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video 2020-05-16 19:09

A few months ago I stumbled across a word for what turns out to be one of my favorite anime genres, although I didn't realize it had a name: iyashikei. It's a term for anime and manga specifically created to have a "healing" or soothing effect, and often crosses over with another favorite of mine, "slice of life." I came across this series after learning about that word - I'm watching it on Blu-ray, but it's also streaming for free on Crunchyroll.


(Content warning for the series:

one of the cat's siblings dies and its body is shown on-screen a few times.)

(spoiler show)


My Roommate is a Cat stars Subaru, a 23-year old introverted mystery writer who's dealing with both grief over his parents' death and social anxiety. Being around people and noise exhausts him, and all he wants to do is read books and be alone. However, he's also terrible at taking care of himself - he doesn't properly stock his kitchen, he forgets to eat when he's on a deadline, and his social anxiety is so great that even talking to store employees is hard for him.


While visiting his parents' grave, he encounters a stray cat, is struck with an idea for his next novel, and ends up taking the cat in, the first living being he has purposely allowed into his life since his parents' death. Each episode is generally structured to first show viewers Subaru's POV and then all or most of the same events from the cat's POV. There's often a mismatch between how they interpret events, but they gradually come to understand each other and form a little family, which also leads to Subaru allowing more people into his life.


I have about three episodes left, and I'll be sad when it's over. It's a sweet series with occasional sad moments - I recommend keeping tissues on hand for the flashback scenes. Haru, the cat, views Subaru like one of her siblings, someone who needs to be taken care of and watched over, but she also occasionally gets a little irked by him. And I can definitely relate to Subaru's introversion. Although he often finds that his interactions with others go better than he expected and open up his world in enjoyable ways, it still exhausts him all the same. The episode where his friend brought his younger siblings over was pretty much how things went when my sister brought all the kids to my apartment a few years back.

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video 2020-04-30 04:19
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (Manga) Vol. 1 - Satoru Yamaguchi

The series is an anime now! This is its opening credits. It looks like four episodes have been aired so far, and I think this might be one of the few current anime series that hasn't been delayed by the pandemic. It's streaming legally with English subtitles on Crunchyroll. The few clips I've seen make me think it probably sits somewhere between the original novels (terrible but with fun aspects) and the manga (so much fun but inherited the novels' weird pacing) in terms of overall quality.

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2020-04-07 00:42
Notes on Adaptation: Caging Skies
Caging Skies - Christine Leunens

This is really the Tale of Two Tales, with the shadow of a third lingering behind. 


Christine Leunens' "Caging Skies" is the novel from which Taika Waititi adapted his screenplay for "JoJo Rabbit" . . . and, if someone didn't tell you that fact, you may never guess. Yes, a little Viennese boy named Johannes is a Hitler Youth true-believer. Yes, his mother is secretly working with underground dissidents. Yes, a friend of Johannes' deceased sister is hiding in the family's attic. 


But is this novel a comedy about a little boy whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler? Does it make you laugh at evil and cry for the naiveté of youth? Not even a little bit. This novel owes far more to Kafka's "Metamorphosis" than to Mel Brooks any day.


Although the first part of the novel IS about a boy who resembles Waititi's JoJo, most of it is not. After JoJo is wounded, he turns surly and loses all humor. The novel becomes the story of a teenage boy -- and then a 20-something young man -- who falls in love with the young woman hidden in his home. As he loses all of his family, he bonds with the woman and keeps her tied to him, a prisoner of dependency and lies, for the rest of the war and more than a few years after. 


Interestingly, though, one motif the novel and film share is that of dancing -- to eerie effect. Through the novel, you can also follow motifs and symbolism of snails, caged birds, decaying houses, and bedridden people. 


So there is Leunens' "Caging Skies." And there is Waititi's "JoJo Rabbit." But I think there is easily another story here to be told: Elsa's story from her own point-of-view. How did she survive, and how badly did her experience affect her mind? "Caging Skies" is entirely from Johannes' point-of-view, so the damage to Elsa is very hard to discern. But it is certainly there. And the potential is fascinating.


Read it. Consider it.



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review 2020-02-02 17:16
Harlequin Violet: Blind Date (manga) based on the original novel by Emma Darcy, art by Mihoko Hirose, translated by Ikoi Hiroe
Harlequin Violet: Blind Date - Mihoko Hirose,Emma Darcy

Peggy Dean is excited to learn that she's a finalist on the Ross Elliot Show's special episode "Blind Date" contest. The first prize is a date with popular singer John Gale, but Peggy isn't interested in that. As a Media Communications major, she's primarily interested in seeing the set of the show. She's also hoping to win a stereo, the consolation prize given to the two finalists who aren't picked to go on a date with John. She attempts to sabotage her chances of winning by giving off-putting answers to John's questions, but instead she accidentally captures his interest.

The Harlequin Ginger Blossoms line fascinates me. As far as I know, they were all adaptations of 1980's Harlequin novels - Emma Darcy's Blind Date was originally published in 1986, while the Japanese manga adaptation was published in 2003, and the English translation of the manga was published in 2006. Wouldn't it have been a better idea to focus on newer romance novels? Was it a rights thing? The color-coding is also interesting. Harlequin Pink titles were printed in pink ink and aimed at younger readers - no on-page sex. Harlequin Violet titles were printed in violet ink and aimed at older audiences (ages 16 and up, according to my copy). They did have on-page sex, but, at least in the case of Blind Date, the nudity was of the Barbie doll variety (no nipples) and the sex scenes were sensual but not graphic.

I haven't read the novel on which this manga is based, so I can't comment on how accurate of an adaptation it is, although I do think it's interesting that, according to descriptions I've read, John's name in the original book was actually Adam Gale. I wonder why his name was changed while Peggy's remained the same?

The artwork is the best part of Blind Date. The character designs are attractive, everything is easy to follow and uncluttered, characters' facial expressions are well done (I laughed at Peggy's "deer in the headlights" stunned expression upon seeing all of John's gorgeous friends at the musical), and it's just generally a lovely looking volume.

The story...well. The first half is pretty solid. Peggy tries to sabotage herself and fails, and John admits that he chose her because he figured she didn't actually want to be chosen and therefore didn't have an ulterior motives. They eventually had a nice dinner, and he managed to convince her to let him buy her a stereo as an apology, since that's what she'd really wanted.

The problems started when they ended up in bed together. John realized that Peggy was a virgin and went from "oh no, what I have I done?" to "you were just using me so that you could sell your story about your first time with John Gale to the media" in two seconds flat. Both Peggy and I were stunned and wondering what the heck happened.

John eventually realized that he was an idiot and apologized, but that didn't stop him from acting like an idiot the next time they ended up in bed together. When Peggy got up first thing in the morning to go to class, John acted like she was completely rejecting him. Dude, she's a college student - you don't get to tell her which classes she can afford to miss and which she can't. I disliked that it was Peggy who apologized first this time, and not John. Peggy hadn't done anything wrong.

For some reason, Peggy continued to stay with John and even agreed to move in with him. All kinds of warning bells went off in my head when he told her not to worry about work ("I'll lend you money until you graduate"). Considering his behavior up to that point, I fully expected him to either remind her that he was lending her money and therefore deserved all her time any time she wanted to do anything on her own, or get mad at some point and accuse her of using him for his money.

I could see what the ending was going for, but it was missing a few key pieces...like an actual demonstration on John's part that he really understood why Peggy had left. A big bouquet of flowers and an "I love you" didn't cut it.

All in all, this was nice looking and decent for what it was, but there's definitely better romance manga out there.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2020-01-06 12:51
Cells at Work anime is on Netflix!
Cells at Work! 1 - Akane Shimizu

Why does Netflix make it so hard to keep track of their upcoming shows? I spend time on their "Latest" page, and yet this still managed to slip into their catalog without warning.


I've only read one volume of the manga, but I definitely plan on watching this. It's basically edu-tainment about cells and the functions of the human body. It's horrendously expensive to buy a physical copy of this series (Aniplex of America prices, ugh), so streaming is probably the only way I'll ever watch this.

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