Eventing in 2018 Part 12! Banana Fish at the noitaminA cafe

I am sure it escaped no one’s attention that I have spent more time at this cafe then I probably should have. In fact, if I’d spent less time (and money) at the two Banana Fish cafes over the last four to five months, I’d probably have been able to buy the first BD set and apply for one of the tickets to the Premium Party…though given that only half of the people who applied got tickets, it was still a risky proposition.

img_9493

These were the Christmas drinks — the one in the middle was “Candy Bar,” hence the bromide ^^



But…while I have just a tiny bit of regret that I missed out on that party, I’m quite pleased to have the chance to really highlight a place in Tokyo that I am extremely fond of. I’ve written about it a couple of times before, but the noitaminA cafe has always been one of my happy places in Japan, even when the series screening was dark and sometimes depressing, as the first offering I ever caught there was.

And I am doubly pleased that the series that made this possible is Banana Fish. It was a polarizing series, no doubt, especially in certain English-speaking anime fandoms. I am probably one of the few English-speaking fans who came out of the experience agreeing with Nojima Kenji, Eiji’s voice actor, that at the core of this story is a message of “hope,” hope that dawn will come at the end of the long dark night.

Why “hope”? Especially given where the story left us? …I’m still finding it difficult to put it into words, so for the moment, let me leave you with this spread from Spoon.2Di vol.45.

IMG_9803.JPG

One day, hopefully sooner rather than later,
I’ll be able to tell you why Banana Fish was my anime of the year.

Eventing in 2018 Part 11! Liz and the Bluebird

liz

Er…you won’t see me in this pic, as I was on the second floor balcony ^^; (source)


Liz and the Bluebird was, hands down, my cinematic highlight of the year. But…I still cannot tell you why it affected me so much. It may be because Liz didn’t feel like an anime, it felt like a live-action drama, where there is so much hidden in what characters say and don’t say, in what they do and don’t do.

I can still remember one key moment that hit me, though I suspect it’s a moment that may not have struck many of my fellow fans: when Nozomi told Ms. Niiyama that she was thinking of applying to a music college as well, and only received a lukewarm “Oh, is that so? Well, do let me know if there’s anything you’d like to ask.”

What must Nozomi have felt, getting the confirmation she’d feared to get?

This was the moment that made the film for me. And I bet that just about every other person who loves Liz can name their own moment–or three.

And that is why Liz and the Bluebird is my film of the year.

Eventing in 2018 Part 10! Skate Crazy

IMG_9309

I debated about whether I should include this or not, considering that it’s not anime-related per se… But in the end, a certain figure skating anime was what set me on this path, so why not?

Back in January of 2018, I bought my very first tickets to a figure skating event: the 2018-19 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final (Dec 6-9, 2018, in Vancouver Canada).

The 11-month wait after that was filled with other ice shows, and a competition of sorts, not to mention a tense Grand Prix series filled with amazing highs and crushing lows

Well, that’s figure skating. And Yuzu wasn’t the only one — to be honest, it was incredibly disappointing not to see any of my favs, or the top dance team in the world right now, at the GPF…

But there was a silver lining: I appreciated the opportunity to just sit and absorb the performances without having my heart in my throat the whole time. Especially since I only had my iPhone and thus couldn’t take anything better than cropped shots like this. But it was still exhilarating to stand no more than 10 feet away from Patrick Chan, and to meet and speak with Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès!

IMG_9788

So once again, Thank you, Vancouver! Until next time!

Eventing in 2018 Part 9! Thank you, Sakura-chan

Part of the reason I postponed this piece is that I hadn’t quite finished this particular event as of yesterday. The Card Captor Sakura 20th Anniversary Commemorative exhibition was actually split into two parts, the first of which I was lucky enough to visit with a friend back in November. But with that big trip to Canada and the US back in December, not to mention moving shortly after I returned to Japan, I only managed to get around to the second half today… orz

IMG_9675.JPG

In any case, this exhibition really brought back the memories. CCS was one of the first manga I collected, back when I was in high school or in my first year of uni, and entirely in Japanese even though I couldn’t actually read the language back then! I was in a huge CLAMP phase back then, you see…and while I’ve moved on from CLAMP, CCS is the one manga of theirs that I will keep for as long as I live. Walking through the exhibition today reminded me why: the art, the messages it encompasses, the key words…

Well…there’s A LOT I’d love to say, but I just don’t have the headspace for it at the moment. So let me direct you to my friend Kim’s piece instead, so you might be able to understand why this story is so beloved even today, more than 15 years after it ended!

IMG_9639.JPG

Eventing in 2018 Part 8! Should I roll that gacha…?

Hang on! you say. Why is a mobile game on this list? It’s meant to be all about events in Japan, right?

Well…you see, mobile games have “events,” too ^^; And Uta Macross was most DEFINITELY a big part of 2018 for me.

That’s all I really want to say about it, I must admit, so I’ll just leave you with my uta macross home screen as it was earlier this evening.

IMG_9594

あけましておめでとうございます!

今年もよろしくお願いします!

Eventing in 2018 Part 7! Really, Ash, ramen on rice?!

IMG_8437.JPG

I…am not going to tell you just how much I’ve spent at this cafe. Let’s just say, “A LOT.” But it was totally worth it, if only because of the Japanese friends I made, especially when we all went back again and again during the last week it was in Tokyo! It’s down in Osaka now, and I’m tempted to try going down there, especially since I’ll also be able to meet a friend that has recently moved to Kobe… But I’ll have to see — even if I can spare the money, I can only go on weekends, and I’m guessing it’ll be all booked out!

IMG_8677.JPG

Eventing in 2018 Part 6! A trip to the home of Rakugo

Unfortunately, I didn’t tweet about this one either — was I just not feeling up to covering the events I was doing that month? So thank you to Dee for staying on top of it!

IMG_8055.JPG

And do you know how cool it was to see this very theatre on TV just a few weeks later?!

Rakugo-drama.jpg

We weren’t able to take photos, but you can check out the drama if you want to see what it looks like inside ^^

Eventing in 2018 Part 5! Super Dimension Orchestra F

I honestly meant to tweet about this, but for some reason I never got around to it. In any case, this past September, I finally made it to a Frontier Concert. And Megumi was there! So yes, I’ve finally seen one of my Macross idols live!

IMG_7909

But the real reason this concert made it onto my list this year is this: when the orchestra played the opening bars of this song, memories of one key scene came flooding back to me, and I found myself clutching my hands over my heart.

I must confess that this didn’t happen to me even at the Yuri!!! on ICE Concert. I suspect it’s partly because I’d been listening to that music almost nonstop. In this case, I haven’t actually listened to the Frontier orchestral pieces for years, and that’s why it was so overwhelming when it all came flooding back… It really was an unforgettable experience, one that I will remember for a long time to come.

Eventing in 2018 Part 4! Yuri!!! on MUSEUM

(In which I realise to my horror that I didn’t actually tweet much about this one!)

I guess it shouldn’t surprise anyone that YOI is the first series to repeat on this list. But to be honest, other than the first post, for which I wanted something pretty impactful, the other non-AOTY entries are all in chronological order! So since we’ve had a bit of a dearth in terms of YOI events in the second half of 2018, it’s time for Yuri!!! on MUSEUM!

YOIMyu.jpg

Everyone probably knows that I went to the Tokyo one, if only because I’ve been living here all year. But…I actually made a trip to Osaka in January precisely BECAUSE I wanted to catch the museum there. At that point, IIRC, we didn’t even know that they’d be bringing it back to Tokyo, much less with all that additional content — I only wish we could have taken more photos there, but I guess they were trying to make sure that we’d want to get these!

Eventing in 2018 Part 3! Deltama+ Mission3.3

Can’t believe I almost forgot about this one! I’d planned to write about the third Walküre live, the huge one at Yokohama Arena on February 24 and 25. Which I must admit I only went to a live-viewing for, anyway, since tickets were pretty darned difficult to get. That would have been very cool, but still, as someone who got into Macross BECAUSE of the seiyuu, making it to this little event before making it to a concert is probably a bit more reflective of who I am!