[OWLS Blog Tour]: Misplaced Adoration

Hi everyone, and welcome to Archi-Anime’s stop on the February edition of the OWLS blog tour. If you’re not familiar with our group: we are a group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability.

We emphasize the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Even though we come from all walks of life, each and every one of our amazing members are dedicated to our cause.

This month we’re finally talking about something related to Valentine’s Day! It only took about 3 years to do so, but this year we’re looking at the theme: “Adore”:

In February, we will be exploring love and romance. The word selected is “adore” because it has two main connotations: to be loved and respected or to feel worshipped. We will analyze characters that give us a feeling of admiration and explain why we love those characters. We will also be exploring different forms of love (familial, friendship, and even self-love) and how those types of love influence our lives.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Winter 2018 brought about a wonderful anime that was easily one of my favorites of the year. After the Rain ran for 12 episodes following a high school girl named Akira and Kondou, the manager of the cafe she works at.

At first glance, After the Rain appears to be about a teen pining after an older man, and perhaps the older man also reciprocating those very feelings in return. However, I personally found that this show was so so much more than that. It went beyond the superficial romance that it advertised it to be. To me, it was an incredibly crafted story about misplaced adoration and the idealization of romance.

Akira’s Adoration
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screencap via amazon

Akira is shown pining after her boss due to a moment of kindness shown to her during one of her lowest days.  After suffering what seemed to be a career-ending injury, she was shown at a doctor’s office having it looked. On her way home she stops by Garden cafe to escape the rain and to essentially mope over her predicament. The manager gives her a cup of coffee on the house; the warmth of the gesture strikes a chord with her and this is how and why she gets attached to Kondou.

She confesses obviously, and while Kondou doesn’t think it’s appropriate; she’s a bit adamant in wanting to get to know him; to the point she really does want to date him, and this is when those idealizations of romance come to mind, which I’ll go into futher.

Kondou’s Ideals & Regrets

Kondou is a 40-year old man who’s been divorced and has a son. In a lot of his employee’s eyes he’s viewed as a loser. The thing is, Kondou really is a man of passion; though it’s become more of a hidden passion due to it becoming one of the things that causes his marriage to fizzle out. Kondou once had dreams of becoming a writer, and is an avid reader. He feel’s like he’s not amounted to much in his life in comparison to his friend that’s turned into a writer.

Because of his predicament, Kondou appears too eager to please and a bit spineless and clueless to his surroundings. Reading the air of his employees for one thing is definitely not his strong suit. He also prefers not to get involved romantically after his divorce because of this weakness – he’s essentially afraid of getting hurt and that extends to everything in his life.

However, Kondou doesn’t exactly try to push Akira and her advances away. I mean, if he really hated the attention; he could easily put an end to it. But he entertain’s her whims, despite his conviction that there’s just no way this girl could really be into him.

Fulfilling the Void

I found that by the two spending time together; the adoration they think they have for the other is just fulfilling a void. They’re both trying to deal with something they’ve lost in their lives. Honestly it almost feels that Akira could be exhibiting depression and latches on to Kondou.  Kondou’s kindness soothe’s Akira’s heartache with the warmth he exudes in his day to day efforts of becoming a better manager and the way he tries to care for his employees. Akira’s youthfulness and innocence sparks old feelings for him when it comes to some of the things he regrets in life. It’s only when he emphasizes that Akira’s still young and should not give up on her dreams of running that he realizes he probably should be following his own advice.

The symbolism of the rain was indicative of their moods, and often times those moods were lifted in those flashes of vivid colors and bright lights because in each other’s company they found warmth that seemed to be missing from their life. This warmth spurs on affection which could lead to attraction and the feeling of “love”.

Idealization of Romance

There were a few scenes that really hit home this idealization of romance. It clearly varied between the two of them.

With Akira we saw the typical shoujo effects that we see when a girl has a love interest. The soft focus, the pining from a far, the sparkly bubbles in the atmosphere when she thinks of him. This “shoujo filter” is something we view her love life through. We see her idealized romance; what could be. What would be if they were to happen to cross that line; if she could have the courage to cross that line.

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screencap via amazon

On the other hand, Kondou’s approach to looking at Akira is viewed from a nostalgic point of view. The “attraction” he has to Akira is not so much the physical, but that he’s reminded of what could’ve been. A reminder of what he had. When Kondou looks at her; he usually imagines his younger self talking to Akira, not his current self.

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screencap via amazon

In the image above, is the one of the few times he imagines his younger self talking to a beautiful girl, but later on in the scene, the vivid colors melt away as he’s shocked into reality when Akira talks about his son; effectively killing his daydream.

I found the contrasts in how they see one another really great. Akira is something that’s not really feasible to Kondou. He comes from a pessimistic jaded pointed view of love. While Akira looks at him like he’s the world. Due to her inexperience in love, she has ideals on what love and relationships should look like, and it only took one act of kindness  to draw her in.

Rekindled Passions

As the two spend time together, especially with Kondou finally laying down the fact that Akira doesn’t know anything about him and yet can claim to like him things get a little tense. The two start to turn towards the things they love after coming to terms with that emptiness that they feel in their lives. Akira rekindles a friendship that had been in disarray since her injury, and she finds that there is hope to getting back to her original running form with some therapy. After Kondou reconnects with an old friend that is a novelist, he comes to terms with the fact that he misses writing. He returns to making an effort into his writing again by dedicating his evenings to crafting stories.

After the Rain did such a fabulous job in exploring how these two found some kind of solace and inspiration from one another, despite their relationship having started from misplaced adoration.


Did you watch After the Rain? What did you love most about the show? There’s so much to talk about regarding this show and the symbolism but that will be for another day.

Also, don’t forget to read Taku’s post about on Go for it, Nakamura! found here.

And don’t forget to check out Megan’s post over at her blog also found here.

Also, if you haven’t don’t forget to follow us on facebook as well as our twitter @OWLSbloggers and our official blog as well as our YouTube channel! And if you’re interested in becoming an OWLS member, you can contact us here.

[OWLS Blog Tour]: Growth in Tandem

Hello friends and welcome to Archi-Anime’s stop on the January Blog Tour.

Our January theme is: Metamorphosis

A brand new year means new beginnings and opportunities. We have a tendency to embrace the new year because it’s a time when we can start fresh. For this month’s topic, we will be exploring our favorite dynamic characters who undergo changes for better or for worse. We will analyze these characters’ transformations and how these transformations benefited or minimized these characters’ potential in becoming “great people/beings.” We will also use these characters as a way for us to reflect on our own lives and who we want to become. Lastly, we would like to say “Happy New Year, everyone!”

The Fall Anime season brought around one of my year’s favorite anime. It took a break over the holiday’s and now it’s back in the new year for the second half of it’s series. Yes, I’m talking about Run With the Wind. 

This show has really grown on me from the beginning. A ragtag group of college students, that were randomly (supposedly) chosen to run the Hakone Ekiden. I honestly believe that when Haiji was recruiting roommates he was looking for people with certain traits. But, that’s a theory and I could be totally off. But that’s besides the point of this post.

When I thought about the prompt, I had to talk about two of the characters on the show and one specifically that has been the talk of my small ani-blog community:

Akane “Prince” Kashiwazaki & Kakeru Kurahara

The relateable otaku of the series; Prince really emphasizes the idea of “metamorphosis” on two levels; while Kakeru has his own in tandem with Prince’s.

Prince’s Physical Metamorphosis – Butterfly Symbolism

This is probably a stretch, but when we first see Prince running, his pace is slower than the butterfly he happens to chance upon. Butterflies are one if not the most popular uses of a metamorphosis when it comes to symbolism. And, for a butterfly to be associated with prince is so fitting. Of all the character’s in our beloved cast, Prince is the one that’s had to make the most changes to become a somewhat decent runner.

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screencap via source

When Prince starts off, we see that he runs around like a zombie: hunched over and his hands at weird angles. He also, is the character with the least interest in running. To be fair, that could probably be said about a lot of the characters in the dormitory. But Prince sticks out more because he’s an introverted otaku. He sits in his cramped room surrounded by manga and reads.

While everyone tries to actively run outside, Prince decides he wants a treadmill to help him; solely because he can accomplish more reading if he’s mostly stationary; this is his way of training, at least he can do what he loves by multi-tasking.

Unfortunately, Kakeru Kurahara is in the mindset that absolutely no one, especially Prince, is training enough to even consider being able to compete in the Hakone Ekiden.  It’s this episode where it comes to a point that Kakeru’s frustrations are literally running him ragged. Haiji has to pull him off the next race because he wants Kakeru that running isn’t just about speed.

Kakeru has the realization of the “team” and supporting his fellow runners. So, with that in mind, he decides to approach Prince first – because he’s the one lacking the most. The two try to understand one another and in the process really grow in tandem. They grow together as individuals and as teammates, and the episode that highlights this was actually one of my favorites.  They don’t have much in common, but they try to find a common ground, In the process they do become friends that spend time together.

During one of their hang-outs, Kakeru tries to understand Prince by picking up his hobby of reading manga. It’s in that moment, that Kakeru realizes as he watches Prince on the treadmill, that his posture is much better here than when he’s actively running, and it’s literally because of the way Prince holds a book while he’s on a treadmill.

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screencap via source

Kakeru develops a theory for Prince when they go for their morning run, realizing that his hunched over posture and arm placement was stuck due to muscle memory of holding and reading manga. Kakeru only realizes this because after he has a fight with Prince that he forces to stick by his side to train. That’s when he realizes the difference in his posture by holding a book. By making a few adjustments Kakeru straightens Prince’s posture which helps him run a little better. Prince also realizes he needs to tie his hair up in order to see.

Slowly but surely Prince had been passing that butterfly on his runs; and while he’s still the slowest of the bunch, he still hasn’t given up. The change in running stance and posture has helped Prince improve his running tremendously, and honestly it’s great. He looks so much more determined to improve once he and Kakeru start to have a better understanding of one another.

Prince’s Mentality Shift

I love Prince’s change of attitude towards running; another metamorphosis. Although Prince was manipulated into running (Thanks Haiji!) I found that his mentality towards running to be really inspiring.

It’s so easy to say, “oh I hate running,” or “running just isn’t for me.” For someone as introverted as Prince, I had expected him to say he didn’t care for it and he’d be one of the people that would be against the idea of creating the running team. But, he took me by surprise. He still went along with it despite his reservations. And I think Haiji really ignited a spark in him by quoting a manga to him when they first started.

But spending time with Kakeru and fixing his running has really been helpful for them both. Prince learns to face forward and really aims to be a better runner and he makes such an effort.

And as for the latest episode. Seems like I chose the perfect date to talk about Prince as there are no words, to how emotional prince made me in this week’s episode. Prince is the LAST person who needs a qualifying time to even get him to the qualifier. With only two track meets left; he can definitely feel the pressure and you can feel the weight of being the last one standing radiating off of him the entire episode. He misses the qualifying time on one of the two; meaning he really only has one more left; everything is riding on this last run. So he ups his training game (which Kakeru also wants to help a somehow).

What really got to me was his drive to finish his run. He knew he couldn’t let down his friends, his teammates, and ultimately he didn’t want to let himself down. He’d done the work, he put in the time. As he gets ready for his last run, he can see everyone is just as nervous as him to finish. He then asks everyone to write something on his arm – to keep him motivated to finish.

“When they look at me like that, how could I not do my best?”

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screencap via source

They write forward on his arm, something that Kakeru has also been saying to him since they fixed his running posture. With running, there is only one thing to do: keep looking forward; keep moving forward and dammit if that scene didn’t hit you in the feels when he crosses that finish line with the official record he needed.

Prince has truly embodied a metamorphosis in his entire being, and that can also be said about Kakeru and his outlook towards running.

Kakeru Kurahara

I won’t say too much about Kakeru, but I found his character development to happen in tandem with Prince’s.

As stated before Kakeru and Prince had a fight – clearly about how Prince just isn’t cut out to be running. Due to the fight ( and Haiji fainting) the two try to repair their relationship with Kakeru taking the initiative and trying to get to know Prince and his tastes by taking up reading manga.  And it’s because of the time spent together that they fix Prince’s running stance.

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screencap via source

Kakeru has always always been running ahead of the pack and has never looked back at his teammates. It’s not until Haiji takes him out from the race and makes him observe from the sidelines. That’s when he realizes that everyone HAS been trying their hardest to train – he can see it in their faces, and he never understood the urge to cheer on his teammates because he’s never been seen it with his own eyes. After spending time with Prince, he even sacrifices having the fastest time in order to encourage Prince to move forward and not give up.

Conclusion

For Prince, we saw the physical and mental metamorphosis that changed him from being someone dragged into running to being someone that truly decided to make a conscious effort to get better. He took his running time from 29 minutes to 16 minutes which was probably in a span of a month if not a few weeks.

Kakeru had changed from someone that was solely focused on being the fastest runner and looking ahead to someone that really learned to care about his teammates and learned to look back and give a helping hand to those who need it.

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Screencap via source

Episode 10 was truly a great turning point for both Prince and Kakeru in their relationship with one another, their relationship with the team and their relationship with running. They’ve come so far and it’s only halfway through the season. I can’t wait to see what happens to these two and the rest of their teammates as they make it towards the Ekiden.


What are your guys’ thoughts on Prince and Kakeru? Thoughts about Run with the Wind in general?

Let me know in the comments below!

Also, don’t forget to read Mel’s post about Kirishima from Boku no Hero Academia found here.

And don’t forget to check out Karandi’s post over at her blog also found here.

Also, if you haven’t don’t forget to follow us on facebook as well as our twitter @OWLSbloggers and our official blog as well as our YouTube channel! And if you’re interested in becoming an OWLS member, you can contact us here.

 

[OWLS Blog Tour] Architecturally Grotesque

Hello Archi-Anime lovers and friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in the OWLS blog tour! So without further ado, let’s look at our October prompt!

“Grotesque”

In honor of Halloween, we will explore what we find vile and ugly in pop culture.  For this month’s topic, OWLS bloggers will be exploring characters or aspects of the grotesque in a piece of media and how it is a metaphor or allegory for society, human nature, or some other philosophical or humane idea.

I’m not exactly the biggest fan of horror, I’ve got a weak disposition over it. It takes me days to get back to a normal sleeping routine after watching a horror movie. So, I just try to avoid them as much as possible.

While I’m not familiar with the genre, I can at least appreciate the aesthetics of the “grotesque” in terms of Architecture. When, I first started at my beloved alma mater SCI-Arc, I was really intrigued by one of the professor’s work there as he is exploring the term “grotesque” in terms of architecture.

Grotesque in Architecture

In the architectural world, the grotesque is correlated to the gargoyles you see in Gothic Architecture, or chimera’s that are considered to be decorative sculptural pieces, atop buildings from the medieval ages.

However, the aforementioned professor at SCI-Arc, Hernan Diaz Alonzo, took the meaning of grotesque and tried to apply it to the buildings themselves, as a way to challenge the surroundings. I should probably note, that he was very much inspired by the horror genre.

While the historical grotesque is denoted by sharp edges attributed to Gothic Architecture, Hernan’s work was more fluid in it’s shape, to the point some of the imagery can be unsettling.

Context

Architecture alone can be iconic, but what really helps architecture be iconic is the context of it. Context meaning the place surrounding the building. Integration into its surroundings (to me) creates something more than just a pretty building. Like Hernan’s work, it’s really how the architecture reacts to what’s around it.

The following scenes in anime, not only pose a lot of implications in the building itself, but really add to the context of the scene or the environment.

Berserk (2016), Tower of Conviction

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screencap via crunchyroll

In Berserk’s season 1, the main setting is the Tower of Conviction, and the surrounding site. It looks to be a fairly simple, straight forward tower, but let’s be real, what happens inside the tower is pretty heinous. The tower is representation of the imposition of religion. The heaviness of the tower, due to it’s materials also creates a daunting atmosphere that is intimidating.

Attack on Titan, Trost/ Shinganshina

attack-on-titan_ep1_shinganshina

In the vast realm of Attack on Titan, one of the most unsettling points of the series is the fact that along the perimeter of the walls, there are small pockets of towns in which majority of the population is gathered. They say that Titans are attracted and drawn in by humanity, hence the pockets allow for the Titans to be concentrated in these areas.

Again, the architecture itself isn’t unsettling (despite being filled with sleeping titans) but the fact that humanity is caged within 50 meter walls in these pocket towns is an unsettling thought, as they’re literally bait for titans.

Voltron (Clone planet, cemetary, organic planet) *

Voltron has several episodes that exemplify the unsettling and grotesque. My favorite example is when Pidge searches for her Father and Brother, and ends up on a planet that’s solely dedicated as a cemetary.

It’s my favorite because, it was depicted as a beautiful landscape, especially when Pidge actually arrives on site. She arrives as the sun is going down, often known as “The Golden Hour” a time of day that has perfect natural lighting.

Its a beautiful planet but gosh, is it unsettling to know that such beauty can be found with such despair.

*sorry guys, I cannot provide images for this particular example due to being unable to 1. find images of it online and 2. screenshots are not allowed via phones. please forgive me!*

Psycho-Pass, Sibyl System HQ

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screencap via crunchyroll

The room in which the SIBYL system in itself is inherently grotesque. Basically a ton of brains store in one room run the entire  city of Tokyo. If you haven’t seen Psycho-Pass, I just gave away the major plot in the anime. Honestly, the whole layout of this room kind of makes me laugh, as I’ve had to design a lot of Data Centers at my job, and the fact that this room looks exactly like a data center, is kind of ironic.

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screencap via crunchyroll

The image above is the exterior of where the SIBYL system is housed, and the exterior is eerie in that the pipes make it look like it has legs like a living breathing organism; a perfect reflection of what the system really consists of.

By the way, I have to plug an oldie but a goodie. Irina did a wonderful post on how to build your own SIBYL system, which is creepy in it’s own right, but in good fun. You should drop by and check it out here.


What are some unsettling, “grotesque” scenes featuring architecture that stand out to you in an anime? Again, the grotesque doesn’t necessarily mean horror, but rather unsettling in it’s theme, context and maybe even some of actual architectural elements.

Let me know what you guys think of grotesque architecture, in the comments below!

Don’t forget to check out Matt’s post coming up next.

And in case you missed it, check out Megan’s post here.

Also, if you haven’t don’t forget to follow us on facebook as well as our twitter @OWLSbloggers and our official blog as well as our YouTube channel! And if you’re interested in becoming an OWLS member, you can contact us here.

The One Liner Challenge

I’ve been lucky in being tagged by the wonderful Karandi to participate in this challenge. Honestly, I’m glad she did. My poor blog needs some activity, and these challenges are good ways to boost it. Thanks again for the tag! 😀

The Rules:

1. Accept and thank your challenger(s) by linking back to their post.
2. Make a post of one-sentence summaries and/or roasts of at least five anime.
3. No spoilers!
4. Link back to The Awkward Book Blogger so she can see your post.
5. Challenge as many or as little people as you want!
6. Have fun!

The Response:

Free!
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 image source

Build deep bonds of brotherhood and friendship with an angsty group of teenagers that can’t communicate properly.

Aoharu x Kikanjuu (Aoharu x Machinegun)
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image source

Ouran High School Host Club joins the growing popular past time: survival games.

Kiss Him, Not Me
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image source

Learn about the inner workings of a Fujoshi.

Ramen Daisuke Koizumi-san  (Koizumi-san Loves Ramen)
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image source

Planning a trip to Tokyo? Don’t miss out on Koizumi-san’s whirlwind tour of Ramen shops across the country.

Yowamushi Pedal
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image source

Learn to Team Build and Endurance Train with an Otaku.


Well, that was a fun and rather quick post (surprisingly from me) It’s hard to come with one-liners. But I admit it was fun to try and burn my favorite shows. LOL

So, for the following people, I hope you take a moment to do this post, its a ton of fun, and doesn’t require too much thinking. I spent the most time picking shows. Can’t wait to see what you all come up with. And if you’ve been tagged before..Sorry!

[Watch List] Summer 2018

Hey guys! I’ll try to make this short and sweet.  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about seasonal anime. I haven’t done a [Watch List] post or a [This Week in Anime] (name pending) post since Summer 2017.

Since I’ve also temporarily been away trying to get myself motivated again, I figured it might be a good opportunity to jump back into the seasonal writing bit. Why? Because…I miss writing. Period. And also, this summer, there’s just a handful of favorites I’ve been waiting on, anticipating and have been following.

So I’ll try to keep this list relatively short. Last year I really tried to follow as many interesting shows as I could, but a lot of those fell by the wayside because I didn’t keep up with them weekly, and have since have fallen in the “on-hold” realm. So I’ve narrowed it down into two subcategories: my “MUST Watch” and the “Attempting to Watch”.

Must Watch:

There are three “Must Watch” shows for me this summer.

image via MAL & Comicbook.com

Boku no Hero Academia, Season 3 (continuing)
I’ve been completely obsessed with the series as a whole. Deku is becoming one of my all-time favorite characters both on-screen and in manga form. So naturally, I’ll be continuing this series from Spring. This upcoming arc is something to look forward to in terms of character development and setting up for an even larger arc – one that I’m dying to see animated.

Attack on Titan, Season 3
AoT is another series that I was following in manga form. This is also one of my favorite arcs from the series, and honestly, I stopped reading the manga shortly after this arc ended, which reminds me I need to get back on that sooner than later.

Based on the trailer we’ve seen, I’m looking forward to seeing Levi in action again and also one of my all time favorite scenes of Eren. If you thought Eren despaired at the end season 2, by laughing manically at how powerless you felt. Boy, are you in for a real treat.

Free! Dive to the Future, Season 3
Are you surprised? You really shouldn’t be. Everyone should know by now that I associate myself with Makoto a heck of a lot, and I have an incredible love for this series. I’ve read some of the light novel, I’ve read the newest novelization, I’ve watched and own season 1 & 2. I’ve watched, High Speed, Free! Timeless Medley: Kizuna, Free! Timeless Medley: Yakusou, and Free! Take Your Marks.

I’ve immersed myself in the world of Free! which brings me to a special announcement of sorts..kind of but not really? I’m putting a lot of thought into it, but I’ll be coming out with a series of Free! posts this month on top of my weekly watch because there’s more to this show than meets the eye, and I want to talk about those things that I love so much. I want to show those that have easily labeled this show as “fanservice” to at least understand my point of view in why this show is so damn enjoyable. On top of that, I also have a very special post in mind!

 

Attempting to Watch:

images via MAL

Banana Fish
This one has caught my eye because the eversodearest Naja, has spoken volumes about this series. It is one of her ultimate favorites and she is excited to say the least. So yes I’ll be checking this out since it was so highly recommended.

You should check out Naja’s weekly reviews on the series here.

Hanebado
Sports anime’s are my thing, so…yes I’ll be watching this series. Also, it’s about Badminton! Of all sports to have a series around, Badminton! It’s not one of the major sports people follow generally out here in the West, so yes, color me curious on this one.

Hataraku Saibo (Cells at Work)
I’m checking this one out of curiosity as many of my ani-blogger friends (Mel and Scott) have really enjoyed the first episode. It’s worth checking out if it’s caught the attention of those two!


I think 6 shows might be doable. I’ll do my best to keep up with this! I’m already a bit behind on some of the beginning’s but I’ll do my best to catch up! 🙂

What shows is everyone else looking forward to? What shows would you recommend I check out?

 

A Short Break 

Hello friends and ani-bloggers. Due to being sick among some other personal things; I’ll be taking a short break to get my life re-organized.

I’ve put some real life stuff off for too long and need to take a week or two at most to get my priorities re-aligned.
Please bear with me! I know I’d been on a roll since the beginning of the year, but this break is needed for my career path.

I’ll still be active on twitter and on comments, but for the most part I won’t be posting content. But don’t despair, that just means more awesome content is just around the corner!

So in the meantime I leave you with two of my fave gifs of Mako-chan and Vash in hopes to cheer you up in my absence. See you in a week!