In the Mood for Love

Kimini ni Todoke Ore Monogatari Montage

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!

Work had absolutely been slaying me for the first two weeks of this month, but reprieve has finally arrived (for now). As I have a lot of sentimental fondness for the middle part of February for reasons beyond just the chocolate-related one, it feels like a great time to discuss two of the sweetest, mushiest, romantic series I’ve ever had the pleasure to discover.

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Nostalgia for A Smile (‘Memories’ Review)

Memories poster image.png

So, I participated in the anime secret santa event organized by the fellows at Reverse Thieves, and got three very well-regarded and technically accomplished anime films as recommendations: Memories, Lupin: Castle of Cagliostro, and Redline. While I’d plan to watch all three at some point, the eventual choice for a review is an easy decision. I love humane drama with sci-fi elements, and Memories is one I had been meaning to see for a while, so the rec has essentially become the final push for me.

Unsurprisingly, I came away from it feeling pretty darn satisfied and impressed.

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Elementary, My Dear Puppet (Ayatsuri Sakon Review)

Ayatsuri Sakon Poster

Seeing the resurgence of mystery/detective shows lately, I figured it’d be a good time to dredge up an old favorite from the last turn of century. Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon, or Puppet Master Sakon, has a very clear identity as classic murder mystery show, in the sense that anyone who can’t stand repetitive cycle of gory corpses, people being spiteful to each other, and tons of scenes with investigators standing around discussing the likes of alibi, motive, and opportunity, shouldn’t come anywhere close to it. On the other hand, those who can’t get enough of that stuff should be able to really enjoy its pure whoddunit set-up that enabled the audience to sleuth along, distinct atmosphere and setting, and a great protagonist in crime-solving ventriloquist Tachibana Sakon.

Bonus points if you like puppets, especially the creepy murderous variant.
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The Strange Overwrought Cases of Barely Recognizable Kogorou Akechi (Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace Review)

Ranpo Kitan Poster

Have to admit, I had a bit of misconception going into this show. I thought it was going to be an episodic whoddunit murder mystery, based on the works of one of the most decorated Japanese mystery novelists ever. Well, technically that’s not really wrong, but Game of Laplace production team isn’t content to be a straightforward mystery show or a direct adaptation. Instead, it executed an impressive range of stuff during the course of its mere 11 episodes; murder mystery, yes, but it also wanted to be a genre satire, a contemporary social commentary on crime and justice, an outright absurd comedy, and an overarching suspense melodrama revolving around radical re-invention and modern updates on Ranpo Edogawa’s iconic characters and plot devices. Complemented with a bevvy of visual metaphors and heavy themes, the show has ambition and reach that extended beyond my expectation.

Too bad the writing’s a complete trainwreck.

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In The End, Only Kindness Matters (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Review)

The main trio walking amidst the tattered black & white Tokyo landscape

Media depicting catastrophic natural disaster will always be one of the most unsettling things to me, simply because of how uncomfortably close they hit to home. In Japan alone, there had been numerous earthquake incidents before and since the airing of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, with the most infamous one being the 2011 Tohoku incident, which costed approximately 15,891 human lives. While I’m not a Japanese resident, I do live in a similarly archipelagic state prone to the likes of earthquake, flood, volcanic eruption, and tsunami; the 2000s was particularly rough time for Indonesia, with at least four major disasters occurring in various parts of the country.

Hence, I approached Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 with some amount of apprehension, as well as a bit of suspicion that it’s going to be a tragedy porn. In the end though, I’m grateful for having watched it. More than an obvious statement on how vicious and unfair nature is, it’s a life-affirming show emphasizing the important things amidst all the chaos, destruction, and death.

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