Anime I love Part Two: Samurai Champloo

This anime is the definition of short eloquent perfection. Imagine an anime that is only 26 but gives you everything. The perfect trio, Dynamic characters, great resolution, a beautiful world, and a soundtrack that you’ll still be listening to decades later.

That is Samurai Champloo.

The story is simple a girl is searching for a man who smells like sunflowers. She enlists two very opposing swordsmen to find this man.

It sounds so simple, how could it be that great?

Well, have you heard of Shinichirō Watanabe? He’s a legendary anime director who is known for his cult classics. But though not all of his work does this, some of his key animes have blended music and storytelling. This is one of those.

Champloo is based on the Okinawan word chanpuru, which means mixed together. This show is a blend of Japanese culture and hip-hop, and it’s masterfully done. It’s a fictional Edo-ish period piece. Blending things from multiple cultures and periods because Watanabe didn’t want to have it be founded in reality.

The music:

If I’m being honest with you I would say the soundtrack of this has had more influence on the world than any other anime soundtrack. It could easily be said that the popularity of this led to lofi hip-hop and lofi being what it is now. The producer behind the soundtrack was the late great Nujabes(Jun Seba). He is worldwide known to be the grandfather of lofi. He was so complex an artist that he is often categorized under multiple genres hip-hop, nu-jazz, but some simply say lofi. And none of them are wrong.

Why do I love it:

This is one of the few anime that actually affected my musical preferences. Many nerds listen to k-pop,k-rock,j-pop, and j-rock. But although I like them, none of them have had an impact on me musically.

This music inspired me to go beyond what was popular and look further into the works of this artist and others like him. It changed the way I looked at music, the way I thought of instruments, and the way they could be blended to change what I thought a genre should sound like. It sent me down a nu-jazz, nu-hip-hop rabbit hole.

It is rare for anime to be so defined by its music. In fact, the only other anime I know that the music defines it in the same way, if not more, is Carol and Tuesday. Which happens to be another work by Watanabe.

This blending of hip-hop culture and Japanese culture within this anime gives you a unique experience. I would say that this is the most iconic anime soundtrack of all time.

Why aren’t you talking more about the story?

I wouldn’t want to give a thing away, the story is a straight forward beautiful ride. There isn’t more to say about it than I already have. But the reason I love this anime is the impact it had on me. My musical taste has never been the same since. I guess you can call it the echoes of a Battlecry.

Anime I love Part One: March Comes in Like A Lion

For many people, the top of their list will be the most elaborate shonen they’ve watched. Something with dynamic world-building and a well-thought-out magic system. Something with beautiful fighting scenes and beautiful redemption arcs and an overarching message that correlate to real life. 

Well, this ain’t that.

It’s a rich slice-of-life anime with some of the best animation you’ll find outside of fighting animes. Though there are a few shows like Horimiya that use animation and color to highlight the feelings of an anime. I have yet to see an anime explore different art styles with their animation to show you the mental state of a character so vividly. It uses its animation to highlight the brokenness, hurt and overwhelmed feelings of Rei, our main character.

Sometimes when our main character is overwhelmed, the scenes will ink out to black or show Rei fully submerged in water. The animation is used to highlight Rei’s emotional state. And to have you experience his change of emotion with him. Which is frequent, especially in the beginning. 

This isn’t some lighthearted anime. We are dropped in with a character who feels utterly alone. It starts with him, recapping someone telling him that his name meaning zero is valid. Because he doesn’t have a home, family, friends, and doesn’t even go to school. This person will come into play later, she is a [redacted]. We hate her. 

In this show, we follow Rei, who is a high school professional shogi player. Shogi is kind of like chess but more complicated. Professional players can easily live off their winnings. The top players easily make six figures(yes in real life). So our main character lives on his winnings.

We meet our main character Rei, who starts in a very low mental place, and watch as he grows and gets away from his loneliness. To come to love and accept those around him. We watch him grow. 

 What I love.

You learn so much about shogi. The different movements as well as the names of the pieces. There is even an ending with cats that tells you how each piece moves. I appreciate anime that actually teach me something I didn’t know before.

There are so many characters to love. You’re going to love Rei, but just like me. I’m sure you will love the Kawamoto sisters. They give Rei most of his emotional support. One adult, one in middle schooler, and one kid in primary school. All very adorable. Did I mention they cook all the time? They even give recipes in the show. But one you will see consistently is them eating at their Kotatsu( low table with a heater built underneath). Family time and eating together is a big thing Rei does with this family. They have essentially adopted Rei, just because they could. This is often hard for Rei. His childhood has made him fear that his very presence is an imposition on any family. 

Every side character has a story. The arcs feel real.

Some arcs are solely about Rei learning to deal with what he’s going through. As he opens up, the show opens up to those around him. The topics range from a woman raising her sisters and supporting her grandfather’s bakery after their mom dies. An older man chasing his dreams, trying to decide, like his friends, if he should retire. A high-ranking player hiding his disability, and a chronically ill player pushing through to reach his dreams despite his illness. Just to name a few.

I feel like very few shows switch to focus on side characters without having their arc surrounding the main character. In many shows, the main character helps resolve the issues the side characters have, but this is a more realistic show. As Rei learns about different people’s lives and struggles. He has no power to change them. He does help sometimes and offers moral support in some arcs. 

BUT

The characters have a life and handle their own issues. And that’s real.

Why do some put it low on their list?

There’s no goal in this anime, nothing to be resolved. Which for some people is an issue. This isn’t Yu-Gi-Oh. Rei isn’t fighting to be the king of all shogi. He wants to be the best and win tournaments, but that’s not the focus. The focus is on him learning how to deal with people, emotions, and life. 

And as we know as growing people. That’s not a job that has an end. You never stop growing and learning. 

Quirky things:

We can hear what the pets are thinking. It’s VERY cute. Also, the show cutely reads out the onomatopoeia on screen.

Final thoughts:

I love shows that give me an abstract way of seeing the world by bringing in fantastical elements. I love stories about friendship, achieving your dream, and defending the world from evil.

BUT

There’s something that feels real about this show. It has something for everyone. In this show, we have people at every point in their life. And no one’s story is played as being more or less important because of that. The arc about bullying is just as important as the arc about the older shogi player trying to figure out if he should retire. 

It’s my go-to comfort anime, not because it’s a happy heartwarming show. But because it’s a real feeling heartwarming show. Rei starts at his lowest point and is built up over the course of the show. There are sweet characters around him who take care of him, despite him feeling like he doesn’t deserve it. In fact, some of the friendships he’s given he rejects at the start. But as he grows and lets people in everything chages.

We see him slowly walk away from his loneliness and watch as he starts making an imprint on those around him. And it’s beautiful.

Is the person ungrateful or are you a inconsiderate partner? Part 4 Buying an off brand version of what someone ask for

Let’s say your significant other asks you to get a specific makeup for their birthday. They take great effort into writing down the exact shade of foundation and color eye shadow pallet they want. You’re happy. You had no idea what to get them. You go to buy the makeup, but it’s $90 for both.

You don’t want to spend that much on makeup. So you look for dupes. You find a well-loved dupe that is similar to the pallet. You can’t find a dupe for the foundation, but you get something people say is similar. You have saved yourself $65. Your partner seems happy, and you enjoy their birthday with them. It’s a win-win situation.

Weeks have passed, and everything is good between you. You are going out. You see them put on the expensive foundation you didn’t buy. That surprises you. You ask them where they got it. They get a little uncomfortable and tell you they bought it. They explain your gift was the wrong shade. So they had to buy themselves a new bottle that matched their skin tone. You asked about the eye shadow pallet. They say that the eye shadow pallet wasn’t the same colors as the one they asked for. In fact, the colors don’t match anything in their wardrobe. So they would save it for Halloween, costuming, and cosplays. But they really appreciated the thought.

You get a little upset and give them the silent treatment. You did the best you could. And you can’t understand why they just can’t use the items you gave them. You put in a lot of research and effort. Why are they so ungrateful.

Do you have the right to be angry that they are not wearing what you gave them?

Foundation is one of those things that if it’s wrong, it’s a waste of money. Especially if it’s multiple skin shades away. If you were just buying them makeup to be a caring partner without knowing what shade they needed.

I would have so much more grace for you.

Even applaud your efforts at trying. But this isn’t the case. This is a case of someone knowing what would be the perfect match for someone. Then purposely choosing to give them something else that is similar-ish.

Honestly

If you’re not willing to buy someone what they asked for. Then why not give them something heartfelt instead. Make them something, you got skills, use them. Buy them something that reminds you of a fun time you’ve had together.

Take them on an adventure. Plan a day that you can both remember years from now. And let’s say you want to get them the thing they asked for, but you can’t afford it. Just be honest with them. Communication is key to a healthy relationship. A good partner will never want you to ruin your finances for a gift. They’ll understand and if they don’t. They are not the right person. You deserve someone who doesn’t wish to drain the little you have just for a gift. Especially, if they know you can’t afford it.

I would suggest getting someone something else rather than a cheap version of what they wanted.

Wouldn’t you rather have someone be surprised rather than disappointed?

Shouldn’t they just be grateful?

Yes, but wouldn’t you be sad. You get a gift try it out and realize you can’t use it. Everyone loses. You spent money on an item that is guaranteed to be replaced and there’s the added bonus of them being unable to use it.

Another example:

You look through your cousin’s wedding registry to find out what to give them. They have an expensive solid oak entertainment system on it. It is over $1500. You think it’s a bit bold of them to even ask people for something that expensive. You buy them a nice reasonably priced one from Ikea for a tenth of the price. There are many cheaper gifts, but you think they should learn to be responsible with their money and you’re sure no one will get them what they asked for so you buy this.

A year passes, and you go to their house. Your gift isn’t there. What you do see is the expensive one that they ask for. You ask where is the one you bought. They explain that they loved what you had gotten for them, but the wood had started to bow. They used it until they were able to buy the one they wanted.

Does this person have the right to be mad?

Honestly, guys, we don’t get to decide what people deserve. If someone wants $90 in makeup or a $1,500 entertainment set. You have the right to not buy them that.

These people enjoyed the use of the item they were given. They thought it was cute and used it until they could get the thing they wanted. Isn’t that what we want people to enjoy the things we give them. The trick is if you know someone wants something and you wish for them to keep it for a long time. Wouldn’t it be smart to give them the quality and things they asked for?

But you don’t have the right to give them a cheap version of what they asked for, and then get mad when they get what they want. And replace what you have given them.

Give people what they ask or something else that they’ll like. It’s easy.

[Sidenote: There are cases where you are getting someone something lesser than what they asked for. These are not scenarios of alternate brands, something just as good, or something better. These aren’t scenarios of cash-strapped people. These are scenarios where people purposely choose to not get someone something then want and choose to give them something else. Because they don’t want to buy that person what they want.Not because they can’t afford but they don’t want to buy it for them.]

5 dream comics that I would get if money weren’t an issue

Giant-Size X-Men #1

I want it.This comic is the 1st appearance of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Thunderbird, and Wolverine. I want it specifically for Storm and Wolverine.

Tomb of Dracula #10

1st appearance of Blade. Who wouldn’t want this.

Amazing Fantasy #15

1st appearance of Peter Parker.

Fantastic Four #48

1st appearance of the Silver Surfer.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

The first appearance of the infamous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

How to be a good friend to an introvert/shy person part 1: Making sure they get their point across

So extroverts love to talk gives us life. We like to talk about our opinions and how we feel about things. We can easily dominate a conversation and talk for hours.

BUT

Sometimes when I am in a setting with a mixed group of people. I notice a thing that happens. It’s when an extrovert takes over a conversation, and each time the introvert tries to get their point in. The extrovert unknowingly cuts the introvert off and keeps on with the conversation.

What do you do?

I look at the person so they know I see that they are trying to break into the conversation. Next, when there’s a lull in the conversation, I do one of two things. One: I turn my body and attention towards them in an exaggerated motion. I need the other people to see that the focus needs to shift. Two: I break into the conversation and ask them what they were going to say. Sometimes you must cut off the other person to make sure your friend gets their point in. Before the conversation switches or they lose their thought.

Why?

What do you mean why? Not everybody is good at breaking through the conversation when a very passionate person is talking. Don’t you want to ensure your quiet friends know that you value their opinion?

There will never be a downside to making sure someone that you care about knows that you value their thoughts. One of the worst feelings will always be feeling unheard.

To be a better friend, I am working to make sure I don’t filibuster unless I am telling a story. Otherwise, I am trying to be more mindful of making space for others to speak. It’s not really a conversation if only one person is giving their opinion.

It’s hard to be mindful of other people, but a good friend is always worth the effort.

Should I get my comics graded?

The simple answer is yes.

What is grading?

It is when your comic book is looked at by professional graders and is given a score somewhere between .05 and 10. After it is scored, it is encapsulated in plastic with its grade to retain its quality.

Who should I choose?

The CGC (Certified Guaranty Company) sets the standard for comic book grading. There are other companies, but they are not as respected in the comic community.

What should I get graded?

Well, anything that you love. The crown of your collection, your favorite cover, the #1 of your favorite series, the first appearance of your favorite character the options are unlimited. Do it to the comic that you want to raise the value of the most.

Do I need to get my comics graded?

Need. No. You could have a solid collection and never have a single comic book graded. Grading is not a requirement for collecting comics.

Why would I get a comic graded if it’s not necessarily?

To prove worth and retain value. The one great thing about getting a comic graded is that it is protected forever. Unless you bust it out of its plastic. The value is instantly raised when you have it graded.

Why is this important?

When you buy a comic, the hardest thing about it is that you honestly don’t know the condition of the comic. Everyone grades differently, your VF+ could be what I consider G+. My VF could be your NM. That is the slight danger of buying comics online. If it’s not from a big well known comic seller, the grade is really just a guess.

BUT if something is graded, there’s no guessing. There are no questions. I know exactly the difference between a 9.8 and a 7.0. These are well documented. It makes buying really easy. It also makes it easy for you to know the value of your comic.

The literally one downside.

You can’t read the book anymore. It’s locked away forever. But there are digital books and graphic novels you can buy. So you’ll be fine.

.

.

Is the person ungrateful or are you a inconsiderate partner? Part 3 Buying things for the home and gifting them to your partner

I feel like there is a trap that people who have been together for a while fall into. Which is buying household items for their spouse as if it was a gift for them.

Let me give you our first example of when it’s ok.

Let’s say your wife loves cooking and baking, she blogs about cooking. Her dream is to own a restaurant one day. So you get her an industrial mixer even fancier than her current kitchen aid. Not just that, but you buy her a luxurious cooking set that she’s been gushing about. It’s pricey, but she says they are the best. You think all pots cook the same, but then again she’s the chef, not you.

She is over the moon she can’t contain her excitement and wants to use everything right now. But you shake your head, you’ll be cooking today. You’re kinda basking in the glow of how happy she is.

This next example is the problem people fall into.

You aren’t sure what to give your wife. She hasn’t asked for anything special. She has a lot of things. You look around the house, the pots are dying. Since your wife does most of the cooking you give them to her for her birthday. You also realize that “her” kitchen aid is dying so you research and buy the best option and replace it. She says thank you but seems a little upset. You can’t fathom why all the gifts were expensive. You bother her until she tells her honest opinion.

That you didn’t give her anything.

You just bought something the house needed and didn’t think about her. You get upset and explain that you spent a lot of money on these items. She said that y’all would have had to buy them anyway and that they had nothing to do with her. You think she’s ungrateful.

Both women got the same items but reacted differently. Let’s break down why.

The first woman got something that her man bought specifically for her because he knew she loved those things. These weren’t random items he was buying. These were things she wanted.

This was a well-thought-out plan by a man whose intention was not to get a thing for the house. But to buy his woman something that she would enjoy, and could help her achieve her dreams. That’s why she loves it so much. It was all about her.

Before you call the second woman vain or ungrateful. Replace the cooking items with any other household items [toothpaste, shower curtains, sheets, groceries, a random shelf, a bowl, a toaster, tissue, a vacuum]. Do you feel the same way? 

Are they appropriate birthday items from your partner, or are they just things you need in a home? At the end of a long day, it all boils down to intention. Were the items bought for the wife? Or were they a last-ditch effort because you don’t communicate enough with your spouse to know what they want?

But they need them, so what’s the issue? 

Yes, but I don’t give toilet paper as a “gift” to my partner and try to pretend it’s something for him when the house needs it. Gifts for your partner should be just that, a gift for them.

The trick.

As hard as it is when you buy something for someone else. Your first thought should be, will this gift bring them joy. Would it make them smile? Would the memory alone make them think fondly of you? Or is this gift just a work item? Lawn mowers, hedge clippers, cleaning items, garden tools, cooking items, tool kits, etc are only good gifts for a person who enjoys using them. If it’s a chore, then it isn’t.

If he likes landscaping and gardening, then new hedge clippers and a driving lawnmower are a great gift. If that’s something he has to do to take care of the house, then it isn’t. It’s just something you would have bought regardless. Most people just want to know that you are thinking of them when you get them a gift. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, sometimes just a home-cooked meal, favorite flowers, or a trip to their favorite place. Something to remind them that you’re still on their mind.

Exceptions.

So here is the perfect example: literal tissue and a waffle maker.

Things from people’s interests are always great gifts. Even if they are necessities.

BECAUSE

The gift actually takes your partner into account. Yes, the toilet paper is a total gag gift. But it’s still a silly little gift that your partner will appreciate if they love Godzilla. It literally is a sheet-by-sheet of the entire movie. You will be very hard-pressed to find a Star Wars fan who does not like Star Wars things all over their house.

There is some middle ground, but the middle ground can only be found when you are thinking of what your partner likes.

Small things to be a better partner to a woman part 1: Not eating her food

Don’t eat her food without asking.

It sounds so simple, and yet so many men fail at this every day. Fathers and sons consistently disrespect boundaries.

Isn’t it just food? Why is it such a big deal?

Imagine you went to your favorite restaurant yesterday with your partner. You have your favorite meal. The portions are so big, you have enough to eat tomorrow. While at work you think all day about that meal. You imagine biting into it. And you rush home to your food.

But when you get home, it’s gone.

Your partner ate it. Why? Because they were hungry and it was there. You ask them why they ate your food. They say they ate it because it was there. They shrug and say they didn’t even enjoy it, but they were hungry. Your excitement and anticipation built up from all day are gone. You ask them not to do it again, and they agree.

But you both know that they’re lying. And that given the opportunity and their hunger. They’ll do it again. And although you hate it, you love them. That’s how some women live. Knowing they can’t have food for themselves because the man in their life won’t respect a simple boundary.

You may not see it as a big deal, but you’re not being able to respect something so small tells a lot about you as a person. And how you value your partner.

Not eating someone’s food is one of the simplest ways you can show a person that you respect their things. How hard is it to say “hey baby I’m hungry, can I eat your [food item]?”.And genuinely accept the answer yes or no because it’s not yours, and you’re not entitled to someone’s food.

It’s a basic concept that I wished more men could grasp. It’s something that I consistently hear women complain about. Especially women during their pregnancies Yes, even during pregnancy no meal is respected or safe.

Be the guy that lets his lady come home and enjoy their food.Just be better.

[If you have siblings or parents who did this while you were growing up. You know how it feels, so don’t put someone else threw it.]

If you’re a gamer guy having problems with your girlfriend: Part 1 Is she wrong though?

I know this might sound hard to hear. Are you effectively managing your time at home? I love gaming. I make time for it, but I have a life outside of it. When I come home from a long day of work I may: chill and game for like an hour, cook, eat with my spouse, spend time with my spouse, talk to friends, catch up on the news, water my plants, and watch a little anime.

The problem you may be having is that all aspects of your life revolve around your games.

Things in your life should revolve around you. You shouldn’t be revolving around the things in your life. If we’re being honest. For a lot of you, the game is the main thing in your life, and you are its satellite. You happily revolve everything around it.

It’s your main girl.

And your actual girl, your kids, your family everyone else is secondary to your screen time. And although you would never agree with me that they are secondary. Your actions prove to them time and time again.

Your girl complains you see the game more than you see her. I get it she could be insecure, hobbyless, clingy, or maybe she is none of those things. Here’s the real question.

Is she wrong?

That’s the thing. She could be the most insecure clingy, needy woman and still be right about you not prioritizing time with her. Who gets the best of you before you are too exhausted to want to do anything else? Is she getting what’s left over after your job and your game take most of your energy?

Question.

So when you started dating your girl, you went on dates, had lots of fun, did things, and spent time together. Do you still do the things that you did to get your girlfriend, or was it a bait and switch?

But really was it though.

Once you got her, did your dating stop her? Are you just comfortable enough that you feel like she’ll stay even though you don’t spend time with her?

Is her asking for time together such a burden? Did you just plug her into your life and not realize that things have to change when you are with someone? You can’t keep the same schedule that you used to when you decided to share a life with someone else. We aren’t appliances you can just plug in. We’re people.

But you live in the same house, you see her.

I’ve lived with roommates before. Just because you’re living in the same space with someone doesn’t mean you have any meaningful interactions. There are many failed relationships with people who consistently sleep in the same bed, have children , have sex, but don’t spend any quality time together.

And let me tell you the easy fix.

Take an hour or two of your day and find something that you enjoy doing together. And be consistent enough that she knows that you’re doing this because you value your time together.

Too much????

If you can’t spend the same amount with your partner that you spend gaming then you don’t like your partner. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for an hour or two with the person you say that you want to be with. I’m not telling you to lessen your time gaming necessarily. I’m saying that your partner deserves you.

And if you don’t want to give them that time. Then they deserve someone who will.

[And if your argument is that you spend five plus hours gaming a day and you’re not doing it as a job. So you don’t have an extra five to give to her, you have a bigger problem than just your girlfriend. You must really ask yourself if you are effectively managing your time. This doesn’t sound like a girlfriend issue but a personal one. But you’re starting a stream. I get the need to make content. It doesn’t give you a pass to neglect people in your life. If you don’t have time to date, then don’t. But you probably do and you just need to learn balance. Which is key to having a productive healthy life while still enjoying your hobbies.]

If you’re having problems with your gaming boyfriend, here’s some thoughts from a girl who games. Part 2: Do you have a hobby?

Don’t be mad at me or take this the wrong way. When your guy is playing video games, are you just waiting for him to be done the whole time?

When he’s playing video games, why aren’t you just having your own fun? You don’t need him to enjoy your personal time. Why are you sitting around waiting for someone?

When you could be having your own fun and doing the things you love. While he’s enjoying a little “him-time” you can enjoy your personal time. What about what cosplay you’ve been working on? It’s not done yet. You can work on that. What about that book that you were so excited to buy? Have you started it? Oh yeah, and there are so many Korean dramas and anime. So many random reality shows from all over the world. The options are endless.

Wait, you don’t have a hobby?

Don’t be jealous of the time he spends with something he loves. Find something that inspires you in the same way. If you don’t have a hobby yet, that’s kinda exciting. It means you have so many options to try out. I wish I could go back in time, and try out some of my favorite things for the first time. This may take a lot of time, but figuring out what makes you smile is worth it. Right? Don’t worry I going to make an accompaniment page of hobbies to try out. Let finding what you love to do be a growing process. Because knowing what you enjoy actually gives you a more detailed view of yourself. You can learn about yourself just by knowing what makes you happy.

You don’t want a hobby? Oh, ok.

I hate to tell you but that’s always going to make relationships with passionate people and their hobbies difficult for you. Because you’ll never fully understand how something that is not you can bring someone so much joy. Doesn’t matter if it’s sports, anime, books, or games. You’ll never fully grasp how someone can be so passionate about those things.

[Sidenote: There are people without hobbies who get it. But those people aren’t complaining about their partner’s hobbies. They happily respect those things.]

So here are some options if you don’t want a hobby.

Don’t date passionate people with hobbies in the first option. There are people like you without big passions for things. You should date them. Because if it’s not games, it will be anime.If not anime sports, it will always be something. Date people with moderate or small passions.

Not realistic. No, it’s not.

Neither is expecting people to not do their hobbies just to be with you.

What about a compromise?

Compromise involves both people giving up something. If you’re not giving up anything, it’s not a compromise. It’s an ultimatum. If I tell you, you have to put down your favorite thing just to make me happy. How does that make me a good partner?

[Disclaimer: Just as I said in part one, this is not about people who can’t manage their life. This is about regular hobbies and regular people.]

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