A Rushed Story Always Fails the Viewer

A Tokyo Ghoul :re 2nd season review. I am not even going to lie, I felt like I was watching Naruto after the first few episodes.

Weeks ago, I spoke about Sui Ishida’s struggle to finish Tokyo Ghoul under the duress of external stresses. The anime industry is bad, and the manga industry is just an uncomfortable extension of that. It is hard enough to write and create a world to bring to life without suits and executives breathing down your neck. Especially if a serialization is scheduled to come out weekly, the stakes grow even higher. Mental toll aside, that amount of stress could really screw with your physical health and give ailments you didn’t even know were possible.

Because the author, or mangaka is now affected – so is the story.

I’m not really sure what happened regarding the anime adaptation’s development other than Studio Pierrot had produced the entire series with revolving directors. Tokyo Ghoul and Root A being Morita Shuuhei, TG:re being Watanabe Odahiro and the spin-off OVA’s TG Jack and Pinto were Shimada Souichi and Matsubayashi Tadahito, respectively.

So…what does this have to do with it?

Different directors have diverse styles and prefer to hire those who would be true to their vision.

There is a general fandom consensus that the original TG adaptation was spectacular, minute faults aside. When √A came around that good sentiment went to hell and the season was subsequently retconned from existence. Then we got :re, which was a jumbled, rushed mess from the start. The fact that we don’t know how to refer to the second half of this series or categorize it is a reflection of this. If season two never existed in Root A, then would :re be the spiritual successor? But that series was then split into two parts with twelve episodes each instead of just a regular twenty-four episode run. Is it a new season aside from itself? Or is it just Tokyo Ghoul 2nd Season as MyAnimeList categorizes it?

Aside from periodically looking up spoilers to any series without lessening the enjoyment of the show, I had already read fan summaries of everything cut out of each episode. Dozens of arcs squeezed into a twenty-four-minute time slot.

Characters came on screen, and almost five seconds later would be dead. Others would be flashed on screen with their ghoul name and ranking class. Sometimes I’d pause the video to head over to the wiki if I were interested enough, other times I’d just turn my brain off and wait until a segment I understood appeared.

I was particularly interested in I believe episode five, where Mado Akira, Touka, and Hinami had a heart to heart about how much of a monster Mado Kureo was. The Touka-Kaneki wedding was also something great to witness, even if the…er…’artistic’ sex scene lasted longer than the ceremony. There was also the cheap slideshow of reaction to what I guess was the after party? It was really vague concerning the timeline and why they were in ceremonial attire one moment and later in plain clothes still being cheered.

I had no clue but went along with it.

I also remember reading that the sex scene in the manga was implied shortly after Touka asked Kaneki if he was a virgin, but it was never shown. Maybe someone on the production team was a really big fan of the couple and wanted to do the ship justice? Or they were an uncontracted animator who came from Goblin Slayer and wanted to spice up the show with a bit of action for the male viewers.

Either way, they conveyed that the scene was of importance for Kaneki’s growth as a person.

After the remaining Anteiku crew and their associates have a degree of happiness, Mitsuki shows up to get his twisted revenge. Which was really a shame that such an interesting character was reduced to being mad senpai didn’t notice them. From what I read, I thought the transgender storyline was something unique that could have been explored in-depth to add more context to the angry slick-haired man trying to murder Touka like a Scooby Doo villain at every turn.

Which while I’m on the subject of bad villains, can I just point out the shift in animation from the first half of :re is so jarring I didn’t know who some of these people even were? I had no clue it was Kaneki in the first episode during my initial watch of the series. Urie Kuki looked completely different and if it weren’t for his…what…cheekbone moles? I would have no clue it was him. Yonebayashi Saiko turned into a complete loli after cutting her hair. Touka during her wedding looked like a character straight out of Princess Mononoke.

I’m not someone who nitpicks animation (especially since I have the artistic abilities of a baked potatoe) but it really took me out of what little immersion the show left viewers who hadn’t fully read the manga.

Despite all of this, I kept watching.

Until… the show turned into Naruto Shippuden with its use of clones, long-winded monologues, and speeches about friendship. I could no longer take it seriously and decided to completely turn my brain off and just withstand the watered down mediocre blink and you’ll miss it fight scenes.

So in the end, what was the point of this review?

I wanted to talk about what a shame it was that this show was rushed. That the manga was rushed to a finish. It was such a unique concept that has now been (arguably) copied in other works (such as Oshimi Shuuzo’s Happiness).

Tokyo Ghoul was unique and wonderful, full of tragedy, regret, and psychological analysis along with the commentary of our current world.  Then Gaia literally got in the way of this story with its own problems to prevent its full potential from being unleashed.

Aside from the anime adaptation, a large chunk of the viewer base who has not yet been lost by the terrible pacing of this installment will not venture on to the manga. They will not care to read the source material. They will not care about going to the Wiki, Reddit or any other online forums to find out what was cut out of the story. People will simply move on, with the impression that this mess was the author’s true intention. I love reading the manga after a series ends, but sadly I must admit I haven’t even waited for the show to end before writing this review. The final episode will air Christmas day and deciding I don’t want to witness the disappointment, I’ve decided to jot down my feelings two days beforehand. The show won’t magically improve in its last episode. I won’t leave the series with a warm fuzzy feeling inside, wondering what is to become of the characters. It will end on an anticlimactic, unsatisfying note.

Which is a complete tragedy.

Update: Touka and Kaneki’s kid Ichika is adorable but she still doesn’t redeem the series for me.

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My Oddly Interesting Observations at Anime NYC 2018

Is Anime NYC worth it? Read about my strange experience and let’s find out.

I’ve been waiting for this.

After the rather lacking experience of Anime Fest @ NYCC, I was ready to shake it off and be surrounded by nothing but fandom.

I woke up super early, arriving at the Jacob Javits Center at 9:30am. There were a bunch of autograph tickets being raffled at 8 am and out of curiosity, I decided to see if any were left.

Coming to the con, I didn’t really have much of a plan. See a few specific booths, stop by some vendors, go to industry panels and try to stay long enough for the masquerade.

I accomplished half of this list.

It’d snowed the Thursday before the convention, turning Manhattan into what felt like early January depending on the time of day. I ordered my ticket late and went up to the will call area upon arrival. There were a ton of red ribbons everywhere for the queue and corresponding signage. I barely waited five minutes before getting the Black Clover inspired badge, a lanyard and show programme booklet.

After a quick walk through security I ventured downstairs to find the autograph hall queue.

Many fans were casually lounging around the food court area and the atmosphere was super relaxed. It was refreshing. Hours earlier, an email had been sent out from the convention letting everyone know the game plan for the day and that “You can also walk around the building, sit down, get coffee, and visit the Merch Store.”  

I decided to take advantage of the good vibes and take off my coat, rearrange my bag and gather my bearings. Heading even further downstairs I asked security where the ticket signing area would be and was pointed in the right direction. Getting there, however, one staff member was already closing the area off with the red tape I’d seen earlier. I asked if there were any more tickets and he apologized and said no. I asked where would be a good place to wait for the Exhibition Hall to open and found my way back to the lounge area with the other fans.

The escalators were now blocked off and no one could go up to where I initially entered the building.  Venturing up to the area two staff members were standing guarding the section and only let other staff members cross.

A crowd assembled and one fan (for whatever reason) decided to argue with one of the men for a few minutes. When she paused for breath, I asked where I should wait for the Exhibition Hall and was directed back to the now taped off section I had just previously come from. I mentioned that I was sent over here by another staff member and received a confused look in response. I suggested that maybe I should just hang out in the area and he agreed. The fan from earlier then continued her pointless argument with the same staff member.

I’m honestly not sure what her goal was. It’s a new convention, only in its second year and it has upscaled greatly from its inauguration. She kept repeating that it made no sense to close off both exits and someone else chimed in that it was a fire hazard. The worker reluctantly agreed but there was literally nothing he could do about it.

I worked in customer-facing roles for about six years and learned that sometimes, people really do just want to argue with you for no apparent reason.

I scanned around and found a seat as the crowds formed from a mob into a somewhat thick line. I sat down at a table with some guys who seemed to have been saving a seat for late arriving friends, but didn’t protest when I asked if it was taken. I took photos and people watched to pass the time. There was a huge line for the Mega and Crunchyroll Premium Fans to get on the showroom floor first. Some people found creative ways to get around this and join their line, and I tip my hat to them.

An hour later at 10:30 am the other line had successfully entered the floor and we were allowed to finally go up the escalator.

I had heard that the convention took up half of the Javits Center, the other half dedicated to “Pet Con”. It’s a bit funny in a sick sort of way that the convention center stuck the anime fans with the animals, but c’est la vie.

Walking around there was so much to see and do. I wrote a list beforehand of booths to check out and made a beeline to the first on my list.

I was an email subscriber and explained that I read you could get a poster by showing the newsletter on your phone. The woman in the booth looked back at me dumbfounded and suggested I go to the booth in back of her. I looked at the posters in front of her and she covered them with her arms. Another fan approached and the woman looked at me, looked at the other woman and then back at me as to ask “why are you still here?”

I asked if I could have a poster and she reluctantly agreed.

Weird. Maybe I was bothering her.

I visited the other booth and mentioned that the other woman said to come here for a poster. She gave me one with a smile and I went on my way. I decided to do a sweep of the area with my camera to get some photos before it got super crowded.

There was a little stage that was playing music. Later returning to the area two men were teaching people the Wotagei dance. Wotagei [ヲタ芸] or Otagei [オタ芸] is the synchronized glowstick dance done at Japanese Idol concerts by (otaku) enthusiasts.


Everyone was jamming and then a baton flew into the group of on-lookers.

No one was harmed, and it continued without a hitch.

One of my favorite mangaka’s works are becoming more popular in the West and I spotted one of his serializations at a booth. I wanted to ask questions, but it was pretty crowded. It seemed like if you didn’t have a credit card out or look like a devoted sycophant – you were pretty much ignored. Which is fine I guess, people came to make money. Nothing wrong with that.

I decided to swing back around to that table in a few hours.

I went down the list of things I wanted to see and finally found myself in front of the last booth. A girl working it was in cosplay speaking to two con-goers. They were having a very passionate conversation and I wanted to ask questions about their streaming service so I decided to wait.

Note: Not the booth in question

There were posters on the table and a lot of booths went the route of having a “Freebie” sign out encouraging people to take the designated items. About five minutes passed and it didn’t seem like they were letting up anytime soon, so I decided to grab one of each poster. There was a boy standing beside me who was also waiting and followed my lead. The cosplayer broke off mid-conversation and glared at me before saying it was only one poster per person. I apologized and she rolled her eyes before finishing her conversation like nothing had happened. I put one of the posters back and walked away, noticing the boy beside me had done the same.

Right. Well, at least that saved me some money. I’d rather people show their asses before I support their lifestyle.

Also just to note, while going through my camera I found pictures I’d taken of this booth earlier. The girls were blocking the “freebie” sign, and different employees were handing people multiple posters. So maybe this was at their own discretion?

Moving on, I decided it was time to rest so I caught a few panels. The first one was a bit dry and they had slight technical difficulties which was fine – as it is a new con. The dull tone was made up for however by the great information being delivered.

I ventured into another panel that I had been looking forward to. They also had technical difficulties and initially did the presentation without visual aid until the problem had been fixed. It was the same people who had serialized that mangaka’s work, and they were focused on indie works. I started taking notes of when titles would be released and photos every now and again. After the panel, they invited the audience to come up to their table and take some promos. I spoke to the man closest to me and told him it was a really great panel. He dryly said “right” and just turned away.

Maybe he thought I was being sarcastic?

I brought a mask to wear at the convention due to the germs. Being flu season, I didn’t want to catch anything – least of all a con cold. It made my voice a bit muffled and you couldn’t tell my facial expression. I am wondering if this factored into the way he responded. Or maybe he was just stressed and I shouldn’t have even bothered.

Either way, upon leaving I found myself no longer interested in their work.

There was another panel I wanted to see, but first I wanted to try and find the bathroom on that floor level. The manga library caught my eye and I took out my camera to try to get a photo. As I moved to get closer, another girl with a camera also decided to do the same. She was in my shot, so I moved closer and she walked in front of me and into the foyer area to snap a few shots. After a few seconds, she quickly came out of the room and walked away. I decided to go in as well, not passing the table checkpoint as she had. I snapped two photos and walked a few feet out of the room before stopping to look around for the bathroom. I hear someone yelling “Ma’am wait” and see one of the people at the table sprinting after me. He tells me he has to check my bag, and confused all I said was “I didn’t”. I meant to say “I didn’t even go in”, but I assume he thought I meant “I didn’t steal anything” because he then replied “Well good, because we have a lot of great manga.”

After he checked my bag I looked ahead and seen the other girl already at the top of the escalator.

Wow.

I’d be lying if I told you that this didn’t pissed me off.

I was completely pissed that I was accused of stealing, and that I watched someone else also walk in and they weren’t even checked. In fact, I wanted to write this article Saturday when I got home but purposefully held off until I cooled down. It’s 11 pm on Thanksgiving Eve my time of writing and I am still angry at that exchange. Hopefully, that bit of negativity isn’t coloring the review and causing bias. That is not my intention at all but I need to share these experiences so I can move on to other things.

Following that incident, I said screw the panel and the bathroom and the cosplay meetups – deciding to take one last loop around the convention floor. I went up two escalators to find Artist Alley and stood on the huge line for a security check before getting annoyed, walking up to the table barrier, snapping a quick picture and going back downstairs. I had to go through the main security checkpoint again to get back to the hall and almost just walked out and left. I forced myself to stand in line and thankfully it went quick enough.

After taking some pictures and uploading them to social media for treats, I stumbled upon the far side of the con I hadn’t noticed earlier. People were huddled around cute plushies, novelty merch, and the sparse gashapon machines. One station had some particularly interesting toys inside and upon asking how much a spin was, I was informed it was five dollars. I internally wished I had come to this section earlier when my mood was better and thanked the woman before walking away.

I decided to stop on a lower concourse by a water fountain to sit down and re-arrange my bag. The crowds had really come out and it was hard to find space. There was a group of teenagers sitting next to me in a circle joking and having a good time.

An Undertale cosplayer had walked over and they took pictures with the character. One of their friends had been eating and missed her photo op. A young male from the group got up, followed the cosplayer wherever they went and stood over their shoulder repeatedly asking for a picture until they returned to the group together. After the photo the girl just sat down and spoke to her friends, leaving the cosplayer standing there awkwardly.

I thought about saying something to the kids about harassing people, but decided that I should just go home if I’m in this sort of mood.

I had seen all I cared to see and left to find Jollibee before catching the train home.

Walking to the store from the center there was, unfortunately, a really long line, so I just turned back around and headed home.

So what does this all mean?

Full disclosure: I don’t care about the anime posters. I don’t care about the buttons. I don’t care about the stickers. I don’t care about much of the freebies offered at anime or comic conventions nowadays.

As I mentioned before, I care about experiences. I know where to find most of the merchandise offered at this con here in the city, online or even where to look in Japan. Because of this knowledge, I am generally very laid back and will not fight another fan or anybody for that matter over merch. I’m not one to join a crowd bum rushing a certain area just to claim something before someone else can or does.

I’ve been going to conventions since 2011 where I learned early on that sometimes just grabbing something on a table has consequences. I’ve grabbed posters before and been told that they cost money and had to put them back. With situations like this in mind, I like having a conversation with the person behind the counter or even just saying hello and asking what is alright to take. I go to conventions to feel a part of the collective fandom, meet new people and make friends (even if they are just line friends!).

But for some reason, that was very difficult this year at the convention. I attended last year on a Sunday, and had an average experience based on the con’s new status. This year, I went Saturday and was having the time of my life until (what I perceive to be) bad events happened in quick succession of one another.

Does this reflect badly on Anime NYC?

Absolutely not.

It’s a great convention for what it’s worth. Solid. It’s grown tremendously from its inauguration last year, and I expect it to grow even further for next year’s installment. 

What happened is a reflection on those individuals.

It’s a small industry and I have an impeccable memory, so I’ll leave it at that.

Go to the convention next year if you are able to. If you are local, even better!

The general consensus is one of great excitement and enjoyment, and I am in the minority with the ever odd situational stories to tell.

Your experience will not be my experience, and everyone has their own subjective reality.

Also I hate to beat a dead horse or make this comparison, but between Anime NYC vs New York Comic Con, come to this convention for all of your otaku needs. It is for the fans and they truly do care. You’ll have a lot of fun and hopefully, make a ton of new friends (=

I have nothing against this con and look forward to what they have in store for next year.

Signing off,

In Asian Spaces

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Oh I forgot to mention, if you’re in the market for a face mask to keep you well this winter season, check out this for the brand I was using:  Pangda 4 Pack Anti-dust Cotton Mouth Face Masks Mouth Cover for Man and Woman (Black)

Not Sure About My Reaction to the Detective Pikachu Trailer

Is this the personification of Ruined Childhood?

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Growing up, I liked Pokemon as much as the next person. I have this vivid memory of trading cards with cousins at my grandma’s house. I accidentally traded a holographic vaporeon for a lesser pocket monster and immediately regretted it. My older male cousin would not trade back, prompting me to cry until one of the adults made him give it back.

They all called me a crybaby and we never played cards together again.

But even today, I can go into one of my old grade school binders and flip through lamented plastic sleeves protecting treasures from the 90s. I don’t think they can say the same – so who’s laughing now?

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On a serious note, today I discovered this film called Detective Pikachu. Premiering May 10th, 2019 it marks the first ever live-action Pokémon movie. I logged onto twitter to talk about Marvel Comics Legend Stan Lee passing and came across the film and actor Ryan Reynolds trending. Deadpool was a smash success at the box office and I have nothing against the actor but in all honesty – I rolled my eyes when I saw his involvement.  Especially since I distinctly remember the yellow mouse being a girl, along with revelations concerning Blue from Blue’s Clues.

I likened the film to a Ted sort of deal – you all remember that raunchy teddy bear film, right? I then associated it with Family Guy; which I like, but I’ve had enough of that series over the years.

After seeing people compare jigglypuff to a washed up mobster moonlighting as a deranged lounge singer, I took myself over to YouTube and watched the trailer. As others had suggested, it would be wonderful if he were played by Danny DeVito.

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And boy, did I have some feelings.

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Charzard is terrifying. Charmander is still adorable.

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Psyduck looks like the tormented soul I always knew he was and Mr. Mine really is just that creepy.

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It gave me the same feelings of nostalgia growing up watching the Harry Potter movies after reading the books.

Only this world, everything is gritty and very much not the Solarpunk paradise the games seem to paint. Nothing is green, people aren’t walking around with flowers in their hair and goodwill in their hearts.

Ryme City looks like any major urban area with a seedy underbelly. What’s more – Pikachu is a damn detective! I know this theme has probably been explored in anime, manga, and Nintendo 3DS spin-off games but gosh it is so different seeing realistically rendered Pokémon in our world settings.

The trailer also makes subtle references to the universe, such as the Squirtle Squad being wanted criminals in the police station, or having cartoony depictions of Pokes as city parade floats. There is even one scene where the main character (didn’t catch if his name was Ash or not) is walking through a night market and the signs have the weird off-shoots of Japanese characters that were adapted into the American Gameboy versions to seem like some sort of made up language. Trainer Mistry even seems to show up later in the film!

It just feels real, and I am super excited for it all. I didn’t know I needed this in my life until now.

Have you watched the Detective Pikachu trailer yet? Can you believe The Pokemon Company and Nintendo signed onto something that seems geared towards millennial adults? What monster do you hope is in the film? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more impromptu (borderline fangirl) posts like this!

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Hishigaki, the Hitotsume-Nyūdō | Natsume Yuujinchou | The Youkai of Anime

A new installment in the Sunday series – this week focusing on Hishigaki from Natsume’s Book of Friends.

This series will explore yokai, their history, and prevalence in a series. Japan is a land where spirituality is prized over religion, and Shintoism is viewed more like tradition than a bind. The tradition of visiting temples on the New Year, adding yuzu fruit to baths during the Winter Solstice, Jizo statues and local shrines are so old that no one remembers its origin story.

See our previous posts on Nyanko Sensei, the Maneki-Neko, Madara, the Okuri-Inu

Series Name: Natsume Yuujincho [夏目友人帳]

Number of Seasons: Six

Original Air Date: July – September 2008

Manga: Yes (ongoing)

OVA/Movies: Yes

Character Name: Hishigaki

Yokai Name: Hitotsume-nyūdō [一つ目入道]

Association: Manipulation of appearance, one eye, sacred regalia.

Episode of Appearance: Episode 1, Natsume Yuujinchou (Season 1)

Description:

A rather large youkai with one central eye, long grey-white hair, wearing white kimono with brownish-gold trim. Hishigaki is first introduced to Natsume Reiko standing near an ojizosan statue of a Buddhist priest holding shakujo.

O-jizo-san (地蔵菩薩) can range in size and are patrons who look over children, the underworld and weary travelers.  If I remember correctly, in Spirited Away – it’s been a while since I last saw the film – Chihiro and her family pass small forest jizo before crossing the river and entering the spirit world.

jordy-meow-418063-unsplash (1)A 錫杖, or Shakujo are staffs adorned with six golden rings and can also be referred to as “the pilgrim’s staff”. It is believed that the six rings represent the realms of karmic rebirth aided by the guidance of Jizō; a Bodhisattva that has attained enlightenment and wishes to help humanity essentially transcend suffering.

You may have seen this staff before.

It’s usually one of the divine instruments carried by a wandering Buddhist priest or monks who happen upon ungodly creatures in legends and decide to seal them with prayer. A contemporary depiction that comes to mind is the pervy priest, Miroku, from the anime Inuyasha.

The Episode

Seemingly one of the first yokai Natsume Reiko adds to The Book of Friends, Hishigaki chases the school girl’s grandson through a forest decades later- mistaking him for Reiko.

A woman is seen praying before leaving a manju bun. Given Hishigaki’s attire, it can be safe to guess she may be a sort of shrine guardian living on the outskirts of the forest.

Alone and hungry, Reiko seemed to provide a temporary salvation from her stationary existence. The youkai watched the seasons change while remaining in the same place, waiting for the girl’s return. When she never did, the spirit felt betrayed and wanted her name back.

It has been said that sometimes loneliness is not that bad. However, once companionship is found and taken away once more – it can become too much to bear. This seems to be the case with Hishigaki, who began the route of turning into a vengeful spirit.

Beliefs of Shintoism and the Influence of Buddhism

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I labeled this entry as Hitsotsume-nyudo due to her features, but I also wonder whether or not she could have been a Miko (shrine maiden) who went through a death ritual – giving her the white kimono garb.

Miko (巫女) are commonly known and identified by their bright crimson and white attire. Today in Japan the young women mainly sell omikuji (御神籤) or fortune slips at temples, assist priests in low-level rituals, and sweep the sacred grounds with brooms. Shrine maidens of the past had more pressing duties that carried weight far greater than today’s incarnate.

“…At the shrines of Ise, Kasuga, Kompira, and several others which I visited, the ordinary priestesses are children; and when they have reached the nubile age, they retire from the service. At Kitzuki the priestesses are grown-up women: their office is hereditary; and they are permitted to retain it even after marriage.”

Depending on prefecture, girls or women were thought to be property and wives to the gods, who in turn spoke through them and endowed with ritual dances and incantations for exorcism.

It can sometimes be hard to draw the line that intersects Shinto and Buddhist influences in Japan as they seem intertwined. Shinto beliefs are practiced in the course of daily life, while Buddhism dominates death and funeral rites.

The deceased are sometimes dressed in shinishozoku (死装束); which can translate to burial clothes or clothing worn when committing ritual suicide such as seppuku or harakiri. It is an all-white kimono with an off brown almost gold-ish obiage, or what resembles a thick sash in the middle. Occasionally, a triangular hat could be placed on the body. There are few prevailing theories regarding the hat that spirits are depicted wearing in paintings or historical records.  A 天冠, or Tenkan could either be defined as a coronation crown used during the Imperial period (1890 – 1945) or it could be related to the ‘celestial crown’ adorning Buddha and other divine beings.

I read somewhere that the Tenkan was an invention of Kabuki Theater to differentiate human actors from those portraying yurei, or spirits. Japan seems to have a history of associating certain articles of clothing or manners of speech with the ayakashi – however until I can relocate the work and source it I won’t elaborate further on that particular theory.

Could Hishigaki been a human in a past life who worked at a local temple or shrine?

But then, where would the one eye factor in?

I came across this Wikipedia page that suggested “cyclotropia” was a thing in ancient Japan due to a diet historically low in animal protein and fats. So in other words, some fetuses developed only one working eye due to poor nutrients on the mother’s part. At first glance, it could be slightly believable, as the Japanese diet consists of healthy seasonal vegetables and rich aquatic lifeforms.

However, upon further searches, nothing else can be found except vague allusions to conditions followed by heavy medical jargon. I sifted through the medical journals hoping I could probably find answers quickly, but unfortunately I just didn’t have the patience and fortitude to give it much credence.

That is not to say something like this could not have existed in many ancient cultures. It just seems like a very Western perception to suggest another culture had deformed children based on a diet that did not heavily favor meat and other livestock that is popular, but extremely unhealthy today.

Another definition I found attributes it to severe cases of cross-eyes. But also cites the Wikipedia post so for now, it’s a mystery.

The Legends      

Hishigaki has the appearance of the ōnyūdō (大入道), or “giant priest” due to her size. However, these yokai tend to be depicted as ‘normal’ humans in appearance aside from their grandiose size. They are also bald, which she is obviously not.

Thus, bringing us back to the Hitotsume-nyudo for classification purposes. Although typically depicted as males, these youkai ambush travelers on the outskirts of cities and towns and are adorned as wealthy priests or monks. They are also able to control the perception of their size at will, an ability Hishigaki seems to possess – despite not having the fancy clothing.

This yokai was particularly difficult to identify as it seems to be a mix of different archetypes and could even be an original character Midorikawa made for the episode. If I come across differing information later on in this series, I will be sure to update this post and clarify its renaming.

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And with that, we are at the end of the first episode! Next week, I’d like to cover a film by one of my favorite animation directors so the theme will be a bit different but the format will remain the same. The following week we will either resume covering yokai from Natsume’s Book of Friends episode two, or cover an episode of another series I have in mind to slowly alternate back and forth.

If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 1 and  Natsume’s Book of Friends Seasons 1 & 2 Standard Edition by using these links. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

I’m really glad more of you out there have stumbled upon this series thanks to #FolkloreThursday on Twitter! Do you have a favorite yokai anime character?  Are you enjoying the glimpse into the massive Natsume’s Book of Friends fandom? Do you believe Japanese folktales and legends have moral lessons to learn, or are they solely accounts of exaggerated creatures and monsters? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us to be notified when the next article is posted!

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*Quote taken from (Hearn, Lafcadio “Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation” pg. 77)

A Fresh Start for the Series? | Sword Art Online Alicization Review

A promising fresh start for a series that has become synonymous with goofy tropes and character flaws.

I love VR. Or Cyberpunk. Post-Apocalyptic Shenanigans…

Anything to do with encapsulating oneself in a virtual world is something I’d like to see refined in my lifetime. I’ve always been drawn to virtual reality inspired anime, watching the likes of No Game No Life, Log Horizon, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash with extreme vigor. Hai to Genso no Gurimugaru [灰と幻想のグリムガル], or Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash seemed to take a similar route as Log Horizon by showing the actual struggles of finding yourself stuck in a virtual world. It should also be applauded for its humanistic approach on taking a life, the stages of grief and how to recover from a severe trauma. If you are into highly realistic plots in your anime, this is one you should not miss.

I could write all day about how great Grimgar was, but this article will be about Sword Art Online [ソードアート・オンライン].

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but I am a huge high-fantasy and science fiction fan. I love series like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, H.P. Lovecraft’s work (despite his extreme personal flaws as a human being), Grimm’s Fairytales and anything by good old Edgar Allen Poe.  The SAO season one Aincrad Arc was like Christmas to someone like me. The medieval feel of the in-game town mixed with the real world Sci-Fi drama of having your mind trapped in a rouge technology with the risk of death was such a hook.

After that arc, however, things quickly took a turn for the worst. Between the whole incest thing, the almost-rape scene with Asuna Yuuki, and main character Kirigaya “Kirito” Kazuto’s harem I’d had enough.

Back in 2014, I made the mistake of watching a harem cleverly disguised as a sci-fi anime called Brynhildr in the Darkness [極黒のブリュンヒルデ] and have never made that poor choice since. I wanted to gauge my eyes out after completing that series. The sheer fact that a gaggle of women were borderline obsessed with a boring main character to the levels that it affected the storyline’s plot in ridiculous ways irked me to the core. So coming into SAO without the knowledge of Kirito’s harem gave me something akin to war flashbacks.

However, the core story was intriguing and I was very pleased to find out it took place in the same universe as Accel World. There is even a prevalent fan theory that Kirito and Asuna are Kuroyukihime’s parents.  This theory has been shot down regarding all the characters in question because of respective ages, but one can still dream of a connection between the three besides Nerve Gear.

I tuned in for Alfheim Online, Gun Gale Online, (or Phantom Bullet) and watched Mother’s Rosario. I skipped Ordinal Scale and now have returned for Alicization on the currents of good buzz. Other weary watchers expressed skepticism that was met with assurances that there would be none of the nonsense that plagued the past seasons.

The premiere was forty-five minutes long and had a bit of a cold opening. It set up the premise of this season’s story, which will revolve around Kirito testing a new form of VR that uses the soul. He explains to Asuna and Sinon the Soul Translator’s methods and expresses concern over the somewhat shady practices of its creation entity, Rath.

The sequence was fine, but it slightly bothered me that no one said hi to Agil while in his cafe. I’d imagine there was a quick hello while ordering drinks, but for the most part he was stoically shinning glass cups.

Either way, that’s not totally important.

Towards the end of the episode while walking girlfriend Asuna home, Kirito is accosted by the last known member of The Laughing Coffin. If you remember from the first season, they were a guild who enjoyed ‘player killing’ for sport. Johnny Black seemingly comes out of the woodwork to stab our hero with a lethal dose of a drug called succinylcholine, which causes paralysis. The episode ends with Kirito on the ground unconscious from his wounds; the targeted attack area being the implant he conveniently spoke about earlier at the Dicey Café.

Episode two has already premiered, and I’m sure Kirito is fine. He’ll most likely fall into a coma and be transported back into Underworld, the Soul Translator game he was testing. The game seems to have an “Alice in Wonderland” vibe and explores his budding friendship with a resident named Eugeo. It is unclear (as of the season premiere) if Eugeo is an AI aware of their world or remains in ignorance as a player. An interesting aspect of his character was his notice of Alice’s game code while she was being taken away after committing a taboo in their world.

It should be interesting to see how Kirito and Eugeo’s friendship develops, and the exploration of “fluctlight acceleration”. I will definitely be watching and will most likely have a season review at a later time once it concludes.

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If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad and Sword Art Online 9 – light novel by using these links. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

Did you enjoy past seasons of SAO? Do you miss Kirito’s harem? What has been your favorite VMMORPG anime to watch? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram for more updates and reviews!

 

What is Going On with The Tokyo Ghoul: Re Anime?

I at least take comfort in the fact that I am not the only one confused.

Tokyo Ghoul, or Tokyo Kushu:re [東京喰種トーキョーグール:re] is an ongoing anime series that originally began airing in the summer of 2014. It is based on the popular manga by Sui Ishida that produced both TG and it’s continuation, :re.  I initially read a few chapters of the original story, but have yet to finish due to the personal preference of waiting until the anime ends to read and compare the key differences in an adaptation.

The first season adaption of the series remained consistent according to a general fandom consensus. Season two, however, veered off from this severely. The most memorable scene for me will always be Kaneki serving Jason (Yamori) some overdue justice while “Unravel” by TK from Ling Toshite Sigure played in the background.

Tokyo Ghoul √A [東京喰種√A] seemed to have Kaneki Ken join Aogiri Tree, the organization that had kidnapped and tortured him. In the manga, he sided with the Anti-Aogiri group that was set on escaping their imprisonment by the shady group. The underlying basis in this is that Kaneki wanted to protect his friends, while in the anime he did not.

As a non-manga reader, I fully understood this season and even though finding it a bit dull, overall thought it was okay. “Glassy Sky” by Yamada Yutaka (やまだ豊) was an amazing song to listen to during certain scenes. I also really enjoyed the OP, or opening song for that season, even if I am seemingly alone in this. Say what you will about the series, but at least the OST, or official soundtrack is solid.

I caught the first cour of Tokyo Ghoul:re over the spring when it aired. I enjoyed it but was utterly confused with what I was seeing on screen. I had heard from manga readers that season two had pretty much veered off story wise and :re was supposed to essentially retcon it.

As with many things, I am very liberal with spoilers. You could “spoil” a show completely for me down to the last detail, and I would still be able to enjoy it. Sometimes with stories that have been ongoing for a considerable amount of time (ex: Naruto series, Shingeki no Kyojin, etc.) I’ll just look up certain things. Or if an extremely good episode was left on a cliffhanger, I will immediately resort to the manga before the next. I like to think of this practice in my head as ‘situational spoilers’. Plot details I normally would wait for, but just can’t seem to actually want to delay that knowledge.

After patiently sitting through the first cour of :re anticipating Sasaki Haise’s revert back to Kaneki Ken, it all paid off in the final episode. As an anime only watcher, the entire season had consisted of pointless slice of life-esque arcs with members of the CCG. Coming from past seasons, I did not care for any of these people and the anime did nothing to really humanize the bunch. The aura of cold sociopathy still exuded from these people who worked in this sterile desolate white building. The constant hidden and blatant ambitions of social climbing and backstabbing was such a turn off, especially when Kaneki or rather – Haise – would go home to more disrespect and antagonism from his team.

It really pissed me off watching Kaneki’s amnesia and how he was unknowingly interacting and working for those he considered enemies. It could be argued that was the point, but constantly shoving the organization in my face each episode did not allow me to soften to them as one would have hoped to while trying to enjoy the anime.

I especially hated all of the time spent with Quinx Squad. Yonebayashi Saiko and Shirazu Ginshi seemed like decent people, but I absolutely could not stand Urie Kuki. I also could not care much for Mutsuki Tooru, given the spoilers I read about their character.

But I powered through it, because moments with the ghouls of Anteiku made it worthwhile. The moment Haise unwittingly was drawn to the café with his old friends who silently just watched him was truly heartbreaking.

I was even excited to see Tsukiyama Shuu, despite him being a creep in previous seasons.

Then the first episode of the season’s second cour premiered, and it all went out the window once more.

Who is this guy in all black wearing glasses? Is this the Black Reaper character personality people were hype about? Why is he obsessed with arresting Takatsuki Sensei? Okay, why did Yoshimura Eto reveal her secret at the book release? Why can’t most ghouls read books without hiragana? I remember Hinami was really smart, and Touka disguised her true nature to attend high school normally. Why is Kaneki still working for the CCG, didn’t he want to die? Okay, Eto called him Kaneki so that really is Kaneki. Oh, Kaneki is going to free Hinami? Wait, where did his glasses go? Were the glasses just an act?

All jokes aside, episode one was extremely confusing. At least the op was good. TK from Ling Tosite Sigure was singing it again, and given my affection for post-hardcore I couldn’t help but bop my head to it.

Reddit user Gary4067 made a bullet point list of all things skipped in the episode, and it’s pretty tragic. Apparently, it adapted at least nine chapters from the source material.

Coming off the first cour and referencing the wiki, we left off at the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation arc. We then are just thrown into the Third Cochlea Raid without (from a manga standpoint) understanding why Kaneki is randomly going rouge. Yes, he did want to die – but the anime showed us him still faithfully working for the CCG even if he did get a little saucy by throwing things during an interrogation. I have no clue what happened to Tsukiyama or the ghouls who came to rescue him during the last cour’s end. No clue why Ayato is also coincidentally trying to raid the Cochlea. Rize is supposedly dead in the series and a figment of Kaneki’s imagination but apparently, she’s alive being held somewhere against her will.  No clue why Eto revealed her true identity to the world. Don’t know why I should care about the causal connections between the Washu clan, Organization V or the CCG but I’m sure it’s something important.

Manga wise, apparently: Eto revealed her identity as the popular author and the One-Eyed Owl at an Aogori Tree meeting or something but was overheard, so decided to reveal it to the public.  Rushima Island was being raided by the CCG, so Ayato (kinda?) decided to ambush the Cochlea along with AT members. Kaneki’s memories of being held prisoner in the facility after his defeat by Arima were not touched upon. Some background on Rize’s childhood was also missing.

If this was confusing to read, it is because even with explanations and spoilers I am still a bit jumbled as to what is going on in the series.

Animators in Japan are notoriously overworked, and Studio Pierrot has a history of questionable quality when it comes to their shows. Certain episodes of Naruto Shippuden and The Legend of Korra come to mind.  There seems to be a new director in charge of this season who lots of fans don’t seem to have a lot of faith in.

I am not sure if the production team is channeling the mangaka’s urge to be finished with the series, but for whatever reason, they are rushing it to the point of complete incoherence. Maybe it is budgeting issues, maybe there is a lack of leadership – we as watchers will never really know the true issue unless an insider spills the beans. But whatever the problems are, I wish the pacing would slow down just a bit in order to make sense and properly introduce characters. When a key character to the manga plot is introduced but on screen watchers are not given nor shown context as to why they should care, they tend to lose interest. I did not give a single damn about the man who was possibly killed while trying to defend Rize. I say possibly because the fight’s conclusion was too vague to show us his fate. Almost as vague as to why he was introduced randomly in the first place.

Either the studio needed to order more episodes to explain certain plot points, or it should have been adapted and condensed more fairly. I just wish I knew why Tokyo Ghoul Re is really this bad. Actually, Re and Root A both seemed to be a complete mess in retrospect.

I will continue to watch because frankly, I seem to enjoy scraps at this point, but I will be sure to read the manga once this season ends. For those of you also interested in reading it, Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 can be purchased legally using the link at no additional cost to yourself.

How do you feel about the series adaptation as a whole? Are you a manga reader, anime watcher only, or a mixture of both? Do you think the Tokyo Ghoul:re “Call to Exist” video game will be better than the entire tv show?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit for more anime reviews and updates!

Was AFNYCC Worth It?| Anime Fest @ NYCC | Convention Review

Covering the controversial convention one photo at a time.

So to start this review off, let me just say that I was not enthused to attend on Sunday. I made one two three separate posts about this con’s inception in anticipation for what might be experienced. I was still hopeful that it would be an enjoyable experience.

And then I looked at Social Media.

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I’ll be damned. There were sad and disappointed threads detailing the lack of programming, events, exhibitors or even attendees for that matter.

This morning upon waking, I was struggling to find a reason to go. The weather had turned and it was now overcast and drizzling. People were saying the shuttle bus wasn’t exactly on time or picking up many people.

I googled AFNYCC to try and pull up the convention twitter handle to view the shuttle bus pick up locations again.

My blog came up.

I googled the entire festival’s name, my blog came up again…before the con’s actual info or media links.

Since I wrote about it so much prior to its debut, I thought it was my civic duty to attend and document what I saw and experienced there. This is my sole reason for not just letting the con keep my $20.

Good SEO practices on my part aside, this convention needs to be documented. Someone on Twitter likened it to Dashcon. I associate it in my head with The Last Airbender film. Did the fandom wipe it from their collective memory? Yes. But it also served as a basis for not forgetting what happened the first time a remake was carelessly done, and spread awareness for the new live-action ATLA Netflix series coming soon.

I feel the same way about this. I will bite the bullet along with other con goers, and will immortalize it here on the internet.

Will they shape up next year? Who knows. But this will be here for anyone who wanted a detailed peek at what actually went down during Anime Fest @ NYCC x Anime Expo.

(Also some of these photos were edited on a potatoe, so excuse the quality of some shots.)

On an unrelated note, I’ll be purchasing my weekend pass for Anime NYC this coming week.

If you enjoy this convention review and would like to help me get to other cons, visit the support page to donate. Thanks and let’s begin!

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I arrived to the Jacob Javits Center around 9:30 am. I looked around for the shuttle buses, but seen none in sight. A man on a bullhorn was shouting directions to the comic con crowds on where to line up if they already had tickets. Once he paused for breath, I asked where the shuttle bus pick up was. I was directed to an area behind where we both stood. I waited five minutes and got antsy, as the day was overcast and there was a humid drizzle falling.  I walked over to the front entrance of the convention and asked a woman donning an earpiece connected to a walkie-talkie if she knew when the shuttle bus would be coming. She had no clue what I was talking about so I explained it was for the Anime Festival. She pointed me in the direction the man had and told me it should be coming eventually, as the 9:30 am pick up had just passed.

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Fifteen minutes later I was tired of standing in the elements and began walking. Around 9:53 I saw a bus for the Javits Center pass me by, but I was already ten blocks away. So the bus was a thing at least on Sunday, despite what I saw on Twitter for days earlier. Even with Midtown traffic, might I make a suggestion for if this convention continues next year?

Maybe it would be best to have a staff person sit on the bus to check passes and they could update the app on when they are in transit, and close to certain pickup points. It would take away a lot of the mystery of when the bus would come.

Before I left, I asked those surrounding me if they knew when the bus would come and everyone had unsure or confused answers. I also took photos of the incoming crowds.

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I planned to mention in the NYCC post my troubles finding a show program that Friday. I spoke to security/ReedPop staff and asked if there were program booklets for that day. They directed me to a place inside. I explained that I did not have a ticket for that day and that I went Friday and got no definitive answers on where to find one. In my head, I came to the conclusion that they were a myth and simply did not exist. Aside from one or two people, the entire convention nobody had one out.

A staff man was kind enough to reach into his own backpack and give me a booklet. I am extremely grateful for that act of kindness.

I can proudly say I now have eight years’ worth of NYCC program booklets to remember my experiences. I know that is not what is most important, but it’s been something fun for me to do over my years of attendance.

The walk to Pier 94 wasn’t completely terrible. It was just desolate and it reminded me of my walk there for Tech Day over the summer. Although I must admit, it was a bit depressing walking one way with a red colored Anime Fest pass and watching all of the green colored New York Comic Con passes continue on in the opposite direction.

As I got closer to the pier, I saw about five people going to the same place as me.

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Security was simple to get through, and I’m not even going to lie I snagged an extra lanyard from comic con on Friday because I didn’t expect there to be any at Anime Fest. The lanyards were red promoting Dark Horse Comics. So I guess there was a bit of color coordination with each events badges – red lanyard and ticket for AFNYCC, green badge and Line Webtoon lanyard for NYCC. One of the security staff from earlier had mentioned my badge looked totally different from everyone else’s, and I didn’t understand what he meant until now.

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Walking into the event space, you are greeted by the smiles of the staff. Unlike comic con, it was very easy to find someone working. I had a lot of casual conversations with them along with a lot of the vendors and exhibitors.

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Aside from Good Smile Company, however, it doesn’t seem like any of the other power players bothered to set up additional shops at Pier 94.IMG_5161

The Official Merchandise Shop and several vendors looked bored and were trying to commune with anyone passing by. I don’t think they did well on business due to the low foot traffic. It was a huge contrast from the main convention’s crowds.IMG_5096IMG_5041IMG_5087IMG_5122IMG_5134There was a well-sized gathering when I attended on Sunday, and the Autograph Signing for Cowboy Bebop even had a looping line. One of the two English translators with the production staff was Dr. Mari Morimoto, a veterinarian and real power player in the Japanese translation game. I’ve crossed paths with her at past con events (Kishimoto at NYCC) and at my old place of work. She recently had a lecture at The Japan Foundation’s The Nippon Club earlier this October that I tried RSVP’ing for but never heard back.

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As for the convention floor, I took a few photos of the infamous “Aladdin Rug”, bamboo tatami mats, parachute game, and a few other things.IMG_4944IMG_4995IMG_5016IMG_5135

 

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I think this is where the problem lies with many con-goers who went to this event.

Eavesdropping on conversations, some people were really excited about it. They had never been to Comic Con or an actual dedicated anime convention.  Many had brought small children or tweens who seemed to really enjoy the activities there.

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However, they are unaware of how anime conventions are ‘supposed’ to go. Given the names attached to this poorly and hastily thrown together convention (New York Comic Con, Anime Expo, a good handful of the major Exhibitors like Funimation, Viz Media, Crunchyroll, Vertical/Kodansha, etc. attending the main con) it was a complete fail.

It seemed like a small town non-profit convention that had no access to any Japanese culture or talent nearby. Only thing is, this is Manhattan. I worked in Midtown East for a while where all of the Japanese businesses and companies reside. I know firsthand just how strong and alive the Japanese and Japanese-American community is in this city. That’s not even factoring in other boroughs.

In its haste, the convention didn’t seem to partner with any of the smaller or local facets like Anime NYC has successfully done.

This is why we saw Chinese animation vendors, random tiered merchandise, and other things you would not normally expect at a for-profit convention with status associated with it.

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Then again, NYCC has never done anime well. A fact I’m glad no one has forgotten, again consoling me when I overheard conversations about this as I perused the convention.

But it was not all bad. A lot of talented Artist Alley residents were gypped, and deserve a bit of spotlight.

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The Elven Caravan was selling really cool custom painted elf ears.

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Jenovasilver has something saucy for you all with her “good wholesome cute things and sin!” (also lots of Voltron)

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YUKIPRI is a digital illustrator and webcomic artist who has some really great Yuri!!! on Ice art.

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A lot of the normal vendors were really nice people just trying to manage a badly dealt hand. No one seemed outwardly bitter.

The Taiwanese Cultural Center in New York was in attendance promoting some cool animated content they had coming up. I spoke about one event they were associated with earlier this year.

All in all, it wasn’t a completely bad experience. Would I pay to attend again next year? Absolutely not. Is it worth the $20 price tag as-is right now? No.

But don’t take my opinions to heart, as everyone will have their own interpretations of things and events. What sells me on any event is quality, effort, and people.

The people were really nice, however, there was no effort put into this “con” and because of that, the quality of what could have been a blast off the first year ultimately failed. This is especially true since the fanbase is literally there, but for some reason, the convention couldn’t cater to them even with all of those feedback surveys Comic-Con regularly does. It’s amazing.

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Let’s hope ReedPop takes the general consensus’ feedback and shapes it into something malleable that everyone can one day enjoy.

Did you attend Anime Fest @ NYCC? How did you feel about the buzz online surrounding this event? Can they do better next year? How?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on WordPress, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram for more convention reviews and news!