October Mythology Special: Raiju/Raijin and the Superstitions around Belly Buttons

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Never clip your nails at night. Make sure to hide your thumbs when a funeral procession goes by. Don’t whistle at night or you’ll invite a snake into your home. These are just a few of many superstitions that can be found in Japanese culture used to scare children into good behavior. Another common one you may hear is “always cover your belly button when thunder is rumbling.” It’s very obviously a cautionary tale to prevent children from getting sick when the temperature drops during a storm, but what are the mythological and cultural origins of this phrase? Why thunder and why belly buttons in particular? Continue reading

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How Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Managed to Disappoint One of its Biggest Fans

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The title of this blog post makes it sound like I’m feeling a bit betrayed right now, and in a way that is true. Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my all-time favorite series. It’s one that’s been a favorite of mine since early childhood and, because of this series, I was introduced to many more brilliant CLAMP series like xxxHolic and Kobato. It was one of the first magical girl series to really break the mold of what it meant to be a magical girl, doing away with transformation sequences, actually adding characterization to the male leads/love interest, and promoting positive views of single parenthood and same-sex relationships. To say that I was looking forward to this series when it was announced would be an understatement. I knew there was a chance it would turn out to be a sub-par remake, but I honestly had faith that CLAMP wouldn’t let one of their most popular series fail like that.

Back at the end of last season, the middle of the series, I wrote a blog post talking about Clear Card as it stood then and my hopes for where the story may go from there. There were a ton of questions circling around at that time about where the story would go, what kind of reveals we would see later on, and predictions on where the story around Akiho might go. Now, I can definitively say after watching the last episode that I honestly have more questions now than I did then. This review is probably going to end up being pretty spoilery, so if you haven’t caught up on the new series, I suggest you go watch it before reading further. Continue reading

The Changing Face of Paternity in Japan as Told Through Anime and Manga

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Back in 2016, Pause and Select did a video analysis of Sweetness and Lightning and the nature of how it displayed fatherhood. In it, he examines the social conceptions surrounding the nature of cooking and the creation of bentos in relation to the changing image of fatherhood. The nature of fatherhood in Japan is a concept I’ve wanted to write about for a while, and it’s taken me longer than expected to really put together my thoughts on this issue. The research spans years, decades even, going back to Confucianism and pre-Meiji-era thought forms and culture. Pause and Select’s video is comprehensive in it’s analysis of the different kinds of representations of both masculinity and fatherhood in manga and anime, but I want to dig a little deeper. How did this perception change? What can we see in both the politics and wider culture of Japan that points to a changing sense of family and fatherhood? And how is this displayed in current media? Continue reading

Why Clear Card Will Never Surpass the Original Cardcaptors: A Mid-Season Review

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As you can probably tell by now, Cardcaptors is one of my top favorite animes of all time. I can honestly say that’s probably one of, if not the, best magical girl anime out there. It was one of my first animes as a child and one of the first mangas I picked up, so I’m sure you can understand how intensely excited I was for the new Clear Card arc. After almost 20 years, Sakura Kinomoto and all her friends and magic cards were going to come back for a new, modern story made for both nostalgic fans and a new generation of young girls. I’ve tried to keep my hype in check because I know how things things go most of the time. You get super hyped over something and then it just kind of lets you down, that’s just how new anime/media releases are. I knew already from the manga that it probably wouldn’t meet my nostalgia expectations, but when the anime started I was surprisingly confused on whether or not I liked where CLAMP was going with the series.

If you don’t know already, the Clear Card arc follows Sakura Kinomoto as she transitions into middle school. It picks up where the last movie left off, with Li returning from Hong Kong to join everyone for a new school year. All of our favorite characters are back with minimal changes. In the beginning, the magic front has been pretty quiet to the point where Sakura is considering putting away her key. But things quickly change when she begins to have weird dreams about a hooded figure trying to steal her magical key. Her Sakura Cards then become unusable, her key changes into something new, and new cards begin appearing around town. Sakura, Tomoyo, and Li must once again collect all the new Clear Cards. Continue reading

Top 5 Romance Anime

There were a lot of anime that were considered for this list and, in the end, didn’t make it on. In the process of choosing my top five romance anime, I looked for series that I’ve found myself going back to and those that have done something unique with their stories. I ultimately decided not to include OVA’s, movies, or feature films if only to make sure this list wasn’t full of Ghibli movies. I have enough reviews covering my opinions of most of his movies already. Below are five series and two honorable mentions that I thought encapsulated all of the different facets of a good romance anime. Whether it be great characters, an interesting setting, the ability to parody shoujo anime to perfection, great animation, or a combination of all of these, a series has to be more than just great romance to make it onto this list. I hope you enjoy this last top 5 list and I encourage you to check out the other three that I’ve posted this week. So starting at number one, here are my top five romance anime. Continue reading

A New Cardcaptor Sakura Means Some Changes for Better or Worse

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Cardcaptors has been a series that I have returned to again and again, whether it was trying to learn to read Japanese through its original manga or watching and rewatching the 70 episode anime and two movies. Now, after almost 17 years, CLAMP is bringing back one of their most popular and beloved IPs for a new — and old — generation of readers. Cardcaptor Sakura: The Clear Card Arc is both a continuation and a modern retelling of the original story. I say modern retelling in the sense that the content and world are updated to match our current culture and technology while also following the same storytelling formula of the previous series. As someone who is an avid fan of the series, I have both reservations and hope that CLAMP will be able to make good on their past success with both the new manga and the anime coming out in January.

Continue reading