Deception on Buddha’s Mountain Top

Reviewing Episode 13 of the Dororo 2019 anime!

Welcome to my first Dororo review!

As I mentioned in this post, I decided to start reviewing this show in its second cour. I am starting with episode 13, you will not find any prior reviews on this blog.

With that being said, let’s get jump into it!

I guess carrying on with last episodes theme, this weeks could be “eye-deceiving” which “lack in reality or substance or genuineness; not corresponding to acknowledged facts or criteria.”

When shown last week’s flashback, I still can’t help but be annoyed at the irony of Hyakkimaru’s mother. Oku prayed to Kannon for her son’s life each day for seventeen years, even seemingly neglecting her second born son Tahomaru growing up. The mother finally gets to meet the boy and she decides…she’d rather he die to retain the feudal land’s comfort and wealth? That was a total deception on our, the viewers, part as (most of us who had no familiarity with the series) assumed she regretted letting Hyakkimaru go. I personally thought she wanted to reunite with Hyakki and bring him into their household, not side with her son and husband in securing his demise. It totally left a bad taste in my mouth and since Kannon saved Oku, I’m sure we will see more of her before the series ends.

An unspecified time skip shows us that Hyakkimaru has ran himself to near exhaustion after the events near Asakusa. He has not reclaimed any body parts in some time, and that can no doubt be extremely frustrating to him. So much so, that he has decided to speak more – to Dororo’s delight. She must get lonely. I’m glad her character is there to ground him, he has become far too reckless after meeting his family.

This episode revolved around a sculptor named Okaka. With war in the air, his patrons demanded depictions of Fudo Myo-o. Fudo Myo-o (or Acala) is a deity that protects his believers and burns away all “impediments and defilements” that block the way towards enlightenment. The sculptor could not find a suitable face for the deity, and ends up dying in ruin. A demon enters the sacred statue and revives Okaka, changing him from male to female in his new life.

It is quite ironic that Fudo Myo-o protects his followers by clearing obstacles, and a demon enters his statue and reanimates Okaka to prevent him from finding salvation in the afterlife.

The act of stealing faces for the statue who was never satisfied reminded me a lot of Koh, the Face Stealer from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Koh, the Face Stealer from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Only Okaka seems to take it one step further, by putting her victims under a spell while using their loved ones image. Dororo falls under this spell, but then again the little girl finds her mother’s face in many other women in the series. Okaka exploits the child in order to get to Hyakkimaru because she desires his face. Which was…odd. He recently just got his skin back and his ears, but he still doesn’t have eyes.

Would a prosthetic face really be that unique amongst the faces of villagers?

Okaka drugs the pair and after Dororo realizes what is going on, she saves Hyakkimaru. The sculptor then tries to fool a blind man with the face and voice of his mother and is then…surprised that he sees through the genjutsu. Okaka remarks “you’ve never seen your mother’s face before?” in shock that her ‘gift’ didn’t work. I love this show, but I don’t understand why Hyakkimaru would have supposedly fallen for this rouse. Upon their first meeting he isn’t even sure if the woman is human. I don’t understand why the baddie of the week thought he would, it was quite silly.

With death upon her, Okaka realizes the error of her ways and remarks that Dororo’s face is that of a smiling Buddha. Then Dororo deals with the pain of losing her mother all over again.

Towards the end of the episode the two go to an onsen, and meet the blind old man who often shows up in their travels. We then learn of a map Dororo has on her back that looks more like a flower to me.

A map on Dororo’s back.

I am surprised the priestess episodes back (when we learned Dororo’s gender) never said anything. Either way, I’m sure we’ll find out more next week concerning the map and why this show is called Dororo and not Hyakkimaru.

Dororo to Hyakkimaru, On to the next adventure…

Where do you think the map on Dororo’s back leads? Why do you think Okaka couldn’t find the face she was searching for (until seemingly the end)? Do you think Hyakkimaru will get his eyes back soon? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more episode reviews! See you again next Monday!

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I’ve been Nominated!

I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! It’s such an honor and has taken me by surprise. I would like to thank Andrew Comte of excuse my Thai (@excusemythai ) for thinking of me and the work we do on the blog. Please check out his blog, he does some amazing work concerning Thailand and ultimately has a goal of creating a non-profit to help provide rural Thai families with children’s school supplies.

So the rules are to nominate fellow bloggers, and list seven things about myself.

I nominate:

K, Amalog – A millennial lifestyle blog with a focus on underrated locations in Europe. (@amalog)

Mikhail Koulikov, Anime and Manga Studies – Takes an erudite approach to Japan through the cultural mediums of anime and manga. (@AnimeStudies)

Simon Gao, I can’t believe it’s not animeFeatures wacky and obscure Japanese film reviews that lend great insight into J pop culture and the inner society as a whole.

Japanese Tabi – An expat living in Japan and experiencing the country as the locals would. Hopefully they come back from hiatus soon! (@japan_tips17)

Jennifer, Japan’s Wonders – A glimpse into the lesser known areas of Japan, coupled with phenomenal photography!

Kay, Kdrama Kisses Brings you the latest in kdrama news, media and reviews. It is a great site to find your next new seasonal obsession! (@Kdrama_Kisses)

Karandi James, 100 Word Anime – Your one stop source for a spotlight on the anime community and reviews for ongoing shows! (@100wordanime)

7 Things About In Asian Spaces

I really enjoy taking walks in the rain. I don’t know what it is, but it creates an extremely peaceful atmosphere. The air smells fresh, the earth is quiet and cars move more slowly. No one is rushing and the earth seems still for a few hours.

I’m a huge fan of Lofi music and lately I’ve been getting back into Bon Iver.

I’m a woman! Lol. I’m intentionally vague on this blog and I notice that when interacting with people on social media they assume I’m a man for some reason. It’s actually kind of funny.

When I was younger, my mom used to have this elaborate plant wall in the house. As I’ve grown, it doesn’t look as big anymore but she has a green thumb for sure. Me? Not so much. Luckily, succulents (desert plants) seem to like me…so there’s that haha.

I grew up and still live by the ocean and miss it when I’m far away. On warm days or after a storm the air smells like salt water and sometime seagulls fly overhead.

Shinkai Makoto is my favorite animation director, and Children Who Chase Lost Voices (from Deep Below) is my favorite film by him.

I absolutely ADORE period dramas of any kind! Some of my favs are: The Borgias, Reign (some differ on calling it a “period drama” because it aired on The CW but I digress) and The Last Kingdom. I would add Game of Thrones, but only before season 5 – after that it kind of went to shit.  I may be turning into A Song of Ice and Fire book snob…

Thank you again Andrew for the nomination (and sorry I’m getting to this so late!!)

I never thought I’d receive something like this! Everyone, please check out the bloggers I’ve nominated! They are all gems!

✰In Asian Spaces

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Upcoming Reviews for the Spring Anime Season 2019

A blog announcement for planned weekly reviews of the animes Dororo and Shingeki no Kyojin.

Howdy Everyone!

I hope your spring has been green and less rain-filled than mine so far.

I started watching anime again last season, and winter turned out to have hidden gems. One of those gems happened to be Dororo. Set in the Warring States period (Sengoku Jidai, abt. 1467 – 1600), it follows Hyakkimaru (“One Hundred Demons”) and Dororo (“thief”) through Japan in search of demons to slay.

Coupled with the heavy focus on Shintoism, Buddhism, and Youkai – it was love at first episode. The second cour is due to air in about two days and I will be reviewing episodes 13 – 24 weekly on the blog.

I tend not to do weekly reviews because if it’s a newer show, I could lose interest or if it’s a beloved older show with new seasons, sometimes I have nothing to say until the very end. Besides, after the stunt Samurai Flamenco pulled in 2013 I developed severe trust issues. The three episode drop rule doesn’t apply to them all…so I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep.

The next and last anime I will be reviewing this spring will be Shingeki no Kyojin 3, part 2. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have read the manga until a certain point in the story after a particularly brutal cliff hanger last season. I’ll try not to talk about any plot spoilers and focus on the adaptation as – is.

I’ve never thought about reviewing this one before (as everyone does it) but since I have decided to review both Game of Thrones S8 and The 100 S6 on my other website, I should do two shows here as well.

Consistency is something I struggle with despite having content lined up, so this spring I would like to get a schedule going on In Asian Spaces. It’s going to be a fun Q2, and I can’t wait to share the enjoyment with you all!

☆ In Asian Spaces

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Rebirth in Kimi no Na wa

I wrote this post a very long time ago for another blog I held. I really liked the initial ideas I had, so it will now live here. After recently re-watching Kimi no Na wa, I think I’ll do more theories surrounding it. Shinkai Makoto is one of my favorite directors and this gives me an excuse to revisit all of his works.

小野小町の恋歌の一節。「思いつつ寝(ぬ)ればや人の見えつらむ 夢としりせばさめざらましを」

“Yume to Shiriseba V” – Ono-no-Komachi

I wonder if he appeared in my dream because I fell asleep thinking of him.

I think the basis of Kimi no Na wa is the exploration of adolescence and the bonds we share– whether made organically with friends or spiritually like Taki and Mitsuha. I want to take a different route, and explore the spiritual significance of their bond.

To begin, I want to establish the fact that these events do take place three years after Mitsuha’s death.

By going to the mouth of the god, journeying to the “underworld”, and drinking the kuchikamizake – Taki brought Mitsuha’s timeline back.

If you remember, the “dream sequence” (dream because I’m sure Mitsuha was already dead at that point) the grandmother explains to the girls that they are passing into the underworld to leave half of themselves there, which can be inferred as their souls.

I plan on covering this in later posts, but in Japan sake is believed to have its own spirit. A spirit that has the power to either help the user or harm the user.

One example that comes to mind is the character Gin from Mushishi. 光の流れ [kononagare] or  the river of light was a golden, glistening river of mushi connected throughout the known world. The “kouki” mushi gave life to the forests, the mountains, and even spirited away humans who lost themselves should they indulge in the intoxicating nectar.

Another that comes to mind is the tale of Orochi from the video game, Ōkami. I’ve spoken about this game once before, but it still holds relevant in this context.

A tale of Japanese mythology in its finest, Ōkami tells the tale of Amaratsu, or “Ammy” for short. The sun goddess is reincarnated into a wolf statue and called forth during a time of great turmoil. One hundred years prior to the story, a legendary warrior by the name of Nagi used a special golden sake to intoxicate and kill Orochi.

The 8 Purification Sake rendered the demon weak, and allowed for its own exorcism.

“In exchange for returning to this world, you must leave behind what is most important to you.”

When Taki is presented with crossing the river, the younger sister Yotsuha gleefully crossed the threshold to Kakuriyo [隠り世], the underworld. It is worth mentioning that the location of the shrine is in the middle of a crater. A place of death where the comet last hit.

Grandmother notices that Mitsuha is “dreaming” and Taki wakes up and sees he cannot contact Mitsuha.

Taki sees the girl’s life flash before his eyes and also sees Comet Tiamat split, painted on stones within the god’s mouth. During the Shinto ceremonies that Mitsuha felt were embarrassing, the sisters performed a ritual to make sake. Using their own saliva and chewing rice, they left a “part” of themselves behind in the cave to be called upon should disaster strike. Rivers, streams, and really any body of water serve as purification. Rice is grown in water, and sake is made by distilling and fermenting this product of the earth.

Let’s take a look at Mitsuha and Taki meeting on the mountain, the crater of the past catastrophe, and the ritual.

Mitsuha and Taki meet at Kataware-doki, Tasogare – Twilight; when the sun is setting.

There are historical associations within religions that twilight or dusk brings about differences to the earth – it allows being that cannot exist in light fruition. Think of it as a ‘witching hour’, where supernatural activity is more common for a period of time. They are able to meet in the darkness because it’s a reset. They’ve swapped and we’re in Mitsuha’s timeline – years prior. That’s why Mitsuha in Taki’s body does not leave the edge of the God’s crater, until they switch again. She is not of the world they met in, and only after the switch she is permitted mobility in her realm, her universe, her time line, her world. Again, Taki lost consciousness in the god’s mouth, so he would not wake up back in his timeline if he drank the Musubi [a term for soul, or a bond].

The switch was able to happen between the two due to Mitsuha’s bloodline, and their brief encounter on a train in Tokyo.

“In my next life bring me back as a handsome boy who lives in Tokyo”

As previously mentioned, the high school girl completed a centuries old ritual to leave half of her soul in the God’s Mouth cave. The Great Fire of Mayugoro destroyed any documents relating to the ceremony’s purpose, but its form lived on.

“So the purpose of our festivals became unknown, and only the form lived on. But even if words are lost, tradition should be handed down. That’s the important task we at Miyamizu shrine have.”

The Miyamizu women possessed the ability to merge with another soul, due to the ancient ceremony. This is why Grandma Hitoha accounts “strange happenings” in her youth, and Yotsuha referred to Mitsuha as needing an exorcism when she was “acting funny”.

“Oh, you’re not Mitsuha?”

“You knew, Grandma?”

“No, but watching the way you behaved lately triggered some memories. I also remember seeing strange dreams when I was a young girl. Although I’ve forgotten now whose live I was dreaming about….Treasure the experience. Dreams fade away after you wake up…There were times your mother and I had similar experiences.”

“Maybe those dreams that the Miyamizu people had were all for what would happen today.”

To which Granny Hitoha decides whoever is in her granddaughters body is insane and dismisses the conversation. Which is actual hilarious in the context that she accepts the possession, but does not accept the theory behind the act itself.

“The braids represent the flow of time itself…Musubi- knotting of time”

The Braided Cords of Itomori may have aided in this ability.

In addition to the kuchikamezake ritual, the shrine maidens learned how to weave Kumihimo [組み紐] braids. In Tokyo, Mitsuha gives Taki one such cord. We are all familiar with the East Asian “Red String of Fate” tale in popular media, so I don’t need to recap that in correlation to the girl’s red weaved hairband.

There are a plethora of spiritual gems in this film, but for now I will leave it here. I came across a theory stating that one of the characters from Garden of Words appears in this story, so I would like to investigate Shinkai’s works and confirm any connection for myself.

What do you think Kimi no Na wa was really about? Do you think it could be based on real-life events that are not of public knowledge? Have you read the light novels?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Shinto analysis in films!

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Learning Japanese through Manga

With anime convention season almost around the corner, why not brush up on your foreign language skills? In this post we take a look at easy to read Japanese manga that will help boost vocabulary comprehension (kanji, katakana, and hiragana), grammar, and cultural understanding all from the comfort of your own home.

The warm rays of spring are almost upon us in America which means one thing: convention season is almost here!

Whether you’ve been neglecting your studies or have yet begun, this is a post for anyone who would like to study and improve their Japanese using manga. This takes into account that you have already taken formal classes while learning grammatical rules, the three writing systems of hiragana, katakana and kanji, and have the ability to formulate basic sentences.

If anybody is interested, I can make a post on textbooks and supplementary material recommended for beginners at a later date. Just let me know here or via social media (Twitter, Reddit, IG).

So, we’re looking at five books today and although it may seem overwhelming, I’ll show you how they tie into one another.

In one of my first posts on In Asian Spaces, I talked about religiously reading a manga after finishing an anime series I enjoyed. Or vice-versa.

One of my absolute all-time favorite manga series isAku no Hana [惡の華], or The Flowers of Evil by Oshimi Shuuzo. The work explores themes of deviance, isolation and mental illness surrounding a remote mountainous town in Japan. The characters would all eventually like to “go beyond the mountain” and escape the monotonous daily life of being surrounded by judgmental, close-minded individuals.

I first read the manga while it was still ongoing in 2009 – 2014 and then watched the (unjustly poorly rated) rotoscoped anime adaption in 2013.

In current news, there appears to be a live-action film in the works scheduled to premiere this fall that I’ll eventually have to watch.

Anyway, I go to my local Kinokuniya to purchase the manga in Japanese for a re-read with the show fresh in my mind. I’ve found that it’s easier that way since if you do stumble upon an unknown kanji, the context of the situation is still comprehensible.

Luckily, Aku no Hana uses furigana, or kana by kanji to indicate pronunciation. This is the first book we’ll examine.

The primary focus in this work is Kasuga Takao and Nakamura Sawa, both middle school students. Because of this, a high usage of informal, childish speech can be found coupled with advanced words related to school coursework and studies.

When reading a chapter, I like to circle a word in pencil that I do not understand. I continue on, but then come back after finishing to see if it makes sense. If I am still stuck, there are two options: either ignore it and keep going, or look the word up using a service.

Luckily in the digital age it is fairly simple to open the google translate app and snap a picture to find out what the word means. You could then input the word into an online dictionary such as Jisho and discern its meaning, see it used within a sentence and even learn the stroke order to practice writing.

Using a spaced repetition method, write the word down at least five times while saying it aloud along with its meaning. A sheet of notebook paper would be fine for this, but if you’d like to get fancy and are serious about your studies look for something called “Kanji Practice Sheets”. These are used in classroom settings to learn the writing systems or for personal study use.

Googling this phrase, you can find PDFs to download for free or you can even make your own. Simply go to the dollar store and purchase unlined paper, a ruler and bam – you have practice sheets! Or if large graph paper booklets are available in an office supply store near your home, that would be even better.

I don’t know what it is, but I just find the official practice sheets for sale often have inflated prices way beyond their usefulness. But, that’s just me.

Aku no Hana and 600 Basic Japanese Verbs

One more option for learning kanji and building vocabulary would be investing in a study aid. I purchased 600 Basic Japanese Verbs almost two years ago in anticipation of the December JLPT. I am a terrible test taker, and since I learned Mandarin before studying Japanese I have a tendency to mix up the meaning of kanji characters.

This book is really useful for learning all forms of a verb to truly grasp its usage in written and spoken common speech.

You’re probably wondering where the other books come in, right?

Aku no Hana and Japanese the Manga Way

In the photo, Saeki-san’s friend asks:

“ねー奈々子聞いて聞いて!”

「“ねーななこきいてきいて!”」

“ん?”

 “Hey Nanako – did you hear? Did you hear what happened?”

 “Huh?” or “No, not yet” could be her interpreted response.

Japanese the Manga Way is great at filling in the gaps that come with Japan’s honorific/hierarchy system from the perspective of an informed outsider. Males speak differently than females, adults differently than children, etc. This book highlights and focuses on patterns of informal speech that would be used by say, our middle school characters in The Flowers of Evil. Japanese the Manga Way also explains situational differences and gives examples of when informal usage would be acceptable, or solutions of polite speech to use instead.

This book also acts as a great aid for manga that heavily uses katakana, or the Japanese writing system primarily used for foreign words. Shirokuma Café [しろくまカフェ] or Polar Bear Café takes place in Canada.

Shirokuma Cafe Manga

The story follows a group of talking animals in a world that co-exists peacefully with humans. After watching the 2012 anime adaptation, it was great to revisit the world and learn the corresponding characters for Japanese homonyms and homophones.

It also helps that the characters are simply names of animals, so if you ever go to a Japanese zoo you’d be a wizard traversing the different habitats!

Kirby Manga

The last manga to mention is Kirby. I’ve never really played the games or seen the anime, but this was recommended to me when I first started reading J-manga. I’ll be honest: all I know about the story is that a pink blobby creature has the power to inhale anything, and eats a lot of food.

(Kirby would also be the last survivor should an apocalypse ever happen, as evidenced by the last Super Smash Bros game storyline.)

The manga is simple to read, utilizes all of the writing systems referenced above and it just has a fun, silly story. It’s a stress-free read if you are just beginning your Japanese language journey.

So using these methods – should we call it the In Asian Spaces method? lol- you now know how to look up a new kanji, learn its stroke order, determine its contextual meaning, and how to learn all of the forms it can take during conjugation.

I may do a post that focuses on Netflix shows with colloquial Japanese and great apps you can download to keep your comprehension up to speed at a later date.

Hopefully someone found this information useful!

How do you learn Japanese with manga? What was your favorite Japanese book to read as a beginner? Do you have any recommendations to add to the list?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more language learning strategies and skills!

Piecing Detective Pikachu’s Plot Together Through Trailers

Is Detective Pikachu one of Harry Goodman’s experiments?

So…it has been quite a while since you all heard from me.

I am not one who actively follows the whole astrology craze or prescribes to it in their daily life. Yes, I know my astrological sign and occasionally will read a horoscope or two if it’s in front of me – but that is the extent. However, whatever has been going on this entire month of February has knocked me for a loop. I don’t know what was in retrograde or fully understand what ‘pieces season’ is despite googling it, but I do know that I am feeling better now today. So, let’s get to writing!

Two nights ago I went online for the first time in a while and realized the Detective Pikachu Trailer 2 had dropped. I wanted to watch, but literally fell sick so decided to go to bed.

Last night, I found out it was Pokemon Day but still hadn’t watched the trailer. Today it’s bright, early, and I would like to hear Ryan Reynolds’ Pikachu say hell.

And…this trailer did not disappoint.

Harry Goodman’s Ryme City Office Location

We get the backstory on Detective Pikachu and find out that his trainer is a man named Harry Goodman. Det. Pika seemingly woke up in the middle of nowhere with no knowledge of what happened prior. With no other leads, he returns to Ryme City, following the address written in his hat.

Now here’s the twist: Harry Goodman is Tim Goodman’s father, the kid we see in the trailers. I never went this deep in my first write-up concerning the film (because, life-like Pokémon), but now we have much more information to work with.

So in essence, Tim is looking for his missing father, and Det. Pika is looking for his trainer. They are both looking for the same person! Applause for Wikipedia coming through with some basic production information and names to put two and two together! I also cross-checked this information with other outlets such as IMDb to make sure it wasn’t a troll.

Wikipedia Entry for Detective Pikachu Cast

Also, forgive me if this is now common knowledge. I just got really excited that I found some interesting stuff in the trailer.

Jumping back to the first trailer we see Tim speaking to Detective Yoshida about his failed dreams and living in the shadow of his ace dad. He then goes home to lament and stare longingly at a Sinnoh Championship XXIV poster hanging above his bed.

Photo of Ms. Goodman and Tournament Posters

Interestingly enough, there is a photo of Ms. Goodman on his dresser, along with (presumed) past championship posters on his wall that Tim either never entered, or lost. A giant Rayquaza is snaking along these relics of the past – could this be a hint at a Pokémon he once trained?

Pikachu Ears Headboard

Then there is the issue of Pikachu ears serving as a headboard on Tim’s bed. Did his father gift these to his young son who dreamed of being a trainer? If so, why did Tim not know about Det. Pika? Did his father have some sort of secret job at a laboratory, hence the Mewtwo reference in the second trailer?

Harry Goodman’s Car Struck by a Hyper Beam Attack?

Because that car was definitely hit with some sort of hyper beam attack from the air.

Goodman After Bridge Attack

We are shown a laboratory explosion, Flareon doing…whatever Flareon was doing in that scene flanked by statues of Legendary Pokémon Palkia and Diagla, and Mewtwo’s hands grasping the outside of his containment pod.

Lab Explosion

Pikachu even mentions in voice over that maybe “Harry might have gotten in too deep” while we are shown the spy “punk” girl during that sequence.

The Super Secret Laboratory with a White Dome in a Desert

Or maybe his dad worked for an agency and went undercover to infiltrate Team Rocket and had to fake his own death in order to get Giovanni off his trail?

There are A TON of possibilities here.

We also know Tim’s in his early twenties due to a birthday card that contained the Ryme City ticket. It starts out saying “Dear Tim” and we cannot decipher who sent it…but we can guess it was one of his parents.

Tim Goodman’s 21st Birthday Card
A Really Expensive Ryme City Rail Ticket

Aside from paying an absurd $400 bucks for the ticket, the ending destination is Ryme City…so Tim’s childhood home is in LeavenTown.

Which means Tim must use this train ticket to travel to the City and search for clues when he runs into Det. Pika after his arduous journey back to the urban oasis.

Tim Riding the City Rail and Being Accosted by an Uncomfortably Fleshy Lickitung?

Upon the pair’s initial meeting, Pikachu mentions he’s been “so lonely” suggesting he once had a companion to speak with…again most likely Tim’s enigma father.

What ifHarry Goodman created the Detective Pikachu we see today? Pikachu was an experiment from the lab and Tim had never met him because his father wanted to keep it a secret? Maybe Dodgy Harry did something concerning his DNA and his son can also speak to the creature because they are of the same bloodline?

The Charzard battle we see could be a tournament the pair agreed to enter while trying to flush out leads on the whereabouts of DH.

Mr. Mime is most likely also one of the duos leads.

Angry Aipom seems to be hanging out in the same setting as the office.

And Mewtwo dramatically crashes a parade.

I also screenshotted a few funny memes to insert before writing this post, as I didn’t expect it to turn into a full trailer reaction and breakdown.

This movie is shaping up to be a real experience, and I am excited for the early release date of May 10th, 2019.

Is Harry Goodman based on Pokémon Researcher Bill? Why are the Greninja in the trailer so hostile? What is Mewtwo’s ultimate goal?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Pokémon news and updates!

For the MEMEs.

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Diversity Starts From The Top

This is something I wrote that I intended to add onto The Dragon Prince review, but it no longer fit so I’ll post it here on its own.

While it’s no secret that high fantasy and Sci-Fi are entrenched in the densest forms of whiteness, this has always confused me.

In my own personal outlook, fantasy to me is an interpretation of the past (in various distances), while Sci-Fi is an outlook towards the future.

And all some people can see is…the same tired structures of whiteness?

This is severely off topic, but it’s a memory that surfaced while writing so I’d like to talk about it. In college, there was this real SOB of a professor that literally everyone in the course disliked. A few even decided to wisely transfer out within the first week of the class and switch to another. I didn’t, opting to sit towards the back and not say much.

He had a few supporters, but all of that changed quickly when we had a particular assignment. In groups, we had to pitch a film and try to sell it. Since I decided to get my producing minor credits out of the way all in one go, almost every course I was enrolled in that semester was doing the same – so it was boring to say the least at this point. The only male in the group was coincidentally already working on a project, so we just pitched that and raked in an easy A.

After that segment was over, the professor allowed us to ask any questions we had. I don’t remember the question a fellow classmate asked, but I do remember our instructor’s response.

Pertaining to independent film he advised the students not to bother making “black films or anything ethnic, as they don’t do well overseas.” Needless to say, he didn’t catch the atmosphere in the room change – and continued drooling the purest forms of ignorance out of his mouth.

Continuing that “those films” rarely make money and are simply a waste of time, and it was better to stick to “tried and true methods” aka – white films with all white casts.

He’d left early that day after lecture, and I remember everyone just hung around looking at each other and spoke in hushed voices. It was too late to switch out now so nothing could really be done. There was no point in reporting him – he used to be one of Hollywood’s top producers.

I’m sure if you heard projects he worked on you’d recognize the multi-million dollar box office hits. So for the most part, everyone kept their mouth shut about it and just had a general disdain. There were some who really enjoyed his ideologies and kissed up for industry connections – the male who was in my group being one. Last I heard, they had made the film and things are going well for him.

Needless to say, I believe this is why Hollywood and the movie theatre industry are dying as a whole. They refuse to adapt and release their toxic ideologies of racism, imperialism, and general tyranny. Instead of fighting against tides that you cannot swim in, many have opted to go the indie route – myself included.

If you can envision a story that needs to be told, who better than you to create it? It is the harder route but more rewarding in the long run. You’re not begging powerful individuals for funding in exchange for producing credits, then, in turn, having the audacity to be surprised when they think they own your film and can dictate every minuscule and minute detail to fit their narrative or agenda.

Its things like this that lead to a piss poor portrayal of cultural diversity in the media and its further outlets.

This sort of mindset however seems to thrive anywhere there is power. This extends to any given industry that has gone mainstream, anime included. One last story before I finish up this article.

I was working an event, and the crème de la crème of the American – Japanese publishing industry were in attendance. I noticed for a while that when it comes to Japanese culture, anime, etc. – it is very hard to be “let in” to these circles.

And once you’re in, it’s just one big circle jerk to please the next person due to the personalities this line of work tends to attract.

Anyway, I had always wondered why it was the same people at the same exact events and the same exact companies. Japanese business model of 過労死 (karoshi, or working until you die) aside, from my observations people really did not leave their positions unless they were promoted or well…died.

There was a networking hour, and as soon as I was off the clock I decided to speak to the only person in the group who was not outwardly nasty to me earlier.

I’ve encountered a lot of unpleasant people who have treated me unfairly unprovoked. I’ve never known if it was due to my skin color or feelings of inferiority. Judging by the amount I’ve been talked down to, I tend to favor the latter – but that could be my own arrogance talking.

Which don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret any of the experiences I’ve had. More often than not I’ve met very kind people who I never dreamed I would. The common pattern I speak of always came from the subordinates or those insecure about their positions or station in life.

[Which btw, if you want to know how to deal with these types of people there are two options: be nice and play coy, or act as pretentious as possible. In other words, talk down to them back, act disinterested in anything they have to say and bring in your well-developed poker face. They will be caught off guard most of the time and wonder why you are not recognizing their self-importance and suddenly – you become the most interesting thing in the world. This always works well on the haughty wealthy folk, overbearing celebrities, politicians or any situation where ego is involved. It’s just a little something I picked up going to school with rich kids and finding myself in…foreign spaces lol.]

Anyway, I chatted him up (he happened to work for my favorite publisher at the time) and decided to casually ask if they were hiring. I was working at one cultural hub so to speak, and it would be poor taste to just jump ship for another one so it was mainly out of curiosity.

Japanese office ladies and salary men are some of the fiercest gossipers I’ve ever met and I say this with as much kindness as possible. If I left for another company like that (provided they even let me in) the reputation of ‘disloyalty’ would no doubt follow me.

After asking, he laughed in my face and said that they did not hire. Provided he was tipsy on libations I didn’t take the laugh as something malicious.

Writing this, I also realize just how desensitized I’ve become regarding my interpersonal reactions.

I then pushed my luck even further, inquiring why his company head had given this grand speech about “following your dreams” and that with enough practice and studying of Japanese language and culture, you could be where he was? Why did he get all of those teenagers and young adults – some decked out wearing anime merchandise like licensed T-shirts and official gear from said company – excited and accept their applications after the presentation when he had no intention of even looking at them?

He just shrugged, looked over my shoulder and seen a friend (I’m assuming, I honestly just took the hint) and walked away. I think that was the first time I realized that in every industry, there is a bunch of bullshit.

At a certain point, you have to wonder – when does it all become too much? When are you tired? What goal were you originally working toward?

People leave industries all the time after they grow disillusioned or grow too tired, and decide to mentor or start their own production studios.

About two years after that incident with the professor I mentioned, one morning after I had already graduated he was on the morning news. He was now basically at the top in that department, overseeing admissions of the incoming classes and dictating courses.

On the news he was being awarded and he gave this grandiose speech about “the importance of diversity” and how “minorities needed their own unique voice in Hollywood”. Beside him was a young girl, his ‘mentoree’, beaming and idolizing him as if he were some god.

I swear to you I would have spit on my TV if I could. Instead I called him a motherf*cker and walked away cursing while my mom asked in confusion what was wrong. I didn’t even explain, I just laughed.

This world is amazing.

It’s something, how these powerful people decide to take a different route and seemingly downgrade their life. There are those who really do mean well, but there are even more like this professor – who has decided to spread his ilk from the top to the bottom to the next generation of eager, bright-eyed filmmakers.

I’m turning this review into something else, so that’s all I’ll say on this matter. I applaud The Dragon Prince for reflecting the diversity of our world and normalizing differences. People of color in power, members of the deaf community in positions of power, blended families that don’t hate one another, all wrapped together in an epic storytelling that seeks to restore balance back to their world. I applaud it, and I’d like to leave this article with a video clip that I often think about. It may seem random, but it’s Dave Chappelle speaking on Hollywood and knowing your price. This is a topic often spoken of in cryptic language – or doublespeak- as I have just used.

But it’s important and I’m glad he said it. The more beautiful the image of an entity, the more insidious its underbelly really is.

I’d also encourage you all to watch Misaeng: Incomplete Life. I did a review on it and eagerly look forward to its second season. It focuses on corporate culture at one of South Korea’s top companies, and shows the psychological and emotional effects of a toxic workplace.

Have you ever encountered something unfortunate in your workplace? Can you really separate society and culture? What would you like to see changed about media?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow our blog and other social media such as Twitter and Instagram!