Updated Recommendations

Over the past few days, I’ve been updating the “Recommendations” page with movies and shows I’ve watched in the past few months. These are the new entries:

Only Yesterday

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Twenty-seven-year-old Taeko Okajima dreams of the countryside. Despite being born and raised in Tokyo, she has always longed for a small hometown to return to like her classmates’ families. Now, she’s taking a trip to Yamagata to help with the safflower harvest and experience rural life for herself. While on the train, she begins to remember her childhood, and the memories continue flow as she settles into her temporary home.

For many years, Only Yesterday sat in licensing hell, held by a Disney that was mainly interested in the marketability of Hayao Miyazaki’s fantastical, family-friendly worlds while Isao Takahata’s more grounded stories remained in limbo. Now GKids possesses the license, and they have thankfully put in the effort to bring these movies the attention they deserve, including dubs and theatrical releases. Only Yesterday depicts a young woman who feels alienated and dissatisfied with city life, and as the movie examines her adolescence, it becomes clear that she has never truly felt at home. Taeko felt misunderstood by her sisters and stifled by her loving but overly stern father. The bumps and bruises of adolescence, both physical and psychological, are depicted with a sort of softness that doesn’t reduce them but makes them feel more relatable as Taeko reflects on the experiences that made her the woman she is today. Country life is quite romanticized when compared to the disconnect Taeko feels with her city origins, but viewed as a personal journey rather than an indictment of urban lifestyles, it makes for a beautiful, satisfying story.

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No Middle Sliders: Body Diversity in Anime

When I lived in Japan, I rarely bought clothing. At 5’4” and 140 pounds, I was on the smaller side of average for an American woman, but finding clothes that fit, let alone flattered, my hips or shoulders was a chore to find at best and a self-esteem-destroying battle at worst. The only jacket I bought there is size XL and is loose everywhere but the shoulders. The story was the same for most of my foreign female coworkers, and we generally did all our clothes shopping on visits to our home countries. It was frustrating, but it was just one of those things you have to learn to deal with when living in a foreign country.

As an American feminist, body positivity and the struggle for diverse bodies to be respected and represented in the media is a huge issue. However, when I’m watching anime, it’s probably one of the things I pay the least attention to when considering the show’s representation of women. I prioritize the themes and roles they play within the story, and whether they reinforce gender stereotypes or break away from them. Physical appearance is rarely something I concern myself with except for how it relates to those things.

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Otakon 2016 Cosplay Gallery

There was a ton of great cosplay at this year’s Otakon! The most popular property I noticed was Pokemon, as well as quite a bit of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. This year, I decided to take the time to interview a few cosplayers when I had a moment. As I write this article, I’m discovering that the quality of photos taken by my note-taking app are somewhat… sub-par, so apologies for that.

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Victoria as Anthy Himemiya from Revolutionary Girl Utena
“What made me want to cosplay as this character was growing up, I never knew how to come out of my shell and be myself. I had friends who said you’re beautiful and great, and that helped me a lot. I was drawn to Anthy because I think in that show, Utena really helped Anthy in that way and you know, that was like my life.”

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Please Tell Me! Galko-chan: The Grossest Educational Anime You’ll Ever Watch

More often than not, the new anime season has a surprise. It could be a highly anticipated show that ends up dropping the ball in unexpected ways; it could also be a show no one was paying much attention to that ended up being unexpectedly funny, thoughtful, or otherwise high quality. Last year had a number of the latter sort, such as Osomatsu-san and Maria the Virgin Witch. Winter 2016 has been going pretty much as expected – the shows everyone expected to be good are good, and the ones generally expected to be crap are. This season’s biggest surprise is Please Tell Me! Galko-chan, a short series made up of seven-minute episodes. Based on the promotional art – specifically, the main character’s enormous breasts vacuum-packed into her cardigan – it looked to be an unremarkable fan service show. However, the positive word of mouth it was getting after the first episode intrigued me, and I decided to check it out despite my better judgment. I’m glad I did, because rather than perverse, male-oriented comedy, I got a charming series about three teenage girls frankly discussing their bodies without shying away from the grosser parts of the human experience.

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Winter 2016 Anime Roundup: Part 1

A popular thing to do among anibloggers is to watch the first episode of every new show each season. Me, I don’t roll that way. I simply don’t have the time or energy to watch four or five new episodes of anime each night – I tried it once and I didn’t even enjoy the ones I felt like I should have, because I burned out so fast. I prefer to watch whatever catches my eye and/or is getting good word of mouth. Sometimes they’re everything I was hoping for, but just as often, they’re duds… but at least I didn’t waste my time watching shows I knew I wouldn’t enjoy. This season, I’m also on the lookout for shows that would be worth giving weekly coverage from the point of view of the blog.

Without further ado, let’s look at the shows!

Continue reading “Winter 2016 Anime Roundup: Part 1”