Sensei Sunday, valentines day

Sensei Sunday: The Origination of White Day

Happy Valentine’s Day week!

If you’re familiar with Valentine’s Day episodes in Anime, there’s often quite a bit of fretting on the part of various female characters about who is giving chocolate to whom, or male point-of-view worries over who is going to be giving them a gift.

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(This is not actually a White Day photo, but it’s frickin’ brilliant. Courtesy of Xinyuan Coffee & Tea in Taiwan )

According to legend, White Day was kickstarted by the candy industry as a way to split up Valentine’s day by suggesting that men should pay the women back in their lives who had given them chocolate or gifts on Valentine’s Day.  In 1977, a company by the name of Ishimura manseido(?) decided to market marshmallows to gentlemen in March, and the trend apparently switched to white confection chocolates the following year – making the first upswing of the trend in 1978.

There are two kinds of chocolate that are received on Valentine’s Day, and reciprocated on White Day.

  • Courtesy Chocolates – giri-choco – chocolates that are given in friendship or acquaintanceship (not to be fussed over, just a polite gesture) out of obligation
    • Most depictions show courtesy chocolates being given to co-workers, close classmates, club members, etc.
  • Romantic Chocolates – honmei-choco  – chocolates offered because they ~like~ the other person.
    • This is more what we think of when we think of Valentine’s Day chocolates – on Valentine’s day, girls offer sweets to their potential sweetie.  Either out of obligation or mutual interest, the man/target/fellow student is expected to reciprocate if they are interested in pursuing the relationship

In Valentine’s Day episodes, there’s usually additional fussing over whether to buy chocolate or to make it, and sometimes an entire episode dedicated to showing how determined the characters are to making an edible treat.

On White Day, It’s the men’s turn to reciprocate, by giving chocolate, or trinkets, or more elaborate displays of affection (if they are positively responding to a Valentine’s Day romantic confession).

So, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th (all over) and White Day is celebrated on March 14th in various countries in Asia.  Additionally, South Korea (some websites suggest Japan as well), has started to adopt the concept of “Black Day”, in which single people gather and console each other with food if they did not receive White Day or Valentines’ Day gifts.

Whether you participate in Valentine’s Day or not, the team at Anime Binge hopes you have a pleasant week, and lots of chocolate (they go on sale after the holiday!), hugs, anime (we recommend “Yuri on Ice” for a new show, or “Vandread” for a classic romcom binge), plushies, or whatever makes you the most happy about being you!  Have a great week!

 

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Holiday Suggestions, Manga, Manga Monday, valentines day

Manga Monday: Princess Ai

We’re pretty sure that Courtney Love never really meant Princess Ai to be polarizing.

 

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Princess Ai is a really frothy 2004 manga series in three parts (and sequels/prequels) with a gothic lolita edge and lyrics… lots of lyrics.  Lots, and lots, and lots of lyrics.

A quick summary:
Lead character Ai is dropped in a nameless city (think… SanFranSokyo of Big Hero 6), memories wiped, with nothing but a small, precious, heart-shaped box that seems ever-so-important.  (Yes, it’s one of those stories.)  After meeting her first few side characters, the natural thing to do is get a job, so she does…  As a nightclub performer, she gets picked up by a label for her “angelic” voice, and creates a sensational following over the course of the series, and slowly gathers the little tidbits of her history that mean less and less to her in this new world but gives her more and more clarity about what is important to her now.

Princess Ai had a lot of classic tropes for fangirls at the time of its publishing:

  • Immediate love interest
  • Library and people who love books
  • Mysterious and easy-reach backstory
  • Quirky side characters
  • Lush pop-idol costumes
  • Winged dudes and dudettes (dragon and feathers)

About the music:

When reading Princess Ai for the first time, I had been listening to symphonic rock a lot – which meant classically trained opera singers backed by slammin’ electric guitars.  Think… Nightwish and Kamelot.  It pairs well with her Gothic Lolita/Punk look throughout the series, but then Tokyopop (proudly) released a few videos that could have… might have… should have launched an anime:


It didn’t.

Princess Ai did have a pretty sizable fan community during its release, but despite the resurgence of Tokyopop, it may take some extra push to get this angel off the ground if they feel like re-launching their attempt.  There’s also the polarizing influence of Tokyopop itself which, despite its relaunch, is trying really hard to make itself relevant again.

(Quick Opinion: I want to take a moment to mention that the problem with the video isn’t so much the song, or the sequences… It’s actually a really lovely animation sequence, and is pretty nuanced as a whole.  I think it’s because the readers all had a different voice for Ai in their head – and with that voice came expectations… and with those expectations came a bar.  Which seems to be the case with most fandoms – whether it reaches the bar or not.)
FINAL THOUGHTS:
If you’re in need of a frothy Valentine read, you might as well read Princess Ai.  Ai Yazawa’s art is on par with CLAMP for frilly Gothic Lolita, and the tankonbon with all three volumes is probably the best way to read it.  You can follow it up with Kamisama Kiss or even Angel Beats when you’re done.  I’d probably recommend it.

 

On this day in history, last year, we posted a heartstruck anime list, which you can find here. Happy Manga Monday, and we’ll see you again on Sunday!  Check back next Manga Monday – guests to be announced on Fandom Friday!

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Anime Primer, Anime Suggestion Trail, Manga, Manga Monday

Manga Monday: EXCLUSIVE interview with Kit Windsor of Foxy and Wolfy: CHAOS

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Libraries, Intrigue, Foxgirls in wheelchairs, Lolita style and secret societies!   That’s the at-a-glance description of Foxy and Wolfy: Chaos, a manga-style indie comic conceived and written by Kitsune Windsor.  The creator of Foxy and Wolfy took some time to talk with Anime Binge about some of the more unique aspects of the shoujou comic, as well as some anime inspirations and recommendations of his own.

[NOTE: MILD UNMARKED SPOILERS AHOY]

 

Kitsune Windsor:  I’m Kit Windsor, nice to meet you!

Anime Binge: Let’s talk about “Foxy and Wolfy” first.  It struck me as REALLY interesting that one of the two main characters (Wolfy/Amaya) was born in Iran… can we talk about it just a little?

Kit W.:   Sure, there are a few reasons why.  One is that my prom date and friend was from Iran and experienced some of the life and everything.  Also being LGBT is very dangerous, so [I] modeled Amaya Bellerose after my friend, a strong Iranian lady.

I made Amaya come from Iran to show that they have great people.

AB:  That’s really great!  I love that the main couple are completely devoted to each other.

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Kit W.: It plays a big part later on, the spiritual bonds

AB:  That makes sense. Actually, you have a lot of different characters with cultural ties, and two of the three main characters are wheelchair bound. It plays very naturally in the comic. How did it come about?

Kit W.: I myself have muscular dystrophy and use a wheelchair daily. Misaki represents doing your best with what you have and enjoying life.

Roza is severely disabled, but lives happily. She flirts, is smart and just a human being…

Both parts of me.  They’re meant to show disabled as just people

AB:  They really add texture – and having them both there as a part of the main trio doesn’t put all the pressure on one character to be “the girl in the wheelchair”. They’re both equally unique in their own ways.

Are there any big things happening at F & W Central?

Kit W.: Currently making book 0 to better explain our world and it will be ready Valentine’s day [2017]. Then updating book 1 and will be ready by June. Then Kickstarter for book 3 late May.

We want top quality.

AB: Ah! Prequels are a great addition to a series.

Kit W.: New style is amazing.

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AB: Actually, I’m going to take a second to gush a little bit. The black and white art is beautiful, but the coloring to the books so far has been really lush and amazing. Why did you (and your team members) make a decision to include a colorist with the launch? Has it been worth it?

Kit W.: Color versions are for Kickstarters and Gofundme only, we have a new colorist as the original was too busy. She’s an awesome lady.

Some prefer our b/w.

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AB: I can completely understand – most Manga is exclusively in B&W, so it makes sense.

Let’s talk a little about inspiration. Foxgirls, Kitsune, and spirit stories are sprinkled throughout Japanese folklore – do you have a story or an anime that you feel influenced your team?

Kit W.: F/W has deep inspiration from Sailor Moon, D. Gray Man and Madoka. To smaller degree Inuyasha and Fairy Tail.

Also, I love Ghibli.

AB:  Ghibli is SO cool.  I can see Sailor Moon, for sure.  I’m a little surprised to hear D. Gray Man, though.

Kit W.:  See, Alan walker wanted peace so bad.  Everyone else didn’t.  Misaki started her group for peace; they pay dearly for their unpopular views one day.

AB:  It sounds like it’s going to be intense.

Kit W.:  It will, we have a lot planned.

AB: The lush visuals and rich illustrations reminded me of Trinity Blood – are there any “vintage” shows that you’d recommend? Classics worth introducing to new would-be anime fans?

Basically, what is your “Anime Primer”?

Kit W.:  Record of Lodoss War is vintage, I really enjoyed Trinity Blood.  Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star, Shinsekai Yori, Ranma ½, Escaflowne, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away.

And Berserk.

AB:  Cowboy Bebop and Trigun were two of my first ones.

Kit W.:  My first one was odd.

AB:  Which one was it?

Kit W.:  Nuku Nuku and Ninja Scroll, as a kid.   Ninja Scroll was a bit rough.

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AB:  I’ll bet!  Mine was so odd I had to look it up to see if it actually existed or not – AND if they qualified as anime. (Spoiler alert: They did – Superbook and Flying House.)

Kit W.:  I like obscure.

AB:  Obscure can be fun.

Let’s say someone has read ALL of Foxy and Wolfy.  What would you send them to go watch while the team works on your next book?

Kit W.:  Shinsekai Yori, Madoka, Aijin, Inuyasha, Ranma, D. Gray – All of it.  F/W is about differences and racism.

AB:  It’s hard to keep a cast diverse but easy to keep them all the same.  I really appreciate that you are willing to tackle those questions with your characters.

So, last question: When I first contacted you, I was curious about a few things.  One was how your team got in touch with each other – are you a remote team, were you buddies in real life – how did it come about?

Kit W.: Actually, I started hiring concept artists and slowly built a team.  The [B&W] current artist asked to join.

AB:  Kit, thank you again so much for taking the time to chat with me!

Kit W.:  Thanks for taking interest.

 

 

 

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Anime Suggestion Trail, Manga Monday

Anime Suggestion Trail: Manga March

Many Anime series are born from source material of novels, graphic novels, movies, and other inspirational outlets.

So this week, I’m putting out some recommendations for reading, not watching, because there’s just not an Anime for it quite yet.

  • Kamikaze Girls
    • Ichigo and Momoko come from two different worlds. Momoko is a Lolita, drenched in white and femininity.  Ichigo is a tomboy with a bike-gang history and an attitude problem.
      • A mild reference is made to girls in bike gangs in Fruits Basket – this really puts it in perspective
      • Best FOCUSED look at the Lolita Genre
    • Shoujou Genre, Teen Drama Genre
  • Princess Ai
    • Ai is introduced with no memory, no history, and a heart-shaped box as her only clue to her past
      • Gothic Lolita EVERYWHERE
      • Suggestion: Listen to J-pop in the background while reading. Your brain will thank you.
    • Shoujou Genre, High Fantasy, Pop Music
    • 3-volume Graphic Novel, or one-volume Omnibus
  • Juror 13
    • A graphic novel that you cannot read “for the first time” twice
      • According to recent news, this might make it to the big screen.
    • A good follow-up to watching “Perfect Blue”
    • Psychological Drama, Thriller

Looking for more one-shots to take on?

 

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Anime Primer, Holiday Suggestions, valentines day

Game of Themes: Love in the Age of Robots

As it’s the week of Valentine’s Day, I thought I might add just a few more topics with “Will They or Won’t They” plots with a future-forward setting.

  • Eureka Seven
    • Eureka herself is mysterious, sweet, subdued, and determined.
    • Renton joins Eureka’s friends and falls for her in the lower stratosphere as they both pilot big robots.
      • Hero genre, SciFi Genre
      • Even Funimation boasts “The Greatest Love story ever animated!”
  • Robotics; Notes
    • By the people who brought you “Steins; Gate” comes Robotics; Notes.  You don’t have to watch one to appreciate the other.  Trust me.
    • Deconstruction of the “Big Robot” genre, but in the BEST way possible. Neon Genesis is on one end of the deconstruction scale, Robotics; Notes is on the other.
      • Compare/Contrast with Big Hero Six, Neon Genesis Evangelion
      • Big Robot Genre, Shounen Genre
  • Chobits
    • Indirect sequel to Clamp’s Angelic Layer, focusing on an adorable android and the college student who takes her in.
    • Fanservice heavy at the beginning.
    • Compare themes with Astro Boy; Contrast with Metropolis
      • In a world headed towards self-driving cars, we aren’t TOO far removed from this future, actually.

And if your goal is to avoid romance altogether, just immerse yourself in One Piece.  There aren’t any robots, but they did say that there isn’t any romance officially scheduled in the storyline either, because that’s “just not what they think their audience wants”.  Hey, if the creator says so, it must be true. Perfect!

You can also watch Pacific Rim and Voltron if you’re looking for non-romantic robot stories, but you aren’t restricting yourself to Anime. (We’ll talk about where both franchises got their inspiration from some other time.)

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Anime Primer, Anime Suggestion Trail

Anime Suggestion Trail: February

For February’s Anime Primer, stories of relationships and fantasy collide.

  • Romeo x Juliet
    • Perfect for binge-watching over February.
    • Science Fantasy update of the Shakespearian classic.
    • A treat for English majors and Theatre lovers who are just discovering anime
  • Kamisama Kiss
    • A young schoolgirl finds a world of responsibility suddenly on her shoulders when she is given godhood by a runaway Kami.  Hijinks ensue.
    • Suitable for compare/contrast with InuYasha
    • Additional genre: Shojou anime
  • Tenchi Muyo
    • Tenchi, a young man tending to his family’s shrine, finds his life turned upside down by the appearance of alien space travelers.
    • Start with the movies, in order.
    • Additional genres: “Harem” anime, Science Fiction
      • Think “The Bachelor” without anyone ever getting kicked out, with younger characters
      • Additional challenge: Find a drinking game for harem anime.
  • Fruits Basket
    • Follows the adventures of a high schooler who takes up residence with a family of young men who all symbolize characters of the Chinese Zodiac when they are hugged by a woman.
    • Rare “Reverse Harem” anime – One girl, lots of guys!

Done with fantasy and just want a pure feelgood, heart-thumping, saccharine romance?

  • The romance:
    • Whisper of the Heart
      • A good, old-fashioned, “This is how we met” love story
      • Violins and libraries.  Watch with “Nice to Sweet You” chocolates.
  • The fantasy:
    • The Cat Returns
      • The sudden return of The Baron from “Whisper of the Heart”. (In case you are charmed by his presence in the above movie.)
      • Compare/contrast with The Velveteen Rabbit.

(Most of the above are fairly Hetero-Normative romances, but I’ll try to cover Yaoi and Yuri romances in a later update.  If you’re highly interested in those genres, I would recommend Revolutionary Girl Utena, after checking out Sailor Moon.)

Happy Valentine’s Day for those who celebrate, and Happy Nirvana day for those who don’t!

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Anime Primer, Anime Suggestion Trail

Anime suggestion trail: January

For January, the Beginner’s guide to anime.  Like Casablanca, they are the classics of the genre; the titles that everybody recommends, or future series borrow from.

  • Astro Boy
    • B&W
    • As classic as it gets. If you are looking for tropes of the kindly man/the bad guy, look for the shape of their noses.
    • 1960’s Science Fiction, Like Buck Rogers and Asimov in its Retro-futurism.
  • Speed Racer
    • One of the first series imported to American audiences with a Japanese translator.
    • The main cast of characters per episode is fairly small, focusing on Speed Racer/Go Mifune and his close family.  Shenanigans ensue.
    • Hero Genre. Shonen Genre. Tournament Genre.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura
    • Codified the consistent tropes of magical girl costumes with the help of the source material by CLAMP
    • The series was edited for “American Audiences” by Nelvana, but there is a full subtitled version with full episodes in their original format out there.
    • Magical Girl Genre. Shoujou Genre in its original format.
  • Sailor Moon
    • A normal high school girl is bestowed powers and fights for justice.  She is… Sailor Moon!
    • If there is a magical costume change transformation sequence, you can thank Sailor Moon.
    • Recently re-done as Sailor Moon Crystal, which changes some of the story lines and has a mild animation upgrade. (Mixed reviews, as with any re-done series).
    • Magical Girl Genre. Shoujou Genre.
  • Cowboy Bebop
    • If you’re a fan of bounty hunters, you might like this series.
    • If you’re a fan of amazing music, you might like this series.
    • If you’re a fan of episodic storylines, you might like this series.
    • Action genre – Noir / Western. Space genre.
  • Trigun
    • Less episodic/planet-hopping than Cowboy Bebop.
    • The psychological developing of the main character is echoed in multiple characters in other, later series.
    • Action genre – Western. Wasteland genre. Space Genre
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
    • In a world that is a treat to the eyes, Nausicaa walks with mountainesque critters with a desire to save the wilderness around her.
    • If the tree spirits neither move you with your cuteness or frighten you with their adorableness, then you are not suspending your disbelief enough.
    • A feature film by Studio Ghibli.  Listen for Patrick Stewart’s cameo if watching the English Dub.
    • Space Genre.  Fantasy genre.

Extra Credit:

  • Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Z (Series: Long, but classic)
  • My Neighbor Totoro (Movie: Ghibli)
  • AMV: Tainted Doughnuts
    • Spiritual Predecessor of the “Rise of the Brave Tangled Frozen Dragons” AMVs
    • A crossover of Trigun and Cowboy Bebop. (It CAN be successfully watched without spoiling your enjoyment of both, if you don’t mind saying “Hey, I’ve seen that clip before”.)
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