Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Anime Preview 2013

Unbelievable! It's only been two months since I've posted my Spring Preview, and yet, here we go again. Some of the series I've been watching eagerly this season only got 4 episodes left, with Red Data Girl wrapping up this week via Nico Nico (sadly, PA Works cramped the novels into 12 episodes). But if there is one relief though Shingeki no Kyojin got two cours and will be airing until the Fall season.

There are several anime's I'm looking forward to seeing this upcoming season including Free! (from KyoAni), Silver Spoon (by Full Metal Alchemist mangaka Hiromu Araka), Devil on a G String, Blood Lad, Genshiken, Kiniro Mosaic, Uchouten Kazoku ,second seasons of Tamayura and Hakkenden, and the 20th anniversary reboot of Sailor Moon.

Here are some of the titles I'll be watching for the 3rd quarter salvo with their respective trailers
Just press the play button to watch the video.

Happy Viewing!

Tamayura: More Aggressive        Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou

                    Free!                              Stella Jogakuin Koutou Ka C3-Bu

Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku             Danganronpa - The Animation PV

        Servant x Service                        Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya

Kiniro Mosaic                                   Uchouten Kazouku

Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi                Genshiken Nidame

    Blood Lad                                           Hakkenden Season 2

             Watamote                                Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist

Gatchaman Crowds                              Gin no Saji

Friday, June 21, 2013

Books Galore!

There are numbers of books unread piled up on my closet. Looking at them makes me sad knowing that I'm not as much as interested with these choice of titles unlike before. But this also gave me an awakening that the ones I most likely pay attention to or read preferably are children's fantasy books, travel guides and art books. Not because children's books are easier to comprehend but they are more fun and more adventurous in my opinion. With YA (young adult) I am more picky; books that falls in the same story lines with Twilight have no space in my collection. Travel guide books, especially the discounted ones, are basically my must-haves whenever I visit or go to a book store. They got lots of tidbits, from history, places, sights and sounds, local scenes and people, all condensed in one paperback. It's a worthy purchase that nourishes my brain with useful information. 

Lately I haven't been reading much. I went to Powerbooks and Book Sale today and look what I've found. Of course I cannot buy them at the moment due to lack of funds. However, these are now earmarked on my future expenditures once I've saved enough dough to get me through the day. 

(From left to right) Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood, Into the dark by Peter Abrahams, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart,  Sylvie and the Songman by Tim Binding, Jennifer Murdley's Toad by Bruce Coville, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

(From left to right) Culture Shock! Tokyo: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette by Yuko Morimoto-Yoshida, Frommer's Suzy Gershman's Where to Buy the Best of Everything, The Best of Archie Comics, The Art Book by Phaidan Press, Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cinema Paradiso: The Montage of Kisses

Melancholia treat under the rain. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso is one of my favorite movies of all time, and the music composed by Ennio Morricone is just magical. Like Toto, I've always been that little kid who would spend my money on movies over other things. This last scene -- a collection of film montage -- makes him realized that cinema is his true passion and love. Ditto. The feeling is mutual.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Film Roundup: Beautiful Creatures

Year: 2013 | Directed by: Richard LaGravenese | Roundup Rating: C+

I don't need to expound on my love for things magical because I've been writing about it every now and then. Beautiful Creatures has a cool concept, and I'm glad in terms of its visual effects and production it has an excellent treatment. Very Tim Burton-esque if you ask me. I love the flashback sequence during the Civil War, Lena Duchannes making the moon disappear, and the closing credits. But apart from that there is nothing much to love about this movie. I love the cinema and it pains me so when I have to write negative comments about it.

The main characters Lena and Ethan, and their respective actors, are very two dimensional. The earlier scenes caught my interest. I thought this was going to be different from Twilight. But all of my presumptions were flushed down to the drain when they fell in love. I hate Ethan's sickening teenage spirit, his pathetic discourse on the power of love. His actions and dialogues are so generic, like some lines written off from a cheap romance pocketbook. Their push and pull, "we can't be together because of some age old curse" is pretty much an excuse or a vehicle for them to start making out. The best thing that happened for the two of them is when Lena sacrificed their happiness in order for Ethan to live. I think that was more romantic and realistic. I would prefer if they separate for some time and get back together when they're older.

Bringing in fresh talents to the screen is a good platform for the industry because it means there is always a space for growth and opportunities for everyone. But if Rooney Mara wasn't the A-lister that we know now I would have prefer her playing the role of Lena Duchannes as I think she is an embodiment of both light and dark. What save this movie from being a complete disaster is the superb acting performances by Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum. Despite of the story's far-fetched ideas these actors are obvious pros who have ample knowledge about their craft. Even if their screen time is limited they shine on their roles not because of their popularity but due to their tried and tested abilities.

If you enjoy watching movies for the sake of special effects and its gorgeous visual feast then go ahead and see this one. But if well-written stories is your thing then your time would be better spent by watching something else.

Final Notes: Red Data Girl

Year: March 16, 2013 – June 1, 2013 | Directed by: Toshiya Shinohara 
Episodes: 12 | Written by: Michiko Yokote | Based on the novels by Noriko Ogiwara 
Studio: P.A. Works | Roundup Rating: A

What an incredible journey to the world of the Japanese supernatural and fantasy. Thanks to Red Data Girl, Noriko Ogiwara and PA Works for making it all possible. Yes, we're done. Just three months after its NicoNico airing and we've finally reached the conclusion. But I think it's too short considering the amount of literary resources that PA Works could based their anime on. They could instead give this series a 2 cour, for which it richly deserves in my opinion.

I've never been to Japan. I have no idea about Shinto, their culture on supernatural and magic, so it's basically a tough job making sense or tying together all those strange but beautiful concepts together. Since I've always been fascinated in the realm of the fantastic I couldn't complain much and had in fact find this whole RDG experience quite educational.

My favorite part of course is the relationship between Miyuki and Izumiko. What they have is not something ordinary in anime. Their relationship is not based on a mere physical attraction; they have a growing friendship, a slowly but surely understanding of one another's characteristics, including their own faults and weaknesses. In the end, the main couple found the strength to change by being there at each other's side. Although we've never really get to see a fix resolution to their relationship, like a full blown confession, but if you can read between the lines (with Miyuki's "You have to tell me that you need me...and I won't be your manservant") then you can determine frankly that there is a desire for something beyond friendship.

PA Works did a fantastic job with the animation, especially with the landscapes. They were able to transport us to a Japan that we've never been before. The shrines and the mountains of Nara this time around. I would also commend their effort for inserting real life historical stories within the story -- maybe it's already there in the book, but I like how it was amalgamated in the anime -- it added a convincing fluidity to its supernatural tone. And the use of Shinto legends and terminologies helped as well to make the story more unique. I was also floored by the visual effects and the character designs, from episode one right down to the ending they delivered the goods, just goes to show that this is Kadokawa Shoten's 65 year anniversary project. Another plus points for Red Data Girl is the music, both for the OP and ED  and its overall soundtrack. This series is one a kind and its music also gave the same appeal. I know it's too early to say, but I think I have to give "Yokan" the best ED song for 2013. This song reminds me why I love "Ue o Muite". It is simple, tranquil and it shoot straight into your heart even though the lyrics is in a foreign language. The same goes for its soundtrack that gives off a pure cultural vibe that reminds me of Monks and Shrines; for example, the song in Izumiko's dance where you can hear the use of Japanese indigenous musical instruments in the background.

The only setback (and comment) I'm writing in so far is the compression of the novels into a one cour series. I could say this over and over again, but there is so much to flesh out from Ogiwara's books. I feel sorry that this anime, especially the school festival arc is so thinly interpreted to a haste. Because of that, opinions about this series is pretty much divided between like and dislike. But in spite of its shortcomings I am one of those viewers who really loved and enjoyed this anime, and granted if this novel is translated into English -- if that's what it takes for me to understand everything I missed out on -- I would read them in a heartbeat.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Film Roundup: Stoker

Year: 2013 | Directed by: Park Chan Wook | Roundup Rating: B

When you're a fan of Alfred Hitchcock it is easy to point out the many allusions used by Wentworth Miller (the movie's screenwriter) all over Stoker. The closest thing you could do as a viewer is play the name game as to what Hitchcock's film went to a particular scene and when. I don't think there is any thing wrong with paying homage to the master of the macabre, after all everything that he did back then is very much inimitable until today -- simply because  tales of murder would never be out of style even when technologies change and went obsolete. But there is a huge difference between doing something in good taste and bad, and in my opinion Stoker falls in the middle of being bad. I shouldn't be saying this in the first place because this is the Hollywood directorial debut of Park Chan-Wook (OldBoy); the South Korean film director is famous for making unattractive things such as violence, gore and madness into a perfect work of art. So what went wrong with this one?

First off, Mia Wasikowska's acting. She is a talented actress no doubt about that. I like her performances in Restless and Jane Eyre, specially when she is not trying hard to be Tilda Swinton 2.0. Her narration part at the opening exudes tranquility bordering on languid and has carried more of the latter throughout the entire film. India is Wasikowska's gothic Alice in Wonderland and I'm sick of watching her cool, calm and collected when her role needs her to be in psychotic mode. The way I see it, Stoker is about a girl's psychopathic awakening. But I don't expect her to turn into a loose screw all of a sudden because that would be something of an exaggeration. But honest to blog, she is not creepy enough, even when she masturbates on the image of murder or when she stabbed a classmate with a pencil, she stayed with the same stoic expression. Like a singer lacking in conviction and emotion.

The combination of Miller's screenplay and Wasikowska's acting is so lethal that the only thing it produced are sleep inducing moments. I've seen this film thrice and I could no longer keep count the times I gave in to my forty winks.

Although I've been a little bit brash earlier there are things I did liked about Stoker. Park Chan-Wook managed to salvaged some parts of this movie by bringing his unique trademark to the screen. The strong cohesion of Clint Mansell's spine-chilling music, the eeriness of Chung Chung-hoon cinematography, the production design and art direction has accentuated Park's flair for the sinister savagery and his genius as an inscrutable filmmaker. There is also a hint of a promise with the story as it gives us a closer look to the inner-workings of the mind of a (developing) psychopath. How they find murder as a pleasurable act without feeling a bit remorseful about it. At the very least, Stoker could have been a successful character study, it tried moderately but failed to live up to what I expected it to be. It lose its way from all of the Hitchcock premise the writer aims to incorporate. However, I don't think this could be viewed as a failure project for Park Chan-Wook because where the film fails it works in its technical achievements, and there we see his strength in turning something average to look daring and exceptional, well at least on the surface. I'll be watching it again in the hopes of changing my mind, but then again this is what I feel about this movie for now. Let's just wait and see if my outlook changes favorably for Stoker in the future. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kotonoha no Niwa

Year: 2013 | Directed by Makoto Shinkai | Roundup Rating: A

Writing a review for a Makoto Shinkai film is like reading a poem and trying to put a box of what the emotions mean. As far as poetry is concern, it is a free flowing art form -- every word and every line represents something -- and yet it can be interpreted differently depending on the reader's point of view. 

Kotonoha No Niwa (The Garden of Words) is Shinkai's latest filmic endeavor. Barely 45 minutes long, the movie tells the story of two characters separated by their 12 year age gap, but connected by the language of their soul. 

I've never been a proponent of May-December relationships, with the woman holding the seniority. Although this movie never did change my opinion about that - not one bit, Shinkai's painstaking appreciation for simplicity made me fell in love with almost every element of this film. As a fan of Shinkai's ouvre you could say that he has a natural gift for transforming mundane things and ordinary places as though they were extraordinarily breathtaking and more real in their animated format. Tokyo never look so exotic. It's like how Parisians tell the world that their city looks better in the rain - and Shinkai's Tokyo gave us that same impression. He is Japan's Ernest Hemingway, but a visual poet nonetheless; he could make you feel the blow of the wind, the smell of the leaves, the taste of chocolate and beer, and the touch of one's hand just by the weave of his visual wizardry. 

At this point I can finally call him an auteur. Not just an up-and-coming but a full pledged one at that. He is evidently hands on not only with the animation and the story but also with the overall soundtrack. What sealed Quentin Tarantino, Wong Kar-Wai and Alfred Hitchcock's sense of auteur-ship is their musical sense. They know how to pick the right track that would complete their movie's personality rather than the music being a separate entity. Shinkai knows that pictures and sounds remain inside our memories for a very long time, or maybe as long as we're alive, and so he uses it with such ease and profundity.

Story wise, Garden of Words is more uplifting compared to "5 Centimeters Per Second". The conclusion, albeit an open ended one, gives us a glimmer of hope for the characters to meet again in the future; that he would come after her once he had fulfilled his own dreams. Shinkai showed us that maturity is not measured by the numeral of one's age but according to one's openness to life experiences. If the running time of this movie is an hour longer the story could have expanded further in order for us to see an in depth growth and changes between the character's relationship between each other and by themselves. In spite of that I am completely satisfied with this motion picture  and have come to see that Shinkai wants to impart with us that there is beauty in the ordinary every day life as long as we can keep on moving forward by living it with sheer honesty. 

❤ Bali

(Top: at the Pura Ulun Danu /
Bottom Left: Pura Tirta Empul Holy Springs,
Bottom Right: Pura Ulun Danu)

Bali, you are now on my list.

I love to travel. Although at the present I lack the financial resources to indulge on my wanderlust so ever freely. My third grade classmate Moe (through her Tumblr/Instagram) keeps on inspiring me to seriously go for it and visit those places she has conquered, may it be in Europe or in Asia. She recently went to Bali and I ended up lifting these photographs from her blog. One swoop and I fell in love. I'm taking note of these locations so I can visit them when I got the chance.

UCC Blended Coffee

Strong, dark and bitter just the way I want my coffee. I'm not a frequent coffee drinker, nor a serious coffee lover, but this iced cold can got so much pure coffee beans to fire up my senses and give me some serious palpitation -- or in my case, I'm already in between drowsiness and dizziness due to its strong effects. UCC trumps Nescafe. However, this type of concoction is not recommended to those folks with lactose tolerance and saccharine preferred taste buds. #UCC #NipponSuki #Evangelion

Conduct Unbecoming

Our society has brainwashed its homo-sapien inhabitants and demanded its female counterparts to dolled themselves up in order to prove to the world that they are true girls inside and out. If you refrain from acting that way you are therefore labeled and mistaken for a lesbian. So what the f**k if I do not frequent the salon and can not (for the life of me) paint my own nails? I do not like putting rouge on my face, and I find it unnecessary to pluck my eyebrows. So what if I'm not in a relationship? I'm too selfish, sad and conceited to be in one anyway (I'm already committed with myself and I enjoy being single immensely; to settle is a grave sin). So what if I find comfort going to places, riding trains and watching movies all by myself? My sanctuaries are bookstores, record bars and video shops. And most often than not when I buy my clothes and shoes I do not dilly dally around (except for bags), because I prefer comfort over style. So what if I like my over sized tees with Disney prints and my feet flat in a Converse? I don't like to pout my lips or to look cute in photographs. I like it better when I'm behind the camera than to be the subject in front of the lens. My favorite books are children's fantasy novels, transgressional literature and travel guides because they tell more truth and danger than Dan Brown. Technology is overrated and it takes away jobs from mankind. There are only four occupations I give my utmost respect to: farmers, fishermen, butchers and mothers, and yet they are the most under appreciated (thankless) jobs in the world. I have a love-hate relationship for my country so I prefer to stay away from posting any patriotic messages about the beauty of the Philippines and the talent of its people. I like looking at the mountains but I refuse to climb over its peak. I hate beaches (but I love the ocean), swimsuits and summer. Conversations about work during friendly get-together's are despicable. I am a Daria Morgendorffer persona in real life: I talk grim and my conversations are peppered with neurosis. When something I like becomes mainstream my interest for it fades away. Stupid are those people who drinks beer for the sake of fitting in. (I mean, who cares if they turn you into an outcast, at least you stood up for what you believed in). Girls are stupid when they let their friends tweezed their eyebrows even if they don't want to. Girls are stupid when they copy each other's hairstyle and they wear color coordinated clothes for a day. And I hate everyone for being too bothered about my non-existent dating life and solitary civil status when I am clearly unperturbed about the whole idea. After all, I stopped believing in the divinity of marriage a long time ago; it is an institution that man can create the rules and break the rules. 

I have a habit of saying random things. For now this soliloquy will be put to an indefinite halt and to be resume sometime in a not too distant futuristic reality. 

From your lost wanderer, 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eureka Seven: AO

Year: April 12, 2012 - November 19, 2012 | Directed by: Tomoki Kyoda |
Episodes: 24 | Written by: Shō Aikawa 
Studio: Bones | Roundup Rating: A

What I love about watching Science Fiction is that I could experience things that I wouldn't normally experience in real life. And when my beloved genre is told in anime the super imposing nature of reality simply flies off at the window. Everything that is impossible becomes probable. I just recently finished Eureka Seven: AO (or Astral Ocean), the sequel to Eureka Seven. I have not seen the latter, I have no idea about the story prior to Astral Ocean, and even though I am overwhelmed by all of the scientific terminologies I immensely enjoyed its entire 24 episode run. Watching it as a sequel I wasn't confused either -- I think Eureka Seven: AO can be a stand alone series -- you can come in as a viewer without the knowledge of the first installment and watch it on reverse. But once again, I won't go into details with the narrative (because I just suck at it), rather I'll just write what I know -- random stuffs I guess.


The way I see it, Eureka Seven: AO goes beyond mecha action, alternate universes and time travel. The story delves deeper into human nature, parent-child relationship, alienation, our eternal search for truth and existential purpose. I've written down on bullet points some of my analyses and lessons learn based on what I've gathered from the said series. 
  • I know this has been said by many, to the point of it being a cliche, but if there is an enemy that we humans cannot defeat that is our "fear of the unknown". And just like the citizens of Iwato Jima, we are simply scared of things that we cannot understand, and when fear dwells in hate takes over man's ability to reason. 
  • Two people in love can be selfish. They only view the world with their own pair of rose-colored glasses and they refuse to see what is real and what is not. They believe that their love can magically wipe their problems away or things could just work itself out for them. You can be as selfish as you want if it only involves the two of you. However, being a parent is a whole different ball game. No matter how good your intentions were, one should contemplate on having children based on his and her capacity as a person, may it be financially, mentally and spiritually. Children are the unwilling victims of their parents mistakes and they are the sufferers of their poor judgment.
  • Parents and children rarely meet halfway and it would always remain that way because they came from completely different generations. But one thing that much is true  is that even though they are constantly on opposing ends their love for each other would never change or fade away.
  • It is our nature to question our purpose. With all the bad things that may have happened in our own life or to those whom we played as witness it is a given to question some higher power the reason and truth of our existence or the ultimate purpose of everything. In my opinion we are just puppets if we accept things as is, there is no point in living if we never ponder about anything. 
  • As long as one is different he/she would always be alone. However, chances are, out of the one in a billion people in the world there is that one person -- similar or not to your circumstance -- that would wholeheartedly accept you as you are. 


I love mecha anime's. I would be a hypocrite if I said that I don't because my first favorite happens to be Voltes V. But I stop loving the said genre after Power Rangers made mecha so generic and cheap, and well, because I was growing up. However, it took another mecha to bring me back to anime, and that is Evangelion. There are talks of comparisons between Astral Ocean and the former, but apart from the robots being operated by children and its philosophical mood there is nothing similar about the two series. They are entirely different in their own special way.

Bones got it right for me. They reaffirmed my opinion that they are one of the best working anime studios in the face of the Earth. They did it once when I saw Darker than Black, twice for Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and thrice for Astral Ocean. When it comes down to Shounen they are the Kings of anime (believe me it's a close call between Madhouse and Sunrise), unless KyoAni made a decision to broaden their palette by doing mecha then this statement is bound to change, but for now that's my opinion. 

I can still see clearly Ao Fukai's turquoise hair with or without my eyes close, the Scub Burst glinting brightly in the sun lit sea shores of Iwato Jima, the spectacular mecha's operated by the Generation Bleu, and the moment when Eureka crossed in Ao's time (or the other way around)  was just mind boggling, and the visual is nothing short of fantastic. I cannot, for the life of me, recall an episode in Astral Ocean that is poorly animated. I was blown away that this series was actually hand drawn -- what with all the CGI's out there to take care of the usual business -- that piece of information is just an astonishing feat indeed. Talk about being tickled. The whole parallel universe and time travel thing is just enough ticklish excitement for me. Bones gave us conundrum, but left us with answers -- without overstating the details letting us viewers come up with our own interpretation. That is for the time being until season two begins.  

Both the OP and ED songs from the two cours is enjoyable and appropriate for the series to listen to. But it has to be the background music of the original soundtrack that made every scenes of Eureka Seven: AO heartbreakingly memorable. I think a series becomes more powerful when its music is capable of stirring up emotions to its viewers or when viewers can associate the BGM to a particular moment in the anime. 

I think the strength of a good anime -- or at least the sequel -- can be measured when it can stand on its own two feet in spite being a follow act to the original series. (Think of The Godfather part II). Though helpful, it is not a necessity to be entirely familiar with Eureka Seven in order to watch and appreciate Astral Ocean. Actually, it's better if you don't. Either way I love this anime and I'll be watching E7 when I've got the chance and the season 2 when it comes out. 

Happy Viewing!

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