Earth turned quietly on its axis, and in the midst of this big world, she and I quietly lost body heat together. Just as our heat and our breath flow across this planet, she and I flowed across the planet and ended up here so we could meet again.
I finally had the delightful opportunity to watch this short, 4-part piece following a young woman and her cat. I noticed it brought up repeatedly across Twitter and various blogs, made continuous notes to myself to watch it, then just as quickly forgot about it. Happily, the time came where I sat myself down to step into Daru’s world; the natures of the story and characters, and the short length of the anime begs the viewer to watch it all in one sitting. The age of the main human character also makes her easily relatable for viewers just entering young adulthood and well into the middle ages.
Witches have been a part of our culture since time before time, and come with a variety of labels and expectations depending on where you search. For the longest time in the U.S., they were synonymous with the historical town of Salem as a warning of sorts against ignorance and mass hysteria. Currently, the works of J.K. Rowling have blasted witches and wizards into our consciousness as people walking by our sides unbeknownst to the general populace (perhaps with the aid of a memory charm). In other countries, witches might be called shamans, druids, or even priests. These diverse interpretations reflects themselves in anime, with works like Soul Eater, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and, more recently, Maria the Virgin Witch.
This season presents Flying Witch, originally a manga and now an anime by J.C. Staff. This magical new show is presented in a meandering and calm manner in the spirit of other works like ARIA and Natsume Yuujinchou. Even the art is drawn in a softer color palette. We see a good variety of witches presented: the gifted and passionate sister, the fortune teller, and the restaurant owner. Like these three, protagonist Makoto is born into her ability, but she maintains a closeness to the audience and her human family due to still learning about her skills and plans for the future. She seems to have a special connection with plants and herbs, but spends an equal amount of time simply eating them to actually using them for potions or spells. Then there’s Chinatsu, Makoto’s young cousin who is not a witch, but carries on many of our wishes as someone who wants to become one. Her excitement feels completely real as a product of her optimistic outlook on life and the audience’s own desire to enter this magical world.
Flying Witch stands out from the rest of other magical shows in a number of simple, but fantastic ways that bring the series up from forgettable to a work that I expect will stand the test of time. We have witches who do what they want when they want, and see them often slip when treading the unknown.
The events of this film take place shortly after the second series, Grande Road, and as such should not be viewed if you plan on watching the previous two series. The movie is also a step before the third series, which has only been announced. This review will include spoilers.
With KWoo facing a second trip over to Hawaii to bike up Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and training almost daily in preparation, cycling has been in my peripheral long past the Yowamushi Pedal 2nd Season ending. This movie brought back all the anxiety of the first two television series, as well as my fears of horrifically drawn-out cycling and flashbacks mid-race. While there were many golden moments of silliness and honest feel-good-ery, those positives became overshadowed in the sequel series by an insane amount of stretching of everything I hate about battle and sports anime.
Worry not! The movie took the audience’s trepidation to heart and condensed the featured race, including the finishing stretch, into a single film. Many other improvements were also immediately apparent, including jumps forward in art and overall flow.
This season’s Kuma Miko is a delightfully light-hearted comedy following a middle school girl. This sounds pretty generic at the get go, but the show brings in some unique flavors in a few different ways:
Machi is also a priestess for a shrine devoted to the god of the mountain, thought to be a bear
The current bear is tame, named “Natsu”, lives with Machi, and talks like a human
Machi’s shrine garb is influenced by Ainu culture that is visually and verbally referenced
Shintoism is frequently used in anime, and I’ve become accustomed to its influences on various worlds and characters. This is actually the first series I’ve seen that brings up the Ainu people and their culture, which like Shintoism is animistic (think Pocahontas and the spirits in all things) . The next closest suggestion are the Emishi people of Mononke Hime, who were banished and thought lost by most of the country. There are arguments in many of the sources I’ve read, but the general consensus is that the Emishi and Ainu are both hunter-gatherers indigenous to Japan, and descendants of the prehistoric Jomon people.
This past weekend, we hosted family and friends in our home and took it upon ourselves to share Seattle’s lovely coffee, foods, and music as much as two days would allow. One such adventure included the EMP Museum, my favorite museum of the city.
EMP is a leading-edge nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture. -empmuseum.org
The featured exhibit until May 15th is the Hello Kitty Exhibit titled, “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty.” I never was one of those girls who jumped on the kitty love, but I did have my favorite Sanrio characters over the years, including Bad Badtz-Maru the penguin and Pompompurin the golden retriever. It was so much fun walking through the rooms and seeing the many ways that Hello Kitty has influenced people. She continues to be an icon on a global scale, and I wholeheartedly support her sentiment that “you can never have too many friends.”
Below are some of the many pictures I took. If you get a chance, I suggest you stop by and see the exhibit for yourself.
It has actually been a couple of weeks since I finally watched the second Aria the Avvenire, but the images and emotions still resonate even now thinking back on it. “That Warm Goodbye…” follows a central figure, Neo Venezia’s Cait Sith. Also know as Carnival’s “Casanova,” conductor of the Galaxy Express, and the spirit of Aqua, he is a mysterious presence very few people have seen, much less communicated with. Akari is one of the special few. Perhaps Ai will be next?
This is essentially my face right now as I realize that I am once again biting off way more than I can possibly chew through the spring season. To make it even more difficult, the good majority of them are new series, not continuations or spin-offs. We’re already into week two or three for the season, though I’ve mostly only seen one each of the twenty shows I’ll be talking about. As usual, please do let me know if I’m overlooking something you’re loving!
I made it!!! I dropped a good number of series as the winter season progressed, yet somehow I still ended up in the double digits for shows. If you haven’t already read part 1 of my winter wrap, please check it out!
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Musaigen no Phantom World
Prince of Stride: Alternative
Garo: Guren no Tsuki
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season
It’s finally here!!! I’m so relieved to have made it through almost half of my winter anime now that Sakura-Con is over and the spring season looms ahead. This season didn’t strike in my target zone as frequently as ones previous, but there are still a handful of series worth noting.
Every year, Sakura-Con is held during Easter weekend–a busy time of year that brings together a widely celebrated holiday, the ending of the anime winter season, and the beginning of the anime spring season. To add to the already hectic schedule, Seattle also hosted presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rally and the Washington State Democratic caucus. Somehow KWoo and I survived yet another year of the convention, bringing back with us a good handful of merchandise, plenty of cosplay pictures, and a few choice panel transcriptions.
My Sakura-Con coverage this time around will be structured slightly different, particularly with the panels. In the past, I’ve varied between doing multi-day coverage and single-post coverage. I’ve decided to strike a balance between the two by discussing the general convention in this post, while dedicating individual posts to each of the guest panels whose discussions I transcribed. These more detailed panel posts are linked in this entry, as well.