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.

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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Spring 2016 Set Menu

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!

  • Anne Happy♪
  • Bakuon!!
  • Boku no Hero Academia
  • Bungou Stray Dogs
  • Endride
  • Flying Witch
  • High School Fleet
  • Joker Game
  • Kiznaiver
  • Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
  • Kuma Miko
  • Kuromukuro
  • Kyoukai no Rinne 2nd Season
  • Macross Δ
  • Mayoiga
  • Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?
  • Sansha Sanyou
  • Shounen Maid
  • Sousei no Onmyouji
  • Ushio to Tora 2nd Season

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Winter 2016 Season Wrap, Part 2

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
  • Dagashi Kashi
  • Bubuki Buranki
  • Musaigen no Phantom World
  • Prince of Stride: Alternative
  • Garo: Guren no Tsuki
  • Durarara!!x2 Ketsu
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
  • Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season

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Winter 2016 Season Wrap, Part 1

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.

  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!
  • Boku dake ga Inai Machi
  • Haikyuu!! Second Season
  • Diamond no Ace: Second Season
  • Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen
  • Akagami no Shirayuki-hime 2nd Season
  • Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm
  • Dimension W
  • Ojisan to Marshmallow

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Sakura-Con 2016 Overall Look

Not quite sakura, but Japanese pink magnolia (which I actually prefer!) near the center

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.

  • The Anthem of the Heart Feature Film Screening
  • Panels
  • Cosplay
  • Dealer Hall / Artist Alley Haul

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Sakura-Con 2016 – Designing/Working in the Anime Industry with Hiroyasu Kobayashi and Shigeto Koyama

After the The Anthem of the Heart screening, this panel was probably my favorite to attend because of the materials shared and the quality of guest and audience interaction. This was the second panel for Hiroyasu Kobayashi and Shigeto Koyama of Studio Khara. The Japan Animator Expo short, “Obake-chan,” played while we entered and through the start of the panel. Since I had missed out when they were available online the previous year, I was excited to see some choice excerpts here.

Unlike their previous panel, where an overbearing translator for the official, newer Eva works continually interrupted the convention translators, this one had an English translator and a Japanese translator who seamlessly kept the talk going.

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Sakura-Con 2016 – How to Become a Content Creator and Animation Director in the Anime Industry? Panel

The opening of this second panel for Toshihiro Kawamoto and Rie Matsumoto focused more on their roles in the anime industry as opposed to their works. It was a more laid back environment than their first panel, where Matsumoto had largely looked bored and as if she had drawn the short end of the stick to attend. Here, she actually animatedly answered questions and smiled from time to time.

My only issue with this panel was that between the two translators, the woman translator for Matsumoto was not very good; the other translator had to pick up the slack whenever she was unable to keep up with Matsumoto’s long or complicated explanations.

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Sakura-Con 2016 – Reki Kawahara and abec Panel

Another panel to focus on a franchise popular in recent years, guests Reki Kawahara and abec of Sword Art Online sat in with one of the larger audiences I saw this con. I did not attend the movie event before this panel since I was content to wait for its release further down the line in the U.S.

Kawahara Reki is the original creator of the Sword Art Online novels, as well as Accel World. He is still working on SAO installments, and was present at Sakura-Con for a second time to promote the upcoming film.

abec is the original character designer for the illustrations of SAO television series and movie.

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