Up Close – The Expressions of the Soma’s

Something a little bit different this week as instead of looking at one character from a series I wanted to look at the range of facial expressions used by members of the Soma family in Fruits Basket. For an anime that deals heavily with the emotions of its characters it really manages to convey a lot through their expressions and for me it is one of my favourite parts of the episodes. Okay, I might just enjoy seeing Kyo’s face twist and distort as he goes from sulking, pensive, into a mad rage, and then back to contemplative. It is kind of fun.

On that note, let’s begin with Kyo.

I think you’ll agree, Kyo’s expressions are the best. What I like about Kyo as a character and the way he’s being depicted in this 2019 anime adaptation is that he wears his heart on his sleeve. Whatever emotion he is feeling he is feeling it 100%. There’s no inbetween for him and there’s no attempt at building a wall or a facade between what he is feeling right in the here and now and how he reacts.

Now the cause of his emotionally tumultulous nature is something he does not speak about or allow others to speak about, so he does have his secrets. But even then, it is no secret that he is badly scarred by the experience and that scarring is there for all to see even if they aren’t aware of the cause.

However, despite being a volatile bundle of violence and raw emotions, Kyo’s lack of walls and boundaries make him approachable and even when he’s flying off the handle he does draw others to him. He puts himself out into the world and while he might get burned he isn’t backing down.

Gotta love that fiery spirit even if it doesn’t get him very far most episodes.

Let’s next look at Hattori.

Hattori is a bit more of an enigma. He’s older and had loner to pile up secrets than Kyo, and he’s also the living embodiment of the expression ‘still waters run deep’. He’s also had a lot less screen time and focus, though I would still argue that his story has been one of the best so far.

We first meet Hattori at school and Yuki warns Tohru not to be alone with him. His expression is hard and cold and it is almost as though he is sizing up Tohru with his eyes and has found her wanting. It is soon revealed that this is very much a facade he’s built and that he’s pushing Tohru away for what he believes is her own benefit. However, as Hattori himself says, Tohru has a way of softening people and the effect Tohru has had on Hattori in her brief meetings with him is clearly visible in his expressions and manners.

Affiliate Link
	YURI!!! ON ICE 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: YURI KATSUKI & VICTOR NIKIFOROV PREMIUM BOX

Finally this week I’ll look at Yuki’s expressions. I would like to get to all of the characters in Fruits Basket eventually but some have had very limited screen time yet.

Yuki is the polar opposite of Kyo. Where Kyo wears his every emotion on his face, Yuki seems to have spent a life-time cultivating a manner that doesn’t reveal his true self and feelings to the outside world. In the beginning we see him being cool and detached, a little bit condescending, and when it came to his manner with Shigure, quite arrogant. However, since meeting Tohru we’ve seen crack after crack in his armour and in episode 11 we are finally rewarded with a true and beautiful smile.

What makes Yuki so hard to figure out is that he’s always thinking about how others will see and action and reacts accordingly. Even when he was complimenting Tohru on the roof of the festival and telling her she would be much cuter in the dress, his expression and words seemed artificial and calculated rather than genuine. As a result, there’s a gulf between Yuki and others that he’s built and maintained as a means of protecting himself. The problem is, it has been there so long he’s more or less forgotten how to close the gap even when he wants to.

Still, when it comes to Tohru, Yuki’s facade has fallen a number of times. She’s genuinely surprised him with her words or actions, or he’s felt genuine alarm for her safety. It is almost sweet watching Yuki and Kyo wearing matched expressions of concern on their faces as they sprint back to Tohru deciding they don’t want to leave her alone for the holiday.

Still, Yuki’s best expression yet.

I really love how each of these characters are being portrayed in this adaptation and I really hope that the quality of the series continues. I’d also like to look at more of the characters in a little bit of depth as the series unfolds. I did skim read the manga after watching the original anime to find answers to a few questions I had when I realised there would be no second season, but I didn’t read it all and I didn’t read it deeply so I’m looking forward to learning more about each of these characters as we go.

However, I’d love to know what your favourite expression has been so far in Fruits Basket or who your favourite character is of the new anime series so leave a comment and tell me your thoughts below.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Advertisements

Up Close With Reiko

For a character who has been mentioned in Natsume Yuujinchou since season one, Reiko remains the character most shrouded in mystery. For every flash back or memory Natsume has of Reiko dealing with yokai we’re presented with just one more puzzling piece of a complex character who died a long time ago. Yet she remains a driving factor behind so many of the interactions in Natsume’s Book of Friends and so I wanted to take a moment to look at her a bit more closely.

Not that we have all that much to go off of. With few exceptions, all the information the audience gathers about Reiko comes second hand and is heavily interpreted by the one conveying the information. For yokai, Reiko was a human they either feared or held in awe. Some yokai developed a fierce attachment to her whereas others would flee at the very mention of her name.

It is difficult to tell how Reiko felt about yokai. The story that she was frustrated and so picked fights seems likely given she did in fact force a large number of yokai to write their names in her book, and yet there’s much more to it. The young and naive yokai she met who wanted to see the ocean was given the chance to do so many years later due to his encounter with Reiko. While on the surface it looked like she was being horrible to him, she ultimately gave him the chance to fulfil his wish. Admittedly she could have gone about it in a nicer manner but it was still kind of helpful.

Plenty of other yokai were also helped by their encounters with her. However, some were not. Others were beaten and then abandoned and left with a helpless feeling of being abandoned. At various points Reiko might have been able to have become friends with one yokai or another, much as Natsume has, and yet she continued to hold herself aloof.

We also know Reiko had dealings with the Matoba exorcists, though again, other than brief glimpses we don’t know exactly to what extent those dealings went.

Affiliate Link
FIRE EMBLEM FP04 PLUSH: LUCINA (S

What we do know about Reiko is that she was someone who refused to compromise who she was. She was different from other people and they shunned her because of it but she didn’t try to hide her nature. She was fierce and strong and seemed whimsical but there was kindness in many of her actions. We also know that at some point she had to have had a child or else Natsume wouldn’t exist today for us to enjoy his adventures.

I’d love to learn more about Reiko as she is a truly fascinating figure whose actions have had far reaching consequences as she left her mark firmly in the yokai world.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Up Close With Haruitsuki Abeno

This week I’ve decided to look at one half of the duo that make up the centre of The Morose Mononokean, Haruitsuki Abeno who is the human master of the Mononokean. I’m assuming at some point we’ll find out how Abeno came to meet Aoi and why a human was raised by a yokai and has been given such a position of power but until then, let’s look at what we do know from the two seasons of the anime.

Abeno isn’t exactly the sharing kind however, so particularly during the first season a large amount of his character and story were pretty ambiguous. He came across as cold and detached toward Hanae and while there were moments when his cold exterior softened, he very much held himself aloof. However, that was also more true of his interactions with human characters. A lot of the time Abeno wears a robe that makes him essentially invisible to normal humans anyway and he seems far more at ease when hidden and only visible to the yokai.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Abeno and Ashiya

Meanwhile the yokai have a mix of views about him. Some revere him as the Master of the Mononokean, others share rumours of what happened to the previous master, and still others fear him. Regardless, Abeno carries out his duties as the master, returning yokai to the underworld and taking care of other problems concerning the yokai.

His relationship with the Legislator was an interesting tease during season one, but season two saw that fleshed out enormously. The Legislator is definitely fond of teasing him and prodding him into action, though his goals remain entirely concealed.

Affiliate Link
THE LEGEND OF HEROES: TRAILS OF COLD STEEL III

Which might be where Abeno shares more in common with the Legislator than he’d like to admit. As much as Abeno continues to speak harshly to Hanae and pick fights over petty things, at the end of the day Abeno has his employee’s back. Even at great expense to himself, Abeno will protect Hanae and he’s gone to great lengths to find more information out about the mysteries of Hanae’s family and past.

Ultimately though, season two made it very clear to the audience that any gruff and stern front Abeno has been putting on is crumbling rapidly. Between his protection of Hanae against the yokai, his consideration for Hanae when he was scared, helping Hanae train his power, and his response to the yokai bird who couldn’t fly, his cool facade is all but gone and what we are seeing instead is the very human Abeno who is operating in a role that has some fairly big implications and has to make decisions between completing his duty and doing what he believes is right.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

I really hope we get another season of the Morose Mononokean because I’d love to know what is next for Haruitsuki Abeno in his journey. He’s great fun to watch and as we’ve slowly seen his shell cracking over two seasons it would be great to see what is next for his character journey.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Up Close with Hestia

She’s the feisty goddess who looked long and hard before choosing Bell to become a part of her familia. Fiercely loyal but also not really one to plan ahead, Hestia has a lot more going for her as a character than you might think from her generic loli appearance. Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon would definitely not be the same without Hestia.

When we first meet Hestia she seems as generic as they come. She’s the loli/little sister type character who is way too fixated on the boy she lives with and very hands on. She crawls into his blanket and sulks when she doesn’t get her way. With her bouncing breasts taking centre stage in a lot of her screen time, and even other gods mocking her for being so small accept in her boobs, it would be very easy to dismiss Hestia as a one note character that we’ve all seen before.

That however overlooks a lot of Hestia’s most wonderful character traits. Her genuine affection for Bell, whether that of a goddess or something more not withstanding, she’s fiercely protective of her familia (which in the anime initially consists of only Bell). Hestia may be largely powerless in the mortal world but she still isn’t going to let those she deems a danger near him. And yet, her jealousy and protectiveness doesn’t make her stupid. When Lily comes along, despite Hestia not trusting her initially and those misgivings turn out to be true, once Lily commits to following Bell, Hestia accepts the logic in Bell having assistance in the dungeon. She may not like it but she does what is right for Bell’s protection.

This willingness to compromise her own position in order to protect Bell is a reoccurring theme and something that sets Hestia apart from other possessive characters who put their own needs first at almost all times. Hestia incurs a massive debt to another goddess early on in order to buy Bell a knife that will guard him in the dungeon. However, rather than using the money earned by Bell in the dungeon to pay for it, Hestia takes on a range of part-time jobs and continues to work to pay the debt herself.

Affiliate Link
IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? - ARROW OF THE ORION HESTIA FAMILIA GLASS

However, the surest sign of Hestia’s feelings and her strength as a character, as well as her impulsive nature, is her decision to enter the dungeon after Bell and his party don’t return. Despite being a goddess she is completely helpless in the dungeon and she knows it. She knows she can’t do any good, she knows that her presence won’t change anything, and yet she cannot simply sit and wait for Bell to return. Then, when push comes to shove and Hestia sees Bell in real danger she breaks a significant taboo and unleashes her power within the dungeon.

While Hestia definitely falls in with a lot of generic tropes she is very much her own character and she is fun and delightful. Her love for her familia is admirable and the effort she goes to in order to protect them is extraordinary. I can’t wait to see more of Hestia in the upcoming second season as I love her in the books.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Up Close With Haruhi Fujioka

Haruhi Fujioka is a pretty well known character. The protagonist of a reverse harem, she isn’t the usual bland or blank slate centre around each of the bishounen cast revolve. Instead, she’s smart, sassy, at times vulnerable, and incredibly well rounded character with her own goals, history, hang ups, and motives. While credit does need to be given to the male cast for holding up their end as well, it is fairly easy to say that Haruhi is the beating heart of Ouran High School Host Club and the reason so many people love it.

We first meet Haruhi when she’s looking for a place to study. At the time, due to her appearance, she’s largely mistaken for a male student, and it takes the first episode before all the members of the host club realises that Haruhi is a girl.

The idea of gender identity isn’t deeply explored by Ouran, but nor is this facet of Haruhi ignored. She doesn’t mind in the slightest that people mistake her for male and doesn’t really feel like it makes a difference. However, what the audience sees is the way the attitudes of the boys in the club change toward Haruhi as they realise her gender and how gender roles comes up again and again.

The scene at the beach where Haruhi puts herself in danger and incurs the anger of the other club members is a prominent moment where the theme takes centre stage, as are the moments where we meet Haruhi’s father or the members of the rival club from another school that try to recruit Haruhi. Then there’s the medical examination episode which mostly uses Haruhi’s hidden gender for amusement purposes.

Ultimately the anime manages to look at gender without making too many judgements or preaching at the audience allowing consideration of an idea without taking away from the entertainment of the story, and all of it centres around Haruhi’s character. It makes her fairly memorable.

Affiliate Link
SUMMON NIGHT 6: LOST BORDERS [AMU EDITION]

But that isn’t all there is to Haruhi. In a more heavy handed fashion the anime also explores social class and wealth division with Haruhi being a ‘commoner’ and being at the school on scholarship. This theme is less nuanced and is largely played for laughs throughout the series, but again is a clear part of Haruhi’s identity within the story.

While it would be easy to define Haruhi by the themes and issues that are centred on her, that isn’t really fair to her character. What makes Haruhi interesting isn’t that she is poor or that she doesn’t see gender roles in black an white terms. What makes Haruhi interesting is the way she interacts with the other cast members. Her commentary on the antics of the club, her determination to succeed at her goals, the way she refused to pick up social cues from others when she doesn’t agree with them.

While watching Ouran High School Host Club it is really easy to rally behind Haruhi. She’s just such a fun and entertaining character to spend time with and even though she starts as an interesting character she still grows and changes through her interactions with the members of the host club. All and all, she’s a character I remember fondly and enjoy going back and spending time with.

What about you? What did you think of Haruhi Fujioka?

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Up Close with Xianming Lin

From the moment we are introduced to Lin in Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens we know a few things about him. He has zero attachment to anyone, will do whatever he has to do, and for some reason he likes to cross dress. As the series continues to weave its tale of assassins, betrayals, and baseball Lin remains in the midst of a crazy story and along the way makes some progress as a person and the audience is given a little insight into how he got to where he was at the beginning of the series.

And yes, there are some spoilers ahead.

Hakata Tonktsu Ramens Episode 1 Lin
You have to admit – he knows how to make an entrance even if he isn’t aware of practical shoes.

At the beginning of the series we meet Lin. In one episode he takes out one target as an assassin, claims payment on another hit even though he didn’t actually kill the guy, and after his employer withholds payment we see Lin turn his back on him and actually protect his next target so that no one else can kill him until his boss pays him. It’s cold, fairly audacious, and done with a matter-of-fact manner from someone who has come to not expect much else from their day.

However, Lin is not a cold and hard killer. Nor is he an emotionless puppet. Even in the first episode of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens we see a character driven firmly by his emotions. At first the motivation is paying money to save his family and then it shifts to revenge.

Lin isn’t disconnected from others because he lacks emotion. As we learn more about him, and see the flash back to when he was trained to become an assassin, it becomes clear that Lin is disconnected because he feels too much and is scared of trusting others because of the hurt of previous betrayals and losses.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 9 Lin

He sold himself in order to save his mother and sister from poverty. Making the best of a poor situation, he befriended his roommate in the training camp only to learn that the final test was that they had to try to kill each other and his roommate knew this all along and intended to kill him. Even working as an assassin for a boss he knew was scum, he felt betrayed when the boss first wouldn’t pay him, then tried to kill him, and finally that same boss sold his sister to someone he knew would kill her in a horrible manner. It is no wonder that Lin recoils from others and as he starts feeling comfortable in Hakata he begins making plans to flee.

Despite that, Lin ultimately stays. While Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens is not the kind of anime where the power of friendship overcomes the big evil and they all go back to their normal lives, the connections Lin makes after meeting Banba in Hakata are what allow him to be saved toward the end and while things might not be normal they do go back to playing baseball (even if Lin still really doesn’t get the sport at all).

Affiliate Link
	NENDOROID NO. 1103 PERSONA 5 THE ANIMATION: YUSUKE KITAGAWA PHANTOM THIEF VER

The one question we don’t get answered about Lin is why he likes to cross-dress. The anime never once addresses it and the only time it even comes up is when he’s mistaken for a woman or deliberately uses his appearance as part of a plan. But the why never comes up and we know he hasn’t just done it his whole life because he wasn’t cross-dressing in any of the flash backs.

It is a mystery and one of many reasons why I’d love a second season of Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. The main reason though is that these characters, assassins and flawed human beings that they are, were a lot of fun to watch and I could definitely watch them face and overcome some more challenges and be entertained.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Up Close With Subaru

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 11 Subaru

This week I’m turning my attention to the human half of the fabulous duo that made up the very sweet My Roommate is a Cat, Subaru. Admittedly, individually, and particularly at the start of the season, Subaru’s personality is a little bit abrasive and hard to take. I still found him interesting to watch but didn’t necessarily like him. However, the fantastic, emotional journey he goes on throughout the series and the growth he makes as a person just made him really shine by the end of the series and I think he is a character well worth spending some more time on.

There will be some spoilers for the series.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 1 Subaru and Cat

If you only watched the first episode or two of My Roommate is a Cat, your impression of Subaru, other than the fact that we have yet another anime protagonist starting a show with the funeral of his parents, is that he’s a bit rude and abrupt. I kind of understood why though because in the cases where he was being rude to his editor, the editor had taken him out of his comfort zone seemingly for no reason. If you know someone doesn’t like going to cafes and the like and there’s no reason to meet them there, then why drag them out. Still, Subaru doesn’t make the best first impression on the audience.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 3 Subaru

However, in these first episodes, Subaru comes across Haru, who despite being a cat very much deserves her own character post, and Subaru, seemingly on a whim, takes her home with the intention of using a cat as a muse for a new character in a story he is writing. it’s an on the spot decision made without a lot of forethought and it becomes obvious fairly quickly that Subaru doesn’t have a clue how to deal with the new addition to his household.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 5 Subaru

Over the course of the series, we see that Haru’s presence in Subaru’s life begins to help him reconnect with others and makes him remember his parents and the many lost opportunities to connect with them. While this show doesn’t have a dramatic change of character, Subaru begins to subtly grow, seeking out small interactions with people building up until he agrees to a book signing.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 9 Subaru

That doesn’t mean he’s actually good at interacting with others. He’s still awkward, gets flustered, at times wants to run away, but he’s more and more committed to trying to deal with those in his life. He also begins to appreciate what each of the others brings into his life and tries to show that he appreciates it.

Affiliate Link
TALES OF ZESTIRIA 1/8 SCALE PAINTED FIGURE: EDNA (RE-RUN)

However, the final push comes at the end of the series where he goes on the last holiday his parents planned. While this is an emotional enough development given the course of the story, what really shows the change in Subaru is his reaction when he realises he can’t get home to Haru as planned. Then, Haru manages to get out of the house and Subaru needs to search for her.

From a character who blatantly refused to leave the house and if forced outside was cold and cut-off, to one who actively searched for another and called on those he’d made connections with to help, Subaru’s character grew in leaps and bounds and while his basic personality hadn’t changed at all, something shown through the clever use of flash backs, his ability to deal with others and his acceptance of them had developed tremendously.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed watching Subaru grow as a character and found his story delightful.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Three great ways you can support
100 Word Anime:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com