Tsurune Episode 14

More of the same but just a little different.

Well the boys are back in another episode of Tsurune. This one took me by surprise when it appeared out of the blue on the Crunchyroll line up, though I guess if I paid more attention to release announcements I’d have known it was coming. Still, an additional episode is fraught with potential to be trite, pandering, or just plain pointless and while there isn’t a lot of point here, one could arguably say that Tsurune has always been more about the journey than the destination.

Tsuruen Episode 14

One clear difference here is the sheer amount of focus on the rival team with the boys from both schools heavily interacting after an idol was supposed to be shot at Masaki’s temple. Still, where I originally groaned at the premise as I thought it would be a cheap excuse to have idols running around a show they have no real business being in, Tsurune once again proved that it knows how to stick with what it does best.

The outcome, the idol shooting at the temple, is more or less extraneous to the episode as the episode is about the interactions between the different boys from the two schools. Shu and Minato have both grown, but so have all the other characters, including the previously almost insufferable twins. The end result is a pleasant and calm viewing experience occasionally broken up by smaller comedic moments that have varying degrees of success. I did like the photo op of all the boys in servant shirts though.

Tsurune Episode 14 - Servant Shirts

As with most extra episodes, there’s not a lot of point if you haven’t watched the series. These interactions are only pleasurable if you have pre-existing knowledge of the group and where they’ve come from.

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I will say though that episode 14 is nowhere near as pretty as previous episode. The shooting isn’t accompanied by wind or leaves, the direction, while function, is fairly ordinary, and the sound track isn’t exactly doing much. While I really loved the aesthetics of the season, and while this works, it is just nowhere near the same level.

Okay, Masaki is still gorgeous.

Still, for those who watched and loved Tsurune this is an extra treat with an episode springing from nowhere to give us some more Kyudo fun.

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Karandi James
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Anniversary Special – Looking Back at The Third Year

Earlier in the week I celebrated my third anniversary for 100 Word Anime. For me, that was really exciting because each year I kind of feel like I’m learning more and figuring things out and I also feel like my posts are written a little better than they used to be. Okay, there’s still typos and the like, but I feel like my posts are a little clearer and more focused than they used to be (for the most part, there’s still the occasional ramble that gets through).

Today though I want to look at how the third year went on the blog and then set a few goals for the new year. If this is anything like previous years, other than the goal of ‘have a great time blogging’ I will probably fall short of most of these, but I’m still going to set them anyway. I love having something to work towards. Besides, I think as long as I keep kicking the goal of having fun I’m still coming out ahead.

2018 ended up being a very solid year for my blog. I wrote over 1000 posts and the number of comments and likes increased in general. of course, the length of my posts just keeps getting longer though I think I’ve kind of found the right length for my episode reviews so they don’t go on too long but also give enough information. Occasionally an episode needs more words and sometimes there just isn’t that much to say so I think it all kind of works out in the end.

April of 2019 is quite literally the only month since starting the blog that a post didn’t come out everyday. Even July last year where I took a mini-break still had one post a day scheduled for the week. And in terms of views, it is very clear that I wasn’t posting in April as it is one of the worst months I’ve had in the last two years. However, I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve managed to maintain daily posting for all but one month out of the last three years and I’m really happy with the growth my blog has had.

Yes, April was a disaster.

Still, over the last 12 months I’ve had 4 months where I hit the target, or exceeded it, of 10,000 views in the month, so that goal was well and truly smashed and I can not express how excited that made me. I know it is just a number but it just kind of made me feel like I really can build this blog into something more sustainable long term.

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But now we need to set some goals.

Number One: Continue to have fun with the blog and anime.

This goal is pretty self-explanatory and is pretty much the same as every other year.

Number Two: I’m going to tentatively set a goal of 20,000 views in a month. It will probably be a couple of years before I hit that, but it still seems like a nice target.

While I get views aren’t everything, realistically, the more people who visit or follow my site, the more chance there is of generating revenue through either ads, affiliate links, donations, or people choosing to become patrons and supporting the site. I’m very grateful to those who have financially supported the blog over the last year and this financial year at least the blog is on track to have earned enough to cover all blog related expenses.

Run With The Wind Episode 16

Number Three: Learn more about social media.

Over the last six months I’ve been reading a whole range of websites and guides about how to effectively use social media and while I just don’t have the time to put a lot of the advice into practice, I’ve been working on Twitter at least to build up the number of people who actually follow links back to my blog and that has worked fairly well (let’s not talk about April though). I’d like to continue to explore ways to use various social media sites to bring visitors to my blog and just learn more about what I could be doing.

Number Four: This one is a very tentative goal, but I think I’m at the point where I need to expand beyond being a solo-blogger and need to look at bringing in some other writers to the site.

Over the last six months I’ve really been thinking about what I can do to improve and increase content and broaden the range of content on offer to readers but the reality is I’m doing as much as I can already. In order to do any more I am going to need to look at having other contributors in one form or another. This one is tricky because clearly the blog isn’t earning enough to pay anyone decently for their contribution, yet, and also because I do not want to lose what makes my site what it is so I have no intention of just opening the doors or rushing to expand at the expense of what I love about my blog.

Still, the first baby steps toward this goal are already in motion so keep your eyes open.

And that’s it. That’s the current state of the blog after three years with some vague plans for the fourth year. I’d also like to throw in there that I’d also love to collaborate with other bloggers when I have the time for it as it is great fun reviewing a show with someone else and I also want to find more anime related blogs to read as I always enjoying finding more content. Hopefully everyone enjoys the next twelve months and as always, if you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to use the contact to send me a message or DM me on Twitter.

Reminder also there’s a couple of days left to enter the raffle for the giveaway if you haven’t already. Really looking forward to seeing who wins. The winner will be contacted shortly after the raffle closes and I’ll hopefully get the prizes in the mail soon after I get the mailing addresses.

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Give-Away Reminder

If you missed my anniversary announcement, be sure to check it out and if you want to win a cute (second hand/no box) figure be sure to enter the give-away.

Thanks to everyone who joined me in celebrating the blog’s third birthday. Keep your eyes open over the weekend for a look at the year on the blog as well as setting some new goals for the fourth year.

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Travel Update 5 – Japan

This is going to be a fairly short summary of the final week in Japan, mostly because I am insanely tired after travelling back. Trains, waiting in airports, overnight flights, more waiting and I still have a long drive to get home, but the trip was worth it. Next week I’ll be trying to resume daily posting as usual and I’m looking forward to catching up on the spring anime so look forward to first impression posts.

Okay, the final days were mostly about doing some final shopping and grabbing a few souvenirs for people back home but we did do an overnight trip to Yokohama (even though it is pretty much right next door to Tokyo). Totally worth it. We had a fairly good deal on a hotel room and then when we checked in they moved us into a nicer room with a much better view so all and all nothing to complain about.

What I loved about walking around Yokohama, other than the constant sea-breeze, were the number of street performers around. Singers, dancers, musicians, fire eaters, baton twirlers, guys who twist balloons into weird shapes, and, my personal favourite, the hula-hoop guy were literally everywhere as we walked around and it was always fun to stop and watch them for awhile.

The food was also really, really good but if you’ve followed my trip so far I doubt you are surprised I enjoyed the food. Actually, my biggest issue is that the majority of the shopping centres have a heavy number of western food chains and actually finding Japanese food takes a bit more of a walk which was a bit weird.

We visited the Cup Noodle Museum, which is actually kind of interesting, though nothing in it explains why it has three exclamation marks at the start of the word ‘cup’ in its signage. If you happen to have kids they do a great workshop where they make their own cup-ramen and watching the many kids participating it was clear it was great fun. For adults there’s a room displaying all the different cups and flavours the cup noodles have come in, a brief film that explains the history, and then some exhibits and timelines that show the history of cup noodles. The film is even in basic enough Japanese that I understood most of it (yay, I understand stuff aimed at six year olds), though if you have no Japanese skills they do offer you an audio translation to listen to while the film is on.

Anyway, the dock is beautiful to walk along, there’s plenty of great gardens, lots of shops, and generally it was great fun.

I also took a day trip to Kawagoe to see more traditional style buildings and it was really fun walking through the district though getting photos is really hard between traffic and tourists. Still, if you want to see more traditional Japanese buildings or if you just want to spend a day shopping and shrine visiting, it is a great place to visit. It took me about an hour and a half to get there by train but I spent the majority of the day there and had plenty to do.

Seriously, I was really happy to get to go to Japan this year. I made some great memories, I have plenty of photos that I need to sort through now that I’m home, and while I’m going to be super busy getting back into my usual routine, I’m really glad I took the opportunity to go. Next time I go to Japan I definitely have to go to one of the other islands and at some point I will need to actually win something in one of the UFO catchers because I am still pretty terrible at them.

The sun-set in Yokohama as seen from the top of the Ferris Wheel.

Thanks everyone who has enjoyed following along with my travels and as I said, I’ll hopefully be back to anime reviewing next week.

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Travel Update 4 – Japan

The last couple of days I’ve mostly been wandering about on my own while waiting for my friend to finish at work. As a result I’ve taken a small break from the bigger tourist sites and have mostly been meandering about in various districts just seeing what is there. The standard approach is get off at a train station and just walk until I run out of things to look at and then use my phone to navigate to the nearest station to wherever I’ve ended up. It is an interesting way to get a feel for the day to day rather than just seeing the same chain stores that dominate most tourist areas.

I kind of love crossing bridges in Japan.

But I haven’t totally gotten off the beaten track. I did wander around Ginza for a day and walked through Harujuku after visiting the shrine and going to Government Building 1 and using the observation deck where we met this really nice volunteer guide who gave us a history lesson on the architects of the buildings in the area, some of the features of some of the sites, and a bit of history about how Tokyo developed as a region. Nice guy, lots of videos on his phone to show details like a fold out helicopter pad that was attached to the building opposite and the inflation of the Egg roof. Considering he isn’t a paid guide he was incredibly informative as he showed us the sites.

Tragically it was a misty day so views of Mt Fuji were obscured, but there was still plenty to look at

However, a trip to Nakano was really great as well as I found a plush Little Fox from Natsume and a small Natori figure that I just had to have (also a giant Nyanko pillow that I walked away from if only because it would not have fit in my bag).

Then again, it is all about the food. And yes, I’ve eaten a lot of it. Notable meals include the ramen. Yeah, I didn’t even manage to eat half of it because it was massive, but it was absolutely delicious. Ordering was easier than normal because it was one of those places where you use the ticket machine to place your order and then just hand the ticket over when you enter the shop (and there were lots of pictures to help where my lack of kanji knowledge became apparent). However, inside they then ask you a whole series of option questions about the noodles and what not and I will admit I couldn’t follow. I ended up having to get them to write the question down so I could sit and translate it but ultimately I managed to get some great food so probably worth the effort.

I found on previous trips and this one that ordering ramen is incredibly intimidating. The vast majority of ramen places have no English on their menu (which is fine) but a lot don’t even have pictures or any kind of visual. Some just have the different dishes listed vertically along a wall and there’s a lot of kanji. There’s also a sense that you need to order quickly and so it is a bit of a struggle (admittedly, there are more chain type restaurants you could go to and order ramen with less pressure if you really wanted to). I also always feel bad because I cannot eat a whole serve of ramen in one sitting even if I skip lunch. It is just too much food piled into the bowl.

Anyway, outside of ramen, we hit a yakitori place that is part of a chain, but the restaurant we went to is under the train line near Ginza. There’s some great food places there and I strongly recommend a walk along the train line from Shimbashi heading toward Ginza because you will find some really fantastic places to eat. Not to mention, the atmosphere of low ceiling and periodic table shaking as a train passes overhead is just kind of fun.

The place we ate charged 300 yen just for sitting at the table per person but that came with unlimited bowls of cabbage. Fortunately, it was a very tourist friendly place because there are some nights when you are tired and don’t want to struggle with a language barrier. They had an entirely English menu that they brought over for us without us asking with the Japanese written underneath so ordering was as simple as point at what you want and let the waiter read it. I will admit, we may have severely over eaten by the time we were done but it was so incredibly worth it.

Anyway, my friend is about to get three days off work so we are going to be out and about and I’m pretty sure we’re doing an overnight trip somewhere and then I’m pretty much done because I’ll be having to start preparing to fly home which is kind of sad but at the same time I feel I’ve done most of what I wanted to in Tokyo this time. There’s still the kitchen street to hit up and I want to spend a bit longer in some of the gardens but mostly I’m happy that I’ve been where I want to go.

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Travel Update 3 – Japan

Wow, I feel like I’ve not sat still in days (that isn’t true given I had a couple of hours on the Shinkansen down to Kyoto and back again) and I am feeling super tired and yet still wanting to get out and go. There’s just so much to see and do while in Japan and even though I’ve been here before there’s so many places I’ve yet to see and places I’d love to get back to.

No where near enough hours for this place.

Okay, so since the last update I have hit Akihabara. I spent nearly six hours wandering around the area and even that wasn’t enough. I actually left not because I ran out of time but because I’d pretty much exhausted my designated budget for that part of the trip and staying any longer would have been hazardous to my ability to eat for the rest of the trip (and if you’ve been following me on Twitter you know that I am enjoying my food here).

So yes, I found treasure. And while I’ll take my time unboxing and taking some photos of it when I get home for now I’m keeping things firmly wrapped up so they survive the trip home. That said, the two main figures I got were both second hand and reboxed in the first place but it did make them infinitely more affordable. Ciel from Black Butler and Asuna from Sword Art Online will be making the trip home from Japan with me this time, and a third character who I am keeping under wraps because I plan on doing a give away for my blog anniversary so watch that space.

Can I keep them? Please?

Animate was also visited and I got myself a pencil case from Dakaichi, a Natsume acrylic stand, Banana Fish post cards, and a Platelet key chain. All and all, very happy with my wanderings except that one of the last shops I was visiting had an entire Natsume case filled with Nyanko and beautiful figures of almost all the main characters. Even the smallest ones however were just that little bit too pricey for their size and so I had to settle for the photo and the memory. Plus, I already grabbed figures of Natsume and Reiko last time I was in Japan. Fortunately, I did get some really cute Nyanko-Sensei stickers out of a vending machine later in Shibuya and I’m still looking out for an affordable plush Nyanko to join the one I got last year at Supernova.

Anyway, after the shopping was done I had to hop a Shinkansen to Kyoto which meant of course a bento dinner on the train. No photo unfortunately because I was starved and it was delicious so waiting for photography just wasn’t an option.

This is actually a really great way to spend a morning, well worth the visit.

With my one day in Kyoto, my friend and I hit the major tourist spots. I am going to firmly suggest that if you ever intend to go to the Fushimi Inari Shrine you go early. We arrived there at 7:30 in the morning and it was already difficult to get photos without other people in them. By the time we were finished (just after 12), it was mass chaos at the main shrine with tour groups, school groups and just people clustered everywhere. The only problem with going early is very few of the shops and food booths are open so stop at a convenience store on the way and grab some onigiri to eat on the go. By the time you come back everything will be open and you can grab some tasty skewers, corn, or pretty much anything to eat and then browse the souvenirs.

Also, where comfortable shoes and be ready for a hike. It isn’t a long distance by any means, but the time signs are misleading. When it says ten minutes to the summit what it means is approximately an hour if you stop for a moderate number of photos and if you have usual human stamina and need to take a couple of short stops because of the steps (keep in mind I go hiking for holidays semi-regularly and enjoy it so I’m not really that out of shape though my persistent cough probably was making the stairs a bit harder to take than normal). Then of course there’s the trip back. Also, other tourists are going to stop right in front of you without warning, or do random poses for their own photos and you just kind of have to deal with it. Fortunately the closer to the summit you get the less people there are.

I really loved walking around the shrine and exploring all the side paths and little shops along the way. It was great fun. The one thing that I would actually put as a negative is the persistent announcement over the loud speakers about not making eye-contact with wild boars or monkeys. It is really hard to enjoy a quiet and contemplative moment on a mountain when you have the same message blaring at you in multiple languages pretty much continuously.

I’d still recommend visiting.

After the shrine we hopped the train over to Arashiyama and checked out the bamboo path, a bunch of shrines, lots of tourist shops, the river, a scenic look out, and finally we headed over to the monkey park (oh my god more stairs – I was reminded well and truly that I was not over my cold when I had to stop the third time on this path to catch my breath). Totally worth it though. The monkeys are super cute.

Sakura flavoured ice-cream. Totally recommended. They also serve it blended with matcha ice-cream which was also pretty tasty.

Plus, and this is the real reason I’d recommend it, you get an absolutely brilliant view of Kyoto from the monkey park. Truly gorgeous.

I didn’t go into the cage and feed the monkeys but I did have fun standing above it and watching the other tourists in the cage reaching out with scraps of food and seeing the monkeys crawling over the outside swiping at them. There’s something amusing about the idea of putting the humans in the cage while the monkeys are freely roaming about the outside.

Seriously too cute.

Anyway, after all of that we hit a fairly quiet cafe for dinner. The next morning we decided to splurge a little on breakfast and hit up a buffet at one of the hotels that was on the top ten list of places to eat breakfast in Kyoto. So worth it serving both Japanese and Western food and a huge selection.

Sorry about the smudges, the window I was photographing through was dirty.

Another shinkansen ride back to Tokyo before hitting Shibuya for the afternoon and evening. Of course that means pictures of people scrambling on a crossing. By the way, the Animate in Shibuya actually had more Natsume items than the one in Akihabara. I also picked up some manga volumes in Japanese to do some translation practice with when I have free time (I know, free time isn’t something I come across very often).

Love the commitment to theme in this arcade. Random side-note, three floors are done in this style and then the fourth floor suddenly becomes like a roman bath scene. No idea why.

We finished the day with a visit to an arcade that is themed like it is from some post-apocalyptic novel in Kawasaki before going for train sushi.

Scallop sushi, my favourite.

Seriously need more hours in a day and I really need to get rid of this cold because after all of that running around I’m pretty run-down and needed to have a chill out day before I get going again tomorrow. Big plans ahead and plenty more to see.

Hopefully I’ll update in a couple more days and have some more fun moments to share.

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Karandi James
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Travel Update 2 – Japan

I’m continuing my travels, though I will admit, the dreaded cold hit me pretty hard yesterday and given it was pouring rain all day I opted to not wander around Akihabara and instead took a bit of a rest and went to some local bookshops and cafes to just kind of relax. I do however intend to hop a train over to Akihabara just as soon as I finish drafting this update as it is not raining today and I’m feeling pretty good. If you missed my first update check it out here.

That said, I did spend the day before wandering about and spent the better part of the afternoon in Ueno. While waiting for my friend to finish work I went into the museum and absolutely fell in love with the building. There’s something about buildings that are used for museums. They are so old looking (even if they’ve been renovated) and the high ceilings, hard floors, really nice stair cases, little alcoves and large gallery rooms all just call out to me. There’s also the subdued lighting most museums opt for which I find quite relaxing and the fact that people are generally fairly quiet in museums. They are a lovely place to spend a few quiet hours even before you look at the exhibits.

I will say that you need to get there early enough to go into the gardens because they are gorgeous. They close the garden at 4 even though the museum is open until 5, and so I only had a little bit of time in the gardens before I had to leave but I’m really glad I got to go in. As for the museum, I loved going through the building that had the Chinese exhibits, particularly the calligraphy section but once I got over to the building housing the Japanese exhibits I was just blown away by some of the displays.

Given I didn’t have a lot of time I didn’t pay the extra to go into he current special exhibit which is a shame because it looked kind of cool, but there was more than enough for me to look at just in the main section and I didn’t get to everything before I had to go.

Still, can’t complain about leaving the museum when I got to walk down the avenue looking at the cherry blossoms. Admittedly, they are on their last legs and you could kind of tell, but given I didn’t think they’d still be out at all when I arrived I’m thrilled that there were flowers to look at.

The food stalls were also really fun and I could have eaten literally everything. Unfortunately, we were in a little bit of a rush because we wanted to do that cliche tourist thing and take a paddle boat out onto the lake to look at the blossoms. And of course we wanted it to be swan shaped because why not.

I’m just going to point out the steering mechanisms in those boats are absolute rubbish so collisions are almost inevitable. That said, you can get right up next to the blossoms and really, given we were the last possible time slot for the day, the sun was setting and it was just silly fun.

Bit of shopping and walking around the area for a few hours before heading back to the apartment and it was just kind of a perfect day. Then I got sick, but I kind of expected that. I live in the middle of nowhere with very few people coming and going. I get sick every time I travel and I’ve kind of just accepted that. Still, today I am mostly recovered and ready to go so the plan is to hit Akihabara and then prepare for a trip down to Kyoto.

I probably won’t update again until after that but in the meanwhile I hope everyone is well and sorry I haven’t read all that many blog posts in the last few days.

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Karandi James
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