Weaklings Must Call In Sick (The Nerve!)

I’ve tried a couple times to watch Kimi ni Todoke, but the secondhand embarrassment was tangible and too real, too painful, and I never made it past the first fifteen minutes of the very first episode. So much cringing. However, Right Stuf had a promo, and seeing their ad made me want to give it another try. And I’m glad I did. I’m watching on Hulu and VRV/Crunchyroll.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Sawako Kuronuma (nickname: Sadako), is enjoying her high school life. Her character design reminds me of Sunako Nakahara from The Wallflower / Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. Kuronuma’s fateful run in with Shouta Kazehaya, leading to their friendship and his positive influence in her life, energized her to take chances to interact more with her classmates and peers. He supports and encourages her to be herself. The scene on the stairs in the third episode, when they express their shared appreciation for each other’s positive influence, was touching. In real life, it’s not as easy being unfiltered with others, or sharing what we admire and appreciate about them. I feel comfortable expressing it, but it can be a challenge receiving it. Is one way easier or harder for you?

Ayane Yano, Chizuru Yoshida, and Ryu Sanada are in Kuronuma’s friend circle too. They, and Kazehaya, have all stood up for Kuronuma. She was the subject of bullying (especially the behind the scenes type of bullying girls are notorious for, if you’ve seen Mean Girls, or are a girl yourself, you’ve likely seen this behavior). I’m only on episode eight of the first season, but some of the ways they’ve stood up for her include; Kazehaya standing up to the class when they make rude comments about Kuronuma from the night of the Test of Courage, when he says aloud for the bullies to hear that he detests hateful gossip, when Yano, Yoshida, and Kazehaya move their seats next to Kuronuma when others avoided her (Sanada I suspect just wanted the window seat but he didn’t avoid her like the others), the girls stood up for her when she was cornered by the bullies in the ladies room, and when asked his thoughts on Kuronuma and the rumors, Sanada pointed out the unrealistic possibility of that being remotely true. Being a good friend to another person, means being a good friend to them even when they’re not around. Kuronuma’s close friends love and care for her, and they don’t give the opinions of others a second thought. Knowing all of the hurdles she’s overcome and how lonely she felt, especially with everyone calling her Sadako (from The Ring), it’s wonderful to see her finally happy. One other comment, about the bullying scene from the bathroom, sometimes intervention depends on a person’s comfort level. While Hirano and Endo didn’t feel physically, emotionally, or mentally capable of taking on the group of girl bullies, they did run to get help. Standing up for your friends can be expressed in various ways. Yes it might’ve been more helpful if they had directly intervened, but it makes me think of all the others who saw Kuronuma bullied over the years who did absolutely nothing. Seeing how Yoshida and Yano stood up for her, Kuronuma finally realizes they are friends, and have been friends all along.

I enjoy the moments when the friends are relaxing together and being themselves. Yano and Yoshida see the blossoming romance between Kazehaya and Kuronuma (even if Kuronuma herself is unaware). After intentionally making Kazehaya jealous (proving he liked Kuronuma), of course the girls can’t resist giving Kazehaya a hard time as he walks Kuronuma home.

Joking aside, Shouta Kazehaya truly is a gentlemen. He has integrity and is an authentic person. He is a leader without trying, he makes it look effortless. Everyone feels welcomed in his presence, and he “sees” those around him. He’s present. That smile puts everyone at ease. Do you know people like that in real life? I do. Their energy is positive and uplifting. They’re sincere in their words and actions. I aspire to be that way. I’m authentic, but I don’t know about uplifting and positive. Maybe one day.

This shoujo anime, Kimi Ni Todoke, has humor. Not as much as others I’ve watched in the past, but the parts that are funny make me laugh out loud. Try to overcome the hurdle of the horrible secondhand embarrassment that this show has so much of. I haven’t felt this much embarrassment since watching Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji. Here is a funny moment from episode eight of the first season. The class is discussing the upcoming Sports Festival with their teacher, Pin. I suspect if I was in their class, Pin would strongly encourage me to take a sick day (the nerve!).

Give the show a chance if you haven’t already. Or if you tried before, give it another opportunity? Maybe you will like it the third time, like I did. There are a lot of positive messages in this show. Perhaps there will be less drama and less secondhand embarrassment in the future episodes. I’m only on episode eight, but I’d prefer less cringing. Hoping everything works out for this group of friends!

Manager

After seeing how Gou Matsuoka was oogling Haruka Nanase, and other swimmers, they may want to reconsider having her as their manager! Creepers can be ladies, not just men. Let’s be glad she didn’t get a nosebleed. Shameless!

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day

I just started watching Free! on VRV / Crunchyroll. It’s a sports anime about swimming. When I was at Otakon last year, I met a nice Mother and Daughter who I ate dinner with (they were visiting from PA), and they recommended this anime. I’m only five minutes into the first episode. But is this fellow older now, and out of college? And available in real life? He can make breakfast for me anytime. I’ll eat fish on toast.

Aries Hangover

Me, an Aries, reflecting on my actions afterwards.

Note she didn’t say they weren’t true. But some things just shouldn’t be said.

Watching Gakuen Alice on DVD. It’s also on VRV / Crunchyroll.

Dodgeball

I just started watching Gakuen Alice on VRV / Crunchyroll. It is absurd and hilarious. The main character, Mikan Sakura, reminds me of Sana Kurata from Kodomo no Omocha / Kodocha. In the episode I’m currently watching, Mikan is attempting to recruit members to play on her dodgeball team. Since students are able to use their special abilities in the game, her classmates are reluctant to join her team. They’re hesitant because the other team’s leader, Natsume Hyuuga, has the ability to use fire. Unfortunately with Mikan’s special ability being nullification, she is disheartened to know it may be useless in the game. As she reviews her list of players, it gave me pause to wonder what she would write about me if I was on her team! I guess curly-perm isn’t the worst thing to be called, but she needs to learn people’s names!

Tetsuki Takaoka

I just finished watching season two of Kono Oto Tomare. The music the koto club plays, the way their sound conveys their happiness and soul to their audience, was exactly how I felt as the audience watching the anime. The depth of their relationships, the growth of each character, and their authenticity left a lasting impression upon me. And it wasn’t just the students of Tokise; their club advisor, koto teacher, Hozuki’s mother, and others truly learned from each other and overcame challenges so they could better relate to one another. Their self-esteem, relationships, and quality of life improved tremendously. I think a lot of us go about our day to day affairs, feeling like we’re on auto-pilot, without truly realizing the affect we have on each other. Even seemingly minor interactions can carry depth and meaning. Hopefully those interactions are sincere and add value.

Overcoming his reputation was a hurdle, but the main character Chika Kudo, learned from his mistakes and became a person of integrity and character. He defends what is precious, supports his friends, and is diligent and dedicated to playing the koto. Kudo wants to honor his grandfather’s memory, he visits him often to pay his respects, joined the koto club he created many years ago, and commits himself to daily improvement. Kudo’s grandfather must be proud of him. He’s realized what his grandfather meant about playing with friends. The club members mean so much to him, and he is an anchor providing support to everyone. But it never looks like a burden to him. Kudo now realizes the importance of being reliable, and he is happy to provide that support and warmth to others.

As hard as Chika Kudo has worked, it must be said that Tetsuki Takaoka, his best friend from childhood, was a major contributor to his growth. During the height of Kudo’s challenges, when he was getting into fights regularly, not taking care of himself, and causing turmoil for others, Tetsuki never left him or abandoned him. In fact, when Kudo didn’t return home and sat in an alley as the rain poured, it was Tetsuki who came with an umbrella to find him. He has been a grounding factor and a solid support for Kudo for most of life. Tetsuki intervenes when needed, like when he addressed those three bullies early in season one, but he tends to just support and provide advice when Kudo asks, hoping Kudo comes to his own realizations. There are nuances to human interaction that he doesn’t understand and Tetsuki delicately helps him figure those things out for himself. Tetsuki is an excellent role model, not just for Kudo, but their entire friend group. Role models don’t have to be adults, historical figures, athletes, or celebrities. They can be our peers, family members, friends, or the person we sit next to in class or at work. Tetsuki takes his education seriously (teaching his friends when they need help), cooks nutritious home-made meals for friends, is supportive to others, is able to pick up on the intricacies of human interactions, and he is a person that is loyal and respectful. Tetsuki values his friendships. Elements of Tetsuki’s personality, habits, morals, and character have influenced Kudo. If it wasn’t for Tetsuki, Kudo may’ve continued on his wayward path. With Tetsuki’s support, positive influence, and friendship, Kudo has found happiness in the “sounds of life.”

Kudo overhears the koto club’s president, Kurata, as he replies to Tetsuki “that’s my line.” Kurata realizes the importance and value of Tetsuki’s friendship. Tetsuki himself was a refuge for Kudo, providing a place for him to overcome his hardships, long before he joined the club.

If you’re looking for a show that’s warm and uplifting, I recommend Kono Oto Tomare: Sounds of Life. Both seasons are on Hulu.

Kono Oto Tomare

I finished watching Prince of Stride on Hulu tonight. After the last episode, Hulu started auto-playing Kono Oto Tomare. Before I knew it, I had already watched eight episodes!!! It’s such a great show. I like the camaraderie of the students in the koto club. It was a delight to see multifaceted characters having growth and development, as they learn more about each other and themselves. All while improving their koto playing skills!

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The relationships between the club members provide a wonderful opportunity for them to question the false beliefs they’ve held, to be honest about the challenges they’re overcoming, and to grow together as a group. I also like that Satowa Houzuki and Chika Kudou are authentic. Houzuki had a short lived front, but that facade quickly crumbled once she realized she could be herself. Houzuki and Kudou butted heads in the beginning, but they are becoming closer friends.

What really touched me, were the scenes of Kudou’s interactions with his grandfather. It’s apparent how much his grandfather loved him, and wanted him to be happy, to smile, laugh, and enjoy life. While Kudou was stubborn at the time, in hindsight he realizes the lessons his grandfather tried to teach him. In doing so, he was able to convey his emotions during his performance with the koto club. Surely his grandfather, while no longer physically present, was able to receive his message.

After bawling at that scene, I thought I’d get a relief from the water works. But no, watching the episode immediately after, I had another opportunity to cry. The owner of Nishina Instruments, who Chika Kudou affectionately calls “Granny” wants to meet with him. While not related by blood, she was a friend of his grandfather and she cares about Kudou. After seeing Kudou’s hard work, perseverance, and efforts she has a gift for him.

The Koto is said to be made in the image of a dragon, if you watch Kono Oto Tomare they explain more about this. Having wings, the feelings being played can reach the audience, through the instrument. Granny says that Kudou’s performance reached Gen, his grandfather. I’m sure he is very proud of him.

Nutrition

I’m watching Prince of Stride on Hulu. It’s a sports anime about parkour. In the show it’s a team sport, and they transition between runners like a relay. The members are preparing for their upcoming competition, End of Summer. Everyone has been training and working diligently. While on their way to a meet, the athletes are enjoying their lunches on the bus. Riku Yagami wants to try some of everyone’s food. Well almost everyone’s food. Takeru Fujiwara’s lunch is apparently too healthy for Yagami’s liking. Since Yagami rejected Fujiwara’s offer to share his lunch, he and the rest of the team get a lecture on nutrition. But he may be onto something since Fujiwara is one of the fastest on the team.

The Next Captain

I had to take a break from watching Taishou Yakyuu Musume / Taisho Baseball Girls. Shockingly being a woman in the 1920’s was not as liberating as one might think, and parts were depressing. No one wanted these girls to play baseball because they felt it was unbecoming and unladylike. Their families were focused on their daughter’s marriage prospects. And they couldn’t even have male friends without receiving a lecture. Parts of the show were heavy. I would not have done well during that time. If I was born under those circumstances perhaps I would’ve felt differently? All I know is, I am very grateful to be born when I was. On top of the other oppressive circumstances that came with being a woman during that time period, they were even chastised for running! They were told that it was too vulgar!

So, why not watch a team of boys being fully supported in their athletic endeavors??? Ha, yes I know that is ironic. I actually didn’t seek that out, it was a recommended anime on the VRV page, so I started watching. But I really am enjoying the sports anime, Days! Tsukushi Tsukamoto, the main character, is new to soccer and is improving upon his skills every day. Tsukamoto likes the camaraderie of being on a team and the shared goals and support. While not their most talented player, his determination, drive, and passion makes him the heart of the team. He reminds me a lot of Deku, from My Hero Academia. A lot of people counted him out, but his best friend who introduced him to the sport, Jin Kazama, saw his potential. So did the captain of their soccer team, Hisahito Mizuki.

During training camp with other schools, Seiseki’s soccer team makes quite an entrance. The reputation of their soccer team, and their captain Mizuki, leaves everyone in awe.

However, Tsukamoto’s smaller frame, makes him the subject of ridicule. The other teams make false assumptions about his ability. While new to the sport, he has made strides due to his commitment to training. He is better than he was at the beginning of the anime. Instead of being recognized for the player he is for Seiseki High School, everyone thinks he is the team’s manager.

Now that all the teams have arrived, it’s time to run up a horrible hill! What fun training for their first day of camp!

Around this time, the athletes are wondering, who is running ahead? What school? Who is the person is at the forefront? As you’ve certainly guessed, they’re about to learn why rushing to judge someone, isn’t wise.

“Read the mood of the crowd already!” LOL

He really is a super fan! Look at that heart. I wonder if he got that autograph he requested from “the manager.”

I’m only a few episodes in, but I’m enjoying it so far! I’m watching on VRV / Crunchyroll.

Gingitsune

I’m watching the DVD of Gingitsune. It’s a supernatural anime about a fox spirit, Gintarou, that protects the shrine where Saeki Makoto and her father live. Makoto is the successor and is able to see and speak with Gintarou. Makoto and Gintarou have a special friendship, and he watches over her as a guardian and mentor. As a spirit and messenger of the Gods, Gintarou lives for a very long time. In comparison, human lives are very short. I’d imagine it would get lonely and sad having to say goodbye to so many friends over the years. But maybe, with that, the spirit guardians know what truly matters. That while fleeting, the moments and time we have with each other, are what makes life worth living.

Shrine successors, that are able to see and speak with the shrine spirits, develop special bonds. Satoru Kamio is the successor at his family shrine and is close with Haru, their shrine spirit who is also a fox. Unfortunately due to factors outside of Satoru’s control, he has to leave the shrine. He goes to live at the Saeki Shrine. Haru refuses to leave Satoru’s side and follows him. Thinking it would be best for Haru to return to his family shrine, Satoru speaks harshly to Haru. Regretting his actions, Satoru searches endlessly for Haru. Once he asks for Gintarou’s help, they’re able to locate Haru. Satoru, who has been closed and withdrawn, learns to open his heart and repairs his relationship with Haru.

Seeing their happiness, Makoto thinks about her earlier interaction with Gintarou, and how human lives are fleeting.

I am halfway through the series, and my favorite part of this show is the relationships between the spirit guardians and the successors. You can see how much they truly care for each other. If you’re looking for a supernatural anime, with a slice of life, check out Gingitsune!