Ran to Haiiro no Sekai

rantohaiironosekaiI have never encountered something so familiar and yet so refreshing as the manga by Aki Irie called Ran to Haiiro no Sekai. Something about it was just so magical that my stumbling upon it could have been considered the happenings of a spell of some sorts.  It’s a whimsical tale of a girl who only wishes to be a grownup. The thing is, with the right pair of sneakers, she can do just that.

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The titular character Ran is actually a witch, though her blossoming powers as a young girl are probably a bit to much for her to handle at such a young age. Well, it’s probably more along the lines that she lacks the wisdom and discipline to make the right decisions. She’s a rash, tomboyish girl with a whole heck of a lot of spunk and it causes her a fair amount of trouble as a result. However, we wouldn’t have a story without her now would we?

While Ran is certainly the life of the party in Ran to Haiiro no Sekai (as she should be) the secondary characters are no pushovers. First off we have Ran’s family, which consists of her beastly but gentle brother, her tactful yet wishy washy father, and her all powerful sorceress of  a mother. Yes, it’s quite the lively family, and with the depths of all their personalities it’s a surprise that they all mesh well. Her parents are a simply a hoot, as their love for one another rivals the all too recent Hinako and Mamedai from Tamako Market and they’re both still alive, which is a plus.

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They win in my book.

The great relationships that this manga contains doesn’t end with the parents. Oh no, we also have her brother and a hand maid of Shizuka’s (Ran’s mother) named Sango, and Ran herself has the eyes of two men locked on her for better or worse. Relationships, both familial and romantic are perhaps the heart of the story, but at the same time they aren’t the focus. The conflict, while still in the early stages of development, deals with the giant door that’s steadily letting in these evil insects (like any of them are good, well, except ladybugs) that can potentially destroy humanity, but it’s still in quite the early stages at the moment and it may turn out that these insects are just the beginning

Ran's BAMF of a brother, I couldn't not show him.

Ran’s BAMF of a brother, I couldn’t not show him.

Now, I couldn’t possibly go through the post without mention the art style. If something like Oyasumi Pun Pun is something so real looking that it ends up being magical, then Ran to Haiiro no Sekai is like magical magicalism (roll with me for a second). We can see in the lively and expressive character designs and the detailed scenery every singly line Aki Irie used to bring them to life. Reading this manga almost feels as if we’re watching her draw every line right in front of us and I love that feeling.

What really impressed me though, was while reading this manga it felt as if I wasn’t specifically reading a manga but just a really good comic. Certain parts had a distinct western feel to them (though it could have been that I was listening to Ventura Highway at the time) that made this story, to me, transcend the boundaries of it’s genre into something just completely enjoyable. While it’s art can still be pin-pointed as specifically manga (it even looks old style, with the pointy faces and flamboyantness of the designs) there’s something that just screams, “I am a comic meant to be read and enjoyed.”

Random Stuff

  • I can’t really begin to explain how much of a pleasure it was to read this. Simply pure good fun is what it is.
  • Tomorrow (or today actually, looking at what time it is) I am hoping to go  to the screening of Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki at MIT in Massachusetts. Not only is it free but the director Mamoru Hosoda is doing a Q&A afterwards. The thing is I’m terrified of driving in Boston alone, so the only way I’ll probably go is if I can convince my mother to go with me (My brother’s in Florida the lucky bastard). She’s not one to watch anime, she’s told me on several occasions she’s not a fan for whatever reason, but I think she’ll enjoy this movie.
Posted in Art, Manga | Tagged | 22 Comments

The Story behind the Story (Tamako Market 9)

What I wouldn't give to see a show about these two. Take my money!

What I wouldn’t give to see a show about these two. Take my money! (I’d throw in extra if their friends got paired off too)

At long last we are treated to a glimpse of the past in episode nine of Tamako Market. It was short and yet very sweet and gave just enough for me to come away from this episode satisfied with the conclusion of this particular plot thread. It is a touching vignette that could quite possibly be a story all it’s own, and you could bet money that I’d love every minute of it.

So, Tamako’s mother and father were high school sweethearts, awkward ones at that but it’s what makes them special. It’d take quite the amount of effort to ignore their glaringly blatant cuteness and overall perfectness for each other, but just in case you missed it, the product of their love can be found perfectly in Tamako and Anko.

However, I personally found it hard to ignore that small inkling of depression coming from Mamedai. It’s no secret that he misses her a lot. Simply imagine him listening to Tamako hum the song he wrote for Hinako, reminding him of the day he sang it to the one he loved, and that his wife isn’t here to watch her daughters grow up and witness just how much they resemble her. It’s awfully bittersweet, but that’s what makes it poignant.

Can you say "d'aawwwww"

Can you say “d’aawwwww”

And then there’s these two.  If Hinako was anywhere near as dense as her daughter, then the only way Mochizou is going to get through to Tamako is probably to belt out a song himself (unless, of course, our dense female lead somehow thought it was for someone else). It be nice if Mochizou picked up a few clues from his soon to be father-in-law, considering how much Tamako adores her dad. Like mother like daughter after all, she isn’t going to be an easy catch, especially if you have Midori on your tail.

Random Stuff

  • Can you imagine what Mochizou would be like when and if Tamako accepts to being his girlfriend? If he was crying from her remembering his birthday, he’d probably go into cardiac arrest or something.
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You on a Diet (Tamako Market 8)

Now that's just cruel.

Now that’s just cruel.

Another week and another Tamako Market pass by. In some way that’s a good thing, but for poor Dera it means less food. I’m not one to judge, my favorite part of the day (besides the time where I watch anime/play addicting video games) is mostly likely lunch. It’s that time around two (or four or one depending on the day, damn you  school!) where I sit down to have the best thing man kind has invented, the turkey sandwich. There are days where I actually have it for both lunch and dinner but nevertheless, I enjoy every single bite (well, unless it’s honey smoked turkey, I’m not a big fan of that version).

To me a turkey sandwich is a bit of a comfort food. It’s something that tastes good and my rather troublesome stomach deems it far worthy enough not to cause problems. To Dera, mochi is probably like that for him and not being able to eat it would probably be quite terrible. Having people eat it in front of me would be pure torture.

I'd probably look something like this.

I’d probably look something like this.

Food talk aside, the plot looks like it was put on hold for the time being. The revelation of last weeks episode of Tamako being ‘the one’ was glanced over in favor of Dera’s diet problems (oh the nostalgia). We’ve got about four episodes to go and it looks like we might actually see the prince in person soon. Will Kyoani go for a twist and pull the carpet from underneath us, or will the Prince join the other unlucky candidates vying for Tamako’s heart?

Random Stuff

  • I’ve been meaning to do some manga posts since I’ve been reading quite a few good ones lately but with midterms this week, those will have to wait until next week when I’m out for spring break. 
  • I’ve been playing Studio Ghibli’s Ni No Kuni lately. While it’s fun at times, there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on that’s keeping me from really enjoying it….
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What is and what is not (Tamako Market 6,7)

I was rooting for you! *cries hysterically*

I was rooting for you! *cries hysterically*

First off sorry for missing a week. Not only did I have my first exam, but I found that there wasn’t much to talk about in episode six (other than, how is a haunted house full of cute girls scary, I mean what is that even suppose to be anyway?). Episode seven on the other hand… Where do I start?

Back in episode two I was already rooting for Tomio and Sayuri. As a matter of fact, I had no doubt in my mind that they would eventually end up together. After this is Kyoani we’re talking about, the Feel Good King of Kings, done by the “happy ending is my middle name” group that gave birth to K-on. The way how we glimpsed Tomio’s feelings throughout the coming episodes only further fueled my thoughts that he was eventually going to get his happy ending. Even when Sayuri mentioned marriage my brain rewired it to mean that she was looking for that person to speak up and let their feelings be known. Realization hit me, though, when poor Tomio offered that small apologetic smile to Chio and said “Thank You (for making the person I love happy).”

Honestly I was taken aback for a moment, simply because no where in my mind had I contemplated the fact that these two young people might not eventually get together. Failure was not an option in my mind, I guess, but while I am somewhat more depressed about this then I should be (I mean they are only secondary characters), this bittersweet feeling I had after watching this episode made this episode so much more potent.

I feel bad for poor Tomio, but in reality he was passive, an admirer and wallflower that never took action and as a result he had the person he loved taken from him (not that he probably ever had her to begin with). It’s his own fault but the sad thing is that he in some way realizes that. All those things that could have been now become, “What if…”

Tamako Market - 07 - Large 11So, what does that say for our fortune teller, whose feelings were made obvious enough this episode? Compared to Tomio, she feels like there is no choice for her, there is no ‘what is’ only ‘what is not’ and that, depending on your view, is perhaps more damning than someone who had a chance but never took it. That’s not to say, however, that she does not have a choice. The status quo is simply and easy to follow, but the reward for taking a chance is that much greater. Is it then worth the risk if she were to fail? Trying though is better than simply watching.

Random Stuff

  • Uh ohhhh, It looks like Tamako’s going to dragged into some serious business… Midori, Mochizou, will you let the one you love be taken away from you? *dramatic music plays*
  • And oh my goodness, the new preview for Hal looks amazing. I’m going to love this movie. Not to mention Shinkai’s newest is quite the feast for the eyes. Is that Kana Hanazawa I hear? Yes, yes it is.
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That awkward moment when… (Tamako Market 5)

Tamako looks like she's all for a threesome...

Tamako looks like she’s all for a threesome…

Joking aside, what this episode boils down to is a love war between Mochizou and Midoru for Tamako’s heart. It’s treated in a comedic sort of way, with Midori stepping between Mochizou at every possible step. She even hurts poor Dera in the process but if you take a moment and step into her shoes, you’ll realize that Tamako is really the most important person to Midori.

Honestly, if this wasn’t a show directed by the same people who did the king of all happy go lucky shows (K-On if you didn’t catch my drift), and was a little bit more serious, Midori’s circumstances would not be a happy one. It would be like they squished Maria from Shin Sekai Yori and Moe from Tomodachi no Hanashi together and put her in a world where everything went against what she felt was love (recall that page I referenced from that manga not to long ago and what Maria said at the end of episode 18 of SSY? I see similarities….)

However, serious Tamako Market is not, well at least not in the sense I might want it. I just don’t want Midori’s feelings to be written off as something that has to due to her adolescence or as an object of titillation. The “she’s still young, she’ll figure out what true love is when she meets the man of her dreams.” Well, what if that person isn’t a man?

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The way she looks at Tamako….

As the episode pass, this romance subplot confuses me more and more because I can’t help but feel it won’t go anywhere. Mochizou is too passive, Midori is too scared, and Tamako is too dense. I feel like this will either go one of two ways. Either this subplot will continue to be used for drama/laughs and we as an audience will be left to wonder the possible outcome or two, Mochizou will succeed thanks to perseverance and and a bit of begrudging help from a mentally defeated Midori.

Prove me wrong Tamako, prove me wrong.

Random Stuff

  • After a little bit of work and a little bit more time, my copies of Ore Monogatari have finally come in the mail. I can read all of it thanks to the furigana, though understanding it is a different matter. My goal with Japanese is to be able to read untranslated manga and boy to I got my work cut out for me.
  • Also, I bought a 3DS just so I could play Fire Emblem. Thank you job! Now if only Bravely Default Flying Fairy was localized….
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Being in Love with Love (Tamako Market 4)

*dies from cuteness overload*

*dies from cuteness overload*

I don’t know if I’m the only one who noticed this, but every single episode so far of Tamako Market has had a romance subplot. I’m not complaining, romance is my staple after all. It’s something I wasn’t expecting but I am thrilled to see it handled in this way.

Like Tamako Market itself, the romance one finds within this show is lighthearted with an undertone of seriousness that makes it believable. Whether its poor Mochizou and his failed attempts at trying to get a somewhat dense Tamako to notice his feelings, Midori as she struggles to understand what exactly she’s going through, or the puppy love of Anko, these small budding relationships between these characters is what makes this show tick. Well, that and mochi.

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You’re lucky she’s dense, Midori. . . Then again, maybe not.

However, these romances are just subplots, one of the many strings running through this slice of life show about a girl from a shopping district.  Even at this point, with only the small mention of searching for her mother’s song, there really is no overarching plot tying Tamako Market together, besides perhaps keeping the shopping district afloat. It’s true to it’s slice of life roots, that’s for sure but that in no way takes away from what we watch on a weekly basis. The strength of slice of life anime takes root in it’s characters and then blossoms as we slowly paint the world around them.

Aria, an anime hailed for it’s slice of life aspects, does this masterfully. We get to know the characters, learn of their quirks and aspirations and then watch them grow based upon the world they inhabit. So, with the small amount of episodes Tamako Market has at its disposal (compared to Aria’s staggering 52), perhaps the best way we can learn more of these people who make up Tamako Market is through the relationships they have with others.

Random Stuff

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  • This is one fabulous max bird.
  • And oh my goodness, I think I just found my dream game: Fire Emblem Awakening. A game in which I can play matchmaker and never be disappointed. Too bad I still can’t play it yet.
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To be Shy or Not to be Shy, that is the Question (Tamako Market 3)

You're not suppose to catch the birdie. . .

You’re not suppose to catch the birdie. . .

I hate to get all internal and stuff on this subject (again for that matter), but it’s just one of those things that just nerves me. As somewhat of a prologue, I guess it’s a good idea to explain why I love Slice of life anime, and yes I’m bound to get emotional and sound somewhat pathetic.

I bet it’s not much of a stretch to believe that I was and probably still am an incredibly shy and introverted person. I wouldn’t say that it ruined my childhood or anything like that but one of the things I feel I missed out on as a result of my shyness was having true friends. Sure, I was an extremely polite kid, people could talk to me without problem (I actually had a few people come to me crying, I didn’t talk much so I was the perfect listener), but the same couldn’t be said for myself. I wasn’t friendless, but I was more of a wanderer. Every new year I would find someone new to fill the role of temporary ‘best friend’, but in the back of my head I just couldn’t stop thinking that I didn’t belong with them, that I was butting in somewhere I wasn’t welcomed.

As an outsider looking in, these three are damn near inapproachable (in my eyes anyway. Go Shiori go!

As an outsider looking in, these three are damn near inapproachable (in my eyes anyway). Go Shiori go!

So, long story short, my love for slice of life stems from the fact that it has what I lacked when I was in high school. It makes me wish that I had taken the initiative like Shiori to open up myself to others despite thinking that they may not value me as much as I did them. I may have found friends who would still be in my life today. I want to get to close to people but it makes me so damn anxious.

At the same time though, I have come to recognize that my introversion and shyness is a part of myself. I enjoy being alone most of the time, but for that 10% of the time I don’t I kind of wish I had a BF on speed dial.

Random Stuff

  • Found this interesting article on the types of shyness not to long ago. I figure I’m a  #4.
  • And poor Dera, he was denied love but he did help her out in the end. In the name of Love!

 

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