You Mean I Have to Fight My Own Battles?!

Luna! How dare you!

But Luna has a valid point. I’m watching Sailor Moon on Hulu. My little sister always loved this show, but it’s my first time watching the series (except for the occasional episode I’d watch with her, when we were kids). Wait, did Tuxedo Mask actually do anything when he came, or did he just throw a rose, some emotional support, then run off into the night? Well we can’t underestimate emotional support! I’m only on episode five, so I’m sure there’s room for growth.

“I depend on me.” Alright I’ll send Usagi the video below as motivation. However…Tuxedo Mask is still welcome, even if he just wants to watch anime and chill.

Image Found on Pinterest (User Name: FoxyDoor)

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!

Unpopular opinion on Yamato Kurosawa

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I started watching Say I Love You / Sukitte Ii na yo on Hulu. I just finished episode three. I may change my mind later, but my first impression of Yamato Kurosawa is not a good one. I can appreciate he wanted to know Mei Tachibana despite her being the school pariah, and not caring what other people think. I also appreciate that he saved her when she had that stalker from work. It’s a horrible, uneasy, and unsafe feeling having someone follow you or stalk you online. Having experienced degrees of this myself, I can imagine how Mei felt, so I’m glad Yamato came to her aid. That aside, Yamato’s character as a whole, is disingenuous to me. Even before he mentioned it himself in the anime’s third episode, it was obvious he goes with the crowd, adjusts himself to other people’s expectations, and caters to the whims and fancies of others. It feels like he’s always “on.” And I hate that he does things because “I just felt like it.” It dismisses the feelings of others, and it doesn’t give weight to the repercussions of his actions. He seems oblivious to the consequences of his behavior. The girls he strings along, who chase after him, who pine after him, he never right out refuses them. Thus they carry on thinking they have a chance to win his heart. Tachibana’s distrust of him is understandable. I like that she is direct with him, that is refreshing. I’m hoping as they enter this relationship together that they will both grow as people. But at the moment, I find Yamato to be careless in his interactions with others, and he doesn’t consider how his actions affect others, especially the girls he strings along.

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.

Nerves

What do you do when you’re nervous or stressing out? Changing your focus and envisioning a positive outcome can help. Practice and trust in your training. Faith. Meditation. Music. Movement, like running or yoga. Rest. There are a lot of ways people handle nervous energy. Or you could view it as excitement. Sometimes our tummies can give away our nervousness. Hinata knows that very well. I’m watching Season Two of Haikyu on Hulu. In this episode, Yamaguchi is nervous about playing in the spring tournament. The thought of him repeating his blunder from the last competition makes him anxious. Yachi tries to cheer him up, but as he tells her about his ordeal, his anxiety quickly transfer to her. The group tries to make sense of it. Having experienced that on the receiving end, I totally get it. So maybe Shimizu’s guess was pretty accurate. Of course Hinata can’t resist poking at Kageyama!

True. But it’s up to us how we choose to react to it and how we handle the situation. Check out how the Karasuno Crows handle their stress, on Hulu!

Eri’s First Smile and a New Home

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Having overcome so many challenges in her life, like accidentally rewinding her father’s existence by an uncontrolled quirk, abandonment by her mother, grandpa in a coma, and abuse at the hands of her guardian, it was heartwarming to see Eri so happy, finally! Eri’s first smile was at the UA High School Festival during class 1A’s performance. Check out the festival episode, as well as the rest of Season Four of My Hero Academia, on Hulu!

Before the Festival, Mirio Togata gave Eri a tour of the UA campus. For some reason folks thought Eri was Mirio’s daughter. Also Mirio tried to pull a prank that didn’t quite go the way he wanted. But his reaction to Deku ruining it was funny.

Eri now has wonderful mentors and role models like Aizawa, Mirio, and the rest of UA. She even has a new home with a new family! And look at that smile!

Haikyu!

I just finished Season One of Haikyu on Hulu (I think it’s on Netflix and VRV/Crunchyroll as well). It was my first sports anime! I always enjoyed playing volleyball, so an anime about the sport peaked my interest. Having watched so many shoujo anime, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a sports anime.

Haikyu showed the hard work, effort, practice, training, dedication, drills, and sacrifices athletes make to be successful in their sport. Discipline and passion should be present (and talent doesn’t hurt). What’s that quote? “Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard” (Tim Notke).

This show had me rooting for Hinata, Kageyama, and all of the Karasuno Crows! Personalities clashed at the beginning, but the team bonded as they prepared to do battle with their rivals, and they became even stronger! Their coach, faculty mentor, manager, and advisors encouraged, supported, and motivated them to always do their best. There are meaningful mentoring scenes. The teammates acquired skills and tips from each other, and learned from their rivals. In sports, and in life, it’s interesting how much energy, mood, and vitality affect us. And what the contributing factors are, what helps, what doesn’t, and how can we repeat those positive experiences. A lot of psychology. If you’re looking for something that will inspire you, energize you, and give you a great team to root for, check out Haikyu!

They almost made me want to run! Almost.

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

This is a continuation of an earlier post, found here: https://empathmeetsanime.com/2020/03/17/anime-to-make-you-laugh-and-lift-your-spirits-part-i/ I’ve watched these anime series on various platforms; VRV, Crunchyroll, Hidive, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and DVDs.

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!

  • Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san / Teasing Master Takagi-san : At first glance, I thought this anime was pretty slow, but when I viewed it as a story of young love, sprinkled with humor, I got it. There’s something very wholesome and relaxing about this series, especially in these uncertain times, that I find soothing. I like good-natured teasing, so I get where Takagi’s coming from, plus she knows Nishikata so well. I prefer subtitled anime, but the dubbed version of this one is pretty good. https://myanimelist.net/anime/35860/Karakai_Jouzu_no_Takagi-san
  • Special A : Super smart students have their own elite class, called Special A. This anime follows the group of friends as they navigate high school adventures. In addition to always studying to stay at the top of their class, they have to be on alert because there are haters lurking around every corner. Hikari Hanazono, who works incredibly hard and always does her best, is a great character. As skilled and talented as she is, cooking escapes her grasp (much like myself). And her rival is Kei Takishima, who makes everything look easy. Because Hikari is always focused on studying, it seems she’s missed the very obvious signs that Kei is in love with her. His swoon-worthy qualities include sincerity, intelligence, work ethic, dry humor, and kindheartedness. If you’re looking for shoujo anime, check this one out! It’s also got some great comedy. https://myanimelist.net/anime/3470/Special_A
  • Kaichou wa Maid-sama / Maid Sama: Misaki Ayuzawa is class president at a school that used to be males only. She works extremely hard at school and also at her part time job at a maid cafe. Her father abandoned her family leaving a lot of debt, so she helps her mother with the bills, and her younger sister enters a lot of contests to win prizes that help them sustain their living. Misaki means well, but comes off abrasive to most of the male students, and has the nickname Demon President. Despite her temper, or because of it, Takumi Usui is enamored with her and spends as much time as he can at the maid cafe. He genuinely cares for her and helps her overcome some of the hurdles that keep the student body divided. Her strong leadership is better received and the school grows to appreciate her, and how she always stands up for them. Takumi, much like Kei from Special A, is a gentleman, loyal, funny, and authentic. His personality, while different from Misaki’s, compliments her perfectly. In addition to the cute romance, it is a pretty funny series, with some poignant quotes. https://myanimelist.net/anime/7054/Kaichou_wa_Maid-sama

Haha me too guys!

  • Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue / My Roommate is a Cat : If you’re looking for cute and wholesome anime, then you have to check out My Roommate is a Cat. Half of the episode is in the perspective of Subaru Mikazuki, and the other half is from the perspective of Haru, the cat. Mikazuki is a major introvert, who would rather stay at home and write, and is socially awkward. Haru helps him open up more, and to enjoy the world around him. Given the special circumstances of social distancing, it may be interesting for people to see the introverts who generally enjoy spending time at home (granted we also have a need to get out from time to time, but for the good of our country and the good health of all, let’s stay at home until it’s deemed safe to leave). There are moments that this anime tugs at the heart strings. Mikazuki, who lost both of his parents, finds a new family connection with Haru. If this series, albeit cute, becomes too heavy perhaps consider watching of the other recommendations. https://myanimelist.net/anime/38145/Doukyonin_wa_Hiza_Tokidoki_Atama_no_Ue

More recommendations coming soon! Stay safe, healthy, and well my friends!