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Current Impressions on Iroduku: The World in Colors

The Fall 2018 season is nearing its end, and now is the time to review our thoughts so far and get ready for the finale. I’ve been watching Iroduku: The World in Colors, and I thought the latest episode was so poignant and touching!

Iroduku is P.A. Works’ latest production. It is about a 17-year-old girl, Hitomi Tsukishiro, who’s got send back 60 years to the past by her grandmother. She comes from a family of magicians. Without proper instructions, she is told to go and meet her grandmother’s 17-year-old self. Hitomi arrives safely and was able to make friends and join the photography-arts-magic club. Despite the confusion and troubles, she was able to meet her grandma, a mage-in-training, Kohaku.

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Seventeen-year-old Hitomi gets send back in time by her grandmother to the year 2018. Credit: Sean

Hitomi is colourblind. She views the world around her in monotone. She is always looking dejected and glum. After a certain mishap, she meets Yuito Aoi and is shocked to see colours in his art. She becomes thrilled over that and they both form a special connection. Meanwhile, Kohaku studies to find ways to cure her colour blindness and send Hitomi back to the future. She also teaches her how to use magic.

This anime hails from a company who’ve produced popular drama/slice-of-life shows. This is an original series directed by Toshiya Shinohara. For your information, he had played the same role in Nagi no Asukara (2013)I was excited to see Shinohara again with a new production. It was through that promotion that I heard about Iroduku.

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Hitomi’s POV. She’s colour blind but she sees colours in Aoi’s art. Credit: marthaurion

Time travel? Check. Magic? Check. Girl with an impaired deficiency? Check that again. Iroduku begins with a compelling story where the protagonist time travels to the year 2018. Can you imagine meeting your grandma during the time when she’s the same age as you? What would it be like? That would be very cool. Heck, if I’m allowed one wish to be granted, it would be to travel back in time.

The characters are relatable and likeable. Hitomi befriends five other people, including Kohaku and Aoi. The interaction between them is natural and not forced. This example can be seen between Hitomi and Aoi. I remember reading in a book where the president of P.A. Works had said he wanted their anime to be something he would watch. He means that they want to create something appreciated by a wide audience and not only to anime watchers. This is why these characters are all so charming.

The composer of this series, Yoshiaki Dewa, also makes a return from Nagi no Asukara. And you do not know how much I love the soundtrack of Nagi no Asu. I own the CD of it. I play the OST on the piano. Ahem, the music points in some parts in Iroduku are cued exceptionally well. I love it when the music starts playing in an emotional scene. Nagi Yanagi sings the ED of the series too

The greatest strength of this series is, without a doubt, its animation. P.A. Works amazes its audience again with its lovely eye candy of scenic backdrops and use of colours. Even the black and white scenes from Hitomi’s POV looks gorgeous. I’d say the company’s repertoire is looking even better than before. I know that you would have oohs and aahs moments throughout the series.

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Club activities. Hitomi and Aoi takes pictures before a pretty skyline and chat. Credit: marthaurion

I can see many similarities between this series and Nagi no Asukara. A lot of key players are back doing the same roles. The vibe I get from both of them is also similar. Asagi with her one braid behind her ear immediately reminds me of Chisaki. While Nagi no Asukara was an emotional rollercoaster, Iroduku is another slice-of-life exhibit with a bit of fantasy. It’s a peaceful and easygoing show. Unlike its sister, it is to be aired in only 13 episodes instead of two full seasons.

I’ve been following Hitomi’s adventures this fall and it such a nice show to watch during a break from my studies. You can watch it on Amazon Video. If I have to admit its fault, it is, yes, slow. But the stunning animation and idyllic character interactions kept my attention. And I want to learn more about Hitomi. After she’s made so many friends and finally see colours, how will she face the fact about going back home? And that ending of the latest episode….

**Spoilers below, continue with caution**

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The last scene in episode 11. Hitomi embraces. Credit: Sean

…was so poignant and sad, man.

Get ready for the feels train.

Finally, let’s get this ball moving.

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Flavors of Youth—A Chinese Story (肆式青春)

Have you watched Flavors of Youth yet? This movie was a collaboration between a Chinese animation group and the team from Your Name. It is made up of three separate stories, each taking place in a different city in China. It is a slice-of-life film that is available on Netflix. Sounds interesting? Let’s talk about how I feel about this film and what I liked about it!

The stories takes place in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. The main characters in the film are young adults who are facing some struggles in life. Flashbacks takes us to their younger selves when they had simpler days. We see their happy memories and sad memories.

I’m here to specifically talk about the third and last story that takes place in Shanghai. It is about a boy and a girl and they trade recorded cassettes to each other. They also secretly like each other. First, I’m going to talk about the heroine in this story, Xiao Yu (小雨). Her name’s pronounced as “siao yu.”

Xiao Yu is your ordinary and likeable girl. She greets her neighbours. She’s a hard worker. She’s good with her hands and I’m guessing she’s very crafty. She has strict parents who are set to sending her to a distinguished prep school. Xiao Yu doesn’t want to go because she knows it will separate her from her friend and love interest, Li Mo. Unyielding to her parents and determined to follow her heart, Xiao Yu is pretty tough for putting up with all that.

In the film, Li Mo says something to Xiao Yu, and her reply moved me a little.

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I want to grow like a sunflower, too. Credit: ameltingpotofdiversity

I want to grow like a sunflower, too. I don’t want any regrets.

Xiao Yu, me too. I want to grow like a sunflower too. Like what Li Mo had said, I want to face the sun, and grow tall and strong. I want to pursue my dreams, regardless of what my friends and family will say. I don’t want to give up, even if there are obstacles on my path. Because I’m sure that down the road, my future self won’t regret it. Let’s stand tall and proud together someday, facing the sun…..

In China, red is a sign of luck, and grown up Xiao Yu is seen wearing that colour. I get excited whenever I notice traditional Chinese aesthetics (after finishing Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang). Allow me to illustrate. Imagine red lanterns lining a street to a pagoda and misty turquoise ponds filled with lotus flowers and golden-coloured koi. Shadows of lush bamboo fall behind a intricately designed gate. Do I sound a bit like Erza Pound now? I’m a fan of pretty visual imagery. Maybe Xiao Yu is wearing red in front of Li Mo in hopes of having her wishes come true.

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Childhood friends Li Mo and Xiao Yu meet again after three years. Has Li Mo forgotten everything he felt towards Xiao Yu? Credit: infinitezenith

As you know, people can learn about other culture while watching anime. It was a refreshing experience for me to watch these characters without typical Japanese etiquette and customs. I got excited seeing all the Chinese food. And yes, there are tons and tons of people in China. The streets are not spick-and-span like Japan’s. Small villages are disappearing and are replaced by high-rise buildings. Anyone can watch it without any prior knowledge of Chinese culture to fully enjoy the film.

If you’re looking for a touch of Shinkai, this film is comparable to 5 Centimetres per Second. The kids in Flavors of Youth lived during a time when they didn’t have phones. Instead of writing letters, Xiao Yu and Li Mo trade cassettes. If it’s been a while since you watched a story about long distance relationships, you can see it again in this film.

This particular story also reminds me of a Taiwanese movie I watched called Secret. There was a boy and a girl and it was another emotional movie. The heroine’s name was also named Xiao Yu. Why must I have to sympathize and cry with all characters named Xiao Yu?

If I can sum up how I feel about these stories, they are whimsical and nostalgic. They make you think about the emotions you felt in your youth, such as happy times, fun times, and sad times. It also touches upon themes of food, family, and young love. We all have some bittersweet memories that we can relate to in this film.

Those looking for a Shinkai-esque project will be disappointed. There isn’t anything that would interest a fad demographic. There isn’t anything nitty-gritty I wanted to analyze (unlike Over the Clouds) either. I wouldn’t even recommend this to a passerby with even a spark of interest. All in all, I think people would find the film boring because nothing sticks out or impress. Although, I liked this film a lot because of personal reasons. I sympathize with Xiao Yu, and I have family roots from where the story took place.

I’ve always had an interest in Chinese culture so this film took my heart.

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Commentary on the first few minutes of Violet Evergarden

I have been waiting for Violet Evergarden for 3 years, ever since Kyoto Animation released the first trailer in 2015.

You can imagine my excitement when it was confirmed it will finally air in 2018.

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The inaugural first trailer of Violet Evergarden, animated by Kyoto Animation, came out in 2015. Three years later, the first episode broadcasted this January.

I want to discuss and analyze the first scene of episode 1. Specifically the first 3 minutes of this series. It was a very important scene because it helped set the story and introduce the titular protagonist, Violet.

First, we see the Major walking with his back turned. Young Violet, dependant on her beloved Major, is following. This part is a flashback to the past and reveals the Major’s back who is assumed to be deceased. Immediately, Violet stops and stares at a green brooch. Her comment towards the brooch shows us a bit about herself. She’s in fact incapable of emotions. Her taciturn character makes the Major concerned.

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Violet’s startling blue eyes and bandaged arm. Credit: Fred Heiser

In the next scene, Violet awakes and is in bed. She’s covered in bandages and it is now the present. She could be recollecting the memory from the previous scene in a dream. Up writing a letter to the Major with difficulty, Violet drops her pen to the ground, and the wind takes it away from her. The wind behaves as if it knows a secret Violet doesn’t know. Or maybe, it was fate that took away her pointless letter. Anyways, Violet doesn’t acknowledge her fragile state of being, and shows us how abnormal and inanimate she is, just like a doll.

Continuing along, the letter floats up through the wind, explores the sky with a helicopter, runs pass train tracks, races through a town alley, and joins a celebration coming from a ship. Then, there’s typewriting sounds.

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The fictional city of Leiden. Credit: Fred Heiser

KyoAni put a lot of effort into this grandiose opening scene. Firstly, they made it very Disney-like. The music made it really apparent because my first thought was “is this show going to become like a Disney film?”. The transition from the first scene change was enigmatic. Then, the music sounded magical and exciting. Evan Call, the composer of the series, is from America. I’m sure he received lots of inspiration from Disney. I almost expected Tinker Bell to fly out of the corner (haha). I like how the sound of a typewriter was used in the music. Very creative.

The first few minutes of the series sets the plot and setting and introduces watchers to the start of Violet’s journey. I found the music and directing impressive and breathtaking, and I invite you to listen and watch to the details of the exciting first few minutes of Violet Evergarden.

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Over the Clouds, The Promised Place

Hiroki, did that beautiful, white plane reach the tower?

If you ask me what are some of my most favourite anime movies, I would say The Place Promised in our Early Days. It is a poetic masterpiece with meaningful symbolism, foreshadowing, and imagery everywhere. It’s a wonderful film to analyze and critique, just like with Shinkai’s other movies, but The Promised Place is particularly so.

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Let me give you a brief synopsis without trying to spoil you anything. Hiroki and Takuya, two hard-working middle schoolers, are best friends working towards a goal – building a plane left over from the war and flying it towards the mysterious, white tower that divides Japan from the rest of the world. Both boys admired two things: the white tower, and the heroine, Sayuri Sawatari, who befriends them. She and Hiroki and Takuya makes a promise together to fly the plane together when it is done and go to the tower. But after the summer of their third year in middle school, Sayuri mysteriously disappears.

I always have a premonition of losing something.

What did these mysterious words mean? In this movie, Makoto Shinkai made Sayuri very feminine by showing us screenshots of Sayuri’s very subtle movements. From her dainty fingers to her bare legs, to her puppy-like movements whenever she’s excited, Shinkai tried to emphasize the importance of her role in the story by making the audience grow to like her personality and qualities. Her sweet, innocent voice ringed like a bell and her conversations with the boys were endearing and cheerful. She was the centre of Hiroki’s and Takuya’s happiness in their last summer in middle school. Sayuri later takes an even more important role in the movie, and become a valuable figure in the conflict of the movie.

Makoto Shinkai treated Sayuri as of she’s almost a sort of goddess. She’s pure, kind, and the smile she gives Hiroki and Takuya comes as if it’s from an angel. The scene where Takuya gazes at Sayuri as they go home after school is an excellent example. The sunset shining behind Sayuri at twilight made her look beautiful and ephemeral. This scene looked as if a goddess was standing there before Takuya.

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Despite negative reviews saying that the movie was “utterly slow” and that people were “bored to death”,  I think it’s one of the most beautifully crafted movies I’ve ever seen. Makoto Shinkai masterfully pieced together story-telling techniques that are very noticeable if you look carefully. I invite you to try to critique and give a commentary on the literary devices and techniques seen throughout the entire movie. For those who never learned or had zero grasp on this subject in high school’s English class, I encourage you to try as well. What do you think the tower symbolizes in general in the movie? It can symbolize war, separation, beauty, or the unknown future. Where can you find foreshadowing of events in the movie? The thunder seen in the side of the sky when the trio walks home having fun after making their promise. Where was dramatic irony (remember this term)? Watching a movie this way is interesting and can be quite enjoyable, at least for me, and doing this can make you appreciate The Promised Place, or any movie, even more.

The Place Promised in our Early Days is sadly underrated, but I strongly encourage you to give it a chance. For me, watching it was an experience I will never forget. If you come from the your name hype, sadly, I would tell you not to watch it. But if you thoroughly liked 5 centimetres per second, you might find satisfaction in this slow, quiet, and beautiful movie. Do not come to watch for complete drama or to cry a waterfall of tears.

There is a little sci-fi, a little romance, a little action and fighting, some fantasy, and that’s just about it. But the backgrounds are oh-so-breathtaking and eye catching, which made up for it. There are finger clenching, quiet gasps, and some tears too. Like how Pachenel’s Canon is played, this movie builds up drama slowly. As the movie progress, the tension rises. At the same time, the movie becomes more dramatic but beautifully pieced and then, everything comes together for a bittersweet ending.

I highly recommend the dubbed version. The English voice acting conveys the character’s emotions so well that you might as well watch it so you can enjoy the backgrounds more. Come watch this moving sci-fi and fantasy movie for a meaningful and poignant experience.

Notice: Site is under construction

Thank you for viewing my site! As you may or may not notice, this site is currently under construction. I know it needs some serious fixing with the layout. I know, the Twenty Sixteen theme is bad for long anime reviews.

I apologize to all my readers and ask for your patience.

By the way, how do you guys make your site look so nice?

I appreciate all those who’ve liked and commented on my blogs despite the site looking disorganized.

P.S. I know there are grammar mistakes everywhere and that sentence structure is awkward. I will fix it *whispers* and ask my pal Grammarly to help.

 

Sighting an Udumbara Flower

Have you heard of the udumbara flower?

It is a sacred flower mentioned in Buddhist scriptures that is said to grow once every three thousand years. The legend says that when the “Holy King Who Turns the Wheel” descends onto Earth, the flower will appear and salvation will come.

In 2006, this flower was sighted on Buddha statues inside temples in Korea. Since then, people have spotted the udumbara flower growing on poles and metal, and even on top of fruit, around the world.

Today, I found the flower inside my home.

It was on my grape that came from a bowl of fruit on our household’s altar.

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It’s tiny and white!

It is tiny and white and only about 4mm tall.

It was a pleasant surprise for me and my dad. Our friends even came to our house to see it.

I thought it was a wonderful way to start the new year.

2019 here I come!

My 2018 Convention Haul

Today I attended a geek convention with my brother. I’m so glad I went. I wanted to distance myself from the idea of attending (like last year…and the year before…) but, regardless, that didn’t work and we went. Conventions eat up my wallet, they can be a distraction, and “family members” look down on my personal interests. But it was so fun and when it ended I didn’t have any regrets.

Today will be a personal kind of post I’m going to write about. I’ve been taking a break from aniblogging ever since school started so I apologize. I wanted to write an update about myself so I’m going to talk about my recent convention haul!

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Manga and a fantasy novel from a local author!

Firstly, I got a volume from one of my most favourite manga called Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles. The vendor where I got it from is called Rainbow’s End. They are a tiny bookshop from the valley and I used to visit them there. I remember the nice and hospitable people working there.

The book on the right, The Violet Fox, is a young adult fantasy novel from a local author. I’m eager to read it because the first two chapters were so far good and I have a goal of reading more books by local writers.

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Kawaii deco tape from Jin

Pictured above is some deco tape I found from an artist I was already following on Instagram. What a surprise! I’m glad that I can meet famous artists in person right in the city where I live!

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Akari-san! Drawn by Sockie

Finally, here is my most favourite purchase! It is a commission I asked for of Akari and President Aria from the Aria series. I love it so much and I can’t stop talking about it! Akari looks so beautiful and elegant. Thank you so much to the amazing artist!

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms Movie Review

Have you watched Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms yet?

It is a film about motherhood and sacrifice. It goes under the high fantasy category but the central themes is around universal human values. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I watched it in theatres this summer with a special someone and teared up in a few parts.

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I watched Maquia this summer with a special someone!

Maquia was directed by Mari Okada. I’m sure you must of heard of her—she’s known for her works with long titles. She worked on Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day and The Anthem of the Heart: Beautiful Word, Beautiful World. So, I was eager to watch this.

I’m also a big fan of the background artist, the famous Kazuki Higashiji. It was from his Twitter where I learned he was working on this new film. If you’ve never heard of him, or vaguely remembered his complicated name, let me do an introduction. He’s worked on the backgrounds for Angel Beats, Hanasaku Iroha, and Nagi no Asukara. His clean 3-D backgrounds fits perfectly for the modern anime today. The way he draws his skies differs according to the setting and the atmosphere of the show. He said in an interview that in Nagi no Asukara, he had put his entire soul into the art. It was his first time drawing for a fantasy series, he said, so for reference he had to refer to emotions he had when he was a kid. And you can really see his efforts. If you go to his Twitter, it’s full of Nagi no Asukara. That was how invested he was into the series.

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The heroine, Maquia. The dub sounded so wonderful in the trailer. Credit: Eleven Arts

Anyways, I’ll stop talking about him and Nagi no Asu for now (because I can talk forever about him and the show).

If you liked Clannad, I think you will like Maquia. It’s another show about family and sacrifice. Maquia’s character development was well played.

I remember the time I watched The Anthem of the Heart in theatres—it was very boring and uninteresting. I just saw it as just another moe show about generic high schoolers. For Maquia, my opinion towards it was totally different. I had to ponder on why I liked it so much. Maybe it’s because I went in with absolutely no knowledge of spoilers. Or maybe the part about the baby growing up made me really emotional. The animation was beautiful and refreshing like the blue sky, and the character designs were so cute.

The ending theme song, Viator, is really nice. I even requested a Youtuber to play it, and she got someone to sing a cover of it too. I was thrilled. You can learn more about this movie at P.A. Work’s official website in English here. This movie is beautiful, moving, and pure, and I’m sure you will feel that way too after watching it.

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Credit: Eleven Arts

It’s all right, no matter what the future will hold. The sun will rise, surely…