Round the Sphere

Copyright 2.0 perhaps? It will be really interesting to see how this will unfold.


…many of whom have trouble releasing all their sexual tension.

Wait. What? Why do I get the feeling that the media always has an agenda when writing about “nerds”?


There’s going to be a The Rose of Versailles drink probably by the time you read this.

The rose and peach-flavored drinks will contain 5,000 milligrams of low molecular fish collagen, in addition to hyaluronic acid, royal jelly, rose hip extract and vitamin B6.


Grab them while you still can! Time’s counting.

Audio Face Off – Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita)

In our second Audio Face Off (see our previous one on Kokoro Connect), Ray and I talk about the merits and the limits of this season’s original satirical series, Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita, or Jintai for short). We go through the major plot arcs, what the fairies and other bits symbolize, and whether there is any ultimate value to cynicism without solution in this series. The discussion gets a bit heated sometimes so enjoy!

Eclair – Kindness You Can Taste

Eclair depicts the resilience and the kindness of ordinary people amidst the turbulent period during and after World War II. After losing his parents at a very young age, Akio lives his life wandering the streets, going in and out of the orphanage and the reformatory. After a police detective saves him from hunger by giving him his first sweet pastry, he begins to find solace in sweets and the will to live.

Based on an autobiographical novel by Shigeru Nishimura, Eclair was filmed mainly in Miyagi prefecture in northeastern Japan prior to the earthquake that hit the area in March 2011. The film was created as a way to bring joy to its citizens – many of whom appear in the film. Before the film could open in theaters, the area was devastated by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The film not only became a lasting memory of many places in Miyagi, but also a symbol of determination for the people to recover.

The 130 seat auditorium at the Japanese Information and Culture Center was mostly filled by the time I arrived but I managed to find a good seat. The Director of JICC introduced the film very much like above then the screening started immediately after.

I found myself surprised at the poor direction and acting of the film in the opening minute. We see Akio, the protagonist, running and supposedly bumping into someone except one could clearly tell he prepared for the oncoming contact, made a half effort at a bump then mechanically changed direction. Seconds later, we see him stumbling and falling but again, one could tell he cushioned ahead for the fall. Then a minute later, we see him holding a half eaten sweet bun, the camera angle jumps behind him, he doesn’t move but when the camera jumps back, he somehow finished the bun. And these are just the standout impressions. The exchange between Toyoma, the detective, and Akio also felt unnatural. I seriously thought I was watching a middle school production!

Of course, given it opened with the nadir in all of cinematic history, this means the film can only move up from here. Indeed, it skyrocketed.

The direction improved dramatically to capture very nuanced characters and an emotional plot. Each of the characters plays to a stereotype such as Fusano’s evil, greedy obasan or Yoko’s loving, dutiful teacher but they all share the universal constant of kindness, demonstrated in their own way. This uniqueness is where the film particularly excels in crafting characters so lifelike, one can taste them.

Kindness proves especially heartmoving and heartbreaking set against the backdrop of arguably the most atrocious act ever committed. Like biting into the sweet tenderness of an eclair, kindness gives us a taste of the best in humanity. Even in the darkest hour, kindness gives us a reason to believe in a new sunrise. Eclair makes a very convincing argument that kindness is a force more powerful than any other.

The film touches upon more than simply kindness. Its portrayal and interaction of life’s other ingredients adds to the film’s strength in creating realistic depictions of the varying textures in life. This is particularly well done with Fusano to which Ayumi Ishida deserves an ovation.

Effective use of other techniques including comic relief, a theme song and flashforward results in a tasty, satisfying eclair of a film filled with laughter, groans and cheers from the audience. It’s a dessert that serves as the main course.

Beyond the film, I like to note that the JICC is just as lovely. As expected of the Japanese, the center boasts all the modern facilities while keeping the aesthetics of its culture. I won’t share it here but I took a picture of the Toto toilet they had. It was my first time. I will definitely be back and encourage everyone to visit if opportunity arises.


Gen Manga’s Wolf

Naoto is a rising boxer determined to defeat his father, who abandons his family years earlier to become a boxer himself. He journeys to Tokyo, and begins the hard road of training for victory and success. This is a dry preview that you would get from me, otherwise I’ll spoil the reading experience.

Wolf has been a part of Gen Manga, since its first issue, so the story has finally concluded and gotten the same experience Kamen and VS Alien has enjoyed, all 10 chapters and a special epilogue bound into one convenient one volume read. This is either going to be in a pdf or a print format, a reader’s preference. Personally I have read both versions, and can say which version is better. The end questions is, whether or not a person wants the extra weight in their bag vs. losing a file if an e-accident happens.

At first glance or a flip through the pages, anyone can surmise that this is a sports manga with a human interest aspect. I am not into reading many team sports manga, but since this is a story on guts and glory.. (not mentioning the sweat).. then it should bring in some readers who would appreciate seeing an underdog rise, and a variety beyond other existing seinen titles in English.

Wham! A victory?

In the world of manga, any subject can be represented. Wolf as a story is not as original, the ending is pretty predictable, with some surprises as to how certain situations played out. It joins other known manga boxing titles that anime and manga fans have already known about. Titles like Hajime no Ippo, One Pound GospelAshita no Joe. Those all cover multiple volumes, but if you want a short read then Wolf at one volume is a good choice.

What stood out for me about Wolf was two things, hope in the fact that things would change with hard work (cues Rocky music) and the mention of a minor character who is a training sumo wrestler that Naoto met at the very beginning. There hasn’t been any sumo manga that has been translated into English, so on the rare occasions I get to see the mention of another type of sport, my interest perks up. I happened to read this book in one subway read, so then how fast would you read this book in order to know what happens?

Round the Sphere

Do you prefer your men 2D or 3D?

She took this very well.

Mankind is becoming inured to violence by eliminating the emotional component of his actions.

Succinct read.

As if we need more reasons why Japan is the place to be.

Here’s one more reason. Er, make that two.

Seems like we’re starting to see effects of leaked radiation from the earthquake last year :/

Zettai Ryouiki. Enough said (NSFW).

I never thought about it this way.

Krizzly Bear is looking for seven guest bloggers for the Endless Eight project.


Natsuyuki Rendezvous: Bodies and Souls in Transition

Natsuyuki Rendezvous, a reclamation of the virtues of josei storytelling for the Noitamina block, goes beyond standard love triangle cliches to closely examine just how people move on—as opposed to get over—their grief. The emotional gravity of the show lies there rather than in the romance that sets it off.

Continue reading Natsuyuki Rendezvous: Bodies and Souls in Transition

Round the Sphere

At the Otakon Matsuri, I happily registered for the Japan Information and Culture Center listserv for opportunities to film screenings. I got an email about the film Eclair last week but by the time I got to it two hours later, all the seats were filled! Buuuut, they’re doing a second screening next week on Wednesday the 22nd. I didn’t make the mistake of waiting to sign up this time ^_^ Needless to say, it’s full again but they do take standbys in case people drop out. In short, if you’re in the area, you have a chance!

Speaking of Otakon, Hsu-Nami has started a vlog of their 2011 Taiwan tour. New episode every Thursday.

Manga? Nexus 7? Free?! Coming October~

What does Pikachu and YSL have in common?

There’s more news via Organization Anti-Social Geniuses.

Introducing: Anime Diet Games

Play it right.

I’m pleased to announce the official opening of Anime Diet Games, a dedicated branch of the site dedicated to video games of all kinds! While we’ll always have a special focus on Japanese pop culture, we’ll be expanding into the rest of the gaming universe too with this new section. Of course, if you go to the section now, you’ll see that we’ve always talked about games every once in a while. But now we’ve decided to pick up our controllers and mash some buttons, so we can cover gaming with the same professionalism and brio that we’ve done with conventions, anime, and manga.

As for me—I wrote years ago that it was JRPGs that actually brought me into anime fandom, not the other way around. Perhaps some of you have had the same experience. We’ve already written about games like Final Fantasy XIII, Eternal Sonata, Alteil, and Skullgirls, and even have footage of Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. The gaming culture is tightly linked to the rest of things we’ve always covered, and it’ll give us a chance to talk in depth about things that matter to fans and otaku outside of just the shows and the cons we watch and attend. (And those cons: the gaming cons, from E3 to PAX, are now on our radars!)

So visit our gaming section at the following links:

Stay tuned folks. We’re about to get busier. As an ill-localized anime title put it: asobi ni iku yo (let’s play)! *


Blog Carnival – A Reflection

This is the only cool pic I can find of a carousel in anime -_-

One of my favorite blogs, The Beautiful World, launched a Blog Carnival so it’s really an invitation that cannot be refused.

Why not reflect on what we like to read and for what reasons?

I only read reviews of shows I have seen because I despise spoilers. Editorials are the best when it makes connections to the world at large. Listless Ink does this very well. I especially like the references to fashion.

What do we do when we stumble across a new blog?

I tend to search for an about page. It gives me an idea of the voice I can expect and what motives/agendas said voice may try to advance in addition to the type of content I can expect. Beneath the Tangles is a good example here. Not that it tries to promote anything but I am immediately informed of a specific angle it takes which I find very helpful.

I can also determine if the writer has a sense of humor and how similar it may be to mine as well as hints into other personality traits. Finally, it gives me a taste of the caliber of writing I can expect.

What must a good animanga blog have and do?

Obviously, a good blog should have content. Content that provokes thought and discussion. It offers a different perspective or even a new paradigm of thinking. Untold Story is a good demonstration. Content should be consistent in frequency. It annoys me to visit a blog only to find the same post from a week ago. Life happens but I know a few blogs who could take it more seriously. That said, don’t update too often. It feels overwhelming sometimes in wanting to catch up.

To compliment discussion, it should let people comment easily. There’s a blog that I absolutely love but each time I want to comment, I have to log into openID and that’s annoying. Captcha is understandable. In the same vein, provide contact info to the writer because not everything is fit for a public comment.

A link or two navigating elsewhere to elaborate on something the reader may not know or may want to explore more is good but try not to go overboard like certain Wikipedia articles or an Aesop Rock song. It’s a good indication that the post may be too dense.

I am a big believer in satisfying niche markets. There are millions of review blogs. Do something differently and do it well. Okazu comes to mind.

What blogging behaviors annoy you?

Having too many scripts. The blog you’re reading this on is guilty of this *cough* My Firefox NoScript addon tells me that there are seventeen, yes SEVENTEEN, scripts it’s trying to run. It adds to loading time and most of the time it’s bloat. Likewise, keep the number of posts on the home page to a handful to limit load time especially if content tends to be picture heavy.

And this is strictly personal preference but I hate white backgrounds. If I want to go blind, I will venture outside my basement =P