What have I been up to? March

Here we are again! I’ve done a lot of reading this month and not as much movie or show watching. It’s a rather beautiful feeling for me. Hope you find something new to watch, read, or see while reading!

This is what I base my ratings on.

  1. No redeeming qualities whatsoever visually, aesthetically, or as a story. 
  2. So boring I could barely pay attention. 
  3. I had a headache but somehow made it through. 
  4. I could make fun of it. . . because of how bad it is. 
  5. It’s not good, it’s not bad. It’s just blah. 
  6. There were various interesting aspects but nothing to really gush about.
  7. A solid movie. Good characters, plot, and visuals. However, not amazing. 
  8. I genuinely enjoyed watching/reading it. I could see it again with friends.
  9. A great experience! AS a film it is visually stunning and has an incredible story I could go back to multiple times. As a book, I could do the same. 
  10. Near Perfect (nothing is perfect. 🙂 ) It has become one of my favorites. I could also write entire articles on it.

Let’s get started.

Movies

I didn’t watch many movies besides Irish Animated films. Not that that’s a bad thing! I enjoyed reliving these movies again through my student’s reactions.

Secret of Kells by Cartoon Saloon, 2009 10/10

In the remote Irish woods, Cellach (Brendan Gleeson) prepares a fortress for an impending attack by a Viking war party. Unbeknown to Cellach, his young nephew Brendan (Evan McGuire) — who has no taste for battle — works secretly as an apprentice in the scriptorium of the local monastery, learning the ancient art of calligraphy. As the Vikings approach, revered illuminator Aidan (Mick Lally) arrives at the monastery and recruits Brendan to complete a series of dangerous, magical tasks.

Synopsis via Cartoon Saloon

What can I say? Almost everything Cartoon Saloon has done are favorites of mine. I remember seeing this particular film back in college and falling in love with Irish culture all over again.

For those who don’t know, I have a deep Irish heritage so seeing these movies helps me connect with my ancestors. Albeit in a small way. I love the voice acting, art direction, and history in this film.

I also appreciate what Tomm Moore and those he works are doing to honor their history through these movies. Their children will have beautiful films to look back on fondly when they grow up.

Song of the Sea by Cartoon Saloon, 2014 10/10

Song of the Sea tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse – the last Seal-child – who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. The film takes inspiration from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore, who live as seals in the sea but become humans on land.

Synopsis via Cartoon Saloon

This movie holds a beautiful place in my heart. Of the three I’ll mention today it is most definately my favorite. I have a soft spot for the beautiful emotionality, interwoven throughout the story, music, and imagery.

It’s not everyday you get a film that portrays family grief and trauma in such a subtle, natural way. Not only that, but it shows how to overcome such sorrow. I’ve mentioned this movie quite a lot the last few years and recommend it to any animation fans I come across.

It’s truly a shame more people don’t know about it. If you haven’t seen it before, I highly recommend you look it up! If anything, you’ll fall in love with the beautiful animation.

Wolfwalkers by Cartoon Saloon, 2021 9/10

A young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves by night.

Synopsis via Cartoon Saloon

How Cartoon Saloon made this movie is absolutely brilliant! If you have time and you are an animation nerd like myself, I recommend checking out the video above!

The animation aside, I really admire the storytelling. The movie was not about defeating an enemy. The purpose was to bring together lonely people as a family. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone interested.

I watched this movie on Apple TV, because it isn’t available anywhere else. I’m still mad at apple. Getting a subscription and using it was such a PAIN! To watch this movie though, it was worth it.

TV Shows

Cinderella and the Four Knights, 2016 8/10

As a high schooler, Eun Ha Won (Park So Dam) loses her mother in a tragic accident, and her father remarries. When her cruel stepmother moves in with them, she steals Ha Won’s college funds, leaving Ha Won forced to take on multiple part-time jobs to meet her college downpayment. One day, Ha Won meets an old man who sees her fiery disposition and her no-nonsense personality. Convinced that this is exactly what his three grandsons need, he persuades her to move into a mansion, where she will stay as the housekeeper, with three other young men who happen to be billionaire cousins.

Synopsis via Rokuten Viki

Ah, Korean Dramas. . . they are either really wonderful or not. . . it depends on how corny they are. And, for me, the main protaganist makes ALL the difference. I hate Female/ Male leads who whine or make petty decisions.

Luckily Ha Won is not like this at all. She’s the type who GETS THINGS DONE and is self reliant. She obviously has a hard life, (I mean, it’s based on Cinderella) but she puts her best foot forward and has attainable goals.

I also was satisified with the guy she got with in the end. They complimented each other and their backgrounds fit.

I can’t say the say for the second female lead. I didn’t realize this the first time I watched this show, but she is WAY too emotionally dependant on the guy she likes. And she uses her male friend, leading him on though she obviously has strong feelings for someone else.

Anyway, I liked this show, but would most likely watch it again only if it was with someone else.

The Cuphead Show by Lighthouse Studios Screen Novelties, 2022 8/10

Follow the misadventures of the impulsive Cuphead and his easily swayed brother Mugman in this animated series based on the hit video game.

Synopsis via Netflix

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this show. One one hand I think it’s absolutely wonderful because it’s based on Old Cartoons from Disney and Fleischer studios. On the other hand, the story, outside the main arc, is not as interesting to me.

I think this is because I have never played the game. If I DID play it, I’m pretty sure this show would be better for me.

I love the music, character animation, voice acting, and recognizing references to old cartoons I’ve studied in the past.

My favorite character is actually the Devil. I never thought I would ever say that.

If you are a fan of the game, definately give this show a peek! It’s really well done and there will be a second season soon.

Ranking of Kings by Wit Studio, 2021-? 10/10

The people of the kingdom look down on the young Prince Bojji, who can neither hear nor speak. They call him “The Useless Prince” while jeering at his supposed foolishness.

However, while Bojji may not be physically strong, he is certainly not weak of heart. When a chance encounter with a shadow creature should have left him traumatized, it instead makes him believe that he has found a friend amidst those who only choose to notice his shortcomings. He starts meeting with Kage, the shadow, regularly, to the point where even the otherwise abrasive creature begins to warm up to him.

Kage and Bojji’s unlikely friendship lays the budding foundations of the prince’s journey, one where he intends to conquer his fears and insecurities. Despite the constant ridicule he faces, Bojji resolves to fulfill his desire of becoming the best king he can be.

Synopsis via Myanimelist

I am SOOOO estatic I found this show! I had heard along the grapevine it was great, but I am always distracted so it took me a long time to get around to it.

Let me tell you, IT IS SO WELL DONE! The English and Japanese voice acting fits for each character. The animation is fluid whether it be emotional moments or action scenes. Whoever did the screenplay for the fighting scenes KNOWS what they are doing.

The story is beautiful and creative. The main character Bouji, is now one of my new favorites. I have a soft spot for people like him. Also I appreciate how he is not a typical hero, seeing as he’s mute and deaf.

Mushishi by Artland, 2005-2006, 2014 10/10

“Mushi”: the most basic forms of life in the world. They exist without any goals or purposes aside from simply “being.” They are beyond the shackles of the words “good” and “evil.” Mushi can exist in countless forms and are capable of mimicking things from the natural world such as plants, diseases, and even phenomena like rainbows.

This is, however, just a vague definition of these entities that inhabit the vibrant world of Mushishi, as to even call them a form of life would be an oversimplification. Detailed information on Mushi is scarce because the majority of humans are unaware of their existence.

So what are Mushi and why do they exist? This is the question that a “Mushishi,” Ginko, ponders constantly. Mushishi are those who research Mushi in hopes of understanding their place in the world’s hierarchy of life.

Ginko chases rumors of occurrences that could be tied to Mushi, all for the sake of finding an answer.

It could, after all, lead to the meaning of life itself.

Synopsis via Myanimelist

If you know me, I don’t need to say too much about this show. It’s been a favorite of mine for ten or more years. What’s been enjoyable for me is seeing my students react to each episode.

I thought they wouldn’t like it because it is slower paced and more Japanese culture based. However, every class I’ve showed it to has loved it. I’m rather shocked but excited to see how they will react to episodes in the future.

By the by, if you haven’t seen this show before and you like shows like Demon Slayer or Kino’s Journey, you definately would like this one! At the very least the animation, gorgeous and ethereal, will be interesting to study.

Mieruko-chan by Passione, 2022 3/10

Miko Yotsuya’s eyes water as she fixates on a single spot on her phone—she ignores yet another dreadful, horrific monster that is in her face, uttering the disturbing words: “Can you see me?” Before now, Miko enjoyed her unassuming high school days, with late-night horror shows serving only as a form of entertainment. But ever since one fateful day, she is the only person aware of the invisible monsters walking freely among humans.

Courageously, Miko makes a bold decision: she will never, under any condition, acknowledge the presence of the horrid specters. However, even though she pretends they do not exist, she can still see how they disturb the people around her, especially her best friend, the energetic and lovely Hana Yurikawa. In order to protect them from the monsters’ annoyances, Miko gives it her best to continue her school life and avoid every troublesome crisis—even when they scare her to tears. 

Synopsis via Myanimelist

So. This show has good coloring. And it’s animation is quite fluid. However the screenplay . . . was made by a dirty pervert. Yes I said it. I MEAN it too. Most of the shots were focused either on the girls’ (teenage girls by the way) boobs, butt, or . . . elsewhere.

Sexualizing women in anime is not new. But it gets old fast. And its awkward and uncomfortable to watch. Plus, its super distracting and detracts from the story. Without the sexy garbage the story would be somewhat interesting. With it, I could barely get through one episode.

I can’t reccomend this show to anyone. Sorry. I thought it was horrible.

Lovely Complex by Toei Animation, 2007 8/10

Love is unusual for Risa Koizumi and Atsushi Ootani, who are both striving to find their ideal partner in high school—172 cm tall Koizumi is much taller than the average girl, and Ootani is much shorter than the average guy at 156 cm. To add to their plights, their crushes fall in love with each other, leaving Koizumi and Ootani comically flustered and heartbroken. To make matters worse, they’re even labeled as a comedy duo by their homeroom teacher due to their personalities and the stark difference in their heights, and their classmates even think of their arguments as sketches.

Lovely★Complex follows Koizumi and Ootani as they encourage each other in finding love and become close friends. Apart from their ridiculous antics, they soon find out an unexpected similarity in their music and fashion tastes. Maybe they possess a chemistry yet unknown, but could love ever bloom between the mismatched pair?

Synopsis via Myanimelist

I was pleasantly surprised I still like this show. Really. Its corny, has some sparkles and doilies. . . but it’s charming. I cried when Ootani rejected Koizumi. I thought I was being overly sensitive. But I realized her situation is quite relatable.

When Ootani finally recipricated her feelings I jumped for joy for her! Weird. . . . weird. . . weird. Then again, I was a teenager when this show came out. So, it makes some sense.

Plus, the animation doesn’t just make the characters pretty. Koizumi is “tall” and Ootani is quite short and thye make the UGLIEST faces. It was quite refreshing.

But it’s an overall well-made show. The one thing that somewhat annoyed me was how dense Ootani was. . . seriously. I don’t think I’ve met anyone as dense as him.

Books

I’m quite pleased with how much I read this month. ESPECIALLY with how busy I am.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, 1986 10/10

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Synopsis via Goodreads

This is one of the rare cases in my life where I saw the movie FIRST before I read the book. It is also one of the equally rare cases where I like them both the same. I love the movie because it is visually beautiful, and the story unfolds like a dream.

I love the BOOK because of its wit and creative world. Though it’s been a few years since I actually read it, I still laughed as I listened to Sophie and Howl’s banter and the somewhat ridiculous situations they get into.

Plus it the audiobook was SOOOOO fun to listen to! Jenny Sterlin did a superb job. I approve.

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, 2019 10/10

I absolutely ADORE this book. From the moment I picked it up several years ago I’ve loved it. I love its take on the fairytale “East of the Sun, WEst of the Moon,” I love its relatable characters, I love it’s message on forgiveness and healing, and I love how it emphasizes music and READING.

I don’t know why more people aren’t gushing about this story. Probably because not very many have read it. It’s truly a shame.

It’s absolutely beautiful.

Curtain by Agatha Christie, 1975 7/10

Arthritic and immobilized, Poirot calls on his old friend Captain Hastings to join him at Styles to be the eyes and ears that will feed observations to Poirot’s still razor sharp mind. Though aware of the criminal’s identity, Poirot will not reveal it to the frustrated Hastings, and dubs the nameless personage ‘X’. Already responsible for several murders, X, Poirot warns, is ready to strike again, and the partners must work swiftly to prevent imminent murder.

Poirot’s final case, a mystery which brings him and Hastings back to Styles where they first solved a crime together. The story was both anticipated and dreaded by Agatha Christie fans worldwide, many of whom still refuse to read it, as it is known to contain Poirot’s death.

Agatha Christie wrote it during World War II, as a gift for her daughter should she not survive the bombings, and it was kept in a safe for over thirty years. It was agreed among the family that Curtain would be published finally in 1975 by Collins, her long-standing publishers, and that Sleeping Murder (the Marple story written during the war for her husband, Max) would follow.

Sunopsis via Goodreads

I’ve been waiting to read this story for quite some time. But it’s ending fell somewhat hard for me. I felt sad for Hastings and Poirot by the end so it wasn’t as satysfying as I would have liked it to be.

I guessed some parts of the story correctly but for the most part Agatha Christie stumped me yet again. It’s rather wonderful for me to not be able to figure it out.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, 1996 10/10

The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.

Synopsis via Goodreads

There isn’t much I could say about this book and The Attolia Series I haven’t said before. Meghan Whalen Turner is a great author, with clever writing and three dimensional characters.

Gen is one of my favorite characters because he grows A LOT throughout the series. For this particular book I enjoy his witty insults and courage.

If you are a fan of Greek mythology, this is the series for you!

Comics/Manga

Koi to yobu ni wa kimochi warui, 2016-2021 (7/10)

Once you fall for someone, you can’t stop the love. A strange encounter spurs the meeting of Amakusa Ryou, a high spec businessman who’s loose with women, and his high school sister’s best friend, Arima Ichika. From there he falls madly in love. On the one hand, he approaches her with almost too straight-forward methods, while she responds simply disgusted, insulting him without hesitation… and he takes it as her way of showing love. 

Synopsis via Myanimelist

The description for the manga is . . . creepy. But, last month I became fascinated with it for some reason. I finally figured it out after several weeks of stewing.

Ryou doesn’t act like a creep. He acts like a middle school boy with a crush. He never approaches her sexually, touches her inappropriately, or even wants anything like it. He was sincere to the extreme.

I wouldn’t call it obsession either. Plus, near the end he takes to heart the many people who had been involved or watched his relationship with her progress. He did become a better person. Not because she asked him to. He chose it for himself.

He cut off all ties with other women when he feel for Ichika. He didn’t get involved with anyone else afterwards. He didn’t revert back to past toxic behaviors. Plus, when another woman fell in love with him and confessed he was honest with himself and her, rejecting her out of respect for her and Ichika.

Anyway, that isn’t to say everything he does is good. In fact, if he didn’t get with Ichika in the end I would have been fine with it. But as it happens it did work out for him. By the end, I was more like “Huh, good for you.” than I was “Crap, that’s creepy.”

I don’t know. You’d have to read it for yourself.

The Way of the Househusband, 2018-? 10/10

“Immortal Tatsu,” the legendary yakuza who single-handedly defeated a rival gang with a lead pipe, is a name known to strike fear in both hardened police officers and vicious criminals. Soon after his sudden disappearance, he resurfaces with a slight change in profession. Now equipped with an apron, Tatsu has given up violence and is trying to make an honest living as a house husband.

While adapting to mundane household tasks, Tatsu finds that being a house husband has its own challenges, from the battlefield known as supermarket sales to failures in the kitchen. Despite living peacefully, misunderstandings seem to follow him left and right. Gokushufudoufollows the daily life of the comically serious ex-yakuza as he leaves behind his dangerous previous life to become a stay-at-home husband.

Synopsis via Myanimelist

From the moment I read the first volume, I’ve loved Tatsu and his Mafia style take on home making. This is one of the few comedic manga I’ve gotten into. Perhaps because it has humor geared toward adults (not the dirty kind of humor) it appeals to me.

I’ve talked about this series quite a bit so I’ll leave it at that. If you’re looking for a good laugh be sure to check this series out!

Kuzumi-kun, kuuki Yometemasu, 2015-2019 7/10

Erika Sakura is her high school’s most popular and attractive girl—many guys would love to date her and the girls worship her. For the sake of her reputation, she cannot see herself in a relationship with someone such as her classmate Kuzumi who is lame, boring, and dull. Unfortunately, fascinated with his quirky actions and lifestyle, Erika’s mind is filled with Kuzumi and she seems unable to keep her eyes off him. 

Erika’s interest in Kuzumi causes her to see the type of caring person that he really is. As other classmates chime in with curiosity about the school’s madonna, events lead to Erika associating with the last person she ever expected to be involved with.

Synopsis via Myanimelist

Ho hum. . . I found this story several years ago and somehow it charmed me. Some of the pacing feels a bit odd, and the author uses the same character reactions multiple times. But, I don’t mind.

The fact that this is a story which shows physical attraction is only one small part of falling in love intrigued me. Erica is “the most beautiful girl in the school” and Kuzumi is rather average. BUT he isn’t pursing her. SHE is.

The fact is. . . Kuzumi was quite a catch to HER. He opened up to her and in time it worked out for both of them.

Anyway. I like to read this story every once in a while. It’s not the best written but I like the idea.

I think this would make a better anime. . . but I don’t think that will happen. AH, so so sad.

Thank you so much for reading! See you next time!

What Have I Been Up To? February

3 Comments

  1. I have yet to see Wolfwalkers because I don’t have Apple TV sadly.

    Love Curtain personally! It’s one of Agatha Christie’s finest, I think.

    1. aubreym3 says:

      I got apple tv so I could see it. Then I got rid of it. 🙂

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