Confession: I’ve Never Seen “Cardcaptor Sakura”

Cardcaptor Sakura is one of those quintessential anime it seems like everyone has seen. Except me. I’ve never watched it — not even back when the Cardcaptors dub was on TV.

I could never get into it. I love magical girl anime, but one of the things I love about them is the transformations. Sakura doesn’t transform. She just puts on cute costumes her friend Tomoyo makes for her. And she doesn’t use magic in the way that most magical girls do, either. She just summons the Clow Card spirits to do everything for her. It’s not as interesting.

Why am I saying this like you don’t know? This series has been around since 1996!

Anyway, with the Clear Card arc airing right now and bringing the series back into the spotlight, I decided to give it another chance. I’m on episode 21. That’s farther than I’ve ever gotten before. Just 50 episodes and two full-length movies to go…

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“Laid-Back Camp” — Exactly What It Says On The Tin

My brother said this anime made him wanna go camping someday (in the off-season because it’s not as hot). I was shocked. What kind of anime could make my hermit of a brother wanna brave the outdoors? It had to be good.

I watched the first episode today, and…I feel like I just got hit with a tranquilizer dart.

Some slice-of-life shows strike a good balance between gentle and exciting (but not too exciting). This one was all gentle — except for a slight jump scare about midway in:

Oops, I just spoiled it. So much for that.

The rest of the show was exactly what the name says it is: a laid-back anime about camping. After the theme song, we got about three minutes of our secondary lead, Rin, biking to the campsite, passing by some well-painted scenery. That’s one thing that stood out to me. The settings looked gorgeous — so much so that the characters didn’t blend well with them.

Anyway, once she got to camp, she set up her tent, gathered firewood, started a fire, read a book — you know, camping stuff. I don’t know why I expected more, but I did for some reason. But…that was it. It was literally just a girl camping, which later became two girls when she bumped into the main lead, Nadeshiko.

I don’t know how I feel about this girl. She’s your typical weird, klutzy, friendly girl, and I’m not sure if I find her charming or annoying. But if she was supposed to be the thing that broke up the peaceful mood, it didn’t really work — at least not for me. I was just as bored watching her slurp curry ramen as I was watching Rin sip hot chocolate earlier.

The ending made no sense to me. The girls got to see Mount Fuji together under the moonlight. Wow! I guess Nadeshiko decided that means they’re friends now. After calling her sister to take her home, she gave Rin her phone number and said they can have a proper camping trip next time.

Um…they just met! They’ve known each other for about an hour! Why would Rin wanna go camping with a stranger, especially since she likes camping by herself? I know we’re leading up to “a group of girls go camping together, and hijinks ensue,” but you don’t have to rush it!

Geez! Anime friendship takes as long to make as that cup ramen!

Overall, I can’t say I liked this show as much as my brother does. Granted, it was just the first episode. I’ll give it one more and see how I feel after that.

At least the theme song was cool. It made me think of the Jackson 5.

“A Place Further Than The Universe” — Ep. 8 Mini-Review

Ep. 8 Title: “Howling, Maddening, Screaming”

Remember how I said I wasn’t feeling the “four high school girls go to Antarctica” plot? I’m feeling it now! This episode changed my mind.

The girls found out what life on an expedition boat is like. Helping out with dinner prep for the whole crew. Running the full length of the boat and lifting weights each day to build stamina. Having to wash their clothes at specific times of the day. Bathing in seawater.

But that was the easy stuff.

Thanks to the constant rocking of the boat, they were stuck in a cycle of eating and puking. The rocking got worse closer to Antarctica. The girls nearly fell out of their beds. Poor Kimari got tossed against a ladder.

This is anime, so of course, the girls decided not to give up. (Not like the boat could turn back around, anyway.) They chose to do this. Kimari put it well at the beginning of the episode:

I don’t know what this trip will mean in the end. We’ll be taking time off from school, missing tests… It might even affect our entrance exams. But as of now, we are no longer high school students who can never take a step forward. We are not seventeen-year-olds and sixteen-year-olds who try but accomplish nothing. That’s enough!

The last scene showed the girls getting used to the boat and catching a glimpse of the icebergs of Antarctica.

I loved this episode. The theme song makes it look like the girls are going on vacation. They’ll get to see penguins, play jump-rope, and take funny selfies!

This episode was a nice reality check. They’re on an expedition, not a Carnival cruise. It won’t be easy.

I bet this is just the beginning. Once they get to Antarctica, they’ll have new challenges to deal with: sub-zero temperatures, intense winds, limited supplies, and the threat of getting lost in an endless landscape of ice.

How will these sixteen- and seventeen-year-old girls handle it? I can’t wait to find out.

Bonus: the art in this show is just gorgeous!

“HUGtto! PreCure” — Please Stop With The Hugging!

We’re three episodes into HUGtto! PreCure. Not sure I like it so far. The characters are…okay (except the freaking baby, but I always hate babies in this show). The animation’s gorgeous. It’s better than Kira Kira PreCure À La Mode‘s by far.

But there’s one thing I can’t stand: the hugging theme. It’s so forced! They’re trying desperately to make it fit into the rest of the show, but it doesn’t. At all.

“Hug the future?” That’s so dumb! And saying “embrace” doesn’t help when everyone’s literally hugging every episode! Speaking of which, having characters ask for and talk about hugs all the time is really, really awkward.

Not to mention, we’ve got this to look forward to:

Their special attack is a magic spirit that hugs the evil out of people….

Really? Really?

Maybe Japan has a thing about hugs or something, but if not, it’s just stupid. Get rid of the hugging, and this season would be 5X better already. It’s still pretty generic, but it’s Pretty Cure-level generic. I don’t expect anything more, so I can’t say I’m disappointed.

Adventures in Japanese #2: Compound Words

As you can see by browsing this blog, I love translating anime song lyrics. The other day, I was translating the opening theme of Pop Team Epic, which is called… “Pop Team Epic.” I bet that was on purpose, too — a subtle way to make fun of cheesy theme song names.

Anyway, one of the lines contains this word: omoiegaku (思い描く).

I didn’t know what it meant at first, so I looked it up like anyone else would. But a couple days later, I realized something. I know what the individual words in this word mean.

Omoi (思い) comes from the verb omou (思う), which means “to think.” And egaku (描く) means “to draw.”

So omoiegaku means “to think-draw” — to paint a picture in your mind — or in normal English, to imagine or envision something.

I need to start paying more attention to compound words. It might make learning Japanese a little easier.

“Pop Team Epic” — What The Heck Did I Just Watch?

Crunchyroll’s been talking about this show a lot. I couldn’t help but be curious. I watched the first episode today.

I have no words. There are no words to describe this show.

Seven minutes in, I already felt…lost. Confused. Overwhelmed.

Nothing makes sense. Nothing connects. Nothing is predictable.

Is this what going mad feels like?

But strangely…I couldn’t stop watching. I wanted to, but…I had to know. What could possibly happen next? How long till my brain explodes?

The show’s on Crunchryoll. You can watch it for free. Thank goodness. Paying for it would probably count as buying illegal drugs.

Or is this legal? I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.

Here’s the opening theme. It doesn’t scratch the surface of how insane this show is. This is just…wow.

“A Place Further Than The Universe” OP

I’m in love with this anime! 😊 The characters are so fun and interesting, and I love their interactions with each other. My favorite is probably Hinata (the girl with the wildest hair), but I love them all.

To be honest, I think the story’s a bit odd. They’re all going to Antarctica together. You wouldn’t usually put “exploration of Antarctica” and “crazy high school girl antics” together, but I’m interested to see how it plays out.

If you haven’t seen this anime yet, I highly recommend it. You can watch for free on Crunchyroll. Here’s the opening theme: “The Girls Are Alright!”