Posts Tagged ‘K-On!’

It has only been in the most recent years that I have been able to share some anime with my family. We had that indestructible Sony CRT TV for 20+ years, and there was no reasonable way to connect it to a laptop. But these days I can share some anime whenever I am back home for longer as long as I can find/prepare Polish subs for a given series (the only language my Dad and Mum speak). Anime recommendations for casuals and the older generation are always a popular topic, so here are my experiences.

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Mikakunin de Shinkoukei – Engaged to the Unidentified

Wait, he’s like…a werewolf, and they’re NOT going to talk about it!?

You will not often see this good old slice-of-life/romantic comedy show up in recent anime discussion, but it was a huge hit with my family. The genres are what my parents like best, and the comedy is mostly character-based and not hectic enough for the viewer to get confused or overwhelmed.

Hakuya’s: “What’s your favourite food? -> Anything Kobeni makes.” line struck a chord with everyone, as that is basically how my Dad works. He will eat whatever we feed him in whatever amounts we provide and it will be his favourite food for the moment.

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Death Note

It’s that Japanese thing, right? The moment you get attached to them, they turn out to be evil.

It is easy to go for the gritty and/or inaccessible stuff when you first share anime with people and want to prove how much more it can be than what cartoons are often believed to be. But Death Note is one title that can work just fine. It has depth if you want to read it that way, but generally works like a smart Hollywood thriller.

Mum loved Ryuuk and Rem most (as she did Madoka’s Kyuubey…). Dad would occasionally scoff at the screen: “Nuh-uh. As if they all could be that smart.”

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No way! How silly can those girls get!?

With the timing of its initial broadcast and the role it played in the anime world, K-On! found itself the target of all kinds of accusations, from objectifying female characters to trying to corrupt anime storytelling with the moe disease. With all that noise, it can be easy to forget how casual-friendly the series is, with its simple humour and a cast of lovable characters that can appeal to viewers of all ages and genders.

Mom surprised me when one of the scenes that stuck out most in her memory was that one time when Azusa and Mugi spend some time alone in the clubroom, and Azusa is not quite sure how to lead the conversation. Apparently, great team chemistry becoming uncertain on a person-to-person basis was something that rang true with her own high school memories. And that loving commentary on a time everybody has gone through is what makes the series a great choice.

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Akatsuki no Yona – Yona of the Dawn

I was about to suggest they just kill him with arrows, but he can swat away those too, eh?

One of those series nobody knows about and everybody loves after watching. Technically this counts as a reverse harem, but there is so much here to enjoy between the politics, action, relationships and a sprinkle of fantasy. I do not associate (reverse) harems with memorable main characters, but Yona’s development in the series is top-notch.

My folks particularly enjoyed the character of the pirate captain – an old lady with a kind heart and balls of steel. People randomly turning out to be dragons also became something of a family meme, so when I later asked my parents for any themes they wanted in our next series, they were like: dragons. So I showed them Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (spoilers: they loved that, too).

What were your ideas for introductory series into the medium? I will happily take inspiration from any recommendations, so feel free to share below.

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The very first set of the Precious Memories TCG now joins the sets available for the Precious Memories Lackey plugin. And it’s huge as hell >_<.

Starting with this set, the Activation Timing part of the effect for Event cards has been separated from the rest of the card effect text, making it possible to look for Event cards with the Timing filter. We will gladly accept help with updating the previous sets for this change, so drop a line below if you happen to have some free time on your hands.

Update Only / Lite ver.

If you’re updating from the Kokoro Connect release. Update contains only K-On! Part 1 cards.

  1. Download the update files here.
  2. Place the .txt files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets” folder (Overwrite the old .txt files when prompted.)
  3. Place the .jpg files in your “LackeyCCG\plugins\purememo\sets\setimages\general” folder

Full version

Contains everything released so far.

  1. Download the files here.
  2. (If you have downloaded the plugin before.) Replace your “purememo” plugin folder with the new version above. Make sure to make a copy of any decks you have already made before overwriting the old folder. (Decks are stored in the purememo/decks folder.)
  3. (If this is your first time downloading.) Install Lackey and unpack the plugin into the plugin folder.


Current plugin contains card images and translations for:

  • Girls und Panzer set
  • Yuru Yuri set (+Promos)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica set (+SP, +Promos)
  • Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (+Promos)
  • Kokoro Connect (+Promos)
  • K-On! Part1 (+Promos)

If you are only interested in the translation/card data, download and unpack the plugin, and look for the .txt files in the “purememo/sets” folder. Drag-and-drop the files into your Microsoft Excel (or equivalent) for easy access.

Girls und Panzer, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, K-On Part 1 sets and assorted Promos translated by Cytrus (me).

Puella Magi Madoka Magica and PMMM Special Pack card translations by Marlin-sama at Approach Phase.

Yuru Yuri set card translations based on the work by Bakkin Translations.

Kokoro Connect translated by Liang Shi Yi.


Comments and corrections are welcome in the comments below or at preciousmemoriesplugin@gmail.com We will gladly accept help with text editing for future sets, so drop a line if you are interested in helping out. You can also request sets you would like to see out first.

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The title of KyoAni’s latest show, Tamako Market, seems like a straightforward affair. Tamako is the main character’s name and the market is an important part of the setting – no tricks there. But viewers with basic Japanese reading ability might notice something odd about the title (no, not the bird nested between the “ma” and “ke”). It is all written in hiragana, up to and including the obvious loanword maaketto (market), which you would expect to appear written in katakana.

Two seasons ago, we had Mankind has Declined replacing its kanji and katakana with hiragana to strengthen the fairy-tale feeling of the setting. But this is probably not what is going on here, though director Yamada did admit that at one point, Tamako Market was planned to include significant fantasy elements (with a prince from a mysterious land appearing and Tamako possessing a magical ability).

The Japanese writing system has a long history which affects how the different scripts are viewed. At the point when only kanji were used in Japan, the art of writing was accessible only to the upper classes. Similarly, the original use of katakana was for notes during study of Buddhist texts. Hiragana, on the other hand, was the script of the masses ever since its invention. For a long time, it would not appear in official documents but it would in poetry and fiction. Both men and women were expected to know it, and hiragana was the script of everyday life – short notes, diaries, shopping lists…

The kana syllabaries are an original Japanese creation, and hiragana was the most widely used of the two. This means that, to this day, hiragana is the script the Japanese feel most comfortable with. The Japanese also value hiragana characters for their soft, curvy shapes. Research shows that when presented with the same text written using different scripts (kanji, hiragana, katakana), Japanese readers tend to point to the text written in hiragana as ‘warmer, more pleasant’ than the other two. This might also have something to do with how hiragana brings to mind the sweet days of childhood.

So the non-standard hiragana usage in the title can be seen as part of setting the mood of the show – a promise of a heartwarming slice of life. That Tamako’s name is one composed entirely of hiragana characters is also surely no coincidence.

While Tamako Market is KyoAni’s original piece, the studio has already met with this phenomenon in works it adapted. Remember Lucky Star? The obviously English-inspired title ends up written not in katakana, as you would expect, but hiragana – らき☆すた. And K-On? Both kanji (軽音) and katakana (ケイオン) would be perfectly fine candidates for the writing of the title, but again we get hiragana instead – けいおん. The unexpected appearance of hiragana in those titles can certainly be linked to their identity as soothing slice of life shows.

On a side note, I see a mochi replacing one of the strokes in the “ta” in the title…

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I got around to compiling this plot summary from the notes I took after the screening of the K-On! movie. I wasn’t taking notes while watching (too busy enjoying the thing myself), so there are probably some missing tidbits, but everything in a reasonable cause-effect relationship should be here.

  • HTT makes a playback performance of one of Death Devil’s songs

  • The band discusses an image change and discovering new musicality… but nothing comes of it

  • Yui tells the other third-years that Azusa has only seen them screwing around all the time, and they should do something upperclassmen-like for once

  • The girls agree to prepare some kind of present for Azusa, but Azusa interrupts the conversation before they can get to anything specific

  • Yui hears the volleybal club girls in their class mention a graduation trip and tries to convince the others HTT should go on one too, but she gets shot down by Ritsu, who tells her they should be thinking of Azusa’s present first

  • Yui consults Ui about Azusa’s present. Ui tells her that there is nothing in particular that Azusa wants – just spending time with the band seems to be the most precious thing to her. Ui jokes that the third-years could fail their exams and stay with Azusa for another year as a present…

  • Azusa walks in on her sempai as they are discussing the ‘repeat year’ idea. In a panic to cover up the topic of the discussion (without giving Azusa the idea that they failed their exams or something, as she did hear the unfortunate keywords) Yui comes out with a big declaration: the third-years are going on a graduation trip after all!

  • Azusa tries to politely refuse going with them on the trip (since she’s not graduating, and she’d be a bother, and…) but her resistence doesn’t last long…

  • Time to pick the trip destination! The girls each pick a location (Mio: London, Yui: Europe, Mugi: onsen trip, Azusa insists she can go anywhere, Ritsu I forgot, Hawaii?)

  • Yui offers to pick the location at random… and cheats, putting Europe on every piece of paper. She gets busted by Azusa in no time flat and forced to wear a paper-mask kind of thing as a penalty

  • The girls turn to Ton-chan as their randomizer. Ton-chan is not particularly cooperative, taking hours to pick one of the choices… but finally settles on London, to Mio’s badly concealed exaltation

  • Azusa walks out of the clubroom to call her parents and ask if she is even allowed to go abroad… everyone uses this opportunity to call their parents (the whole trip planning started with a lie, after all)

  • Azusa walks back in to see the other members putting away their phones… and realizes that their safety abroad is largely dependent on how well she can keep her ‘reliable’ sempai in check

  • Somewhere around this point, the third-years come up with the idea to make a song for Azusa’s present. But they immediately think it cannot be just any song. It needs to be something on ‘a world scale’, worthy of Azusa.

  • Yui, in a conversation with Nodoka, expresses surprise at the notion that Europe is not a country. She also corrects Nodoka that no, they are not going to England, they are going to London…

  • Yui packs for the trip in a scene which marks the first appearance of the Hirasawa parents in the show… or of the Hirasawa parents’ legs, at least. Ui helps Yui pack, cramming instant noodles into Yui’s travel bag…

  • The girls go to reserve a tour, but have so many places in London they want to go to that the travel company employee recommends they should take a no-guide tour with full freedom of activities. Azusa agrees to plan the whole trip.

  • Without agreeing to do so beforehand, all the girls except Mugi end up bringing their instruments along for the trip, because ‘it wouldn’t feel right otherwise’

  • All kinds of Yui&Azusa cuteness ensues aboard the plane

  • Some small trouble occurs in London when retrieving Mio’s baggage. The problem is resolved soon enough, but not before Mio incurs some trauma against conveyor belts and things that spin in general

  • Photo frenzy!

  • Yui confronts the door of a British car… London: 1 Yui: 0

  • The girls get to their hotel… or rather, a hotel. Turns out they got the address wrong. Resolving the issue seems to be beyond Azusa’s linguistic ability, and things start looking grim when even Mugi admits the hotel staff speaks too fast for her to understand… Mio saves the day, as it turns out she can perfectly understand any and all English, as long as she doesn’t have to directly face the scary foreigners…

  • The girls end up having to walk more than they planned to, and Azusa learns that going on a trip abroad in brand-new shoes is not always the best idea. The rest of HTT get her to admit that her feet are hurting, and the whole group change plans to go shoe shopping first. Azusa gets a free ride on Yui’s travel bag, too.

  • Everyone gets hungry, so they decide to eat… sushi. But things will not be as easy as they think at the sushi restaurant.

  • The owner of the sushi restaurant gets to confirm Yui and Ritsu’s English ability. Or rather the non-existence of such…

  • Turns out they will not get to eat unless they perform for the guests (or that’s what the two aforementioned bakas understand from their ‘conversation’). Mugi steps forward, apparently ready to resolve the misunderstanding… but in fact ends up just requesting help in finding a keyboard (she didn’t bring hers, after all).

  • With two minutes to prepare a performance, Yui saves Azusa in a pinch by helping her kouhai tune her instrument by ear. London: 47 Yui: 1

  • They end up playing Curry Nochi Rice of all things, because Yui spots an Indian among the customers…

  • Turns out they ended up performing because the band of Ritsu’s friend (from the live house episode) is also in London and had arranged for a guest performance at the sushi restaurant

  • HTT finally reaches their hotel, still hungry. Ui’s instant noodles save the day. (Did the girl really predict things this far ahead…?)

  • Angsting about the song for Azusa, more Yui&Azusa bonding, and London sightseeing snapshots ensue

  • Ritsu forces Mio to board a ferris wheel despite Mio’s newly-gained fear of spinning things… but boy, does Mio end up being grateful when they see the entirety of London stretching out before their eyes

  • HTT gets a more formal invitation to perform at a Japanese culture promotion event from the band they met at the sushi restaurant

  • Sawa-chan turns up in London and brags about the ninja outfits she made (with Jun, Nodoka and Ui as models). HTT flatly rejects the idea of performing wearing those, though.

  • The performance is relatively successful, but almost causes the girls to be late for their plane due to Yui stretching things out (there was a cute baby in the audience, or something)

  • On the taxi to the airport, Azusa falls asleep from exhaustion, showing how much it took out of her to plan and oversee the whole trip. The third-years realize that the song they make for Azusa shouldn’t be any different from their ‘normal’ music, because their style was the thing that brought them all together in the first place

  • The girls get back to Japan, and we have a time shift forward to graduation day, when they organize a last class live (with some help from Sawa-chan)

  • We get a glimpse of how hard Ui had to work not to find out about the secret song despite Yui being Yui… Ui is ❤

  • The third-years gather on the school rooftop before their first performance of the still-titleless song for Azusa. The tension levels are incredible, and nobody is sure if they can make the song as perfect as they want it to be… when, at the last moment, Yui has a flash of inspiration, creating the final version of the lyrics we all know. And finally…

  • “Tenshi ni fureta yo!”

So much for a dry plot summary from me. I’ll come back with a review/favorite scenes post later.

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Continued from Part One, my true favorites of this year.

#6 Nichijou

There are times when Nichijou is hard to watch, when the near-lack of linear plot progression (something the director has admitted to doing intentionally) leaves the viewer vulnerable to the disappointment of an unfunny gag. Or, worse yet, two unfunny gags in a row. But on the other hand, I can easily get stuck on youtube rewatching the ‘best of’ moments of the show.

As bumpy a ride as it is in terms of story, Nichijou never fails to be spectacular one way or another. The three-seconds rule scene is probably the most over-the-top presentation of the concept we’ll ever see, despite nothing physically impossible happening there. The hallway chase, the Mio vs Police fight, the card tower silent cartoon homage…Nichijou is ripe with scenes to be remembered, a virtual handbook on animation tricks prepared by the folks at the Kyoto Animation studio.

Inexplicably, when the last episode ends, you realize you’ve grown attached to those characters and the time spent with the series feels all too short…

#5 K-On the Movie

The series which has made itself a fair share of enemies through sheer popularity. K-On is not particularly revolutionary nor ambitious in terms of plot, setting or characters. Nevertheless, it has captured the hearts of countless fans of all over the world. It is also questionable whether the form of a feature-length movie is suitable to a franchise which has so far worked best with short, fluffy pieces. But rather than climbing to new heights, what the series is doing here is making a statement. As box-office come in, fans jokingly note that the late night anime franchise easily surpasses the numbers of Spielberg’s Adventures of Tin Tin

But the movie which will mostly be remembered for its extensive advertising campaign and the varied audience it has managed to bring to the cinemas is not a bad piece of work in itself. Surprisingly subtle on some occasions, the movie paints the bonds of trust and reliance between the light music club members with fresh and vivid colors. At the same time, it never stops being that light-hearted comedy fans have come to love. I’m looking forward to when this new installment becomes widely available to western viewers.

#4 Hayate no Gotoku -Heaven is a Place on Earth-

As a comedy series about a butler struggling against the never-ending string of misfortunes in his life, it would seem Hayate no Gotoku would be no less of a challenge to adapt for the big screen than K-On. But the actual result is very much a pleasant surprise.

It turns out any problem can be solved with enough fortitude and effort. Hata Kenjirou, the author of the original manga, poured out hectoliters of sweat to prepare this all-original story and overlook its transition into an animated movie. It all pays off in a single piece of brilliantly balanced work. Humor, action, romance… even a wistful moment or two, everything has its own place in this tightly-paced theatrical release.

People who have never had contact with the penniless butler and his companions can watch this as a easily digestible story. Loyal fans of the series will enjoy the rich attention of detail that comes from having the original author on board all through the creation process. This is not a movie that will change how the franchise is looked at, but it does not waste even a second of the viewer’s time either.

#3 Tamayura -hitotose-

There are two types of anime slice of life series that stand out: the Azumanga Daioh type which includes large amounts of comedy, and the Aria type which just aims for a soothing atmosphere. While comedy shows can keep on coming out year after year and still feel mostly fresh, the latter type always has to struggle with the great series of the past, Aria itself being the most likely culprit.

Tamayura at first feels like it will also be weighed down with such comparisons. With the setting being ‘merely’ a coastal city in Japan, and the main characters being quite ordinary high school girls, it can’t quite match the fantastic setting of Neo Venezia, and the scope of stories it can present is also limited to what can imaginably happen in our own everyday lives. There doesn’t seem to be much a series like this can surprise us with.

But then the writers reach for something Aria never would – themes of death, heartbreak, rejection and fears about an uncertain future. Handling those in your average show requires a fair share of skill. Making them work in a slice of life show intended to bring a smile to the viewers’ faces requires true mastery. Thankfully, Tamayura was blessed with staff talented and experienced enough to handle the task, many of whom have previously worked on Aria itself.

The main lead is cute and ditzy and all you could expect from a slice of life protagonist. Oh, and she’s trying to regain her love for something which only brings back painful memories. As the young girl slowly comes to terms with her past, the people around her struggle with their own ambitions and tragedies. Often, they do not speak about them openly, trying to deal with everything by themselves. But humans can only take so much without the support of another.

Tamayura is never exploitative or artificial in its presentation of human drama. It’s the show’s subtlety that makes its blows so heavy when they strike home. But miraculously, this is still a healing-type show that makes you feel better after every episode. It accepts life as it is, sprinkling just a bit of hope on every image it portrays.

As Tamayura is still airing, I thought it reasonable to give it third place. But it was competing head-to-head with another, no less impressive show:

#2 Hourou Musuko

This series came out of nowhere with a large cast of characters with convoluted relationships already in place (it adapts the original manga starting from chapter 30!), making the first episode more than a bit confusing. Some characters apparently decide to change genders mid-episode to add more flavor to the bewilderment. But as soon as you have time to sort things out, this series starts hitting, and hitting hard.

Hourou Musuko is not a series that meets viewers’ expectations. I doubt anyone watches anime expecting serious stories about transgender kids. But that is good, since the series doesn’t even have to make it clear that it will not follow standard otaku checklists and plot developments. Those would be impossible in the first place with the characters involved.

And what characters they are! The side characters in this show are more intricately developed than most leads in average shows. It should be difficult not to find somebody you can empathize with, even with the very specific problems most of the cast is dealing with. Everyone has their flaws, but there are no villains either, just imperfect, difficult human relationships.

The story details the everyday lives of the main characters, focusing more on their internal turmoil than any outside developments. But every episode is filled to brim with content, directed expertly by Aoki Ei and easily surpassing his current work at fate/zero. The cliffhangers here are all emotional and, as much as they whey the appetite for the next episode, they never leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

Recommended watching for anyone with enough attention span to work out the relationship net between all the characters. Interest in the subject matter of gender identity is not required to enjoy the great drama Hourou Musuko offers.

#1 Puella Magi Madoka Magica

This series has a 200-page literary review on it entitled “A Cage Named Maturity – On Puella Magi Madoka Magica”. I doubt most people had the opportunity to read that analysis, but it presents the show as coming from a long tradition of Japanese alien-type horror, where the terror is born not from the incomprehensible, but from the understanding of a horrible, horrible truth.

Regardless of whether one agrees with that particular statement or not, Madoka’s horror roots were not everyone’s main concern when the show was still airing. There is the genre subversion, Shinbo’s artistic presentation, the references to other animated and literary works, the Ume/Urobuchi conflict, the religious references in the finale, the charade and its breakdown… If it takes two hundred pages to analyze just one aspect of Madoka Magica, think how many pages it would take to do the show justice.

But one of the beautiful things here is that Madoka is in no way difficult to understand if you want to enjoy it on a basic level. The emotional roller-coaster the series offers is enough to satisfy those just looking for a ride. And this is how entertainment should be, accessible and challenging at the same time, possible to be enjoyed by almost anyone.

Madoka also did a lot for the medium in general, showing the potential of an original story that doesn’t have to stretch things out with filler and proving the expressive power of an individual (Shino, Urobuchi, Ume, Kajiura) where we are used to discussing things in terms of studios.

But personally, I can only thank Madoka for twelve episodes’ worth of unforgettable fun.

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