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.

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.

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.

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.

Quarantine Watch List

I suggested anime that might make you laugh and lift your spirits in earlier posts, and I plan to share more later. This post I’ll just update as I’m watching shows during the quarantine. During this time of uncertainty and stress, anime has been a wonderful distraction that has positively impacted my mindset, and mood. It has brought concepts like teamwork, perseverance, young love, and humor to my daily life in quarantine. I am reminded how much our interactions with others and relationships can bring meaning to our lives. If I need an energy shift for myself, watching one of the shows below, or ones I’ve mentioned before like Tamako Market, can lift my spirits.

During this time, and always, I pray may everyone be safe, healthy, and well. I’ve been doing distance Reiki regularly. Prayers, and good energy always help. Very grateful and appreciative for those keeping us running; first responders, medical staff, cleaning crews, sanitation workers, truck drivers, grocery employees, delivery workers, and all the others.

If you find yourself at home and want to watch along, here’s what I’ve been watching (the ones marked with * I really enjoyed);

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san / Teasing Master Takagi-san Season 2*

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san / Teasing Master Takagi-san

(yes I watched the second season first lol)

Haikyu / Haikyuu! Season 1*

Haikyu / Haikyuu! Season 2*

Haikyu / Haikyuu! Season 3

Natsume Yuujinchou / Natsume’s Book of Friends Season 1*

My Sweet Tyrant / Akkun to Kanojo*

Arte

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness / Hoozuki no Reitetsu Season 1*

Gakuen Babysitters / School Babysitters*

Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun / Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun *

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin / Midnight Occult Civil Servants

Miira no Kaikata / How to Keep a Mummy

Momokuri*

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness Season 2 / Hoozuki no Reitetsu 2nd Season*

A Silent Voice / Koe no Katachi*

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou / Daily Lives of High School Boys*

Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou / Kare Kano / His and Her Circumstances*

Usagi Drop / Bunny Drop*

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru / Run with the Wind*

Isshuukan Friends / One Week Friends

Gingitsune*

Days*

Prince of Stride: Alternative

Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life*

Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life Season 2*

Gakuen Alice*

Nijiiro Days / Rainbow Days

Sukitte Ii na yo / Say I Love You

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club – Season 1

Free! Eternal Summer – Season 2*

Free! Dive to the Future – Season 3