My thoughts on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

tonari

Yuu, Chizuru, Shizuku, Yamaken, Haru <3, Natsume, Mi-chan, Sasahara

I really liked this anime. I probably can’t exactly tell you why since I myself am not too sure but there are some things that I’m sure of. It’s stories like this that inspire me to write. I can imagine Skye’s jaw dropping after she read that. Well, that was before she, too, came to understand the beauty of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (to be known as TnK from here till the end of the post). “But the story and characters were all kinds of erratic and neurotic and messed-up,” you might say. True, but that’s exactly it.

Had I grown up in a normal environment – lead a lovely ‘perfect’ life, joined clubs in school, been at least semi-popular, been in a little clique of my own, gotten As for every subject, hung out with friends, kept up with fashion trends, listened to popular music, chatted with my friends about clothes, boys and makeup, etc. – I might have found TnK stupid, childish, unrealistic and weird. Let’s face it, after one episode, I would have left it at that, called it crazy and never come back to it.

But I grew up differently – it had its ups and downs and it’s shaped me to be who I am today and I’m okay with who I am – so I can embrace weirdness better, I guess.

If you didn’t know, I write. I love writing. Writing has been a huge part of me since I was a kid. It’s my outlet, my way of telling my story or someone else’s story, my way of letting my feelings out, my way of making stories from movies or books continue after they end, my way of creating characters, my way of rewriting endings that didn’t satisfy me. And it’s also one of my favorite ways of giving morals to stories. I am ALL about morals in stories.

I didn’t realize until very late in my teenage years that I made a lot of my characters misunderstood or vulnerable and made them go through certain things… and I fixed them along the way. They would start out in pieces but I would try to make them whole, better, more in love with themselves. Someone would come along and ‘fix’ them (do I sound like a Coldplay song already?) or they would rediscover themselves and see themselves in a better light. Know what I mean?

Why? It’s subconscious. Bits of my experience, personality and childhood are in those vulnerable characters and by ‘healing’ (for lack of a better word) them in the stories that I write, I’m making myself better somehow and I don’t know, writing could-have-beens. Like the outcomes are what should have/could have/would have been if things had been different. Does that make sense? Was that too deep and confusing? Did that make me sound like an emo kid? I’m not… haha. It’s life, you know.

AAAnyway, I suppose that’s the reason why I liked TnK so much. Because Haru and Shizuku are really weird. Weird in a good way though. They’re both outcasts and kind of ‘damaged’ in some ways but then the ending is uplifting and I really, really liked that about TnK.

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Shizuku and Haru

Brief summary: Yoshida Haru is a delinquent kid who hasn’t been to school since the beginning of middle school (how awesome) because he got into a fight on the first day of middle school and people judged him and became afraid of him. He had a troubled childhood (divorced parents, mean father), is no longer close to his brother whom he looked up to and loved, but is somehow intellectually gifted.

He was sent to live with his Aunt Kyoko and cousin Mitsuyoshi from middle school onwards but because he refused to go to school anymore, his aunt became his teacher and was almost like a mother to him. Then she died and since then he has continued living with his cousin who is 8 years older than him.

I like the way Haru and Shizuku met. She was asked by the teacher to send notes to Haru since he was still suspended from school for engaging in a fight on the first day of school. Then… I won’t spoil it for you. I could write out the whole story here – I really rather like writing freaking long synopses of stories but Skye says that I like spoilers too much and a lot of people don’t so here I am, doing my best to leave the suspense wherever it belongs.

So… this would be a good time to dish out on a bit of why I love spoilers: I hate suspense. If you tell me a secret, I’ll probably forget it. Seriously, friends have told me secrets before and when they ask, oh remember the time I told you this and that? I’ll be like, no when? So yeah, your secret will be pretty much safe with me. But if you ask me to keep a surprise a secret, I’d probably fail you. Sorry but I’m just not good at hiding surprises and I hate surprises.

Tons of people hate me for the fact that sometimes I’ll be reading a book… then I’ll go right to the end and read the ending. HAHA. You’re totally screaming, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? I know. I just think that if the story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere or if it’s too exciting, I need to read the ending. If the ending is satisfactory, I will continue and the thrill of reading will still be there. Really. I will enjoy the ending just as much. If the ending sucks, chances are I’ll just drop the book and never return to it. I don’t know. I just see it as if the endings are depressing/ridiculous/pathetic, why waste my time reading something that I know I won’t enjoy?

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Haru being Haru. Shizuku being Shizuku.

Back to the story. Haru is a rather complex character in the sense that while he’s prone to violence, he’s actually a pretty naive and sensitive guy. The years of not going to school and being somewhat a genius may have contributed to this strange personality. He says inappropriate things without thinking twice and blurts out whatever is on his mind but he actually means well. Despite everything that he is or isn’t, he’s just an honest guy who wants to have friends and be normal though he doesn’t know how to.

Then there’s Mizutani Shizuku. I honestly thought I wouldn’t like her. She seemed like one of those cold, unfeeling characters who could be arrogant and annoying. But she wasn’t. She’s just a girl who grew up without a mother in the picture. Her father, who is a supposed failure and can’t seem to hold a job for more than a certain period of time, becomes the stay-at-home dad while Shizuku’s mother has to work far away to support their family.

Thus the lack of a maternal figure in Shizuku’s life. She dedicates her life to studying and acing all her exams because she wants to be like her mother who seems to be something of a power woman. She thinks that everything revolves around doing well academically and she won’t let anything/anyone deter her from her ultimate goal of acing her exams and being first.

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Anyway, TnK’s story – it was real to me. At times, over-the-top (as most animes can be) but ultimately something I can appreciate. I like how Haru and Shizuku’s relationship was so honest and they helped each other grow. A pair of oddball teenagers discovering parts of themselves through each other, things like love and honesty and friendships. They started out with no friends, slowly gained a few and from there life suddenly looked different, better, less lonely, less self-centered. What can be better than that?

The ending was hopeful and that’s what I look for in shows and books. I love a wonderful, hopeful ending that makes you feel that it’s only just the beginning. It was left hanging but for the first time, I can appreciate an ending like that. TnK is the kind of anime I wish I thought of first. It’s beautiful.

The other characters were likeable. I liked Natsume and wish I had a friend like that. She’s protective of Shizuku, whom she calls Mitty, and is a true girl friend. Haha, the way she kept telling Yamaken that he was interfering with Haru and Shizuku’s relationship. I didn’t like Yamaken and felt like his appearance wasted time that could have been spent showing other characters. I mean, they could have showed more Nagoya – the rooster – and I wouldn’t have minded. Skye loves Yuzan who is Haru’s older brother who pops into the show now and then because he’s so cute and voiced by Yuichi Nakamura.

My other favorite character would be Mi-chan. He’s adorable and such a cool big brother figure to Haru. This would also be one of the first stories where the older guy turns down the younger girl because of an inappropriate age difference. To be honest, if Mi-chan and Natsume had gotten together, I wouldn’t have minded. Their age difference isn’t that huge and they would make a cute couple.

What else? Hmm. The art was nice. I loved all Haru’s outfits and I wish our school uniform had been that awesome. Haru’s character design did remind me of a few male leads from other shows but at the end of the show, it’s clear that Haru is of his own league. The colors used in TnK were very vibrant and fitting for the setting and mood of the show. The setting was also really beautiful – I LOVE the stairs leading up to Shizuku’s house. So dreamy and the last episode when she and Haru stood there? Loved it!

The OVA was beautiful. I loved the ending SO. MUCH.

Skye and I LOVE their soundtrack composed by Elements Garden. One of our favorites is this track called Hope. It’s a beautiful piano composition that will hopefully move you even if you haven’t/will never watch the anime. This 2-minute track perfectly describes the whole show. You’ll get what I mean after you finish watching.

The opening and ending themes were okay, nothing too special but nothing too boring.

Ohhh, I forgot to mention the voice acting. I HEART Suzuki Tatsuhisa as Haru’s seiyuu. I cannot imagine a more perfect voice for him. Kyaaaaa! Haruka Tomatsu as Shizuku was pretty darned perfect especially with that indifferent, unfeeling voice that made us LOL. I don’t know the other voice actors too well but they were good too.

Overall: 9/10. Loved it. I want to rewatch it already! Morals of the story: 1) life is about finding the shades of grey/a balance that works for you – it’s not all or nothing, 2) life doesn’t only revolve around studying and being super successful, 3) love/friendship can be found in the strangest of places (like a batting cage), 4) you can learn a lot about yourself through other people. If only life were that simple though.

Sometimes you just need a bit of weirdness in your life, even if you’re already weird to begin with. I don’t know what’s better than a weird teenage romantic comedy + slice of life anime.

Haha this may actually be one of the most personal reviews ever. I’ve included bits of myself in this post which I usually wouldn’t.

P.S: I didn’t think that the usual way I review animes would fit for this one so I just wrote it out this way. Let me know what you think.

Raine
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November in pictures

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1. I stepped out of the house the other day and saw these tiny jasmine flowers on the ground. It took me back to my school days when I would stare at the tree from inside the car and admire its beauty. It was then that I realized how I’d been forgetting to take a look around me and admire the little things that I used to notice.

2. Water caltrops shown in a Japanese magazine. You may or may not have heard of it – we know it as the water chestnut here – but here’s the Wiki page. It’s fascinating and would make such a cool Halloween decor. This picture has two meanings – one, Skye is fascinated by these water chestnuts; two, I’m learning Japanese and I can read a couple of characters.

3. Christmas decor everywhere. I’m in the Christmas mood already. I don’t know about you but the Christmas atmosphere makes me all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

4. Our love. These days when I look at him, I feel a swell of emotion that I didn’t used to get. His arrival at our home was a complete surprise and it’s amazing to think that his presence has undoubtedly consciously and subconsciously affected us in so many ways. He’s a handful but I can’t imagine life without him.

nov-collage-2

1. Like I said in Monday’s post, I painted my nails neon yellow. Orly – Glowstick really packs a punch.

2. We found a build-your-own-gingerbread-house set at IKEA the other day. I’m a sucker for cute things like that but when I think about the gingerbread men I convinced my mom to get a couple of years ago, I remember all the reasons why a gingerbread house would be a waste of money. I don’t even like gingerbread and I would find the finished product too pretty to eat and in the end it would just go bad.

3. Sometimes all you need on a Christmas tree are ribbons and acorns. Minimalism at its best.

4. Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!

5. I found this special edition Tiramisu-flavored Loacker Quadratinis at the grocery store the other day. Pretty cool, huh? I wonder what it tastes like. I LOVE Loacker. So OBSESSED with the chocolate wafers. I could eat a whole bag in a day (maybe, hehe).

6. Orchid in our garden. I think orchids are pretty but they’re not easy to maintain, are they? I don’t know, I’m not much of a green thumb.

By the way, how do you like my Photoshop skills aka the vintage filter? Pretty cool, eh?

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Year in review: 2012

Frankly I don’t remember much about this year. When I’m in the moment, minutes feel like hours, hours feel like days and so forth, but at the end of the day, I look back and realize that time flies faster than light. I haven’t blogged in a while, so I’m feeling kinda rusty right now. I thought a lot about writing art- and video game-related posts but somehow they don’t seem to fit here and I’m saving it to write a book about learning art when I get better. Also, I recently started writing for a video game website and I’m more than just a little proud of it because I hope that it’ll grow into something bigger, just that all the co-writers need to cooperate and make time to write more.

I’m going to start with what I feel is most important which is art. This year, I was officially acknowledged as an ‘artist’ because my mom and sister bought me a sketchpad (yay!) AND my brother asked me for my opinion on his art (I’m grinning so widely now). I’m taking art much more seriously than I did last year. Of course there are the bad days when I think that I’ve got no potential to draw, but on the good days, I’m flying as high as the sky. Whenever I fall, I get back on my feet and keep trying. I understand that the beginning is an endless struggle. It’s a test because you can either choose to stop learning all at once or keep going despite your mistakes. I believe my determination and effort will pay off in the future.

The beautiful thing about art is it makes me easily inspired by everything around me, or maybe it’s just me. I also want to prove myself worthy of owning a graphics tablet (unlike what happened between me, guitar lessons and a Takamine). It’s going to take years but, anyway, art is a never-ending experience since we will never fully learn it. Right now I’m working on a portrait of Kristen Bell. I actually LOVE drawing faces (something I’ve been avoiding for years). So excited to get better! I hope to inspire many others whether they want to take up art or looking for novel-writing material and here’s an inspirational quote I saw on DeviantART to go with what I just said: “If you can write, you can draw.”

I found the picture above on Tumblr recently and I experienced some indescribable feeling the moment I set my eyes on it, so here it is. I don't know who the artist is, sadly. I would've posted one of my own pieces but I don't take many pictures of my art.

I found the picture above on Tumblr recently and I experienced some indescribable feeling the moment I set my eyes on it, so here it is. I don’t know who the artist is, sadly. I would’ve posted one of my own pieces but I don’t take many pictures of my art.

Moving on to the counterpart of my passion for art – video games! Why is it called the counterpart? Because both are responsible for shaping my once negative personality into everlasting positivity. No kidding, despite what everyone is reading on the world news. And this year was the first year I followed live E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) coverage. It was pretty exciting, watching those trailers and Tweeting ‘Happy E3 Week’. 🙂 On a side note, two games I didn’t complete were Alan Wake and I Am Alive. Both storylines caught my eye and actually inspired me greatly but the gameplay was disappointing.

I played Crysis 2 earlier this year. The beginning was kinda dull and confusing because I had no idea how to get past the first few maps. Fighting aliens and ‘Pingers’ was what made me sit up and go, hey, I’m not sleepy, playing this game anymore. As the story progressed, I became more interested. I wanted to talk about this game because I felt that Alcatraz’s (in the picture above (he’s a human in a robot suit, BTW)) ending was mind-boggling and unfair. I won’t explain because it’ll be too long, so… But I’ll definitely be getting the sequel next year. Been keeping up with The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3 video series and it looks promising.

OHEMGEE, I’ve been waiting for this part. I played both Portal games somewhere in the middle of the year. All I can say is, this brainteaser game is freakin’ amazing. I love how the storyline is so simple yet incredibly effective and how likeable all the characters are. Everything about Portal screams triple A title, especially the humor. This game made me more than just a little smarter and I’m not even trying to be a salesman here! The best part is that anyone can play it and I mean anyone. Thanks to my brother who is an equally big fan of the game, I own a stuffed Weighted Companion Cube toy. Whee! That’s GLaDOS in the image above (right), by the way (to my sister and mom who are wondering who my brother and I frequently mention in conversations). One of the best games in the video game world, ask anyone!

Screenshot from my AC3 gameplay

Screenshot from my AC3 gameplay

Another screenshot from my AC3 gameplay

Another screenshot from my AC3 gameplay

Of course, I played Assassin’s Creed 3. That’s not even a valid question anymore. I avoided spoilers for weeks after the PS3 and 360 release. Unfortunately, it wasn’t worth it. A new hero called Connor was introduced. He had pretty big shoes to fill in, which is why his character probably fell flat. Ezio, the main character of the Renaissance trilogy, had so much personality. Introducing a new main protagonist is difficult. Wordy details aside since I might end up writing a full-blown review, this sequel left me disappointed in many ways, but I did gain more knowledge about the American Revolution. I still have faith in the next game next year though!

Last month, I was introduced to Counter Strike: Global Offensive. I haven’t stopped playing since and I don’t think I will any time soon. My eyesight is going, Oh dear. I can’t believe I’m addicted to the video game everyone used to talk about… Oh, I also played Battlefield 3. I’m late, I know, because my PC crashed repeatedly during the incredibly exciting right-out-of-an-action-movie prologue so I gave up for months. It’s a decent game, though I prefer the Bad Company series.

2012 in video games was boring compared to last year. That’s about to change when the clock strikes midnight. In 2013, my highlights include the Tomb Raider reboot (stoked because we need more action-adventure video games for PC), Crysis 3, Metro: Last Light (big fan of post-apocalyptic games, especially this one), Battlefield 4 (probably because the next year will most likely be BFBC3 year), unannounced Call of Duty game, Assassin’s Creed 4 (hopefully a new setting?) and Watch Dogs (sounds like an interesting game concept).

A big accomplishment this year was writing a book with T. Nope, not the NaNoWriMo. Just me, T and a random date. Inspired by our sudden unhealthy obsession for Robert Crais and Barry Eisler books (also crime/fiction and thrillers), we decided one day that we would write a book together in hopes that we will inspire others the same way these two authors inspired us. So we did. We got to work and it worked out at the first try. We wrote a complete story. This was also my first time showing T a story written by me. It really put my confidence to a test. I got cold feet and I couldn’t stop talking when she read it because she, being the pro and all. We hope to publish it soon once we’re fully sure that it’s ready to be sent out to the world. 🙂

Honorable mention, since T already covered the TV show part: Person of Interest. I think we like it because John Reese and Harold Finch are respectable (and total dreamboats; this is for my mom) and because the female characters (protagonists and femme fatales) are all strong. And I’d like to mention The Big Bang Theory since my mind has been singing, The whole universe was in a hot, dense state all day long. Everyone is so cool, especially Sheldon Cooper!

Okay, I’m stuck because I have no idea how to end this. Should it be with wise words of advice? Or what my New Year’s resolutions are? You know what? Neither. Or maybe just a little advice: Hold your head up high in 2013 and don’t let society knock you down just because you don’t succumb to mainstream BS (sorry, this word just feels right).

Happy New Year’s Eve and Happy New Year! Don’t drink and drive!

(Pictures from Google Images)

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trendy ideas – mothers day gifts 3


Something is Brewing in the Woods Mug

Everybody needs a cute mug. I think a cute mug is necessary because it’s like a comfort thing. When you have your comfort drink in a plain mug, it’s totally boring and does nothing to improve your mood. So why not get a totally creative mug like this for your mother?


Eating Apple Sandwich Keeper in Red

Your mother works and you know she brings lunch to work every day. What better reason is there to get this sandwich keeper for her? Also available in green. Very Snow White if you ask me. She’ll love it. It’ll get her tons of compliments from her colleagues or friends. If your mom is into Halloween and is thinking of dressing up as a character from Snow White, she’ll have the perfect accessory. Or she could just use it to fill candy for the kids who come over. Sweet.


For the Grater Good

Domestic mothers will LOVE this. Porcupine shaped grater for everyday use. How fun is that?! Imagine grating cheese on this little guy’s back. It’ll be like giving him a good old back massage. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Hurry up and shop for these amazing gifts now. Mother’s Day is just around the corner.
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