Get Involved

I’m watching Kuroko’s Basketball / Kuroko no Basket on VRV / Crunchyroll. I have a Haikyuu void and wanted to watch a sports anime that was uplifting. I attempted to watch Battery on Amazon Prime, but then I started getting the vibe that was not going the direction I was hoping. I may give it another chance down the road. So far Kuroko’s Basketball is exactly what I was looking for.

Tetsuya Kuroko, one of the esteemed members of the Generation of Miracles (a group of elite players from Teiko Junior High) is now attending Seirin High. He was on a team that always won, but he’s looking for something more. In this aspect, he reminds me of Haiji Kiyose from Run with the Wind / Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru. Kiyose was looking for the an answer essentially to the question, “what is running?” I think Kuroko is looking for what is basketball. In episode five, of season one, Kuroko has a conversation with his former teammate, who was also a member of the Generation of Miracles, Ryouta Kise. Kuroko thinks there’s more to basketball than just winning, and he wants to find out what that is.

Kise really wanted Kuroko to attend the same high school as him, so they could continue playing together. Kise views Kuroko as a friend and enjoys being around him, and sees him as a valuable teammate. So he was disappointed that Kuroko rejected him. It reminded me of Haikyuu’s Ushijima telling Oikawa, “you should’ve come to Shiratorizawa” (with slightly less intensity).

He must have abs of steel with balance like that.

At Seirin High School, Kuroko meets an impressive player named Taiga Kagami. Together, they’re a fearsome duo on the basketball court. Kuroko, with his seemingly lack of presence, and Kagami with his impressive build and abilities, help Seirin win their first practice match against Kaijou High (Kise’s school). Initially people are dismissive of Kuroko, until they see him in action. He is the linchpin for Seirin’s basketball team. His stealthy maneuvers, and misdirection, contribute to the effectiveness of their plays.

One phenomenal skill Kuroko has is being aware of his surroundings and reading people and their intentions. It might seem trivial, because in sports often athleticism prevails, but it is vital. It helps him play as an instrumental member of the Seirin team (especially since he is considered weak in other aspects). This ability is also helpful in day-to-day life. Being aware of his surroundings, means he noticed what was happening behind him on the basketball court, and ran over to help before Kise and Kagami even noticed. Demonstrating his strength of character and integrity, Kuroko ran over to intervene on behalf of the bullied students without hesitation.

It’s one thing to notice an injustice, but it takes a certain level of strength, character, and integrity to stand up against it (especially if you’re alone). The students didn’t ask for his help, but I’m sure they appreciated Kuroko’s intervention. In real life, cases of bullies and injustice, may call for action that isn’t direct. But sometimes direct is the right approach.

I’m glad there are still guys like that these days, especially in real life. We need them more now than ever.

Just in time, Kagami and Kise show up to help. Despite being opponents during the practice game, Kise and Kagami join forces to support Kuroko when he stands up to the bullies. The trio take on the entire group of bullies, and emerge victorious. The students are in awe.

After their stand against the bullies, Kagami lectures Kuroko about being aware of the consequences of one’s actions and safety. Kuroko’s response provokes Kagami’s ire, but Kise chuckles and commends Kuroko for being amazing. I have to agree with him. Not a lot of people would get involved to help others, especially strangers, but Kuroko did without hesitation.

Seeing how happy Kise is after their brief game against the bullies, shows how much he enjoys playing with Kuroko. Plus he admires the strength of character he has, and who Kuroko is as a person.

I’m enjoying Kuroko’s Basketball / Kuroko no Basket. Hopefully the rest of the series will be just as enjoyable. Give it a shot and see see what you think.

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.

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.

Personality

I used to work in retail. Back when I was in college I worked at one of my favorite stores, the Gap (when I was little and I watched those ads of everyone dancing they always cheered me up). I met the greatest people and had such a blast working there. It was so easy to fold jeans, or work on the khaki wall, while chatting with your co-workers! I enjoyed doing the cash register because I could easily knock out long lines. I was not a big fan of the fitting room because people did really gross things in there and no matter how much I cleaned it always felt dirty. Yet I’d often get assigned there because I was, “good with customers.” It was fun doing window displays and floor sets. The few times I was assigned to shipping or the stock room it was always a good time. It was like an assembly line and we always worked diligently while enjoying each other’s company. I also liked the music they played at Gap. And songs you thought you hated, would grow on you after hearing them repeatedly in an eight hour shift!

Where am I going with this and does it relate at all to anime? Lol well I was watching Hozuki’s Coolheadedness / Hoozuki no Reitetsu on VRV / Crunchyroll and there was a scene that reminded me of a very funny moment I had at Gap. Don’t read this and think I’m fishing for compliments. I truly did find it hilarious and of course I couldn’t resist teasing the person who told me.

It was a busy day, and I ran into the Gap stockroom looking for an item for a customer. As I entered I was greeted by one of my pals who has a great sense of humor. It was just us in the stockroom. He looks at me, and with great enthusiasm and gusto, he announced; “Look! It’s the girl voted best personality at Gap!” Okay so in a second I’ve gathered that my dear friends, maybe just the guys, have been chatting and they’ve given me this great distinction. But as as you read this, your first reaction may be the same as mine.

I know he is being sincere, and I do truly take it as a compliment. I enjoy conversations with people and making them laugh. I’ve had boyfriends, some serious, in my lifetime. I don’t think I’m a complete troll. But I also get what’s on the other side of this coin. And if you know me, you know I cannot resist a perfect opportunity to give people sh*t.

“Really, Tobias*?”

I get a blank look. He meant it as a compliment. I have a feeling the others don’t know he told me. And if they suspected he would tell me, they would’ve told him not to. Not because they didn’t mean it, but because they know how it sounds. And they know I like good-natured teasing.

I say thank you and give a little mischievous grin. I go back to looking for my customer’s item.

After a few minutes I ask him about his weekend. We chat a bit. Then I ask, as I’m still searching for this item, “Hey I have a cousin you might like! You should meet her.” You already know what’s coming. His reaction is enthusiastic and positive, and he asks…drumroll…”What does she look like?” I reply with, “Well she’s got a great personality.” THE LOOK. Maybe briefly let down? Maybe a flutter of dejection?

I cannot hold it in anymore. I am laughing so hard I almost bust a gut. I look at my walkie and headset to make sure I’m not live, otherwise all the other Gap employees will ask me what’s going on because they want to laugh too. A manager might also come looking for me, maybe to yell at me, and to ask what in the world is so funny.

Tobias has a look of confusion and bewilderment.

No I don’t have a cousin for you! I was trying to make a point about what you said about me having the best personality!!!”

Now he realizes what it implies. Now he’s laughing. He says it’s not how it was intended! I always take into account various things when I interact with people. How they seem, their mood, body language, vibe, pattern of behavior, etc. And being friends with him, and the other employees for so long, I know it’s not anything meant to offend. If this sounds like a humble brag it was not my intention. I am honored they think highly of me. Plus the girl who was voted prettiest (because I already knew that had to be a point of discussion) was who I would’ve picked too! So I’m not even upset about that. Maybe if they had picked someone I disagreed with I could’ve been offended lol.

We could go into a whole dialogue of looks shouldn’t matter, you can’t help who you’re attracted to, things that seem hypocritical, society pressures, cultural elements, etc. but I personally just viewed this one moment, this one interaction, at a job I loved, with friends I adored, as something that made me laugh. And I was reminded of this when I laughed at the scene below from Hozuki’s Coolheadedness / Hoozuki no Reitetsu.

*Name has been changed to protect the innocent (or guilty? you decide lol)

I also included some vintage Gap commercials just because I like them.

Even Kodama, who looks horrified, knows what that implies!

Anime to Make You Laugh and Lift Your Spirits (Part I)

Generally, my favorite anime contain humor, romance, supernatural elements, slice-of-life, or some level of cuteness. During this time of uncertainty, when many of us are stuck in our homes, you may be looking for a happy distraction! In that case look no further. In no particular order, here are some anime that may provide merriment, good humor, and cheer to your hearts!

  • Tamako Market: An anime about life at Usagiyama Shopping District, there are cute girls, a love interest, family and friends, strength of community, music, humor, romance, and an exotic talking bird! The opening is adorable and the song her Dad wrote makes me me smile every time I hear it! https://myanimelist.net/anime/16417/Tamako_Market

Yea same here Dera. I’ve been going to bootcamp for two months…maybe I need to reconsider my nutrition…

If you enjoy Tamako Market, you’ll want to check out Tamako Love Story!

  • Servant x Service: Anime about working in a government agency may not sound funny, but it is! There’s a talking pink bunny, what to do if you have a wardrobe malfunction at work, romance, dealing with the public, and hiding at your desk because people keep interrupting your efforts to do work. https://myanimelist.net/anime/18119/Servant_x_Service
  • Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun / Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun: Imagine if you will, there’s a hot guy who writes a shoujo manga, but in real life he can’t pick up on the fact that a close gal pal is madly in love with him. Everyone in their friend circle can see Chiyo Sakura loves Umetarou Nozaki…except Nozaki! This is one of the few shows I’ve seen, where I actually enjoy every single one of the characters! And this was an anime my entire family and I could agree on. The creaters did a great job building these characters as multi-dimensional people, that weren’t bound by gender stereotypes. Some people may be appalled to hear this, but there’s something about Yuzuki “Lorelei” Seo, that I connect to on a soul level (unfortunately I don’t like scary movies, or have her singing talent or sports skills, so just her other good qualities maybe? LOL) https://myanimelist.net/anime/23289/Gekkan_Shoujo_Nozaki-kun?q=monthly%20girls
I too, am interested in science….
Credit: Crunchyroll
  • Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii / Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku: Finally a love story that happens in an office with adults! And it’s funny and charming, plus there’s cosplay and witty banter! My heart is already fluttering! Is there a single fellow like Hirotaka Nifuji in real life?! https://myanimelist.net/anime/35968/Wotaku_ni_Koi_wa_Muzukashii
  • Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai / Tada Never Falls in Love: MAJOR SPOILER….HE DOES! You probably saw that one coming. Mitsuyoshi Tada is a photographer. He’s walking around, capturing beautiful images, when he runs into Teresa Wagner, an exchange student. Now she’s the one doing the capturing…of his heart. Haha so cheesy but I couldn’t resist writing that! There’s also a cat, Nyanko Big, who doesn’t talk, but we get to hear his internal monologue as he watches his family and the other humans interact. His observations are entertaining. Plus the music in this anime is beautiful. As they say in the show; “Always Make Your Heart Rainbow!” Here are some videos with SPOILERS and a fan-made video.
  • Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun / Toilet-bound Hanako-kun: I know, what a name right? Perhaps you’ve heard the Japanese urban legend about Hanako, a spirit that dwells in a school’s bathroom? In the tales it’s usually a girl, but in this retelling Hanako is a boy. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this anime. I was pleasantly surprised. The artwork is beautiful. The characters are interesting, endearing, and show growth and development. I like the supernatural element as the characters solve mysteries at the school, the comedy is great, and we have a touch of romance and intrigue. The teacher’s story about Hanako, when he was a student of his that dreamed about becoming an astronaut, was my favorite episode. While it tore at my heart, it created a stronger connection with Hanako. Okay maybe I should warn you, while this series has humor, at moments it can cause moments of insight, reflection, and sorrow, so if it’s too much during this time definitely hit the pause button. https://myanimelist.net/anime/39534/Jibaku_Shounen_Hanako-kun

I have tons more anime that I recommend! Hope to have those posts later this week. Stay safe, healthy, and well my friends!

Guitar Care 101

K-On! A Slice of Life anime about gal pals and their friendship. It is slow paced, but good when you just want to unwind, or on a rainy day like today. Watching on Hulu.