Magic of evening snow

…Wouldn’t you say that evening lights on fresh snow look very mysterious? And that doesn’t mean that gloomy and uncertain mysteriousness of a dark old ruin. Bathed in light, fresh snow seems to shine itself like a river of light, and somehow every place becomes the cosiest in the world. Do you know why?..

River of light from Mushishi

Short story long, in the country where I live winters are moderately cold. My grandpa used to tell how the temperature once had reached even -50 degrees (Celsius, of course – metric system for the win), but now such tales seem to be on the verge of believability, global warming and stuff. Still, usually there’re two or three days in January with temperatures reaching -20 degrees, so several days when children don’t have to go to school because of the cold isn’t anything unheard of even now (unless we take into account the pandemic, with everybody staying at home regardless of the weather). Well, as I remember it, going to school during such colds used to be quite awesome – in place of 25 students in a class maybe 4 or 5 would come, teachers wouldn’t give difficult tasks, everything would seem way more chill (pun intended) and you’d feel like you own the whole building. Add some nostalgic memories of playing in the snow and my appreciation of winter needs no more justification.

Northern Lights by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo

For several recent years (maybe even a decade) we get milder and milder winters, so rainy Christmas isn’t anything new, unfortunately. And so, after several almost snow-less winters came this one. It was alright, I even managed to build a snowman with a friend, though it melted after two days (the snowman, not the friend). And then came this very week. I actually don’t remember an instance when it would snow for probably three days straight. It’s nowhere near a blizzard, sometimes the snowflakes are barely falling, but still, snow accumulated bit by bit and eventually it’s safe to say that the whole country was covered by at least 30 cm of snow, which is a bit unusual. Of course, problems have come with that – trees are bent and sometimes snap, people drive off-road easily (if they manage to drive at all, that is), there was a report of a tree falling on a person… But it’s still winter, just like my mind says a winter should be.

Yesterday, I remained in my work longer than usual because apart from other tasks I found a very interesting article to read (a long one) and wanted to finish it. When I left, it was already after 10 PM. The streets were mostly empty, only some grandma was walking her dog, or a couple slowly passed me by. It wasn’t cold, maybe -5 degrees or so, the snow, which had been falling quite intensely for the whole day, continued to do so, and I chose to go home by foot. It’s not a long walk – even with a slow pace I can easily complete the little journey in 30 min. The path leads through a small park first, and then a pedestrian and bike lanes run along a river for some time.

…I exited the building to see the world become magical. To tell you the truth, I haven’t felt so much moved for quite a while. There’s just something extremely appealing about walking among the snow, being enveloped by it, with streetlights bathing everything in a warm light. The snow drifts gather the rays and shine so much that you even need to ascertain that it’s really an evening, and not a day. But that’s not that hard, since these particular reflections, this warmness can only be encountered during a magical snowy evening. Only during such time the whole world seems untouched, pure, and you’re alone seeing its tranquil beauty, as if it was made solely for you, or, rather, you feel that this magical secret was revealed only to you. The time ceases to exist. It doesn’t stop, since you can clearly see the snowflakes dancing, but after one snowflake comes another, and then another one, so you find yourself in a loop that neither has time, nor hasn’t…

…I guess it’s almost a default strategy of the media to associate snow with romance or something like that, but that was not the case for me. It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t sad. It wasn’t joyous either. It just was, and it was beautiful. Somehow putting on some random songs of Of Monsters and Men felt very appropriate – it was part cheerful, part calm, part relaxing…

Жил был Пёс (Once upon a time there lived a Dog), a beautiful Soviet short, 1982

…It’s really hard to think of any representations that may compare to this feeling, this sense of being in a moment, a very particular moment. I remembered an obscure Soviet animated short which apart from being a complete rollercoaster of emotions and having just as much nostalgic value as a snowy winter itself (my grandparents owned lots of VHS tapes with old Soviet animated shorts), has only a small scene set during winter…

Aoi Bungaku

…I remembered that a part of anime series Aoi Bungaku (part based on Osamu Dazai‘s Ningen Shikkaku) featured some very picturesque snowfields. Satoshi Kon‘s Millenium Actress was eternally searching through the snow, but that was not the right feeling. Snow can evoke many emotions, but there just wasn’t a case of that particular sense of encompassing one-ness with nature. Only nature?..

…Usually concepts of a city and nature may seem to occupy completely opposite ends of a spectrum, being areas where human activity and influence on surroundings is either overwhelming or pretty much non-existent. When snow covers a city, this opposition seems to vanish – all the hard concrete walls are smoothed by the white cover, instead of clearly defined pavements there are cosy paths, trees stand tall and noticeable, and you begin to feel wonder as if you were in the middle of a forest. Human activity is still visible – fields are littered with snow forts left from the afternoon effort by kids, the benches are occupied with snowmen (and snowwomen), but again, that’s not how a city usually looks like. It’s strange and unfamiliar, though not in a bad way at all, it’s just like both nature and a city have come together and have settled their difference only for the briefest of moments. And I’m alone to experience this transient unity…

…Then it dawned to me what I needed to remember – my favourite film series Kara no Kyoukai features exactly the scene I was experiencing. The first moments of the 2nd film show Mikiya walking through just the right sort of snowy evening, made warm by persistent but not too intrusive city lights. It‘s a moment that you feel at peace, a moment where you can meet somebody that for some reason feels incredibly familiar, probably because they share the same wonderful view of the grey city being purified, whitened, softened, engulfed in white transient tranquillity…

Kara no Kyoukai, 2nd film

…The next morning the magic was gone. Sure, the snow was still there, it was still beautiful, but it wasn’t the same. The light was gone. The streets were sprinkled with salt and the snow there turned into mud that cars happily splashed around. Machines have cleared broad ways where only narrow paths have been, and people walked to their jobs like it was just another day. It was just another day. The moment had passed…

Next morning

New Year and new stuff?

A very very very long time no see, isn’t it? I don’t even know how many people I used to read are still active. Well, I might be back (a bit), or at least I would like to.

Seems like life had caught up with me and, well, I guess I’ve fully unlocked my workaholic side. There’s always much to do at my work (even if you sit at home during a global pandemic) and I just sort of do it much of my time. More time at work means less time for anything else, thus less anime and everything.

On the other hand, I can’t fault my lifestyle alone, as with the pandemic raging, there should be lots and lots of free time. I guess my wish to watch anime was getting weaker bit by bit, and no wonder – love can last only so much, and I eventually was finding fewer and fewer shows that I really liked (because I’ve already watched most of ones I know I should like). Also, I think that a few more gained years have made me less forgiving for various shounen tropes. And when various shounen anime are naturally getting the spotlight, it’s pretty hard to find more thoughtful shows if you are not looking hard enough. You can watch some guys ranting (instead of fighting) and teens blushing during their first dates only so much. Yep, it’s called a burnout, if not a complete change of interests.

And now I think I might be back for a bit. Just because, without much rhyme or reason except that I decided I miss anime.

Another point for this sort of returning was inadvertently made by one friend of mine. She also has some interests in manga and anime and once said something on the lines that it was a bit weird that she was still into shoujo and maybe that’s not alright since she isn’t a very young girl. I immediately told her that that’s completely alright, there’re lots and lots of great shoujo stories (Akatsuki no Yona) for example. A few minutes later I realized that her idea quite bothered me, and that was because I’m about 5 years older than her, so what should I think about myself if she is wondering whether anime and manga might be too childish? Well, I thought a bit more about it and came to a conclusion that even if I can’t love anime as much as I want to anymore, I really want to. Some random rewatches of old favourites did convince me that of course there’s still lots of good stuff.

Well, time did change me a bit nonetheless. Some of my time that once was dedicated to anime and manga nowadays is allocated to other media, notably Japanese. Japanese culture is really alluring, that’s a truth difficult to deny, especially for a person who was born and raised without much understanding that there might be something other than what you experience first-hand. And of course Japanese culture spans further than things drawn – I still love origami, matcha tea has become my favourite, and I found myself watching more and more Japanese live action films (Hirokazu Kore-eda might have become my favourite director). While Osamu Dazai remains a steady first among my picks for the favourite writer, there is a growing bunch of strong contenders and my reading list is definitely not getting shorter any time soon.

And that’s that. You might have noticed that I did tweak a visual side of the blog a bit. I have been thinking about that several years ago already, so now’s time as good as ever to make some little cosmetic changes. Speaking about visual things, it’s a bit weird when I think that anime and this blog have been very useful to me in some roundabout ways. There’s no obligation to use any visual tweaking tools (like I did for the new banner of the blog) in my job, but knowing how to do that has been extremely useful (and self-gratifying). Some time ago I also tested the waters of AMV-making, and while the result of that effort now makes me cringe (only a bit, but still), quite recently the basic skills of video editing have made my job much much more simple. The bottom line is that even random skills picked up while enjoying your hobby might become very useful. You never know when some virus may spread throughout the world and make normal life very difficult. Oh wait…

What about the content? Expect some usual ramblings about anime – I actually picked two shows this season (coming soon). Picking actually was pretty weird because among the most popular ones probably 80% or so were sequels. Much originality, such wow! I also started Legend of the Galactic Heroes (the old one, of course). That’s for a more relaxed watching (as relaxed as complex war strategy can be), and I think about occasionally posting my opinions as I watch it in batches of ~4 episodes or so. And there should be posts about other media – several films, probably a book or two. Sounds like a plan, though a plan without deadlines, because it should, need, has to, must be a hobby and not a job to talk about things you like at a pace you prefer.

So yeah. I get a DeJa’Vu that I might have written something similar some time ago – that I’m back and I’m going to stay and this blog will be alive. Well, I don’t think I can promise as much now. It’s not that I suddenly have more free time in my hands or anything suddenly changed, I just thought that oh well, I would like to write again, I would like to share or at least formulate my experiences consuming various sorts of media. I don’t even know if it’s a good idea to do it now. A few months ago I randomly started re-learning Latin (had a few years of it in high-school) just because I felt like it. So yeah, let’s just go with the flow. Might get somewhere interesting.

See you!

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2020 Weeks 6-11 (yeah…) and status report (sort of)


     Took me long enough to catch up with the season, didn’t it? After my trip I seriously took up anime again, only to be stopped after a few episodes. Work got a bit hectic at the time with one pretty big task that had to be finished ASAP. That led to me getting involved a lot more than was expected of me, but oh well, I kind of enjoyed it. Pulling off a record of an 18 h-workday sounds rather horrible, but like I said, I wanted to finish it, it was kinda fun, deadlines were coming and it happened only once. Also, it’s kinda oddly fulfilling to leave work at 3 AM and feel like you really accomplished something. I guess I can call it a satisfaction over a completed work that makes you a bit proud, even if the task itself wasn’t anything ground-breaking.

     Then the virus outbreak really broke out. It’s kinda calm in my country, but close European countries were already reporting cases so my Uni didn’t wait and closed down. Actually, very soon the whole country also went into the quarantine. Officially the quarantine was set to last 2 weeks (last one and this one) but it seems like soon it will be  officially prolonged for at least a month. Anyway, last week simply disappeared with me trying to adjust to the rhythm of working from home. Actually, the majority of stuff I do at my Uni can’t be accomplished from home, so I more or less got an indefinite holiday.  It can be nice (sleeping until 10 for example) though I came to realize once more how much time I voluntarily give to the work. It has become more like an another home (with colleagues becoming if not family members then at least dear friends). And it’s not the easiest of times when you got all that cut out. I’m also a person who doesn’t like huge changes, so having to change the rhythm of a day feels a bit hard. But oh well, so far so good. And, as one colleague sometime says, “humans are adaptive systems”. Everything should be alright. More or less.

     One really good thing that came out of this quarantine business is the fact that now I have time to go for walks as much as I like. I guess I really needed some time just to be alone, to walk for, say, half an hour, sit on a bench with a good book, read a bit, then stroll on. The funny part is that lots of people seem to be doing the same. The quarantine should mean self-isolation, but now lots of people simply flood parks or area near the river which flows through the middle of the city I live in. Sometimes (not now I’m afraid) I go to my Uni by foot, and usually take a path that goes along the river. In the mornings if you meet, say, 10 people along the path (~1,5 kilometers, probably), you can think that it’s hectic. A few days ago during a walk down that same path I realized that looking from a single point (~100 meters in both directions) I saw no less than 50 people. I guess it’s good that people wish to spend their time near greenery, but even the local government seems quite worried about such a situation. Oh well, maybe I’ll refrain from my walks for a day or two.

     Anyway, even if at the moment I seem to be more interested into watching every single movie made by Wes Anderson, anime also will get more time, which is definitely nice. 

      Hope you’re all alright. Going to check others’ blogs, it’s been quite a while since I did that. 

Anyway, cheers!

One phrase impressions

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 6) – All hail producers!
Dorohedoro (Ep. 5) – Characters are not that likable after all…
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 7) – Mizusaki’s viewpoint 
Dorohedoro (Ep. 6) – The story just goes on (randomly)
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 8) – Nothing too memorable…
Dorohedoro (Ep. 7) – Baseball, Dorohedoro style
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 9) – Kanamori’s roots – pretty interesting
Dorohedoro (Ep. 8) – Seems like calm before the storm
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 10) – Can’t the student council not be jerks?
Dorohedoro (Ep. 9) – Shocking, scree scree!
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 11) – Penultimate episode already, huh?
Dorohedoro (Ep. 10) – Nikaidou’s in the center of all the things

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 6)

  • The show definitely doesn’t waste any time underlining all the ways making anime is hard.

  • Seems like Eizouken couldn’t be more slice of life than it is now. It’s fine, and time went really fast when I watched it, but, to be frank, I’ve watched more interesting shows.

  • Eizouken devotes probably more time than Shirobako to stress how important producers are for the show to be born. As someone not too knowledgeable about the industry, to a question “what do producers do?” I could probably answer something like ”uhm… they produce? I mean, they talk to people and gather materials needed?” Well, that’s sort of true, but it doesn’t really do justice to people who actually make all the wheels turn. It’s a good point that while Kanamori is admirable for her ways of getting everyone on the same page, I wouldn’t say that she’s well-liked. Usually Kanamori’s ways seem fun and ingenious, but this time I felt a bit of worry that her behavior at points really started to come alarmingly close to harassment. Well, on one hand, it’s for the good of the production. On the other, I wouldn’t really like to work under such a strict and uncompromising boss.

  • The sound girl might become sort of important later on, judging from her more-detailed-than-the-needed-minimum character design. People of the art club also tried to make themselves useful, only that was far less memorable. Seems like every club has something to offer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole school will be unified under the girls’ project by the end of the show.

  • So yeah, making anime is hard. Really hard.

Dorohedoro (Ep. 5)

  • The only thing Ebisu is useful for is comedy. Somehow I was under an impression that she’s supposed to be quite a strong sorcerer. If not strong, then maybe at least decent. Could it be that her encounter with Caiman and Nikaidou left her that useless? I’d love to see more of her doing something more than just comedy.

  • I seem to have forgotten why exactly Caiman is killing every single sorcerer he encounters. Sure, a single sorcerer gave him his reptile face but what about others? Are all the sorcerers that bad? I wouldn’t think that, for example, Shin and Noi are that dissimilar from Nikaidou and Caiman himself. Why all the violence and animosity between the factions?

  • Now I want a toilet with fire-flushing. It’s amazingly weird, but it so makes sense in this world.

  • I’m quite intrigued by Nikaidou. On one hand, you can’t not like a beautiful and cool girl who’s a co-protagonist of the show. Having some mysterious past is also a plus. On the other hand, I’m not sure I approve of her methods. Trying to sell something and in the end simply robbing a dude because she needs money isn’t something I like. She might have good intentions but brute-forcing her way does irritate me quite a bit. That and once again quite bland performance by Caiman makes me like the two protagonists even less. While Shin and Noi are far too brutal for my tastes, at least they’re honest. At least more than Nikaidou.

  • The show needs more fights. A few seconds of incredible moves of Noi and Nikaidou aren’t enough. It does cost extra money, but please, I want more of that!

  • Demons in place of roosters? Neat!

  • The ED is trippy. And original to say the least. Like it.

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 7)

  • Interesting to see that Mizusaki’s fascination with movement has a long history. And it’s not just movement, it rather is a wish to capture it, to be able to repeat patterns that happen in everyday life. It’s no wonder that she went to join this club. I doubt that her future will still be entwined with anime, but I could totally see her as an aspiring live-action director, and a pretty good one. Nice to see that even at young age Mizusaki was able to apply her observations to practice. I doubt that even the smallest percentage of aspiring animators (and motion observers) are lucky enough to see their knowledge applied in real life, but oh well, good for our girl. And her grandma.

  • Yep, communication is essential, and not only in making an anime. I also agree that most of times it’s far more reliable to do something yourself than try to explain it to someone and see them do something similar but not exactly as you wanted (which isn’t always a bad thing, though more often than not is). Again that boils down to time available – can you do everything by yourself and possibly miss all the deadlines, or rather make it in time, though not as perfect?

  • Later on – more of Mizusaki’s philosophy. I get the idea, as I get all the real animators doing some random sketch just because it’s cool. And, yeah, it is, most definitely. Yet, I remain a story fan – someone who wants to see the big picture and all the elements comprising it working in harmony. Even if individual elements are not as perfect (say, a robot animation), if it conveys something bigger than movement itself, if it tells a story that resonates with me, for me it’s far superior. But that’s just me. I presume all the viewpoints are equally valid.

Dorohedoro (Ep. 6)

  • If that doesn’t count as surreal, I don’t know what does. By itself that’s quite good and enjoyable, but there’s also a price to be paid. Especially since I watched this ep. when quite a bit of time had passed after my last watching of the show, I can’t deny that I’m confused. Even before it wasn’t the easiest of tasks to track all the characters with their motivations and plans (and all the weird stuff), and now it was even harder since I had to rack my brain pretty hard to remember why, for example, Nikaidou was roaming En’s mansion and what exactly was going on.

  • Nikaidou’s jump was cool. The show from time to time offers some very pleasing action sequences, but they’re few and far between. Oh well.

  • Oh, Shin’s backstory. Nothing groundbreaking (although unexpectedly brutal), but it’s always good to know about important characters and their past. I wonder if we’ll see Noi’s past. Nikaidou’s past is certainly coming on a plate some time, but Noi’s secrets also would be welcome.

  • Nice touch, MAPPA.

  • One of the reasons the story isn’t the easiest to follow is because of the randomness. What are the chances that Nikaidou would be kidnapped by a person who has a history with Caiman? And has a giant insect pet/colleague named Jonson? I can’t say causality and logic don’t exist in such situations, but if they do, such a logic is very strange and alien compared to one in our world.

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 8)

  • The show clearly stated its intents via Mizusaki’s perspective last time. Eizouken’s primary goal is to be a very loose collection of cool stuff accompanied by also very loose commentary about how that stuff works. By that logic it can be implicated that the girls and their lives aren’t really that important. Any of the girls could be exchanged for a similar student and the show still could work in a better or worse way. The bottom line is that Eizouken doesn’t try to be very good at either the story or the characters, simply because it has other stuff in mind. And I, conversely, have precisely opposite wishes – to experience a great story or great characters. Again, as I said last time, that doesn’t make the show bad in any way, it just makes a show that I’m not really the target audience of. I still can awe at the expressive animation, but at the same time I feel that the story arcs don’t really work as arcs. For every arc we’ve seen there’s always an initial explosion of momentum when the girls start something new. Then there’s quite monotone sequence of episodes with the girls simply working, and finally and quite unexpectedly from the dramatic point of view the conclusion happens (also quite flamboyantly). The point is that the development of the initial ideas doesn’t really work – the girls simply work and there isn’t a clear rising of the stakes, there is no building up of the momentum, there’s only the beginning, the end, and something in between that hardly connects both ends of the story and works as a development.

  • Another point – I clearly remember how mesmerized Asakusa was when she first saw the new town she now lives in. I’d argue that the location (which is clearly unique) is severely underused, especially in an anime that tries to be as creative as possible.

  • Oh hey, Mizusaki even incorporated that drink spilling moment that her grandma fascinated her with. That’s cool. That running as well. Double cool.

  • Yep, that’s some fine and expressive animation. I guess I’ll always love some early Gainax stuff (and the like) over anything like this, but it does deserve credit, it certainly does.

Dorohedoro (Ep. 7)

  • The baseball game was oddly entertaining. Well, that’s Dorohedoro as always – things make little sense, but it certainly is entertaining. I think I’ll read the manga.

  • Well, yeah, there’s little to actually talk about. Most of the jokes land pretty well, just as that one with Ebisu trying to take care of Jonson using some pesticides. Well, I guess it’s just fun, period.

  • The fact that it was Ebisu who cast the lizard-magic on Caiman reveals surprisingly little. She isn’t completely sane, and even if she was I doubt much would be clearer. At least others also know the fact, and En should probably investigate further. What could be better than new advances in the story?

  • Again a new ED? How many do you need? Especially since I quite liked the last one, and now this looks incredibly low-lost and simplistic. Oh well.

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 9)

  • Backstory of Kanamori’s business-like roots was kind of interesting, especially the moving 3D shots in her memories. Apart from that, kind of bland stuff. When the girls finished their first project, it felt like an achievement. Last episode seemed less elevated, and now the next project doesn’t look like something worth much passion. It’s like the girls’ hobby has become their job. It’s definitely interesting to hear more about anime production (this time about marketing), but without anything else such thoughts seem not particularly relevant. In short, I feel rather bored.

  • As probably was obvious, the end of the episode had the girls again brimming with ideas. Only that was seen before. At least twice. As a story fan, I can’t immediately approve a random story that rides on a concept “cool battle between UFOs and people on the ground” without providing any context and inner logic to such a project. So yeah, not particularly impressed yet again.

  • Though it must be stressed that Asakusa’s character acting was pretty impressive indeed.

Dorohedoro (Ep. 8)

  • Once again I’m quite stunned by the world and its diversity. While the whole story of Caiman going alone, helping a dude who works in a restaurant and thus getting a job is anything but plain, the weirdness of the people as well as the whole world make up for that hundred-fold.

  • Nikaidou will surely try to track Caiman, they’ll get in some trouble (possibly involving En’s team), will argue a bit and still remain friends.

  • I guess Risu (or rather his reanimated body) has become an important character as well.

  • This Blue Night seems interesting. Possibly with lots of gore and action, which is great.

  • Is it a too far-fetched guess that this rare sorcerer who can control time is none other than Nikaidou?

  • How many EDs can there be?

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 10)

  • Again there’s that us vs them divide. The girls are portrayed to be faultless – they’re simply pursuing their dreams while the student council and the teachers are complete assholes who only get joy from destroying stuff. And I thought that black-and-white morality was no longer a thing in this century. Can’t they just create a story with all the sides behaving a little more grey? I doubt there’s a single decent thing the student council was portrayed doing, the teachers look either completely disinterested or completely conservative. I also don’t really like Kanamori’s bluntness that she knows everything and it’s her right to do as she wishes and everybody else should know better. And I thought that humbleness was one of Japanese’ more valued traits. What I wished to see was a more rounded discussion with teachers saying that school is meant to be a non-commercial institution but something like charity could be accepted. I think it would be reasonable that the profit the girls made could be transferred to the club budget and to the club budget only. I’d even say it’d be reasonable for the school to take some percentage of the profit for its own uses. Thus all the money the girls make could benefit the school and most of all the club which could prosper by its own effort. Of course my knowledge of economics is probably only as good as something one can learn from Spice and Wolf, but still, unless someone proves me wrong, I stand by what I said.

  • Hm, recently I complained a bit that the show fails to take advantage of the locations of the town the girls live in. Getting to know the surroundings better and including them in the anime they’re making is a great start. Though so far everything still looks a bit duller compared to Asakusa’s first impression of the town.

  • It’s kinda nice that sound department also gets the spotlight. That’s one thing Shirobako mentioned only briefly. VAs also doing a damn good job imitating sound effects, as always.

  • Only Asakusa’s creativity doesn’t really astonish me anymore. Been here, seen that already.

Dorohedoro (Ep. 9)

  • It’s weird, but I think I really started to like the show. It has its internal logic that’s very hard to pin down but it definitely is there.

  • I think Noi and Shin might be my favorite characters of the show. I doubt I’d like to meet the in real life (too aggressive people are never a great idea to meet), but they possess that specific sense of comradery (and I have no doubt a bit more than that). And when people really work together and make each other work better, it’s just great.

  • Fujimura and Ebisu pairing up probably didn’t surprise anyone. Compared to Noi and Shin, they’re incredibly ineffective – Fujimura usually just performs as a straight man who has almost no powers and Ebisu just fools around. But oh well, they do have a place in the show and they do perform their roles well enough.

  • Caiman on the other hand remains a mystery. I just don’t get him – is his whole reason of existence to find one person who turned his head to that of a lizard’s? By the way could there somewhere be a lizard walking with Caiman’s head? Everything I can say about Caiman is that he works in a clinic, likes gyoza, wants to find Ebisu and is a friend of Nikaidou. To think about it, that’s pretty little considering he’s the main character, right? I’d understand if he was your everyday self-insert guy. Well, based on some aspects of his character, he kind of is, but I doubt anyone would like to self-insert himself into a person with a lizard’s head. And, moreover, a person who’s determined to kill some other dude who made that huge plate of gyoza drop to the ground. So yeah, Caiman isn’t interesting enough for me to care about him but he’s too different from other typical anime protagonists to be a self-insert character. Weird.

  • Well, the whole show is weird. I bet there could be a much easier way to tell the story in a more coherent manner, but I guess this chaos is part of the heart of the show. So yeah, even if I can find faults in many characters (if not all of them), the worldbuilding and relationships work for me wonders. Thanks, show.

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (Ep. 11)

  • Not that interesting. Student council still behaves like douches for no good reason, the girls fool around for no good reason and stuff just happens for no good reason.

  • Coexistence is all good and it kind of make sense in the context of the whole show – even extremely different people can work together if they have the same goal. But otherwise such a theme doesn’t really impress me. I guess I’ve seen too many anime where power of friendship solves all the problems.

  • I wish Kanamori’s sickness would’ve been explored more. She’s basically the engine that powers the whole club, and watching other girls struggle and try to fill the vacancy would’ve been very interesting. Oh well.

  • Another episode where I find myself disagreeing with the outlook of making some cool stuff just because and only then trying to fit it to some half-baked story. Oh well. I guess Yuasa’s really not my cup of tea.

Dorohedoro (Ep. 10)

  • As always, fight scenes are cool, though far too short.

  • I think I’ll develop a somewhat weird and unsavory feeling towards mushrooms. Wonder why.

  • Poor Nikaidou. Seems like her rescue and overall fate (inevitably intertwined with her past) will be the story that will provide the climax of the show. Knowing the length of the manga (but not much more about it), I highly doubt Caiman will learn everything about his past and tie all the loose ends. I guess rescuing Nikaidou and going to a temporary retreat would be quite enough for the show to finish and don’t leave many unsatisfied viewers.

  • Generally speaking., I think the show took the right decision to start with lots of seemingly nonsensical mini-stories that didn’t seem to mean much. The thing is that such an approach quietly built up the world around the characters and once the story really took off, it’s so much more engaging. Of course, getting to the characters and their problems from the get-go would also have been a viable strategy, but I think I prefer the way it was actually done. The first episodes certainly did seem extra weird and didn’t make any sense, but now the pay-off is huge.

  • A cockroach ex Machina wasn’t something I expected to see. Well, there’s all sorts of things that I expected and didn’t see and vice versa.

  • What does “Dorohedoro” even mean, anyway?

  • Seriously, how many EDs can there be?

Aldael in USA


     Once again, I’m not dead, I’m doing other stuff. And this time ‘stuff’ was quite inevitable and unavoidable. And, as the title proclaims, this ‘stuff’ involved taking a work-related trip to the other side of the Atlantic. For the first time. And, as with pretty much every more important experience, I get an itch to put it on paper. This time, not as privately as always. So yeah.

     So, I was travelling with my two co-workers, let’s call them Colleague A and Colleague B. That’s not particularly important but makes the story a bit smoother later on. 10-hour flight (yep, I’m a European) wasn’t something I had ever experienced but I was surprised myself how well it went. Well, watching movies definitely made everything seem quicker. Oscar-winning Parasite was something, though pretty weird to say the least (more about that maybe another time). Joker however didn’t live up to the hype. Knowing the end-result somehow almost defeated the build-up of the film where everything bad that can happen to a poor person happens just because. And then happens again. And again. And yet again. A rather forceful introduction of the Batman backstory didn’t make things smoother at all. Oh well.

Just fit for a desktop background

     Once flight attendants started dispensing drinks, I noticed that after the first question (“Tea or coffee?”), they were forced to ask another (“Milk? Sugar?”). I decided to make their lives a bit easier, so when I was asked myself, I answered “Just plain tea, thank you”. Colleague B started giggling and only after her explanation I understood that it sounded exactly like “plane tea”. I seem to be quite accomplished at telling dad jokes. Even inadvertently.

     Arriving to San Francisco also went pretty smooth (all the dealings with customs and stuff). However, once we started looking for our luggage, it simply wasn’t there. The staff explained that, unfortunately, our bags didn’t make the flight (apparently time window between our two flights turned out to be too short). We would’ve received the bags the next day, only San Francisco wasn’t our final destination. For that, we first rented a car.

Da Bridge!

     Driving in another country feels weird, but Americans (at least in California) seem to be far more relaxed and forgiving compared to drivers in my own country. Getting used to the car and its GPS took some time – we drove across the famous Golden Gate Bridge two times instead of one, but you can’t really be upset about that, can you?

     First serious stop – Walmart and full bags of toothpaste, socks, sandwiches and other tools of survival (by the way, our bags arrived 2 days later safe and sound). Lots of driving later (and a sleepover in a motel) we came to see the sequoias. My country is quite forested so we thought it was quite funny that we came all this way to see some trees, but damn, it was worth it. You can’t see that much during half a day, but it was impressive indeed.

Sequoias! Huge!

     I might have mentioned some time that I easily get car-sick (or whatever you call it). However, I was ok when we were flying. I was ok when we were driving up the mountains, and even semi-ok when we were descending. The funny part is that it was straight roads of ‘Murica that turned out to be too much for me. For that, poor Colleague B had to drive the absolute majority of the journey – she either wanted to drive herself or I was car-sick, and that wasn’t great. I managed to get fit and take the wheel for some time near Los Angeles. It definitely feels weird when you have to drive in a huge car faster than you’re accustomed to and there’s traffic all around you. Thankfully our Ford was quite clever – I didn’t even know there could be a function that restores the car to the lane it’s been driven if the driver inadvertently starts to stray out of it. Neat. Still, I like my old tiny Opel (1,6 l) over any huge SUV (such as our rental beast with 3,5 l engine).

View from San Diego Convention Center

     Our final destination – San Diego. And no, it has nothing to do with Comic-Con or anything related. Work-related stuff followed, so I’d rather not discuss that that much. It wasn’t particularly interesting, though some new contacts and other useful stuff made it worth it. Spare time saw us visiting the San Diego Old Town which wasn’t that old by my standards and was surprisingly Latino compared to the rest of the city we saw which was very American-like. Beach was another stop and though it wasn’t particularly hot, I managed to get my forehead tanned a bit. And that’s weird, considering I could see a few patches of snow on a sidewalk through my home window just a few days ago. Oh well, UV has its ways.

San Diego Old Town

     It was San Diego after all, so one evening (probably the only free evening I could find) I did take a trip to find a comic book store with a secret wish to find something anime-related. Not a huge success, but not a failure, either. I did pick up used copies of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and some volumes of Isaac Asimov. There wasn’t much of anime-related stuff, but there was some, and for that I was quite grateful. If I hadn’t already bought the entirety of Oyasumi Punpun way back, that would’ve been my dream capture. There was some Junji Ito stuff that I deemed too expensive for its worth. I wasn’t getting out empty-handed, so I ended up buying two issues of original Viz’s release of Nausicaa manga (1989, if I’m not mistaken). Can’t say it’s my best purchase ever, but it’s sure something to have and remember.

Purchases! (some of them)

     So yeah, after about a week of work-related stuff, some mild tourism and a few very satisfying talks with Colleague B over some drinks, with bags full of Reese’s candies for friends we successfully departed home. On the way back I watched Skyfall. The theme song definitely was a highlight, as was the aesthetics, especially initial action scenes. The story, however, was surprisingly forgettable. Or I was simply sleeping (which by itself doesn’t give the film any brownie points, either).

Colleague B and a random bird on the Coronado Beach in San Diego

     In Amsterdam a rather funny incident happened. We all were definitely tired. Colleague A went to the restroom while Colleague B was left with me to chatter. Suddenly, a well-dressed guy appeared out of nowhere and inquired if he could ask some questions about the airport and its convenience. Colleague B managed to growl “Can I please not?” while I was a bit more cooperative with “I don’t want to, but yeah, I can”. The guy started asking questions, which I dutifully answered. After a question “Have you tried any of the restaurants there? Have you tried local food and drinks?” Colleague B interrupted “Excuse me, where can I smoke?”. Priorities… The last question was about my age. Usually I don’t try to remember the correct number (which changes every year). It’s more convenient to remember the birthyear and calculate every single time. Colleague B suddenly exclaimed “He’s 28!” (which I’m most definitely not, and she does know that alright) and confused both me and herself, so my next line was “Uh… What year is this?”. Yeah.

     Once we returned, it turned out that there’s piles of papers to be filled (thanks, bureaucracy) to account for all the finances of the trip. It’s especially frustrating that US and Europe have different measurement systems. All the American gas receipts and car specifications are written with gallons, miles and dollars and in all our accounts all that must be converted to liters, kilometers and euros. Damn the bureaucracy. Another funny thing is that just before our trip my Uni finally decided that all the trip papers should be filled electronically so nobody really knew how the system actually worked. It took us pretty much the whole week to settle all the accounts. When Colleague B finished (it was her who was responsible for all the car rentals and gas receipts), it was 28th version of her account. Yeah… Other stuff that was left unattended for those 9 days also surfaced up. On last Monday I left work at half past 11 PM, took about an hour to return home and eat and then went to finish all the works. Bedtime came at 3 AM. Yeah…

A Sequoia egg!

     So yeah, anime wasn’t my main concern to say the least. During this weekend, I decided to take a rest and do whatever. That involved watching surprisingly disturbing Tokyo Sonata (2008 Japanese film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa), watching a few sports matches, taking a random walk, for a few hours looking internet stores for origami paper (with some but not particularly satisfying results) and relaxing by playing my piano (a more appropriate term would probably be ‘playing with my piano’ since my skills aren’t nearly as professional as I would like them to be). Probably the most random thing was visiting a bookstore and discovering a tiny English book – The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (who won Nobel Prize in 2017). In my country not every bookstore has a corner for books in English, and if it has, the books are either something extremely popular (GRR Martin or Stephen King) or something extremely shallow (and popular). Either way, there’s usually about 30 books at best. Luckily, several months ago, I found Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. While its literary value (in my humble opinion) is disputed, love of Scandinavian mythology got better of me that day. It was kinda worth it though. At this time, they had Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a brand new copy, and cheaper than the one I bought in San Diego. Damnit. Oh well. But my eyes scanned book covers further and just managed to linger for a second on a Japanese-looking name on a cover and I was half-sold right away. A quick glance at a summary was all that was needed to convince me that it was a book for me. Well, it sure was – all the spare time I could use during 3 days went to reading. Worth it.

     So yeah, that’s my life now. Time to watch some anime.

Hope nobody’s affected by the virus. Stay healthy!

Is it… New Year again?

     Hey, past, present and future Friends and Colleagues!

    The season of miracles slowly comes to its end as dead bloggers try to come back to life.

Kara no Kyoukai Winter


An update (sort of)

Hey! Long time no see. Who are you, you may ask? Well, yeah, it really has been a long time, unfortunately. So yeah, I’m just a dude, struggling to find enough the most precious resource in the world – time.

So yeah, what has been going on? What am I up to? I always thought that I’ll be able to find time for anime no matter what. It’s sad that it turned out not to be true for a number of reasons. I guess now a bit of personal circumstances are incoming, though I generally try not to talk about that too much. Anyway, it’s already written in my About page that I associate my future with Life Sciences. I hadn’t actually given that much thought about what exactly that meant in the future beyond two or three years, but life never stops to let you carefully prepare and plan for everything, doesn’t it? So it happened that I was offered by my Uni to take care of some laboratory works. I feel very fortunate and grateful for that as such a position ensures steady income for quite some time provided everything goes well. The only problem was that a person who did the job before me retired sooner than expected due to some personal reasons. To make it short, those reasons prevented them from being able to introduce and teach me all the odds and ends. So basically I was given some manuals (that needed updating), some closets of various chemicals, things and stuff that I’ve no idea how to use (for example a carefully placed branch of a tree. Seriously?..). And an offer – either make it work or the offer goes to someone else. As you can guess, I agreed. And, well, it isn’t bad, it’s just weird and needs lots of work. As with everything – a thing that is written on paper with a stamp “It works every time!” usually doesn’t, and then it’s my job to make everything work so students can have their laboratory exercises. One way or another, it’s usually possible to make everything work, but that comes with a price of time. I know that the first year is the hardest and next spring I’ll have a far less stressful time, but now it isn’t that odd to have a 10 or 12 hour workday, especially since I have some other stuff to take care of. It may sound like I was forced to do this job and I’m against it. Well, that’s not true, really. What I’m against is rashness and unplanned decisions. If I could’ve gotten some tutoring, something like a transitional year, I would’ve accepted the offer without any thoughts. Now however it just requires more effort.

Actually my lack of posts doesn’t mean that I have been completely dissociated from anime. From the beginning of the year I decided to spend more time returning to the basics, which is always a good idea. And not just basics, but the fundamentals themselves. And for a Western anime fan there’s probably no better option than Cowboy Bebop. Initially I was quite afraid because several years and several hundreds of anime entries completed may have entirely changed my outlook on the first anime I’ve ever watched, and not for the better. First few episodes rolled rather slow, but the pace picked up and I ended up enamored just as I was the first time. It was just as good, if not better. Knowing (roughly) what was going to happen let me pay more attention to the soundtrack, and Yoko Kanno is nothing but amazing. It’s funny that the first time I was more preoccupied with trying to get accustomed of the sharpness of the noses of the characters. It’s good that my first anime wasn’t Shiki. Anyway. I was a bit surprised how cheesy and simplistic some of the scenes were but in the end everything just worked and I had a great time. After that I tried rewatching Black Lagoon, another long-time favorite of mine, and even if I stopped by the twin vampire arc (yeah yeah, again something unfinished), the over the top action was just as great as I had wished for. About other stuff, I hasn’t been as fortunate – while Blame movie was quite good (mainly from the technical point of view), Uchiage Hanabi felt extremely empty – a husk of a film that had nothing apart from inevitable Shaft-isms.

Speaking about writing, I hadn’t been completely idle in that department, either. Though the majority of it will likely never see the light of day. One such thing is some scraps about a video game Life is Strange that affected me quite a lot. Those scraps with a bit of work could be made into a post but I’m not sure if this blog is the right place for something completely unrelated to anime. Another thing was quite unexpected for myself – one (quite eventful) day I came home and basically sat down and wrote for like 6 hours straight. Not sure why. What came out was ~20 pages of pseudo-diary thing with some parts that were not true. It’s not in English in the first place, and probably too personal, but I can just say that writing is a powerful tool to better understand, well, everything. I definitely can’t say I felt an enlightenment or anything like that but putting words to paper let me better understand my own emotions, relationships with particular people, outlook on some issues, what I think my flaws are and what I should work on (character-wise) to improve. Well, it sounds rather esoteric, but believe me – sitting down and writing about anything – be it a trip to a supermarket or something less ordinary – can work wonders as a self-improvement exercise. I shouldn’t forget that myself.

So yeah, with everything going on, I’m back where I started this post – time issues. Needless to say, time that gets stolen from me could easily be used for anime. I definitely feel uncomfortable for having stopped posting mid-season. All those unexpected episodes of Boogiepop, lots of Dororo to catch on and other stuff do weight on my mind. I hope to catch up some time, but I guess at this point I’m grateful to have time to write this post and to think about possibly starting one or two shows of the new season. What’s on my mind? Well, the season itself seems to be more of a low-key one. I’m not interested in many shows to begin with, and due to, again, time issues my interests lie mainly in Attack on Titan (obviously) and that that Shinichiro Watanabe show.

Speaking about others, the hype around One Punch Man seems to have all but dissipated once it was announced that J.C.Staff would take the reins from Madhouse. I’ve nothing against that studio, I just don’t see anyone else but Shingo Natsume being able to top the Book of Friends that Natsume has. I watched One Punch Man (on ever lagging Daisuki, by the way) mainly for the quality of the animation, as the story, while initially looking pretty amusing, soon got incredibly repetitive. There’s just so much you can do with one anti-joke. And obviously not the best part is giving a man who can win every fight with one punch an opponent who needs several punches to be defeated – that’s going back to the same shounen gimmick that the show initially attempted to ridicule. And I don’t really see anything new happening in the second season. Unless someone manages to convince me that the opposite is truth.

Going on, ufotable is trying something again, and once more I can state that I’m not the biggest fan of their excessive use of CG. It’s just that their CG (as good as it is, and sometimes it’s really good) doesn’t work well with 2D – a very typical problem for any studio. I’ve had enough of Tales of Zestiria kind of stuff, and if there isn’t a compelling story attached to ufotable visuals, unfortunately it’s hardly going to be to my liking. And a more or less typical shounen story isn’t something I care about much. I do have a very strong emotional attachment to ufotable due to them making my absolute favorite anime – Kara no Kyoukai movies – but I’ve seen enough to finally get that past doesn’t really matter when new shows come out.

I’ve read Fruits Basket manga some time ago and I’m quite content about it so I don’t really think an anime would (and could) improve much the feeling I’ve got from the manga. And, knowing my completionist-like tendencies, I probably should watch the old Fruits Basket anime in the first place. I’m also not that interested in that Kunihiko Ikuhara show. I definitely respect the dude but it’s probably not the right time for me to try to decipher his complicated messages.

So yeah, it’s quite weird to be back, not really knowing who of my old acquaintances are still active and how does the ani-blog-o-sphere look like now. But let’s just be hopeful!

How are you doing everyone? Did I miss anything important? Are there any other new shows I failed to take notice of?

Stuff (and Christmas)

     Stuff? Yeah, stuff. All kinds of it. It might as well be called a status update or something.


And, unexpectedly, an AMV

     I rarely do anything unplanned, but such stuff sometimes does happen. Most times than not unplanned things find me not because I actively seek them. Yet, to any rule there is an exception. Recently I’ve been reading as much Osamu Dazai as I could find, and this marathon became ignited by rewatching the first 4 episodes of Aoi Bungaku (which itself happened because I wanted something with similar character designs that Shigurui had). Both the written version of Ningen Shikkaku (or No Longer Human, as Dazai’s masterpiece is called) and the anime adaptation of it affected me quite a bit but I was surprised myself once I realized that I want to make an AMV of it.


Blogger Appreciation Award: Saying 1 Positive Thing About Myself

     Thanks to Spooky Red Head (please do check out her blog!), here’s another award post. Usually award posts tend to be Q&A sessions and this one turned out to be a bit different. Well, by its nature, asking to write something positive about yourself is also a question, but a comparatively open one, so all the better.


Scattered Thoughts – throat singing (and a bit of Shigurui)

     Did you know that a single person can sing 2 different melodies at the same time? Sounds a bit insane, doesn’t it? How on earth a single person could possess two throats or something? In fact you don’t need to visit Chernobyl (sorry for the bad joke) to be able to perform throat singing, otherwise known as overtone singing. I’ve known about this amusing technique for some time but what did surprise me, was to find it used in the soundtrack of Shigurui, anime I reviewed several weeks ago. As far as I know, no other anime soundtrack uses the technique so it is pretty obscure to say the least. Well, going into details about it doesn’t really concern neither anime, nor manga, nor Japanese culture (for the most part) but I think the more people will hear about some obscure trivia (that to me is quite interesting), the better. Don’t fear some basic physics stuff ahead, I hope I’ll make it comprehensible enough.