My Love of BTS

It’s time to address the elephant in the room: Hi, my name is ChibiChonk and I love BTS.

When I first told my son, he told me, “Whoa, Mom. Their fans are toxic. Are you sure you want to go down that path?”

And this statement made by my own flesh and blood is exactly why I dislike generalized opinions based on conjecture and not one’s own research. The world is not black and white. There is always a lot of gray area. I do my best to try to see all sides of the issue. That doesn’t mean I always do. It just means I try. The same went for BTS. I had also heard their fandom was “toxic”. I heard that any dissent regarding BTS would result in getting attacked. I had read articles about fans bullying other fans, tv anchors, commentators, and hosts. Even though I didn’t quite like my son’s generality, he wasn’t exactly misinformed. A quick Google search will bring you a ton of bad behavior by Army, but on the flipside, there is a lot of good, too. That being said, I never condemned Army or judged them. I was just very indifferent.

At what moment did you acknowledge BTS’ talent?

It happened on August 3, 2020.

I was browsing YouTube when one of the suggested videos was BTS Carpool Karaoke. At this point, I had never actually watched BTS. I couldn’t tell you their names or the titles of any of their songs. While I knew of BTS and the alleged toxicity of their fans, I had never actually cared enough to listen to them. I was not particularly interested in K-Pop and overall, I was indifferent to their existence. I have always enjoyed the Carpool Karaoke skits, so I thought, “What the hell. Let’s give these guys a shot.”

My first impression was: These guys make me smile. BTS opened with their song, Mic Drop. I found myself bobbing my head and thinking, “Wow. This isn’t really ‘boy-bandy’. This is catchy as hell.”

After their first “performance”, RM was explaining how he learned English. It is a well-known fact that RM learned to speak English by watching the show, Friends. That’s when Jin says in the background, “Well, I’ve watched Friends, too. But, I can’t speak English…”

That’s when I belly laughed. I was shocked that the smile that began at the beginning of the video had not dropped and, now, this adorable Korean man was making jokes. They all seemed genuinely happy to be there, and they all seemed like they were being themselves. A lot of times, you watch boy bands and it can be obvious they don’t want to be there, or having a bad day. I recall not really feeling that even though there was a language barrier. I was impressed with RM as well. I later found out RM has a genius IQ. No wonder he could learn English from Friends.

Then…Jimin happened.

As they sang the next song, I distinctly remember Jimin’s voice. The smile faded from my face. I remember being dumbfounded. Is that his real voice?! It was as if the angels swooped down from heaven and took my heart. It sounds stupid, but I was breathless. I was literally entranced by his voice. That’s when I noticed his face. Could a man be any more beautiful?! He sings like an angel and looks like one, too?! How unfair, life!

The next part of the skit was James Corden asking about their nicknames. The whole time, I smiled. My heart felt full. Who are these guys? Why do their smiles make me smile? Why do I want to give all of them a hug?

Their next song was ON and the musician in me was “Whoa.”

Is this the type of music they sing? It had that getting out of school, starting your beater car, rolling down the windows, hitting play on your portable CD player connected by that weird tape adapter, putting it on full-blast, peeling out of the gravel parking lot vibe. Not that I did that…much. I remember thinking, “Is THIS what I’ve been missing out on?”

It finally ended with a dance class and I was blown away. I’ve always known boy bands center around the entertainment aspect, but I could tell they were next level. Jimin gets up to teach part of their choreography and I remember I leaned back in my chair and said, “Whaaaat just happened?”

And, that’s where it started y’all. That’s where it started.

I probably spent a week learning everything I could about the group. I listened to all their music. Learned their names. Developed my biases (Jimin/Jin/Suga). It only took a week to consider myself a part of Army.

What do you most admire about BTS?

I admire their work ethic. Not their innate talent, or dance moves. Their work ethic. If you take the time to learn about BTS, it is hard to not acknowledge how hard they work. They set high standards for themselves always working to perfect whatever task is in front of them. You quickly learn they have dedicated their lives to this group. They work through exhaustion. They cry when they feel they let someone down. They acknowledge their weaknesses and do everything in their power to make up for their lack of dance experience, or singing experience. They will perform with injuries. Their professionalism is so high, you would never know that they were in intense pain if it weren’t for the eagle eyes of Army. I have a lot of respect for musicians that work hard and continue to work hard. They sing all of their performances live. Yes, they do it with tracks, but I dare you to pull up a performance and not be able to tell that they’re singing. I am always in awe of their stamina to do what they do.

They genuinely make me happy

When I am feeling run down, or in a bad mood, I can turn on YouTube and watch a video. They make me laugh so hard, it hurts. Just a few of my favorite clips:

Suga – Bullfrogs and Water Deer (I dare you to not immediately Google the sound of a water deer.)

All Members – Complaining about their choreography difficulty

Is Army toxic?

I think any fandom can be toxic. It is no lie that Army has its share of blemishes. But, you know what? I’ve also seen their generosity. When I ordered a keychain from Etsy, the seller also enclosed a second keychain, Jimin photocards, and a Jimin mini-button for free. In her note, she wrote that she made all of the items in hopes to see BTS in concert before the pandemic. Her plan was to hand it all out to fellow Army. How sweet is that? Since she couldn’t do that until after the pandemic, she was including it with all of her BTS handmade merchandise. That is the Army I want to focus on. I acknowledge there are fans that are over the top. Paying for billboard trucks to express your dissatisfaction on how the group is being managed is crazy. You are straight-up crazy. I can’t imagine anything more toxic and I can only imagine how it makes the group feel. People call themselves fans, but then partake in such selfish actions without consideration on how it makes the artist feel. Honestly, I would be embarrassed if my fans did things like that. Like, damn. Take a chill pill. It is crazy to spend money on the illusion that you have any control or influence on an artist. Like, find some reality.

If you’ve never given BTS a chance, I suggest their cover of Fix You by Coldplay. You don’t have to enjoy K-pop to appreciate their musicality.

Is Age Just a Number?

POTENTIAL SPOILERS: PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Age difference in relationships will always be a polarizing topic. One of my favorite anime from the spring 2021 season is Koikimo. This anime features a relationship with a ten-year gap in age.

Ryou is a successful salaryman with a womanizing reputation. He has gone through life using women for pleasure and then not even bothering to remember their names. On the outside, he is good-looking and sought after, but has little room in his heart for meaningful relationships.

After a night of pleasure, Ryou finds himself irritated that the woman he slept with kept him up all night. Tired and dizzy, he made his way to the station. While distracted, another person bumps into him just as he was at the top of the stairs. Realizing that he is about to be seriously injured and/or possibly die, all he can do is say, “Oh shit.”

Enter our female protagonist, high-schooler Ichika. Ichika saves Ryou from certain injury, perhaps, even death, by using the handle of her umbrella to grab his coat collar and pull him back. As he gathers himself, she apologizes for strangling him in her attempt to save him. She notices he is pale and asks if he had breakfast. Replying that he had not, she rummages in her bag to see if she had anything to offer him. Glancing at her watch, she realizes that she is about to be late for school. In a swift action, she shoves her lunch in his hands and takes off running wishing him health.

At first, Ryou is annoyed. Why would this stranger give him her lunch? He was about to throw it away when he suddenly had a change of heart and opened the lunch, presumably, to eat it.

The day has ended and Ryou heads to his family home. There, we meet his younger sister, Rio. She announces that she has a friend over. That’s when Ichika and Ryou make eye contact. He then enters playboy mode when his sister leaves the room to take a call. Under the guise of “properly thanking her” for saving his life, he first offers her shoes or clothes, then a kiss, and then offers to go even further.

Ichika, with a disgusted look on her face, replies, “You’re creepy. You’re offering up yourself as thanks for saving you? What are you thinking? That’s not why I saved you.”

Ryou is taken aback by her honesty.

Almost immediately, Ichika apologizes for expressing her thoughts.

And, this. This is the moment Ryou feels something stir in his heart for the first time. Moved by her sincere gesture of giving him her lunch to her honesty to his shallow offer, he gets down on one knee and tells her, “I’m moved…I’ve never felt this way before.”

The balance of the show spends the bulk of its time building the relationship between Ryou and Ichika. There are so many memorable scenes of Ryou acting like a love-sick puppy and Ichicka being disgusted by him. It’s well done, and actually quite funny. What starts as a one-sided love eventually blossoms to mutual feelings. But, there is a glaring issue. Ryou is ten-years older than Ichika. At one point, a pursuer of Ryou brings up this fact in a moment of jealousy. Can Ryou and Ichika be happy together? Can they make it work? Will the age gap bring Ichika misery instead of happiness?

I don’t believe that age is a sole determinant on whether a relationship will be successful. I have friends that have successful marriages with much older spouses, and friends that could not make it work. I, personally, believe that there are other factors that determine whether age will affect a relationship such as personality, maturity, and willingness.

For example, I’m pretty young at heart. I wear youthful clothing; I dye my hair funky colors; I like stuffed animals; I watch anime and Asian dramas; I used to stream video games; and, for the most part, I am interested in things that people my age “gave up” or “moved on from”. When I went to college orientation with my now 21-year old son a few years ago, the students thought I was his older sister and/or a student myself. One student was pretty shook and told me he didn’t think I was a day over 25. At the time, I was 38.

At my son’s college orientation

Unless the person is also the same, someone older than me would most likely be a deal breaker. On the flip side, I am confident that I could maintain a relationship with someone quite younger than me. As long as they’re responsible and mature, or have the willingness to hear me out when I might have a bit more wisdom on the situation, we’d be fine. Do you hear me, Park Jimin or Kim Seok-jin?? I’d make it work!

Is age just a number? For the most part, I think so. In this particular show, I believe whole-heartedly that these two can make it work. She’s mature for her age and he’s willing to do what it takes to make it work. If they date for a few years to allow her to grow a bit more, they’re going to be fine.

So, there you have it. Large age gaps don’t bother me unless the situation is illegal, of course. Obviously, I don’t support predators that target young men/women. I’m talking about normal, healthy, good-intentioned relationships. It doesn’t bother me one bit that this show highlights such a large age gap between the protagonists. While I may not understand marriages with 20, 30, 40 year gaps, I don’t disapprove of them. Everyone’s situation is unique and it really is none of my business or my place to judge who people fall in love with.

Beef Stew with Green Chiles

It has been awhile since I shared a recipe with you guys. This is actually a recipe that I threw together using basic techniques that I learned throughout the years.

I would like to go on record that this is not the traditional “green chile” stew. Traditionally, green chile stew is made with pork, however, I don’t really care for pork in stew. My recipe is very much tomato based which is not typical of a “green chile” stew. There is some added red pepper flake for spice. Additionally, if you have hot green chiles available, that is also an option to crank up the spice. If you really want to feel the burn, substitute original Rotel for hot.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs. of beef stew meat
  • 1/4 cup of flour to coat the meat
  • 1/4 cup of flour for the roux
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 can of Muir Glen tomato sauce
  • 1 can of Muir Glen stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can of diced potatoes
  • 1 can of Original Rotel
  • 1 can of diced green chile
  • 1 can of mixed vegetables (Veg-All)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse Kosher salt

EQUIPMENT:

  • Enameled cast iron pot or cast iron braiser pan

METHOD:

  • First, take a look at your stew meat. My grocery store cuts the meat into very large chunks that, as is, will be too large to eat in one bite. I take the time to cut those larger chunks into more manageable pieces. You want to have each of the chunks roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Salt and pepper the meat and then lightly coat in flour making sure to remove large excess of any flour. For ease, I put 1/4 cup flour in a container or Ziploc bag and shake to coat the meat.
  • Using your enameled pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable (or another light colored, high temperature oil) and 1 tablespoon of butter. I typically use sunflower oil. On my stove, medium heat is hot enough.
  • Do not over crowd the surface of your pan. That’s a quick way to lower the temperature of your pan and you most definitely do not want that. If the meat doesn’t immediately sizzle and start to brown, your pan is not hot enough. It usually takes me 3-4 batches to sear the 2lbs. of meat.
  • After completing the searing process and removing all of the meat to a holding plate, turn down the heat slightly. Your pan is going to be super hot from searing and you don’t want to burn the butter. Melt 1/4 cup butter in the pan.
  • Add 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper, and bay leaf to the butter and cook for about a minute. Just long enough to “cook” the flour.
  • Slowly whisk in the 2 cups of beef broth. It will thicken to a gravy consistency.
  • Turn down the heat to low. Whisk in the can of tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, green chiles, and Rotel. The sauce will be thick.
  • Add the seared beef back to the sauce. Cover and simmer on very low for no less than 1 hour. Typically, I simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours if the beef is particularly tough. Just keep checking the tenderness every half hour. The goal here is slowly simmer, not boil.
  • Once tenderness is achieved, add the can of diced potatoes and mixed vegetables. Continue to simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. This should be long enough to heat the canned vegetables through.
  • Last step is to always sample and see if you need to add more seasoning. Because the amount of salt in canned goods varies, it will not always been consistent. I typically have to add more freshly ground pepper and a dash or two of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. That usually does the trick. Other seasonings you might want to try is onion powder or garlic powder.

NOTES:

Can I use a non-stick pot? The short answer is yes. However, if you want the best results, cast iron is really the path to take. In my experience, non-stick does not sear the meat as well as cast iron, nor does it create that magical crust on the bottom from searing the meat. Those crusty bits of flavor are deglazed and add a ton of flavor to the stew. I have never been able to replicate that with a non-stick pot. Can you achieve the end product? Yes, but my experience has been non-stick pans will not create the same texture from the meat, or the same flavor in the broth.

Yes, I use canned vegetables. Yes, I feel like I have to defend them. One of my hobbies is browsing recipes to try and reading the comments for further guidance. A lot can be learned from the comments, positive and negative. The most negative thing I consistently read is the attack on any recipe that uses canned and/or prepared items. This always angers me. I get it. Some people have the extra income and extra time for vegetable prep every day. Some people wake up every Saturday morning to hit up the farmer’s market and hand pick the world’s finest organic vegetables. Some people have dietary restrictions where they must watch sodium intake. Some people have the privilege to worry about those kind of things. I get it. At the same time, I don’t understand the shaming. Is fresh better? Yes. Is canned so bad that we need to make people feel lesser about it? No. So, if a recipe calls for canned goods, and it is not the way you do things, nothing says you can’t alter the recipe yourself. That does not make the recipe “bad”, it makes it not for you. And if you just absolutely cannot stand it, just move on. It really is that simple. So, yes. I try to use fresh where possible, but in this stew, canned works just fine!

Anyhow, let me hop off my soap box.

My family loves to eat this stew with some cornbread muffins. It always seems to hit the spot! It takes a long time to make, but it is worth it!

Sayonara Watashi no Cramer: Mid-Season

TITLE: Sayonara Watashi no Cramer (Farewell, My Dear Cramer)
GENRE: Sports
SYNOPOSIS: Over the years, the reputation of women’s soccer in Japan has been gradually waning. Despite this rather bleak scenario, there are still some schools with teams trying to keep the sport alive. With that, glimmers of hope are starting to appear.

Having played for the boys’ soccer club when she was in middle school, Nozomi Onda’s skills are nothing less than prodigious. Because of this, she thinks that playing soccer with fellow girls would only drag her down. She is only motivated to play her best when facing those she deems worthy opponents. Meanwhile, Sumire Suou is a promising rookie with exceptional talent—a talent hindered by a team that cannot keep up with her abilities.(Credit: https://myanimelist.net/anime/42774/Sayonara_Watashi_no_Cramer)

I don’t know what it is about sports anime. I have a pretty high bar of what I think should happen, and I think that causes me to be unfair toward the genre. That being said, I was not a fan of this show. Keep reading to find out why.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Farewell, My Dear Cramer is an anime about female soccer in Japan. Specifically, this show addresses the sexism that females experience in the sport. Our main protagonist grew up in a rural area and had to play with the boys. Because of this, she had to play on their level, and some of her teammates would argue that she was their best player. Fast forward to high school and she must now play on an all-girls team. The show follows her ragtag team on their quest to be the best.

I wanted to like this show. I really did. However, it is painstakingly slow.

The pace, and the pace alone, is what made this show not enjoyable to me. I found myself watching for the sake of watching. The story does progress, but at a snail’s pace. I feel like much of the beginning episodes contain too much filler to be entertaining.

On the other hand, they do feature the sport that the show revolves around. This has been my chief complaint on last season’s sports shows that were more slice-of-life than sports anime. To be fair, the soccer action is quite good.

I had a lot of trouble relating to the characters. I found them very boring and predictable. I am not sure what I was expecting. Many sports anime have the token characters. You’ll always have the peppy one, the quiet one, the overachiever, the slacker, and the least skilled one that makes up for their shortcoming with heart. This show was no different. To be honest, it is unfair for me to say that the characters were dull, but that is how I felt.

I ended up only making it four episodes in. At that point, both me and my husband dropped it from our queue. I am sure that there is some show redemption in the later episodes, but we weren’t invested in it enough to continue. The show just fell flat for us.

If you really enjoy soccer, this show might be entertaining enough for you. It does highlight quite a bit of play. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into this one. If you do give it a shot, I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san: Mid-Season

TITLE: Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro
GENRE: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life
SYNOPSIS:

Every day, Naoto Hachiouji is teased relentlessly by Hayase Nagatoro, a first year student he meets one day in the library while working on his manga. After reading his story and seeing his awkward demeanor, she decides from that moment on to toy with him, even calling him “Senpai” in lieu of using his real name.

At first, Nagatoro’s relentless antics are more bothersome than anything and leave him feeling embarrassed, as he is forced to cater to her whims. However, as they spend more time together, a strange sort of friendship develops between them, and Naoto finds that life with Nagatoro can even be fun. But one thing’s for sure: his days will never be dull again. (Credit: https://myanimelist.net/anime/42361/Ijiranaide_Nagatoro-san)

The concept is cute, but the execution is…well, see what I have to say about it below.

SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro follows the formulaic storyline of the female protagonist teasing the male protagonist which leads to the development of a friendship and/or relationship. In some ways, this show is very much like Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Teasing Master Takagi-san). While Takagi takes a more lighthearted feel, Nagatoro takes the other extreme end of the spectrum.

Let’s discuss the female protagonist, Nagatoro. Her circle of friends definitely have a Mean Girls vibe. Nagatoro begins bullying our male protagonist who is quiet, reserved, and skittish. Right off the bat, she is cruel, antagonizing, and relentless. Nagatoro, in my opinion, engages in anxiety-inducing bullying. At one point, she makes our male protagonist cry and it appears to bring her happiness as she wipes away his tears. Honestly, the first few episodes had me cringing in many scenes.

Before I continue, let me state that I am not a prude by any means. I tend to overlook the fan service aspect of anime because it is usually a quick shot of some comically large super-jiggly boobs here, or a panty shot there. There is quite a bit of fan service and sexualization in anime, but usually, it is pretty harmless. A boob flash or a panty shot is brief and doesn’t add or take away from the story. It is simply there to please the masses.

However, what I have to say next might “trigger” people. It’s a bold statement, but I stand by it: THIS SHOW IS BEYOND FAN SERVICE.

I feel like this show supports rape culture. There are scenes where Nagatoro is purposely trying to arouse our protagonist by pretending to be nude only to reveal that she was wearing a swimsuit. She is constantly poking fun at the fact that he has never kissed a girl and that he is a virgin. This overly sexually aggressive content left me wondering whether this show is really okay. The manner in which it is done is aggressive with intent which is where my discomfort stems from. Typically, in a show that goes this route, any sexual provocation is unintentional or even, in a manner, innocent. It usually occurs just once, but in this show, it’s a theme to Nagatoro’s actions.

I’m not sheltered. I know most people have their first sexual experiences in high school. To me, this goes beyond any argument of “female empowerment”. Nagatoro consistently puts Naoto (male protagonist) as the recipient of, arguably, unwanted sexual advances. Specifically, Naoto tolerates her sexual harassment behavior. The show also portrays Naoto as a “weak” male and seems to suggest that Nagatoro’s behavior is okay because he’s too weak to fight it off. What makes it worse is the fact that the show seems to take the position that Nagatoro is somehow strengthening Naoto’s resolve with this sexual teasing. I feel like the theme of this show could be reinforcing to young people that: a) it’s okay to sexually tease the opposite sex, especially if they appear “weak”; b) it is okay to tolerate it because he or she is pretty and/or handsome and/or popular and c) that a positive outcome will bestow you by engaging in such actions.

I find Nagatoro’s teasing overwhelmingly negative. Yes, the show does have moments of redemption where you can see an actual friendship starting to blossom, but would it? Would a reasonably sound person fall in love with their tormentor? And if they do, isn’t that disturbing?

This is the first time an anime show made me feel this way. Normally, I take the stance of “it just wasn’t for me” and I move along. However, this show really had me wondering whether it is appropriate. Maybe it is the mother in me. Maybe I am starting to show my age. There are a lot of “maybes” that I might be experiencing. I can say without a doubt that I do not recommend this show if you have potential triggers regarding abuse, especially emotional abuse. This show might cause you some emotional stress. My opinion is this show is completely tone deaf and as a fairly open-minded person, that should say a lot.

A Totally Unnecessary Purchase

Hey, everyone!

For my fellow Americans, I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and spent at least a silent moment thanking those that have sacrificed their lives for our nation.

This Memorial Day weekend, we spent a lot of time on the house. Currently, the house is still in a state of disarray. The supplies to our floors still have not arrived. Once the supplies arrive, we’ll schedule installation. We packed up all of our decorative items, pictures, DVDs, etc. that were on display so the installation crew doesn’t have to mess with anything but the furniture. My husband got a chance to move around the television and bookcases to get an idea of what our new configuration will look like when the floors and done and the new furniture arrives. So far, he’s pretty happy with the potential.

I painted our dining room walls. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to take “before” pictures, but be assured. The previous green was hideous and I hated it from the minute we moved in. I would have painted it years ago, but a combination of time, money, and sheer lack of will to do it had a hold of me. We chose a color that almost matches our new furniture. It’s a deep red and we love it. I think a splash of color is all you need to reinvent a room. Ignore the trim at the bottom. They’re replacing it so I didn’t bother taping it off.

Also, meet Snickerdoodle a/k/a Doodle a/k/a Snickerdoo a/k/a Dooweedle.

Almost as if our interior garage door felt change happening, the door knob broke. Well, let me back up. It had been going the way of dinosaurs for a while, but we were ignoring it. The husband comes in and says, “Yeah, that door knob needs to go.”

So, we started researching door knobs. As a joke, I showed him the smart lock configurations for your entryway door. We were making jokes and talking about how unnecessary they are, but somehow, we convinced ourselves that we needed a smart lock. Did our front door mechanism need to be replaced? YES. The outside door knob was absolutely disgusting. It was old school bronze and it had this gummy residue that we couldn’t quite wash off. Also, the mechanism was on the fritz as well. Did we need a smart lock? Absolutely not. It was, quite literally, an unnecessary purchase. We also discovered that our front door matches our dining room and new furniture. We totally didn’t plan that. In fact, we completely forgot our front door was red. How sad is that? We had a storm door, but the husband removed it. At some point, it broke and we were just ignoring that, too.

It has a fingerprint scanner, y’all. FINGERPRINT. SCANNER. Again, I forgot the “before” pictures, but rest assured. It was an ugly bronze and sticky residue green knob and an ugly deadbolt thingy. Just take my word for it. It was time.

Don’t worry. The garage door was also remedied. We got a much nicer handle for it and both my husband, and my son, are completely happy with it. I rarely go into the garage, but they’ve had to deal with that malfunctioning door knob for awhile.

We felt so badass…until we were walking our dogs and realized we are probably the last people in the neighborhood to have one, so there’s that.

So — that’s what we did all weekend. I haven’t had a chance to watch much anime, so I am quite behind. It may next season before I get back on track, so you’ll have to suffer with some real-life content for awhile.

I hope you’re doing well in your adventures and that your blogging/gaming/manga-ing/writing are all going well. ChibiChonk, out!

Which Anime Has Kept My Attention

We are at the mid-point of this season and only one anime this season has had me impatiently waiting for the following week. The anime that has kept my attention this season is Fruits Basket.

That may be shocking to some as it is not a “new” anime. Many people already know the story from iterations past, or from the manga. However, I have not watched, nor read, the Fruits Basket series. So, it is “new” to me.

There are three seasons of Fruits Basket. So, if you have not watched or followed the show, I suggest you read no further as I will discuss some themes below as we encroach upon the final episodes of the series.

So far, every episode has been leading up to the final conclusion. Slowly, the ball is unraveling and Akito’s desperation is getting dangerous.

Upon reading other opinions, a common theme I have encountered is whether or not the show will minimize Tohru’s role in the falling apart of the curse. I believe the only thing that can devalue my opinion of the show is if they do, somehow, minimize Tohru’s role. After all, she is the main protagonist. It would be disingenuous to suddenly make her actions unimportant, or as another puts, a coincidence. I am holding out hope that she holds a key part in the unraveling of the curse that binds her friends, but I think I get the hint that the breaking ties are all due to various reasons that are completely unrelated to Tohru, and that makes me a bit sad. I guess it can’t always turn out the way you want.

One character that my heart breaks for is Momiji. How sad is his story? His mother was so distressed by the curse that they wiped her memory. He grew up alone while watching his family from afar move on without him. Then, he falls in love with Tohru. I feel like this kid can’t catch a break, but despite everything, he moves forward with hope. I sure hope he gets a happy ending.

I am still struggling to find sympathy for Akito. I do try. Looking at her situation, I think anyone would be mentally frail. First, your mother is whack and makes the decision to raise you as a boy. Then, you’re cursed with this notion that you are “God” and that others are bound to love you simply for who you are. Obviously, everyone telling you that the world revolves around you backed up with this inexplicable feeling that you are, indeed, a God, would probably drive anyone mad. That being said, it doesn’t change the fact that I simply do not like Akito and I hope she suffers some consequence for her actions. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that won’t happen. I hope I’m proven wrong.

Also, can someone PLEASE slap the ever living snot out of that old woman?! You know which one I am talking about. Please. Slap. Her. With. A. Dead. Fish.

Anyhow, I am looking forward to the final episodes.

Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a virtue.

Or, so they say. Me and my husband were pretty hopeful that the release of vaccines would mean the world going back to a modicum of normalcy, and while that has slowly been the case, it has not been the case regarding international travel. Two days ago, the United States issued a level four travel advisory for Japan. Not that it mattered. Japan’s borders have been closed and I suspect they won’t open anytime soon.

This makes me sad, but I fully understand. It will probably be another 1-2 years before our trip happens.

I can still dream about my visit, though. We already changed up our original itinerary. Originally, we were going to stay a few days in Tokyo, then travel to Hakone, then onward to Kyoto. It was an itinerary that I solely put together without any substantive input from my husband. At first, he told me he only wanted to do two things: visit a maid café and go to Akihabara. With those two things in consideration, I quickly filled the itinerary with things I wanted to do.

Well, the thing with making plans so early is that they quickly change, and there is nothing wrong with that! Suddenly, he wanted to go to Super Nintendo World. At first, I was hesitant because why would you go to another country to spend a day at a theme park? But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be an opportunity wasted if we didn’t. I quickly re-planned our itinerary. We are now spending two days in Tokyo, then spending a day in Kyoto, and then two days in Osaka before traveling back to Tokyo for a night before returning to the States. Truth be told, I wanted to go to Osaka to visit the Cup O Noodles Museum, so I get to do one more thing.

Our plan will probably morph and change many times. I think my major hurdle is to not be discouraged by negativity. As I research, there are so many people that judge how other’s travel.

“Don’t go to X. Why spend money to go to X? You might as well have just stayed at home!”

“Don’t travel to another country just to do what you could have here!”

I know many of you have read comments or opinions like that. People feel like it is their job to judge how you want to spend your time and money in another country you’ve never been to.

I know there is a lot of truth to their opinions. Why would you spend thousands of dollars to stay in your comfort zone? Are you truly “experiencing” the country if you’re “comfortable”. I’ve pondered that quite a bit.

When planning the first iteration of our trip, I was heavily affected by the “you must do things out of your comfort zone to fully experience Japan” and you “must avoid all tourist traps” mentality. For some reason, I really cared about how someone else thought I should spend my trip. I was really hung up on the thought that I wasn’t experiencing Japan if I didn’t go to some super local izakaya and communed with the locals. I wasn’t experiencing Japan if I didn’t find some off-the-beaten path place to stay.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

The pandemic has brought me to the two strongest warriors, Time and Patience. While waiting and contemplating my trip over the last few months, I realized that time has changed my view. Where I was once plagued by the burden of someone else’s ideals, I am now free of that burden.

The simple fact that I will be getting on a 15-hour flight to a country and culture I adore is enough.

I was originally against going to Universal Studios/Super Nintendo World because of this notion that someone else planted in my head. The only reason I didn’t want to go was because someone convinced me that you don’t go to another country to do something you can do in your own country. Reflecting on that statement, I realize how stupid it is. True, we can visit Universal Studios here in the States, but the experience won’t be the same. The merch won’t be the same. Trying to navigate and communicate won’t be the same. It will be its own, unique experience and that doesn’t make it lesser.

There is a lot of pressure to plan “the perfect trip”. After all, you invest so much time and money to making it happen that it is only natural. The pandemic has taught me that life has a way of throwing you curve balls. This trip is not going to be any different. I have to expect that things aren’t going to go smoothly. I’m going to have to practice patience and be able to roll with the punches.

Throwing away other people’s ideals, I asked myself what I really want from this trip.

Memories.

I want memories. I want to remember being happy. Will I get that trying so hard to be different? I don’t think so. Will I be happy doing touristy things and running into other gaijin? Absolutely.

Every experience will be new to us from entering a konbini to riding a bullet train (shinkansen).

Our trip will be packed with new experiences regardless of how hard we try to make it conform to someone else’s standard of what a trip should be. I, for one, am looking forward to the maid café. I’m totally looking forward to making my very own custom Cup O Noodles. I’m looking forward to buying a ridiculously expensive watch at Super Nintendo World to track my progress as we hit blocks. Yes, I want to see Sky Tree. Yes, I want to see Tokyo Tower. Yes, I want to cross Shibuya Crossing. I don’t care that they’re cliché or touristy. Simply being there is enough.

Now, I have to sit with Time and Patience for a little longer. I am sure our plans will change with time as we find new things we want to do and I am perfectly fine with that.

Life Finds a Way: Part Two

Hi, readers!!!

Thought I’d take a few minutes to update you on my unannounced hiatus.

I have been keeping up with this season’s anime. So far, it’s a solid season. I had plans to write about some more of the shows I picked up with the new season, but life found another way to interfere with that plan. Instead, I hope to wrap up the season with more content. At least, that is the plan.

I still haven’t decided on what kind of YouTube content I want to make, or whether I even want to pick back up where I left off with streaming. So, until I really have a direction, my YouTube and streaming content are on a indefinite hold.

Currently, my personal life is in a state of disarray. I can assure you it is nothing too negative. My husband and I have owned our home for eight years. With any home, there are going to be things you love and/or hate about your living space. For years, I have been wanting to get rid of the carpet downstairs. We have pets, and it is gross. No matter what I do, the floors just feel gross and look gross.

As for my dining area, I had, at one point, turned it into my quilting area. However, all that really did is create a visual mess that I regretted on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, the carpet and the dining room has been causing me a lot of anxiety. I would walk in after a long day’s work and just hate what I was looking at. I felt overwhelmed and out of control. I didn’t even want to be downstairs. I would immediately retreat upstairs where I felt living conditions were okay.

But, like many homeowners, finding the right time to do something can be tricky. In years past, we were heavily involved in my son’s high school extra curriculars, so it left no time to get the floors done. Then, there is always the financial aspect. Home renovations are not cheap. I finally hit a point of critical mass. I just absolutely could not take the carpet anymore. After weeks of hemming and hawing, we had an appointment this weekend where I picked out new flooring for our downstairs area. All of the gross carpet is being pulled up and replaced with luxury vinyl planks. Installation hasn’t been scheduled yet, but it should happen in the next 2-3 weeks.

Our living room furniture was also well past its life expectancy. We had a very large sectional couch that we have had for almost ten years. In fact, we are very pleased that we got ten years out of it. It was a great couch. However, my husband started getting aches in pains after sitting on the couch for too long which made watching movies a bit unbearable for him. We had considered selling the couch on the cheap as we thought it might have another few years, but after inspection, our cats had torn up the bottom and did some other damage. We decided, ultimately, we couldn’t, in good conscience, sell it. So, in addition to purchasing new floors this weekend, we also purchased new furniture.

Currently, our living/dining area looks like total chaos. We had a junk truck pick up our sectional, an old dining table, my old sewing table, and an old computer chair. I also packed up all of my fabric and listed it for sale.

During this whole process, we discovered that I have a tendency to want to hold onto things. I wouldn’t call it hoarding, per se, but definitely a hoarding state of mind. The thought of letting my sewing supplies go created a lot of anxiety. The reality is, I had shoulder surgery last year, and my ability to quilt is no longer an option. I had no more use for my supplies, however, I kept telling myself that I can use it. I had tubs of scraps that were unusable, but I had convinced myself they had use. After really asking myself if they had use, I realized that I was just hoarding it because I couldn’t stand the thought of waste. I grew up fairly poor, so I guess I understand that attachment. You’ll be happy to hear that not only was I able to part with the scraps, I was also able to sell my good fabric to someone who needed it. I got a little cash in the process, so I felt better at the end of the day.

Our new furniture is red. After looking at our dining room, we realized that the current color scheme will not match. So, this weekend, we will paint the dining room to match the furniture. We think that will tie the two rooms together and put that pop of color we need. Then, I found more things I want to change. Currently, we don’t have draperies on our windows, and I think we will change that as well to match the furniture.

So, that’s where I am at. We’re focusing on cleaning up clutter and simplifying our downstairs living arrangement, and hopefully, I can get to a mental place where I feel like I can focus on creativity again.

I hope everyone is doing well. Stay healthy and happy!

Osamake – First Impressions

Title: Osamake: Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Won’t Lose
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Where and When: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m. CDT
Synposis: She smiles just for me. Her name is Kachi Shirokusa and she’s even an award-winning high school girl writer! And she’s beautiful! I know that she’s totally out of reach for me, a normal high school kid named Maru Sueharu! But I think something’s there… No, there’s definitely something there! Or so I thought… but Kachi has a boyfriend?! Seeing me depressed, my friend ever since we were little who’s cute, cheerful, and loves to look after others, Shida Kuroha… who also apparently had no problem telling me that she likes me for some reason just suggested, “Let’s get revenge.” (Credit: https://www.crunchyroll.com/osamake-romcom-where-the-childhood-friend-wont-lose)

Maybe it is just me, but there seems to be a romantic comedy theme this season and I am totally okay with that! Enter Osamake: Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Won’t Lose.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

It has long been decreed. The childhood friend will never win. And, in a lot of cases, our hearts have been broken. However, Osamake makes a bold claim. The childhood friend won’t lose and THAT is what makes this anime worth watching.

In the first episode, the scene is set. Our protagonist, Maru, is your average, good-looking, reserved and shy kind of guy. He isn’t really extraordinary in any way other than being a kind person. Enter one of our female leads, Kachi. She is an award-winning writer that touts a bit of celebrity. Upon Maru’s confession to Kachi that he was moved by her writing, they form a somewhat weak bond. She discards her cool exterior and actually shows some vulnerability around him. Or, so he thought.

As he holds his torch high for Kachi, he learns that she is now dating another celebrity and he is devastated. His long-time friend, Kuro, had confessed to him and was turned down, however, she puts her pride aside and proposes that they get revenge.

It has the same vibes of Masamune-Kun’s Revenge, so if you liked that show, this one might be a good one for you to catch. As of the posting of this entry, this show is in week two.

I am looking forward to seeing what this season has to bring.