Moments of 2015: Fugue—Fakes, Bones and Dead Bodies


Although they may flit in and out of the radars of most viewers and readers, genres are a constant in many media. Romance, horror, sports, historical, Read more of this post

Location hunting: Tanuki edition!

I only had three days in Kyoto this trip, and with the Gion Matsuri also fighting for my attention, this meant that I had to choose between two other sets of sacred grounds to check out: Ōmi Jingu and the special train on the Ōtsu Line for Chihayafuru, or Kyoto itself for The Eccentric Family [Uchouten Kazoku]. But to be frank, even if I’d been able to walk properly, I’m fairly certain that the latter would have won out, for after becoming disillusioned with how tourists flock to the city all year around, this show is the one that had me falling in love with Kyoto all over again.

And as luck would have it, these pilgrimage maps
were still available from the Kyoto City Hall!

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Looking back on 2014, appendix: the list

Although it feels like I’ve seen a lot more this year than in previous years, when I actually went and tallied it up, the total was about on par with what I covered in 2013. I’d like to proudly claim that I’ve added nothing to my backlog either, but that’s not strictly true, since I’m hoping to catch up on Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter [Sanzoku no Musume Ronja] and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works as their second halves get underway… There are also a few others that I’m still considering, such as Knights of Sidonia, so they might just show up on the backlog next year, unless I’m able to get to them…

Nevertheless, I’d definitely seen enough to have some difficulty in selecting my list this year: 9 were lock-ins, and three spaces were up for grabs. In fact, I was still mulling over them as I finished three series that I hadn’t been so sure about, over my first real Christmas ‘break’ in four years (i.e. I wasn’t working in retail this year!). In the end, in terms of anime, I still settled for series that I’d watched at a more leisurely pace over the year, even without interacting that much with other viewers on them; obviously, something about the way that I pick what to watch is still working for me. There are shows that I somewhat regret not keeping/catching up with, but even though I can’t see myself remembering 2014 as a great year for this hobby of mine, ultimately, I’ll be quite happy to look back and see these 12 memories.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who’s dropped by, hung around a bit, perhaps even taken the time to comment this year. Whilst I would probably be writing about my hobbies anyway, it’s the people I interact with who will always challenge me to read more widely, with the goal of always improving the quality of my writing and analysis. So thank you for your support and encouragement, and for challenging me to keep re-examining my arguments. And I look forward to seeing you again sometime this year, if what I write about still happens to interest you too.

And without further ado, here’s the list. Read more of this post

Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 126

Who will grasp the start of victory this time?

Who will grasp the star of victory this time?


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In memory of 2012 appendix: the list…and the runner up…

Humans are funny. We tend to pay attention to strings of repeating numbers and treat them as lucky charms or points of interest. For example, you’ll probably find that quite a number of people of Chinese or Japanese descent would get married on the 8th day of the 8th month (whether in the Gregorian or Lunar calendar).

I’ll be honest: I normally don’t pay much attention to this. But on December 12, a friend on facebook commented that it was 12.12 on 12.12.12, and that this would be the last repeat we’d see for 88 years. Well…that wasn’t quite true:


From what I figured, this should be the last year-including repeat for just over 88 years. But well…what’s the bet that someone’s going to point out one that I missed?
(^_^;; )

And here’s what I watched in 2012.

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The eighth memory of 2012: the poetry of a bittersweet romance

Well, Happy New Year…or, rather, あけおめ、ことよろ! And what better way to open up the year than with a story of endings and new beginnings?

Of all the series I watched this year, Utakoi was a funny one for me. A fair number of viewers seemed to think that it had been greenlighted because of the unexpected success that the Chihayafuru anime saw. Given that an anime series typically goes into pre-production up to a year or more before airing, I’m inclined to believe that both shows were part of an effort to highlight the beauty of traditional Japanese poetry, as represented by the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (Ogura collection of 100 poems by 100 poets) amongst female anime viewers. However, much as I promised myself to invest more time in analysing this show in relation to the poems, I simply never got into it.

Neverteless, there is one story that completely captured my heart. Spanning two episodes (though with roots tracing back one more), the sharp banter between Sei Shonagon and Fujiwara no Yukinari and the way they danced around each other with words was a joy to witness. And then that parting, bitter yet with the taste of sweet memories that sustain them both in the paths they have chosen. If there is one thing about Japanese stories that Western ones – which I would say tend to value the notion of being together, whether in life or in death – do not often seem to explore, it is the importance of memory, of those recollections of happy times spent together, even if a loved one is no longer there.

Look back at those memories; they are there to push you forward.

Look back at those memories; they are there to push you forward.

In some ways, I feel that this is precisely why I write about this hobby of mine. It’s not just about the joy of the experience as a story unfolds, or the fun of discussing it with others, it also about reminiscing about that experience, looking back on the good times wherein one can often find inspiration to keep going. I find myself doing that quite often: skimming back over posts I made long ago, looking back over what I’ve written for AS, or the comments I’ve left elsewhere. Of course, you could argue that it’s a waste of time, but that’s the poetry of this bittersweet romance.

The second memory of 2012: the musical number of the year

There were a couple of moments in Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon) that I absolutely loved, both to do with music. The first was Sentarou’s drum solo in the first episode, a full one-minute of jazz drumming that rang not only in Kaoru’s ears, but also in the ears of viewers all around the world.

It was just that good.

However, the memory from this show that really stays with me is the medley from the 7th episode. On the soundtrack, it didn’t sound all that enticing, but fully animated, I can think of no other animated musical scene that bears comparison (I won’t elaborate here, but yes, I find it better than the Cat Concerto…). Though I may have a beef with Kanno Youko over how she sometimes doesn’t acknowledge the influence of others on her music, this medley really demonstrates her great musical ability. More importantly, however, it showcases the brilliance and dedication of Watanabe Shinichirou (and his animation team), who turned a great musical piece into an unforgettable five minutes of animation.

Utakoi: love and poetry in the Heian era

Perhaps the most emblematic poem of them all…at least for those of us that came across from Chihayafuru…

It’s probably incredibly strange that an anime like this even got green lighted. A lot of people put it down to the relative popularity of Chihayafuru, a sleeper hit that no anime/manga/game related company had wanted to sponsor, not even its manga publisher, Kodansha. The unexpected attention that Chihayafuru drew to the card game karuta, in turn drew attention to the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu with which the game is traditionally played. Hence, Utakoi, which is adapted from a manga that looks at the stories behind the poems of this particular collection, compiled by Fujiwara no Teika.

One thing that amused me: most of the adults never ‘aged’. Teika was actually in his late 30s when he was supposedly liaising with Princess Shokushi, and ~70 when he finished compiling the Hyakunin Isshu!

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In memory of 2011 appendix: the list

That is to say, the stuff I watched in 2011. It’s much shorter than my 2010 list…which is reflective of how my free time just disappeared due to the course I’ve been doing…one more semester to go!

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In memory of 2011 その8: 佐藤くん、まだヘタレだけど、かっこいい...

Happy New Year! Which also brings us to the 8th post of this yearly review.

This past season has been a good one for comedies in my book, what with Kimi to Boku also giving me huge laughs week after week. But Working’!! is definitely where my loyalties lie at the moment, after an excellent final episode that more than rivals the former’s own strong offering this week.

The moment that stayed with me this season, however, is better described as being heartwarming:

Satou, smiling gently as he asks Yachiyo to talk about Kyoko as she always does...

He thus reassures her of his fondness for her normal self…

…earning a happy smile in return…although he also pays for it…

There’s no doubting it – Satou is still pretty much a wimp about this unrequited love of his, but just like Takanashi in episode 9 of the first season, he really shows his cool side here. Hence, it’s Satou’s turn to make my list for the year gone by. Just who will be on next year? ^^