In Support of Sanzoku no Musume Ronja

The ever curious Ronja

There’s a distinct lack of Ghibli’s TV series, Sanzoku no Musume Ronja, on my Feedly and Twitter, which is a shame given its charm. Watching this show feels like a step into my childhood, with memories of tales like the series Pippi Longstocking (no surprise, since the writer is the same), several of Roald Dahl’s books, Charlotte’s Web, and the Chronicles of Prydain with its European-inspired setting. The original story of Ronia the Robber’s Daughter comes from Swedish writer, Astrid Lindgren, and takes place in a magical time in a forest populated by spiteful harpies, baneful dwarves, playful will-o’-wisps, and jolly thieves. Ghibli is the perfect vessel for a story like Ronja’s, and would have likely made a beautifully drawn film with music orchestrated by the esteemed Joe Hisaishi or Cecile Corbel. Instead, it is the first of the studio’s TV series–and I dearly hope it isn’t the last.

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You’re Great, YowaPeda, but You’re Doing Some Things Wrong

Yowamushi Pedal has been amazing to watch this year, and I’m always happy to see more Onoda and hear the Hime song. I talked before about my lack of experience with cycling, but now that we’re into a second season and I’ve discussed the details more thoroughly with KWoo, I’ve gone ahead and compiled some of our notes–nitpicking, if you must–regarding the show. If you’re a cyclist, or love the sport as a spectator, feel free to include anything else you’ve seen.

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Cirque du Kuroshitsuji

Blazing rings of fire, whips and wild cats, acrobats, and clowns–circuses have long been places of mystery and thrills. What began as Roman structures for naval battle reenactments, shows, and races later became the romanticized traveling tents many people think of first these days. I have never personally attended a circus, but have always been intrigued with the idea of running away to join one like many of the kids did in the books I read. Could I fly on the trapeze? Or perhaps befriend a lion? Even now as an adult, I have no idea what area I would have fallen into, though I like to imagine a variety of circus names I might have chosen.

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Velvet Foam and Latte Art in Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?

I consider myself a bit of a coffee snob. Coupling the facts that I have worked briefly as a barista and that I live in Seattle, the coffee capital of America, coffee has worked itself thoroughly into my bloodstream and way of life. Not a morning passes where I don’t grind and brew a pot of joe; my morning commute to the office always includes my trusty Thermos. When I order an espresso drink–usually a 16 oz. triple shot white mocha with no whip cream, but with a half inch of microfoam instead–I remember which baristas know how to properly texture and which baristas don’t and from whom I order an americano instead.

So when Cocoa watched Rize’s demonstration of latte art and succeeded in her first try, I wanted to cry foul! Call it pride if you will, but I doubt a girl who entered Rabbit Cafe for the rabbits alone instead of the coffee would know how to create her own designs when I wasted many a pitcher in my attempts on the art, despite knowing the theory. Even the simplest of designs, the heart, can be difficult to achieve, and the crux of the ability is in the steaming of the milk.

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Revisiting Hunter x Hunter

While I’m still keeping up with this fabulous series, I’ve also started re-watching it from the beginning with Kwoo in hopes of getting him caught up on the anime. HxH has always baffled me with its persistence in staying on my radar despite being everything I thought I disliked: 100+ episode count, source material still ongoing, a shounen battle-anime–the list goes on. All these factors aside, the show excels in areas that far outweigh my misgivings. From character development, to setting, to story and pacing, HxH succeeds time and time again in not only fulfilling my expectations, but also far exceeding and even surprising them. Re-watching from the start does not change the the amount of pleasure I take from this series. On the contrary, I find myself reveling in the craft.

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Log Horizon and the Lazy, Cowardly Princess

“No proper princess would come out looking for dragons,” Woraug objected.

“Well I’m not a proper princess then!” Cimorene snapped. “I make cherries jubillee and I volunteer for dragons, and I conjugate Latin verbs– or at least I would if anyone would let me. So there!”
―Patricia C. Wrede, Dealing with Dragons

Much of what I imagine about princesses stems from Disney movies and fairy tale stories: they’re young, beautiful, magical, loved, and live happily ever after.  While there are more instances of stories featuring headstrong princesses these days–favorites including books like Dealing with Dragons, movies like Brave, and TV series like Once Upon a Time–I still don’t automatically think of the modern woman when “princess” is uttered.

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Yowamushi Pedal and Heading up the Incline

Bicycling is one of those acts that are a tradition to childhood; some older figure, like a father or a big sister, stands behind the bike of little, scared you while you desperately try to keep balance and hope against all fears that he or she will not let go of the bike. Plenty of kids graduate from tricycle to bicycle at a young age. It wasn’t strange to see my classmates zooming around with confidence by the time we hit 1st grade. I didn’t find balance until well into my 4th grade year on a dirt road at the jeering of my well practiced friends. Since then, cycling has always been a chore. While I remember roaming the neighborhood with my posse like every other suburban kid, I never chose biking as my first course of fun. And when college came around with its steep hills and freezing winters, the bicycle turned from a tool of convenience to one of torture. So here I am, living in Seattle where cyclists abound and where even my boyfriend is a bike nut who owns two and just this past summer rode a 130-mile path with his cycling group. My office is frequented by bike messengers, who always smell of sweat and have some of the largest calves that I’ve ever seen. Cycling has never been more strange and attractive.

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How to be a Conscious Consumer, Silver Spoon Style

As the food lover I am, I try to keep my mind open about trying anything and everything.  This of course includes all parts of the food chain, especially meat! Unfortunately, making sure that the foods you obtain and consume are safe and cruelty-free can be difficult, and sometimes even impossible.  Silver Spoon gives us a setting where produce and livestock are very much close to the plate.  You might handle a piglet one day, only to fry it up into bacon four months later. It’s smart to keep your emotions at bay when raising these beasts if the dinner plate is indeed their final destination, but at what point do you draw the line between treating them like pets and bordering on animal cruelty?

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Gravedigging and Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

“The truth is shrouded in darkness…no, it’s buried in a grave.” -Humpnie Humbert

With Kami no Inai Nichiyoubi past its introductory arc and fake-out ending, very little has been actually revealed about the strange world in which Ai wanders, and even more mysterious is her role as a gravekeeper.  We have already seen a few gravekeepers in action first hand, but how they are designated and where they come from are still unexplained.  If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that Ai is just as uninformed as the viewer.  All that she and we seem to know is that the type of burial shown here is a more natural burial, lacking embalmment and the concrete base of which modern burials consist.  Graves are dug by hand and shovel, and bodies placed in lined, wooden coffins with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

(Spoiler in red font)

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Re-visiting the Noble Savage in Suisei no Gargantia

“Behold the Edenic light of this paradise built atop the shoulders of science and the pursuit of progress. This is your homeland.”

(In reference to the utopian world of Avalon, home of the Galatic Alliance of Humankind)

We’re halfway through the spring season, and there have already been plenty of comparisons made between this anime and nomadic cultures.  The set up of the show is a classic start to any colonialist move, where one person of a “civilized” nation discovers the seemingly free and vast wild and is shocked to discover the people that already populate it are vastly different from his own.  They’re strange and barbaric with their customs, beliefs, and dress, yet somehow the adventurer forms bonds and starts to adapt as humans always do.  We’ve seen numerous renditions of this setting: Avatar, Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, The New World, The Last Samurai, Shogun, and many others.  But there inevitably comes a moment when our adventurer must war with himself over the loyalties he has to his homeland and the affections he holds for the new world and its residents, who are no longer just barbarians, but people. That moment hasn’t yet come to Gargantia, but I’m betting it’s not too far off.

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