot of other adaptations, there are advantages to each medium whether it be animation or comics, and I find myself enjoying both the anime and the manga almost equally. However, there are a few notable differences between the two that I’d like to touch on more below. Continue reading

Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits Anime 2nd Cour Review

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Kakuriyo hits a lot of the key points for me in terms of a series that I know I’m going to be interested in long-term. It has a focus on youkai, and as you probably know by now, I will forever be drawn to series that use concepts of mythology and the supernatural. But it keeps going further, by blending this youkai base with concepts of cooking and romance. In essence, it becomes its own weird isekai/cooking genre, with similarities to say Restaurant to Another World where the main character is forced to cook for youkai and other interesting characters with the romance integrated into the main plotline but not overshadowing it. I have to say at the end of watching the last cour, I do find myself liking the series as a whole and might pursue looking into the manga since the volumes are just starting to publish here in the US. However, I do have certain problems with the series, but those mainly focus on the quality of animation.

The second cour of Kakuriyo picks right up where the first cour ended, and while I only went up to episode 12 in the last review, I would say the second cour starts around episode 14. It’s within these first couple episodes that we see the beginning of the second major story arc with the arrival of the head of the competing Southern inn Orio-ya, Ranmaru. We met some of the employees of this inn before in the last cour, but it is here that it is revealed that Ginji’s status as a Tenjin-ya employee is only temporary, and he called back to Orio-ya to complete a special “ceremony”. In an effort to prevent this from happening and convince him to come back, Aoi threatens Ranmaru and Ougon-douji and is promptly kidnapped and taken with them to Orio-ya where her struggles begin anew. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Kuchisake-Onna, or What Happens When Ghost Stories Get Too Real

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You’re walking down a dark street at night. Mist is starting to cover the ground making the road ahead of you hard to see. Suddenly you see the shadow of a woman step out of the mist and walk towards you. She looks like a fairly normal Japanese woman and is wearing a surgical mask to cover her face. That in and of itself isn’t weird as many people in Japan wear masks when they are sick or for various other reasons. The woman continues to walk towards you, and when she is close enough for you to see her face clearly, she asks, “Am I beautiful?” Not wanting to be rude, you answer “Yes”. The woman takes hold of her mask, pulling it down to reveal a mouth that has been slit open ear-to-ear, and asks, “Even now?” You have just met the Kuchisake-onna, how do you answer? Be careful, if you answer wrong, you could end up looking like her. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Gashadokuro, the Hungriest of Ghosts

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Japan is known for its hungry ghosts, yurei who come back to haunt those who have wronged them or come back to fulfill some unfulfilled purpose before they can move on. In the last post, we had the Manekute no Yurie or the beckoning hand that appears sticking out of empty rooms, and will only go away once its wants are fulfilled or someone reads it some sutras. However, the the Manekute no Yurei is a fairly benevolent ghost despite its hunger. Hunger can be an extremely powerful force especially when put into the perspective of starvation and famine, and that’s where tonight’s ghostly story comes from. The Gashadokuro is the hungriest ghost of all and one of the most dangerous of the yurei who walk the darkened streets of Japan. You definitely don’t want to meet this one, but if you do there’s only one thing you can do…..run. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Jorogumo/Tsuchigumo and Indigenous History

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Japan Powered recounts one story about a curious thing that happened to a logger out in the forest: “One day a logger was going about his work. Since logging is an exhausting business, seeing as how this was Edo period Japan and the chainsaw hadn’t been invented yet, the man decides to take a short break. He hears the crash of a waterfall nearby, and decides that sitting on the stream bank and watching the waterfall would be a pleasant way to spend his lunch break. However, no sooner has the man settled himself and unpacked his food than a strange something attaches itself to his foot! Puzzled, the man pulls the sticky substance off. He sees that it is something like spider silk. He sticks the stuff to a nearby log. A moment later, the log goes zipping across the stream bank, only to disappear beneath the churning waters of the waterfall. Not a little spooked, our logger decides it’s best to take his lunch break elsewhere and he beats a hasty retreat back into the woods.” Continue reading

Fall 2018 Anime First Impressions

Welcome back to another first impressions post. I didn’t get a chance to do one last season, mainly because there was really only one romance show that season worth talking about, Banana Fish. It seemed like a lot of other bloggers had that one covered so I figured I could skip the first impressions post. Well, this season has certainly made up for the lack last season in both quality and quantity this season. There are six romances I wanted to talk about this time, and a few that I didn’t include in the list below because they sat on the line between romance and something else without specifically being tagged as a romance. In particular: Jingo-san no Yome and As Miss Beelzebub Likes. Both I have found to be pretty entertaining and I encourage you to check them out, but I won’t be talking about them here as neither are fully romance and sit more in the moe or slice-of-life genre. Anyways, see below for some first impressions of six romance shows currently airing this season, and if you want to see what other shows I’m watching this season, feel free to check out my MAL account. Continue reading