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

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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

A Bride’s Story Manga Volume 3 Review

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No matter how much I grumble about the price of a volume of this manga (17 USD), I will always enjoy picking it up and reading on with the story. The price really is worth it. For a hardcover edition, larger pages, and great quality art, I really shouldn’t be grumbling too much. Not to mention that the series is finally getting an ebook edition that just might be cheaper, so if you like to read manga digitally more than in print, this is your chance to pick up one of my top 10 favorite mangas. Whenever I get around to reviewing my top 5 lists that I did a year or two ago, I might just add this one up there. You can feel the just vast amount of work and dedication Kaoru Mori put into this series through her intricately detailed art and in-depth historical knowledge of the setting and cultures she’s depicting. It creates this great cross-over of enjoyment for me between my history buff side and artistic side, providing a great well-rounded series I can really sink my teeth into.

The plot of each volume of A Bride’s Story follows one or two different potential brides through their lives and troubles as they try to find a marriage partner. For this volume we have Talas, a five-time widow who now lives alone with her mother on the land left to her by her husband’s family. The potential groom in this case is Mr. Smith as he continues on his journey back to England. At the start of the volume, we see him arrive at the meeting point where he is supposed to pick up his guide to Ankara, but due to some unforeseen circumstances (like his bags being stolen and his guide nowhere in sight), Mr. Smith is invited to stay with Talas and her mother until it is time for him to leave. Continue reading

Polar Bear in Love Manga Volume 1 Review

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Polar Bear in Love was a recent pick-up from one of my recent comic book runs. I’ve seen it pop up on twitter before, and apparently there’s a collection of online-only anime shorts being created for it. All the more reason for me to pick up the manga and check out what all the fuss is about. Be prepared though, if you wind up deciding to pick this up, you’ll get hit with a wave of cute as soon as you open the manga. It’s something I would consider an all-ages manga since I haven’t seen anything yet that makes me think there will be any older-level content, but it does have an undercurrent of boys love since both main characters are male. I would definitely say the manga is entertaining and does lend itself well to short-form animations, but it also may be too lacking in substance to keep me hooked in the future.

The basis of the manga centers around a young polar bear and a baby seal, both male, who meet each other while the seal is waiting for his mother to come back up through hole in the ice. Despite being natural enemies, Polar Bear falls in love with Seal. It’s love at first sight, but Seal still can’t forget that he is Polar Bear’s favorite meal. Seal can’t escape from Polar Bears advances though, and winds up staying with the amorous bear at least until his mother comes back. Written and created by Koromo and originally published on Pixiv, the English manga release was picked up by Yen Press. Continue reading

Some Short Thoughts on The Night is Short, Walk on Girl Film

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Today and yesterday mark the two-day only release of Misaaki Yuasa’s new film The Night is Short, Walk on Girl in US theaters. I almost didn’t get tickets, as the ones at the theater closest to me were selling out rather quickly, even a two weeks before the release. Now, I’m so glad I decided to buy those tickets when I did because this movie is definitely worth watching. Coming from the director of the Tatami Galaxy, Lu Over the Wall, and, most recently, the new Devilman Crybaby series, you can definitely see Yuasa’s free-form and expressive style throughout the film. I’m a sucker for unique and artistically expressive animation, and this film has it in spades. It’s honestly a feast for the eyes and wound up warming my heart in the process.

If you haven’t had a chance to look into the film, it follows the plot of the novel of the same name written by Tomihiko Morimi of a young college-age girl (Otome as she’s referred to, since she doesn’t have a name) who is enjoying a night out on the town in Tokyo, a night that doesn’t seem to end. It’s full of drinking, festivals, and the magic of used book markets. It’s also full of love, longing, and the search for romance as Otome’s senior in college (called just Sempai) searches for a way to get her to notice him and earn her love. Continue reading

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Manga Volume 1 Review

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Nearly 1 in 4 men and 1 in 7 women have yet to married in Japan by the age of 50 in 2015 according to the Japan Times. That’s a record 23.37% for men and 14.06% for women. It’s one of the biggest worries of the Japanese Government, the fact that young people aren’t marrying and having children, though it’s not like they have lost the desire to marry. Roughly 86% of male respondents and 89% of female respondents to a survey of 18 to 34 year-olds have reported a desire to get married at some point in life. There are a myriad of reasons why this discrepancy is there, but that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about  a manga that draws on the discontent of older unmarried women to create something akin to a Japanese Sex and the City sit-com, using an equal level of parody and drama to create something truly interesting.

Set in 2014 right after the announcement that Tokyo would be hosting the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo Tarareba GIrls follows 33-year-old screenwriter Rinko who finds herself swept up in the fervor and excitement as Tokyo begins getting ready for the games. Unhappy with the fact that her career is starting to plateau and she can’t seem to find a reliable boyfriend, Rinko spends all her free time drinking with her girl friends at a bar, lamenting the fact that none of them will have boyfriends to watch the Olympics with. Determined to change this fact, Rinko makes it a goal to find a boyfriend of quality husband material by the time the 2020 Olympics roll around. Created by Akiko Higashimura, the magaka for Princess Jellyfish, the English translation was just recently published this year through Kodansha. Continue reading

That Wolf Boy is Mine Manga Volume 1 Review

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Every Friday now I make a trip from work to the comic book store near my bus stop. I follow a bunch of manga publishers on twitter and will usually try and save the names of the ones that look interesting. So a month or two ago, this title popped up on my feed, and when I walked into the comic book store, I decided, what the heck I’ll pick up a copy for myself. The title obviously made this out to be a romance and the cover is appealing as well as the fact that it was going to have at least one shape-shifting wolf in it. I always hope that any chance I take on buying a certain manga will turn out well, and this one definitely looked at least promising enough to give the first volume a try. And I can say that after reading through it twice now that while it may not be a great romance, it is at least an entertaining one with some familiar feels to it.

That Wolf Boy is Mine follows the life of Komugi Kusunoki who is given the option of moving to Hokkaido from Tokyo to live with her dad after a particularly traumatic experience at her old school. On her first day in her new school, she happens to be placed in the seat next to one of the school’s most popular boys, Yu Ogami, whose easy-going personality and exclamation of “You smell good!” both draws her to him and makes her wary. But it’s when she finds Yu dozing under a tree that things start to get weird, because he appears to have furry ears and a tail. Once Yu realizes his secret is out, Komugi gets drawn into his world of shape-shifting animals that also means she’ll be spending time with the most popular boys in school. Continue reading

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms – The Cyclical Nature of Life and Motherhood

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After months of waiting and teaser trailers that showed off its awesome animation and world, I finally got the chance to see Maquia in theaters. There seems to be more modern sci-fi or slice-of-life movies coming out than say high fantasy or stories that focus on fantastical worlds. Your Name and A Silent Voice being the bigger block-busters of the last two years, both focusing on the lives of highschoolers with the former having a sci-fi twist. We had Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which was pretty good, but it still doesn’t really capture the high fantasy feel that Maquia does with its towering castles, dragon riders, and almost elf-like race of humans.

We also have Mari Okada at the helm, one of the bright stars of the anime industry in her first directorial debut. The Canipa Effect has a great video on what makes Okada so great, from her her ability to pull apart scripts and figure out their flaws, to her work on Anohana that’s impact is still being felt in Japan seven years after the series debuted. She pushed and continued to push her role as a screenwriter as far as it could go, eventually getting the chance to write and direct her own project. As The Pedantic Romantic mentions in his video on Black Rock Shooter and Okada’s involvement in the production, she is sometimes seen as a sort of queen of melodrama by members of the anime fandom. But if we look deeper into her stories and characters, we see that Okada has a keen eye for human relationships and how people develop friendships and the nature of devotion. Continue reading

Tada-kun Never Falls in Love (Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai) Anime Review

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Tada-kun Never Falls in Love was one of the stand-out animes of the Spring 2018 season. I mentioned in my First Impressions post that it was series I could see becoming one of the romances I would keep watching all season. It had some tough competitors last season, and while it didn’t necessarily come out on top, I did enjoy the time I spent watching. It is a series that managed to take a look at what it means for children to mature faster than perhaps they should, how regret can fester over the years, and how the people you meet only for a short time can have a huge impact on your life. It’s an anime that spoke to me in many ways, both through some stunning scenes and through the messages it tried to impart along the way. Tada-kun is definitely not a perfect anime, and I have problems with the way the show ended, but over the course of last season I found myself enjoying the time I spent with this series.

Tada-kun Never Falls in Love is a 13-episode romance anime that follows the life of Mitsuyoshi Tada, an aspiring photographer and member of his high school’s Photography Club. After a chance meeting with a captivating blond-haired girl while out taking photos, Tada finds his life getting turned upside down as he begins to run into her again and again including at school. This girl is Teresa Wagner, a foreign exchange student from the fictional European country of Larsenburg. She’s followed closely by her travel companion Alexandra Magritte. Both girls wind up joining the Photography Club, and the story continues to follow their new and building relationships with Tada and the other members of the club. This original anime was picked up by Studio Doga Kobo and licensed by Sentai Filmworks for US release.

[My reviews tend to have spoilers, so proceed with caution] Continue reading

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Anime – The Nerdy Romance We Needed

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I feel like over the course of this blog I’ve read, watched, and reviewed more highschool romances than I can count now, with even more sitting on the back-burner waiting for their moment. It’s been a never-ending cycle of young girls worrying over indirect kisses, love triangles that always end how you expect them to, and relationships that amount to a singular kiss and some hand-holding. Don’t get me wrong, I still find enjoyment in a lot of these series, especially when they have engaging characters or some sort of psychological drama. But I’ve found myself gravitating more towards Josei series over the years. Maybe It’s just because I’m getting older, or that my own relationship has progressed to the point where I don’t see inexperienced adolescent romance as appealing or relatable anymore. Because of this, I think Wotakoi came at an opportune time and quickly rose to number two on my list of favorite (non-recurring) anime this season overall.

Wotakoi is the story of closeted fujoshi Narumi who gets a new job after a bad break-up and the reveal of her secret. It just so happens that one of her new coworkers is childhood friend, Hirotaka, a handsome gaming otaku. After a night of drinking and lamenting the scarcity of good men in her life, Narumi and Hirotaka begin dating. The two seem a perfect match, but as the title says, love is hard for otaku. With the help of otaku couple and coworkers Koyanagi and Kabakura, they begin to work at their new relationship. Based off the webmanga series by Fujita, the story was picked up for adaptation by A-1 Pictures for the 11-episode series and is currently being streamed in the US through Amazon Prime. Continue reading