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Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2

October 9, 2017

Adored the original “Love Live!” anime and the “Love Live! The School Idol Movie” which told the upbeat, lively story of school idol group µ’s. Although there are plenty of decent series focused on idols, including “the iDOLM@STER” franchise, personally I have liked “Love Live!” most.

When its first season aired last year, was keen on watching the spin-off “Love Live! Sunshine!!” which stars new idol group Aquors. While it was not a perfect anime by any means as it regrettably suffered a few idiosyncrasies due to it trying to mirror the original show, nonetheless genuinely enjoyed watching this new incarnation of “Love Live!” and was hence looking forward to this second season of “Love Live! Sunshine!!”.

The story picks up where the first season left off, new idol group Aquors their struggle to save Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy from being closed down is far from over so we are in for a new season of seeing these cute, quirky girls overcome the challenges ahead, to become famous idols like µ’s and save their school.

Even though some episodes or subplots may include more dramatic scenes and sad moments, this franchise is a lighthearted one overall so its viewers can rest assured that all will eventually end well. These adorable idols will undoubtedly achieve what they set out to accomplish, making this show a fun intermezzo in one’s weekly anime watching list, offering fans an upbeat, colourful viewing experience with plenty of cute girls in frilly, colourful costumes singing catchy idol pop songs.

While shows featuring engaging dramatic plot with properly fleshed-out characters are definitely enjoyable, “Love Live! Sunshine!!” is all about watching cute idols, giving it their best in an idealised world full of joy and colour.

Production quality of “Love Live! Sunshine!!” by studio Sunrise is excellent, with lots of attention going into how the girls are rendered, especially close-up scenes and dialogues. Of course any scenes where Aquors performs or the girls sing as idols are very well cared and it seems that each year the integration of 3D CGI animation for dance sequences with the 2D animation improves visibly.

You can watch the original “Love Live!” and “Love Live! Sunshine!!” on Crunchyroll.

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Konohana Kitan

October 6, 2017

Based on the “このはな綺譚” manga by Amano Sakuya, this new autumn anime is a slice-of-life style story about several girls and their daily adventures working at a traditional Japanese hot spring hotel. There seems to be plenty of yuri innuendo between the girls and the show also has lots of supernatural elements considering the main characters are fox girls and the inn’s various guests are beings inspired from folklore.

With a traditional Japanese town and rustic hot spring hotel as background, “Konoahana Kitan” may remind viewers of “Hanasaku Iroha”, while its leisurely atmosphere, supernatural elements and cute fox girls in kimono are reminiscent of series like “Otome Youkai Zakuro” or “Urara Meirochou”.

One of the first new anime to air this autumn season, the appeal of its cast of cute fox girls was plenty to get me to sample the first episode of “Konoahana Kitan”. Was quite glad because I immediately adored this show which will undoubtedly be a nice weekly rendezvous providing soothing entertainment of watching cute girls doing cute things, one of the slice-of-life genre’s most enjoyable formula to me.

Although it will likely feature serious plot points and possibly even some drama in future episodes, the show’s overall atmosphere seems to be upbeat and heartwarming, its most obvious selling point of course being its cast of irresistibly cute fox girls and their daily shenanigans.

Animation by studio Lerche is decent and of the typical average level expected for such a slice-of-life title, with most attention going to animating the main cast and rendering the historical looking backgrounds of the hot spring hotel. Do hope the studio can avoid fluctuations in quality and keep the animation level up throughout the entire season.

While it may ultimately turn out to be a more generic, forgettable anime, am nonetheless confident that “Konahana Kitan” will provide a fun, entertaining time for its viewers. Those of you who enjoy slice-of-life series with cute girls doing cute things like “Urara Meirochou”, “New Game!” or “Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?” should definitely give this show a try.
You can watch “Konahana Kitan” on Crunchyroll.

Dollfie Dream snapshots: Kyouko -2-

September 4, 2017

Just a quick photo of Dollfie Dream Kyouko taken earlier this summer using the light of the setting sun as it poured through the window blinds late in the evening. Have since removed those Venetian blinds during renovations so will need to look up clever alternatives to filter the sunlight when taking photos to get softer lighting or create more dynamic effects.

Purchased the white open shoulder ribbon shirt Kyouko is clad in from Nine9Style, while it does have a nice and breezy summer feeling to it thanks to its light fabric and design, am not that satisfied about the overall fit or its ribbons being sown on.

Kyouko

Would have preferred a version of this shirt made specifically to fit Dollie Dream, with real ribbons to tie. Still, do want to snap more photos of Kyouko in this outfit sometime soon considering she does look cute in it.

You can see more photos of my Dollfie Dream on Flickr.

Dollfie Dream snapshots: Shizuko -5-

August 28, 2017

Due to allotting time to other activities, have unfortunately been neglecting my Dollfie Dream hobby and not taken many photos these past months. Still had this snapshot of Shizuko to process and upload though.

Taking advantage of the seamless surface of Volks’ one-piece torso, showcased Shizuko in the renowned virgin-killing sweater, which spawned plenty of thrilling fan art of anime, game and other characters clad in this epic garment, as well as Dollfie Dream owners showcasing their DD in doll-sized versions of the 童貞を殺すセーター.

Shizuko

Opted to process the original capture in black & white to enhance the feeling of stark contrast between the deep shadows versus the bright areas where the sun permeated through the blinds.

You can see more Dollfie Dream photography on my Flickr photostream.

Kantoku C92 doujin ‘Plaid & Nude′

August 14, 2017

For this year’s summer Comiket event, the doujin circle ‘Afterschool of the 5th Year’ from artist Kantoku published a new book titled ‘Plaid & Nude’.

As the title might suggest, this particular doujin features Kantoku’s mascot characters in more daring and enticing illustrations, similar to those seen in the C89 book ‘Underwear Party’ and the Comic1☆10 book ‘Panty x Panty’, although it does not contain explicit images like those in the C80 doujin ‘Check Ero Mixed’.

One of the best illustrations in ‘Plaid & Nude’ is beyond any doubt this rendering of Kurumi, very erotic yet still with a certain innocence to it.
Labelled as a ‘plaid and nude fetish book’, seems Kantoku indulged once more in creating thrilling art of his mascot characters in suggestive situations.
Read more…

Hunterson Magic Wallet

July 28, 2017
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After years of use, my wallet was looking the worse for wear, it was time to replace it. Being an older design black leather men’s wallet, it definitely was sturdy but its classic layout was not optimised for cards and through daily abuse it unfortunately became one of those bulky wallets filled to the brim with receipts, notes and the like.

While there’s plenty of fun, interesting and moderately priced anime themed wallets available online, their quality usually leaves to be desired and their layout is surprisingly not modern at all. Hence, opted to look for a well-designed, modern slim wallet instead.

Looked at several interesting candidates, including Bellroy’s slim sleeve, the Skagen by Nordstrom and Ögon’s aluminium card case, but I opted for the Hunterson Magic Wallet in black leather with RFID protection.

Granted, there are plenty of resellers to be found online that offer the magic wallet or other slim wallet designs at much cheaper prices, but build quality and durability are a legitimate concern with those priced-down products. Preferred to get the genuine article from Hunterson instead with real leather and tough straps that should last.

Tales of Berseria

July 24, 2017

Recently completed the main and major quest lines of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” after having played its special edition on Playstation 4 for many hours since its release last October. Although I likely will revisit this excellent game for another run with a different character build and orientation, was keen on trying something else even though I usually tend to spend a year or more playing the same immersive game.

When the Playstation Store ran a special summer sale earlier this month featuring discounts on games created in Japan like “Nights of Azure” or “Star Ocean Integrity And Faithlessness”, took advantage of the opportunity to grab “Tales of Berseria” for Playstation 4 at half price.

Friends had recommended “Tales of Berseria” to me and it has been far too long since I played a good jrpg. Also, had quite enjoyed the two episodes featuring the “Tales of Berseria” cast that aired during the “Tales of Zestiria The X” anime which showcased one of the games earliest chapters.

Made a few dozen hours of progress into the game already, am enjoying it so far and it has positively impressed me. Velvet is an intriguing main character and a welcome departure from the usual, superficial too-good-to-be-true male protagonist often used in such games. Also, the interaction between Velvet and Eleanor over Laphicet has been hilarious.

Plus, it is nice to play another game where not everything is overly simplified into good or evil, but instead characters their choices, positions and actions are a complex range of shades of grey, although it does not achieve the level of how a gem like “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” worked with this.

After two open world games, it did feel somewhat odd though to go back to a typical jrpg play style and map navigation. The cutscenes and dialogue animations though are superbly animated by studio ufotable, making them feel much more immersive and enthralling than in engine generated cutscenes.