The Writer And His Meows – A Review of Kedi (2017)

“A cat meowing, looking up at you is life smiling at you.”

Truer words have probably been spoken but these twelve in this exact order ring closer to the heart more than the others. This is one of the last few lines from the acclaimed Turkish documentary on ‘kedi’: that is, cats.

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But that is not what Kedi is only about. Kedi is a visually captivating aimless tale of love and connections between the people and cats of one of the most culturally rich and diverse cities on the planet – Istanbul. I use the term ‘diverse’ in its proper positively intended way, mind you. A soulful mix of the ancient and the modern playing a colorful regatta of good vibes all around. All to deliver one simply quaint message on the importance of love and the joys of life.

Kedi follows the tales of numerous cats and the people who take care of them. By the young and the elderly stories are told of problems, responsibilities, and of how the feline population of Istanbul goes about and act as an outlet for humans to be happy. And it does this all so extremely well.

Kedi never comes across as preachy or like an animal-rights hippie propaganda piece and that is exactly why it manages to deliver its payload of fluffy goodness in a way that lets you both thoroughly enjoy and think about what is happening on the screen. Sure, looming real problems, such as residential urbanization and the increasing lack of empathy in today’s increasingly cold world, are briefly touched but they never become the main topic as Kedi clearly draws the line and knows precisely what it wants to be and that is, quite ironically, being human. The right kind, that is.

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Now you might be thinking how exactly Kedi achieved this. It’s no short wonder that it owes it all to the crew that painstakingly went into nooks and crannies to get all they could on the stars, the cats, they wanted to feature. They managed to find things out about the cats that not even their humans knew of. “She has given birth but I am not sure where. I am sure that she we will get furious if another cat attacks her kittens,” said an interviewee as the camera diligently followed a tabby into a warehouse to show her assume her position as a menacing guard to a Bombay cat who is passing by.

It is not only the hard work of the crew that shines in Kedi. All the different cats and their humans have their own little amusing tales to tell as they each say highly quotable wisdoms.

“Meow,” Bengu meowed.

Marvelous. Seriously, though, most of what is depicted in Kedi is brimming with warmth and will make you heartily laugh like without worry when you see all the different antics of the various cats. There’s this one cat called Psychopath who’s the toughest gal in town. She has dogs cowering before her and she’s even got a male cat under her who she keenly watches over to ensure he isn’t stolen away by other more graceful cats. A real Babushka, no? Then there’s the mafioso rivalry over territory between Gamsiz and the new kitter in town known as Ginger as they chase each other around and intrude into poor Gece’s home and eat his food.

There are moments of sadness and quietness in Kedi as well. A kitten who has been attacked by a bigger cat and has to be taken to a vet. The man who had a nervous breakdown and his only road to recovery was finding happiness again when he got involved with the feline ones. A clear contrast is emphasized: find your rose in the midst of the gravel. And that arduously brings the point home with finesse. As someone who has raised many cats, and lost a decent number of them to Death, Kedi reminds you of the necessity of the values of Stoicism in one’s life.

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Ex-Nervous knows what’s up.

Coming to the technical of the review, I have to say that the directing and cinematography are absolutely gorgeous. Cuts to aerial views and shots from the water of Istanbul after every turn of the spotlight on a meowser really signifies the lives of them all. Then you have the aforementioned efforts of the crew to chase the cats to get that perfect shot too. These paired with the beautifully arranged soundtrack of xylophones, jazz, classical, and traditional Turkish beats really make up a high quality budget – especially on the big screen. I swear, if they happen to screen Kedi here in my city then I will be at the cinema in a heartbeat. Fingers crossed.

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That cat and I are so alike. Hurr durr suicide joke.
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Quality.

This documentary has been a deeply enjoyable ride for me. It’s one of the few animal focused documentaries that actually have soul. It also reminds me a lot of Tekkon Kinkreet, heh. Cat lover or not, I highly recommend Kedi. You can catch it on YouTube.

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It (2017)

After having declined all plans to do something over the summer with my friends due to location and time constraint reasons, I was feeling guilty. Plus, I was also bored and loaded. So, come Friday night on the 15th of September, I was ‘persuaded’ by a friend to go and watch the premier of the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s renowned novel ‘It’.

Feeling somewhat satisfied with the money I spent on the movie, I thought it’d be a good idea to review the movie since it’s all hip and trendy right now and could get me those sweet, sweet internet points.

Before I start, though, I’m going to have to say that I have not read the novel before and the only written King work I have read and thoroughly enjoyed is ‘The Last Stand’. The complete uncut edition, that is. As you can see, I am fairly familiar with King’s prose but not the work the movie I am reviewing is the adaptation of. In other words, you can expect an acute angled degree of non-bias here.

Let’s get it on with the plot.

Bill Denbrough’s younger brother, Georgie, is lured by and feasted upon by the town’s resident spooky scary clown from Hell who joyfully calls himself Pennywise. Pennywise rises up from bed once every 27 years for an all you can eat buffet with the menu being comprised of the town’s children. Bill ain’t having none of that shit and manages to coax his current and ‘to-be’ friends from ‘The Loser Club’ to beat the crap out of the demonic carnival junkie. That’s basically all you need to know about the plot. There’s not much going for the mystery aspect of the movie so saying any more will be just me flaunting distasteful spoilers.

Now, you probably might be wondering why the previous paragraph is rather whimsical. Or not. Well, you should now. For my sake, please. Anyways, it’s like that because It did not scare me at all.

Now what exactly is the point of a horror movie that does not even slightly unhinges you? There’s no point. It’s just a waste of time. But, thankfully, I was at least jeepered out a couple of times. Sadly, they were only few and far between the entire length of the 2 hours and 15 minutes duration. One of the most unsettling scenes for me was the rock throwing competition with such head-shots that 360noscope420blazeits would be put to shame. Realistic bodily harm fucks me up to no end.

Another scene, which is also hands down the best, was the bathroom one with Beverly. The timing, build-up and execution of that scene was just impeccable. Almost the entire theater was up and out of its seats. Hell, one friend had screamed like a little bitch while another had his mouth open – to shut a good long while after the scene changed to comment, “Now that’s going to be a classic.”

And that’s what really muffs me up about It. It had the potential to be absolutely terrifying but, it relied way too much on overused sound effects and plastic CGI. Whenever a jumpscare would pop up you’d know beforehand since ‘BWAAAAAAA BWAAAAA BWAAAAAAAAAAAH’ is apparently thought to be a great use of sound to create just that chilling atmosphere a horror movie needs. I have no issue with CGI in general, by the way. As long as it doesn’t look too blocky or unrealistic then CG and I are real good pals. I can not fathom why the people who worked on the movie felt the need to create a CGI balloon of all things. It just felt out of place a lot of times and not in the good sense either.

Otherwise, the cinematography and direction are pretty great. Scenes have weight and transitioning is smooth. There are still a couple of snags here and there. Though, they’re only noticeable to worrywarts. I expect the Blu-Ray release to have quite a number of extra scenes because of this.

For a movie that managed to cut a whole LOT of content to focus on the main evil I have to say that it did a nice job. There’s a reason why a large number of people claim It to be a good horror flick. It might not have scared me but it did manage to bag the audience with its repertoire of tried and tested jumpscares. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t get spooked much by non-interactive media anyways. The creepiest movie I’ve watched in recent times is ‘The Taking of Deborah Logan’ that was released back in 2014. My all time favorite would be the 1986 remake of ‘The Fly’ starring Jeff Goldblum’s charming insanity. So you can take my review on the horror aspect with a grain of salt.

What you shouldn’t pour salt on, though, is my thought on the movie’s approach to comedy. This is a King movie – if you weren’t expecting comic relief delivered via some of the most left-field dialogue and visual gags imaginable then, I’m sorry, you should read at least one Stephen King book before leaving this world. You’ve got 12 year-olds shouting, “OOOOUWAHOhat the fuck?”, cracking dick jokes, taking jabs at adult ‘your mom’ jokes, pedophilic references, and even the damned clown eliciting a giggle or two with his antics. Honestly, if It was a full-blown parody then I would have given it an easy 9/10.

Finally, let’s talk about the characters and acting. As someone who went into the movie theater with the general expectations of King’s style for writing characters, I would have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how well they were brought to life on the big screen. Except for a few minor roles that serve to just advance the plot in the menial of ways imaginable, you probably won’t have any issues with the cast of It. All of the child actors can actually act! Along with that being a rare sight, it is also a dearly welcome one. You could actually feel the fear in their eyes. Especially Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak. The scene with him cowering before Pennywise as he played peek-a-boo was just right. Or maybe Pennywise’s actor was just that good.

Speaking of the devil: Pennywise. Also known as It and The Dancing Clown. A terrifying role comfortably and masterfully acted by Bill Skarsgard who made the character into his own. His gaze, speech, and even his drool (Was the drool animated, hmmm?) managed to create a deeply worrying clown. If they had toned down the CGI for Pennywise then he would truly have shone as a proper terror of the deep.

Nevertheless, It was still an interesting watch and I had fun with it. I look forward to the sequel which is actually the second half of the novel – or so I am told. For now, It gets a 7.5 out of 10 from me. Score might drop if I read the novel. Which will be soon…

Manga, Colorings And I

(Proofread by my girlfriend, Tristana.)

Time to take a little break from the usual reviews I do and take a trip down a palette of a memory lane.

Colorings Lane, to be exact.

Nowadays I’m busy with games, anime, manga, learning Japanese (Human Japanese is a great app), and this blog here. Been watching anime and reading manga from ages ago and had started learning Japanese a while back in late January, if I recall correctly. I can proudly say that I can now read the sound effects while reading manga!

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I think it says ‘Kaaa~” there.

Anyways, there was a period during which I wasn’t that into PC gaming. Had no consoles at the time as my multiple PS1s and PS2s had both died and I skipped gaming altogether during the PS3/Xbox360 generation. All I had was a Pentium 4 desktop up till early 2012. And then, through hard saving and numerous loans from siblings, I managed to build myself a Core 2 Duo desktop after the death of the Pentium 4. Ran it till late 2014. Then I built my current rig. It was a fun experience. Learnt a lot – especially, ”When in doubt, fuck RAM.”

Before I got my current rig all I had for fun were binging animations and reading novels and comics. I’ve got a decent library of novels now, man, but I haven’t bought any new ones in the last 5 years. Got more into manga, I guess. And since all of my cash started going into my rigs, I couldn’t spare money on novels anymore.

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One day… I’ll be back novels. I’ll be back!

I mainly watched anime at first. One day, I found Beelzebub. Absolutely loved it. Until I got to the ending that is. It was an absolutely rushed fucked up job. So much so that I was willing to go on Reddit (urgh), of all places, and rant about it. But first, I decided to Google it. Turned out the manga was still ongoing. So, for the very first time in my life, I read a manga. Beelzebub’s manga. To this day, it is my #1 all-time favorite series and a little part of me died when it got axed.

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Though, anyways, back on track.
I came across a character called Mamon in the Beelzebub and I instantly thought to myself, “Boy, he would look great in colour.”

And, well, that’s what I did. I colored him. Using a an online Photoshop clone called Sumopaint I had found before reading the manga, I spent 30 to 45 minutes just messing around with the a crop from one of the last few chapters. I hadn’t had fun like that in a long time. When I was done, I was actually really damn well proud of myself. A rare thing, that’s for sure.

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The whites along the outline. Awwww. ❤

This is probably the first and only time I got skin coloring and shading right.

After I got all caught up with Beelzebub, I decided to check out the world of manga some more. I got onto Mangatraders (a pirate’s life for me) and downloaded Ichigo 100%. Really liked that too. Except for the ending. Fuck the ending. Fuck Junpei. Fuck.

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The worst coloring I have ever done. This is what Junpei deserves for the crap he pulled with Aya.

Next, came practice with a bunch of drawings a good artist buddy of mine. Around that time, we both had decided to make our own manga-style comic. We got to make 3 chapters over a couple of months but then, sadly, stopped due to time constraints. That’s also when I stumbled across Bakuman. and got a slight taste of what a mangaka’s life is like. Especially Mashiro and Takagi’s case. Friend and I were both in middle school at the time. It was fun while it lasted. I’d post some of the stuff we did together but I keep forgetting to ask permission so… Yeah.

I then got more invested into manga. Wanted to learn about panel placement and all that jazz. I found this manga called Tenjou Tenge by ONE. It had some downright jaw-dropping art. The raw details and creativity that went into his art was just spectacular. That manga might have gotten from good to crap in terms of story near its end but I will always remember it for its stunning drawings and excellent flow when it came to portrayal of combat.

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I then colored the MC of Tenjou Tenge.

I’m not sure exactly what I was trying to here with this coloring. Oh well, it turned out okay in the end, I guess.

Then, it was time for some nostalgia and continuations. I don’t how many of you all here have ever heard of History’s Strongest Discipile Kenichi. It was one of the first anime I ever watched that I actually knew was an anime – like we watched Digimon without knowing it was a Chinese cartoon. The anime ended at 1/20th of the manga’s total length. I decided to hit the manga and, boy, it was lewd as all hell. Shigure, damn.

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Kenichi ’bout to beat yo ass up.

Sad to say, though, I never actually ended Kenichi’s manga. I think I’ve got a 100 or so chapters left. Maybe I should finish it seeing as how the manga concluded a year or two ago.

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This is from Zombie Loan. Probably the laziest coloring I have done to date.

Bill Gates is proud of this, I think. Or he will be when I e-mail this to him. He’ll be overjoyed. Ehehehe…

MOVING ON, I then decided to mess around with backgrounds and make some of my own. It was around this time I had finally acquired Photoshop.

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DJ Lain courtesy of the anime And OST album cover. Which is best? Or do they all suck?

And now, we’re back to Zombie Loan with a new and upgraded sense for color!

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I think I’m seeing a pattern here.

Plant more trees, bitches. Seriously though, please plant more trees. I need fresh air. Lots of it.

I then took a break for a while. Got hit by the inevitable reality that one always gets bitch-slapped by when middle school is about to end: what highschool to attend and choosing career subjects. Had no more time left for this hobby. I still read books and such whenever I could, though. Gotta have fun every once in a while. All work and no play makes Jack dead inside and lusting for the sweet release that is death.

When exams and all that pain in the jazz ended on a high note, I finally had the time to get back into business once more. Immediately, I colored the bleeding ‘kyootie’ that is Karin Maaka from the manga about a nose-bleeding Vampire called Karin (Chibi Vampire for the English cats).

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oWo wut dis

You may have expected this by now: I took another break. My PC died and I was left internet-less for almost half a year. Unlike most teenage dirtbags my age, I did not own a cellphone. All I had to comfort and entertain me were my suit-book-case (I had no bookshelf so I stored my books in a suitcase) and my jolly PSP. Damn… I miss my PSP now.

When I finally built my current rig, I tried going back coloring stuff again. This time, I didn’t go far. I managed to do only two pieces.

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The colors are weird because my monitor at the time had a yellow overlay. Hardware issue. I asked my friend for hexcodes to colors I needed and that moron sent me entirely other codes for half the image. For example: asked for wood brown and got this light purple instead.

The funny thing about this is that I realized this a whole few months after initially uploading it and sharing it with my friends. None of them had pointed out the absurdity of this picture…

A month after this somewhat disastrous project, I read the wonderful manga called Koe no Katchi. I had binged it in a single night. It was just sooooooo damned good. So much so that I just HAD color one of the last few pages from it. I had spent over a week trying to get everything. It turned out much different than I had originally envisioned but it’s still my favorite project up-to-date.

Behold!

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The third one and no background are the best ones. The last one was just me fucking around with filters.

As amazed as I was by how good it had turned out, unfortunately, I had stopped coloring manga stuff altogether right after. Just lost the drive for it. My GPU had finally arrived from abroad and PC was ready to kick some major graphical ass. I immediately got lost in the world of MOBAs.

I recently tried to color a double-spread from Oyasumi Punpun, another brutally honest read, but it seems I have lost what little touch I had. Took much longer on it that I should have, as well.

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Spoiler alert?

I don’t know if I’ll ever get back onto Groove Street again.
Maybe I will.
Maybe not.
I don’t know.

What I do know is that this Punpun coloring is why I wrote this blurgh post.

Scusi.

Be With You (2004)

Ah, another  live-action movie review. This will be my third one. I am mainly an anime and manga reviewer (which I well get to soon) so reviewing movies isn’t really my thing. Though, I will be reviewing those flicks which I hold very dear and reckon not many people know about. For example, the Bakuman movie; a pretty good flick. And don’t forget the Dr. Strange Movie as well. Other than those heavily into comics, not many people knew he even existed. Without further ado, let’s get on to Be With You!

The very first thing I have to say is that I’m heavily in love with the movie. Be With You, in my opinion, is the best romance movie I have ever seen (yet).

The first time I watched it was a couple of years ago when an Asian friend had recommended it. Yep, even I was skeptical with that claim when I remembered the movie a while back. As a result, I planned to re-watch the movie and confirm the hardness of my statement. Soon, an opportunity presented itself at the most perfect of times: right when the monsoon rains began here a few days ago. The movie, sounds of the pitter-patter of droplets, roaring of thunder, and the howling wind were in harmony. I’m pretty sure the director and Satan/God are in cahoots…

Anyways, according to my 3 minute research, Be With You released on the 30th of October way back in 2004. It also has a manga, which was published a year after the movie’s release, and a novel, which came out two days before the movie. I have read neither but the general consensus is that the manga is just average. The world knows Be With You by this name but the Japanese the name is ‘Ima, ai ni yukimasu’. You can use either names to torrent the movie as the DVDs only exist in collections now.

Background information over.
Story is a-go.

Be With You has a rather simple yet intricately formed story. 30 year old Takumi and Yuji, his 6 year old son, are soon left to fend for themselves after the death of his wife, Mio. They live in a village where a children’s story, or a legend per se, says that a girl returns to life at the beginning of the rainy season and then leaves when the sun finally shoos all of the rain clouds away when the season is over. And, well, that’s what happens with Mio. A year after her death, she is found in an abandoned building in the middle of a forest with amnesia. The flabbergasted Takumi and the delighted Yuji take her back home where the wheels of romance revolve once more.

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These two actually got married after the movie. Sadly, they divorced a year later…

That’s the gist of the story. As to how she came back to life and the way Takumi and Yuji deal with the situation are spoilers. But what I will say is that the movie is coherently made and treats its audience as thinking individuals. Certain plot points require you to ponder over the numerous circumstances surrounding Mio’s reanimation and the relationship between her and Takumi. Be With You is a prime example of ‘show over tell’. Especially when the plot comes full circle in the last 30 minutes of the movie. Excellent direction and writing make this movie a must watch. There are even moments of well executed silliness for those sweet laughs.

By the way, the ending is bittersweet. It does not pull any of its aphrodisiac-strengthened punches. You will most likely shed a few tears. Funnily enough, it’s been reported that cinemas in Japan became wail-houses by the end of the movie.

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Rain, rain, don’t go away~ Please stay here another day~

The characters, again, no real need to go into them. Just what should be said is that they’re highly believable. Well, except for the school teacher. No kidding, but she gave me lolicon vibes. Ahahaha… Half-jokes aside, the characters, even the kid, are wonderfully developed and given enough time to form a near-perfect 3D shape. Though, the real issue would be the actors portraying them.

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I’m too lazy to check but I’m pretty sure this kid has gotten quite successful.

Yes, for people who aren’t used to Japanese cinema will easily be weirded out by the strange and maximum over-expressed acting in the first 35 or so minutes of the movie. This kind of acting is the norm in low-budget cinema and most Japanese television show so I was kind of used to it. Still, the acting in the first 35 minutes was just unusually bizarre. Thankfully, the actors finally managed to possess their roles like an anti-evil spirit and put on an excellent show for the rest of the movie’s duration. Even the kid grew – both literally and figuratively. For a 2-hour movie, the actors did well to redeem themselves.

Speaking of low-budget, the same can be said for the visuals and the camera-work in, again, the aforementioned duration. It just seems like they tried to start anew in the middle of production and someone decided to be a Yakuza and let stains be stains. Oh well, I don’t know.

The music, though, was a good fit. Soothing use of bells and chimes and pretty neat orchestral stuff. Cheery when it should be cheery, intense when it should be intense. The real cherry, however, was the song played during the credits sequence. ‘Hana’ by Orange Range. Some of you may recognize Orange Range by the upbeat and catchy songs ‘Asterisk’ and ‘Viva Rock’ used in Bleach and Naruto respectively. Hana’s style is a bit different but it’s an instant hit. It topped the Japanese musical charts for almost a year after Be With You’s release.

Overall, it’s quite obvious, that I hold Be With You in regard. Tinoudatin! But, it’s not a perfect movie. An objective score would be a 9/10.

pls watch dis

(since I couldn’t screencap while watching the movie, image courtesy Google searches)

Michiko to Hatchin (2009)

You ever open up the first episode of a show and you immediately get the sudden feeling this will be something truly remarkable? And right after you’re done with finally getting to experience what most have called a ground-breaking classic, you realize that the show is just decent at best?

Well, that’s what happened with me and Cowboy Bebop. The story was just OK; the characters, while interesting, were also not THAT great; the world building left quite a bit to the imagination; but the music and animation were beyond excellent. Still, I was very disappointed with it. It did not blow me away at all.

After that, I watched Samurai Champloo. It is another work by Shinichiro Watanabe, who directed Bebop up there, which many have hailed as another classic. Now THAT was something. It shone brightly in all the departments where Cowboy Bebop did not excel. Samurai Champloo was a blast from the beginning right till the end. Even the filler episodes were absolutely well crafted.

Going back to the questions I asked in the beginning of this review; I felt like that with Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and a couple of other shows too. Like Bebop, a number of them failed to deliver upon that feeling. And, like Champloo, the rest went directly into my list titled ‘Annoy the crap out of people who haven’t seen these so they finally crack and be subsequently amazed’. You can guess which light novel I got inspired from.

Michiko to Hatchin (‘to’ – as in ‘and’) gave me that aforementioned feeling. But the catch here is this: did it also deliver?
It did. Mostly.

Synopsis From MyAnimeList: Under the unrelenting heat of the South American sun, hardened criminal Michiko Malandro breaks out of a high security prison for the fourth time in search of a man from her past. Michiko finds a clue in the form of Hana Morenos, a young girl trapped under the fists of her abusive foster family. In her powerlessness, Hana fantasizes about the day when she is finally whisked away from her captors by her very own Prince Charming. Little does she know that her fated prince would turn out to be the buxom and husky convict who charges in atop a stolen motorbike, claiming to be her mother.

The unlikely duo chase down their dreams in the sun-drenched land of Diamandra, navigating through the cacophony of betrayal, poverty, and child exploitation rings hiding in plain sight. However, wind of Michiko’s manhunt soon reaches the ears of criminal syndicate Monstro Preto, and a storm of gang warfare begins brewing over the horizon…

Michiko to Hatchin is the story of vibrant people and their clashing agendas, and of all the unlikely human connections drawn together by one elusive man.

Other than my talk of that ambiguous ‘feeling’ I kept on about, the first thing to note about Michiko to Hatchin is that it’s a lot grittier than both Bebop and Champloo. While Shinichiro Watanabe was involved with the anime, the actual directors are Murase Shukou and Yamamoto Sayo. There are a high number of shootouts, dead bodies, decisions taken by characters most viewers might not expect, and other ‘whoah’ factors. For an anime I’d like to call ‘the South American Bebop’, it is the perfect combination of setting, theme, and tone. Take a Tarantino flick and turn down the eccentric-ness of the scenes down a notch and you wouldn’t be far off with Michiko to Hatchin.

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It ain’t a pretty world.
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Getting OJ drunk after a show at a strip club. Hatchin wasn’t stripping, by the way.

Hell, the very the first episode will bring out your rage when you see the kind of crap Hana, nicknamed Hatchin, is pulled out of when Michiko gets her hands on her. Think of the Dursley’s treatment of Harry Potter and multiply it by ten.

As the episodes flow by the rage will subside very quickly and you will, being quite honest here, end up feeling a range of emotions from annoyance, genuine happiness, and a lingering sense of threat; to actual disgust. There’s action. There’s comedy. There’s a thing for just about everyone. One episode is basically a chapter from the traditional South American soap-operas we all are so familiar with. Michiko to Hatchin grabs all of these ideas and adds its own sense of bloody yet wacky style giving us a, to my knowledge, authentic Latin American craziness.

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Don’t let it undermine how badass Michiko actually is, though.

It is plain to see from all this praise that Michiko to Hatchin has a story that we won’t forget anytime soon but, it’s still not perfect. The anime starts off really slow and it often feels things aren’t really going anywhere. You’ll see Hatchin and Michiko arguing about menial matters in the fourth or so episode and you’ll see them do that again a few episodes later. It almost feels like they don’t really learn from their time together until way later in the story. While this doesn’t affect the story itself as much (things are always kept interesting) but the pacing and having most episodes start with our main duo arguing and making up in the end can feel a trite tiring. It did for me.

Another thing to bring attention towards before I move on to the characters is that plotholes in Michiko to Hatchin are plentiful. There are around two or three in the first episode itself. Exactly who was/is Hatchin’s mother? Just what exactly did Michiko do to get ten years in prison? If there was a third then I recall it, I’m afraid. Keep your eyes peeled deeper than an American stabbing Avocados for all of the other plotholes. It would make a neat treasure hunt, ehe.

The characters, in my opinion, are the real meat of the anime. Discussing them for even just a bit would mean revealing major spoilers so I’ll just briefly go through the main four.

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Some readers right now.

Considering all the crap Hatchin’s put up with for close to ten years while living with the unholy priest’s family, it’s fair to say that she is very different from most kids her age. Haughty, demanding authority, and law abiding (because she ain’t havin’ nunya dat shiet) make for one interesting non-shounen child character. She gets the most development in the series. Though, that’s only in the first episode. She doesn’t change or reflect on her actions even a little over the rest of the anime’s duration. Which would normally be well and good if it weren’t for the fact that the trait of ‘ora?!’ she keeps on pulling with everyone she meets, causing arguments, wasn’t treated like some cheap gag.

Michiko is… Well, she doesn’t change much. Not much to say here. Keep an eye out for buddy cum nemesis Atsuko, though.

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I think this might be a weird but good way to sum Michiko up.

Hiroshi gets extremely shitty development. It’s just all over the place. We barely get to know anything about him in episode 1 and and by the end of the last episode, we still know jack shit. He’s treated like some mysterious macho-kindness ejaculating machine when he’s really just very poorly written.

And, finally, Satoshi (Hiroshi’s once best friend). My favorite character of them all. The most interesting. You know you’ve done great with a character when he’s properly depicted as a male African in anime as we all know how black characters usually get treated in our weeaboo productions.

Except for a few, the rest of the characters are far from not being one-dimensional but they still manage to be interesting and fit in cozily with the brutal world depicted.

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For example: Fake Satoshi here.

Finally, technical stuff. Yippee!

The animation is standard for the period. Some episodes have great detail while some look like the budget went into pockets of the designer who thought up all the many different hip threads our dynamic duo adorn throughout the anime. What all the episodes have in common is the wide range of bright color and pretty neatly choreographed action scenes. I reckon more than 23 testicles are demolished by all of the female characters.

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Animation budget well spent.

While the soundtrack doesn’t have many tracks, it still keeps things exciting and ears perked. Instant entry into the music library~

My original score for Michiko to Hatchin was a 9 but seeing as it’s been a couple of days and the plot holes keep bothering me every now and then, I brought it down to an 8. I didn’t really care about them while watching the show but now they’re being a pain. Nevertheless, I still highly recommend Michiko to Hatchin – especially since virtually no one seems to fucking know about it. Sad, I know.

 

Flip Flappers (2016) ~with a dash of FLCL~

Flip Flappers. Yep, Flip Flappers. An anime about… something. With a name like that, Flip Flappers could be about a number of things. Most people would think it’s some sort of children’s show. But anime are children’s cartoons anyways, hurr durr. But, is that really so?

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Definitely for children.

Well, this original anime by Studio 3Hz, which did Dimension W, that ran from October to right before the New Year of 2016 is a mash up of many genres. While MyAnimeList lists Flip Flappers as comedy, adventure, and sci-fi only; it is not actually so. I don’t even know why it’s being touted as a sci-fi anime. It’s not sci-fi.

Anyways, this little 13 episode monomyth has basically got it all. Drama, yuri, comedy, horror, and you name it. Many people have resorted to describing Flip Flappers to be: “‘Inception’ met ‘FLCL’ and they both had gratuitous threesome sex with ‘Kodomo no Jikan’ in a liquor-fueled one night stand to produce this coming of age story about two middle school mahou shoujo probable closet lesbians”.

Yeah, I was paraphrasing up there but I bet I caught your attention with that. If not, then, here’s the MAL synopsis.

Synopsis from MyAnimeList:Cocona is an average middle schooler living with her grandmother. And she who has yet to decide a goal to strive for, soon met a strange girl named Papika who invites her to an organization called Flip Flap.

Dragged along by the energetic stranger, Cocona finds herself in the world of Pure Illusion—a bizarre alternate dimension—helping Papika look for crystal shards. Upon completing their mission, Papika and Cocona are sent to yet another world in Pure Illusion. As a dangerous creature besets them, the girls use their crystals to transform into magical girls: Cocona into Pure Blade, and Papika into Pure Barrier. But as they try to defeat the creature before them, three others with powers from a rival organization enter the fray and slay the creature, taking with them a fragment left behind from its body. Afterward, the girls realize that to stand a chance against their rivals and the creatures in Pure Illusion, they must learn to work together and synchronize their feelings in order to transform more effectively.

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This is why I watched Flip Flappers. I love this image.

If you read the synopsis and thought that Flip Flappers sounds like any other mahou shoujo anime then you, sir, are horribly wrong.

Let’s first talk about the story.

Being compared to Gainax’s actual magnum opus, that is FLCL and not that trash Neon Genesis Evangelion, one would expect a lot from Flip Flappers – especially in the department of ‘God, I have no idea what’s going on but I sure am loving this!’
While FLCL and Flip Flappers do share a lot things in many departments, the story is actually the place where they are the least similar.

FLCL had a distinct style of relaying its story that heavily relied on comedic exposition through visuals and saucy dialogue. Flip Flappers adopted style and slightly changed it into an episodic format friendly one. With each episode, the style metamorphosed just enough to let each individual episode come off as its own unique portion that subtly builds on the world of Flip Flappers through creative use of varying scenarios in the anime’s rather flip-floppy plot device (maybe location in this context?) called Pure Illusion.

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A trip to Pure Illusion on one particular day.
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During the trip the next day.

To be honest, this way of story telling is very confusing for viewers who aren’t used to noticing every teeny tiny detail in a scene. Bring subtitles into the picture and the viewer tends to miss out on even more details. That means to fully enjoy Flip Flappers, at least second watch should be essential for most. I know I will be rewatching it as I think I missed out on a major plot point. And, if I didn’t miss anything then Flip Flappers has a giant plot hole. Either way, not going go discuss that part due to fairness.
This also shows the kind of issues prevalent with stories like the ones Flip Flappers and FLCL have.

At times the pace might be really slow and then accelerate matters into full gear in five seconds tops. For an anime like this, that isn’t really a problem unless if the areas of snail-hood go into filler-like territory. This is, sadly, something Flip Flappers tends to do a lot. While Flip Flappers is director Kiyotaka Oshiyama’s first full-fledged work, he still has had a lot of practice with anime greats like Dennou Coil, the Fullmetal Alchemist movies, and the second season of Space Dandy. He did a good job with Flip Flappers but, honestly, he could have done a bit better.

Other than these points, Flip Flappers has an engaging story with a somewhat satisfying conclusion that’ll require you to fire up some neurons to actually understand the story. It’s nothing mind-blowing but you still get that warm feeling like the one you get right after an intriguing puzzle.

In my opinion, the greatest thing about Flip Flappers’ story is that everything is in the anime itself. You won’t need to go online or harass your neighbor’s weeaboo pet dog for answers. In the case of FLCL, pretty much most of the story was almost entirely up to one’s imagination. That thing was cool chaos in animated form but it didn’t help itself by butchering it’s coherence.

Now onto the characters.

For a coming of age story, the main character has to be great. Coconoa is not. She is just okay and that wouldn’t have been a problem if she wasn’t the worst character in the entire anime’s cast. Even the two twin villains, whose most recognizable trait is that they repeat the one another’s line, she routinely goes up against are more interesting that her. Maybe if Coconoa was just a bit less emo for her age then she would have been loads better. It’s true that she is empty and the anime is about her finding her identity but she wasn’t handled well in that regards. The biggest moment of these to not is when she blows fuses a couple of time for tiny reasons which is something her character isn’t supposed to do at all.

In comparison, Papika was handled much better better. While she was still a tad one-dimensional at first, she quickly rose up to shine as having the most and best character development by the time the last episode hit the credits. Going into detail about Papika would require me to spoil the story but I will say that she should be paid closer attention than Coconoa. The same goes for the rest of the characters. While being heavy cardboard cutouts, they each had their own funky charm. Hell, the Goddamned pet rabbit of Coconoa had more personality than her.

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13 Papikas Why (kill me for being trendy)

Nearing the end~

The character designs and the fun use of many saturated colors provide the animation with kind of spunk and whimsical intensity a show like Flip Flappers need. The animators knew what they were doing. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the time to fully realize their goal so many corners had to be cut.

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w0w

As usual, I watched the anime in 1.5x playback speed and noticed a number of places where the color was missing and things like a character having an item in one hand and not having it in the next were very common. You shouldn’t be noticing things like these in visually heavy anime at increased playback speed. I’d be damned if I don’t say that at times the animation had many frames missing and it felt like I was watching at reduced speed…

The background music was fun. I may snag the OST sometime soon. I didn’t like the OP. The ED was just perfect.

By the way, take this.

Voice acting is same as most stuff. The crazy scientist was the summit and all of the times Papika goes on her usual ‘coconoacoconoacoCOnoaCOcoNOAAAAAAA’ spiels was downright fucking annoying.

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CRAZY SCIENTIST

To end, I’m going to say that Flip Flappers is a 7.5/10 in my book.
Ignore the rating and still watch it. It’s a fun ride I’d recommend to anyone. Except for lolicons.

Koe no Katachi (2016)

This review is for the anime movie adaptation of the hit manga series called ‘Koe no Katachi’ – which also goes by the names ‘A Silent Voice’ and ‘The Shape of Voice’.

I will be comparing this movie to the original manga quite a fair bit. Spoilers are to be expected.

As I wholeheartedly recommend this movie, you should watch the movie first and then read this review.

Man, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve last written a review. That has to mostly do with the fact that I haven’t seen much anime during my absence along with the opinion that my studies are (read: were) more important. Also, playing League of Legends and Dota 2 sure does takes the wind out of a person, huh? Especially if they’re stuck in ranked…

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SORRYMASEN

Anyways, back to the topic at hand.

Koe no Katachi. Written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ooima.

I started reading the manga right before the last chapter published. The rave reviews and the constant mentioning on MyAnimeList is what brought the manga to my attention and, boy, I’m sure as hell glad it did.

Koe no Katachi broke my heart, mended it, tore it out again, sent it to the cobbler, only to have him trod on it mercilessly, summon a magical fairy to fix it up again, and then left it with a bunch of scars.
Almost two and a half years later, the anime movie adaptation released to Blu-ray and I had to go through all of THAT again.

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A rollercoaster of emotions, I tell ya hwat.

Synopsis from MyAnimeList: Ishida Shouya bullies a deaf girl, Nishimiya Shouko, to the point that she transfers to another school. As a result, he is ostracized and bullied himself with no friends to speak of and no plans for the future.

This is the story of his path to redemption.

First thing to note before I dive into the specifics is that I really love the movie. I was very skeptical about it when the movie announcement was made.

“How could they make a 60+ chapter story into a movie and make it work, lol?”

And, well, they did. Kudos to director Naoko Yamada and the rest of the crew. They knew exactly what to add and cut to make the on-screen version of Koe no Katachi such a flawed yet extremely satisfying watch. I am glad I waited the two and half years for this. This movie will probably make it into ‘classics’ lists after some time. B-believe it!

Now to get digging.

The Koe no Katachi movie starts off like any other contemporary Japanese movie would. Slow bells and chimes. Lots of panning. A number of cuts. Swoosh-in and swoosh-out. Wax on, wax off. Disregard the wax.

Though, unlike most of Japanese cinema, Koe no Katachi made fantastic use of ‘My Generation’ by The Who to set the perfect tone and pace for the movie. Yep, that’s an English song. By The Who. Who could have imagined? And it fits so well. Yikes.

We see Shouya Ishida, our main character, wanting to jump off a bridge and kill himself. Why, though? Because he bullied a deaf girl way back in middle-school, got called out and collectively blamed for being the only one to make the poor girl feel like a piece of shit, and then he was made into the class’ new harassment toy in her stead after the balance was tipped.

Well, OK. But is he dead? Did he kill himself?

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Nah. Suicide is badass. He’s just not cool enough. Well, I mean, pathetic enough. So he decides to get in touch with the girl whose life he helped ruin and set things right. Live for her. In some way, any way, try to give her back the childhood she missed out on.

This sets up the beginning of the movie and the rest from here on is a story about redemption, acceptance, self-searching, and a teeny bit of love.

Speaking of love, one thing to realize, though, is that Koe no Katachi is NOT a love story. It has a romantic sub-plot but that’s it. Nothing more. I know that a lot of people were turned off by both the manga and anime not giving a proper conclusion as to the relationship between Shouko Nishimiya, our local deaf cutie, and Shouya. To be honest, it’s not even really needed. The movie fixes this by not making this a part of the main plot at all – while the manga completely butchered that aspect of the story in it’s sad attempt at an ending.

Maybe the manga was axed? Maybe the mangaka got impatient? I don’t know. Regardless, that ending should not have happened. And this is probably why, despite all of the plot related shortcomings, I prefer the movie more.

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See. Even Shouya agrees.

Anyways, the movie is an excellent package of creative cinematography and a quite decent musical score by none other than Kensuke Ushio (who did the wonderfully upbeat sounds for ‘Ping Pong The Animation’) pulling up a heart-wrenching story onto a platform of a greater height. Viewers will most likely end up liking the movie a lot but will complain about the several plot holes which, by the way, can be easily remedied by reading the manga. A pretty neat-o advertisement, no?

The viewers will ask, though, “Why read the manga when I just watched the movie?”
Well, even though the Koe no Katachi movie would feel complete to some viewers, it is actually missing a whole lot of content that was in the manga. Most of the side characters don’t get explored much. Actually, they don’t get explored at all. A number of events that stir up trouble within the recuperating group of teenagers, who want to be friends but are too socially inept for that bees-wax, don’t happen.

Like, for fuck’s sake, one of the characters is called Kawai. She’s one hell of a fake princess who always keeps shifting blame onto others and pretending to be a white lamb. In the manga, she gets a verbal trashing from her prince charming, Mashiba, and that is one of the most satisfying scenes in the manga for me. Too bad Kawai is just a bitch in the movie. Nothing else. Oh, did I mention Mashiba? Yep, I did. Mmmhmmm. He barely gets any lines and is just a throw away character.

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I wonder if the director saw this scene and went, “Nope, we ain’t got time for that shit,” and then did the same with the side-characters.

 

So, yes, while Koe no Katachi’s movie is superb it still fails quite a bit in the characters department. But, I guess it’s to be expected. I don’t see how they could have crunched all or most of the sub-plots into just 2 hours. Maybe a 3 hour movie, eh? Nah, people would have complained.

Before I wrap this up, got to get into the animation and voice side of things.
The animation has been well above the standards Kyoto Animation has set for itself. Many different colors blending quite nicely in the light color scheme. Great use of lighting and abstract scene transitioning make the animation really smooth and a delight to watch. I usually watch anime at 1.5x playback speed but not this time, hehe.

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SOMEBODY once told me
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The world was gonna roll me
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I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed…

And to the voice-acting. The seiyuu casting was almost perfect. Especially for Shouko. Damn. I wasn’t sure how they were going to handle her mumblings and attempt at speech but her seiyuu, Saori Hayami, was up to the task with finesse. I was mightily impressed. The seiyuus for the other characters did a good job as well. Some characters sounded differently than I had imagined them whilst reading the manga but, they were fitting voices, Brent. My only qualm was with middle school Shouya’s voice. He sounded less coherent than Shouko at times. Not a good job there.

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I had imagined something much different as Nagatsuka’s, Shouya’s new friend, voice. He alsom sadly, doesn’t get fleshed out on-screen as much as he should have so their relationship may seem somewhat platonic to some.

My enjoyment of the movie was a whole 10/10.
But, from the objective side of things, the score would be close to an 8.5 or 9, I guess.

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Don’t forget: this movie is also a good manga.

Story Forever In Progress

More than a year ago, during what felt like an epiphany, my mind had concocted quite a deviant yet humble tale. As soon as the idea popped into my cerebral cortex  and lit up my cranium, I had sudden urge to type out the story somewhere quickly lest I forget its greatness.

I booted up my personal computer, grinned at the wallpaper showcasing Adventure Time’s Jake’s wit, and proceeded to download and install Microsoft Word 2007 so I could begin. It didn’t even hit me exactly why I did not have Word in the first place especially since I used to do regular typing work. A mystery, I guess.

Anyways, when Word was finally up and ready to accept my wanton thoughts of attempted comedy and vague possibilities I set a-pen on my mental journey. Well, a-typing to be more accurate. Fine, we’ll compromise with a-typen. You get the drift!

Urgh.

Before I copy and serve the hopefully delicious pasta here, I would like to say beforehand that I am not going to post the full story here (yet) as it is still in progress and only God knows how long it will take to finish. Another thing to keep in mind is that, while I do have a general idea of the whole story a lot of the condiments are still in process of being made. That, unfortunately, means I won’t be disclosing the idea as well. So, uh, feast your eyes! Or something.

Oh yeah, part of this was written a year ago and the rest was written in the midst of June, or maybe July, this year. This should be a pretty interesting look at how a person’s entire train of thought and his style of writing changes over a course of a year. My writing is still as not as good as I want it to be but, hopefully, it will have evolved into a class of its own by the time I get around to either finishing this or some other story. HOPEFULLY.

 

PROLOGUE

He looked up.

He looked down.

He couldn’t believe what he was just about to do.

Well, he had to do it, though. He had finally mustered up all of what little courage he had and had brought himself here.

He was going to do it. Yes, an escape was just before him. All he had to do now was to go for it.

He brought up his right leg and he waited. He couldn’t do it himself. He was waiting for the wind to help him. Nature always knows best. Unfortunately for him, the wind was very light tonight. Even high up here on this 31-storey metallic cuboid giant, the wind just wasn’t strong enough to give him that single push he so desired.

He felt that nature was mocking him. Telling him to do his despicable little act by himself. Nature was not going to take part in this. But, it also wasn’t going to prevent this. That’s why the wind blew from side to side but never from front to back. That would make it a partner in this whole matter.

After a while, he set his foot back down and began cooking up a pot of thoughts in his mind.

“Damn it!” he shouted.

He was so calm up until now. Why was he getting so nervous all of a sudden? Was his lack of determination so pitiful? Was he always so pitiful? Questions such as these about his self-worth and indecisiveness went along the neurons of his brain.

“Pathetic. Why am I so pathetic…” he murmured.

Tears began to form as he said these words to himself and any other supernatural beings that might be listening to him. The tears were silent. There wasn’t any sobbing or anything else of the sort. There was only the salty water that kept falling from the tear ducts.

“God. I am such a mess,” he proclaimed.

It looked like all that was needed to steel his weakened resolve was a quick expulsion of tears. Normally, a person would shout ever-so-loudly to achieve this but all he did was have a good, short cry. He was sure that this was a sign from God that he truly was pathetic.

“Wow, I should just kill myself,” he decided. Again.

And that was precisely why he was all the way up here during this somewhat surprisingly warm late-February night with all the clouds looking down at him. He had come to kill himself.

Suicide.

That was last option left to him. There was no other choice no matter where he turned and how much he racked his head. He had had enough and couldn’t take one another moment. He had to go now. And, hopefully, never come back.

So, he put up his leg once more and removed his left arm from the cold steel railing. If he was going to go, might as well do it in style. He loved swimming and elaborate dives were something he enjoyed coming up with. He would perform a twisting somersault and adopt an open arm pose, as that of a scarecrow, halfway down the fall. And then he would top it all with a big bony crunch as his feet would come into contact with the hard asphalt down below.

A spectacular performance. His suicide plan didn’t seem as sad as he initially thought it was going to be. Wonderful.

“Here I go,” he announced.

He jumped.

 

ETERNAL

Jacob Woden opened his eyes. His vision was blurry and the searing light around him not only was slightly bleaching his retinas but warming up his body as well. When his eyes adjusted after a short while, he glanced around. The scene before him was something he had not expected: a cramped brightly-lit room with no furniture nor any other object to be seen. Absolutely nothing.

The walls were lined with white tiles. As was the floor and the ceiling. The source of light could not be seen anywhere. There were no windows so the sun (and, obviously, the moon) was out of the question. Jacob could not see any bulbs or candles either.

Then, throngs of panic began creeping up on his spine.

Where was he?

This was not where he should be.

Or was this?

Jacob had no clue.

The only thing that Jacob was sure of was that this room, so to speak, was giving him the heebie-jeebies. This place was not normal. Even though he was well aware of that, he still felt a weird sense of calm and peacefulness in his heart. He felt light. But, he also noticed that he was missing something. Something he had once wanted to be free off. Now that it was actually gone, he was kind of regretting the loss.

He then realized why he felt this way. He had the vague sensation that all of his troubles had left him behind for a new host. While he was glad they were gone, he also seemed to miss them dearly.

Being frightened and serene both at the same time was a peculiar feeling for Jacob. He did not particularly like it nor minded it. The balance of these two feelings somewhat lowered his suspicions of dread about his current whereabouts.

Jacob picked himself up. He felt about his tad skinny body in numerous places. Nothing was out of place.

“But… I’m not supposed to be like this?” Jacob asked himself.

He looked down at his clothes. A black T-shirt with the phrase ‘Corrupt The System’ boldly written under a robotic figure holding what seemed to be a tiny human in its palm. His favorite shirt. There was nothing special about his pocket-less grey jeans, though. He still wore them pretty much every day as long as it did not need to be cleaned. They were comfortable and went well with all his other shirts. His feet were resting snuggly in flip-flops. He hated closed footwear. Flip-flops offered the kind of comfortable freedom he yearned for which other shoes, along with the American government, did not offer. No accessories at all.

As Jacob made a mental note that he should start wearing a wristwatch from now on in order to keep track of the time, he noticed what was a valve of sorts on his left wrist.

What was this?

Jacob could only stare at in shock. He was sure that he had not indulged in drugs before so what he was seeing was most definitely real.

“Oh wait,” Jacob emptily mumbled as a revelation came to him.

He was in a dream. Or the Afterlife. Whichever was more plausible. As long as he was out of trouble, Jacob did not care. He had no need to be worried anymore. The mission was a success. Finally, he had set foot in sanctuary.

He still had to figure out why there was a rusty valve protruding from his left wrist, though. He began staring at it again hoping that it would speak words of wisdom to him. After a few seconds had passed, Jacob decided that that was a rather stupid idea and he should just touch it and get it over it.

As he threw caution to the back of his mind, he reached out to touch the valve. It was warm and rather tight. He wondered if he should twist it and see what happens. He decided he should and he applied a small-

“I would not do that if I were you,” a loud voice came from behind him.

Jacob immediately let go of the valve and turned to face the owner of the deep voice. He was ready to pounce on him except… there wasn’t anyone there.

“I see you have woken up and are well,” the voice said with a subtle hint of pleasure.

Five seconds passed. Then ten. Twenty more.

When Jacob’s agitation reached its maximum, the voice announced, “We shall begin then.”

And then a door opened and a middle-aged, slightly muscular, bald man lacking eyebrows and sporting thin-framed circular spectacles entered the room. Turquoise turtleneck and dark brown khakis over polished tipped leather shoes.

“I have no name but for ease’s sake, you may call me Gabriel. It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Woden,” the bald man offered his right hand as he said this.

Never mind being derailed, Jacob’s entire train of thought had been utterly decommissioned on the spot. What the hell was he supposed to do? He couldn’t even think. His body moved against his will and he shook the bespectacled man’s hand.

“Splendid. I have much to tell you so you may have a seat,” the middle-aged man beamed.

“S-seat? There’s nothing in he-,” Jacob stammered as he rotated to scan the room once more. He then saw them. Two plain chairs and a roundtable right behind him.

Jacob knew he was in no position to ask questions so he quickly sat on of the chairs. The eyebrow-less man followed and took his place opposite Jacob.

“Before we properly begin, I must first ask you a simple question. No. No need to worry. I just need to make sure. Makes my approach on what is to come easier,” the slightly muscular man said.

Jacob slowly nodded.

“Thank you. Now, onto business, shall we? Do you know why you are here?” the man inquired looking straight into Jacob’s eyes.

“I, uh, I don’t know…” Jacob pitifully muttered back.

“Are you sure? Half of the ones who come here often suffer from memory loss. My colleagues claim that it is a result of their actions but I solemnly believe that it is a sort of defensive instinct or act, if you will,” the man replied while frowning.

Silence prevailed for about a minute. For Jacob, the minute felt like an hour.

“Ah. Maybe I should try and see if I could get the cogs of your brain working again. What is the last thing you remember?”

“I’m not sure…”

“Please.”

“…I was standing at the, uh, top of a skyscraper. Enjoying the fresh night air, I guess?”

“I see. Night air. You did certainly enjoy it, I must say.”

“What is that supposed to mean?!”

“Mr. Woden, you had attempted to kill yourself,” the man replied while leaning forward and placed both clasped hands on the table.

The moment James heard this from this mysterious man, he felt the entire world around him begin to shatter into a million pieces. Although he could not remember exactly why he had killed himself, he was still very much worried about the ordeal. There was also the thing that if he’s supposed to be dead right now then why was he here in what seemed like an interview with Gabriel.

“Um, Mr. Gabriel. I’m going to be, uh, frank with you, okay?” James shot out as the worry on his face kept becoming more apparent by the second.

Gabriel lifted up his left eyebrow in reply.

“Just what the fuck is going on here?” James quickly continued with a slight raise of volume.

Gabriel did not say anything. He just sat there with his eyebrow the same as right before James had asked his third question. James had no idea what he was thinking.

Finally, with a deep sigh, Gabriel curtly threatened James, “I would suggest you to mind your tongue while in my presence. It would be best for the both us that you do. I hope you understand?”

James knew he was in no position to argue back with someone who could very well be a gentlemanly version of Freddy Kreuger so he just nodded.

“Excellent. I have others like you attend to so I will try to make this as short as I possible can. Mr. Woden, you jumped to your death last night. I will leave the details of why and exactly how up to you as that is part of your punishment,” Gabriel said as he leant slightly forward.

“My… punishment?”

“Indeed. For, you see, you are not dead right now but, you are dead to others,” stressed Gabriel as he grinned.

“What do you mean?” enquired James as he felt himself hit the maximum level of confusion he had ever experienced.

“Let us take a stroll outside, shall we?”
With that, Gabriel stood up from his seat and beckoned James to do the same. He then went towards one of the walls and knocked thrice on it. A door handle suddenly appeared right below where he had knocked. Gabriel took hold of it. Twist. Push.

And the white rooms melted to reveal a busy intersection.

The moment this happened, James fell back in shock and amazement. They were now smack in the middle of what one would suppose to be Times Square in New York.

“What the fuu…? How?” James shouted as Gabriel turned to face him.

“Let us not dilly-dally. On your feet, please,” replied Gabriel as he ignored James and offered his right hand.

James accepted and brought himself up. Gabriel signaled him to dust himself and James, annoyed and frightened as he was, complied without saying anything.

“Do you see all these people? Going about every day to and hither. I would say that around a quarter of them are like you.”

“Like me? But most of them look nothing like me.”

“I see you are still quick to judge by appearances. A pity. All of them are dead. Just like you,” Gabriel’s voice became sinister, “They committed suicide. The unforgivable sin.”

“And this is supposed to be Hell?” James asked as he felt himself calm down.

Gabriel laughed lightheartedly, “No. That is still a ways off for everyone. The One upstairs came up with a special punishment for sinners like you until the due time arrives. Mr. Woden, welcome back.”

James gazed at the grey scenery of concrete and dark clouds around him and wondered.

“This isn’t how reincarnation works?”

But, he didn’t get a reply. Gabriel had vanished.

For someone who wanted to get this short event over with quickly, James concluded, that Gabriel must be one impatient person.

It didn’t matter now, though. James still had a lot of questions that needed answers but the more he thought about grabbing someone, the more uncomfortable he got. He’d rather not deal with strangers at all. He knew he had no other choice. He also wasn’t sure if anyone else around him would have any answers at all. Not like they ever did anyways.

James went into an alley and mulled over the situation some more. He decided that he would scout out the most sensible looking person from the crowd he could and then he would bump into them. After that he would strike up casual conversation as best as he could and try and manage to extract information about where this place was. It was an awkward plan but it would hopefully yield some results.

After a few minutes of checking the crowd from the alley, James finally found someone who looked like they would be friendly. And not beat him up. James came out of the alley and casually strolled towards the salary-man. He braced himself for impact.

There was no impact. James turned around. He saw that the man had gone past him. He concluded he must be some bonafide Spider-Man or an MMA fighter and dodged James. Good for James.

Getting impatient, James decided the next person he laid eyes on would be his target now. Target sighted. Readying operation. One step. Two step. Shoulder slightly out. And, nothing.

Just what the hell was going on?

James tried again and ended up with the same result. Why wasn’t he bumping into anyone? Actually, why did it seem like they didn’t notice him at all. Like, he was invisible. Was he invisible, though? An extremely stupid idea flashed into his mind. He never imagined a day would come when he’d have the chance to pull off something like that in public. All or nothing, he decided.

James went right into the middle of the moving crowd. He didn’t feel anyone touch him. Strange. Yet, he ignored it. He got himself into a nice position and forced his nervousness into a corner. He had one try only.

Three.
Two.
One.

“ALLAHU AKBAR!”

James opened his eyes. Not a single response from the crowd.

A rush of embarrassment came to James and he quickly ran out of there with his eye closed. It didn’t matter whether he could see where he was going or not. He got an answer. The problem was that it wasn’t to a question he thought needed answering.

He was literally invisible now. Nobody could see, touch, nor feel him. He didn’t need a test confirm taste as well.

Another startling thing was that he had had this sensation of loneliness before. Maybe back when he was still alive?

“Wait wait wait. I’m not dead. It’s better to not believe that bald bastard. This is just a dream. I’ll just wait for it to be over,” he said as he felt himself make a forced smile to reassure himself.

He went back into the alley and waited. He decided to just wait. Let the dream end.

God or whoever had other plans for James, though. Right when James’ arse hit the ground, he disappeared from the alley.

He was thrust into a world of liquid darkness. He could not even see himself. He was afraid of opening his mouth to scream. Better not let the darkness flow into him. He had read in a novel that drowning to death is the most agonizing way to go.

Then, a light brighter than the sun shined a distance away from James. It kept getting brighter b the second. It came and consumed James.

After he got eaten, a soft voice rang out, “We’re taking you back home.”

If you stuck around till the end then I guess that means you were interested enough by this. Here’s the best place to say that I would like to thank two very close friends of mine, Atik and Nick, for helping me proofread this post along with criticizing me to such an extent that actually, honestly, made me improve. Or so that’s how it feels. I’ll treat you two dicks to a Hawaiian pizza the day we’re finally able to meet. Cheers~

Why Are You Not Reading? (vol. 1)

Up till now, I’ve mostly been doing reviews of anime along with some movies now and then. Oh, I also did that brief post on my history with manga. I guess it’s time to get onto reviewing manga too. There’s a catch, though. ‘Why Are You Not Reading?’ is less of a review series and more of a recommendation one. All the manga I’ll talk about here in this series’ posts are ones that, I’ve noticed, don’t have much of a following. Let’s get down to business!

Today’s post, that is volume 1, is about two manga series. Well, it’s actually about a relatively unknown gag mangaka (manga artist/author) called Hiroyuki Nishimori. He is regarded by fans to be a god of slice of life comedies that are easily accessible by both children and adults. Almost all of his manga have a heavy emphasis on delinquents in a high-school setting with unique characters and, sometimes, highly interesting circumstances. We’ll be taking a look at his two most famous works and earliest works. If you happen to greatly enjoy these two manga then you can look up the rest of his portfolio to sate your hunger. Or thirst. Hmmm… Do we eat or drink laughter? I’m pretty sure at least one of his characters has had this thought before. Anyways, onto the first manga.

Nishikmori’s longest running manga series is Kyou Kara Ore wa!! (From Now On, It’s My Turn!!). It very much deservedly ran from 1988 to 1997 – almost a decade. It has been lauded by fans to be Nishimori’s funniest series and I have to agree with them: I was laughing out loud with almost every chapter.

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lol

The story of KKOw is not original by any means. Though, I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before; nothing is original, everything has been rehashed one way or another with slight differences in execution here and there. It’s a matter of who manages to find that just right combination that spells success. Look at Sword Art Online and any .hack series. Glare at Shakespeare and contemporary tragedies.

Anywho, back to the topic at hand, KKOw follows the 3-year shenanigans of Mitsuhashi and Itou who both had the same idea of changing hairdos to change the gears of their boring lives and stand out as delinquents in high-school. Mitsuhasi adopted a blond hairdo while Itou decided to be as one with his inner sea urchin. There is no actual plot nor any sense of a goal that needs to be accomplished. It’s just ridiculous dudes getting into even more absurd and, often, very dangerous circumstances. You’ll get to see showdowns with the Yakuza, running away from the cops, dojo hunting, raiding a rival high-school, and Mitsuhashi doing everything in his power to ensure that others’ relationships fail. Except for that last one, all of these sound like a recipe for brutal violence but the way the characters approach these situations is just what the doctor ordered to remove your sides. There are even some highly relatable situations like Mitsuhashi going around sneezing everywhere on his enemies when he has a fever.

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The comedy in KKOw is, I repeat, its most inviting point. This is improved upon by the quite large cast of characters ranging from Satoshi, a rival banchou (head of delinquents) who graduates from high-school to run a takoyaki stall; to Ryouko, a girl who goes around beating the crap out of her crush and gifting him bananas and ropes. Every single character interacts with most of the cast thus giving us a crystal clear view of how they progress when it comes to their ambitions, regrets, etc.

The characters are not all entirely saints nor are they demon incarnate. Mitsuhashi has a habit of throwing whatever he has near him at people who piss him off. Here, pissing Mitsuhashi off means a broad range of things. Happily munching on a snack is grounds for him to throw a trashcan straight for your head. Itou is the manga’s go-to character when it comes to most of it chapters regarding morals and yet he’ll beat the crap out of anyone who dares to insult him. He can also be a bit sexist at times when it comes to his girlfriend. Imai, another banchou, is a dumbass. He’s probably my favorite. The point here is that each and every character has flaws. Flaws that don’t stick out like a Lego-abused foot like in most high-school comedies. The characters act realistically. There’s not much angst nor ecchi fanservice bullshittery going on here.

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Imai was running away from cops who were accusing him of a hit and run. Apparently, he never thought about just talking it out.

A thing to note is that the most of the characters will get fully fleshed halfway through the manga. If you’re one of those poor sods who want characters to keep changing over the entire course of a series (even when it’s not needed) then this might be a turn off for you.

Speaking of getting turned off, the art… I personally loved the art style while quite a lot of newcomers to Nishimori’s manga complain that it is too simple. In my opinion, it is perfect for the kind of stories Nishimori likes to tell. It is miles better than the prevalent art style of the 80s and early 90s which had characters designs looking like they took inspiration from Metal Mario. The paneling is neat and done in such a way that the flow is never hampered. Just the sheer simplicity will be often enough to elicit a hearty chuckle from you when you least expect it. The dialogue fits the art well. You won’t believe how many panels there are, overall, showing the characters having a good ol’ laugh. Which reminds me, the characters ACTUALLY laugh at all the things they do unlike in most comedies where something funny happens and the characters just stand there for a second or feel the need to explain the joke. There is very little of the Tsukommi and Boke relationship and more of ‘show than tell’ in KKOw.

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Just two out of many.

That’s it for KKOw. Onto the next manga which is Tenshi na Konomaiki. It’s called A Cheeky Angel in English.

I have fond memories of Tenshi. It is what accidentally introduced me to hentai… I blame my horrible typing skills at the time. Anyways, I had actually watched Tenshi’s anime a long time ago when I was around 7 or 8 years old. It was probably the very first Chinese cartoon I had watched that I was aware of as something called an ‘anime’. We’ve all, I hope, seen Pokemon, Digimon, and Beyblade as kids but not many of us were aware that they were anime until much later.

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The hentai, though…

I then read Tenshi’s manga the year I started reading manga in general. I was relieved to find out that it was just as good as I remembered it from childhood. That’s a good feeling, yes.

Unlike, KKOw, Tenshi’s actual plot seemed to have been planned out instead of going from arc to arc. The story starts with a young boy who encounters a fairy who tells him he can grant him one wish. The boy asks to be made the manliest of men. The fairy twists his wish and makes him the womanliest of women. Thus, the boy-turned-girl called Megumi has the goal of finding the fairy again and getting it to reverse the wish. She/he is helped by his/her (I’ll use x, xe, and xir for Megumi now) best friend named Miki and a banchou called Genzou who fell in love with Megumi after being kicked in the balls by xir. They meet an otaku, a samurai, and a whole bunch of other crazy and adorable douchebags along the way.

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When she bust yo nut and still kicking.

While the essence of comedy is more or less the same in both series, Tenshi tends to sway just a tad bit more towards sexual jokes given the subject matter at hand. It also dives into more serious topics like arranged marriages since both Megumi and Miki are rich, and whether Genzou will still love Megumi when xir pair up there goes back down to where it belongs.

Whatever I said for the characters in KKOw applies to Tenshi’s ragtag bunch of misfits as well. While the most interesting character is quite obviously Megumi, the actual cherry (boys) are Genzou and the samurai who go through astonishing growth and really shine by the end of the story. I wouldn’t be wrong when I say that Genzou could very well be the protagonist.

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My heart was only p-pretending to flutter!

Tenshi’s art is more detailed than KKOw’s but still essentially the same when it comes to the basic feel for expressions and poses. Tenshi began serialization just almost two years after KKOw ended and if you read KKOw, you’ll notice that Nishimori’s art style slightly evolves over time. Though, with Tenshi there is a little drawback to this art style. Nishimori is not good at distinguishing the designs for his female characters and since Tenshi has more chicks than dudes you’ll be getting annoyed and confused at times.

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Improvement!

Before I conclude this, you should keep two things in mind. The first is a warning. Both Tenshi and KKOw have anime adaptations. Actually, they are the only manga by Nishimori to have anime. I’ve only seen Tenshi’s anime so I’ll speak for that. The anime’s ending is wildly different from the manga’s. If you want a happy ending then the manga is for you. If you want things to be bittersweet then the anime will suffice. Although the manga has a few more mini-arcs, both the manga and the anime are complete. You’re better off thinking of them as alternate routes.

The second thing is that fans consider KKOw to be better than Tenshi. It all boils up to an individual’s taste. Not a lot of people are okay with the gender bender genre but everybody loves comedy. Those who claim they don’t like comedy are attention whores. Hmmmph!

Anyways, both KKOw and Tenshi were 10/10 in terms of enjoyment for me. I hope you’ll get into them as soon as possible.