[Crunchyroll Article] “The True Meaning of Anime Haircuts”

Non-management: My latest article for Crunchyroll discusses a variety of shows.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Crunchyroll for commissioning my article. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

The True Meaning of Anime Haircuts

When a haircut isn’t just about getting rid of your split ends

If you ask people which part of anime characters’ designs most catch their attention, chances are good many of them will point to anime hair. Anime hair comes in all sorts of over-the-top styles, and in garish and unnatural colors. In general, it sticks out as something unique to the medium. Whether you’re a fan of it or not, anime hair exists for a reason – to make characters look more striking and by extension… more memorable.

Anime’s hair craze doesn’t stop there, though. It’s also obsessed with haircuts… READ MORE HERE

[Anime News Network] “Homelessness in Japan and Hinamatsuri”

Non-management: Hinamatsuri caught me by surprise. It was a show that was marketed ostensibly as a comedy that managed to deliver some excellent character drama alongside its laughs. The intersection between these two elements is, admittedly, not unheard of in anime. Hinamatsuri shares similarities with Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, in that respect. What actually caught me off guard about Hinamatsuri and prompted me to write about the show was its commentary on homelessness in Japan. It was a commentary that that at once sympathetic to the homeless and damning against the privileged in the other, both compassionate in its approach to the subject material and outraged over its existence as a real-world issue. Not since Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfathers have I seen an anime address Japanese homelessness. Using its examples of aged homeless men, I sought to use Hinamatsuri as a springboard into a larger discussion of homelessness in Japanese society. I pitched what I wanted to write to Anime News Network, and it got accepted as a Feature Article.

I’d like to give a big thanks to ANN’s Zac Bertschy for commissioning my article, and Jacob Chapman for editing it. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the article sample:

Homelessness in Japan and Hinamatsuri

Hinamatsuri is supposed to be a comedy, and it’s true that the show delivers its hilarity in spades. However, for an anime that primarily markets itself as the whacky adventures of two girls with psychic abilities (and one girl that’s an underaged bartender), Hinamatsuri also delivers some excellent character drama. This series can dip into some heavy territory before resurfacing back to making us laugh without missing a beat, and one example of this is its unexpected focus on the issue of homelessness in Japan. Not since Satoshi Kon’s Tokyo Godfathers has anime dared broach the topic of Japanese homelessness in recent memory, let alone approach the subject of homeless Japanese in a pertinent and sympathetic manner.

Like with homeless populations in other parts of the world, Japanese homeless have a troubled history and relationship with their Japanese society, but every culture has unique aspects that distinguish the struggle of their homeless populations from others. What Hinamatsuri does well is capture the face of that homelessness in Japan in ways that help illustrate the issue to audiences around the world… READ MORE HERE

A Reflection on Weird Things Eaten in Golden Kamuy and Real Life

Management: This essay is meant to be less of a review and more of analysis of the show being examined. It contains plot spoilers for the Golden Kamuy anime.

My undisputed favorite comfort meal to eat is Dinuguan. I remember falling in love with it back when I was little. It’s a Filipino delicacy, a savory stew made of garlic, vinegar, peppers, spices, pork bits, and… pig’s blood. I wasn’t aware that it was made with pig’s blood until my parents told me when I was much older. My reaction?  The news of it unfazed me. All that mattered was that it tasted good. I realize that that kind of reaction isn’t the norm for my friends and acquaintances. Many of them aren’t Asian or or particularly adventurous with what they eat. I’ve seen several of them balk at me while while I’m selling Dinuguan to them. Pig’s blood isn’t something that’s normally stocked in Western retail markets. It’s more commonly encountered in Asian grocery stores. Pig’s blood turns black when you cook it, and it coagulates into jelly when you leave it be. You typically find the stuff sold in portioned up cubes, in plastic tubs or shrink-wrapped packs . It’s kind of an inside joke among Filipinos to tease and trick the unbeknownst into trying it by calling it “chocolate soup.” Filipinos do have a recipe for something soupy with chocolate, but Dinuguan is most assuredly not soup with chocolate. It’s, again, pork stew made with pig’s blood.

Why does Filipino cooking incorporate pig’s blood in the first place? I don’t think that I’m knowledgeable enough to answer this question for certain, so a better follow-up inquiry might be: What makes the cuisines of some cultures more likely to use more parts of the pig than other cultures? My impression of American cooking is that it tends to dismiss pig’s blood as waste to be discarded. In contrast, my impression of Filipino cooking is that pig’s blood is valuable enough to be turned into a meal. That goes for the other peripheral parts of the pig like the ears, the neckbone, and the head. Filipinos subscribe to a “nose to tail” philosophy when it comes to turning livestock into a meal, and it seems like the Ainu have a similar “all parts of the animal” mindset when turning their game into something edible. To me, the reason for these similarities in cooking philosophy is connected to shared experiences of food scarcity.

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[Crunchyroll Article] “Love is the Greatest Mystery of All in Hyouka”

Non-management: My latest article for Crunchyroll is on Hyouka.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Crunchyroll for commissioning my article. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

Love is the Greatest Mystery of All in Hyouka

The amateur investigators final case is to crack their own feelings

Hyouka is about solving mysteries, and mainly mundane mysteries at that. No murderer needs to be found. No crime needs to be immediately uncovered. But in its mystery-solving, Hyouka just as interested in uncovering the “why” of its mysteries as the “how”. The show isn’t merely content with the clever puzzles or sensationalist circumstance more conventional mystery series trade in. Why, after all, do people set up these elaborate puzzles in the first place? In exploring the “why” of its mundane mysteries, Hyouka gives its story an excuse to explore its characters, one particular aspect at a time. We have Oreki’s growing interest and empathy in others like his teacher. We have Satoshi Fukube’s chronic jealousy of Oreki’s critical reasoning prowess. And then we have the budding romance between Oreki and Chitanda… READ MORE HERE

[Crunchyroll Article] “The Mad Scientist and the Will of Steins Gate”

Non-management: My latest article for Crunchyroll is on Steins;Gate 0.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Crunchyroll for commissioning my article. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

The Mad Scientist and the Will of Steins Gate

Okabe must rediscover his inner mad scientist to save everyone and achieve the will of Steins;Gate.