Of cosplayer’s past

Posted: September 22, 2011 in cosplay
Tags: , , ,
Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat

I’ve been meaning to do this post for awhile now, and all this looking at Halloween costumes reminded me of it. So here it is! Cosplay has been a hobby of mine for a long time, but due to being a student for the majority of those years, the time and money involved had been slim.

I’d always been in love with the stage, if not for theater, then for dance. I was almost a theater major, then I almost minored in it, but I had been talked out of it both times. Theater kids get no where, people used to tell me. Dressing up and being other people was always brilliantly fascinating to me, being immersed in a whole different persona. But I’m rambling now, so I’ll return to the cosplay.

The earliest one is me and my twin sister ready for the duct tape ball. I was a senior in high school, I believe, oh six years ago? Man, I’m getting old. I’m Cheshire Cat, and yes, the dress is entirely made out of duct tape, tail and all. There’s a bit of fishing line that runs from the back of the dress to the tail to keep it off the floor; it’s a shear bit of magic, pun intended. I went with my friend who dressed as the mad hatter, and he sported a gigantic duct tape hat and tie. I really wish I had a picture of it, but alas, I don’t. Cool thing is, we won the costume contest (the theme was story book characters). My twin sis is dressed as Galadriel from Lord of the Rings, and only her jewelry is duct tape. Boring!

Temari

Temari

When I got into college, I really got into anime. Thus, the anime cosplaying began. I was really into Naruto at the time, long before Shippuden was even talked about, and my favorite character was (and still is) Temari.

Now, need I remind you, I was on a college kid budget and time frame. I know the costume is sub par, but for a triple X t-shirt, a pair of fishnets, a wad of red cloth, paper, and a ton of safety pins, I think this rocked pretty hardcore. My hair was also a little too long, and not blonde, to be Temari. I do still have this costume, as well as a real sand ninja head band (the one I wore at the time was silver paint pen on piece of black fabric). So if I were to do this again, I’d totally invest in a wig, as my hair is now double the length that’s in the picture. And I’d go for a larger, legitimate fan, as well as get/make the actual ninja footwear. I think I got the eyeliner pretty spot on, though, if I do say so myself. This picture was from Halloween 2006.

The following year, I became an RA (resident assistant/advisor) and fell into a group of friends who were all video game nerds, and they got me into Guitar Hero 2. Those were the good days.

Judy Nails

Judy Nails

So naturally, my next cosplay for Halloween 2007 was my favorite character from the game, Judy Nails. The particular outfit I chose was her “Snakes” ensamble. I sprayed my hair black and pink, and tried to frizz out the pigtails a bit, but the humidity won that battle. Again, this was another college budget costume. The skirt was on clearance at Hot Topic, because there was a small hole in it. My top is a combination of a red walmart sweater and white tank top, both of which had been meticulously cut up and reassembled by me. Again, lots of safety pins. The boots were a stroke of luck. I happened into a Salvation Army, and there they were, six bucks. The accessories and belt I already owned.

The guy in the picture here is my friend and hero, Jeremy Merry, as Axel Steel. We donned wireless guitars with our get-ups and were a huge hit at the campus Halloween party. We also had two other friends dressed as Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World who followed us around screaming “We’re not worthy!”

Sakura Haruno

Sakura Haruno

Sadly, Jeremy passed away the following October, just 3 days shy of Halloween 2008. January 2008, he had relapsed for the third time with Leukemia, and this time he never recovered. I had planned on cosplaying as Winry Rockbell from Full Metal Alchemist and had the full outfit assembled, but calling hours were on Halloween.

In 2009, I shelled out enough money for a dress and wig to be Sakura Haruno from Naruto. I wasn’t going to dress up, but a class of mine was participating in a Halloween event with a local elementary school. Sadly, only one kid in the whole group knew who I was. I guess not many parents introduce their kids to the epicness that is anime at such a young age. What a tragedy.

Last year I was a ballerina ninja (have you seen my branding on my portfolio site?). But this year, Im back into full cosplay mode. Currently, though, I’m caught between Princess Toadstool and Lara Croft. I’m leaning more toward Tomb Raider, as my hair is super extra long and perfect for her long braid. A picture will definitely follow, so keep a look out.

Advertisements

やった!Yatta!

Posted: September 22, 2011 in food
Tags: ,
bento box

bento box

Success! I completed my first bento box to take with me to work this morning. It’s a fairly simple one, but definitely delicious. It contains salmon furikake over a bed of rice, a sliced egg, sugar snap peas, and raspberries. I wanted to make the tamagoyaki for this, but I was strapped for time in the morning.

Last night, I created the salmon furikake using the recipe from the Just Bento blog. Basically, I steamed salmon in a frying pan with sake, flaked it down, put it back in the pan with some seasonings, and cooked out as much moisture as possible. It’s delicious on it’s own, though a bit on the salty side, which makes it ideal over rice. The salmon furikake keeps well in the fridge. Before I went to bed, I washed the rice and left it to soak overnight.

Bunny Chopsticks

Bunny Chopsticks, かわいい ね?

In the morning, I put the rice cooker on while I took a shower, and by the time I was dressed and ready for breakfast, the rice had finished. I pulled it out and laid it flat on a dish to cool before packing it. I filled the room temperature rice into a little over half of the box, and placed a cupcake paper into the opposite corner. I layered the cold furikake over the rice and added the snap peas and raspberries into their respective spots. I found hard boiled eggs in the fridge from my mom’s potato salad the other night, so I sliced one of those up and striped it down the middle.

I got funny looks at work for eating with my awesome うさぎ (bunny) chopsticks, but it didn’t feel right to eat a bento box with a fork. It was worth it, to say the least. おいしい!

Two out of three ain’t bad

Posted: September 18, 2011 in food
Tags: , ,

For my day off, I decided to try out a few staple Japanese recipes. The onigiri was easier than I thought, the tamagoyaki was a little rough, but still successful, and the mochi was a total mess. Haha. Here’s what happened.

Onigiri

Onigiri

1. おにぎり:onigiri

For these onigiri, I stuffed them with edamame and soy sauce soaked tuna. They were actually pretty easy to make, so long as you keep your hands ridiculously clean and damp. If you properly rinse and soak the rice before cooking, it sticks so easily to everything. And I mean, everything. I was pulling pieces of rice off my shirt at one point that seemed to be stuck to me with superglue.

I was dumbfounded at how much salt I was told to use in this recipe. Every time I was supposed to mold rice, the recipe said to dampen my hands and sprinkle salt onto them. I also had to put soy sauce in the tuna and salt the edamame for the filling, as well as salt the rice on top after I finished. As crazy as it is, they weren’t salty at all, and I probably could have used more. So for those of you venturing into this, yes, it seems like a lot of salt, but it’s not!

Mochi and Strawberries

Mochi and Strawberries

2. もちといちご: mochi and strawberry

This was probably the simplest recipe out of the three, and yet I managed to botch this one. While, yes, the picture looks pretty, the mochi didn’t set up completely right, so they’re a little mushy. A couple turned out ok, but I think what went wrong is that I didn’t have the mochi “batter” in the microwave long enough.

I’ll be trying these again when Mayumi gets here next week. She might be able to help me with the consistency a little more, and perhaps try it with fruit punch. I’m not completely sure how that works, but we’ll see. I’d also like to make dango eventually, I just need to get ahold of the flavorings for it. Mmm macha. I did stumble upon a black sesame seed cookie recipe with macha icing that I am also itching to try.

Tamagayoki

Tamagoyaki

3. たまごやき: tamagoyaki

One word for this, おいしい (delicious)! Pretty much, it’s a sweet and salty omelet, and it’s straight up awesome. The technique to making it is a little hard to get, but as long as you cook it, it’ll taste the same. Literally, the egg mixture (with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar) is spooned a little at a time into a pan and rolled once it cooks solid. The process repeats until there’s no more mixture, and what’s left is a layered, rolled egg.

My two year old niece even loved this, and I could eat this for breakfast every day, or with rice for dinner. As far as egg dishes, next I’d like to try “omurice,” a featured dish in the Japanese drama Tumbling. Pretty much, it’s a combination of rice and an omelet.

So that’s that, my first adventure with Japanese cooking. Is it sad that I feel far more confident cooking Japanese food than American? For someone who can’t cook, these dishes came out really well, except the mochi, but that should be an easy fix. All recipes that I tried here were from JustHungry.com.

べんと Bento!

Posted: September 17, 2011 in food
Tags:
My ballerina Hello Kitty bento box

My ballerina Hello Kitty bento box, soon to be filled with awesomeness

I’ve always been intrigued by the awesomeness of bento ever since I was introduced to this Japanese concept years ago in my Japanese design history class. It’s not just about a convenient way to carry your lunch; it’s straight up a genuine art form. Now, I know there’s a difference between lunch bento and art bento, but I’ve never seen a bento that didn’t look gorgeous. With this post, I’m beginning a new category in the cloud: Food.

I love stumbling upon things. Don’t you? My most recent stumble-upon is a bento blog, a very nifty one, called “Just Bento,” in which the author writes along side another blog called “Just Hungry.” Both are truly fascinating, and I will link to them a bit later. It started when I ventured a trip to Wegman’s, which is an epic supermarket. I could live in their international food aisle (and quite possibly their tea and candy sections), with the rows and rows of Japanese goodness that line the shelves. One of my many purchases from that aisle was a box of もちこ (mochiko, now that I know how to write in hiragana, I’m going to, a lot). It’s a rice flour used to make mochi and dango, pretty much two things I’ve been itching to try myself for quite awhile.

Anyway, I asked my brother’s fiance, Mayumi, if she knew of any good mochi recipes, and she told me about mochi in fruit punch. Curious, I do what every curious person does, I Googled it. I came across a fantastic recipe for mochi sushi, which was featured on the aforementioned blog. Then, I got sucked into reading about bento boxes and realized that I could start making them myself right now. So why not? It’ll be less expensive than always buying lunch at work, it’ll definitely be healthier, and it’ll be fun to do.

So tomorrow, the adventure begins. I’m going to make おにぎり (onigiri) stuffed with edamame, たまごやき(tamagoyaki, a Japanese egg dish), and those mochi sushi. Then I will attempt to assemble a lunch box for work on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it, and can’t wait to post my success (and possible failures). いただきます (itadakimasu)!

Just Bento & Just Hungry
The fruit and mochi sushi recipe can be found here.

Ok, so after getting distracted with Tumbling for a couple of weeks (which was totally worth, fyi) I can finally accomplish the post I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile now. As you know from my super excited post way back in June, the Ouran Highschool Host Club drama was released in Japan at the end of July. So far, 8 episodes have aired, and I’ve seen 7 of them (still waiting for the 8th to be posted). It’s fun, because I’ve seen the anime enough that I know what happens, so I don’t need to wait to watch the English subtitled version. Although, some parts do deviate a little from the original, so I end up watching them twice. But hey, I’m cool with that. Anyway, 7 episodes is a sufficient amount of viewing to write a reasonable review, so here goes. By the way, there’s no spoilers here.

Mainly, my review, though it’ll go on for several more paragraphs (which you’ll still probably read), can be summed up in a single statement: IT ROCKS! Yes, yes it does.

First off, yes, there are a few things, especially with episode 2 where it doesn’t follow the anime. But that’s ok! No, seriously. What was changed, I can see why they did it as far as the story line goes, and I think they did a fantastic job with it. They kept all the ‘happy fan’ parts in the right place (and no, that’s not a ‘dirty’ term, by that I mean scenes that fans would kill people if they were cut out).

In episode 2, they took a character who literally had a walk-on role in the anime (she stood next to Kyoya in principal’s office when Tamaki started his first day of middle school, and all she did was gush when Tamaki told her she had pretty, straight hair) and made her important. That little moment caused a huge break down in that episode, where Tamaki’s words held quite an impression, and it was a much better character story to use than whiney Kanako and her tea cup, host swapping crap.

Also, episode 5, if you ask ANY Ouran fan, will be ranked in their top 3, depending on which character is their favorite it’ll be in either spot there. They pushed the episode one step further, keeping the BEST scenes in there, but adding more “OMG!” moments to it. For Kyoya fans, it’s extremely pleasant surprise, because, as we know, Kyoya’s character development in the anime doesn’t happen until two-thirds of the way in. Well, in the live action, it starts in episode 5. I’m not going to give any spoilers on that one. I’m just going to tell you it’s awesome, like, “finding money in your winter coat pocket from last season that you didn’t know you had” awesome.

Kawaguchi Haruna as Fujioka Haruhi

Kawaguchi Haruna as Fujioka Haruhi

As for the casting, and this is coming from someone who had no prior experience with any of these actors (Ouran’s my first J-drama. I know, where have I been, right?), I think they’re all well casted. I have a couple minor nit-picks, but don’t we all. I’m not complaining, I think the cast is great. Starting with Haruhi, solely on looks, she’s perfect. When dressed like a girl, it’s completely obvious she is one, even with short hair. When she’s a host, that line blurs a lot, as it’s supposed to. Good call on that. Kawaguchi also captures the annoyance that Haruhi feels frequnetly very well.

Yamamoto Yusuke as Suou Tamaki

Yamamoto Yusuke as Suou Tamaki

As for Tamaki, when I first saw him I thought to myself, “wow, his face is very unique.” But that’s not in a bad way, in fact I think Yamamoto Yusuke is a very good looking actor. Honestly, that was the thought I was hoping for with him, after all, Tamaki’s character is supposed to be half French anyway. I do wish his hair was significantly more blonde, but again, I’ve got no complaints on this one. Yamamoto nails his outlandishness and overzealous behaviors, but is still completely capable of more serious moments when they’re needed.

Daito Shunsuke as Ootori Kyoya

Daito Shunsuke as Ootori Kyoya

Kyoya, oh geez, where do I start? He was the only character that I actually wasn’t too horribly impressed with. That was short lived, mind you. I guess we’re most critical of our favorite characters. Daito nails the ‘cold as ice’ vibe that Kyoya’s known for putting off, but there’s a slight pompousness to Kyoya’s actions and speech that I feel like is missing. As the episodes go on though, and especially after episode 5, I don’t miss it. I even think I might like the live action Kyoya better than the anime one. But now after seeing the Japanese drama Tumbling, I just love Daito as an actor, period. And did I mention he’s got the most gorgeous smile that I’ve ever seen on any human being, ever? Truth.

Takagi Shinpei as Hitachiin Hikaru & Takagi Manpei as Hitachiin Kaoru

Takagi Shinpei as Hitachiin Hikaru & Takagi Manpei as Hitachiin Kaoru

As bizarre as it sounds, I think I might have been convinced that Japan doesn’t have celebrity twins, because I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the casting for the Hitachiin brothers. Perfect. That’s all I’ve got to say. Except, again with the hair, I wish it was more orange, but that bothers me less and less as the episodes continue on. Something I’ve noticed in the anime, is that they have this attitude when they realize Haruhi can tell them apart together that’s a cross between “oh crap, what do we do now” and “well, that’s interesting.” The Takagi twins nailed it. It’s a bigger depth of character for the Hitachiin brothers than just their goofy antics and trouble making.

Chiba Yudai as Haninozuka Mitsukuni

Chiba Yudai as Haninozuka Mitsukuni

Here I am thinking they got some twelve year old kid to play Honey, when really he’s 22 years old. Facially, they’re spot on in my opinion, but his hair drives me absolutely nuts. He’s supposed to be BLONDE, not red. But, I’ll give Chiba credit. His rendition of Honey, I think, is impressive, so again, whatever on the hair color. I was very curious as to how they would deal with the height thing, because while Chiba isn’t that tall, he isn’t short either. The shrinking when he jumps is hilarious, and I’m ok with it. As far as characters go, this casting is the one I read the most complaints about. I think they’re all nuts. He’s an excellent Honey senpai!

Nakamura Masaya as Morinozuka Takashi

Nakamura Masaya as Morinozuka Takashi

Now Mori, I really don’t have a lot to say about. Sorry, the pun wasn’t completely intended, but it’s true. (If you didn’t get the pun: Mori doesn’t say much, ever.) Frankly, as far as characters go in Ouran, Mori seems to be the least important. Really, he just follows Honey around, and only has somewhat of a character development in one episode: Honey’s Three Bitter Days. That episode is not until the latter half of the series, so hopefully that’ll make me less indifferent about him. But in his favor, he does do a great job of, you know, not speaking.

I am thrilled with how Ouran is playing out. To first time Ouran watchers, keep in mind: the bizarre things are part of the charm. It is, after all, based off of an anime. As for Ouran anime veterans, keep an open mind. It’s true to the story, and even though some things are a little different, it’s still right on in character development and vibe.

Inspiration Bracelet

Posted: September 9, 2011 in j-drama, my life
Tags: ,
Tumbling Bracelet

My Tumbling Bracelet

I know this will be the third post I’ve done on Tumbling, but seriously, like Switch Foot’s “Dare you to Move,” it’s one of those things that makes me feel like I could kick ass in the world. After I finished watching, it made me motivated to start stretching for ballet again, if I ever get back into classes. It makes me want to dance, and it also makes me want be a better person, get out there and grab life. So, to keep it with me, I invested in a “pandora” like bracelet that I can wear. Don’t laugh at my nerd-dom, in this case, it’s a reminder that life is worth kicking ass.

It consists of 13 beads, one for each episode, and two beads for episode 4 and 7, I’ll explain why later. But, each episode, I realized at the conclusion of the show, revolved around how Wataru effects a certain person, and that’s who the beads correspond to. I do apologize, there are some minor spoilers here, but no major plot ones.

Also, if you notice, for some characters I use first names, and others are referred to by their family names. That’s because I went with the names they are called the most often in the show. For instance, Ryosuke is most often spoken to by Wataru, and those two are extremely close. As for Hino, he’s never referred to as Tetsuya except for a instance when his own father speaks about him. Hino’s character isn’t very close with anyone.

Wataru's bead

Wataru's bead

Wataru

Wataru

Bead 1: Epsiode 1: Azuma Wataru, red crystal bead.
Episode one is a two hour special about Wataru’s joining, leaving, joining, leaving, joining, and saving of the Rhythmic Gymnastics Club. He’s the highschool’s gang leader with a penchant for a good fight, which he can never find even though he fights hordes of guys at once. His lack-lustre school performance has put his credits in the red (yeah, pun intended), forcing him to either take extra lessons or join a club to make them up. Though he’s a rough and tumble guy, he’s got a weak-spot for women. He doesn’t fall in love easily, and when he does, he’s very shy and gentlemanly about it. The new girl, who he fell head over heels for, is a member of the women’s rhythmic gymnastics team, so he gives the guys team a shot. The red corresponds to his crayon red hair that he’s known for in the series.

Ryosuke's bead

Ryosuke's bead

Ryosuke

Ryosuke

Bead 2: Episode 2: Tsukimori Ryosuke, yellow crystal bead.
Episode two is about the change that begins to overcome Wataru, and the distancing he starts to experience from his gang. His right hand man, Ryosuke, begins to fall apart without his boss. Ryosuke starts to get into some trouble, doing jobs for a different gang that could land him jail time.  Realizing he’s in too deep, he tries to backout with some very unfortunate consequences. But, Wataru never abandons his friends, and ends up saving his life. Ryosuke follows suit with Wataru and joins the Rhythmic Gymnastics team. The bead is yellow, just like his bleached blond hair that is his signature through the series.

Nippori's bead

Nippori's bead

Nippori

Nippori

Bead 3: Episode 3: Nippori Keiji, black bead with imbedded aluminum.
Episode three follows Wataru’s left hand man in the gang, Nippori, who joins the club alongside Ryosuke. He has a hard time with the handstands, and something else seems to be wearing on him, as he quits the club and disappears from school for over a week. Fearing he slipped into illegal activity like Ryosuke had, Wataru investigates to find that Nippori’s actions were family related, after his sole supporting father is hospitalized, and he steps up to financially provide for his family. The black represents his hair color, like the previous two ex-gang members, and the aluminum in the bead represents the printing press, which is the business that Nippori’s father owns and which he took over during this episode.

Kiyama's and Satoshi's beads

Kiyama's and Satoshi's beads

Kiyama and Satoshi

Kiyama and Satoshi

Beads 4&5: Episode 4: Tsuchiya Satoshi, red bead with white splotches
Kiyama Ryuichiro, solid green bead.

One of my favorite episodes, this one is centered around both of these characters and their secrets which unfold. Satoshi is revealed to have a heart problem since he was little that is beginning to flare up during rigorous gymnastic training. Kiyama’s hidden past with his former gang aggression, which still haunts him, becomes rumor fire at the high school. It involves Kiyama’s, now dead, best friend from Jr. High, and he clutches a beaded bracelet that once belonged to his slain friend whenever he thinks of what happened. Satoshi’s bead is red, like a heart, with white to represent the defect. The green bead for Kiyama is of the same color as the bracelet that was given to him.

Mizusawa's bead

Mizusawa's bead

Mizusawa

Mizusawa

Bead 6: Episode 5: Mizusawa Taku, black bead with rainbow flecks.
Apparently gay acceptance is just as much an issue in Japan as it is here. In a twist that is pulled completely out of left field, we find the team trying to struggle with the leaked knowledge that one of their own is crushing on another one of their own. I know this may seem like a pretty big spoiler, but honestly, it’s not. In fact, you won’t be scratching your head in the previous episodes trying to figure out why he has Kiyama’s picture in the back of his book. For awhile there, I was thinking he was some kind of hitman, which could have been an interesting turn of events, granted waaaay out of character. But no, this fits much better into the story, and it’s such a personal issue to settle with a group of close friends who thought they knew you. Once the information was leaked, Mizusawa was going to just peace out, but Wataru brought him back… after chasing down the bus and screaming at him. Fun stuff. The bead has rainbow flecks to represent his orientation.

Yuuta's bead

Yuuta's bead

Yuuta

Yuuta

Bead 7: Episode 6: Takenaka Yuta, black bead with blue flecks.
As captain of the Rhythmic Gymnastics team, Yuuta decides they need to add a more complicated move to their routine for sectionals. The first attempt of this move causes injury to a teammate as he attempts to leap over him. Stained by the incident, Yuuta finds himself unable to tumble anymore, and Wataru, who stumbles on the secret, helps him to overcome it. The black and blue flecked bead represents the nighttime practices that Wataru had with Yuuta to help him overcome his fears.

Hino's and sectionals' beads

Hino's and sectionals' beads

Hino

Hino

Beads 8&9: Episode 7:  sectionals, magenta and white bead with white flowers & Hino Tetsuya, silver rings joined together with crystals.
My other favorite episode in the series, which is not as much about sectionals as it is about the events that surround it. Hino, the most talented (by a soaring longshot) of the rhythmic gymnastics club, generally distances himself from the other members. While the original other four tried to get enough members to do group performances, Hino prefered to focus on his own solo. Even after the team gets enough members, Hino still opts out, ignoring everyone else.

sectionals

the sectional uniforms

As episode 7 unfolds, (and some hints leading up to it) we learn that his father is an olympic coach, and he’s got an olympic athlete for a brother. Those are some pretty tough standards to live by. All his father does is criticize him for “running away” by doing rhythmic gymnastics instead of artistic gymnastics like his brother, though he’s never seen Hino perform. Wataru convinces Hino that he needs to stand up to his father, and at the same time, also convinces his father that he needs to come to sectionals to watch Hino. Well he does, and Hino’s hard coated (eye-candy of a) shell is broken, leading him to actually participate with the team.

Hino’s bead, the silver rings, represents his solo acts which involve him doing rhythmic gymnastics with a set of rings. The pink and floral pattern of the sectionals bead represents the new ‘girl’s cell phone cover looking’ (as quoted by Ryosuke) team uniforms.

Kashiwagi bead

Kashiwagi bead

Kashiwagi

Kashiwagi

Bead 10: Episode 8: Kashiwagi Yutaka, white with black spots.
Come to find out, the Rhythmic Gymnastics team coach is a former champion soccer player, which you find out way before this episode. But now the team starts to realize that it might be worth a shot to hire a coach who knows about their sport, and Kashiwagi hides how upset it makes him, after he went through a lot to gather a box of inspirational materials for them to use for the next competition. Because he’s not skilled in their sport, he decides this is the best he can do for them, and it proves to be more than useful, when the team realizes that he’s the coach they needed all along. The bead represents a soccer ball, obviously.

Kaneko's bead

Kaneko's bead

Kaneko

Kaneko

Bead 11: Episode 9: Kaneko Atsushi, black bead with white circles.
A new gangster starts at the highschool, and come to find out, he’s a childhood friend of Kaneko’s. Honestly, the episode is kind of, how to say… blah? yeah. Kaneko is the lightest in weight and the key component to a high flying jump that they’re trying to perfect for regionals. But he can’t do it. Apparently this ‘old friend’ of his said some moving words way back when and that was how he was able to do a back flip for the first time. Now he’s looking for more words of encouragement from him to do this jump. Well, this guy’s a jerk face, and was sent by the main antagonist to destroy the rhythmic gymastics club, and despite the members being framed for petty crimes and the obvious ties to Kaneko’s ‘old friend,’ Kaneko stands beside him. Then Wataru has some words to say, and so does Kaneko, and you know how these stories end, right? Well, exactly like that. No hugs involved though. The ‘eyes’ on the bead represent Kaneko’s glasses.

Ezaki's bead

Ezaki's bead

Ezaki-san

Ezaki-san

Bead 12: Episode 10: Ezaki Shoko, black with turquoise flecks.
I think that episode 12 is the only one that isn’t actually centered around a single person. Granted, the last one isn’t either, but if you go on based who had the most change in themselves because of the events of the episode, it would be the entire team. They have to start to deal with the fact that, yes they’re all wonderful friends, but only the most talented 6 can compete. Captain Yuuta asks the girl’s coach, Ezaki, to “judge” a test, mostly based off the implementation of the triple back hand spring. At first, they’re all terrible at the whole thing, and no one had even noticed when Kiyama was practicing with an injury.

girls team

girls team

Ezaki was furious that their teamwork suffered under the pressure. And, after pulling themselves together, they were able to nail the full performance as a team. I wanted to pick a bead that still represented someone, so I picked Ezaki who, for the majority of the series, despised the guys team and sought to have the disbanded. Though you slowly see her warm up to them, this is the first time she verbally recognizes their talents. The teal color of the bead represent the girls team’s practice uniforms that they wear for the entirety of the series.

Akabane's bead

Akabane's bead

Akabane

Akabane

Bead 13: Episode 11: Akabane Reiji (the dueche), black bead with yellow stripes.
I apologize for the vulgarity, but it’s true. Even if his two second half-glance-in-the-distance-while-contemplating-Wataru’s-moving-words face at his final appearance in the show hints at some turning point, he’s still the aforementioned word. A spark of hope doesn’t counter act all of the stupidly mean, arrogant, and jerk faced antics through the course of the series that he played a part of. I’m not going to give any spoilers to the last episode, so I’ll end my rant on Akabene with that. The black and yellow represents his hair, with his bleach blonde streaks. I guess he likes to think of himself as the Queen Bee. Watch carefully though, he changes his hair color and style without warning, and you’ll end up realizing that this new character you thought just wandered in is actually him with an even more emo ‘do.

So there you have it, the full explanation of the bracelet. Think me a giant nerd if you must, but I think my bracelet rocks.

Ganbare!

Tumbled out

Posted: August 30, 2011 in j-drama
the Kara HIghschool Boys Rhythmic Gymnastics Club

the Kara HIghschool Boys Rhythmic Gymnastics Club

It took me two days, and I finished it. Like a good book, I couldn’t put it down. Now it’s over, and that really makes me sad. There’s no spoilers in this post; I just want to say a few things. It might be weird to admit this, but this is, with out a doubt, the best show I’ve ever seen, including anything I’ve seen in America. It sounds ridiculous, right? To love such a bizarre show about rhythmic gymnastics with an underlying theme of never abandoning your friends, it’s absurd.

But the show made me cry, in at least 7/11 episodes. When they’d get ready to do a competition, or help eachother learn a new trick, or getting a new member involved, you can’t help but stand and cheer at the screen. I think I scream and cheered more at my screen with this show than anything else I’ve watched; no other show made me feel this involved. You can’t help but love all the characters, even though picking favorites is always imminent. You might even be surprised at who you end up favoring at the end. My favorite, Kiyama, at the beginning, turned into Hino and Azuma pretty much equally. And I went from loathing Satoshi to really enjoying his character by the end. Believe me, he makes up for his high pitch squeak of a voice.

The after party for the Kanto region competition was a great way to end it. Everything wrapped up, mostly nicely. Some of the most hilarious moments of the show are in this scene. On the downside, they make you realize, pretty much in the last three minutes of the final episode, that 6/9 of the members are seniors this year, and that the club is back down to 3. So much for my hopes for a second season.

Yamamoto Yusuke as Azuma Wataru

Yamamoto Yusuke as Azuma Wataru

Daito Shunsuke as Kiyama Ryuichiro

Daito Shunsuke as Kiyama Ryuichiro

This show totally set up Yusuke and Shunsuke for their roles in Ouran. Yusuke, who played Azuma, has a major Tamaki moment when he mopes on the stairs at the after party. But aside from that, the passion that his character exudes at a constant level is unwittingly a Tamaki signature. And just like Tamaki, Azuma’s strength was being able to pull all the hurt, pain, hidden pasts and trials that burden the club members and turn them into an unbreakable family.

Kiyama didn’t speak very much through the majority of the series. When he did, it was important. And even though Azuma was the head honcho, it was Kiyama no one wanted to mess with. Shadow King anyone? The difference in character appearance between Kiyama and Kyoya is significant, almost like they’re two separate actors. But on that rare occasion that Kiyama smiled, that’s when you know they’re the same.

Nishijima Takahiro as Hino Tetsuya

Nishijima Takahiro as Hino Tetsuya

Going into the series, these were the two I was looking for, to see how their acting was outside of the purposefully crazy Ouran Host Club. I was quickly introduced to a character who was a total jerk through the first two-thirds of the series. His redeeming process wakes you up to the fact that this kid can act. And apparently he sings and dances too (as a member of the j-pop group Attack All Around), which is exceedingly obvious when they add a dance routine to their number. He quickly becomes a fan favorite.

All-in-all, I loved this show, which I’m sure you’re well aware of by now. The way the underlying theme generally avails itself in the plot line is almost like watching a live action anime. I seriously wish American TV dramas, and by dramas I don’t mean soap operas (which is why I think I paid no attention to Japanese dramas until now), could have such moral ideas and attitudes that keep popping up as their theme.

I would watch this show again, in a heart beat. And every so often I catch myself replaying some of the more brilliant moments in the episodes. I highly recommend this show; just give it a chance to get past any preconceived notions. The plot line is so much deeper than the descriptions give it credit for.

Tumbing

Tumbling main cast

It’s almost 5am here on the east coast. I’ve got a number of things keeping me awake, when I’m usually passed out cold by midnight most nights. For one, hurricane Irene is on our doorstep, and the bands of rain are starting to wash themselves over us, which is rare for a named storm to do. Also, I’ve consumed a good 4-5 cups of green tea with jasmine, which I stopped drinking at about 11pm. Did I mention I’m completely caffeine intolerant? Haha, I’m wide awake. And the third thing keeping me awake: “Tumbling.”

My brother’s fiance, Mayumi, who I might have mentioned before, is from Japan and she’s a huge fan of Japanese dramas. She’s the one who revealed to me the epic-ness that is the live action Ouran. So anyway, I just got done watching the newest episode that was out, and while consuming my 3rd cup of the glorious jasmine green tea, I mentioned to Mayumi that I need to start watching other Japanese dramas to fill in the gaps between Ouran airings.

Perusing the website that I was on, I stumbled upon “Tumbling,” a drama centered around a failing Rhythmic Gymnastics club at the high school, and a rag-tag gang thug is forced to join as punishment for failing in his classes. Needless to say, he learns a lot from them, and they learn a lot from him, like how to stop failing. The mischief maker is played by Yamamoto Yusuke, the same actor as Tamaki in Ouran. And Kyoya actor Daito Shunsuke also has a role as an ex-gang member with a deep and hidden past. I know, it just draws you in, doesn’t it?

The story line is fantastic, and the side plots in the episodes are actually pretty riveting. I think I’ve even cried a few times. And the bizarre thing is, I’m only on episode 2. (Episode 1 is like, two hours long, and each consecutive one is an hour.) But honestly, I feel like I’ve already watched half a season.

Now, I’ve never seen the American show on ABC family called “Make it or Break it.” You know, the one with the gymnasts and what not. But anyway, I assume it’s a lot like that, except instead of whiney, drama filled teenage whores, there’s gorgeous japanese guys doing kick-ass back hand springs and vaulted twists. Clear winner. But don’t take my word for it. Just start the first episode, and you’ll flip too.

Edit 8/28: Oh yeah, and Nippori’s cry face is hilariously awful. And Yuuta looks like a Japanese version of 11 year old Harry Potter, which makes me giggle every time I see him on screen. And Satoshi’s voice DOES get more tolerable.

Edit 9/10: I stumbled upon another blog who referred to Tumbling as a cross between “Bring it On,” “West Side Story,” and “Make it or Break it,” to which I whole-heartedly agree.

Me with my Ouran card

Me with my Ouran cards

Can’t believe I forgot to post this. Here’s another Ouran gem I stumbled upon. It’s bad for my game though, they know I’ve got a Jack or a 4 when i shriek like a little fan girl when I get Kyoya in my hand. But Lena does the same thing with Mori. Ha!

Vic Mignona

Vic Mignona

If I say Vic Mignona, you might say “Edward Elric!” And you’d be right. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard his voice in other anime, if you’re a hard core watcher. His voice is so unique that you can always pick him out of a cast.

Vic got his fame from voicing Edward Elric, the main protagonist in Full Metal Alchemist. One of the reasons I enjoy Full Metal Alchemist is that I share the same initials as the show: FMA. I know, I’m a dork. But of course you already knew that. I write this blog, don’t I?

But aside from the eldest Elric brother, Vic has voiced several main characters in some of my best loved anime, including Soul Eater, Naruto, and my all-time favorite, Ouran Highschool Host Club. Through each character that he does, his voice has a different feel to it each time, even if  he remains recognizable.

He’s also a graphic designer, like myself, and does sound editing and host of other creative endeavors. His website is a little on the ‘sloppy’ side, but it’s pretty nifty, especially the intro. http://www.vicsworld.net

Edward Elric

Edward Elric

So, here’s the run down. Obviously, he provided the voice for Ed Elric of Full Metal Alchemist, a teenager who, with his brother, seeks to undo the consequences of human transmutation. Through the course of the anime, he ages a few years, and his voice adapts along the way.

 

 

 

Tamaki Suou

Tamaki Suou

In Ouran, he played the romantic, over zealous leader of the Host Club, Tamaki Suou. Half French and half Japanese, Tamaki thinks of himself as a princely type and likes to put smiles of the faces of everyone he meets. Though he’s from an aristocratic family, he is obsessed with “commoner” culture, and likes to indulge in commoner food and games.  He’s pretty much happy-go-lucky, and has a tad of a playful ego, but he’s extremely compassionate and has a giant heart. He also has a bit of a sad story to his childhood, playing piano for his sick mother, and a grandmother who disowns him as a member of the Suou house.

 

Pein, aka Nagato

Pein, aka Nagato

From Naruto, Vic voices several characters, many of them of smaller roles. He does voice major antagonist Pein, aka Nagato, and Kakashi’s childhood friend, Obito. Pein was the figure head of the antagonist group called Akasuki. He had the powers of the sage of six paths, and could basically use all six at once from a hidden location, making him almost impossible to defeat. Then Naruto came along. He was able to recant his ways and gave his life undoing his destruction of Konoha.

 

Obito Uchiha

Obito Uchiha

Obito was Kakashi’s team mate in his first squad and he was overly rambunctious and comrade oriented. He’d kill a mission to save a team mate, something Kakshi’s father was chided for. One day a mission of theirs went horribly wrong and their third team mate, Rin, was kidnapped. Obito took the beaten path to save her, and Kakashi didn’t want to go along at first. Eventually he realized the importance of his team, and that no life is risking for the good of the mission. Kakashi joined in and helped in successfully rescuing Rin. Obito died in the process, but as a thank you, he had Rin, a medical ninja, transplant an eye into Kakashi’s lost eye.

 

 

Spirit Albarn

Spirit Albarn

Ikkaku

Ikkaku

He also lends his vocals to the endearing, tries-to-hard father of the Main character in Soul Eater. Spirit Albarn is Maka Albarn’s father, and though she’s completely put off by her father, it’s obvious that she still cares for him.

Ikkaku is a Lieutenant commander in Squad 8 in the anime Bleach. He doesn’t have a prominent role, but he’s not exactly a walk on role either. His character is always looking for a fight, and to prove his strength.

 

 

Dark

Dark

Goemon

Ganbare, Goemon!

Dark Mousy is the alter ego of main character Daisuke in D.N.Angel. Another flighty teenage role of his. Pun intended.

Goemon is the title character of an anime of the same series of the same video games that I loved growing up. I was pretty shocked to discover that he voiced him in the anime. It seems like a pretty out of character role for him, but it’s awesome.

He did a host of other voices from a ton of different anime and video game titles, but these ones are the ones I most recognize. Vic is my favorite voice actor of all time, because his voice is extremely recognizable, and he plays some fantastic characters. He also filmed a hysterical World of Warcraft commercial, in which he alludes to his portrayal of Edward Elric.

 

 

What do you like best about him, and who’s your favorite character with Vic’s voice?