The air is heavy. It’s been a rough week, with the events in DC, the world, and the pandemic. I find it bizarre that people would sweep things under the rug, or prefer living with their heads in the sand, to be dismissive of the atrocities, that are happening, daily. If there was ever a time to be loving, to stand up for others, to have integrity, and to learn from our past mistakes, and history, it would be now. To think of others, and to have the same care and compassion you have for your loved ones, friends, and hopefully yourself. Having said all that, I hope you are healthy and well. I am very grateful to be in good health and otherwise joyful. I am very blessed, and I try to remember that.
So, wanting a pleasant escape from the current state of affairs, I watched a new anime series, Horimiya on Hulu. I LOVED IT!!! The female lead is smart, hard-working, loving, strong, direct, fiery, passionate, funny, and full of zest! She’s a great older sister to her brother, Souta. Hori is authentic and doesn’t hold any punches. It’s refreshing to have a female character that’s sure-footed and assertive. Miyamura, the male lead, is quiet and reserved. His classmates have the false impression he’s an otaku (not that anything is wrong with that lol!). In reality…he is quiet and reserved, but he also has piercings and tattoos. He has his own style, which some may find surprising. But I wonder if that isn’t due to the requirements of their school dress code. I like that his character is free in that sense, it’s good for people to be self-expressive, and to be creative in showing their true self. Miyamura helped Souta after he had an encounter with a dog. He tended to his wounds and made sure he got home safely. Hori didn’t recognize Miyamura at first, since he dressed so differently at school. A lot of the responsibility for looking after her little brother, and taking care of things at home, fall onto Hori’s shoulders since her Mother works late. I can relate to aspects of that, having experienced that growing up. But she is a better “big sister” than I was. It would’ve been nice to have someone like Miyamura to help after school, in addition to being good company.
The first episode moved faster than I expected, which was great! I liked the pace. Our main characters meet outside of school, the tone was set for their relationship and possible development, we had an unrequited love, a battle for eggs on sale at the grocery store, and an attempt at cheer that went horribly wrong. We also found out what they liked about each other, and that they speak freely because they are comfortable with one another. Too many romance anime tap dance around awkwardness for too long (anyone seen Kimi ni Todoke?), that it was exhilarating having them just be direct. There was a moment with Miyamura tried to help someone, which didn’t turn out the way he expected, but Hori addressed the matter immediately. They each have a side they keep private (in this aspect, they reminded me of Umaru from Himouto! Umaru-chan). They bond over Hori’s brother, their shared meals, and the fact they accept each other, as their true selves. The first episode made me laugh and lifted my spirits. Some of the parts that made me chuckle are below. Do check it out, if you haven’t already!
For some reason, seeing Miyamura in this state, made me think of this song from Ferris Bueller:
I am watching Silver Spoon on VRV / Crunchyroll. I just finished the first episode. It’s a funny slice-of-life anime, about a student attending an agricultural boarding school. He selected the school because he could live there, which makes me curious about his home life and why he wants to avoid it. His name is Yugo / Yuugo Hachiken. The other students view him as different than them, because he attended a prep school. Having no experience with farm life, or agriculture, he makes rookie mistakes like chasing a calf and getting lost in the woods (instead of leaving it alone, so the instructor could entice him back into his corral with food). He is disgusted seeing where eggs come from, and he’s not used to the manual labor, and level of fitness one needs to keep up with the daily life of agriculture. However, he gives his all in completing the tasks assigned, and he has great classmates that help him integrate into campus and farm life.
What I found fascinating about this show, is it does an outstanding job of showing the real work, science, intellect, and methods behind successful agriculture and working with animals. The students who attend have various goals; to be farmers, to take over their family’s business, to become vets, to run farm-to-table restaurants, and other aspirations. I’m not sure who made this distinction, or why some societies have taken this view that career paths involving manual labor is “less” or “demeaning”, but these institutions are important and have meaning. The pandemic, quarantine, COVID, and life as we know it, has made that even more apparent. The jobs people may be dismissive about, or look down upon, truly keep society running. And agriculture, without it, where would we be? Eating chemical laden preserved foods I suppose, but that’s usually not the healthier option. The scenes below show some of the culture shock Hachiken experiences, as he realizes the full scope of attending an agricultural high school. Waking up early to help with the chickens, keeping crops safe from unpredictable weather, working with animals, and learning how to properly run operations were some of Hachiken’s first experiences at his new school. And he realizes the assumptions we make about others, aren’t always accurate.
I’m watching Skull Face Bookseller Honda-san / Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san on VRV / Crunchyroll. It’s a slice-of-life anime, with some comedy sprinkled in. I love bookstores, so I find it fascinating hearing the intricacies of day-to-day affairs. If you work at a bookstore, and you’re reading this, I’d be curious to know your thoughts on the show and if it paints an accurate description (minus the obvious absurdities). Given the option, I prefer traditional books, but I know e-books are better for the environment. While I have my own preference, it seems the customer Honda-san was helping was very passionate in his disdain for e-books.
The show also talked about the life cycle of books. How much logistics go into new books, and rotating older books, and returning stock to the publisher if they aren’t selling.
It also talked about revived books. Books that may be out of print, but due to renewed interest, they may do reprints. The example below was sobering, considering the current state of the COVID pandemic.
For as much reading as people seemed to have done on the topic, you would think they’d be more aware of common sense practices, but alas, sometimes common sense isn’t that common. And on that note, I can empathize from my years of retail work, why Honda-san would feel the way he does in the scene below.
I just watched episode five, of Noblesse on VRV/Crunchyroll. It was the best episode so far! If you’ve been watching, you know it was a suspense filled episode. Tashiro, Kase, and Regis have been kidnapped. Regis is in special restraints and unable to use his power. Tashiro and Kase are shocked to see their new friends on the side of the bad guys! And M-21, in an effort to protect the students, acts like they don’t matter to him.
The spirit of M-24, who ironically died saving Tashiro, Kase, and another student, makes his presence known to M-21. Understanding the motive behind his friend’s actions, M-21 decides to sacrifice himself to save the kids. Not knowing his back story, Regis is confused by M-21’s behavior. The students are even more confused. As you may recall, Kase and Tashiro’s memories were wiped after the first incident, so they don’t have déjà vu, or recall anything, at this very similar scenario.
Seira knows something is up with Regis, so she’s searching for him. Rai and Frankenstein know about Regis and Seira’s true identity (or at least their abilities), but haven’t revealed their cards yet. So Rai and Frankenstein search for the kids on their own.
Eventually they all end up at the same facility, but each are engaged in their own battle. Meanwhile, M-21 and Regis are taking quite a beating from Shark and Crans.
What is it about confronting injustice that makes people hesitate? Is it because we face the unknown, or possible repercussions? Are we fearful that we’ll be the next target? As Gloria Steinem said, “Whenever one person stands up and says, ‘wait a minute, this is wrong’, it helps other people to do the same.” This is evident when Tao (who Kase calls “Boss”) and Takeo (who Seira and Tashiro met while shopping), each try to protect the kids from being hurt. Unfortunately, Crans didn’t want to leave the kids alive, and Shark was too happy to oblige.
I was on the edge of my seat this entire episode. I couldn’t wait for Regis and Seira to realize who Rai really is. I wanted shock and awe. I wanted to see Crans take on The Final Boss.
And for all the build up, and all the suspense, it looks like we’ll have to wait until next week to see Rai bring Crans to justice! Is this what it’s like having blue balls? Ah well, guess we’ll find out next Wednesday.
Out of curiosity, I watched a couple episodes of Naruto. I was intrigued because of Michael B. Jordan’s Naruto inspired line with Coach lol. In episode two, Naruto is mentoring Konohamaru. I want to learn more since they’re talking about chakras (not to be confused with chatoras)and mudras! I’m watching on VRV / Crunchyroll.
Naruto believes it really comes down to two things;
With so many great anime out now, it may be challenging adding another series into the mix, but this one does pique my interest. What have you all been watching? Irina, from https://drunkenanimeblog.com/ recommended Noblesse the other week, and I have been enjoying that series so far! The banter between Raizel and Frankenstein, when Raizel is doing chores around the house, was very funny. M-21 and Shinwoo, are both strong, and stand up for others. Raizel adjusting to modern society is amusing. Of course I’m watching Haikyu. I am watching Jujutsu Kaisen (Itadori is such strong character and has a sincere desire to help others, as his Grandpa wanted), Beelzebub, Over the Moon for You, Library War, and Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga. Below are some clips! And one end credit just because I like the song lol. Check them out. In the past, I watched one series from beginning to end, before considering my next show, but I really wanted to see all of these. Plus some are simulcast so I can’t binge on them all at once. And being at home more, due to the pandemic, gave me a desire for variety.
I just watched episode 14, of season 4, of Haikyu on VRV / Crunchyroll. I was already a big fan of Tanaka’s older sister, Saeko, but I’m an even bigger fan now.
Saeko is her own person, she lives life to the fullest, and she has such an energetic sense of being that she positively influences those around her. Plus she is confident, loves to laugh, and have fun. Saeko supports her brother and his teammates, even driving them to practices, and cheering them on during their games. She plays the Taiko drum, and she and her friends showed up just in time to support the Karasuno volleyball team during Nationals. They played a large part in easing the pressure the team felt on the court. It’s understandable why Nishinoya and Hinata reacted the way they did.
Is this still considered quarantine? I’m limiting my exposure to others, especially considering the health concerns of myself and loved ones. So I’ll be at home continuing to watch anime in my free time. Let’s be honest, even if it wasn’t quarantine I’d be doing that. Instead of continuously updating my original post https://empathmeetsanime.com/2020/04/09/quarantine-watch-list/ I figured I’d start this new post. Overall I enjoyed the majority of the anime I watched and I wanted to track them. In case you’re wondering, the * is for the ones I loved (keeping in mind I tend to prefer comedy, romance, sports, or slice-of-life anime; so if you dislike those they may not be for you).
Ciel Phantomhive, was focused on his mission to pay retribution to those responsible for the death of his parents. He even made a pact with a demon (Sebastian) to reach his goal. Despite making a deal with the devil, there is part of Ciel that remains very human. The desire for revenge has not made his heart completely cold. He shows warmth and patience towards Lizzie, his fiancée. He is forgiving towards his staff for their blundering ways. And Ciel does care about other people, although he tries to hide how big his heart truly is. If you haven’t seen Black Butler, it’s on Hulu. You may like it if you enjoy supernatural mysteries.
Ciel perseveres despite being betrayed by those closest to him. Being exposed at a young age, to the cruelty of others, Ciel is shocked by the warmth, integrity, and sincerity of Fred Abberline. Abberline is the Inspector from Scotland Yard, and he wants to make the world a better place. He joined law enforcement to make that dream a reality. He doesn’t have a big ego, he doesn’t lord his authority over others or to act superior, and he isn’t led astray by temptation. Abberline truly joined law enforcement for the right reasons. Ciel compares him to Noah and wonders what a person of that character is like, he’s an anomaly in Ciel’s world of greed and betrayal.
Ciel is the Queen’s Guard Dog. He helps with the tasks no one likes talking about and is diligent in his duties. Sebastian, the demon butler, helps him with these Underworld assignments. Abberline knows that Ciel is being used and would like to relieve him of his duties. If Abberline can make London, and the country, a safer place then the Queen won’t need Ciel to handle the unsavory and dangerous assignments. Abberline’s optimism seemed like naivety to Ciel, but the sincerity of his words, even for a moment, made Ciel believe if anyone could do it, it would be Abberline.
Being engaged, and knowing fatherhood is around the corner, has bolstered Abberline’s resolve to make London a safer place. He overcame a difficult childhood, he saw his parents killed, and was on his own at a young age, so in many ways Abberline relates to Ciel. He didn’t get to share in the experience of having a cult try to kill him, or living in a mansion, but he empathizes with other aspects of Ciel’s life. Wanting to do the right thing, and seeking justice, Abberline follows his intuition and releases Ciel from confinement (Ciel was restricted to a room while they were working on an investigation). Abberline and Ciel briefly join forces on the investigation regarding a murder and illegal drugs.
I know all the fans gush over Sebastian, and that personality might be fun for a tryst, but I’d much rather have a Fred Abberline. Those types were rare in Ciel’s day (1880s) but unfortunately they may be just as rare these days.
Abberline and Ciel both want to take down the bad guys, they just have very different ways of achieving that goal.
**SECOND SPOILER WARNING*** (IN CASE YOU DIDN’T SEE THE ONE EARLIER)
Since Abberline went through the trouble of telling us about his engagement and becoming a father, I started worrying something bad was going to happen to him.
Plus this ominous line:
So I did what anyone else might do, and googled Fred Abberline. What a delight to see that he was alive and well. I’ll continue watching.
What I failed to realize was…the anime did not follow the manga. And my queasy feeling was correct. As I thought, Abberline dies. He was on the receiving end of a sword stab meant for Ciel.
The heroic scene, where Fred Abberline saves Ciel Phantomhive was riddled with irony. I was disgusted with Sebastian as he was in no rush to prevent Abberline’s death. Sebastian is a demon and could’ve easily thwarted the attack. But his inaction, was a reminder that he is a demon, with no regard for human life. Sebastian ascertained quickly that Abberline would save Ciel, even at his own peril.
Meanwhile, Sebastian is staring off into the distance. What the hell Sebastian?!
The thing is, the thing which we know as the viewers, is Ciel doesn’t have a future. If he hadn’t asked for Sebastian’s help, he would’ve been murdered by the cult, and unable to seek justice for his parents. Ciel made a pact with the devil. He’s already given up his soul, and his future. Abberline’s sacrifice seems like it was in vain, but knowing his character, he would’ve given his life for Ciel regardless.
Ciel is incredibly angry with Sebastian for Abberline’s death. Sebastian points out that Ciel was unharmed. I suspect Sebatian didn’t care for Abberline. His sincerity and desire for peace, was in conflict with Ciel’s need for retribution. Sebastian probably found him a distraction to Ciel. Yet, I wonder why the anime decided to have this scene, which is different than the manga. Why create this heartbreaking scene? It changes the vibe between Ciel and Sebastian. I think it altered the way the viewers felt about Sebastian (or maybe just my feelings).
The following days, Ciel is depressed. Even the staff noticed his sorrow and try to cheer him up. They call Lizzie for assistance (which shows how worried they were, because she’s notorious for making them wear horrible outfits).
Ciel tries to make peace with the situation. Knowing Abberline left behind his fiancée, and unborn child, Ciel sends gifts and a letter. He had his servant Tanaka do this instead of Sebastian. Did Ciel blame Sebastian and not want his assistance? He makes him do everything. Would Sebatian think Ciel’s compassion was a weakness, so he wanted to conceal it? Perhaps he wanted to do something kind without judgement.
Did you watch this scene? What do you think of the letter Abberline’s fiancée, Maria, received from Ciel? What do you think it said? Did he describe her fiance’s bravery and heroism? Did Ciel talk about Abberline’s kindness and love for her and his child? Maybe Ciel left her his wealth? Ciel plans to die soon (Sebastian is supposed to take his soul once he achieves his plan for revenge), and he doesn’t have an heir, maybe he’s leaving it for her and the baby? Whatever words Ciel wrote, they touched Maria’s heart. Wherever Abberline’s spirit is, I know he felt appreciation and gratitude to Ciel for thinking of his family.
Having gone through all that, I hope Maria and her baby survived that firestorm that rained upon London. Not everyone survived the events that took place. Ciel is at death’s door (I’m going based off season one, before anyone raises their hand to say “well, actually…” lol). The servants are fighting Pluto, who is now breathing fire. There’s an angel who is acting less angelic than Sebastian, wrecking havoc around town. Ciel is injured and plunges into the water. Lizzie wonders about him and if he’s alright.
Sebastian pulls Ciel from the water, and later he wakes up in a boat. On the cusp of death, Ciel realizes he is inching towards the inevitable. As his cinematic reel plays around him (scenes from his life), he thinks about Lizzie, and wonders how his employees and Pluto are.
Then beautiful flickers of blue light catch Ciel’s eye.
When death comes, I wonder if we get to see the sentiments of others. If so, will it be beautiful blue lights? I think Ciel was surprised to see so many. He was loved and he had a big heart. I don’t know if I’ll have any blue lights, but it’s a wonderful thought.
Lizzie’s feelings for him made one final appearance, as the blue flower ring, that blew away in the wind made it’s way to Ciel.
Earlier in the season, Ciel met Prince Soma and Agni. Ciel’s words to the Prince were harsh, but he was trying to open up his eyes to the world around him. Sebastian and Agni entered a curry contest. Agni was impressed with Sebastian’s winning entry, curry buns. Wanting to help London recover, the Prince and Agni give free curry buns to those in need (recipe inspired by Sebastian). The boy in line reminds me of Ciel (he’s the same boy who gave Ciel and Abberline clues to Ash’s involvement with the crime). Ciel, and even Sebastian, were such positive influences on Prince Soma and Agni that they wanted to pay it forward. I’m sure their sentiments were among the blue lights Ciel saw upon his death. Perhaps Abberline was right when he said, “what changes the world is people’s faith that tomorrow will be better, that they can make it better.”