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, 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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