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Happy New Year

January 1, 2019

明けましておめでとうございます。Happy New Year!
Wish everyone a wonderful 2019 full of happiness.

Starting the new year with this cute illustration of Riko, You and Ruby from “Love Live! Sunshine!!” by Ikeda Kayo.

Still enjoying the “Love Live! School Idol Festival” mobile rhythm game and am looking forward to the “Love Live! Sunshine!!” anime movie.

Regrettably, professional and other commitments led me to stop writing much of anything about my hobby life on this small blog, and besides watching some current anime shows as well as some gaming, didn’t keep up with most of my hobbies this past year.

Looks like 2019 hence brings with it some challenges for me to restore balance in my life, as well as rethink some of my hobbies and the time spent on them. But first I have some career decisions to make.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2018

メリークリスマス! Wish you all a Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

“SSSS.Gridman” was such a pleasant surprise, a terrific show which I had not expected to enjoy this much. This studio Trigger production hit all the right notes for me with its animation, action, energy, plot, music, homage to other genres and franchises so I am glad got to watch this entertaining anime.

This Christmas themed promotional magazine illustration of Akane and Rikka from “SSSS.Gridman” was created by Kengo Saitou (Twitter) who worked on the series for Studio Trigger as an animator.

You can see more terrific art of Akane and Rikka on Kengo Saitou‘s Twitter profile, he also worked on “Little Witch Academia”, “Hisone to Masotan”, “Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de” and other anime.

Dollfie Dream snapshots: Atsuko -3-

April 30, 2018

Uploaded a few photos to Flickr of Dollfie Dream Atsuko in the ‘Sparkling White Down Jacket’ outfit from the Tenshi no Koromo line made by Volks, already shared one such snapshot in an earlier blog post revealing I parted with most of my Dollfie Dream dolls.

Although wasn’t initially thrilled with Atsuko’s look on a DDDy body, this combination of a DDS body with Peach Pai was not ideal either and had an aesthetically poor balance. Have since installed her DDH06 custom head on a hybrid body made from a Yawashiri and Peach Pai Plus.

Atsuko

Am undecided though if I will keep that hybrid body for Atsuko or if I might install her back on an original Volks DDS type. Guess it will depend on which outfits properly fit such a hybrid body, how well it suits her style and on any other doll related plans I might have.

You can see more Dollfie Dream photos on Flickr.

Amanchu! Advance

April 20, 2018

Always been a fan of Kozue Amano’s stellar manga “Aria” and its anime adaptations, hence rejoiced when she began a new slice-of-life series with “あまんちゅ!” after the story in “Aria” finished. Was thrilled when it received its own anime adaptation nearly two years ago, “Amanchu!” proved to be an enchanting slice-of-life tale like “Aria”, “Tamayura” or “Sketchbook ~full color’S~ ”.

Have been looking forward to this second season so was keen on watching the first episode of “Amanchu! Advance” which was just as expected, with its soothing atmosphere, joyful vibe thanks to endearing characters, excellent soundtrack all with the beautiful backgrounds of a mesmerising Japanese coastal area.

Whereas in “Aria” the main characters had a common goal that the story crept towards all while showing us other heartwarming tales and the girls’ simple but fulfilling daily lives, “Amanchu!” takes a somewhat different approach by focusing even more on its characters, their interaction and development as they go through high school.

Although the characters do set goals involving their activities in the diving club, more so than in “Aria” everything seems to revolve around daily lives, their outings, small life events without there seeming to be a specific destination for their journey. The central pillar of the show really is the interaction, relationship between the characters as they do the simplest things together, with most focus on Futaba and Hikari’s bond.

Granted, this which is something viewers may not appreciate about “Amanchu!”, especially those who prefer overarching plot lines or stories that move towards a specific goal. “Amanchu!” instead delivers an enchanting story about high school girls who befriend each other and grow as they go about their daily lives together, which is exactly why I adore this show.

Was pleasantly surprised by the opening sequence of “Amanchu! Advance” which featured stunning visuals that perfectly illustrate what this series is all about, accompanied by a terrific song that really brings you back to the enchanting openings of “Aria”.

Do like how this second season immediately spent time to illustrate how Hikari too deals with uncertainties and relies on her close friend Futaba, not just vice-versa which makes her character more complex than the happy-go-luck bundle of energy she usually is portrayed as. Whereas Futaba’s character and personal growth might look like it is the main focus, she and Hikari have a true partnership where each person contributes to the dynamic of the friendship.

If you’re looking for a superb slice-of-life series to watch, then definitely watch “Amanchu! Advance” on Crunchyroll.

Hinamatsuri

April 13, 2018

Transforming the “ヒナまつり” manga by Outake Masao into anime format, “Hinamatsuri” seems to be a hilarious show whose comedy focused on exaggerated or deadpan reactions from its characters to ridiculous situations and witty dialogue, all combined with battles involving super powers are somewhat reminiscent of series like “One Punch Man” or “Inou-Batoru wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de”.

Having read the plot premise and sampled its promotional video, I was keen on watching this new spring anime since it seemed this show could be a hysterical comedy. The first episode definitely did not disappoint, delivering excellent humor from absurd situations as well as featuring terrific verbal quips and deadpan reactions from its characters. Was pleasantly surprised the second episode not only followed the path set out by the first, but took things even further with plenty of absurd humor.

With the core plot being a yakuza thug takes in a teenage girl with superpowers and buffoonery ensures, the interaction and bond between main characters Nitta and Hina is an essential element to the story’s success and “Hinamatsuri” seems to execute this perfectly. Throughout these two episodes, the anime showcases plenty of silliness and shenanigans between Nitta and Hina, from verbal quips to terrific facial expressions.

The show manages to imbue Hina and Nitta’s evolving surrogate child-parent relationship with enough warmth through small moments and scenes. Any serious undertone though is quickly interwoven with absurd situations and comedy, making the series feel similar to gems like “Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon” that featured crazy characters up to silly mischief yet surprised throughout with genuine heartwarming moments.

Featuring crazy antics from hilarious characters that often seem to loose track of common sense and whose interaction frequently result in chucklesome conversations or straight-faced reactions, there’s no doubt that “Hinamatsuri” will be one of the comedy highlights of this spring season. This series even has potential to become one of the better anime comedies in recent seasons.

For those of you who like action comedies that are a little different, I definitely recommend you give this anime a try. You can watch “Hinamatsuri” on Crunchyroll.

Comic Girls

April 6, 2018

Adapting the “こみっくがーるず” four-panel manga by Hanzawa Kaori into anime, “Comic Girls” is a slice-of-life comedy about four high school girls who each struggle in different ways with their aspirations as manga artists. Living together in a dorm exclusively for young female manga artists, will the girls mature from interacting with their peers and be able to improve their careers?

Was looking forward to “Comic Girls” as the plot premise and promotional video indicated this could be a silly comedy all about cute girls doing cute things, the type slice-of-life series that I adore. Even though there are plenty of such shows in the slice-of-life genre, not all of them truly stand out or are memorable anime like “Yuru Camp△”, “Yuyushiki”, “Aria” or “Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?”.

The first episode of “Comic Girls” was lovely and suggests it will be a funny, entertaining weekly rendezvous watching these four girls their silly shenanigans as they struggle to improve themselves and solidify their careers as manga artists. Also appreciated the verbal banter between the girls, a key element that could make this anime stand out among its peers if they are able to create a unique chemistry between the characters that feels genuine and natural, something “Yuru Camp△” positively stood out for.

Regardless of its decent animation, cute characters and comedy potential considering its subject matter, am unsure if “Comic Girls” will actually live up to its potential and truly excel as a slice-of-life comedy. There are plenty of excellent anime about cute girls doing cute things which although they boast solid production values, ultimately end up being rather forgettable, for instance “Slow Start”, “Hinako Note” or “Anne Happy♪” were good but not that memorable and simply don’t seem to resonate or stick with you like other such series do.

While their interaction was oft hilarious and sometimes endearing, nothing in this opening episode suggested that the four girls who make up the main cast will turn out to be compelling or interesting characters, in fact they felt like the typical character templates we see in so many other stories. While most anime all about girls doing cute things have staple characters like the happy-go-lucky girl, the serious girl, the older sister type, the boyish type,… not that many successfully expand these templates into multi-layered, appealing characters.

If you enjoy slice-of-life anime, then I do recommend you check out “Comic Girls” although it might be eclipsed by other slice-of-life shows also airing this season like “Amanchu! Advance”.
You can watch “Comic Girls” on Crunchyroll.

Dollfie Dream hobby changes

April 2, 2018

Just a quick message -which also serves as a personal record for my own sake- to share that these past months I sold nearly all of my Dollfie Dream dolls and accessories. No, this is not some belated April Fool’s gag but rather a change of pace for me in this particular hobby.

For many years I have enjoyed Dollfie Dream and photographing these dolls from Volks, and still do so today! But regrettably noticed that as the amount of DD I owned increased, the amount of time I actually spent on them and really got to enjoy this hobby likewise decreased. (Must admit not being thrilled with the direction Volks has been taking pertaining to the default dolls and accessories.)

Atsuko

After mulling it over for a long time, decided to part with most of my DD so I could focus on but a few, which was a tough decision because I do adore each and everyone one of them.

With regret, parted with Sachiko (Sasara Kusugawa), Tsukiko (Saber Alter v2), Akiko (Sakura Shinguji), Ayuko (Neris custom), Kyouko (DDH02 custom) and even Yoko (Yoko Littner) my first Dollfie Dream.
Opted to keep Atsuko (DDH06 custom) and Shizuko (DDH03 custom) so do hope to find renewed joy in photographing these two girls.

You can still see the photos of the Dollfie Dream I parted with on Flickr.