Kwak x Misato

Misato loves drinking beer, so why not display her with my favourite Belgian beer glass?

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Hasegawa Haruna – AKB48 13th Generation Kenkyuusei

AKB48’s 13th generation of kenkyuusei (research students) made their debut at their Akihabara theatre on the 29th March 2012. I watched the Live On Demand video of this, and one of them in particular caught my eye. Her name is Hasegawa Haruna (長谷川晴奈).

I thought I would make a little compilation of all the videos of her I can find:

First, her version of the Wonda Morning Shot commercial:

Next, her “one minute introduction”:

Her performance of Lemon no Toshigoro (檸檬の年頃)  as a Zenza girl during a Team K RESET show:

And finally, her unit song in the 13th gen KKS RESET show,  Kokoro no Hashi no Sofa (心の端のソフャー)

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Watanabe Mayu – Synchro Tokimeki – Live On Music Fair 18/02/2012

Watanabe Mayu, the fourth member of AKB48 to debut as a solo artist, performing her upcoming single Synchro Tokimeki, live on Music Fair, 18/02/2012.

For more information see the Stage48 wiki.

A couple of  HD screencaps after the break: Continue reading

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Yamanaka Sawako – Nendoroid Petit

“How many of me can fit in my box?”

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Completed Anime Series 2011

I know this post is very late given its now February. But its time for my annual list of completed anime, this time for 2011. In 2010 I completed 14 series, despite only watching anime in the 2nd half of the year. Last year, I had double the amount of time but only managed 16.

I’ll list here just the anime series (not OVAs, specials or films) that I’ve completed watching in 2011 in (rough) order. I’ve started many more series, you can see the full list at myanimelist.net. I’ll rate the shows out of 10 because that’s how myanimelist does it, even though I prefer rating out of 5 stars.  I watched  a lot more series every week when they aired, but also a fair amount of older shows:

1. Genshiken 2 – 8/10
More mature than most slice-of-life, as it is set in a university anime club where they are graduating and struggling to find jobs (very suitable in this current economic climate). Quite a different feel that season one but still hugely enjoyable.

2. Seitokai Yakuindomo – 8/10
Funny high school comedy with once again, one guy surrounded by a lot of girls. At least this time they give a reason – as a previously all-girl school has opened its doors to become a mixed school. Most of the comedy comes about since he is the only guy, and the girls are all starved of males in their lives and make lots of ecchi jokes.

3. Shakugan no Shana II (Second) – 7/10
Pretty much like two distinct series thrown together. With the first 12 episodes being almost completely slice of life and the second 12 being mostly action with a little of the slice of life thrown in. I preferred the slice of life stuff but felt there was a disconnect between the two halves of the show and I felt no interest to return to the show in between arcs.

4. Moshidora aka Moshi Koukou Yakyuu no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no Management wo Yondara aka What If a Female Manager of a High School Baseball Team Read Drucker’s, Drucker in the Dug-Out  – 7/10
An enjoyable human drama and friendship and perseverance. The theme is a girl who knows nothing about baseball trying to manage a high school baseball team using a project management textbook. But, although the baseball features strongly, the human drama aspects far outweigh it to make this enjoyable even for non-baseball fans, such as myself.

5. AnoHana aka Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai aka We Still Don’t Know The Name Of The Flower We Saw That Day – 8/10
Overblown emotional drama about a group of childhood friends meeting up again in highschool having not spoken to each other since one of their group died. Each character has let that moment affect them, and the unspoken feelings that the group held towards each other before Menma’s death has been dragging over their lives ever since and is finally allowed to come out in a huge mess of tears.

6. Sora no Woto aka Sound of the Sky – 7/10
Enjoyable slice of life about a small group of young female soldiers living in a remote village. Peaceful, fun, and occasionally beautiful. A prevailing memory is that of a lone trumpet call welcoming in the dawn from the mountainside village over the valley. The song Amazing Grace features strongly in this anime.

7. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – 8/10
A well produced mecha action spectacular. The two cours are completely different stories. The first is a sci-fi tale of oppressed humans rising up out of their underground lifestyle, surviving in groups in the wilderness and eventually taking down a huge oppressor with their human might and all out ridiculous fearlessness. The characters here are excellent. The second half is set a long time after the first, and is a lot more political. Overall, throughout the series, the scale keeps ramping up, becoming more and more epic to the point where the scale physical can’t be any bigger.

8. Lucky Star – 8/10
Featuring four highschool girls who can be hard initially to tell apart, this series is practically zero plot and pure eavesdropping into completely normal stupid conversations that happens within a tight-knit group of friends. Hugely enjoyable, funny, and at times, even really touching.

9. Toaru Majutsu no Index II aka A Certain Magical Index II – 7/10
Like its predecessor, this contains many plot arcs dealing with a huge amount of characters, a lot returning from only very fleeting appearances in the first season. It is very dense, but maintains the same mix of talking, action, fantasy, sci-fi, and comedy for its young characters as the first season. It builds to a climax which makes it seem like both two-cour series so far have just been the prelude to the moment “when science and magic collide”.

10. Neon Genesis Evangelion – 9/10
A complete classic, mixing sci-fi, giant robots, slice-of-life, mythology, psychological emotion and much, much more. The series has different arcs to explore the different aspects, and becomes much more epic than you would ever expect. Everyone who is into anime should watch this series and the following movie “End of Evangelion”. I am a complete fan now.

11. Steins;Gate – 9/10
Set in modern day Akihabara, this is a hugely character driven time travel sci-fi. The mysteries unfold every week, with the suspense continuously building , culminating in the midpoint of the show, where the characters then have to unravel everything that has happened so far. A definite highlight of 2011 that will be remembered for years to come.

12. Usagi Drop – 10/10
A truly heartwarming story about a 30 year old bachelor who suddenly finds himself the guardian of a six year old girl. He is completely out of his comfort zone here and the two both have to learn to live with each other. This series probes real emotions about the joys, worries, struggles and experiences that one goes through when raising a child. My highest recommendations go towards this anime series.

13. Kami-sama no Memo Chou – 7/10
A show featuring teenage NEET detectives, the Yakuza, and highschool kids involved in strange mysteries. Nothing special, but still quite enjoyable, at its best on the longer character driven arcs.

14. Hanasaku Iroha – 8/10
An extremely well drawn slice-of-life set in a Japanese onsen ryokan (hot spring resort). The series switches between serious drama, comedy, and character specific episodes, so can often feel hit or miss. However, it is always really enjoyable and the animation is beautiful.

15. Eden Of The East aka Higashi no Eden – 8/10
Opening with a naked Japanese high school boy suddenly appearing waving a gun outside the White House, which distracts the police from arresting a Japanese schoolgirl who is throwing coins a White House – this series starts with mystery, and gradually uncovers more and more, involving terrorism, a crazy plan where 12 people are given £10 billion Yen to “save Japan” however they see fit – any order they want is brought to be by asking their phone’s conceirge – Juiz. I wish the iPhone’s Siri talked and behaved like Juiz. An involving series with a lot of socio-economic commentary, that is followed up by two movies.

16. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica aka Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 8/10
A “magical girl” series that a lot of anime fans call “revolutionary”. Although to this outsider to the genre – it seems to be chock full of anime stereotypes. Still, it is enjoyable once you get pass the exterior and a light beginning with school girls somehow ends up as a universe stretching epic.

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Pocky Panda

So, I was just about to tuck into my Pocky Panda that I brought back from Japan, when I realised it would look awesome with my Azunyan figure. And of course, all the K-ON! girls love snacks… I just wonder what it tastes like now…

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Trips abroad 2011

As part of my look back at 2011 series of posts (at least one more of these to come btw), I thought I’d look back at all the trips I’ve made abroad this past year and share one scenery pic of each (which are nice big wallpapers if you click on them). I ended up making six trips this year, four for work (one with a big holiday attached) and two with family. So that means I didn’t actually go on any dedicated holidays at all, despite going abroad a lot.

First up in April 2011 was Erice for two weeks with work. Erice is a small town on the side of a mountain on the island of Sicily, part of Italy. Lovely views of the sea there. And we did a nice day trip to some Greek ruins.

Next up was Lisbon for a city break weekend at the end of April.

Then was a couple of weeks in August with family, visiting Switzerland. We went about and saw lots of stunning mountains.

I then went to San Sebastian, a seaside town in north Spain, with work for a week during September. The beach was gorgeous.

Then was the big one. My 2nd Japan trip in October. I love this country. I managed to spend two and a half weeks holiday there after my one week of work. Visited lots of places, which I should blog more about as I have some interesting photos to share. This is a picture of Fuji-san at night from Lake Kawaguchi-ko.

Finally, in December, was one night in Paris for work. I literally had one hour of free time, so went to see the Eiffel Tower quickly.

What will 2012 bring in terms of trips abroad? Well, I soon make a work trip to the USA and have a weekend city break in Europe planned for next month. After that, I’m not too sure – Japan wiped out all my money! I would love to plan and make a dedicated holiday to somewhere exciting but I doubt I’ll be able to. I’m sure more small trips will occur, particularly with work.

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