Kimi to Boku: how much reality is there in fiction?

Anyone know why KB was filled with cats? It’s all to do with the little story that shares its name ^^

Following a number of hits that follow groups of girls in high school – Azumanga Daioh, K-ON and Lucky Star, to name a few – anime viewers were unusually presented with two series over the last year that dealt with their counterparts. One, The Daily Lives of (Boys) High School Boys, was apparently quite a hit with the young male demographic, but it didn’t really float my boat. The other, Kimi to Boku (aka You and Me), was much more aligned to my tastes – and not unexpectedly too, for it was originally written to appeal to the fairer sex. (I mean, look at those cats!) Therein lies the debate: are shows like K-ON and Lucky Star, which were arguably created to with a predominantly male target demographic in mind, accurate representations of high school girls? And on the flip side, is Kimi to Boku or (Boys) High School Boys an accurate representation of high school boys?

Boys, flowers, and hair…?

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O-tonari: the sounds from the other side of the wall

Satoshi is a photographer who would rather capture landscapes than the magazine models that he works with; Nanao a florist who dreams of going to France to learn from masters in her art. Although they’ve never met, each takes comfort from the sounds of daily living that come from the other side of the wall they share. However, that paper-thin wall also means that they inadvertently eavesdrop on somewhat more intimate details in each others’ lives. As a day of departure approaches, will their eyes ever meet…?

Knowing my interest in Japanese culture, a friend invited me to see this film when it was screened at my university last year. And as with many other Japanese stories, it left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

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Working’!!: また、おかわりお願いします~!!

There should be at least one more season to come, and until then, there really are only a couple of things that one can talk about with regards to the second helping of one of my favourite animated comedies ever.

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Usagi Drop: the greatest change in one’s life

…is having a child…

For months, it has been apparent to many noitaminA fans that the timeslot has drifted away from the types of shows it used to broadcast. Hence, it was something of a surprise that Usagi Drop was one of the two shows we got for the summer season. Based on a josei manga that has created great waves – for expected and unexpected reasons – the story of Daikichi and Rin-chan certainly captured many hearts over the summer, including mine.

What will become of this child?

When Sawachi Daikichi’s grandfather passes away, his family discovers a surprising and unexpected secret: that he’d secretly had another child in his old age, one that he’d kept hidden until now. With all his other relatives trying to decide how to deal with the child in a way that causes the least possible loss of face to the family, Daikichi decides to take Rin-chan in and raise her himself. But as a 30-year old single man who hasn’t had to look after anyone else before, many challenges lay ahead…

OMG!! I forgot about that too!

Usagi Drop was one of those series, something comforting that you could put on at the end of a hard day’s work and be comforted by. Rin-chan was super cute week after week, and Matsuura Ayu was fantastic in bringing her to life. One of my absolute favourite scenes has Daikichi and Rin discussing all the troublesome things that Kouki, being a typical boy, does, and Rin’s でしょう? (“I know, right?”) there was just too C.U.T.E.!!!!

New challenges and self-awareness

But it was also a series that makes you think about the realities of raising a child – they’re not things the non-parents often think about. For example, getting them registered for school early, staying calm and juggling leave when they unexpectedly fall sick, dealing with children’s intuition and their insights into the world around them… Even dealing with fears of abandonment – which isn’t necessarily a fear that only adopted children might have. I am not a parent myself, but one of my aunts has told me about how she’s been asked who she would save if both her children had fallen into the sea on a stormy day, and there was only one whom she could save. Children say the darndest things, alright, but it would be wrong and even damaging to dismiss them as irrational fears.

Greater flexibility is often needed

The only thing that ruined the watching experience was the inconsideration of a number of manga readers. This is something that I’d rather not elaborate on, for the sake of those who want to watch or read Usagi Drop in the future, but I’d recommend avoiding forums in particular if you want to enjoy the experience fully.

And we come full circle…

In the end, Usagi Drop was both a gentle series that you could just allow to wash over you, as well as a though-provoking glimpse into the life of parents – especially single or working parents. Something to revisit if and when I start my own family, perhaps. I’ve probably said enough, methinks – from here on, I’ll just let the anime speak for itself, both in screenshots, and when you watch it for yourself.

Soredemo?…no! It’s “Soremachi”, idiots!

Ordinarily, I’d finish with “Get it right, dammit!”, but honestly, that’s not what this show is all about, is it? Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is precisely as it’s title says, a town that keeps turning. It’s not like the end of the world, much less a simple mistaken abbreviation, can stop that, right?

Wicked! opening is a big draw…but is that enough?

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WORKING!!: now that’s what I call comedy!

Ehhhhhh!! Souma's actually...WORKING!!

Comedy is often considered the most difficult genre to pull off, with good reason. A good comedy must not only have jokes that appeal to the sensibilities of its intended audience, it must also have great actors (or animators) with brilliant comedic timing. For me, WORKING!! had all of that in abundance.

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Antique: do you like what you do?

If you don’t like cake, if you don’t live it, how can you sell it?

That line, of course, isn’t actually from the film…well, not that I remember. But that’s essentially what patissier Seon Woo (Kim Jae Wook) asks his employer – who also happens to be his first crush – Jin Hyeok (Joo Ji Hoon), once he realises that the latter actually can’t stand eating sweets…

So why does Jin Hyeok run a cake shop, despite the fact that he despises sweets? The answer lies in a traumatic experience he had as a child. Kidnapped and held for two months, the only thing he remembers is that his kidnapper fed him cake everyday. Opening a bakery to assure his mother and grandmother that he’s recovered from the ordeal, Jin Hyeok’s ulterior motive is to try and draw out his kidnapper.

However, despite this overreaching storyline, the predominant attraction of Antique are its characters. A prim owner who can turn on the charm when he needs to; a master patissier, also known as the “Gay of Demonic Charm” because no man, gay or otherwise, can help falling for him; an eager ex-boxer whose other great love is of cake; and a simple but loyal follower. Hiring a gay man, especially one of that reputation, to work in a cafe staffed entirely by men can only be insanely stupid, right? But it made for great comedy and mouth-watering cakes! I particularly enjoyed the sequences of Jin Hyeok’s crash course in baking and the hectic preparations for his Christmas delivery…and did I just want to have a taste of those desserts myself! However, the little scenes here and there, which demonstrated how much this group of four men grew to care for each other (with or without the homoerotic subtext), were the highlights. If there was one thing I didn’t like, it was Jean and how he was so easily forgiven – violence is unforgivable, no matter who it is! But I guess you could say the story was realistic in that sense.

     

And the eye-candy was quite nice anyway…pardon the tangent. (^_^)

However, what remains with me is still the question I started with: if you don’t like cake, how can you sell it? It expresses a very pertinent point about life in general. Do you like what you are doing? If you do, well, you’re one of the lucky ones whose managed to combine your passion and your career. But if you don’t…do you leave to find something you like? Or should you try to find something within that career that you like? Not that Antique proposes any answers to these questions, but is that not something each person is meant to find out for themselves?

Cross Game: ambivalence isn’t a good thing in my book

It’s amazing what knowledge of how a story ends can do to one’s enjoyment of a work. Even though I was completely hooked to the manga for about a year, once Adachi-sensei had brought the story to an end, I completely fell off the bandwagon. I didn’t even bother to finish the anime until May, about a month after it’d ended. Discontent with the main pairing? I suppose such feelings were mixed in. However, whether you believe me or not, my ambivalence about Cross Game goes deeper than that.

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Translation: Nodame Cantabile Encore, Opera AKT 2

I really enjoyed reading this chapter, so I thought I’d give translating it a go…and like Ninomiya-sensei, I decided to do a bit of research to find out what happens when you try to stage an opera… now, I’m not sure if that was such a good idea, since I’ve spent around 2 hours just researching operatic terms and the references that Ninomiya-sensei made! I’m also sure I’ve screwed up somewhere…but hey, that’s what the edit button is for!

Most non-spoken words are in italics.
Banners/signs are in [squared brackets], and notes in (rounded ones).

I’ve done this for fun, and to improve my own Japanese skills, so…
Please DO NOT post this elsewhere (links are ok), and DO NOT USE IT FOR SCANLATIONS.

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First half impressions: Cross Game

Actually a bit late now, since the anime has progressed to episode 29 and introduced the last of the main players. Lots of developments left, right and center, so I’m really looking forward to the next part…but here’s my little look at the series so far.

Whilst I’ve been spamming about Bakemonogatari and the Cross Game manga elsewhere, I’ve also been religiously following the anime adaptation of the latter. It’s very unusual for me to watch a series that’s so distinctly shonen, but Adachi-sensei is such a master of realistic and subtle high-school relationships that I was seriously considering this for anime of the year, even though it won’t be finished until Spring next year. Not so much in terms of romantic relationships (although I can see why Azuma is becoming more content – Ichiyo and Junpei’s relationship is funny and kinda sweet!), but rather for the dynamic between Koh and the people close to him – his parents, the Tsukishimas (especially Momiji) and Akaishi. The development of Azuma, tied to his brother and his interaction with the rest of the Seishu team, especially Koh, is also spot on.

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