May media round up

What I read/played in May 2021

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Yakuza: Like a Dragon by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (2021 PC release)

Since it's the first RPG style game of the Yakuza franchise, I did find that it takes longer to get through the plot compared to say, playing easy-mode in the action battle system. I found that I had to "level" up a lot more before feeling confident to take on some of these boss battles. It requires more planning/strategy overall, since bosses/enemies/party members each have their unique weaknesses. Otherwise same flavour of plot! I enjoyed it! I get really offended whenever the gross pervy enemies do perv moves on the lady characters in my party :(, so I try to destroy them first...

Collage of sketches of various characters from the Yakuza 7 series.

Kasuga is really stupid but in a different way from Kiryu. Definitely more feelsy, and stronger EYELASH game. Himbo energy is extremely strong!! Zhao is a sensitive boy but so powerful chop chop chop. I love how Eri uses office stationery as weapons. I can't believe Han Joon-gi doesn't have a karaoke song; for a while I'd call him "fast boy" because he gets so many turns. Adachi is such a dad type (his weird in-street/public flexing), but his Machine Gun Kiss is REALLY good. I laughed SO HARD at Kasuga's rapping backup for Like A Butterfly. I really like when Yapi says "Ya-pi"! I appreciated Saeko's resilience and vulnerability. I hope Nanba gets his hair under control...

My heart still belongs to Majima Goro, bunchan, and the chickens. Sketch of Majima Goro from Yakuza 0, holding a Bunchan java sparrow plush

Decolonize Palestine and Visualizing Palestine

I found these resources helpful in building my understanding of a lot of the underlying context for what's happening in Palestine.

Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida (vol. 2-23 end)

The world building/logic is so different from IRL that you just want to keep reading on to understand how it all works. I think I understand 75% of what happened, but was lost when they start talking about time differences. I'm never quite sure what is/isn't reality, though I think that's also how the characters felt too. I 10000% ship Shin/Noi and Caiman/Nikaido, and now I want to eat gyoza!!

The Arab of the Future (vol. 1) by Riad Sattouf

I'm not sure how this came onto my radar; might have been a random recommendation through my library's overdrive/libby (what I use to read most of my stuff these days). Because of this, I wasn't sure what to expect! I was able to learn a bit more about a specific sliver of arab culture (or at least, see some side of it). There were points where I felt that the dual storytelling (narrative in panels vs. dialogue in panels) took me longer to mentally parse than I expected (as in, I noticed I was having trouble understanding). I would attribute this to the fact that I am not well versed in the political and religious context where the story takes place though! I'm pretty sad about the dog...

Today's music post: Moulan Shakur by Khalab & M'berra Ensemble from the album, M'berra.

March media round-up

What I consumed in March 2021.

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Heaven's Design Team vol 1-2 with Hebi zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako

A comic about the design department for the animals that exist in the world. It's really funny/cute/informative. I like the idea of a how different personalities end up designing animals to their taste hahaha. I like how proud Pluto is of her "cute" designs even though everyone else thinks they're super messed up. I enjoyed seeing all the strange hybrid animals they came up with. I am pleased to gather more animal facts. Also all the quips about working as a designer with unreasonable clients hit me hard, too real.

Dorohedoro vol. 1 by Q. Hayashida

A world where sorcerers are make monsters out of humans, so some humans are now fighting sorcerers...This comic's setting is casually hyper-violent, but somehow not in a way that I find myself needing to turn away from the page. It seems like there's a good balance of cool and powerful characters of all genders too. They've set up enough intrigue in vol.1 to makes me want to see what's going to happen! The fantastical-nature of the world also means there's a lot of unexpected things happening.

Ran and the Gray World vol.1 by Aki Irie

A comic about a young girl, living with her family, who all seem to have magical powers of some sort. A lot of folks were talking up the artist/author's drawings so I tried out the book. I feel as though the story itself was somewhat too ambiguous and meandering. People appeared in a very random fashion. I feel "maybe" about continuing this; the mom's plot actually seems more interesting than the main character's plot. Something about the main character's naivety really triggers my stranger danger senses.

A Man and his Cat vol. 1-3 by Umi Sakurai

Extremely wholesome stories about a suit-wearing old man and his cat. Three of my greatest weaknesses. Just missing glasses. Mix of short stories and strips. As the volumes go on, you dig deeper into both the man and the cat's past.

My Brother's Husband vol. 1-2 omnibus [end] by Gengoroh Tagame

A solid story that makes you sad and hopeful at the same time about LGBTQA+ relationships in Japan.

Yakuza 6 (2021 PC release)

THE END OF THE KIRYU SAGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHH!! I liked a lot of the in-between antagonists in this game like Someya and Han Joon-gi (not so much the end game ones). The letter killed me because I wasn't expecting the recipient. I feel like Akimiya's face wasn't as good as it was in previous games? Or entering weird uncanny valley not fully-lip-synched territory. The battles/game play on easy mode were exceptionally easy, so I blew through the main plot in ~20 hours. Kiryu smiles a lot more and it is moderately unsettling. Well now I can start plotting my Yakuza zine...

Blue Period vol. 1 by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

A story about changing life/career/hobby aspirations towards art. The main character is a student who mainly focuses on academics in high school, but stumbles upon some sense of authenticity when he paints a scene from within his memory. The author has this wiggly way of drawing certain characters. Somehow the artwork feels very intense at times! A glimpse into art school and academics in Japan.

Love Love Hill is having a free shipping promo for any orders over $20 for our self-published comics and zines! A bunch of us are moving, so any support to decrease our box weight is greatly appreciated~

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Some life updates:

  • HWAnimation snow scene feels like i finished it 10 years ago.
  • HWA vol.1 was literallly finished a year ago (ish).
  • I did my taxes for 2020.
  • I'm back at work full time and it has taken up all my energy.
  • I got to try out Cosmo Air Light paper! Unexpected find at the University of Waterloo store...someone there must be a fountain pen nerd.
  • Got a handful of fountain pen ink samples from Wonder Pens and a new Pilot Kakuno in pink/white colourway (which is now my Pinkey pen and filled with pink ink)
  • Watching at least 2 friends descend deeper into fountain pen/ink fever, hahaha

Today's music post: Domestic Music For Skeptical Dogs by Gavsborg

February 2021 media round-up

What I played/read/watched in February 2021.

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I ended up reading a lot of manga because I discovered how much the library ebook/overdrive system had. The nice thing about manga for me, is that it reads a lot quicker than just text-based books. As usual, vague spoilers may be found below.

Yakuza 5

The theme of this game was very heavily focused on dreams (the aspirational type, not sleeping ones). I really wasn't sure how the baseball man's plot would link up to it all, but it was satisfying to see it come together. I laughed at random naked workouts...I am in disbelief at the secret marriage. I wonder if they ever made that fountain pen a limited edition item that fans could buy!?

Part 1: I think there's a new contender for biggest himbo in the series: Watase?! I'm much more into Kiryu's uniform. I am very bad at racing but laughed at the very obvious eurobeat music that comes with the minigame.

Part 2: Saejima's crop cut YEA! I laughed really hard at his fist pumping and injections during karaoke. Gross inmate sticking fingers into wound NO! Baba's volatile feelings...! I was very close to gameover-ing during this snowmobile scene. I can't believe the anti-social old snow man has clothing in Saejima's size and style by accident HAHA. I got trapped running away from bears.

Part 3: Haruka had some pretty hilarious ponytail physics going on, and her L-shaped bum wiggle dance move makes me laugh. I'm very bad at the dance battles because it requires another level of button coordination that I don't have. I got really into the idol part because I didn't want to lose to those other idols. I was really DNW about Park at the beginning but of course she makes me cry later...!!!!

Part 4: I recognize Aikawa Show from Odoru Daisousasen / Isseifubi SEPIA hahaha. I also unknowingly gameover-ed at because it was in the middle of a cutscene but then suddenly I had to push a very specific button to do a very specific thing that was critical to the plot...!

I thought that the plot twist at the very end was kind of unnecessary! I wanted an ended with old men cheering at an idol concert instead. The game tried (?) to be all stealth with secret characters, but I could tell who they were from their voices and overall appearance, haha. I feel like I can write autobio reaction zine about this series, but only after i play more substories and Y6 later in March...

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

This book reads like an extended meandering rant, but I don't mean that in a bad way. I think it's more like if you had a meal with a friend you haven't seen in years, and the book is like the script of that what that friend told you. Much of it is relatable if you come from a background that overlaps with her. She makes a reference to Trinh T. Minh-Ha's "Speaking Nearby" which I didn't know about before, but found it to be a good articulation of how to still be a creative and include other experiences that you don't personally have.

Yuzu the Pet Vet vol. 1 by Mingo Ito

The comics were serialized in Nakayoshi and then compiled into a volume. I had a feeling that I would cry really bad since it's about a vet clinic, but I was also convinced that since it's targeted towards young girls maybe it would be more happy-go-lucky, but I was wrong. I was hit with pets dying of old age, cancer, dementia, etc. which ultimately made me cry, but they're all good tears. The stories aren't super deep, but they are indeed wholesome. A lot of cute animals too!

Behind the Scenes!! vol.1 by Bisco Hatori

The last time I touched any of Bisco Hatori's work was Ouran Host Club eons ago, so I thought I'd try this series out. There's a lot going on in the comic much freaking out. I find it hard to sympathize/empathize with these extremely low confidence characters with a lot of skill/talent. The setting of the series is interesting (university/college prop/setting/staging/art club for movies and films) but I wasn't sure where the series was going; specifically I don't feel "hooked" after reading one volume!

Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey vol.1 by Akiko Higashimura

I've heard great things about Akiko Higashimura's work (Princess Jellyfish, etc.). I even watched a Manben episode (hosted by Naoki Urasawa) with her in it, but haven't read any of her work until now. This is autobio about her artistic journey, starting from when she was in highschool, trying to apply to art colleges/universities. Her overconfidence was really surprising...but ultimately in reflection I can tell that she really valued her strict art teacher's lessons. I definitely want to continue reading this, to see her relationship and feelings evolve.

Crocodile Baron vol.1 by Takuya Okada

Like a lot of other food-related manga, there is always a trope where they eat a thing and then make an exaggerated comparison to something else. I was a bit weirded out about how the crocodile is very crocodile looking while a lot of the other mammals seem to be more...human/manga-eye-d? In particular the rabbit companion is a very unappealing leech-type character. The art is well done but I don't think there is much substance otherwise to keep me going on another volume.

The Delinquent Housewife vol.1 by Nemu Yoko

Since I read The Way of the Househusband, I figured I could read the reverse situation, where a woman who sucks at housekeeping, becomes a housewife, and tries to hide her delinquent / bosozoku background from her soon-to-be-in-law family. I like how the little sister's nefarious acts are being countered by the seemingly innocent grandpa. I'll probably continue this series!

Ninth Floor (2015)

Mina Shum directed documentary film about the Sir George Williams event in Quebec, 1969, where black students and their allies occupied the 9th floor of a Sir George Williams university (now Concordia) building because of non-action from the university administration about racism charges against a white university professor, Perry Anderson. According to wiki it was the largest occupation in Canadian history! It's always embarrassing (and telling) how nobody ever teaches this stuff in Canada education system. I am also ignorant (hence why I've been trying to learn and listen more) so ultimately I'm glad to have watched this. Artistically, the shots were all quite interesting and purposefully chosen.

Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! vol.1-2 by Yuu Toyota

The series was recommended by Kendra (though I suppose it might've been the live action tv show) so I decided to check it out at the library. It's pretty wholesome, cute, and guilty pleasure BL manga fluff hahahaha so no complaints!! I think Kurosawa's hidden train of thought is very similar to Austin's hahaha. The long-game persistent pining is strong with that one!

Witch Hat Atelier vol.7 by Kamome Shirahama

Ouuu more of Quifrey's background is revealed...! That part where he pulls down the hat...!!!!!! SO SNEAKY!!!

Today's music post: Sickboy by 카코포니(cacophony). I like the bond-esque drama in this song!

January media round-up

What my eyes saw Dec 2020/January 2021

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The Way of the House Husband 1-4 by Kousuke Oono (2019-ongoing)

This is a comic series about a legendary guy who quits yakuza to become a house husband. All the yakuza-adjacent men are very over the top and intense. Detailed well drawn funny extremely fast. It feels like a pity that it's so well drawn (nearly every panel has an amazingly detailed background that doesn't distract?!) but as a reader you move through the comedic panels so quickly that you don't really stop to appreciate the labour that goes into the visual part. The weird side cat comics were very amusing to me, haha. There's a part where there's a roach that climbs onto Miku's anime figure, and I felt that really hard.

The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole (2020)

I watched the CBC gem, a while back. I wasn't sure if the book was going to overlap the CBC gem documentary (?), but it doesn't. The CBC gem feels like it's exploring blackness and vulnerability in a different structure/timeline. The book itself is paced across a year in Toronto, presenting life stories about specific black individuals or communities in Canada. I appreciated more knowledge about policing and incarceration in schools and immigration system. It was written in a way that felt more personal and human. A succinct read that can be done in a few hours, but probably longer if you wanted to take notes and process and along the way. Ultimately I think reading this will help me develop a stronger opinion on several racial and judicial topics at a government level.

Witch Hat Atelier 1-6 by Kamome Shirahama (2019-ongoing)

A comic series about a girl who wants to become a witch! Ummmmmmm so cute wholesome beautiful relatable even if they're all children...I appreciate that these kids are feeling all their feels in a vulnerable and raw way and are allowed to do that without any adults hushing them. Also ridiculously beautiful drawn! I'll be following the series because there are many mysteries to be uncovered! I think this series would be great for many ages...

Redline (2009)

What an interesting animation...? I wasn't really into the actual plot or characters at all (there isn't much plot or depth), but it did some very interesting and exaggerated animation shots and angles. I've read that it's a case of animation for the sake of animation (there's a lot of happening on screen, everything moves!) so it is impressive, from a technical point of view, how much effort and attention to detail was put into the movie. The character designs were really something else, as in, many of the non-human races weren't conventionally attractive and took a while for my eyeballs to get used to. Some of them reminded me of Macross' Zentradi. IMO the movie itself was squarely male-gazey, which is simply not my cup of tea, though it could be fine for others. I'm a bit shocked at how it ended (that font!) since I thought it was a ending that the in-movie broadcasting system made, but it was...not haha.

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (2018)

A memoir by Austin Channing Brown, a black woman who was given the name Austin for both familial reasons and broader systemic ones. I knew I was in for a good ride when the first chapter was titled "White people are exhausting" haha. Although the author calls out whiteness prominently in the book, I felt that it was also essential for non-black POC like myself to check on their own anti-black biases and behaviours. The book has many truth bombs that were familiar and validating to me (from my own observations and experiences with white people). There was an element of whiteness in faith and christian institutions that I didn't come across as prominently in some of my other readings, so it was interesting to learn about that perspective as. I have personally (but differently) felt oppression or injustice in organizations and have been "reprimanded" for speaking out about it. The tiredness and hopelessness is likely a universal feeling for many BIPOC, but I did find comfort in her description of living and loving in the shadow of hope—still engaging and showing up for justice, even when you have no idea if what you're doing is going to make a difference (i.e., keep working in the dark).

Doing nothing was no longer an option for me.

I finished reading the memoir in about 4 hours in one sitting, so topic aside, it was written very clearly and easy to move through the book at steady and interested pace!

Yakuza 3 and 4 (remastered, 2019-2020)

I blitzed through the plot in 4 days on easy mode. I only play easy mode. It was the first time I played with a gamepad (thanks Bea) so it took a lot of adjustment. I still can't click the right buttons to activate the correct moves because I don't have that muscle memory. I still play karaoke with keyboard because it's easier! I honestly don't know how people can play the series without starting from the beginning, since there is a lot of lore that you miss out on without the prior story (or substory) context.

There could be some vague spoilers below, so read at your own risk...

After playing more of these games I've come to notice the patterns in plot and fights, hahaha Naked men, rooftops, simultaneous matching punches/kicks/jumps, deception and betrayal, crying, conveniently timed yet selective gun shots, attempts to redeem bad guys, turning your back on the enemy and getting literally backstabbed, etc. All of these games need more MAJIMA GORO.

Yakuza 3

There was a literal and figurative "cop out" at the very beginning that was very disappointing, but I enjoyed the rest of the plot. I cried soooooo much, especially because of all the orphanage-related kid feelings (so raw!). The beginning is very much like a "dad" simulator, hehe. I spent a lot of time taking care of my kids. Tamashiro is the worst and I hate him!! I could've gotten more into Mine if he had more air time. The American's voice actor and pronunciation of "roof" as "ruff" was peculiar, as well as why anyone would tell a stranger that they have "beautiful eyes" when you just shot someone they knew?

Yakuza 4

I don't think I cried at all in Y4, but it felt like a longer game because of the rotation of playable characters. Akimiya's legs are so fast...I also feel like he is maybe the only one that really uses his brain, while Saejima and Kiryu have more bushido and gokudo-esque sense of "righteousness" which often results in brawn over brains. There was something about the distance between Tanimura's eyeballs that bothered me; he and Kiryu look more fake to me than Saejima and Akimiya! I wasn't convinced I could forgive Hamazaki after Y3 but he did the team a solid. I discovered that Katsuragi more or less is a Japanese-looking version of Lunge from Monster. Y4 resolves/brings together a lot of plot from Y0 and Kiwami 1-2. I thought Saejima's plot was the most interesting because of the historical nature of his story. I really despised the prison warden!

What's coming up next?

I have to slow down on reading/watching since I want to "finish" the HWAnimation snow scene in the next few months.

I began mirroring posts from this freetalk, onto Pillowfort, but Pillowfort is down for a while! Thank goodness I have my own space...

Today's music post: Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar) by Flying Lotus.