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Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly



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Haikyu!! Anime Fangirl Gushing

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 01 September 2014 · 4 views

While I am a cosplay enthusiast, my miserly nature strictly limits my cosplay-related purchases. However, the instant I came across Haikyu!!, which began simulcasting on Crunchyroll last spring, Karasuno High School uniforms fell into the “must have” category. And now, both my husband and I can show our spirit for the Karasuno volleyball team in our latest outfits.

Haikyu uniform

My husband is a near exact physical match for Captain Daichi, but he insisted on Kageyama’s Number 9

For those unfamiliar with Haikyu!!, it’s a sports anime centered on a high school volleyball team. The story follows two freshmen: Shoyo Hinata and Tobio Kageyama. Hinata is the eager raw talent who couldn’t truly play the sport due to the absence of a boys team at his middle school. Kageyama, on the other hand, is a seasoned and genius player, but his high-handed attitude cost him the respect of his middle school teammates and a championship victory. The two wind up at Karasuno High School, and though they start as rivals, they learn how to work with one another and, more importantly, what it means to be a team.

Although the fall anime lineup remains to be revealed, I’m fairly certain that Haikyu!! will be my favorite anime of 2014. This is fairly unusual for me since my taste leans heavily toward shojo, fantasy, and historical, and Haikyu!! is none of these. However, even if you’re not into the sports genre, even if you dislike volleyball in real life (like me), even if you’re not really into anime, give Haikyu!! a chance. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it sucks you in.

For one, the cast is immediately relatable. Whether it’s Hinata’s nerves sending him running to the bathroom or discouraged ace Asahi’s reluctance to return to the sport, you definitely get where they’re coming from.

Haikyu jersey (621x593)

My Karasuno Volleyball Team jacket!

For another, the pacing is excellent. Volleyball requires a large group of people, but characters get introduced in a way that really establishes their personalities and how they connect with the rest of the team. The show also makes volleyball rules, strategies, and tactics comprehensible for the uninitiated. At times, explanations border on info dump, especially with faculty advisor Takeda-sensei referencing a “how to” guide for volleyball during practice. However, if you don’t know your wing spiker from your float serve, it’s quite helpful.

Another huge plus is that I can recommend Haikyu!! to viewers of all ages. The subtitles do include a few cuss words (though I think that’s more of a reflection of Crunchyroll’s translation choices than the content), but there are no giants eating people, no end-of-the-world devastation, no fan service. Yes, there is the one cute girl whom a third of the team is crushing on, but she is NOT a panty-flashing airhead, her breasts aren’t the size of watermelons, and she’s not a wacko sadist who can’t cook. What you get instead is an overwhelmingly positive vibe from a bunch of boys, each with his quirks, strengths, and weaknesses, as they go through ups and downs yet strive to bring out their best in the game. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I fell in love with a cast like this. Even among Karasuno’s rivals, no one is truly hateful, and several are worthy of their own fan followings.

And while Team Karasuno’s goal of winning the Nationals is what drives the plot, there’s plenty of humor to be had. Between ill-aimed balls, snarky potshots, and hilarious visual metaphors (my all-time favorite is Kageyama holding the Hinata bazooka), Haikyu!! manages to be fun and inspiring and gripping all at once. Add to that cool character designs, excellent action sequences on the court, catchy opening and closing themes, and you’ve got one gem of an anime.

So check it out! Even if you don’t have a Crunchyroll subscription, you can watch the with-commercial version for free. And perhaps you’ll find yourself joining me among the ranks of the Haikyu!! cosplayers.




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 18

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 29 August 2014 · 27 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

The Spartan community encouraged all citizens to hunt.

In fact, they had an interesting policy in place to promote the activity. Hunting required horses and hunting dogs, animals privately owned by the rich. However, if poor citizens wanted to hunt, rich citizens had to make them available at any time.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 17

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 22 August 2014 · 19 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

When not on campaign, citizens occupied themselves with choral dances, festivals, feasts, hunting, physical exercise, and conversation.

To be honest, this doesn’t sound too much different than the pursuits of their Athenian contemporaries, but the Spartans had to endure and survive a lot more to achieve this lifestyle.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 16

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 15 August 2014 · 39 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

Spartans considered arrows “feminine.”

This was because arrows were a long-range weapon that allowed you to kill without really seeing your enemy. The Spartans’ weapons of choice were a thrusting spear and a short iron sword, which required them to get up close and personal. Despite their disdain for arrows, they did use bows and arrows in their auxiliary forces.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 15

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 08 August 2014 · 6 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

All citizens participated in the Assembly.

In addition to Sparta’s two Kings and the Gerousia, a council of aristocrat elders, the government included the Assembly of Citizens. The Assembly, which met monthly, elected certain officials and voted on measures such as whether to go to war.

By the way, they voted by shouting. Basically, whichever side was loudest won.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 14

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 01 August 2014 · 26 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

Spartan males went about after nightfall without torches.

Men and boys alike would travel in the dark without light. This practice was to train them to move stealthily at night.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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Manga Review: Voice Over! Seiyu Academy Vol. #05

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 28 July 2014 · 31 views

For hard core manga and anime fans, the voice acting world has the same kind of glamor and mystique as Hollywood. So it’s no surprise that the world of Maki Minami’s manga Voice Over! Seiyu Academy portrays it as such. Viz Media has just released Volume 5 of the series and you can read on for the review. (To see previous reviews of the series, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Hime’s producer Yamada has decided to let her have some time off for good behavior, so he sets up a trip to a lake for her and the rest of the Stragglers. But will Hime ruin the vacation when her idea of a fun time turns out to be a bust?!

The Review

Hime’s school life and the Stragglers have been scarce the last several chapters. As if to remind us of their existence, Volume 5 kicks off with Hime taking a lakeside getaway with Tsukino, Sho, Mitchy, and – surprisingly – Ume. The premise for their vacation is weak, and because it is a single chapter one-shot, their 29-stamp rally has a rushed feel to it. However, this story is probably the closest this series will have to a summer vacation arc.

The manga then continues by introducing a rivalry. No, not for Hime. She lives up too much to her super-amateur/super-noob nickname to inspire anyone to challenge her. This rivalry is between Mizuki and his costar on the Four Gods Squad anime, Toru Fujimori.

Actually, the rivalry is more of a one-sided grudge. For Toru’s entire career, his success has been overshadowed by AQUA’s popularity, thus earning him the handle of Mr. Shade. As such, he is obsessed with beating Mizuki, but all his efforts to steal the spotlight wind up backfiring – badly. Mizuki, for his part, doesn’t care. That is, until Hime/Shiro gets involved.

For someone who is supposed to be a professional with a lead role, Toru’s attempts to outshine Mizuki are amateurish – as in Hime-amateurish. Not surprisingly, she sees in Toru a kindred spirit. The production then devolves to the level of a middle school play when Toru can’t get past his personal feelings to deliver his lines. Of course, Hime is compelled to help in Lovely Blazer fashion, but that only serves to irritate Mizuki, causing him to stoop to their level of immaturity. When this arc finally concludes, I can only wonder why they haven’t all gotten fired.

Lots of extras including embedded author’s remarks, translation notes, and four bonus mini-manga.

In Summary

Only a brief glimpse of the Stragglers and nothing at all of Holly Academy in Volume 5. Voice Over! continues to focus on Hime’s career and the other actors on the Four Gods Squad anime. But the amateurish flavor in Minami-sensei’s depiction of the voice acting world unfortunately also continues, making the professionals in the entertainment industry look anything but.

First published at the Fandom Post.




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 13

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 25 July 2014 · 34 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

“Black soup” was a staple of their diet.

This dish consisted of boiled pig blood and vinegar. According to one story, a non-Spartan Greek visited their dining messes, and when they served this up to their Epicurean guest, he said, “No wonder you Spartans are so eager to die.”

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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Manhwa Review: Goong Vol. #15

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 21 July 2014 · 36 views

What if modern Korea was a constitutional monarchy similar to England’s? That’s the backdrop for Goong: the Palace, a manhwa that got turned into a wildly popular drama and musical.

Set in an alternate world where the Korean monarchy still exists, the story follows Chae-Kyung Shin, an strong-willed commoner who attends the same high school as Shin Lee, the crown prince. After accidentally witnessing Shin proposing to his girlfriend Hyo-rin and being rejected, Chae-Kyung unexpectedly learns that she will marry Shin and become crown princess due to a promise between the former king and her grandfather.

Yen Press has just released Volume 15 of the series, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes go here.)

Back Cover Blurb

As Shin and Chae-Kyung try to pick up the pieces of their marriage in the wake of learning the truth behind their divorce, Yul is far from content to hang his head in defeat. Postponing his plans to study abroad, he positions himself near Chae-Kyung by taking classes at her school and even resorts to teaming up with the heartbroken Hyo-Rin to blackmail the former crown princess. But when Shin happens upon evidence of his cousin’s newfound treachery, will Yul’s plotting blow up in his face?!

The Review

Those who have been dying to see Yul’s mom get her just deserts will be somewhat gratified in Volume 15. Although Daewang-Daebi retains her position, she’s lost everything else, including the consideration of the King and Queen Mother. She gnashes her teeth so much it’s a miracle she has any left as she’s ousted from the royal inner circle. Of course, like any K-drama villainess, she’s not accepting her fate meekly, and she’s already laying the groundwork for a new scheme to get revenge.

Like mother, like child, and Yul is wreaking his own particular havoc upon the former royal couple. Having lost all chance at winning Chae-Kyung over, he’s out to make everyone miserable, too. Stalking Chae-Kyung isn’t enough; now he’s openly threatening her. With him resorting to extremes and terrorizing Chae-Kyung, it’s difficult to feel sympathy for him any longer. On the other hand, Shin and Chae-Kyung’s separation becomes more poignant, with Chae-Kyung suffering on Shin’s behalf and Shin throwing caution to the wind to bring her back.

In typical K-drama irony, Yul’s scheme to drive the desperate pair apart ends up pushing them together. Shin/Chae-Kyung fans will be gratified by a number of sigh-worthy moments, including one where Chae-Kyung is naked in the tub. However, though Park creates great melodrama, she’s always quick to dispel the pathos. Eunuch Kong’s appearances are fortunately kept to a minimum, but the way Park constantly shatters the romance with her particular brand of bawdy humor gets a bit old.

Included as extras in this volume are Words from the Creator from the Korean Volumes 21 and 22 and a three-page manga about creator Park meeting the Goong actors.

In Summary

Yul and his mother may have gotten caught by the royal family, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over and play dead. Rather, Yul’s resolved to ruin everyone else’s happiness even if it means hurting Chae-Kyung. Ironically, his efforts result in Shin and Chae-Kyung running off together. A romantic getaway it’s not, but the amount of longing and angst should delight any Shin/Chae-Kyung fan.

First published at the Fandom Post.




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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 12

  Posted by Sakura Eries , 18 July 2014 · 31 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

Spartans were great at fighting on land but bad fighting at sea.

Spartans weren’t the expansionist sort. Their territory, Laconia Territory, was fertile as far as Greek lands go, and allowed them to be self-sufficient so they weren’t too interested in building ships and sailing elsewhere unlike the Athenians. So while Athens had a navy, Spartans were mostly landlubbers, and lack of experience with the ocean made them weak as far as sea power went.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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