What to Watch This Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re looking for something to watch today, I’d suggest Tamako Market’s second episode, “The Love-in-Bloom Valentine’s.” Below is a blurb from VRV/HiDive.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Tamako Market is one of my absolute favorite animes of all time. It’s a slice-of-life, with humor, friendship, family, a touch of romance, and did I mention a talking bird named Dera?! I watched the subtitled version first, but enjoyed the dubbed version with my family later. They did a great job selecting the English cast, especially Dera, who sounds very fancy (which suits his personality). Kyoto Animation did a wonderful job. This series is heart-warming, wholesome, peaceful, amusing, and relaxing.

In this episode, Tamako and her father butt heads regarding the way their shop should celebrate Valentine’s Day. Tamako believes their mochi shop would have a sales boost if they incorporated Valentine’s Day themed menu options. Even her grandfather seems in the spirit, despite his son’s reservations.

Of course while making breakfast for her family, Tamako doesn’t want to let the heart mochi go to waste!

As Tamako discusses her idea for their mochi shop, Dera is perplexed hearing about “Valentine’s Day.” It is an unknown concept to him. But he learns from television how they celebrate in Japan.

Some of the girls at school discuss buying chocolate, or making it at home. When Tamako’s friend Kanna draws up plans to design a house of chocolate, her friends support her endeavor. Plus we get to see her finished results at the end of the episode! I want to know who was the recipient of that giant chocolate house?! Did she share with the entire class?!

This episode is great for Valentine’s, because it celebrates family, friendship, and romance. While we’re surrounded by love in various forms, it may not be a great day for everyone. There is character growth, as they learn to be open minded, and allow themselves to be vulnerable in showing their feelings to others. It shows how we can support each other as friends. And that it’s okay to like who you like.

English Lyric Translation (from French): https://lyricstranslate.com/en/un-lieu-de-rencontre-place-return.html

Tamako and Mochizou used their cup phone to discuss their plan to liven up the shopping arcade. Later, at the meeting with all the shop owners, Mochizou had the idea for a commercial. He worked really hard on the commercial with Tamako, their friends, and the shop owners, to showcase their Valentine marketing and sales.

After Mochizou flicked Dera off the phone line, he’s flying for his life!

Do cup phones really work?! I mean, if there isn’t a bird sitting on the string.

After seeing how hard Tamako worked with her friends, and the other shop owners, her Dad has a change of heart.

Because this episode discusses various aspects of love, I think this is a great show to watch if you’re looking for something for Valentine’s Day!

LOL so dramatic Dera! Especially for a bird who didn’t know what Valentine’s Day was, thirty minutes ago.

Horimiya OVAs

I am loving the anime Horimiya. It’s the epitome of what a romance anime should be! It doesn’t have that awkwardness that many in this genre have, it has a good pace, great humor, and the characters are relatable. I’m sure the manga readers and webcomic fans already know about the Horimiya OVAs, but I just found out about them. They were created before the anime. And what a delight they are! Some of the scenes we’ve seen in the anime already, and other parts we might get to see soon. There are some differences between the OVAs and the anime currently airing.

In the first OVA, we have meaningful moments like the ones below:

Hori, and Shindou (who we meet later), are confident and self-assured. They approach Miyamura with a sincerity that he isn’t used to. They don’t care what others think, and befriend whomever they feel drawn towards. And Tooru, while slower to warm up, has embraced Miyamura as a friend too. The judgements, critiques, gossip, and negative behavior of others can have detrimental effects on the recipient. Thankfully Miyamura is open to making friends and building relationships.

I appreciated Miyamura, acknowledging his inner child/past self, that was hurt and isolated. How many moments growing up, and even as an adult, do we feel stuck in a bad moment, or life circumstance, and a positive solution seems elusive. Having that feeling of “it’s going to be okay” and better days are around the corner, and that we’re not alone, can help us bridge that gap. From a feeling of hopelessness, turmoil, to hopefully arriving at a place of peace. Acknowledging that inner child is important. Doing so, in my opinion, h,elps us appreciate our growth, and the challenge we worked through. If we have any associated behaviors that may no longer be helpful to us, or self-sabotaging or harmful tendencies, we can be aware of them, acknowledge them, and address those issues. Behaviors may be good or bad for us, depending on the intention, and what it brings to our life (example: a form of self-expression versus seeking physical pain as an unhealthy coping mechanism). There are many layers to why life experiences affect our behavior, and the ways we handle life’s curveballs. But it’s good to be aware of what’s helpful to us now, and what behaviors we may want to change, or release.

AnimeRude Tuber on YouTube shared the OVAs below, if you’re interested in watching. There may be a spoiler or two, if you haven’t read the source material.

OVA 1

OVA 2 has cute scenes, like the part with the sidewalk.

And Hori’s brother, Souta, loves Miyamura so much that he wants him to move in already!

But it also had moments that were frustrating. I have not read the source material, so I’m not sure which depiction is accurate. But the scenes with the student council in the anime annoyed me, but the way it was portrayed in the OVA infuriated me. I used to participate in student council, I know it has merit. What frustrated me, is seeing how diligent, reliable, responsible, and hard-working Hori is, and how others get a free pass. I like to think I’m as hard-working as Hori, so the scene that unfolded with Remi was familiar. The application of different rules and different expectations for people in similar roles of responsibility, is an unfortunate reality. Hori is responsible in her school life, and at home caring for Souta, that taking on additional duties so Remi can slack off seems incredibly unfair.

But as frustrated as I was for the situation that unfolded, ultimately the power lies with Hori. I like to be helpful to others and I tend to be a workaholic. So I get where Hori’s coming from. I’m also learning to have balance in life. Hori could’ve established boundaries to prevent the student council from dumping their work on her. As illustrated below, Hori had a chance to reclaim her time and force them to handle their own workload and “the mascot’s” errors.

The second OVA is below. I like that Miyamura is in tune with Hori and noticed her anxiety planning for her future and was supportive. And of course the way he handled the student council and their misdeeds! Not that violence is the answer.

It seems President Sengoku had some dirt on Hori. So I’m sure she regrets her past behavior and the way she treated him.

OVA 2

Below is OVA 3. The way they translated the scene with the drinks makes more sense, than the way it was translated in the anime on Hulu. I cannot bear to watch scary movies, so I can relate to Miyamura’s feelings. We got to see a jealous Hori! I hope she appreciates that Tooru has extra supplies she can use.

We also meet Shindou and I love how he describes Hori as self-assured. What does that look like? Is it how one carries themselves? Their posture? What they wear? Eye contact? Body language? All of the above? The energy they radiate? I agree with Shindou’s description of Hori, she carries herself with confidence, and is sincere in her interactions with others.

OVA 3

OVA 4 kicks off with Hori being less than truthful about her favorite genre of movie.

In this way, Hori reminds me of Yukino Miyazawa from His and Her Circumstances/Kare Kano. When it comes to integrity and character, Hori is the same person. But she acts embarrassed over trivial things, that I wouldn’t think requires her to feel ashamed, or that she has to hide it. Not wearing makeup at home, watching horror films, and beating five guys at arm wrestling doesn’t sound embarrassing to me (although as mentioned earlier, I have no tolerance for scary horror films, my reaction would be similar to Miyamura’s!).

Perhaps someone who has read the manga or webcomic can explain, but why is Miyamura so harsh towards Shindou? He genuinely cares for Miyamura and befriended him when others wouldn’t, yet Miyamura has a short temper with him. In the middle of the street, Shindou gets punched and yelled at to stop wondering the streets year round, and to go back to online shopping! I am curious about this girl Miyamura used to like! Was she similar to Hori? It seems Shindou’s title of Best Friend may be self-declared.

We also got to meet the fellow below! Well kind of.

This episode had heart warming moments, and more of Jealous Hori. Sengoku was having flashbacks of Hori when she used to be a bully, and did not have any comforting words for Miyamura.

Hopefully as the series progresses, Hori learns to work through her anger and jealous tendencies. I am forever grateful for the person I had in my life, who helped me grow past my emotional outbursts. I used to have knee jerk reactions to everything. Perhaps it’s having Aries as my sun sign. Ultimately I learned that emotion can cloud the message you want to convey, and in relationships clear communication is paramount. Not only in romantic relationships, but all relationships. Connections with our family, friends, co-workers, and others, benefit from each of us being able to express ourselves clearly. Meditation, Reiki, and being present, has helped me tremendously. Sometimes just getting fresh air for five minutes helps. Every day is another chance for us to try again at communicating clearly, and appreciating the positive relationships in our lives.

OVA 4

I’ll continue watching the anime currently airing, but I did enjoy watching all of the OVAs! I’m thankful they were posted on YouTube otherwise I wouldn’t have run across them when I did.

Noblesse: Saving Your Friends

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

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.

I mean, Regis is clearly complaining to M-21 about something in this scene, but I guess it is peaceful compared to their current circumstance. At least M-21 seems to be having a chuckle about it.

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.

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!

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.