A Few of my Favorites

In America people look at cartoons simply as shows for children. Anime, to me, is more than that. They can be hilarious, heart-felt, suspenseful, and unforgettable. In no particular order here is a list of ten anime that have moved me:

Kids On The Slope:

It’s funny when you watch an anime expecting nothing special and then suddenly you finished the whole anime in one sitting. Kids on the Slope was one of them. I read its summary, “jazz,” “friendship,” and decided to watch the first episode. Then I kept clicking next because I couldn’t stop. The anime follows Kaoru Nishimi, a high school freshman who moves to a new town. He is an honor-roll student and use to having no friends until he meets Sentaro Kawabuchi; who is the total opposite of Kaoru, yet they attract each other through their musical interest. They grow together and become best friends while playing jazz together in their friend’s basement. That is the basic thread of the story but much more is tangled in. There’s romance, betrayal, tragedy, heart-break as it comes down to the conclusion that friendship is a powerful thing. The story is amazing due its characters, emotions, and situations that make it realistic and charming. It’s incredible and I enjoyed every episode so please add this on to your “must watch” list.

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day:

I’m not a person who cries that easily because of something that I read or saw. If it does it is usually a drop of tear that runs down my face. However, Anohana made me bawl. Imagine one day you wake up to the ghost of your best friend that died ten years ago – this is how the anime first begins. Meiko “Menma” Honma dies in an accident leaving five of her childhood friends. Once inseparable, the friends then drift apart after her death. Now they are high school students living their lives past the incident or so it seems. The main character, Jinta Yodomi is followed by Menma who claims she has a wish he must grant in order for her to move on to the afterlife. The problem is she doesn’t know what that wish is. Struggling to figure it out he regroups with his old friends but they don’t believe he can see Menma. Instead they humor him but as the anime continues remembering Menma and discovering her wish, each character reveals the emotions and trauma they repressed throughout the years after Menma’s death. This was one of the most touching anime I have ever seen. Throughout the show you empathize with each character as they struggle to make things right between themselves and each other. The ending will have you in tears (there are reaction videos on youtube). Anohana is simply a beautiful story that also proves how friendship is a powerful bond.

Fooly Cooly:

You may have heard of Fooly Cooly because it played on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Fooly Cooly is honestly one of the greatest anime out there. I say this because it’s an alien girl who comes to Earth holding a guitar and riding a vespa. Then, she hits the main character, Naota Nandaba, with her instrument causing an injury on his forehead which becomes a portal for these weird robots to come out. It’s a really funny and strange anime with unforgettable characters. It’s one one of those anime that shows how outrageous and strange it can be but you will never complain. Fooly Cooly is a must.

Full Metal Alchemist/ Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood:

If you like an anime with an actual plot but none of that fluffy stuff, Full Metal Alchemist will deliver just that. This show is popular all around the world and if you haven’t heard of the Elric Brothers then you are living under a rock. The story is about Edward Elric and Alphonse. Eric who committed the ultimate taboo in their world, human transmutation. After their mother’s death, Edward and Al studied alchemy, the science of using raw materials and reconstructing it in order to create something. However, one of the most basic principles of alchemy and the show is “equivalent exchange,” in order to obtain something you must give up something of equal value. In the attempt to bring their mother back to life through human transmutation Elric loses his leg and Al loses his entire body. After realizing what a mistake it was Elric sacrifices his right arm to seal Al into a suit of armor since his brother is the only thing he has. After that, Elric vows to get Al’s body back by becoming a state alchemist or basically a soldier to the country’s military. He uses this to research the Philosopher’s stone, which appears to be the only hope for the brothers to get back what they lost. However, uncovering the Philosopher’s stone leads to a bigger conspiracy challenging what they believe is true. This anime is popular for a reason. The story is amazing and unforgettable. It has a lot of elements to it that makes it watchable even to people who are not anime fans.

***Note: Full Metal Alchemist is different from the Brotherhood version. Brotherhood is heavily based on the manga while the original FMA has its own story. Both are great and have different endings so you can watch both and not feel like you’re watching it twice.

Eden Of The East:

Eden of the East is a really interesting anime. The show starts off with a girl Saki Morimi meeting the mysterious man, Akira Takizawa. At first he has no memory but soon finds out he is part of a secret group of 11 other Selecaos or selected people. Each member is given a phone containing 10 billion yen in the effort to “save” Japan. If they do not accomplish this they will be eliminated. What really grabbed me about this anime was the phone. With it, the Selecao can call Juiz, a woman who can fufill any request using the money on the phone. With those kinds of resources how would you save your country? Not only does this anime have a grip on you through its plot but also through its characters. The relationship between Saki and Akira is entertaining and when they meet other Selaceos and uncover the truth about this “game” does it get really interesting to watch. Eden of the East is definitely one of those anime that you won’t mind re-watching.

 

A Few of My Favorites (continued)

Great Teacher Onizuka:

GTO was one of the first anime I have ever watched. This anime will always be one of my favorites. Eikichi Onizuka, a legendary gang leader becomes a teacher working at a private middle school. His class, however, have a history of getting teachers fired but they never met a guy like Onizuka. His goal is to become the greatest teacher and as you watch the show you are going to wish he was yours. Onizuka is a really cool character. He doesn’t care about the system and instead talks about irrelevant things and fools around. He helps students with their problems as he slowly gains their trust and changes their lives.

Puella Maji Madoka Magica:

There are countless anime shows about teenage girls transforming into cute frilly dresses and fighting crime. These shows are typically cute and generally predictable, fight evil and fall in love. I expected Mahou Shoujo Madoka to be the same thing. I was dead wrong. In a world filled with unseen witches, magical girls are the only ones that can destroy them before they cause harm to the real world. One day Madoka Kaname saves a mysterious white creature named Kyube. He has the power to grant any wish, in return girls must agree to a contract to fight witches. He offers a chance to become magical girls to Madoka and her friend, Sayaki Miki. Is their wish enough to risk their lives? This show is amazing. The animation is unique and the story will leave your mouth hanging. It has completely re-defined magical girl anime, proving it can also be dark and twisted.

Clannad:

This is one of my favorite love stories. It has everything you want in an anime, a slice of life with elements of comedy, family, friendship, and tragedy. The show follows the life of a delinquent, Tomoya Okazaki. He has given up on school and his life until he meets the cheery, Nagisa Furukawa. Full of hope and ambition to make friends and form a drama club, Tomoya helps her making his days brighter. There are a lot of funny scenes in this anime and also heart felt moments. You watch each character grow as a person. The one thing I love about this anime is that there is an after story. You can watch what happens after their high school life ends. Not a lot of shows do this which is why you grow a connection with the characters because you witness what they overcome and what happens to them. Clannad is a must watch because of its genuine story and characters that will leave you in tears from both laughter and sadness.

Angel Beats!!

The show is set in a high school that serves as a purgatory or an afterlife to the characters. They all know they’re dead but don’t know why they ended up there. Confused and angry at God they form a brigade called the Afterlife Battlefront. An angel, they believe is preventing them from leaving the high school purgatory, stands in their way to finding out the truth. Is there a heaven awaiting the characters? What do they have to do in order to move on? All the characters in the show are unique and serve their own purpose. The best part is when you learn about their life on Earth because they all have painful stories. Their friendship and fighting Angel makes them feel alive but in the end they want to be free of their unfulfilled dreams or connections on Earth. Angel Beats is simply great. It’s really funny and then all of a sudden you’re in tears. It’s a really entertaining show that is worth watching.

 Toradora!

I’m a sucker for romantic comedies and Toradora is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s about Ryuji Takasu befriending Taiga Aisaka in order to get closer to her best friend. Taiga agrees because she is in love with Ryuji’s best friend. They work together to overcome their insecurities, Ryuji’s evil looking eyes and Taiga’s brutal personality. The two, at first were only friends to get closer to their crushes, but they end up genuinely caring about the other and learning things they don’t share with anyone else. It’s one of those shows that will please any anime fan.

Just like how you never judge a book by its cover, do not judge an anime by its name or style. I hope you enjoy these shows as much as I did and appreciate them too.

Thanks for reading~

 

 

The Holidays in New York City

There are family traditions, holiday traditions, and religious traditions and then there are New York City traditions.  The holiday season in the city is truly unique because of that.  Being such a diverse place, the people see countless decorations and celebrations bringing light to cultures and traditions.  I lived in New York City all my life and there are some things I look forward to seeing once the holiday season begins.  Here are certain things that occur in the city only when this time of year comes around…

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Christmas has always been a big deal here in the city.  Every year they bring it to life with people walking around in Santa Claus’ suit, covering everything with yellow lights, and department stores playing holiday songs on repeat.  One of the most beautiful things to witness is the Christmas tree located in Rockefeller Center.  Every year I try to pass by it at least once to gasp at its height, over 65 feet, and amazing decorations and lighting.  It is truly one of those traditions for New Yorkers that tells them Christmas is coming.  Rockefeller Center holds a special ceremony for the lighting of the Christmas tree where they have live artists and ice performances.  It stands until January 7th, so bring a loved one or your whole family to see the famous Christmas tradition.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Yes, Santa Claus and the Rockettes are coming to town.  Another popular New York City tradition, starting in 1933, is going to see the beautiful female dancers and singers, known as the Rockettes in Radio City Music Hall.  The show is only available during the holiday season, November 9th–December 30th, and is a really well made production.  I went to the 75th anniversary of the show and it was a really fun experience.  It made me believe in Santa Clause again because of the stage design, the holiday spirit, the sparkly costumes and amazing dance precision performed by the Rockettes.  If you have family, especially with small children, I do recommend taking them to see this show because it will make everyone excited for Christmas and really appreciate the spirit and purpose of the holiday season which is being together.

Ice Skating

Come cold weather comes outdoor ice rinks in the city.  My friends always want to go because now it is the best time for it.  The ice rinks are filled with little kids, young couples, and friends enjoying themselves in this cold weather.  The best ice skating rinks in the city are Citi Pond in Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center Ice-Skating Rink, and Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink in Central Park.  You will have to pay for admission for all the rinks except Citi Pond because it is free if you have your own skates.  Personally, I think the winter season is one of the best times in the city because so many events are happening to celebrate the holidays.  Why not take advantage and enjoy it.

The Holiday Markets

A popular holiday bazaar located in Union Square, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle.  It’s a bunch of little stores packed together that sells numerous things from crepes, to jewelry, puppets, handmade scarves and ornaments.  These stores bring out the best things New York City has to offer because local artisans sell their products in these markets.  If you are stuck finding a gift for your loved one, friend, neighbor, whoever the person may be stop by one of these holiday markets.  The things you will find are completely unique, original, and well-made which makes the perfect gift for anyone or even yourself.

Happy Holidays~

NYC Japanese Restaurants

To start off, if you are ever hungry and craving for some Japanese cuisine go to St.Marks.  The ramen/sushi restaurants are delicious, cheap, friendly, and completely authentic.   They are satisfying to the taste buds of any person wanting Japan’s well-known dishes.  With St.Marks already being popular for their clothing stores and tattoo/piercing parlors; Japanese food is another reason for that.

 Japadog

30 St Marks PL (between Cooper Sq & Astor Pl) New York, NY 10003

646.476.2324     http://www.japadog.com/newyork_En.html

The Japanese restaurants are more or less the same in St.Marks but Japadog is worth highlighting because it is not your typical Japanese food in New York City.  Instead of ramen, udon, or sushi they serve hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs.  What makes it so special and oh so mouth watering is that they top it off with yakisoba, teriyaki sauce, kimchi, or have edamame inside the hot dog.  They have various combinations on their menu that will make you want to try each one.  Along with it you can order fries as well but then, once again, you will have to make a difficult decision of what flavor you want.  Butter & shoyu flavored fries are amazing but they also have more “daring” flavors like shichimi and garlic, curry, or wasabi.  And if you are in the mood for something sweet after the meal you can order the “Ice Age” which is a deep fried bun filled with ice cream with many different flavors.   Your stomach should be growling by now so go and head to Japadog.

Otafuku

236 E 9th St (between 2nd Ave & Stuyvesant St) New York, NY 10003

212.353.8503     http://otafukunyc.com/

It looks like a typical Japanese storefront.  Everyone has to eat outside because of it’s small size.  They are most popular for their takoyaki.  It’s freshly made all day long and is an absolute treat when I stop by.  They are perfectly chewy and savory and for all I know Otafuku makes the best takoyaki in the city.  Not to mention that the food is cheap so you can buy a lot of takoyaki and drink some Ramune as well.

Sushi Park

121 E 2nd Ave (between 7th St & St Marks Pl) New York, NY 10003

212. 533.8448

50% off sushi.  Yes, this restaurant is a favorite for me and my friends because we don’t have to pay a lot but we still get quality sushi.  Their sushi selection is huge, so do expect discovering new flavors that will make you come back for more.  I always tend to order Godzilla sushi roll because it’s fried and have a bunch of things rolled in to it.  Everything is delicious and I recommend it if you ever stop by.  Plus during lunch time they have $1 appetizers which I always take advantage.  For example, I get edamame or dumplings.  Right next to the restaurant, there is also a good spot for 50% ramen.  It just depends what you’re in the mood for.  Both restaurants will not disappoint any Japanese cuisine lover.

NYC Anime Stores

Anime Castle

35-32 Union Street Flushing, NY 11354‎

347.438.1296    http://www.animecastle.com/

A Korean area in Queens is home to a little hole in the wall called Anime Castle.  However, looks are deceiving.  The moment you step inside you will see the store’s huge collection of anime, manga, figurines, and anything else otaku.  Any anime fanatic will go crazy for the store’s variety of products. You can spend hours looking and finding things you can’t find anywhere else in New York City. So it is definitely worth the trip to Flushing.

 

Forbidden Planet

832 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

212.473.1576     http://www.fpnyc.com/

All types of geeks know Forbidden Planet located near Union Square.  You will mostly find graphic novels and merchandise of DC Comics and Marvel.  Even though their store is mostly for people in the comic book fandom, they have a nice supply of Japanese/anime products.  In the store you will find a table cluttered with different figurines.   Every time I visit there are new ones to check out.  The store keeps up to date with the latest manga and it’s one of my favorite places considering the quality, the people, and the history.

 

Image Anime

242 West 30th Street New York, NY 10001

212.631.0966      http://www.imageanime.com/

This is another huge store dedicated to the otaku of New York.  They have the body pillows, wall scrolls, jewelry, and key chains from popular anime so we can represent our love.  They have a lot of different blind box figures which I go for because they are inexpensive, detailed, and small.  The store has unexpected replicas too.  For example, they have an authentic alchemist pocket watch from the anime Full Metal Alchemist.  In the back there are a lot of model kits and even begun to sell Necomimi, the cat ears that move and react according to brain waves.  This store is definitely another hot spot for anime lovers living in New York City.

 

Elizabeth Center

15 Elizabeth St (between Bayard St & Canal St) New York, NY 10013

212.431.5150

If you’re looking for random key chains, plushies, model kits, etc. for a very low price then Elizabeth Center is the place to go.  It’s in Chinatown so you can get bubble tea and then go inside to the lower level of the “mall” where all the anime, arts, crafts, and fashion accessories and apparel are.   You can get various things from here since there are a bunch of small stores packed together.  One store sells mainly anime DVDs while another will sell bread and ramen key chains and phone charms.  You can find a lot of “kawaii” items and it is a favorite spot for presents because they have so many soft plushies and jewelry to get engravings on.

 

Toy Tokyo

91 Second Avenue (between E. 5th & E. 6th St) New York, NY 10003

212.673.5424     https://www.toytokyo.com/

Toy Tokyo is one of those stores you can just enjoy going inside with a friend or by yourself because it’s fun to look at their unique merchandise like their designer toys, different versions of Godzilla, and blind boxes from Kidrobot and Japan.   In the back of the store they have a display case with a mix of different characters from Disney, Studio Ghibli, and iconic television shows and anime.  The store just has a very interesting mix of toys and definitely a place to check out especially when it’s close to Saint Marks where all the good ramen shops are.