Black_Rose (Level 11)

Also, pizza for lunch. I think i'm starting to like my new friends.
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Un Día en la Plaza”, (roughly translated as “A Day at the Park”, an obvious nod to the Marx Bros. movies A Day at the Races and A Night at the opera) is the short film that I made as my college thesis and that for some unexplainable reason has gotten a lot of good buzz everywhere I’ve shown it. So much so that it got me a job as production assistant in an upcoming movie by one of the country’s most talented directors.

The short is sort of a modern day silent comedy which I made as both homage to the Silent greats and as a sort of a protest to the regime that my college became over the course of my student years (it nearly got me kicked out for giving the bad guy a similar name to the dean). This is also the first thing in which I worked with a big team, which allowed me to direct and act at the same time.

It’s currently competing on a festival and the rules don’t allow me to show it online or on television until it’s over and distribution deals are settled, but here’s one brief scene from it, as well as the trailer and the bloopers (which are in Spanish, but hey, what the hell).

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Kimi ni Todoke is one of my favorite shows, hell, it made it to the top of my “best of 2009” list when it wasn’t even over. So that alone tells you I really, really liked it. Almost a year after the end of the first season, the second season finally starts. And you know what? The first episode did not disappoint.

The thing that appeals to me the most about the series is that it doesn’t rely exclusively on one element and make a whole show out of it like most shows from nowadays. It’s a wonderful combination of a beautiful art style, heartwarming story and charming characters. 

 The art style is still unique and fantastic.     
 The art style is still unique and fantastic.     

The first episode of the second season starts a month after the end of the first, specifically on Valentine’s Day. Our super cute, super shy heroine Sawako is a little more confident of herself and makes chocolates for all her friends, including her crush, Kazehaya. However, she finds herself in a dilemma when she sees Kazehaya rejecting the chocolates of a girl who was confessing her love to him. She starts wondering whether or not her chocolates are truly “friendly” or if there are other intentions behind them, never knowing that no matter the case Kazehaya would accept them because he actually likes her. This dilemma takes most of the episode which is why we mostly see Sawako talking to herself and what’s going on her mind, but the interactions with the key secondary characters are still there, most of them working as comedic relief.

 KnT has always had an undeniable charm, and this episode is no different. The miniature-Sawako that appears whenever she doesn’t understand something fairly obvious is still cute and funny as hell and unsurprisingly, the colorful style hasn’t changed at all.

 The episode ends on a sad note. 
 The episode ends on a sad note. 

It was surprising though, that unlike the first episode of the first season, this one ended on a somewhat sad note. It’s not cut your veins-depressing but it was a nice cliffhanger that will surely make that wait for the second episode so much more dreadful. A new character was also briefly introduced, though we don’t get to see much of him, he looks interesting and seems like he could add a great love triangle element to the show.

The only negative thing I can say about this show is that the opening and ending are rather disappointing. Especially when compared to the songs of the first season. The opening is just bad, and the ending, though not terrible, is not anything special or memorable. 

In conclusion: . 

  • Did I like it? BIG YES
  • Will I keep watching? ABSOLUTELY

Score for the first episode:    


  And on that note, I leave you with the trailer for the live-action Kimi ni Todoke, which I didn't even know existed until today: 
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 Hi peeps, as some of you know I study audiovisual production in college and that requires us to make at least a few short films per semester. Now, i've made 15-minute long stuff before with more "profesional" equipment, but those are things I've never been proud about. So instead i'm going to show you a couple of pretty basic shorts that I actually kind of like how the came out.  
The first one is "Amor a la Fuerza" which translates to something like "Forceful Love" This started as a more fleshed-out longer idea written by my girlfriend, but since we were required to make it only a minute long I decided to turn it into a homage to the old 1910s and 20s films. It's not hard to understand but in case you don't, it's basically about a couple breaking up and the girl using voodoo to get him back. 
I play the guy btw  
The next one is a sequence shot that we improvised. We shot it without sound and I added all the sound effects and music in post-production using Adobe Audition. The two music tracks I used are from Moi Dix Mois and the Battle Royale soundtrack.  
Finally, as a bonus, here's a tralier for one of those longer productions I was talking about. The real thing will never see the light of day, it was too much of a mess to ever show and it's something that I hope to re-do someday with more time, but at least the trailer came out ok.  
Thanks for reading and watching. Any tips would be appreciated.     
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As some of you know, I’m a big music fan, and have an obscene collection of music, especially Japanese music. So now, I’m going to share with you what I think are the top 10 best albums of  J-rock and pop of the last decade. I hope you enjoy it. 

10. Album:
Planet of the Dope
      Artist: Dope Headz
      Year:  2002

The band formed by former X Japan members Heath (Bass) and Pata (Guitar) and ex hide with Spread beaver member I.N.A (Computer & Percussion) makes a comeback with a new singer (Shame) for their second outing and the result is much better than their mediocre first album. Yes there are a couple of songs of debatable quality (namely the title track) but the end result is good enough to grant it a spot on the list.

Best songs: Plastic Smile, Reincarnation, With. 

9. Album:
Ruined Kingdom
    Artist: Hizaki Grace Project.
    Year: 2007

Guitarrist Hizaki is now best known as the lead guitarist for the band Versailles, but before that he had his own solo project with a few other musicians who came from other popular bands such as Moi Dix Mois. This album, composed of a few new tracks and live renditions of songs from his previous albums is hard and features amazing guitar solos that only Hizaki can make. 

  Best songs: Hover Mind (Live), Ruined Kingdom, Distorted Thought.  

8. Album:
Singles –Junk Story- 
    Artist: hide/hide with Spread Beaver
    Year: 2002

 I gave this a little thought before including it on the list, since the late great hide died in 1998 and most of the songs in this compilation came out in the 90s. However it includes two new previously unreleased songs and several songs that only came out in single format before, such as the single versions of Eyes Love You and 50% & 50%. And what can I say? It’s hide, every single one of his songs is amazing, and a compilation of his best should not be excluded from this list. If you don’t know hide, then this is the best place to start. 

Best songs: Pink Spider, Rocket Dive, In Motion, Junk Story, Eyes Love You, Goodbye.  

 7. Album:
Vampire Ecstasy 
     Artist:  Aural Vampire
     Year: 2004 

Vampire Ecstasy is one of the few dance albums I actually like. The tunes are catchy as hell and the voice of Exo-chika, however computer-manipulated is awesome. 

 Best Songs: Freeeze!!, Terror Vixen, Crimson Tyrant.  

6. Album:
Desert Rain
    Artist: Heath
    Year: 2006

Yet another X JAPAN-related album (a hint to the first spot maybe?). Heath is the incredibly underrated bassist of X Japan (whom you might recognize for the song Meykiuu no lovers from Detective Conan) and he has made three albums that have been overlooked by almost everyone but hardcore fans. Desert Rain was the only one released the past decades and is every bit as good as the other two. Heath experiments as much as hide used to do with his music, and the end result is a great album that deserves to be heard by more people.

Best songs: Blueberry Murder, The Live, Eagle Sniper   

 5. Album:
    Artist: High and Mighty Color
    Year: 2005

Well look at that, an artist people here might actually have heard about! HaMC is recognized for having performed the songs for the animes Gundam Seed Destiny and Bleach. And both of those songs (Pride and Ichirin no hana) are on this album for better or worse (worse in my case since both songs are incredibly average). Still, this album is awesome to listen to, and makes you wonder why in the hell their quality declined more and more after it.

Best Songs: Run Run Run, Naked, Over   

 4. Album:
Magnya Carta
     Artist: An Café
     Year: 2006

 Probably the most recognized artist on the list. An Café’s trademark bubblegum rock and oshare key looks have become popular among young people all over the world. But beyond that there’s actually some great music. Sure it’s not awe inspiring or epic as, say, X JAPAN, Zi:Kill or Luna Sea, but it’s a little piece of feel good-catchy tunes. And Magnya Carta is the best of their 4 albums with some of the band’s classics such as Maple Gunman and Smile Ichiban Ii Onna. 

Best songs: Smile Ichiban Ii Onna, Jikoai Shugisha no Mijuku na Akuma, Pipopapo Telepathy 

3. Album:
    Artist: Dir En Grey
    Year: 2003
The album that saw the change of Dir en Grey’s style from the usual visual key stuff to metal is a success in every way, some songs I could do without (*cough* Audience Killer Loop*cough*). But overall is an impressive album and Dir en Grey’s best until Uroboros was released in 08, the reason Uroboros is not on the list though, is because this is the one that introduced me to this great band and it has a special place in my heart because of that. 

Best songs: The III D Empire, New Age Culture, Ashita Muki Koufuku Komaeminaki Myounichi  

2. Album:
Noble: The Vampire Chronicles 
    Artist: Versailles
     Year: 2008

Even though I like the song Shout & Bites from their 2007 release Lyrical Sympathy more than all the songs in Noble, this is a much stronger album overall. The sense of connection between songs is what makes them great and there are not any weak songs. It could’ve been perfect if Shout & Bites was included in it. 

Best songs: Second Fear -Another Descendant-, Zombie, The Revenant Choir  

1. Album:
The Last Live 
    Artist: X JAPAN
    Year:  2001

Quite simply, the finest live album ever made. It’s also bittersweet because it’s the last performance of the band with hide. This amazing 3-disk package makes you feel like you’re actually in the concert and it’s probably the only live album I’ve listened to that is capable of recreating the experience of being there during X Japan’s final concert (at least until their 2007 reunion anyway). The only low point is the price, which can go over 100$ in some places, but it’s absolutely worth it. 

Best Songs: Rusty Nail (Live), Weekend (Live), Scars (Live), Kurenai (Live), Endless Rain (Live).  
Thanks for reading. If you notice any mistakes on the dates/names or anything else please lt me know. 
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Finally I got a little free time, so i managed to put together a list of my favorite shows of the year, hope you enjoy it.   

 1. Kimi ni Todoke.

 Beautiful show is beautiful
 Beautiful show is beautiful

  Kimi ni Todoke is a beautiful series, I don’t think I’ve ever smiled this much watching an anime. The characters are lovable, the art is beautiful and the story is developing to become one of the best romance animes ever. It’s not even over yet, but the 11 episodes I’ve seen so far have already established it as my favorite this year. 




 2. Toradora!


Ok, technically it started in 2008, but most of it was aired early this year so I’m gonna take it into consideration. Toradora! Is funny, sad and just… cute, I guess that’s the best word to explain it. Sure it’s predictable, but who cares? The characters and situations more than make up for that. 




 3. Clannad: After Story

After Story is filled with both heart-breaking and hilarious moments 
After Story is filled with both heart-breaking and hilarious moments 

Yet another show that started in 08 but that I will also add to this list because more than half of it was aired this year. After Story is a fantastic sequel to a fantastic series and has some incredibly sad moments. The ending was disappointing but other than that, just great. 


 4. Bakemonogatari


Only Shaft can take such a weird concept and make it into something enjoyable. Bakemonogatari is fantastically strange, filled with great characters and some of the strangest plots I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. 








5.  K-On!

You're doing it wrong! 
You're doing it wrong! 

Yes, K-on! I know some people here hate it but I thought it was ridiculously funny and as a music lover I enjoyed watching the process of the creation of a band. It doesn’t hurt that the animation is awesome too and that the characters are lovable.





 6. Sasameki Koto


Even though I’m not a fan of yuri, I enjoyed this series a lot. It’s a fun little romantic comedy that while doesn’t even come close to the awesomeness of Kimi ni todoke and Toradora! It’s really good. I love the intro music too, such a soft and calm tune, makes me feel relaxed.


7. 11 Eyes

Shit just got real 
Shit just got real 

I didn’t expect much from 11 Eyes, I thought it was going to be another shounen crap filled with fanservice, and in many ways it is. But there’s something about it that caught my attention, maybe it was the weird concept, the title having nothing to do with the story, the batshit crazy characters, the panty-shots or maybe all of that but it grew on me. Awesome little show.



8.  The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2009)

 Haruhi doesn't care about what you think     
 Haruhi doesn't care about what you think     

Endless Eight aside, the new episodes of Haruhi featured some genuinely brilliant moments. It’s more Haruhi and that’s never a bad thing. Screw the haters.  







9. Kobato


Kobato is by no means original. It’s your typical Clamp stuff. But it’s so adorable that I can’t keep myself from watching it every week. And that alone grants it a spot on this list.



 10. Nyan Koi!

Get your ass back to Silent Hill! 
Get your ass back to Silent Hill! 

What can I say? I love cats and Nyan Koi has plenty of that. The quality of the episodes decreased after episode 7 or 8 which is why it’s all the way down here, but the first episodes were hilarious enough to give it a spot on the list.


Honorable Mentions: Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, Ponyo.

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