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.

Where’d You Learn to Throw?

I’m watching the DVD of Taishou Yakyuu Musume / Taisho Baseball Girls. The anime takes place in 1925. Seeing the obstacles the girls are going through, definitely makes me appreciate being born when I was. I’m only a few episodes in, but I like the enthusiasm the girls have for the sport, and that they’re excited to learn the fundamentals and practice. Although it looks like the pitcher might not make it to the first game…

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!

Good Husband Material

Is that how you ask someone to be your husband?!

***SPOILER ALERT***

I just watched Isshuukan Friends / One Week Friends on DVD. Although I enjoyed it, and blew through it very quickly (I started it last night and just finished), the ending didn’t bring the romantic closure I was hoping for. It is evident Kaori Fujimiya and Yuki Hase have feelings for each other. Hase makes a concerted effort to reconnect with Fujimiya every single week. Fujimiya writes in her journal daily, knowing it will help her continue her relationship with Hase. Researching online, it sounds like the manga did not bring romantic closure either. I enjoyed the characters, especially Saki Yamagishi and Shogou Kiryu. If you decide to watch it, it’s an interesting exploration on friendship, what draws us towards people, and the level of effort we put into those relationships. But if you’re looking for romance, temper your expectations before watching.

Peaceful

“Reset” by Taichi Mukai, the beautiful sunset, and Haiji Kiyose’s dog, all contribute to this being one of the most peaceful end credits I’ve seen. A commenter on the video link below pointed out the snow scene was a metaphor for Kiyose’s injury and bouncing back. This anime has a lot of beautiful artwork. Check out Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru / Run with the Wind on VRV / Crunchyroll or on DVD (Sentai).

Ahmaud Arbery

Upon reflection of how peaceful this scene is, and how Haiji Kiyose is enjoying his run, I thought of Ahmaud Arbery. Ahmaud did not get to enjoy his run, or the fullness of his life, due to the ignorance, racism, and bigotry of others. He, and many other people, do not get the privilege of enjoying a peaceful run. Or a peaceful life. Simply thinking, “Well, I’m not racist” is not enough. For people with integrity and character, turning a blind eye is not okay. Have the difficult and uncomfortable conversations with your family, friends, classmates, colleagues, and communities. Challenge old ways of doing things if they’re born of ignorance and hate. If you feel your words don’t carry weight, or your words are unable to reach them, inspire others with your actions. How you treat other people. How you respect others who may be different than you. Contribute to a cause or volunteer with an organization that will uplift and unify communities. Shine your light. Share love with the world. Your inner circle, I hope, is full of loving people who truly embody and radiate positive energy and support. I pray people will open their hearts. And I’m not perfect. No one is perfect. But we can do better. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

On other platforms I’ve spoken about #blacklivesmatter, but inspired by Scott’s post on https://mechanicalanimereviews.com/ I feel it’s pertinent to share that here as well. When black lives matter, then the statement all lives matter will hopefully, finally, be true. Everyone should be free to live their lives, and enjoy all of the freedom we are supposed to have as Americans, without concern that they’ll be targeted due to the racism and bigotry of others. And running without fear should be one of those freedoms.

#irunwithmaud #runwithmaud #blacklivesmatter

Is Running Great?

Is running great? Several years ago my very supportive friends Ken and Jose encouraged me to run. With their help and support, plus those of my other friends like Linda and Matt, I trained for and completed my first 5k. Later I did the Army Ten Miler and two half-marathons. After getting sidelined with a fracture (learn from me, don’t let a small dog with a big bark distract you, lose your footing, and then tumble down a hill and have a very disgraceful landing), running didn’t feel the same, like my mechanics felt off. I should point out, that the doctor first told me it was a sprain, and later I saw a specialist who told me it was actually a fracture. More recently I started walking/jogging in bootcamp classes and I continued during quarantine trying to get outside for fresh air. I’m starting all over, in terms of getting my body acclimated, but it does remind me of the parts of running I enjoyed. I liked feeling accomplished after I hit a distance I wanted to cover, or when I could run straight for longer periods of time. I enjoyed feeling light on my feet. And shockingly, thankfully, my legs and muscles responded really well to running, and I lost weight. Watching Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru / Run With the Wind, reminded me of those pleasant memories. The memories of running when it was great.

I’m watching Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru / Run with the Wind on VRV / Crunchyroll. The DVD is also available from Sentai.

Akihiro Hirata tells Yukihiko Iwakura, that running has helped him prioritize his health. Hirata noticed he was short of breath while running so he quit smoking, and to keep his hands busy he has been creating wire figures.

What makes someone a runner? Is it enough to just enjoy it? Do you have to always be training for the next event or goal? Maybe running is different things to different people. Haiji Kiyose leaves an impression upon Kakeru Kurahara, that running is something that all people can participate in, and enjoy. It isn’t reserved solely for the elite.

Now that the group is adjusting to their two-a-day training, they look forward to learning even more, and taking their training to the next level. Some are more excited than others. I didn’t expect him to run with a notebook, but I guess Takashi Sugiyama came prepared.

If you like sports anime, or are curious how running is portrayed in anime, you might want to check out Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru / Run with the Wind. I’m only a few episodes in, but so far I’m enjoying it!

Hugs

I am watching Usagi Drop / Bunny Drop on DVD. NIS America was having a sale, and since I enjoyed Poco’s Udon World, Usagi Drop was a recommendation I kept seeing. I’m very glad I bought it! It’s such a heartwarming anime.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Daikichi Kawachi’s grandfather has passed away. Unknown to the rest of the family, he’d been raising a little girl as his own. Her name is Rin Kaga. While the rest of the family argues over what to do with the little girl, the one they didn’t know about, Daikichi asks her directly if she’d like to live with him. He reminds her very much of her beloved father figure, and they bond instantly. Being a single dad is a huge adjustment for Daikichi. He learns how to do hairstyles (kind of), meets other parents and discuss challenges and seeks advice, changes his department at work so he doesn’t have overtime, quits smoking, spends more time with his family, adjusts his commute to get Rin to/from preschool, and is a wonderful and loving caregiver. Watching their interactions, Daikichi’s life seems more focused, authentic, and meaningful. Both characters have emotional growth. They share funny moments, like when Rin is practicing for her school performance, then remembers it was supposed to be a surprise for the parents, and runs off. I don’t think Daikichi was necessarily unhappy before meeting Rin, but I think he was on auto-pilot, watching the days go by, with every day basically being the same. Together they navigate life and it’s delightful watching them grow as individuals and as a family.

There are many cases of birth parents lovingly (albeit painfully), allowing another family to care for and adopt their child, because they feel their child’s quality of life will be better. There are many reasons, and I imagine it’s an extremely difficult decision. Not knowing my own birth father since he left when I was very young, and having an alcoholic abusive stepfather who left, the sense of abandonment is something I can relate to. Daikichi ponders the concept of abandonment as he worries about his daughter. Meeting Rin’s birth mother in the series, it is evident that Rin’s environment with Daikichi is more stable, safe, and caring. Daikichi’s grandpa knew Rin’s birth mother, and took her in knowing she’d be in a better environment with him as her caregiver. After his passing, Rin is processing the sense of abandonment, loneliness, and sadness she has. She is fearful of her own mortality and Daikichi’s. He helps her process her emotions and let’s her know she has a new home, and that he will take care of her.

What really makes Daikichi a great father, in my opinion, is he loves Rin unconditionally. Not having a father figure myself, I imagine that is a wonderful feeling. The hug scene was touching and left an impression on me. There are so may touching moments in Usagi Drop. If you’re looking for a heartwarming slice-of-life anime, this one is outstanding and I recommend it.

Our True Selves

I’m watching the DVD of Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou / His and Her Circumstances. The season was available at a great price at the used bookstore 2nd and Charles. Check it out if you haven’t watched it yet!

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The first episode had me laughing out loud. Yukino Miyazawa reminded me of Umaru Doma from Himouto! Umaru-chan because she has a secret side at home. Miyazawa lives and thrives off the praise of others. She studies hard to earn top grades, she practices the piano, trains for sports in secret, is obsessed with her appearance, and hides her true self and her true opinions. She thinks presenting a version of herself that is admirable to others, will earn their respect and praise. However, Soichiro Arima has beaten her top score, and he easily earns the accolades of others, without even trying. Her competitive nature has her pushing herself harder than ever to try and beat him. She is jealous of him. She dislikes him immensely. He is her competition. His feelings towards her are quite different.

At earlier stages in my life I could see how I had elements of Miyazawa. People pleasing. Not wanting to rock the boat. Feeling that you have to look a certain way to be accepted. Being obsessed with exercising (and for aesthetics not for the health aspect). Always wanting to be the best. Working as hard as you can. I still have a workaholic streak. I want to prove I’m reliable, hard-working, capable, driven, and smart. That I add value. In addition to wanting that self-esteem boost that comes from the praise of others, I think it’s also wanting people to be at peace, and happy in your presence. Not that being vain is helpful to anyone, but the part that wants to please others. Wanting to feel accepted and worthy. Eventually I got to a place, where I don’t let the opinions of others sway me. At the end of the day I have to be at peace, especially if I want to sleep at night. You don’t need to be a bulldozer just speak your truth and hopefully your intended message is received. Getting on the other side, is totally worth it. It’s relaxing and liberating. Peaceful. Wanting to be healthy for yourself, pursuing hobbies that you enjoy, and owning your personality, just being your authentic self regardless of who is around you. I love to laugh and had a passion to do comedy, I’ve done a few roasts at work and improv classes, they’re a lot of fun. Earlier in my life I felt that bringing attention to myself would bring ridicule (and not the kind of laughs I wanted), so I’d keep quiet. Sometimes it is appropriate to be more reserved, but hiding your true personality is draining.

I think it is so funny that Miyazawa’s family rags on her for being such a phony!

Oh yes if I didn’t say it earlier, I should come clean and say I am very much like Umaru and Miyazawa. As soon as I get home, and after I shower, I’m in yoga pants or jammies and watching anime or reading a book. I am relaxing. It could be perceived as laziness. But when I’m not at home, I’m going full throttle! I need time to recharge.

Okay yes I’m pretty stubborn. BUT stubbornness and pride have saved me from many potentially awkward and embarrassing circumstances so, at least that!

I understand completely! In life you need energy and zest to do your best and to be competitive. You need time to recover.

She has a valid point.

Ah you too Mom? LOL

Dad. Ahhhh.

That looks like a lot of effort to have a fake persona.

Surely once Miyazawa beats Arima for the top scores she’ll be happy right?

People pleasing is a never ending carousel ride, and not the fun kind. Get off! Reclaim your life and your sanity. Live authentically. Establish boundaries. Don’t rely on others for your self-worth.

So after all of her hours of studying, hard work, and effort to beat Arima’s top score, she thought it would bring her happiness, but it didn’t. Feeling deflated, she’s shocked to get a love confession from him.

Miyazawa wanting to keep her true self a secret, refuses Arima. And goes on an ego trip. Later she realizes the error of her ways, thanks to her younger sisters.

Ugh yes I’ve made that mistake myself. I’m sorry. Sigh.

Yes I agree! Why go out to a large party or crowded event when you can relax at home? That’s probably why adjusting to quarantine was not as challenging for me, as it was for others. You know the people with a social life.

So you already know what’s coming right? Yes of course, the jig is up and her secret is out. (PSA: always look out the window before answering the door).

If the rest of the season is like the first episode, I am excited to see more!

Must Protect Little Sister

Daily Lives of High School Boys is a comedy/slice of life that I’m watching on VRV / Crunchyroll. Usually the boys find themselves in funny or awkward situations. But this episode was more serious and heart-felt. Tadakuni has a little sister, and she has a problem. She goes to her brother’s friends to ask for help. A boy confessed to her, she refused him, said she was lippy to him, and then he hit her. Regardless of whatever she said, he should not have hit her. However, having watched the previous episodes, I know the little sister hits Tadakuni and his friends all the time. They never hit her back. Be that as it may, when she asks for help from Tadakuni’s friends, even though they’ve been on the receiving end of her blows, they go straight into Papa Bear mode. They even break their mugs they’re so irate that someone would hurt her.

Little Sister asks for their help since the boy wants to meet with her again. I think it was good she asked for help and told someone. It is a potentially unsafe situation. Motoharu wants to go. Karasawa thinks the problem would be best solved if Little Sister addresses it herself. I understand where Karasawa is coming from. Neither boy looks happy as Little Sister leaves the room.

As we see below, she can actually count on all of her brother’s friends, not just Karasawa.

She meets with the boy and addresses the issue directly. Despite her anxiety and tummy troubles, she goes. The boy doesn’t cause her additional harm. He apologizes for his behavior.

If the situation had gone south, she had a host of bodyguards waiting in the wings. I love that they each went there on their own, to make sure she was safe. Afterwards they realize that the other guys each had the same instinct. Yet, her own brother didn’t know. Maybe she didn’t feel comfortable talking to him about it. The fact that the friends each showed up on their own accord, shows how much they care for her, it wasn’t a favor to their friend. When you have good friends like that, their family can feel like your family too. So of course you’d want to protect them.