Spring 2019 Anime Impressions

Sigh. Now that I am not on Twitter, I feel less connected with you guys. I miss you all.

Sorry that this post took a super long time to publish. I feel quite unmotivated.


1. Fruits Basket (2019)

Episodes Watched: 3

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Synopsis: Tohru Honda’s father passed away when she was young and her mother passed away in a traffic accident. With no family members to take her in, she lives by herself in a tent.

Yuki and Shigure Sohma discover that Tohru is living in a tent and offer her a room in their residence in exchange for meals and cleaning. On the day she moves in, a boy named Kyo Sohma barges in the house and wants to battle Yuki. Attempting to stop the fight, she discovers the Sohma family secret. The 13 members of the family turn into a zodiac animal when hugged by the opposite sex! Yuki turns into a rat, Shigure turns into a dog and Kyo turns into a cat.

Thoughts: Fruits Basket continues to be one of my favourite shows from this season. I am excited to see what it can accomplish from where the 2001 anime left off. You can read my first episode impressions post here.

2. Kimetsu no Yaiba

Episodes Watched: 3

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Synopsis: Tanjirou’s mother and siblings are murdered by the demons that lurk in the woods. The only surviving sibling is Nezuko, who has turned into a demon. Unlike other man-eating demons, Nezuko is capable of human emotions. Determined to avenge his family and turn Nezuko back into a human, Tanjirou trains to be a demon slayer.

Thoughts: The first episode was graphic, but that was it. I hope there will be more graphic scenes in the future. There was great character development in the third episode. I’m enjoying Demon Slayer a lot and I’m excited to see what it will deliver. 

3. Carole & Tuesday

Episodes Watched: 1

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Synopsis: Tuesday ran away from home to pursue her dream in music. She meets Carole, who also has a passion for music. They become good friends and together, they make their mark into the music industry dominated by AI in this metropolis on Mars.

Thoughts: I’m definitely going to continue this anime and the main reason is the music. I am in love with the song, Loneliest Girl (Humming version). It’s very calming. The technology in their world is pretty interesting.

4. Kono Oto Tomare! (Dropped)

Episodes Watched: 2

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Synopsis: Takezou is the sole member of his high school’s koto club, as the old members have graduated. In order to keep the club, Takezou must get more students to join. Chika, a delinquent, shows up and says that he wants to join the club!

Thoughts: It’s not amazing, but it’s good. I thought the first two episodes were extremely predictable, but I appreciate the koto more now.

5. Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu (Dropped)

Episodes Watched: 1

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Synopsis: Hitori Bocchi is starting middle school but does not have any friends. Her only friend is going to a different school, and she told Bocchi that she must become friends with everyone in her class. Bocchi, who feels extremely anxious when interacting with people, finds it challenging to make new friends.

Thoughts: I thought the premise was interesting, but I found this show boring. It’s cute, but I guess I’m not the target demographic for this show. I’m more drawn towards driven characters.

6. Dororo (Continuing)

Episodes Watched: 11

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Synopsis: Lord Daigo watches over his land as it is wilting due to the lack of rain. He makes a deal with the demons and gives up his newborn baby – who is born without limbs, skin, sight, hearing or smell, in exchange for prosperous land. The baby is thrown away on a boat, but is saved by a man who specializes in prosthetics. The man becomes the baby’s caretaker and teaches him how to fight. He names the child Hyakkimaru.

As Hyakkimaru becomes older, it is discovered that whenever he kills a demon, a part of his body is regrown. Hyakkimaru sets off to kill the remaining demons to regain his body.

Thoughts: Dororo is my favourite ongoing series right now. I was initially hesitant about watching it because I am not a fan of Osamu Tezuka’s manga. However, this is a superb adaptation and they’ve changed the art into a modern style. The music is fantastic. I like anime with excellent storytelling and Dororo does it so well. I recommend this anime.

7. Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2

Episodes Watched: 0

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Synopsis: A continuation of season 3 of Attack on Titan.

Thoughts: You can bet that I’ll be watching this very soon, as the first episode was just released.

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Fruits Basket (2019): First Episode Impressions

As someone who watched the Fruits Basket (2001) anime and read the manga when I was in grade five, this reboot brings me a lot of joy. Fruits Basket was easily one of my top 5 anime. The 2001 anime didn’t cover the entire story, which is why this new adaptation is so special to me. Not only does it cover the rest of the story, it also starts from the beginning. Most of the voice actors that voiced the English dub in the 2001 anime have returned to voice their respective characters in the 2019 adaptation. You can read my review on the Fruits Basket (2001) anime in this post.

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Synopsis: Tohru Honda’s father passed away when she was young and her mother passed away in a traffic accident. With no family members to take her in, she lives by herself in a tent.

Yuki and Shigure Sohma discover that Tohru is living in a tent and offer her a room in their residence in exchange for meals and cleaning. On the day she moves in, a boy named Kyo Sohma barges in the house and wants to battle Yuki. Attempting to stop the fight, she discovers the Sohma family secret. The 13 members of the family turn into a zodiac animal when hugged by the opposite sex! Yuki turns into a rat, Shigure turns into a dog and Kyo turns into a cat.

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Fruits Basket is a really sweet anime. The first thing that stood out to me about this reboot was the art. It’s gorgeous! Natsuki Takaya, the creator of Fruits Basket, had creative control in this anime. She is the Executive Supervisor, so you’ll know that this reboot will stay true to the original manga.

The first episode was stunning to look at and I enjoyed watching the first episode a lot. I’m so excited to watch the rest of this series!

Animal World: Kaiji Film Adaptation Review

Animal World (2018) is a Chinese film based on the manga, Kaiji by Nobuyuki Fukumoto. It is on the rock-paper-scissors arc of the manga. As a huge Kaiji fan, I had to watch this film.

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Synopsis: Zheng Kaisi is tricked into shouldering on his friend’s debt. He enters a game that takes place on a ship. There, he sees players from all over the world with enormous debts. If he wins, he will be debt-free. However – if he loses, he will have to face a life worse than imaginable. The game is rock-paper-scissors but it has its own set of rules. Zheng Kaisi has to beat the other players in rock-paper-scissors. Sounds straight-forward, right?

Actually, it’s an extremely intense and interesting game. There are various psychological elements to consider, such as cheating, betrayal, working with comrades and greed. This psychological thriller/gambling film adapts the Kaiji manga very well. The gambling that happens in the film is identical to the manga, so you won’t be disappointed with the ending.

Something that was interesting was that the players were diverse and spoke different languages. Kaisi communicated with non-Chinese players by listening to an earpiece that translated the other player’s words into Chinese in real time. I thought this was realistic.

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Kaiji is a great manga that tackles themes such as human nature and I think that ‘Animal World’ is a suitable name for the film because in an environment where there are not a lot of regulations, humans may succumb to “animal-like behaviours.” Kaisi is a great protagonist that refuses to degrade himself like that. In this game, he fights the resistance to betray others. He is a flawed protagonist that does not have a 100% chance of winning. That is what makes him such a relatable character.

I don’t think that Kaiji is a simple manga to adapt. Animal World did it well, because of a number of reasons. One, the cinematography is really well done. Nobuyuki Fukumoto does a lot of panels with metaphors, and Animal World has amazing graphics that showcases those metaphors. Metaphors help the audience understand the depths of what the character is feeling. I liked that the film remained close to the source material in this way.

The actor who plays Kaiji/Kaisi, Li Yifeng, is a great actor. He is famous in China and played the role really well. Kaisi is different from Kaiji in terms of his personality, family background, life situation and relationships, which gives Animal World its own sense of originality. Like Kaiji, Kaisi is a likable and strong protagonist.

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The budget for this film and also the cinematography allowed the manga to come to life. Extra elements were added in the film but they were enjoyable to watch. Overall, I was really impressed with this adaptation and enjoyed it a lot. I recommend watching Animal World, even if you have never read or watched Kaiji. If you are a Kaiji fan, it doesn’t hurt to give this a try.

Animal World is available on Netflix.

[Book Review] Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

Title: Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

Author: Marie Kondo

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Marie Kondo’s KonMari method has become very popular because of her Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I started reading my copy of “Spark Joy” before her show was released, and in this post I will talk about this book and her show.

A bit about the KonMari method: The basic idea is to gather all the possessions in each category (clothes are one category, for example) into one place in the house. Then, one by one you feel the item close to your heart and decide if that item sparks joy for you. If it does, keep it and store it properly in your house. If it does not spark joy for you, thank it and donate it.

“Spark Joy” is a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to tidy up belongings in the house, such as steps on folding clothes, and organizing the items in each category. Kondo also has the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I haven’t read that one, and I’m not sure if I need to because honestly, I think that one book is enough.

Since Kondo has her show, does that mean that reading her books are not necessary? You should watch at least one episode of her show if you have Netflix, and if you buy into the KonMari method, watch more episodes. You may find that simply watching the show is enough to tidy up your home, closet and workspace. However, if you really want a more in-depth guide and if you believe in the KonMari method, then I recommend that you buy the book(s). I often see many misconceptions on social media and even in videos on Kondo’s teachings, but I assume that those people have only watched the show (or haven’t watched the show at all). The book addresses all those misconceptions.

My personal opinion is that the KonMari method works. I know this, because I’ve tried it myself. After reading her book halfway, I became motivated to tidy up and ended up donating four bags of clothes. I used to keep clothes because they were cute, even though I never wore them. They didn’t actually spark joy but I used to feel that it would be a waste to get rid of them. I don’t miss anything I donated, and Kondo talks about that. I also bought a sock organizer and three boxes to store my belongings. These ideas were from her book. I feel more relaxed in my room now because, 1) there is joy and 2) there is less clutter.

Overall, I love the KonMari method. I don’t follow everything religiously, and I do think that we should all be critical readers and viewers. We have the ability to pick and choose what we think will work for us, but the general idea of the KonMari method has value. Kondo’s Netflix show may be sufficient, but if you want more information then I recommend reading “Spark Joy.”

Anime Review: Made in Abyss

Release year: 2017

Episode count: 13

I really love dark, twisted anime. I heard that Made in Abyss was disturbing, so I watched it. My verdict? Yes! I loved it.

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Synopsis: The Abyss is a mysterious gigantic chasm that contains different layers. The further down you go, the tougher the monsters and the harsher the effects of the Curse. The Curse of the Abyss includes vomiting, hallucinations, internal and external bleeding, loss of humanity, and death.

Riko is a 12-year-old orphan who searches for artifacts on the first layer of the Abyss. She finds Reg, a robot who lost his memories. After Riko receives a letter from her mother that says she is waiting at the bottom of the Abyss, Riko and Reg leave the orphanage and journey into the Abyss. Riko wants to find her mother, while Reg wants to learn more about himself. They have to survive each of the Abyss’s layers.

Art: Just looking at the above photo, you probably wouldn’t think that Made in Abyss is a disturbing anime. It looks like it’s a show for children, but that’s an anime misconception. (I rant about that here.) I think the cute art style makes the dark scenes even more horrifying to watch.

The art is amazing. The art style is cute, but the backgrounds are a whole different level. There’s so much detail!

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The tenth episode was disturbing. The thirteenth episode was heart-wrenching. The last few episodes (10-13) were so interesting! The first nine episodes were still entertaining. I didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching those nine episodes because they did world building so well. Each layer of the Abyss has its own monsters, effects of the Curse, landscape, etc.

Music: I was really impressed with the music in Made in Abyss. For a show that only has 13 episodes, the soundtrack is memorable and enchanting.

The bad: The main characters are children, and there are minor scenes that are inappropriate. I thought this was unnecessary. Fortunately, it does not happen often but I have to give it a lower rating because of it.

The anime ends at the end of a story arc, but there will be an upcoming movie that covers the next arc of the manga.

Rating: 8.5/10

Book Review: Monkey [Part 1]

Monkey, also known as Journey to the West 西游记 or Sun Wukong 孫悟空, was written in 1592 by Wu Cheng’en. It is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Most Chinese people know the story because it became enormously popular through its television adaptations and plays. It influenced some of the earliest Chinese and Japanese animation. It also influenced many series like Dragon Ball. 

I’m reading an English translation by Arthur Waley. Waley only translated 30 chapters out of 100 episodes. However, it’s still one of the best English translations out there. He omitted most of the poetry. If you like poetry, hopefully you can find a version that includes it. There is poetry in this one, but very little of it. 

Page count: 350

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Synopsis: Monkey is “born” and becomes the Monkey King. He then trains under a Master and learns the secrets of immortality. Monkey then becomes very cocky in his abilities and creates havoc in Heaven. He challenges Buddha and loses terribly.

The above synopsis is only on the first part of the book. I wrote broadly because I didn’t want to spoil too much. The rest of the book will be on the pilgrimage to the West. Monkey travels with Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy to retrieve sacred scriptures and enlighten people about Buddhism. They face many adverse monsters and bodhisattvas along the journey.

I’m writing about the parts in isolation because there’s too much content to cover in the first quarter of the book. I divided the book in my own way: Part 1 ends when Monkey is punished by Buddha, before he begins the pilgrimage. Other people include Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy’s stories into the first part but I think those stories make up its own part.

There are lots of flaws, but it’s understandable because it was written in 1592. What I perceive to be “flaws” are:

  • Fights are not detailed at all. For example, “x and y battled z many times and then y fled.” (I’m using my own words here, but that’s the gist of it.)
  • No character descriptions. I know what Kuan-yin looks like because I’ve seen television adaptations and because of my culture, but not everyone has the same experience as me.
  • The epic part of Monkey challenging Buddha is only told in a mere three pages.

I believe that television adaptations do a better job at these. However, nothing can compare to the book in my opinion, because so much happens in every page. No adaptation can possibly cover every single detail, whether it’s showing hundreds of thousands of men fighting against Monkey, or all the events that happen. Expect “ten years passed” thrown around every few pages.

One of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, why this story is so successful is because of Monkey. He is so clever, witty, confident and funny. Although he disturbs Heaven and so many characters, he’s so likable.

I recommend this classical novel to everyone.

Japanese Drama Recs: Romance Manga Adaptions

1. Switch Girl!!

Synopsis: Nika Tamiya is the most beautiful girl at school. All the boys are in love with her and a lot of girls are envious at how she does everything so perfectly. However, she has a secret… She is a switch girl! When she arrives home, she “switches off” and transforms into her “true” self: a lazy and unfeminine girl. Arata Kamiyama, a geeky guy at school, finds out her secret. Arata is the opposite of her… He appears to be geeky at school but he’s actually super hot!?

The plot of this romantic comedy shojo series is similar to the popular manga, Horimiya. I like Switch Girl!! more though. I liked this drama because the cast is spot on. Many Seventeen models play the characters, including Mariya Nishiuchi, the main lead. Renn Kiriyama who plays Arata is good-looking too.

I watched this back when I was in high school and I was hooked from the beginning. I ended up procrastinating on whatever homework I had, so fair warning.

If you like this, you might like:

  • Horimiya (manga)
  • Hotaru no Hikari (Japanese drama)

2. Good Morning Call

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Synopsis: Nao Yoshikawa moved into a new place, but she finds that she was scammed because another person is living in the same place as her. The person she has to live with is Hisashi Uehara, one of the most popular guys at school. Uehara is aloof and hard to get along with. Good luck Nao and don’t fall in love.

Good Morning Call is a Netflix Original series, based on the romantic comedy shojo series. I don’t know a single person who did not like this! The “living with the most popular guy at school (or my boss) and he is also cold and distant” trope is done again and again. The ending is predictable, but it’s still enjoyable to watch.

If you like this, you might like:

  • It Started With A Kiss (Taiwanese drama)
  • Playful Kiss (Korean drama)
  • Just You (Taiwanese drama)
  • Hotaru no Hikari (Japanese drama)

3. Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai

Synopsis: Michiko Shibata is a woman in her thirties. She is jobless and just broke up with her money-swindling younger boyfriend. She encounters Ayumu Kurosawa, her former supervisor. Hearing her situation, he gives her a job and a place to stay at his cafe.

You may already be familiar with the actor who plays Ayumu. He is played by Dean Fujioka, the singer who sang History Maker, the opening song of Yuri on Ice. Ayumu is so sweet… Where can I find someone like that?

Personally, high school shows don’t interest me as much anymore. I’m into josei series like this one, because I can relate to their struggles more and we are closer in age.

If you like this, you might like:

  • Hotaru no Hikari (Japanese drama)
  • Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii (anime)
  • Just You (Taiwanese drama)