The Advantages of Buying Printed Manga

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Ayappi here (*☻-☻*)

I love manga. The stories are much more in depth, come out earlier than their animes (most of the time) and I could easily binge read a series to the end in under 2 hours compared to a standard 12 episode anime. It’s also cheaper compared to buying the BD and Blu Rays of our favorite series, if you’re not a fan of Crunchyroll or other websites.

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Made using MS Paint, not joking

“Other websites” (you know what I’m talking about) aside, some of us genuinely want to support the artists. Some of us want to buy the manga and read without facing moral dilemmas or legal debates with people online. Some of us, just really like the idea of buying manga. In this day and age, there are two primary options the average manga fan could buy his or her favorite manga series, eBook (through Amazon or eBookJapan, etc.) and physical printed copies. Personally, despite the convenience of an all eBook library, I still prefer buying physical copies of my favorite manga series. Please do allow me to explain why:

We all know the benefits of eBooks. They’re lightweight, are probably cheaper than their physical counterparts, are not susceptible to the elements, and are just plain cooler in person compared to a traditional paperback. The main problem I have with eBooks however, is that while I could easily read them on my iPad (which is a bonus considering how I use an iPad as my main school computer) on the car ride to school, without bringing a bigger bag to accomodate the manga, too many variables come into play that keep bothering me (and by extension my wallet).

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Losing manga + Losing money =

One of my concerns is how selecting a certain service will lock you to their proprietary software and file formats, as well as lock you in their manga collection. In other words, this means I can’t read my eBookJapan purchases in my Kobo reader, or I can’t read the ones I purchased from Rakuten Kobo in the ebIReader app on my iPad. This limits what you could read, and it certainly in some cases defeats the “convenience” part of the eBooks. So this means, if you wanted to read Blend S, but it isn’t available in Kindle, you’re pretty much toast. While you could argue that it’s as simple as installing the apps for the individual services and making accounts for all of them, I would much rather save myself the frustration of remembering where I put this and that. This is especially when I get to a point when I have over 90 titles already on hand.

However, probably the biggest worry I have is really the possibility of how eBooks will not end up well in Japan. The country has a history of preferring physical over digital media, and I remember reading an article as to why Spotify will fail in Japan due to this exact reason. While yes, it hasn’t happened yet, and there is an increasing number of articles on eBooks in Hatena Blog (Japanese blogging platform), I would save myself the uncertainty. The eBook manga may be cheap sometimes (which I’ll get to in a minute), but losing all my purchases because of the shutdown of the servers hosting them, is not a good tradeoff. I’m pretty sure anyone would go bonkers if they lost even just JPY10000 worth of manga, which isn’t much in my opinion but still big. And even if eBooks become successful in Japan, that doesn’t mean the companies that host eBooks would eventually shut down soon. We’re talking huge money here after all.

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The smile on my face when these arrived. JPY1000 well spent

Now let me get into why I prefer buying the physical copies of my favorite manga versus the digital ones. First and foremost, there are just some things you couldn’t get from a digital copy compared to when buying a physical copy. I’m talking about character cards, clear files, alternative covers, even something as mundane as those small strips of paper that advertise the manga or its anime after each volume. They’re very small things, but honestly, they make me happy knowing that I have something probably not a lot of people have or take for granted. Also, sometimes, at least in my experience, these art cards are things not easily found online, or sold in conventions and anime goods stores, so I treasure them personally.

Another thing is the long term effects of buying a physical copy. For one thing, physical copies could be a form of investment because you could resell the manga after you’ve read it if you want extra money in your pocket. You probably won’t be able to get all your money back (unless you’re lucky), but you at least get a fraction of it back. In some cases, the cost after reselling could be significantly less than discounts on eBook services. This is something eBooks can’t do, and is probably one of the big advantages of physical copies over eBooks, at least that’s how I know it to be. If you know of a service that allows you to sell eBooks, please do let me know.

Another long term effect, given you take really good care of your books, is that their existence is not bound by some company. Like I mentioned earlier, your eBooks are bound by the existence and operation of the company’s servers. With physical books, it’s all on you. Sure, it’s more susceptible to weather damage, or the occasional pest eating the paper, but I personally handle my books carefully so I have no problems so far. Well save for one Dengeki magazine, but really it’s just a chip on the end. Still perfectly readable.

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Finally got to upload this after the wonderful fast internet yesterday

Also, and let’s face it, it just looks cooler to have an entire library of your favorite manga. While yes, swiping on a screen or tapping on a keyboard to turn the page is cool and the future, personally I find the look and feel of a library more relaxing while still being really cool. Imagine it, a wall of manga, a recliner beside a window in a room lit by warm lighting. Probably a fireplace too, because I’m weak to the cold.

Now to be fair, this isn’t to say eBooks should be entirely avoided. There are some cases where eBooks could actually make lots more sense compared to importing manga or buying the physical translated copies of our favorite manga. One such scenario I could think of is if the customs office in your country is horrible, and you’d much rather jump off a cliff than deal with their corrupt ways, or if importing goods from Japan is illegal (never heard of it but who knows). With an eBook, all you need is a credit card and you’re good to go. No customs duties, headaches or missing packages and money.

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What Umaru’s reading might make sense for eBooks

Another scenario where the limited nature of eBooks might make sense is if we’re buying one of those “Monthly” or “Weekly” manga magazines such as everyone’s favorite Shonen Jump or Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh, or Weekly Sunday Champion. I’m actually considering doing this once I get more allowance (teehee). These are those really thick manga magazines you see in anime that could easily take up space at home. I’m pretty sure most of us throw out read, old magazines at some point in our lives, so this actually makes sense, especially if you’re lacking living space. You bought your monthly or weekly manga, got to read it, and you don’t have to worry about where to stash it until the trash collector comes.

It also makes sense given how these weekly/monthly manga are better read within a week of their release dates. I swear, importing a weekly or monthly manga is stupid in practice. By the time it arrives in your doorstep, next month’s or week’s issue is already out. You’re much better off importing or buying physical copies of volumes of manga.

So yes, that’s pretty much what I have to say on the matter for now! Personally I still prefer buying the physical copies due to the reasons I said above (and yes, I will be building my library once I move soon!). How about you? Do you prefer eBooks or physical books? Please do let me know your thoughts and opinions on the matter!

Until next time! Please remember to enjoy life and manga ❤

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Is Gojikanme no Sensou Worth Reading?

Ayappi here (๑╹ω╹๑ )

When aliens invade the world, what’s the first thing you plan to do? In this manga’s Japan, the plan is to deploy teenagers to fight the alien invaders. It’s every man for Japan in this manga, in an attempt to repel the unknown threat, which only (spoiler) gets revealed at the end who they exactly are. In this review I’ll go over my thoughts I had with Gojikanme no Sensou.

Girls and Guns, and Alien Invaders

The story is set in a world where the Japanese mainland is invaded by an unknown force of aliens. In an attempt to get as much forces needed to repel the threat, the Japanese government issues an order where select high school students will get deployed in the mainland to assist the SDF in fighting. This in my opinion, while some could argue that this is just an attempt at including girls with guns, this would actually make sense given the issues Japan is facing right now such as the rapidly aging population. While old people could fight, there’s only so much an aging body could do. Therefore the decision to use young people to fight may have been the only option at the time.

One common theme in this story, is loss. As the manga progresses, we get to witness ourselves the deaths of the class. These losses however, are not limited to physical losses or deaths of the characters and Japan but extend over to strained relationships and misunderstandings between the characters.  Despite these losses and deaths (towards the end the classroom was near empty), sufficient pages were given to developing the characters and their backstories, so it wasn’t at the cost of character development. One such example of this is the entire chapter dedicated to Miyoshi, the painter boy. If anything, should the characters end up being relatable to the reader, it only boosts the drama and the immersion factor of the manga for the reader. With this whole loss thing however, there’s one thing that boggles my mind: “Why and how did Saku suddenly disappear in the end, without a trace?”

UPDATE: Saku ran off to the mainland to meet with his current girlfriend, which isn’t Miyako. However, it’s safe to assume Saku died as this is the last we’ll ever see from him.

However towards the end, we get to see Miyako bearing 2 children, a boy and a girl, in a new world without the aliens. We get to see life blooming both from her, as well as the formerly resource scarce, now crop filled island. It should be noted that prior to the last chapter, Miyako had to buy food from a merchant boat that brought supplies from the mainland. That, and vegetables were handled by a small farm near the school grounds tended by Saku. The last chapter in particular (which is really long), gave many emphasis on nature, as well as the children of Miyako. The aliens are gone, and a new life starts for Miyako, her children and Japan. This is a nice contrast in my opinion to the first theme which is loss. As old life is lost, new lives begin to grow. It reflects the natural cycle of life and death, and is a smart and beautiful way of conveying that message in my opinion. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

What’s interesting to note of is the names of the two main characters. It’s foreshadowed from the beginning by the act of declaring Miyako and Saku to be unfit for combat, that one or both of them will be the only ones to survive. Now the kanji for Miyako’s name, 都, means “metropolis” or “city.” Being a mother of two children in a newly deserted island in Japan, it’s obvious that her children will be responsible for repopulating the entire island. In other words, make lots and lots of babies, people. Saku’s name, means north or first day of the month. However if we change the characters to a verb, 咲く which means to “bloom (as in life),” then we could possibly see a connection between their “plot armor” foreshadowed survival and the cycle of life and death I just discussed. Although Saku disappears in the end, you could say Saku and Miyako’s fruits “bloomed” in the form of their children.

This cycle of life and death also extends over to the strained interpersonal relationships of the characters. In particular, this one scene with Miyako and Saku towards the end of the manga. The two have sex in order to have babies, possibly because they think they’re the only humans left, but really prior to this scene Saku just answered Miyako’s confession. Now, sex is one of those things that may possibly reflect the closeness of two individuals. This could have indicated a revival of their past relationship as in the story their relationship has been kind of rocky, mostly due to the unrequited love. Again, it reflects the theme of life and death possessed by the manga.

The art for this manga, is really nothing special. However it does set the moods really well in certain scenes. Probably one of the best instances of the art setting the mood is with the drawing of the stuffed rabbit. It is heavily implied that the talking rabbit is the alien threat, and spoiler, it is. However, we don’t know its true nature just yet, but I personally leaned towards the “messenger/traitor from the enemy out to help the main characters.” It was only until the depiction of a rabbit in an eerie devil costume (drawn well enough to give anyone nightmares) was the true loyalties of the “rabbit” foreshadowed.

The pacing of the story is okay. Scenes didn’t feel rushed at all, and I personally think skipping some months to kill off some side characters helped a lot in the pacing. Besides, the majority of the manga are scenes set in the island, so adding more chapters just for the sake of showing how the rest died probably wouldn’t have helped at all. It just would hurt the pacing and would look out of place in my opinion.

Overall I’m pretty happy I read this manga. I only have a few gripes with the story, but regardless I enjoyed the ride. Now, would I recommend, the, that you read this manga? Are you a fan of alien invasions, high school students going to war, and apocalyptic stories? If you cannot read Japanese and are alright with waiting for the translations, then I might be able to recommend this manga to you, because that’s the one thing keeping it out of reach for English only readers. But if you’re a brave soul, I would strongly suggest that you have a dictionary nearby if you choose to read the Japanese because majority of the dialogue is in a dialect. However it is by no means a poorly written story and I think it deserves a chance to be read.

Have you read Gojikanme no Sensou? Please do let me know down below! Thank you for reading, and have a great day ❤

Also, I would like to give a little heads up regarding my current situation. I will be starting my third year at university tomorrow, and I wouldn’t have time to post as much as before. Given that, I will only be posting at minimum, one post per week. Maybe even more if I have the time for it, but certainly there will be one post per week unless something like a blackout happens.

Also, thank you for taking the time to subscribe and read my articles! It really means a lot to me!

Is Shishunki Bitter Change Worth a Read?

Ayappi here (°▽°)ノ

Spoiler Warning, Please Skim Through if You’re Not OK with Spoilers

Body swapping might not be a pleasant experience

Lately due to me being out of the house most of the time, I’ve been reading more manga than watching anime. Some of these series I only thought about reading just recently, while others I have read but have decided to re-read them because I simply lost track. Today I would like to talk about a certain manga series that at first glance might seem like it’s a Kimi no Na Wa rip off, but in reality it isn’t, and spoiler alert, it’s really good. I’ll get to why in a minute.

Shishunki (or Shisyunki) Bitter Change is a romance manga that deals with body swapping, much like Kimi no Na Wa. I figured that there would be a possibility that people would dismiss the manga as a rip off of the said series. However, the premise they operate, and how the body swapping works is entirely different. On Na Wa’s side, they body swap to each other on an alterate daily basis as soon as they fall asleep. On Shishunki’s body swapping, the two body swap indefinitely one day when the main male character Yuuta falls down on Yui, the main female character. They might be similar as well as to how they deal with their body swapping, such as “To Not Do Lists,” but the two are still different from each other. It should also be noted that Shishunki came out 4 years before Kimi no Na Wa stormed to success.

With that out of the way, let’s move on. The manga from what I read does a great job of using the whole body swapping thing to develop its characters and create, as the title implies, changes. The two, in the story, as they live out their lives in the bodies of each other, consciously and unconsciously fill in what was missing in their lives before the entire incident happened. Yuuta (in Yui’s body), fills in her desire to have friends and gets her out of the lonely zone, while Yui (in Yuuta’s body), gives Yuuta good grades.

Change is a common theme in this entire manga, and most if not all characters are NOT spared from the clutches of change. It’s a dynamic character festival, and we’re given front row seats to watch these characters grow up and change. There may be instances of characters that look like static ones, such as Mr. Hopeless Romantic, but in reality they had some subtle changes that could easily be overlooked, especially when binge reading.

(Super spoilers) But where does the “bitter” in bitter change come in? My guess on the matter, other than the side characters getting rejected of their romantic feelings for the two, which have lead to many changes in their lives, is how Yuuta developed romantic feelings for Yui. The two main characters had to deal with heartbreaks and rejections, as well as countless fights between each other for misunderstandings and deviations from the “To Not Do Lists.” Yuuta in particular had to deal with Yui not being able to “read” his feelings and blabbering nothing but Takuma, Yuuta’s best friend Yui has fallen for. These Although in the last chapter I have read, it may be implied that the two will end up together based on how I interpreted it.

My other guess on the whole “bitter change” bit is the entire concept of puberty. Shishunki translates to puberty, and in the story, we could see the characters dealing with puberty in bodies that aren’t even theirs. Oftentimes this has been bitter for the characters, especially because they weren’t supposed to experience puberty like that. Take for example Yuuta having to experience menstruation in Yui’s body. Couple that with the uncertainty on what could happen while the current owner is in the body, and it could make for one bitter experience.

As for the characters, they’re very relatable and believable, especially those that are still kids and/or undergoing puberty at the moment. The characters are the types of people you would commonly find in both grade school and middle/high school such as the smart lonely one, or the sociable one, or even the hopeless romantic. Family issues are also tackled in the story and I think it just helps with the whole relatability and believability factor. Not all families are the same after all, and it’s something every child eventually comes to know as they go out and explore and interact with the world. Although in this story’s case, they were unspared the trouble of finding out at a very early age, first hand. Me personally, I could relate with both Yui and Yuuta a lot, equally.

On the subject of character development, allow me to get this out of the way, but I’m personally glad that this didn’t turn out to become an ecchi manga. Ecchi can work and can even develop characters, maybe even faster than the current pace of the story. However, it feels kind of lazy in my opinion, and it could easily get lost in the fanservice should that be the case and I’m glad the author managed to develop its characters without going the ecchi route.

Art is handled well. It’s not tough to look at compared to something like Kotoura-san’s art style. I love Kotoura-san, but Kotoura’s eyes just look really weird and uncomfortable to look at. But it isn’t really groundbreaking or revolutionary for me to write an extra paragraph about it. Although, I have to give the author props because the simple art can actually help in keeping focus. This story can get confusing after all, given the whole body swap thing, and a lack of focus would make you get entirely lost in the story.

Would I recommend this manga? Yes. A definite yes. It’s a simple, yet beautiful story about body swapping that in my opinion, manages to hit the right spots. It’s not tough to read as well, light despite the presence of some drama scenes and fights. My only issue with this entire manga, really, is that it’s still not over. I personally want to see these two together (I ship them) and I couldn’t wait to see the ending already. It’s not a bad thing by any means, just that I can get impatient with these kinds of things.

So yes, if you’re looking for a lighthearted but interestingly kind of confusing romance manga, Shishunki Bitter Change should in my opinion be in your list. There are 8 volumes currently available, but I suspect a 9th volume coming soon. You could buy these on Amazon or eBookJapan at around standard manga price (around ¥4-500 before tax).

Have you read Shishunki Bitter Change? Would you consider reading it? Please do let me know and have a nice day ❤

On Becoming “Japanese” based on Anime Delusions

Hello hello, Ayappi here! ( ´ ▽ ` )

“Japan is an island by the sea, filled with volcanoes and is beautiful” according to Bill Wurtz. It is also the birthplace of anime, the thing that we are huge fans of. If we look at it from a social constructivist standpoint (I’m sorry I’ve been learning this stuff in university), these anime give way to informal learning and implant in anime fans an image of Japan based on the anime they watch. These people however usually end up getting branded as weeaboos.

Got this from somewhere

Though, the definition of “weeaboo” has gotten so warped over the last couple of years. It has gotten so warped, that I think the Urban Dictionary entry or Filthy Frank’s WEEABOOS video account for just one of the many other definitions weeaboo has gained over time. For the purposes of this entry, we’re going to lock what a weeaboo is to the Urban Dictionary entry which you could check out HERE. But why am I making this intro with that title? Today I would like to talk about becoming “Japanese.”

Now if you have talked with me in real life, at any point in time, you would know that I actually have plans to naturalize to Japan. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it basically means I will willingly renounce my current citizenship and become legally Japanese. Through that, I could enjoy all the rights and privileges that come with being LEGALLY Japanese. I emphasize legal because that’s about as far as you could go, especially if you have zero traces of Japanese blood in you. You will be required by law to take in a Japanese name (with no bad connotations), but the law cannot change your blood and genes.

Now people usually think that my image of Japan is largely based on anime and manga. In other words, the stereotypical definition of anime and pop culture Japan being a wacky, wild, schoolgirl infested place. People always try to talk me out of it by telling me about the negatives, but in reality I am well aware of the issues and “negative aspects” that are present in Japan. I have researched, talked about with natives, and have even experienced firsthand the negative aspects of Japan.

With that said my decision to become Japanese was by no means a rash decision impulsively made from watching my favorite animes the whole day. I am well aware of the ridiculously many requirements needed to become Japanese such as the 10 years minimum for permanent residency and 5 years for naturalization if I don’t end up marrying one of my Japanese friends. I am well aware of the homogeneity, the more reserved and exclusive nature of Japan compared to my country, the discrimination faced by mixed race children and Chinese/Koreans (it doesn’t help that I’m a bit Chinese by blood), how otaku actually is, the horrible work ethic according to most, the declining birth rate and so on. I have methods to combat them such has having friends and relatives who are Japanese and are living in Japan already, knowing Japanese, being passive (yep, it actually works), having prior experiences living in a collectivist society compared to an individualistic one and so on. I have thought of all of these and reflected upon them, and in the end I still keep on choosing Japan.

So what am I trying to say from all of these? I have read many times the horror stories of weeaboos who want to try and become Japanese, blinded by their delusions of anime Japan. I want to try and impart in you, a word of warning and possibly a wake up call if you have ever considered becoming Japanese because of these tendencies. Anime gets some parts of real Japan right and hides the rest of it (I will go in depth on this on a future article). The bad things that people say about Japan, just because it wasn’t shown in anime, are probably real and you don’t know it but they actually manifest in anime in scenes you don’t expect. It doesn’t hurt to Google it first instead of becoming immediately extremely butthurt at the fact that “people are ‘badmouthing’ Japan.” Please, for your own sake, do not consider being Japanese if you cannot accept the reality of Japan not being the “otaku paradise” you dreamt it to be. I promise you, you will really regret it.

I’m not saying a weeaboo cannot become legally Japanese and live in Japan. You could, but unless you stop it with the delusions and consider every single small flaw found in Japan, you would probably have a bad time. A very bad time.

Please also do not consider it if you have absolutely zero knowledge on Japanese grammar outside of the basics. You will not survive with English in Japan, trust me my father learned the hard way until I “saved” him the trouble of talking to natives in Osaka. You cannot learn Japanese through anime alone, mind you, but it can certainly help.

Have you ever considered becoming Japanese because of anime? What do you think of people who say they know everything about Japan but in reality it’s just from anime? Please do let me know in the comments and have a great day ❤

DISCLAIMER: I love Japan and by no means is this article meant to shame or put Japan in a bad light.

My Top 10 Favorite Anime (as of now)

Ayappi here ヾ(๑╹◡╹)ノ”

Today I’m going to do something a bit different, and longer than usual. I know it isn’t much, but I wanted to do this for quite some time now. I see most other bloggers and YouTubers doing something like this, and I thought it would be nice if I shared my own list as well. These are series where I could genuinely say, I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed myself watching it, tearing it apart, relating to it, and other things. For some of these, I enjoyed them so much that no matter how much new series get thrown in my direction, I find myself rewatching clips of these series.

I do want to get this out of the way though, this list is subject to change because of my inherent human nature. In fact, before writing this, 2 series got erased from the top spots, so this is by no means an “endgame list.” I do plan to update it whenever I feel like it, so yes.

Anyway without keeping you waiting any longer, let’s get started, with an honorable mention first. By the way, there will be spoilers below so I bolded the anime names in case you want to skim through it.

Honorable Mention – Uchuu Patrol Luluco

JUSTICE

I remember binge watching this when I was in my family friend’s vacation home somewhere near a beach beside some mountains. At that time, I couldn’t get an LTE signal because of my phone not having the correct bands for the area, and because we were so high up in the mountains. Fortunately I had downloaded the entire series prior to going, and so I spent an entire night finishing the entire anime, along with fixing my anime and manga backlog.

I like this anime for one thing: madness. It’s very short, but I like the madness it offers with the short timeframe. I mean, the opening theme alone, is so crazy and all over the place. The madness was only escalated by the many (and I mean many) crossovers this anime does with other Trigger anime. No moment isn’t dull, I always find myself laughing at one point or another.

And don’t even get me started on the ending theme, Pipo Password by Bonjour Suzuki. This ending theme for some reason doesn’t fit in with the overall madness of the show, but I personally think its more chill, spacey sound is a good contrast. May I suggest going out, looking at the full moon or the stars while listening to this song?

10 – Love Live! / Love Live Second Season

It’s so popular, even elementary school boys want to be idols. Not joking

I’ll be honest, this used to be my #1 favorite anime of all time, but recently I started to lose interest. I used to be a huge Love Liver, and I had access to some insider info as well (I won’t get into specifics for their privacy). Nowadays, I pretty much dumped Love Live Sunshine and it’s second season into, somewhere in the bottom of my list (although I do think the more human side of idols it gives is refreshing), but I chose to keep the original into #10. The reason for this is that this was a very memorable anime for me.

This was actually the anime I used to learn Japanese when I first started. Although I wouldn’t recommend that you use this anime for pronunciation (I personally use talk shows), it does help a lot with vocabulary.

The songs too are an important factor. I am a huge sucker for music in anime, and it’s undeniable that Love Live has some of the catchiest, most beautiful songs I have ever heard. My personal favorite voice would be Rin and Honoka’s voice, although my first favorite idol, and I’m proud to admit it, was Nico.

9 – Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

UMA and 馬 are different

Not a lot of people know this anime honestly, based on my friend circles both offline and online. In fact, I never even heard of this anime existing until I saw a photo from the Facebook page Ho-Kago TeaTime featuring Mashiro and Kobeni. I was bored at the time, so I decided to watch the anime, and oh my goodness did that turn out to be one of the best decisions I made.

It’s nothing special, other than the fact that Hakuya and Mashiro are, not human (spoiler, but doesn’t really mean anything unless you know exactly what they are). It just shows the relationship dynamics between Kobeni, who just got engaged to Hakuya, as well as how they live their daily lives. But the amount of relatability, and the cuteness of Hakuya and Kobeni’s relationship throughout the entire 12 episode run made me place it at #9 of my list.

8, 7 – Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? , Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon

Coffee and rabbits, what could go wrong?

I placed these two together for two reasons:

1. To shorten this list

2. Because the reasons for me liking both of these are pretty much the same

I wouldn’t really call my high school experience, much more chill than high school. In fact, I think I had a rougher time in high school socially, as well as academically (my teachers kept dumping homework). Couple that with the fact that my uniform was so warm and the school doesn’t use airconditioners to “lessen the carbon footprint” and you have mentally tired high school students.I’m in university right now, and I took care of my social issues, but academically (although it’s noticeably easier) and temperature wise it’s no different. I still go home mentally tired, even if I’m not the one driving me to school.

Ravioli ravioli, don’t put your tail on my food

These two anime are so lighthearted, relatable and just butt whopping cute. Sometimes, watching the daily lives of the casts of these two slice of life anime can be just as relaxing as a cup of tea by the sunset while listening to C-418’s Minecraft songs. It offers me a gentle reminder that slowing down and living life isn’t so bad once in a while, and that the relationships I share with my family and friends, who I also consider family, are just as important as that 50 page “thesis” I’m carrying for my horribly dysfunctional group.

6 – Kotoura-san

I really want to eat that Takoyaki, RIGHT. NOW.

Now this one, I’ll be honest, I only finished a few months ago. Why it took that long? I had papers to write, a lot of them. Kotoura-san is one of those series that is very relatable (to me at least) and has got to be one of the sweetest, most heart wrenching series I ever watched. Manabe and Kotoura’s relationship in this anime is so fun to watch, and it really makes you cheer for both of them as it progresses. Not to mention, I liked the ending.

Though fun fact, this is a series that made me cry, if not the only series other than Plastic Memories to ever make me cry at the ending. I have watched Angel Beats, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, a bit of AnoHana, Nagi no Asu Kara and all of that stuff, but none of those have ever made me cry, or even get close to crying involuntarily.

If I had to nitpick something about this anime, I’d say the original manga’s artstyle was weird. And I mean, really weird, especially when colored.

5 – Girls und Panzer

Panzer Vor!

Girls and tanks. That’s basically the entire Girls und Panzer franchise. Although this show is special to me because other than the fact that there’s cool tanks, explosions and, cool tanks, it actually made me quite a bit of friends, especially over World of Tanks. Also I personally admire the cast for using mostly flawed or lower tier tanks, and winning against a KV-2 and even some of the finest in German Tank technology, without relying on some miracle that appeared out of nowhere. Miho could be a miracle, but it should be noted that Miho is the only one with prior experience in Ooarai compared to the likes of schools like Saunders.

Please do check out the abridged version too if you have time. It a really well done abridged series by Gunmetal Stug. Unfortunately I have no idea when Episode 7 will appear.

Every episode, movie, OVA, me and my newfound and existing friends would always chat about this anime. Some of them, are even my gaming buddies over in World of Tanks. We don’t play together anymore, although I still do with my Chi Ri and StuG III, but I can still remember the times when we’d imitate tactics from the anime and incorporate them in our training and matches. To be fair though, some of them actually worked well.

4 – Gakkou Gurashi

Diejobu

DIESUKI. That pretty much sums up my opinions regarding this anime. I honestly thought it would be like Kobayashi or GochiUsa, but when the dark twist happened, I honestly wasn’t prepared for it. I didn’t see it coming, and even though the show took a turn in the opposite direction, it managed to still be really heartwarming and relaxing for some odd reason.

Sure, it’s tough to see them struggle with their current situation, but honestly I didn’t mind at all. If anything, it kept me watching. It made me appreciate and care for these characters, much like a mother to her daughter. It can be a bit bloody and graphic, so I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re not good at handling such things.

Quick Japanese lesson, 4 is unlucky in Japan because it can be read as death. Funny how this anime is about death and it’s 4th on the list.

3 – Sora Yori mo Tooi Basyo

“The girls are alright”

This was another of the series I binge watched along with Uchuu Patrol Luluco, although I finished this one when I went back home. This anime, first of all, has THE BEST ending theme I have ever heard from an anime. Possibly this is now my favorite song. If you’re curious and never heard it, or you’re the type to skip the ending themes, the title is Koko Kara, Koko Kara.

I like this anime for two things, relatability and friendship. There are many things I could relate to with the four main characters in this anime on many levels. Every episode, I get to know them better, and I could relate to their daily exploits and funny moments. Although I never eaten durian ice cream, that’s for sure. The anime also serves as a reminder, again like Maid Dragon, that the relationships we build with others are just as important as our goals. We can see this in how the girls formed very strong relationships with each other, while also getting to “the place father than the universe.”

I personally think it’s really beautiful and it’s one of the best slice of life adventure anime I have ever watched. Also, the fact that it was about Antarctica got me hooked immediately.

2 – Toradora

The love between a tiger and a dragon

If the below takes my crown for best slice of life/adventure anime, then this would take the tiara for best romance anime in my opinion. Again, one of the reasons is the relatability of the show. I could relate to these characters a lot, especially with Ryuuji and Taiga. I didn’t have a relationship when I first watched this, but I rewatched this many times and I could indeed relate a bit to those two when I got into my first relationship.

But that’s not the main reason why I love this anime so much. This is actually the first romance anime I have watched, and is one of the few romance animes in my list where the main character isn’t blatantly perverted. Most importantly, this anime is the reason why even watch romance animes nowadays in the first place. The mix of confusion and emotions I felt over the course of 25 episodes (?), I couldn’t really describe into words other than saying, this anime is just beautiful, much like the star Taiga had as Christmas decor.

It doesn’t stop there, the soundtrack is one of those things that, if I had background music for every moment in my life, Toradora would claim some of those songs. Ame Iro Rondo, Sora Iro no Houkago, Yasasisa no Asioto, and most especially Holy Night are some of my personal favorites in the soundtrack. I remember one time in Osaka where I looked out the window and I could see the bright night sky illuminated by buildings. I honestly thought it was 8AM already, but my clock read 2AM. We were beside a river at the time too, so imagine the reflection. It was a piece of Japan’s beauty which I simply couldn’t let go of, but I digress. Where did Toradora’s soundtrack play into this? Please listen to Ame Iro Rondo and imagine what I just said.

1 – Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica / Mahou Shoujo Site

Meduka. As I fight, she watch me. So I pray, never to forget. That being Meguca, was suffering.

Finally we made it to the end of this list. At number one, I actually have two animes which are of the same genre, are both probably the edgiest in their respective seasons, and both feature Magical Girls. The only differences, other than the plot, are that Mahou Shoujo Site is currently airing and my judgement is based off the manga, and that there are no movies on Mahou Shoujo Site.

I personally don’t tell people in person, but I am a fan of these dark and edgy stories, which still offer hope. While I have read some hopeless stories, I would still rather have hope in mine and these two are my top contenders.

I always want to be with your side, Yatsumura-san

Both series in my opinion offer subjectively excellent writing. If you have read my defense on Mahou Shoujo Site, you would know that I actually favor the more realistic but edgy approach that the author of this has done. It gives it this more realistic side, which in my opinion strengthens the relatability and effectiveness of the cast and story. Madoka’s approach on the magical girl genre is needless to say, a classic, and I think we all know by now that the way this story approached magical girls revolutionized the entire genre of magical girl. While Madoka has noticeably more magic elements than Mahou Shoujo Site, it still keeps its realistic factor by the effects and events the wishes of the magical girls cause.

Anyway, both series have excellent soundtracks in my opinion, but I lean more towards Madoka on this one simply because the orchestral sounds are more towards my preference. Although I will give props to the opening theme of Mahou Shoujo Site, and even the ending theme with it’s いきたい at the ending part (which could mean I want to live).

Though in the case of Mahou Shoujo Site, there are two other reasons why I love it so much like Madoka other than the relatable cast, subjectively excellent writing, and just plain being adorably edgy. Much like, again, a mother to her daughter, I really love this series and I would do my best to convince people to give it another chance due to the fact that I could see its beauty despite Episode 1. We can’t please everyone, I know, but I think people should still give it a chance, that is if they’re genuinely alright with seeing a lot of blood. The second, and possibly the shallowest reason I have in this entire list, is that the original manga has a kiss scene.

Mahou Shoujo Site – 1

Madoka – 0

“But Madoka has handholding!”

Mahou Shoujo Site had it, in the anime, twice.

TsuyuAya for the win.

But at least Madoka doesn’t have an Asagiri Kaname. So I think it’s a good tradeoff. I guess…

If you made it this far, I would just like to say thank you for reading my ramble on my Top 10 animes so far. If I was stuck on a desert island and I had to watch anime until help arrives, I would most likely stick to these series. This list however doesn’t really coincide with my manga list, which I will be doing once I finish some series.

How about you? Do we have similarities in our lists? If you were to change up my list with an anime you think will beat out all of these, what would that be? What’s your Top 10 anime? Please do let me know!

I hope you have a nice day and a fun anime watching experience ❤

Let’s Talk Anime Popularity Polls

Ayappi here (*´꒳`*)

Anitrending on Facebook, NHK Top 100, the MAL Popularity/Rating Rankings. Do all of these sound familiar? These are just some of the many anime popularity ranking polls scattered all across the internet. These popularity polls bascially take votes from people through a form, and then the one with the most votes comes out as the #1 most popular anime. Simple as that. Arguably this could be easily rigged by submitting multiple entries, but trust me these sites have gotten way better at preventing that from happening.

These popularity polls are great because it gives a voice to the normal anime fan. It’s a great way to know what the people are watching and possibly what their favorite series are. It also brings people together, and should their favorite anime land on the number one spot, it gives a small but still present, sense of joy to that person. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to see the things that they like flourish like that?

However, and here is where the messy part comes in, some people take it seriously. Even too seriously sometimes if that’s even a word. It starts flame wars and heated debates. Mostly it’s the so-called elitists in the community that start these wars, un-ironically. It’s as if, their way of thinking is that if an anime places high in a popularity poll, it’s automatically the best anime in the world.

I remember when I was still a Love Liver when the second season of Love Live Sunshine!!, the spin off series to the original Love Live, got first place in an Anitrending popularity poll, it was the ugliest post I’ve seen from them. It was total chaos, inside and outside of the post in question. Love Livers constantly taunting everyone else. Elitists typing up HUGE walls of texts just to prove the Love Livers wrong, enough words to even be considered as an academic essay by my professors. One or two trolls, just took advantage of the situation, but mostly it was an ongoing war between Love Livers and, well, everyone else. That’s just how I remember it.

I think, and I mentioned this earlier, the argument behind all of this is that an anime’s rightful place in a popularity poll must be consistent to its “quality.” I’ve seen many people say that the Love Live anime is written horribly and should therefore be lower in a popularity poll. The same people then proceed to endorse another anime that I frankly never cared to watch, which allegedly has “stellar” writing to be #1 in a popularity poll.

First of all, please remember that this is a popularity poll. This is not a “quality level ranking system.” The metric for this entire thing is simply, how many people like the series, nothing more nothing less. If many people watch it, then many people happen to be watching it. It’s as simple as that. Let’s go back to the case of Love Live. It’s undeniable that in Japan alone, Love Live isn’t something I’d consider to be a typical “community only” anime. It has certainly taken mainstream already in Japan, and it has huge cult level followings all across the globe. I already left the scene because of personal reasons, but I can tell you, it’s unstoppable. We could argue all day long about the flaws in the writing, and there are many, but many people still watch it.

Also, an anime’s “quality,” is entirely subjective, which means it may be different for everyone. Just because you perceive quality different than the average person, does not mean your words are superior. You could always argue to someone that an anime is good because of this and that, or bad because of whatever. Trying to convince people by stating your opinion, supported by solid arguments, that’s perfectly alright! That’s called, tearing apart a series and doing a close reading on it plus an opinion. What is not alright is to claim that your words are like the end all, like you’re the only one people should listen to. If it was like that, then AniBloggers and AniTubers wouldn’t exist in the first place.

Furthermore, honestly, not a lot of people watch anime for the “exquisite” writing and simply watch it as a stress reliever or a past time. Sure, it’s fun to tear apart a series and appreciate its good bits while roasting it’s bad bits, but normally that’s done AFTER the entire thing has finished.

Lastly, I know it feels bad to see your favorite series score low in these sorts of things (imagine how I feel everytime I see the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Site), but please do not let this get in the way of your enjoyment. You’re investing yourself in a battle, that will most likely take more away from you, than it will gain you. The broken interpersonal relationships, wasted time, stress, and decreased enjoyment that were consumed in this battle are not worth a #1 spot in a popularity poll.

To be clear, this isn’t an piece against popularity polls. I personally have no problem with them, and I actually like how it gives the fans a voice in the community. What did I hope to achieve writing this post then? You see, I personally think the petty fighting going on inside and outside these popularity polls is stupid, and frankly, this is just one of the many things that give people like us a bad name in the world. There’s more to anime, and life, than just numbers on a simple popularity poll, and I’d rather enjoy another 5 minutes of my favorite anime than to use that 5 minutes to look like a rabid weirdo fighting with a person I never even met with in the comments section of an AniTrending post.

I’m sorry if this was a bit too tough to swallow, but I felt the need to say it. What do you think? Please let me know!

Alright, I think that’s all for now. Thank you for reading as always, and please have a nice day ❤

Anime and Manga Merchandise on a Budget

Hello, Ayappi here! (●っゝω・)っ~☆

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Even if I had a lot of yen to work with, I still couldn’t fill up my shelves

Let’s be real for a moment here, anime and manga is an expensive hobby. We see all of these magnificent “otaku rooms” posted everywhere on the internet. Room tours in YouTube, people getting featured in Danny Choo’s blog, it seems like heaven for some of us. One thing’s for sure though, these setups costed a lot of money. The total cost for such a setup would probably even be enough to cover for university and a Ph D program. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating on that one, but the bottom line is, it’s expensive, and not all of us have safes as large as Scrooge McDuck.

Let’s also be real here, not all of us have parents who are willing to shower us with ¥10,000 bills every single day just to cover for our expensive interests. Even if let’s say you were filthy rich, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your parents are the type to throw money away (from what I know, it tends to be the opposite). If you’re older, we all have monthly bills, necessities, dues and debt to pay off, and a monthly salary may not be enough even for just one copy of Magical Girl Apocalypse. I won’t even get into economy and all of that financial stuff.

Fortunately, over my time with my other expensive hobbies, hobbies that I spent way more on compared to anime, I’ve gotten a bit smarter when it comes to handling my hard earned money. Because of this I’ve been able to build up a small collection with the small amount of money I have for these stuff. Now some of these tips might seem like common sense, but believe me, it hasn’t even crossed my mind that these are possible until I did some reading on how to get cheap GTX 980Ti’s. So without keeping you waiting any longer, let’s get started.

Tip #1: Buy Used! Sell Used! 

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Selling or Trading is a very good idea in my honest opinion

 

Let me just say that I personally like going the used route when it comes to certain things. Sometimes you could find really good deals when you go with the used ones instead of brand new. It is for this reason that my favorite anime goods store in Japan is Mandarake, which specialized in used goods.

I’d recommend doing this for things that are not easily bootlegged such as manga, anime magazines, acrylic stands and charms of characters, official clear files, wall scrolls, CDs of anime OSTs, artbooks etc. Figures and construction kits, I’d be a bit more wary only because there is a huge number of bootlegs circulating.

This might seem like a no-brainer, and this probably the most surefire way to get the best deals out of goods. But believe me, not a lot of people are comfortable with this sort of idea. This probably is the result of numerous eBay and Craigslist scams that get publicized everywhere on the internet, and I don’t blame you for being scared to undertake such a thing. In fact, my parents require me that I update them every time on my cell phone every time I sell my books, or buy new ones from fellow students in school.

However, the secret to keeping safe in my opinion is just to be vigilant and smart to both your buyers and any sellers you come into contact with. Ask for pictures of the item or their faces to avoid scams. Do your transactions near a trustworthy person or a policeman to avoid, unwanted encounters. If a person seems creepy on the other side, you have the right to refuse the transaction.

Your life is more important than goods. Remember that. I am not responsible for anything bad that might happen to you because of reading this entry.

Tip #2: A Relative or Friend can be Helpful

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Family sticks together

This next one may sound rude, but the stuff my relatives send over from Japan has helped in my collection so, yup! If you have a relative in Japan who owes you that one birthday or Christmas present, why not take advantage of the situation and ask for anime or manga goods. This, in my opinion, is the most reliable way to get 100% legitimate goods from Japan. In this method, the only thing you need to worry about is the shipping cost and customs if they choose to send it over to you, or your relatives/parents not agreeing to this.

However do keep in mind that in Japan, a Japanese person who is a huge fan of anime and manga might be looked down upon. But based on my experiences with Japanese, there are some who are a bit more tolerant to foreigners, so I guess that could work?

Oh, quick suggestion. Should you go with this tip, just remember that your relatives probably have busy lives and are stressed as well, so be nice to them when you’re asking. Japanese society can be taxing on mental health, depending on where you are and what you do. Tokyo, as far as I know, is a really stressful and busy environment, and to go act like Logan Paul did in Tokyo is insensitive (throwing a pokeball at a policeman, really?). Try to do them favors too, in return for the favors they did for you. It’s not necessary, but considering what they’re doing for you, honestly they deserve your love and affection in my opinion.

Tip #3: Be Careful During Conventions

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Conventions are fun, but expensive. But they can also be a place for good deals.

Ahh yes, the anime convention. This is a good place to do Tip #1, as well as to interact with the special guests or other anime fans, assuming they’re not glued to their smartphones or Nintendo Switches/3DS’s. This is also a good place to score good deals when it comes to anime goods, particularly fan made ones such as pins. You could also score some figures and other official merchandise in these events at prices too good to be true oftentimes.

You could probably practice your “haggling” skills here if you could, but ultimately it depends on the merchant you’re dealing with. Some merchants are generally, much nicer compared to others based on experience.

A word of warning however, especially for conventions outside Japan. While the prices may seem too good to be true, oftentimes they are, especially with unestablished booths. Based on my experience, I bought 4 figures, three of which are nendoroids: Taiga Aisaka, Yukata Madoka, Nakano Azusa, Hatsune Miku, on different conventions. It wasn’t until I bought Azusa have I realized how much money I wasted on buying fake goods off of conventions.

The bootleggers are getting smarter too. I recall one time there was a Kousaka Honoka nendoroid that seemed legitimate when I ordered it online. It had the holographic stickers yes, but only when I looked at the joints did I realize that it was another fake. Please be careful with buying figures during conventions.

Manga, wall scrolls, and the other not easily bootleggable things I just mentioned should be fine.

Also, food could be expensive during the event itself, so I think this a good opportunity to segue into the last tip that I could think of:

Tip #4: Every Coin Counts

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These small 1 Yen coins can be dangerous in numbers

This is probably the hardest to do out of all the tips because it requires a lot of discipline, patience and tolerance. However, if done correctly it could save you a lot of money and support even a second expensive hobby. For every opportunity you could penny pinch legally, I highly suggest taking it. Going to an anime convention? Make your own lunch! You could even imitate those bento boxes in anime. Buying your own water bottle could account for your drink spending (which believe me, piles up easily).

Going out with friends? Suggest somewhere budget friendly. If you’re all students there’s a good chance that this will work. Although if the group doesn’t agree, I guess you’ll just have to take one for the team. Lost your pen? Borrow your parents’ ones or your friends.  If it’s free, and it’s legal, it’s a good way to save a few coins for that shiny new figure.

However, do not go too far with this. I surely have at one point and I almost fainted when I had to take the train home. You’ll know when it’s too far when you start getting sick because of this. It doesn’t hurt to spend once in a while for something, especially if it’s food. What we’re trying to do is to maximize your savings, by cutting down unnecessary costs and presenting free alternatives. Remember, the only thing more expensive than anime goods is a hospital bed, and the only thing more valuable than anime goods is your life. No laifu no hasubando/waifu, not the other way around, remember that.

I think I’ve exhausted what I could write at this point. How about you? What do you do to save money for this “black hole” of a hobby?  Do you have your own tips you would like to share to the community?

I hope you have a nice, happy day ❤