[Review] Taishou Yakyuu Musume.

Can you count a full handful of sports anime featuring an all-female cast? Can you even name three? I could, maybe, if I stretched the category to include table top games like mahjong or survival games like air soft or paintball, but the atmospheres are wholly different from sports anime with all-male teams like Daiya no Ace, Kuroko no Basket, or Cross Game. This unbalance is a shame, because from my own experience and those of my friends and role models, female athletes are every bit as tenacious and competitive as guys, and sometimes even more so.

Taishou Yakyuu Musume. tackles the topic of sports and all its expectations using baseball as the setting. Combined with the time period, the show addresses sex and age discrimination all while featuring familiar tropes of sports, romance, and high school life. Set in 1925, main character, Koume, and her best friend, Akiko, aim to start Touhou Seika Female Academy’s, and likely the nation’s, first female baseball team.

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Summer 2016 Set Menu

Better late than never, right? This is less of a start-of-the-season round-up of my choices, and more of a progress report now that we’re a little more than quarter of the way through the summer. My list is woefully long despite my crazy summer schedule that includes a ton of family and friend events in the weeks and days leading up to my wedding. I’ve only been able to keep up thanks to my daily commute which takes up almost two hours of my time every work day. There are plenty of gems this season across multiple genres to pick from, and below are my choices in alphabetical order:

  • 91 Days
  • Amaama to Inazuma
  • Amanchu!
  • Arslan Senki (TV): Fuujin Ranbu
  • Battery
  • Cheer Danshi!!
  • Days (TV)
  • Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei!!
  • Fukigen na Mononokean
  • Handa-kun
  • Love Live! Sunshine!!
  • Mob Psycho 100
  • Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin
  • New Game
  • Orange
  • Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume
  • ReLIFE
  • Servamp
  • Shokugeki no Souma – Ni no Sara

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Spring 2016 Season Wrap – Part 2

Wooohooo! Spring is finally over! Or should I be crying, now that a few of my beloved series are either paused with sequels on the horizon or completely finished? Either way, here is my second and last part of spring reviews. Quite a number of these deserved individual coverage, and maybe that will happen some day with second viewings. Please do read on and let me know your own thoughts on the below shows.

  • Nijiiro Days
  • High School Fleet
  • Boku no Hero Academia
  • Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?
  • Ushio to Tora 2nd Season
  • Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
  • Shounen Maid

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Spring 2016 Season Wrap – Part 1

These past couple of weeks have brought about so many changes! First and foremost: I just turned 30. Happy birthday to me🙂 KWoo and I went on a very short trip up to Alaska for a belated engagement party and to celebrate both my parents’ wedding anniversary and my birthday. Second is the wrapping up of this spring season, which I have surprisingly kept current week to week. I think I cut out way more at the start than I have in previous years, so the marginally smaller number of shows was much more manageable. Third, I’m now less than two months from the big wedding date, so I’m eyeballing the new summer season with a wary eye. I know I’ll be way too busy in the upcoming weeks to keep up with as many as I would like, but I promise to backlog anything that looks interesting and to chat with you a bit throughout the summer about the few I will watch.

This particular spring, I had a handful of great, a decent amount of pretty good, and sadly too many of the mid-range. I probably could have cut out more, but I’m still too forgiving on the flags that raise in the opening episodes. Now, on to the first part of my season review!

  • Bakuon!!
  • Joker Game
  • Kuma Miko
  • Anne Happy♪
  • Bungou Stray Dogs
  • Flying Witch
  • Sansha Sanyou

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[Review] She & Her Cat

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.

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Flying Witch: Whimsical and Experimental

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.

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[Review] Yowamushi Pedal The Movie

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.

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Ainu Culture in Kuma Miko

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.

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EMP Museum’s Hello Kitty Exhibit

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.

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Aria the Avvenire OVA 2: Encounters and Farewells

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?

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