I’ve been in Japan for the past week, and have one more to go before flying home. This will be the first year since I moved to Seattle five years ago that I will not be attending Sakura-Con. I think the trade-off is worth it!
We began our journey in Kyoto, then later moved on to the citrus-growing countryside of Wakayama. As I write this, we are now on the bullet train heading towards Hakone, where we will spend one night before finishing our trip in Tokyo.
You can look forward to a more thorough report of our trip, as well as my Winter 2018 season review and Spring 2018 set menu once I return home. Until then, please listen to episode two of the Kaiseki Anime Podcast if you haven’t already (episode three coming soon!).
This week on Kaiseki Anime Podcast, we talk about the brats of the Winter 2018 season, beginning with Mitsuboshi Colors and moving on to Skilled-Teaser Takagi-san. Be it the open spaces of Ueno Park or the middle school classroom, no place is safe from their non-stop antics.
It’d be a crime for me to allow the winter season to close without dedicating space to one of my favorites of the season, Laid-Back Camp. Along with A Place Further than the Universe, this show makes approaching the outdoors seem as natural as breathing. While the sites shown in the anime are real places in Japan, the characters’ attitudes towards camping will hopefully push viewers to explore similar activities close to home. I know it has certainly inspired me to re-evaluate my hesitation towards tents and off-season camping. My complaints suddenly seem small compared to the wide views seen by these girls.
It’s long past time to talk about the show that’s exciting me most this winter season: A Place Further Than The Universe. From the title, you might expect the anime to take us somewhere far away, either in our own universe, or perhaps to another world. Neither would be particularly surprising. Instead, the goal is Antarctica, a continent both familiar and strange to us viewers and the characters in the show. We’ve learned about it in school growing up, and you’ve probably seen some documentary about it, perhaps about the penguins, or about the famous sled dog team from which only two members survived the long months before rescue. But very few of us have likely considered actually going there. Some like to relax on the beach, while others prefer to suit up and hike into the mountains. Antarctica is a whole different beast, one uninhabited and untamed—the true last frontier. It’s a place where teamwork is necessary for survival, a fact tantamount to the success of the expedition in A Place Further than the Universe.
I, along with Draggle of Draggle’s Anime Blog, recorded the first podcast in what will hopefully be a fun addition to the anime podcast community. We hope you will take a half hour out of your day once every two weeks to listen to Kaiseki Anime: our thoughts on currently airing anime, as well as the occasional review of older series.
This week, we discuss two of our favorites of the Winter 2018 season—Laid-Back Camp and A Place Further than the Universe. I made sure to also educate Draggle on the finer points of Hakumei and Mikochi, a show surely worth more of his time than Killing Bites. Let us know what you think of these shows on our blogs, or through Twitter!
This winter has been one of coziness in the unlikeliest of settings. Usually, I spend this season wrapped in layers of sweaters and blankets with no intention of leaving until late March. A few shows this season are challenging that self-defense mechanism by featuring lovable characters living life to the fullest in Nature’s embrace regardless of the temperature or elements. One such series is Hakumei to Mikochi, which admittedly flew under my radar until a dear reader pointed me in its direction.
At a glance, the show falls squarely into the healing category of slice of life; all our characters do, after all, is go about their lives in harmony with one another and their environment. This is a story perfectly acceptable for family viewing, and might even be misrepresented as aimed solely at children due to its art style. Hakumei to Mikochi is so much more than a feel-good, family-friendly anime. There’s ample support for sustainable country living, community involvement, and racial and gender equality. The show’s gentle atmosphere does well to promote these stances without preaching or judgement.
Only Yesterday is a 1991 film from Studio Ghibli written and directed by Isao Takahata, also known for Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko, and Princess Kaguya. Only Yesterday was only recently released in the U.S. in 2016. It’s for this reason that I finally got the chance to watch it for the first time. It didn’t take long for me to realize I should have watched it at least ten years prior while I was just starting into my 20s, even if some of the messages wouldn’t have resonated as strongly with me back then.
“I want to forget all this right now and immerse myself in a story!” Hazuki, “Farewell, My Magic,” Märchen Mädchen
Reading has always been a treasured hobby of mine. Like Hazuki, I often used it during my childhood as a means to travel far away to another place as another person. I lived on a farm in the Ozarks, joined a new family on Prince Edward Island, and traveled with companions to defeat a dragon army. Books always represented freedom. It wasn’t until I was older when books started to represent an escape from the more unpleasant times in life.
Anything Hazuki finds unbearable, or even slightly uncomfortable, is pushed aside the moment she delves into a work of writing. So when she discovers a magical world attached to her own where books empower their users, called Mädchen, it seems like a dream come true. She can literally become Cinderella thanks to one of the oldest and most powerful books finding its way into her hands. The problem? She can’t actually use it. Try as hard as she might, she not only struggles with beginner spells, she also has yet to transform into Cinderella. The girl who so easily slips into works of fiction fails to equip it when the need arises.
Tales of Zestiria is the 15th title in the main Tales timeline, and my sixth in the franchise. While the 2015 Japanese role-playing game follows many of the same tropes as others in the line, it differs in key areas of gameplay. The title also garnered a two-cours anime series, Tales of Zestiria the X, that loosely followed the same events (read my review here) as the original. Avoid the anime if you are at all interested in playing Tales of Zestiria, or even its prequel, Tales of Berseria. Enough of the same events are presented in Zestiria the X to spoil some of the more dramatic scenes in either game.
If there’s one show making me laugh more than I would have thought possible this season, it’s Mitsuboshi Colors, a series about three kids romping around their neighborhood in a style reminiscent of The Little Rascals. There are plenty of other anime this winter full of silly moments, but Mitsuboshi Colors thrives off of our laughter and promises to do so for the coming weeks. Watching Yui, Sat-chan, and Kotoha interact with each other and other members of their community is a little bit like witnessing a tornado—everyone and everything they pass gets swept up in their energy. It’s easy to overlook the fact that these are grade school kids who are almost completely unsupervised in their play and show no hesitation in wandering the city. We see a mom, a shopkeeper, and a police officer, but none of them impose any particular restrictions on the girls’ freedom to explore. These self-proclaimed “keepers of the peace” will make you worry and cringe, but there’s also a high chance you’ll find yourself laughing uncontrollably every episode and looking forward to more.