The Real Neat Blog Award – Nominated by Lynn Sheridan

Real Neat Blog Award

I’d like to thank Lynn Sheridan for his kind nomination. Now, I do have another one of these award nominations to respond to but I will tackle that in a separate post, probably next week. For now, I’m going to get on with this response and hopefully you will all have some fun reading my answers.

The Rules:

  1. Display the Award Logo.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 7-10 bloggers.
  5. Ask them seven questions.

The Questions:

Here’s the setup. You’ve just received a letter in the post. I know, how old fashioned. Anyhow, the letter tells you that you’ve won a massive prize. It is a rent-free house/apartment of your choice for life, but before claiming your prize you must make some choices. Remember these decisions are for life too. There are no take backs.

01. You will need three anime roommates. Who are they?

Okay, I’m definitely going to want someone who is quiet but independent and functional. Preferably someone who will cook for themselves and generally not be in the way. Choice number one is Shizuku Mizutani from My Little Monster.

Shizuku Mizutani

Second choice is going to need to be the people person. You know, the one who answers the door and deals with telemarketers in a way that doesn’t lead to the phone being strapped to the speakers and blasting the person on the other end. For the Mr Everybody I’m definitely choosing Kazehaya Shouta from Kimi ni Todoke.

Kimi ni Todoke - Kazehaya and Sawako

Lastly, I’m going to want someone in the house who will inspire me and push me to want to do more than I am. Okay, there’s probably plenty of other reasons for this choice, but I’m so taking Victor Nikiforov as roomate number 3.

Yuri on Ice Episode 5

02. You can have one anime pet. What is it?

Easy question. Nyanko-Sensei from Natsume Yuujinchou. Who wouldn’t choose him?

Nyanko Sensei

03. You can have an anime vehicle to get around with. Which one?

You know, I think I’m just going to stick with walking and public transport (I’m assuming I am in Japan and public transport is an option.

04. You will receive an anime robot to help around the house. Who is it?

I’m going to pick Chamber from Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (that would also take care of a lot of the transport issues as well).

Chamber

05. You will receive a new wardrobe. Which anime character will you dress like?

If I had to pick an anime character to dress like for forever, I’d have to go with Madame Red from Black Butler. Not practical, but that woman had some style.

Black Butler

06. For protection, you can select any anime weapon or ability. Which one?

Totally picking Kuroko Shirai’s teleportation from Index/Railgun.

07. And lastly. You can have your house/apartment in any anime world. Which one?

And yeah, I’m going with Aincrad (after the game was cleared and it isn’t trying to permanently kill its visitors). I’d love a house right next to the lake where Kirito and Asuna set up house. Beautiful.

The Nominations:

As always, there is no obligation. Thanks for being awesome.

My Hero Academia Episode 56 - Celebrations

My Questions:

  1. We’ve just made this an official award’s ceremony. What are you going to wear?
  2. What vehicle will you rock up in?
  3. And who is accompanying you?
  4. Who would you like to present you with your award?
  5. When you accept your award, who do you thank in your speech?
  6. After you have received your award you decide you want to give a message to the audience, what is it?
  7. Finally, after the ceremony is over where do you go for your after party?

And that is it for the post. Hopefully you enjoyed reading my responses and I will get on to the other post for next week sooner rather than later. Thanks again, Lynn for the nomination.

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Karandi James
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What Happens When Our Skeleton Bookseller Leaves the Bookshop?

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San Episode Review Title Image

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San Episodes 6 + 7 Review

Episodes 6 and 7 of Skull Face Book Seller Honda San don’t really deliver anything new in the way of material. We do get a look at some of the more behind the scenes people who keep the bookstores stocked and we also get to accompany Honda San as he goes to a drinking party and is forced to listen to criticism of his own work, but basically this is business as usual for this anime short.

Skull Face Bookseller honda San Episode 6
As a customer who is incredibly shy when in bookstores, I completely agree with this statement.

And why shouldn’t it be? The formula works as we are introduced to the set up and then we see the characters run about doing their jobs with ridiculously overblown reactions before the segment ends and a new one begins. While it doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression, it remains amusing enough.

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San Episode 6

Though, I think a lot of people are definitely just in this for the game of spot the reference that never seems to get old. Episode six certainly liberally peppered in titles that you’ll probably recognise in amongst the store talk.

Skull Face Bookseller Honda San Episode 7

There is one thing that this show absolutely nails every time though; and that is a deep love of books. Multiple times throughout the episodes Honda or another character reminds us that some people just love books. Just finding a book you’ve been looking for can bring a happy smile to your face and holding it in your hands can be the best moment, at least for a little while. It is very hard to dismiss an anime that really does understand people who like books.

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Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda San (Anime)Intro/Outro ThemesGaikotsu Shotenin Honda San (Anime) Intro/Outro Themes: ISBN - Inner Sound & Book's Narrative- / Book-end, Happy-end

Tuesday’s Top 5: Disappointments 2018

More Top 5 lists for 2018 and now we’re diving into shows that I, for whatever reason, had some kind of expectations of and for whatever reason they left me feeling a little disappointed. I started this sort of list in 2016 where Kiznaiver took my top spot and did my second list in 2017 where Sword Oratoria swept the floor (that one actually hurt a lot) and I’ve been wondering which titles would end up on the list in 2018 because there have been a number of shows I really was looking forward to this year.

Now, as always, this is a personal list. These are shows I started watching and I had expectations for them that they didn’t quite meet. In some cases, they are actually still reasonable anime in their own way, but they didn’t end up being as good as I hoped.

So, without further delay let us get into the shows that decide to crush my hopes under heel in 2018 and then I’d love to know what shows ended up disappointing you this year. What did you wait for with baited breath only to have the wind knocked out of your sails (and there is a mixed metaphor and a half)?

Please Note – Potential spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Devils’ Line and Record of Grancrest War

Number 5: My Hero Academia Season 3

And yes, I know My Hero Academia season 3 is actually not a bad anime. I am well aware of that. However, season 2 was an amazing season. It kept me thrilled from start to finish even though it had a tournament arc for half its run time (which normally is something I can’t stand). Season 2 worked and blew me away and cemented a real fondness for this show inside of me. And then season 3 happened. It wasn’t bad, but a lot of the thrill and fun seemed to be missing as things came across more than a little flat. Season 3 had its moments. Certainly All Might’s final fight was one of the truly epic moments of any shounen anime (I say with authority despite not watching a lot of them). But looking at the season as a whole, there were definitely more episodes I walked away from wanting more and that’s why I’ve given My Hero Academia my number 5 spot on the list for disappointments.

Number 4: Junji Ito Collection

Maybe it is just that horror doesn’t translate very well from the manga to the screen, but really this one was talked up a lot and I even checked out a lot of the art behind some of these stories online before hand and I was really kind looking forward to a solid horror anime (something we get so few of). Instead I got a fairly weak viewing experience with a few oddities, a little bit of eye-brow raising, and a few grotesque moments, but nothing that really managed to hit me with a major horror vibe. It was all just a little ordinary to be honest and while some of the concepts were cool, the execution was lacking. This one gains a place simply because it is a genre I love, there was so much hype about the source, and ultimately it just didn’t deliver much of anything.

Number 3: Devilman Crybaby

Maybe it was just that the internet exploded with hype after the release of this one, and maybe it was because again the source was fairly well spoken of, but this Netflix release really underwhelmed. It wasn’t strictly speaking bad, but at the same time, after watching it I ended up fairly indifferent to it. I get that it was over the top violence and sex and the conclusion they were aiming for, it all works in its own way, but I just didn’t feel it. The characters weren’t developed enough and I felt like the show spent too long trying to tell me things that I was meant to be feeling rather than giving me a reason to believe they were true. Basically I ended up thinking ‘is that it’ rather than being blown away by this one and that’s probably a good reason why I shouldn’t pay attention to internet hype.

Number 2: Angels of Death

Really, this one shouldn’t be too much of a shocker. Again, fans of the source really talked this one right up and then it kind of went splat. It wasn’t the obvious game dialogue, the shifting tone, the characterisation that didn’t sit right or even the plot that just didn’t seem to be connecting that ended up killing this for me. Nope, what killed it was that episode one promised me one tone and idea and then it was all taken away and replaced by other elements that were nowhere near as good. What had been intriguing in episode one evaporated leaving me with only elements that bored and even the fans of the source seemed to go quiet once the anime started rolling out so I guess a lot of people found the adaptation a little less than amazing (that said I do know a number of people who made it through this one, well done). Also, another fine example of why I shouldn’t listen to internet hype because I might have low-key enjoyed this if I had gone in expecting nothing.

Number 1: SAO Alternative: Gun Gale online

This one should be no surprise to people who have followed my posts. I love SAO. I really do. I was a little wary when I found out this spin-off was going to be set in GGO, my least favourite of the SAO worlds. Then I started it and met the characters and discovered the lack of anything resembling a forward moving plot. While I appreciate there’s an audience for pink bunny girls with guns playing a game in a kind of slice of life style thing with a story slowly developing in the background but four episodes in I was bored, still didn’t know where it was going, and didn’t really have any reason to watch. SAO Alternative went the way of Sword Oratoria in 2017. A spin-off for a show I loved that just missed everything about the original that I loved.

And that is my list done but next week I’ll turn it around and look at the shows that caught me by surprise. Where my expectations were zero and I ended up having a great time. In the meantime, remember to let me know in the comments which shows left you disappointed in 2018?


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Karandi James

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TALES OF BERSERIA ILLUSTRATIONS

How To Build Strong Camaraderie By Facing Adversity

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 5 Review

The training camp is on but the boys are fairly annoyed to discover that their ‘servant’ duties, having lost the match last week, pretty much exclude them from actually training. That’s okay. Because like with most sport based anime, they aren’t just getting better at sport, we’re making better people, or in this case a better team.

Tsurune Episode 5 Nanao
This is fairly sensible advice.

I was actually a little put out in the second half of the episode where Masaki’s brother pointed out how ‘close’ the boys had gotten and used his photos from the camp so far to demonstrate the point. It seemed really unnecessary given the visuals throughout the episode had already driven that point home as the space between characters visibly shrank and they began actually looking at each other when they spoke. It just seemed a little heavy handed to then have a side-character draw attention to something that had served its purpose well on its own and felt a bit like they were worried that maybe the audience would miss the point (which seems really unlikely).

Tsurune Episode 5 Team barbecue

Though if I’m going to start nit-picking at this show for being heavy handed that’s probably going to be the kiss-of-death because Tsurune is unashamed of what it is and makes no attempts to break the mould. It focuses instead on giving us a well paced and visually stunning sports focused slice of life with characters who are slowly revealing themselves to the audience. In this it succeeds admirably but there’s nothing much subtle about what it is doing.

Tsurune Episode 5 Masaki

Still, there’s a genuine delight when you see the boys coming together. From their united displeasure at realising they won’t going to have time to train, to their argument over pork or beef at the supermarket, to the amusing hat rescue sequence, and then traditional bath sequence and barbecue, every scene builds up a sense of camaraderie between these previously fairly detached characters.

Tsurune Episode 5 Minato and Onogi

And of course, there are clearly some further details about Minato that have yet to be revealed. Any anime character with a scar that large has some angsty story. We kind of already know that Minato has an angsty backstory but the details are still pretty vague.

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Karandi James
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KUROKO’S BASKETBALL: RYOTA KISE SPECIAL BOXNENDOROID NO. 1032 KUROKO'S BASKETBALL: RYOTA KISE SPECIAL BOX

Victory For Power of Friendship; Complete Loss For Originality

Release the Spyce Episode Review Title

Release the Spyce Episodes 6 + 7 Review

Right, we can skip right to the end of this and just say, “Power of friendship, yada, yada ending”. Yeah, I don’t have high hopes for Release the Spyce anymore but I kind of want a little more out of a story about teenage spies than a mentor telling her student she’s wonderful being enough to snap her out of a drug induced rampage. After two episodes of eye-roll worthy moments, that one just capped the entire thing and left quite the sour taste in my mouth.

Release the Spyce Episode 6

Now in case you think I’m just jaded and mean, both of which might be true to a point, I will point out that I do not mind anime that pull the power of friendship card for a finale, particularly when it has been a well developed theme with characters who have overcome enough obstacles and rallied together enough that it feels earned. Sailor Moon season 1 is an awesome example and I will never fault that ending where Serena calls on the power of her most likely dead friends to defeat Beryl.

Sailor Moon 1990's Serena and Rei
They are good friends, you know it.

Yet here it doesn’t feel earned, it doesn’t feel rewarding, it doesn’t even make sense. I get that the whole way along the argument is that Aoba’s thing is she makes friends with whoever she decides to. The backstory with Teresia, her reaching out to Teresia even knowing she was likely spying on the spies, and all of the other characters endlessly telling the audience how nice she is and how persistently she pursues friendship, kind of hit us over the head with this idea that Aoba makes friends.

Release the Spyce Episode 6

Does that make it any more likely that she was going to succeed in hugging it out with someone who was drugged and crazed? Does it feel like she earned that happy ending when we’ve actually seen little of her friendship making abilities and simply been batted over the head with them for the duration of two episodes? I’m going to say no.

This feels very much like the same issue I had with Devilman Crybaby, in that the story endlessly felt the need to tell me how compassionate and kind the main character was and yet the never showed anything other than him occasionally crying to make that feel true. Though here it is worse because at least that show gave the one character a whole season to develop whereas here we have a character trying to present herself and resolve a crisis in two episodes because it’s an ensemble cast and they all need their moment to underwhelm us.

Release the Spyce Episode 7

Release the Spyce is at its best when it actually gets on with the spy training and shenanigans. It is at its worst every time it tries for one of these after school special moments between student and mentor. Other viewers may disagree and quite enjoy these ‘touching’ moments, but for me they simply feel cheap and I’m just not that interested.

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Karandi James
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RELEASE THE SPYCE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACKRELEASE THE SPYCE (TV ANIME) ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Caligula Series Review: Virtual Reality is Cool – Do You Really Need Plot?

Caligula Episode 5

Caligula Series Review

Caligula has the distinct honour (dishonour) or being the anime I watched this year that I just cannot find any merit in having sat through it. That isn’t to say that there aren’t a few good moments scattered throughout the 12 episodes, but I will admit that I was definitely breathing a sigh of relief as that final episode ended because it meant it was all over.

Caligula Episode 5

I think what frustrated me with this show was that I very much went into it wanting to like it. Virtual world with people trapped inside is a formula that’s been done more or less to death at this point but I’m a fan of a lot of these types of stories so that wasn’t a problem. There were cool character designs, some interesting music, and the basic idea of an AI wanting to make people happy and failing at it miserably all could have been interesting.

Caligula Episode 11

Even if the plot had just kind of dribbled along as it did, if the characters had been compelling or if they’d actually gotten into any of the ideas of whether living in the virtual world was real or not, or looked at the Musicians (the villains) and their motives with any kind of depth or desire to really explore the human condition, I still might have  really enjoyed this. Unfortunately, each episode I walked away and just kind of felt the entire thing was a little bit (okay a lot) juvenile.

Caligula Episode 9

Massacres and emotional releases/revelations are littered throughout the episodes of this series but none of them are ever given any weight. It is more that the writers seemed to get bored with all the talk and endless snack eating and so suddenly dropped one of these scenes in. The powers the kids unlock within themselves look cool but are poorly explained and ultimately serve little purpose. And given we’re almost at the end of the series before the characters decide to reintroduce themselves to one another (I guess they realised no one in the audience had a clue who these characters were or why we should care about them) it becomes really apparent that the characterisation and writing in this anime just aren’t up to scratch.

Caligula Episode 10

Now, I know some viewers had fun watching this. And I guess if you just want to go along for the ride there are some flashy fights, the music is pretty great (the one thing I won’t criticise), and it does in fact resolve at the end even if that resolution makes no sense. But for me, this is the anime I wish I had walked away from this year. It just didn’t do anything for me in the end except make me think about how much better it might have been.

I’m not going to drag this out anymore. I just didn’t like this anime. I never connected with a single character, the plot at first kind of meandered giving us glimpses at some possibly half-decent discussion about psychology and the like and then it derailed itself and just kind of blew stuff up for awhile before it got to some kind of ending, and so many of the ideas it presented just never went anywhere. Part of me really wishes that maybe this will get another anime one day just to tell the story with less clutter. In the meantime, I’m clearly not recommending this one. There are plenty of better anime out there.

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Karandi James

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CALIGULA: OVERDOSE [LIMITED EDITION] (CHINESE & ENGLISH)
CALIGULA: OVERDOSE [LIMITED EDITION] (CHINESE & ENGLISH)

The Sword, The Confession, and the Betrayal

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode Review Title Image

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episodes 6 + 7 Review

I’m almost glad for these two episodes. Mostly, because as Ning says to Yin during episode 6, she’s more or less tired of hearing the same argument over and over.

Now Zhao makes no sense as a character. Okay, superficially he does but his whole desire for power from the people who destroyed his home doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Nor does his expecting that Yin is just going to go with him. And if he honestly thinks being friends with the Empress will keep him alive and in power he clearly hasn’t been paying all that much attention given quite clearly people fall out of power as quickly as they gain it.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 7 Zhao and Yin

But I’m getting this all out of order. The group of rebels Yin and Ning have hooked up with formally invite them to rebel and of course Ning is ready to go and Yin is a wet-blanket. This leads to a touching sisterly moment where Ning finally admits she lied to Yin about Zhao wanting to see her at the dance but Ning keeps to herself the whole part where apparently Yin is some reincarnated soul with a destiny – what can we say, sisters?

Almost immediately after this, they are rafting down a river to join up with some other rebels when Zhao’s squad of really creepy contraptions attacks them. The trio are reunited, end up taking a swim, and Yin and Zhao kind of have a heart to heart while in their undergarments sitting by a fire with Ning knocked out and recovering.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 7 Yin, Ning and Zhao

This is of course after we’ve seen Zhao making happy plans with the empress to build a grave for these two and the villagers for most of the two episodes. Now he’s insisting Yin come back with him because he has power and for some weird reason he doesn’t understand why she might object. Ning on the other hand, knows exactly what she’s always wanted and when Yin doesn’t take Zhao’s hand, Yin is right there and ready to go.

It is almost as if Yin cursed herself when she hugged Ning in episode 6 and said they would be together forever. She should just be happy it wasn’t actually a death flag she raised.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 6 Yin and Ning

Anyway, Xuan Yuan remains an interesting watch though it is riddled with issues. I can’t actually imagine this having a happy ending so I’m preparing to watch all the characters die tragically. If anyone ends up surviving that would just be a happy surprise at this point.

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Karandi James
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XUAN-YUAN SWORD: THE GATE OF FIRMAMENT 	XUAN-YUAN SWORD: THE GATE OF FIRMAMENT (ENGLISH & CHINESE SUBS)

The Jealous Girl’s Resolve In The Face of Love – Excerpt

Bloom Into You Episode Review Title

Bloom Into You Episodes 6 + 7 Review

In the face of fear and the unreasonable forces of love, there really isn’t any rhyme or reason. During episodes 6 and 7 of Bloom Into You, all of our characters are struggling with keeping secrets from one another, holding back words that they believe should not or cannot be said, and also dealing with other characters who act in a way that runs contrary to their expectations. It all creates an easy kind of drama that is all to familiar for anyone who has ever second guessed themselves, made an assumption that turned out to be wrong, or just sat on the fence, indecisive and unable to move…

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Karandi James

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BLOOM INTO YOU LARGE TOTE BAG NATURAL
BLOOM INTO YOU LARGE TOTE BAG NATURAL

In Case You Missed It

Right, so you may have noticed a slight dip in post output last week. To be honest, after the ridiculously long weekend I had with travel and then the craziness of work, I made the mentally sound decision to deliberately cut back on my blogging commitment for the week. Now that means I will be playing catch up with some seasonal anime, but I think I it was probably the best option for me last week. It also follows that there are a few less links this week as I wasn’t as frequently visiting other blogs as I would have liked, but hopefully the posts I did find and have featured here are ones you will enjoy reading, if you missed them.

vash

Negative Primes from Curiously Dead Cat has a fascinating post this week focusing on Voice of Fox and the character of Hu Li. Now, I know this is a short anime with only thirteen minute episodes and is also heavily focused on a reality TV style singing contest, and yet it has actually been a surprisingly good watch so far this season. This post by Curiously Dead Cat looks at some of the depth in Hu Li’s character and it is a fantastic read.

Peach’s Almanac looks at Goblin Slayer and the general morality of it as a piece of media and the morality and values of goblins which is a question that hasn’t been raised often enough in all the discussion around ‘that’ scene. it’s an interesting perspective on the reactions and discussions surrounding the early episodes of Goblin Slayer and benefits from being able to look back on the outcry now that is more or less done.

Irina’s got a beautiful write up on Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, one of those shows that ended up fairly underwatched and underrated when it aired but is actually a fairly awesome anime (provided the violence doesn’t get under your skin). Anyway, Irina does a pretty solid job of selling the characters and the plot without giving all that much away, so this is a review that is very much worth checking out if you are on the fence about watching it. Or you can check out my review of it because I absolutely loved the show.

Speaking of Hakata Tokotsu Ramens (it must have been the week for it), Rodrovich gave us a post explaining that Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is entertaining but… and that but is pretty important. While I don’t necessarily agree with their assessment of the characters, they point out the major glaring flaw of the show that there is just not real covering up and it is a fair point. So if you would like a different take on the anime, this post is for you.

Artemis from Otaku Lounge is looking at female directors in anime bringing us a list of ten to look out for (this is a follow up from a previous list she had done). She provides some great information about each entry including work they’ve done prior to directing and the anime they’ve been involved with. Informative and interesting post that was definitely fun to read.

Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews has something decidedly non-mechanical on his review list as he takes a closer look at Natsume Yuujinchou. Now, a whole bunch of us did a collab on the themes of this fairly recently and those posts are linked to this one, but Scott is now taking the time to look at the show as a whole. This one is well worth reading and the anime is well worth watching if you still haven’t given it a go.

A very late entry but I absolutely had to include it from Kawaii Paper Pandas. They took a random search term I posted on Twitter mostly for a laugh and wrote a fantastic blog post around the idea. So, if you missed this post yesterday, check out “Which Sailor Moon Villain Would You Date“. I also hear that a collaboration is being planned around this topic so that’s kind of nice to know that something I found utterly random has inspired others. I definitely think we need to make that a weekly thing where we just throw the most random search that found our blog that week onto twitter. I guess you never know what might come of it.

Pick of the Week

Atelier Emily has taken the plunge and examined the language of flowers in Bloom Into You‘s opening sequence. This is the second post that I’m linking to that focuses on the protagonists and the flowers associated with them but the post links to the first one in the opening paragraph if you are interested in the flowers associated with the other characters in the opening. This is a fantastically detailed post that really looks at the meaning behind all those flowers and how it might be linked to the characters and I just had great fun reading it. Be sure to check it out if you missed it this week.

My Stuff

And that was my week, in case you missed it.


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Karandi James

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NENDOROID NO. 1028 RELEASE THE SPYCE: MOMO MINAMOTO