AURON570 (Level 15)

kukuku, how did that laugh ever become cute?... mysteries of the world..
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Waiting in the Summer or Ano Natsu de Matteru is available online for free at crunchyroll.com

Note: I am writing this as of watching episode 10. This is meant to be a half-serious, semi-joking, semi-self-consciouss investigation of a possible way of interpreting certain themes of AnoNatsu.

This alien girl came outta nowhere!

Ichika Takatsuki is an alien, that looks like a busty teenage girl. She wants to get away from her home planet for a while, and takes off in her space ship. She has a picture of a place she wants to visit in her mind. Her travels take her to Japan, Earth. She poses as a foreign exchange student, and starts going to school in Japan. Shortly after that, she meets Kaito Kirishima, a kind, slightly below average height boy. After learning that Ichika has no place to stay, Kaito offers for her to stay at his place. This of course goes off without a hitch because (of other family circumstances) he has the whole house to himself.

SHE'S AN ALIEN
SHE'S AN ALIEN

After a while Kaito and Ichika become closer emotionally. There is the usual beating around the bush and "oh my god I'm not sure what I'm feeling", but eventually they start going out officially. However, another girl, Kanna Tanigawa, has been childhood friends with Kaito and has had a crush on Kaito since they first met. Needless to say, Kanna is initially very very sad by this. And I was too. Kanna is being left in the dust for some alien bimbo who, on a whim, decided to come to Earth for some R&R. And now all of a sudden she wants to stay just because she found someone she fell in love with? This should sound familiar, because many families send one of their children to live over in another country, then have them get married there, then bring over the rest of their family to live there as well.

Illegal alien woes unfortunate japanese boy: japanese boy, "I like."

Since the start of this series I have been rooting for Tanigawa, and never particularly liked Ichika. It was only until the previous 3 or 4 episodes when I finally realized why I don't like Ichika at all. Most of the reasons can be taken as biases, but each of them has some intuitive pull to them. None of them are necessarily right or wrong, but they do offer something to think about.

Firstly there is the intuitive feeling that Ichika, as a visitor, should mind her business and be respectful of the people around her in the place that she is visiting as a stranger. In real life, there are lots of regulations that vary from country to country about immigrants and foreign visitors. Some countries are very protective about keeping jobs for people who were born there and not hiring foreign immigrants. The feeling is that, "hey, you foreigners come here and get jobs, those job could have gone to someone who lived and grew up here. Don't the people that lived and grew up here get more respect and priority than people who just come in only for a job and money?"

Remon Yamano: The mastermind?
Remon Yamano: The mastermind?

This is the sort of feeling that I had when Ichika started getting intimate with Kaito. Personally I will almost always favour the childhood friend over all others. Recently I found it interesting that they decided to draw Ichika's character as slightly taller and bigger than Kaito. I don't usually like to take into account physical differences in relationships, but having Ichika as bigger than Kaito helps give off the impression of Ichika as the one in control. And more often than not, this is the case. I'm not even going to consider the amount of control that Remon has on what happens in the series, or even the meta-question of the story being controlled by the script writer and director...

Kaito, most of the time is your typical poor boy swept up in something greater than himself. The relationship between Ichika and Kaito ends up feeling empty for me. I honestly do not see how I am supposed to be happy for Ichika and Kaito.

Opportunism or 'sometimes you just have to grab life by its haunches'

In this past episode, Kaito narrates, "I know things don't last forever." Which can lead to the positive idea that you have to take what opportunities are available to you and make the best of it. In this case, the best is going out with an alien girl. Interestingly, despite Kanna's heart being broken after realizing Kaito and Ichika have started going out, episode 10 ends on a positive note. Kanna finally confesses her feelings to Kaito, and she actually seems happy for Kaito and Ichika.

It seems that everyone in the cast is coming to the understanding that life is one huge opportunity, that doesn't last forever, therefore we should all try our best and not be sad about it. Pretty optimistic right? The episode ends by signalling to the audience (probably just me), "Hey, don't be mad that Kaito isn't going out with Kanna and is instead going out with some alien girl. Be happy for them, and take the opportunities in your life as they come."

This is interesting for me because if I am still mad at this ending, really I'm just mad at myself for not being able to take advantage of the various opportunities in my own life. This is the same feeling of the person that is against giving jobs to foreign immigrants. Instead of saying, "I deserve this job more than this foreigner," he should be saying, "I'm happy for that other person who was able to take advantage of the opportunity to get a job and capitalize on it, I'll continue to look for and take advantage of opportunities in my own life."

This Zen approach gets rid of the worry about competition. Instead competition becomes part of life. The motto is still survival of the fittest, but also respect for the larger picture of the temporal nature of life.

'Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering' - an alien

So, maybe this whole criticism is really just based on my own incompetence at forming intimate relations with other people, which is really just a subset of my inability to take full advantage of various opportunities around me. Like a lover who is too afraid to confess their feelings for fear of rejection, or the unemployed who does not look for a job for fear of rejection or competition with others. Maybe I'm just insecure about the conclusions of opportunism. This leads to the question of, 'is anyone really secure about their own life?' The Zen thinkers seem to think so, and they think everyone can approach life in this positive way too.

I'm not so sure.

Aliens, opportunism, zen, love, life, commitment. Sometimes I just want to throw my hands in the air and wave them around because I just don't care. But clearly I do care. C'est la vie?

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NOTE: This is an extremely informal, reflective, rambling blog post. I felt the need to write something about it to get it off my mind. This has not been proofread.

Are paper airplanes just for kids? What makes a 'good' paper airplane? Is it that it stays in the air for a long time and travels long distances? But surely there are paper airplanes that loop and twirl and can do tricks in the air, aren't those just as good as those that travel long distances? And why do so many people stop making them or think they're silly?

Well maybe one reason is that it can get repetitive. You make a paper airplane, you throw it and if you throw it right and there's enough space for it to travel, and the wind isn't being annoying, then you see your creation set off into the air. But inevitably the plane will, thanks to the force of gravity, eventually fall to the ground. This sort of repetition gets old for most people. And as humans we generally always try to seek out new things to stimulate us and keep us motivated, so it's natural for a person to get bored of something that leads to the same or similar results each time.

This guys certainly does not think paper airplanes are just for kids.

After watching this interview that Norm and Will did with John Collins, I was inspired to try making and flying some of the planes he demonstrated on his website. So I folded two, and tried them first in my small room, it didn't go well, it looked like they were turning and trying to do stuff, but they also fell to the ground before hitting the walls, so I was a bit worried. But I was determined to try them outside. So I went out into my residence's courtyard area and tried them. They failed. Maybe it was the wind, maybe it was the way I folded them, or maybe I wasn't throwing them properly, but it didn't seem like they were flying in any particular way. Sure, they were doing turns and stuff, but it looked pretty random, and many throw attempts just ended in relatively quick nosedives or a flip then a nosedive.

I became aware that people from their rooms and people passing through the courtyard noticing me. No one really stopped or asked, but some people laughed. I didn't really care, but it made me reflect a bit more about what I was doing, and the nature of paper airplanes in general.

It's interesting because the same physics that goes into making a real airplane can go into making these paper airplanes. John Collins certainly took this seriously and judging by the way he speaks and presents his work, it looks like he's having a great time doing it too. Needless to say, from my failed attempts at making and flying these paper airplanes, I was discouraged.

At some point I thought, "You know maybe this is how they're supposed to fly, and I'm supposed to enjoy the weird flight arcs that these planes would take." But it wasn't really that fun in the end. But why not? Why aren't paper airplanes fun?

Well, part of what I said before. People just stop making them because they get used to just creating the same paper airplanes and seeing the same flights over and over again. Creativity really goes a long way in making things interesting, having motivation and getting work done. Repetition and habit can be a deadener sometimes. Maybe we just need to try new things.

But even then, even if we create new and interesting planes that have new flight arcs and can do tricks and travel farther distances and heights, there's still the fate of the plane to always land. Paper airplanes will always come to the ground again, and then we pick them back up again, and repeat.

The same really could be said of real airplanes, they go up and come back down. Maybe real airplanes are more important than their paper counterpart because the real airplanes have the function of transporting people on them... People usually just play with paper airplanes for fun, but why?

I'm not really sure, the more I stood outside trying to get these planes to fly in cool ways, the more I got the sense of futility. So I thought (like I usually do) okay maybe it's just my expectations, that I'm expecting too much of these paper airplanes.

But then I remembered one thing that I used to tell myself, that I want to believe so badly still, that any activity is better if you're doing it with friends. So my feelings of disappointment and frustration abruptly turned into sadness.

These paper airplanes don't really 'fly', well, they pass through the air, and come back down, but really they're just floating through the air, or riding the air waves I guess. We often use the metaphor of flight to describe various events in a person's life. For example, 'taking off' means to succeed in new areas, 'doing a nose dive' means to take a turn for the worse, 'flying high'. But inevitably the airplane (paper or real) is going to have to touch down to the ground and refuel, then go back up into the air to fly. Sort of like how humans need to refuel and rest at the end of every day. Maybe this is another reason why I got the sense of futility from trying to fly these things.

It was a nice experiment. Often we hear the importance of going out and doing things, experiencing things first hand. The experiences and thoughts I had while doing this made me feel a little turbulent, aimless, unsure, sad, and stimulated in a weird way. I feel sort of burnt out, that inspiration I had after watching the Tested interview is mostly gone now, and paper airplanes have sort of gone back to the back of my head (well not really, since I'm still writing this blog, haha).

Like most rambling blogs, I could probably ramble on forever and write whatever comes to mind, but I'm going to decide to cut it here because I need to go out to eat dinner, because I didn't defrost anything, because I was too busy failing at flying paper airplanes (and writing my thoughts down).

So, do you think paper airplanes are cool? What's so cool about flying and being high in the air anyway?

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Where am I? Where do I go?

Hey guys! I've been busy with school and exams for a while now, but alas today I just finished my last exam! I seriously need some r&r, and after a few hours of having exam withdrawal trying to find something to do now that exams are over. However, eventually after feeling depressed for a while, I realized that I hadn't been exercising. I tested my heart rate, and googled average heart rate, and I was WAY over! So I did some cardio exercise! That really made a big difference. And now I'm feeling a bit better.

Seriously kids (and adults), exercise is important! After exercising for about 20 minutes, I decided on top of what I already plan to do for winter break, I am going to exercise my butt off and eat lots of salad and cereal, and get ~8 hours of sleep everyday! I should probably be sleeping (haha there goes that last part of the plan, but seriously starting tomorrow!)

What the-? Anime?!

Throughout the first semester I've been watching anime on the side. I've stopped worrying about whether I'm "behind" in series, and so I've stopped giving priority to currently airing series. I think now I'm truly watching "what I want to watch", but there's still the nagging feeling that, "you know if I wait too long to watch another episode of this anime, I'm going to lose the story." Oh well. :D As I wrote above, I think I really need to prioritize being healthy. So I don't think I'm going to be very active on the wiki that much anymore. It was fun while it lasted, maybe things will change, but all I can say is that at some point it began to feel like work. And right now I need to "work" on something else. That sounded cheesy... fuck.

Anime I'm watching and comments

Bakuman (1/25 episodes): What the fuck when did I----- Oh right, I started this last week or something because I was in a slump and felt like I needed to start something new, so I watched the first episode. From what I remember it was REALLY AMAZING. Seriously the story is so well presented. The story of a mangaka being inspired by their high school crush.. <3 Oh man, the life on an artist... not even just drawing or painting, but actors, musicians, concert pianists, orchestra members, writers.

Well... when you do that
Well... when you do that

Chihayafuru (9/25 episodes): CUTE, LOVABLE, INSPIRING, EMOTIONALLY ENDEARING... I LOVE IT. <33333 If you haven't checked this out, please do, I can't recommend this enough! You can read my previous blog on Chihayafuru for an introduction to the series. -----Watch episodes for free at crunchyroll.com.

Winry <3
Winry <3

FMA Brotherhood (49/64 episodes): It seems like the series is winding down. I remembering thinking, what could they POSSIBLY do for another 15 episodes?? Haha I guess I will see. Really enjoying it, this and Chihayafuru were the two of the three anime (the third is One Piece) that I kept wanting to watch even though I had so much work to do for school. Considering how much work I do (I swear I'm becoming more and more a nerd, but this isn't the blog to talk about that), that really says how much I'm enjoying those three series. -----Watch episodes for free at funimation.com.

Gankutsuou (22/24 episodes): I've been waiting for the right time to finish watching this series (I plan on watching the final two episode in one sitting), but it hasn't come. I really want to give this anime my full attention, it deserves it. Amazing story, amazing art, amazing characters. I might actually WILL read the classic novel that this anime was based. -----Watch episodes for free at funimation.com.

Kimi to Boku (2/13 episodes): Yep... well what can I say? As I mentioned, I've stopped prioritizing currently airing anime, so I don't care if I'm behind in this series. It an easy-to-watch series, but there are other anime that I want to watch more. -----Watch episodes for free at crunchyroll.com.

Kyu?
Kyu?

Mawaru Penguindrum (11/24 episodes): I'm a little sad that I haven't kept up with this series. This series is very very good, but I feel like I need a clear head to watch it properly. I mentioned before that this anime constantly stretches the limits between dramatic and comedic modes, and sometimes it can be bewildering, especially if you watch it while half awake. So as a result I haven't watched much Penguindrum since September.

Persona 4 Animation (9/25 episodes): It's really great, but it's not amazing. I think I've found my groove with this anime. Before I was too caught up about comparing it to the game, and worrying about it being rushed or choppy, but I think I've come to terms with that. A shoutout to Nick and Kristoffer for doing an amazing job each week with the Amateur vs. Expert column. It is shaping up to be one of the greatest columns to ever appear on anime vice, keep it up I really enjoy the style you guys adopted for the column, and it's really great to read after I watch each episode. -----Watch episodes for free at theanimenetwork.com

I want me some shrimp!
I want me some shrimp!

Invasion?! Squid Girl (7/12 episodes): I had planned on filling out the episode pages for each episode as they aired, but... I KNOW THERE'S NO EXCUSES *cries in corner* I'm enjoying this series, but not as much as I thought I would. It is still a very good series, and I plan on finishing up the episodes at some point, but... as I mentioned at the start of this blog, I need to reorganize my priorities. -----Watch episodes for free at crunchyroll.com

One Piece (72/???? episodes)

And now for the grand finale! HAHAHAHAHAAA *CHOKE COUGH*... Ahem... I think I finally love this series. I think now I really understand why people love this series SO much, and why it really is one of the best. Great story-telling, amazing characters, an amazing sense of adventure.

"Gya gya haa haa!" - Heidegger (FF7)
"Gya gya haa haa!" - Heidegger (FF7)

I just finished watching episode 72 of One Piece (well about an hour ago now, but whatever). And it really is great. You have Ms. Wednesday being truly worried about her kingdom, Alabasta. Then there's Usopp wanting to a brave warrior of the sea and being inspired by the fighting giants. I love those giants. The way they laugh is straight up hilarious! It's sort of like what I imagine Heidegger (from FF7, not the philosopher) would sound like with his "Gya gya hya hya" laugh, except these giants are lovable, honorable warriors!

I guess next episode we're going to get the confrontation between those upper Baroque Works guys (Mr. 3, Ms. Goldenweek, Mr. 5 and Ms. Valentine) I think I might be missing someone. Oh well, I'm starting to really like Ms. Valentine, how she's like if Mary Poppins became... you know I'm not going to go there. I wonder when we're going to learn more about Ms. Goldenweek, she seems relatively cute and harmless! =D

Final Thoughts, Looking forward

Best wishes everyone I really mean it. I hope everyone enjoys the holidays, Christmas, New Years and all that! Even if you still have to work, or still have some days left of school/exams.. I don't care. If you've stuck with me and read this whole blog post, you're okay in my books and deserve my thanks and wishes. Later, and goodnight everyone. *waves*

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I am currently 5 episodes in to the drama/josei/game anime series Chihayafuru, and I am enjoying ever bit of it! It's only so often that one comes across a story that is simple, inspiring, memorable, fun, energetic and beautiful all the same time. The premise of the story may seem a little strange at first glance. Chihaya Ayase is an energetic young girl whose dream is for her older sister to become an idol. Then she meets a boy named Arata, who tells her that her dream should concern herself. Arata himself is passionate about a two-player language/card-memorization game called Karuta and wants to become a master competitive Karuta player. Chihaya, impressed by Arata's conviction, also becomes passionate about Karuta and plays with Arata.

The first few episodes take place in a flashback that tells this story of how Chihaya met Arata and became interested in the card game Karuta. I probably was not the only one who thought that the card game premise sounded awkward. But after watching the first episode, it is very clear that this series was going to be more than just over-dramatic card games. The card game almost becomes secondary to the main development of Chihaya's character. Chihaya, in a way, starts playing Karuta because she saw how passionate Arata was about Karuta, and it was fun to be caught up in the passion of the game and play with Arata. However, it's not really clear whether this passion for the game is solely Chihaya's, or if she is simply replacing her dream about her older sister, with a new dream about being able to play Karuta to compete just like Arata. I'm just five episodes in, and it looks like these are some things that the series is going to explore in the upcoming 20 episodes.

Now that I've sold you on the plot being more than just an over-dramatized card game ;), I will talk a bit about the music, sound and visuals. The music is very fitting. The opening itself sets exactly the right tone for the show. It's energetic, upbeat, optimistic and gives a sense of longing or hope, which is exactly what characterizes Chihaya. The ending song is also superb, but in a different way. It is able to conclude each episode in a nice way, while also leaving enough hope and suspense for the next episode. Check out the opening yourself to see if what I'm saying makes any sense!

As I am thinking about this, Chihaya is comparable to Ohana in Hanasaku Iroha. I don't want to get into a discussion of that here, but it's something to think about.

The voice acting and sound direction is very much on par with the music. The voice actress for Chihaya, Asami Seto, does an amazing job bringing life to the character. Visuals are well done as well. The first three episodes are noticeably very very happy, optimistic and inspiring, which is supposed to reflected Chihaya's child-like optimism and wide-eyed wonder at Arata and how he plays Karuta. It's only by the fourth episode, after this childhood story has been established, are we brought back to the present. Chihaya is now a teenager, and is still passionate about Karuta. However, the overall tone has changed as Chihaya seems to be confronted again about her own dreams, and is forced, in different ways, to question whether she should continue playing Karuta competitively.

Like how Ohana in Hanasaku Iroha (or rather the English title, Blooming Flowers ABC) slowly found her place at the Kissuiso, it seems that Chihaya is bound to take a similar journey to self-understanding. But the tools and stories that each series tells differ in interesting ways. On the one hand Hanasaku Iroha is primarily a "slice of life" taking place at a hot spring inn, while Chihayafuru uses a card game, of all things, as one of its themes.

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Chihayafuru is available to watch online at crunchyroll.com.

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The Plot

Peas in a pod?
Peas in a pod?

I've just finished watching episode 1 of You and Me. You and Me is a slice of life anime about 4 childhood friends, Shun, Kaname, Yuki and Yuta. It's spring and they are entering their second year of high school together. Shun is the happy, cute and optimistic one. Shun wants everyone to get along and have fun together. Kaname is a top student, who wants Yuki too try harder. And Yuki and Yuta are twins, who are both laid back, and enjoy making Kaname angry. The main plot of the first episode is Kaname trying to get Yuki to join some sort of athletic club so that Yuki can open his eyes to the world! But this ends up a almost back where they started. However Shun is optimistic that although "things haven't changed so far, there's room for change in the future. Like cherry blossoms, the unchanging things and changing things all whirl together."

Slice of Life and Cats

What is this "club" you speak of?
What is this "club" you speak of?

I think this is what sets You and Me apart from the recently popular slice of life series K-ON. Throughout the entire first episode of You and Me, there seemed to be a deliberate undertone of laziness, boredom or comedic hopelessness. The main humor in this episode is the fact that even since these 4 boys were children, it doesn't seems like much has changed at all. Kaname's efforts to try and get Yuki to change (by getting him to join a club) end up fruitless by the end of the episode. Nevertheless, Shun is optimistic about things, he tries to reassure Yuki that Kaname cares about him, but has his own way of showing it.

Lazy days
Lazy days

Throughout the episode there were quite a few scenes with cats. And they are shown doing what cats do best, laze around. It's pretty easy to draw a comparison between the 4 boys as lazy cats. There is one specific scene where this comparison is drawn almost directly, Kaname takes away Yuki's manga, it cuts to a scene of a cat trying to catch a "cat tail" toy, then when the cat finally catches the toy, it cuts back to Yuki who has his manga again. I have a guy friend who likes cats, particularly lolcats. He finds them cute. What I found interesting what in this episode, the cats weren't depicted as overly cute. There was even one particularly wet, fat, white cat that looked like it was ready to claw the next person that tried to pet it. In another scene, a girl is tickling a small cat and the cat looks like he doesn't have a care in the world.

Sound, Music, Visuals etc.

I like the opening and ending themes. The visuals are pretty clean and simple. This makes it easy to watch. There was some good use of wind near the start of episode, and when the boys were having lunch on the rooftop. Also, falling sakura blossoms are as pretty as ever. Like I said the overall tone of the show is fairly relaxed and has a slight feeling of irony, because of the talk about how little they have changed, and the fact that it is a slice of life.

I'm interested to see if it maintains this feel throughout the series and what it decides to do with it. At this point it doesn't look like it's going for the K-ON route, where everything is happy-go-lucky, nothing changes and characters all stay the same and do the same things. Though it could easily do that, it seems like You and Me is going to be more laid-back, slower and self-aware as it develops its characters.

By the end of the episode, as Shun is speaking optimistically of the future, you begin to wonder what the point of change is anyway and how these 4 boys will turn out. This is something that I had never bothered to consider about the girls in K-ON when I watched the K-ON series.

Screens and Wiki

If you are interested, you can check out the plot summary I wrote for the wiki here, and also the screenshots I took, for easier access I have below. (however this may not be all the screenshots I took, because this new image uploading system is so weird... just go to the episode page to make sure you're seeing all the screens I took, or here.)

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