varis japan

Part 2: Task: 12 Days of lesser known animated show/film recommendations

Hey, guys! I’ve been a bit down lately, so in order to give myself something to do, I decided to share with you all the lesser known, underrated or entirely hidden gems of the animated world (as far as I know), be it show or film.


-The animation must be traditional (no CGI unless it’s minor and in the background; i’ll do an all CGI list later).

-The recommended work must have soothing, inspiring or otherwise admirable leads with realistic emotional connections.

-The plot of the story must be intriguing if not wholly believable and the artwork must meet certain aesthetic standards.

-The characters must have emotionally realistic interactions with one another in ratio to the time allowed for them to interact.

-The animation in question may be from anywhere in the world.

Also, feel free to clue me in on any that I don’t list, because I would really appreciate a new animated find!  

As a matter of course, a great deal of the listed shows/films will be ‘anime’, simply because japanimation has the monopoly on the most unique and varied story lines, and Japan (and sometimes France) are the only ones making mostly traditionally drawn animated features still.

Alright, here we go … …

Day Two: Fairy Tale Films :)

The Day of the Crows

I absolutely adore this film. Not only is The Day of the Crows a superbly animated feast for the eyes, but the characters, lessons and honest interactions take it a level above most children’s films. Not only that, but the dialogue is wonderfully translated from the French to the English subtitles. As a matter of course, I prefer watching films in their original language unless the dub has some inventive dialogue or more adequate voice acting, but this little known gem isn’t likely to pick up a dub any time soon anyway, so all of you who only watch dubs should make an exception for this one. 

It is the story of a young boy who has been raised by an ogre in the woods, until one day he must leave the protection of the trees for the nearby village in order to save someone precious to him. While there, he meets a young girl and begins to learn the touching history of his family. It’s a delightfully nuanced film. Really, don’t miss it!

Note: The title is mildly misleading, as any crow characters are showcased near the end of the film and don’t get much screen time. But why should that bother anyone?


Fusé: Teppō Musume no Torimonochō 

Is there any anime lover who would pass up a film with adorable characters and animal transformations? Well, I actually would pass up the ‘animal transformations’ part, but that may just be me. Fusé is a touching fairy tale centring around a young huntress who befriends a dog-like humanoid named Shino. What puts this movie a pitch above the other films out there with a similar premise is it’s refusal to give the characters more slack than any real person would get. People die…there’s a surprising amount of gore which I feel is somehow toned up despite the soft animation. It’s the sort of film that makes you laugh less because it’s funny and more because you know your window to find things humorous is rapidly disappearing. You want the characters to be happy….you think they should be because the film is so cute…but it’s the bitter-sweet trick of the story. 

It’s based on the Hakkenden, an old Japanese novel series that details the exploits of the ‘Dog Warriors’, beings reincarnated from the slaughtered spawn of a princess and her dog lover. This is part of why I can forgive the dog-creature theme, because the characters within the story on a few separate occasions refer to the story as a ‘counterfeit’ or parody of the Hakkenden


Snow Maiden

An old Russian animation about a young woman who is the child of Spring and Winter, stepping into a village for the first time and learning that she does not have the capacity to love as other humans do. It’s very touching, very whimsical, and in the end bitter-sweet. I’d recommend it for the beautiful artwork alone, but the characters are given a surprising amount of life considering how old the film is. It’s clearly a labour of love.


The Dead Princess and the Seven Knights

An old Russian film based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The most fantastic thing about this film is that from start to finish the entirety of the script is one looong poem, complete with rhymes. I believe this film, Snow Maiden and The Twelve Months are all apart of the same collection, but these three are not dubbed into English, like some of the better known in the series, such as The Snow Queen. 


The Twelve Months

If you are familiar with this film, it may be because you’ve watched the anime incarnation. I’d advise you to watch this one instead. Not only are the characters a bit more vital, but the art is a step above the anime and the humour is a bit more fluid. It is a Cinderella-like tale about a girl who wanders into the woods after being forced to preform an impossible task, and receives guidance from the Twelve Months, who are portrayed as a band of merry males of various ages having a meeting around a camp fire in the dead of winter.


Kirikou and the Sorceress

Kirikou and the Sorceress is a fascinating film about a young boy who, from the moment he is born, is able to talk and think like an adult. But he is still only a baby, and is very small because of it, which causes troubles between him and the towns people, and eventually gets the attention of a wicked sorceress that finds him a nuisance as he starts to use his size for unusual heroic feats. 

Every character is fun, the dialogue is insightful and the resolution is terribly sweet.


Tales of the Night

A series of re-worked fairy tales told through ‘shadow puppet’ visuals. Beautiful stories, really. All of the interactions between the characters are unique and admirable, and every tale has a satisfying conclusion. You may think the shadow puppet look takes away from it, but, really, it only gives you a bit more emotion to savour since every character looks pretty much the same, allowing their intentions to nakedly drive the stories, rather than their looks.


The Last Unicorn

Based on the book of the same name, and with a screen play by the author, this film is one of the better known ‘hidden gems’. The story follows the ‘last unicorn’, as she searches for others of her kind, who are being held captive in a barren land that is very far away from her gentle forest. She gathers loyal and endearing companions along the way, and eventually looses a bit of herself in the throws of a pseudo-romance with a prince. 

It’s a classic. The animation is unique and whimsical, and the pacing, characters and eventual resolution are all wonderful. It was my favourite film as a child.


The Princess and the Pilot

The Princess and the Pilot is a touching tale about the blooming tenderness and self-awareness between a pilot and the princess he is tasked with transporting across the ocean. There is political intrigue, bold decisions and the rude awakenings of reality in a war torn country. Both the leads are relatable and worth the care you inevitably develop toward them. And though the ending is a little frustrating, it is handled in a realistic and tentative manner that shows the meaning of personal feelings, even if physical circumstances can’t reflect them.


Miss Hokusai

Miss Hokusai is the fictional and slightly sensationalised biography of an actual historical figure from the Japanese artistic past. The story is told in a series of self-contained artistic episodes that explore the philosophy needed to produce vital art, by teaching the characters emotional lessons through supernatural interactions. It’s very unique and telling, and every character has a degree of believably that is pleasantly attention grabbing. Some might complain that the formatting leaves a bit to be desired, but I’m pretty sure this is all intentional. 


Princess Arete

Princess Arete is one of those rare princess films that is all about a princess and her character building, and not at all about romance. 

Little Princess Arete is kept in a tower where she grows increasingly depressed, despite her night time slips into the town bellow her window. By a bitter sort of luck, she is kidnapped by a wizard, and from here able to experience the world, albeit under a curse. The film has a very charmed and truthful grasp on the meanings in minor interactions and it never betrays the passionate heart of it’s female lead.

It’s a bit slow, but if you watch movies for the enrichment they provide and not for the face paced thrills, this one may be for you.


Magic Boy

An old Japanese feature from the ‘60′s about a young boy who must do battle with a wicked witch to protect his home and family. The characters are enjoyable, the battles are pretty neat and the animation is a proto-perfect anime film suite. Honestly, if you’ve seen Kubo and the Two Strings and then you see this, you may feel, as I have, that it is like the spiritual grandfather to Kubo


The Life of Guskou Budori

If you’ve ever seen Night on the Galactic Railroad, these two may look familiar to you. As you watch Guskou, you may develop the suspicion that the characters are an alternate incarnation or perhaps even a canon reincarnation of Giovanni and Campanella. 

The Life of Guskou Budori is about said titular character as he navigates life after the death (otherworldly kidnapping?) of his younger sister during a great famine. The animation is simply gorgeous, and if you can forgive the incredibly vague narrative, you may just find yourself walking along a very enchanted dream.

Like Galactic Railroad, all of the characters are anthropomorphised cats. I’m unsure why that is, but it’s cute and inventive. It too, is based on a book. If you haven’t seen Night on the Galactic Railroad, I would also recommend that one, as it is very touching and poetic, but it is very slow. If you happen to like both of them, the anime Spring and Chaos, another anthropomorphic cat tale, may be for you, as it is about the guy who wrote the two aforementioned stories.


Tales from Earthsea

If you are a studio Ghibli fan, you may be in for a treat. This is a loose adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin’s seminal work the Earthsea series. It wraps into one film the characters and issues of four books, and so it doesn’t do the books much justice as it has bit off a bit more than it can chew. But if you accept it as an entirely different story that happens to have similar magical rules and the same names as the Earthsea series character’s have, the film is quite good. 

Young Arren is a disturbed young man who runs away from his posh life and is picked up by the Arch-mage Ged. After making a special friend and fighting a deranged wizard, Arren learns how to own up to his fears and find peace despite his crimes. I recommend watching the original Japanese dub, as it is a bit more insightful about the Earthsea world.

It is directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro. If you like this film, you may like his other, more well rounded film From Up On Poppy Hill (my favourite Ghibli film), and Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, which is an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’s book of the same name (and a far more skillfully crafted adaptation than Tales from Earthsea. The perks of being a seasoned animator, I guess).

If you like the films, or even if you don’t, I recommend reading the Earthsea series and the Howl’s Moving Castle series. I prefer the latter. 

A by itself, B-/C+ if compared to the books.

Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice is one of those barbarian films from the early 80′s. It’s got action and romance and wild prehistoric beasts, an obvious bad guy that’s still pretty well rounded despite his minor screen time and a bit of sorcery that you can laugh at if your mind is dirty enough to catch the innuendos. In a nutshell, Fire and Ice is a great late night blast from the past that every child of the 90′s should see at least once.

With art overseen by the legendary Frank Frazetta, I think any serious artist could find this film pretty rad as well. 


The Cat Returns

The Cat Returns is a fascinating continuum of Shizuku’s story from Whisper of the Heart (another Ghibli film). It’s a fairy tale to the max, complete with a dapper cat ‘prince’ and woefully silly damsel-in-distress. It’s a lesser known Ghibli film, which is why it’s on the list, and if you do watch it, I recommend pairing it with Whisper of the Heart, a high school drama about a young girl’s blossoming romance and her attempt to write a novel, since it’s only right to see the little strings that connect the two tales. 

It’s funny, charming and the Baron has a British accent ;) Mmm-mm delish!



Whew! What a long list!

Next time: Best Comedy Supernatural animated shows/films.

anonymous asked:

Hi! I've been on a spiritual quest for the past year and the only religion I've found so far that's truly in line with my personality is Shintoism. Animism is the cornerstone of my spirituality, and two of the gods I feel especially called to. I've read from some people that Shinto is not a closed religion, but I feel like me practising it would be intrusive.. and it's really hard to find English resources. Are non-Japanese welcome, and if so, where does one begin? Thank you for your time!

Hi there! Sorry it’s taken so long to reply – I’ve been away at a festival! Finally settling back in though.

Approach Shinto with respect and sincerity and it is open to anyone. The difficulty that can come with a religion like Shintoism is that what some people understand by it comes from when the Meiji era government tried to amalgamate centuries and centuries of folk beliefs and practises across a place as huge and varied as Japan into a single “State Shinto” religion (which, well, I won’t go into a history lesson now, but it was more complicated than that and Shit Happened). Part of this history in which the religion was twisted by the state and reportedly used as a tool for nationalistic propaganda is why (imo!) it’s very important to keep Shinto open, accepting and unrestricted by politics. In matters of appropriation, historical and cultural context is everything (hence why this does not apply to other cultures and practises that have come through very different circumstances). Besides, what Shinto comes down to at the basic level is acknowledging the living spirits in and around everything and everyone, everywhere. This is not a mindset that calls for exclusion.

As someone who was born into a Japanese family in Japan and had very much a “folk shinto” upbringing, I understand exactly why it can feel as though it’s hard to know where to start – after all, a lot of my practises were handed down to me through my family, and some of them I’ve never read or seen anywhere during my research on shintoism and Japanese folk religion, which just speaks to the sheer variety of practises across Japan! But I also have the experience of an immigrant, moving away from my homeland and then trying to fit together a spiritual belief system that at times seems so innately tied to the culture and geography of Japan (specific mountains, rivers, trees – not to mention my ancestral shrines being on the other side of the world). So, to the best of my ability, here are some tips (I am assuming you are living outside of Japan for this).

🌸 My circumstances have led my form of worship/spirituality to become very freeform, but I’m actually happier with that in a lot of ways. If possible, a kamidana (home shrine/altar to a kami/deity) is supposed to contain a shintai (an object a kami can possess/live within such as a special mirror) obtained from an official Shinto temple, and it’s possible to buy them (despite my practise veering away from the ‘official’ religious institutions, I still believe it’s a good thing to financially support Shinto temples, which are so important to Japanese culture!) (AKA, don’t just get them off of western profiteers on eBay…). I myself don’t have a temple shintai, finding a small offering space to be enough currently, however I will have family send or bring over omamori bought from temples. I guess what I’m saying is, you don’t have to have any ‘official’ items from temples, but I would consider getting some if at all possible at some point just to support the temples that are the material lifeblood of Shintoism and, for me, it makes me feel more connected to my home. Even if it’s just something small like an omamori!

🌸 If you are already strong on animism, you are already halfway there on the philosophy of Shintoism! The animistic side of the religion is one that speaks to me so much. Continue to meditate on this. So many Japanese folk tales and beliefs come from the idea of everything from objects to concepts having its own divine and living essence. One thing that comes to mind is to be respectful to your tools and possessions that have served you well – honour the spirits of everything. Recycling is a great way of doing this, as well as looking after all possessions in your care. Notice the small things, and the things that may seem outwardly ugly. And be eco friendly!

🌸 Do not underestimate the healing, transformative and transcendental power of ancestral contact and ancestral veneration. We don’t all have ancestral shrines, or access to them if we do, but they are not necessary. There are many ways to make this contact, as exemplified by its practise across a wide range of cultures, and if it’s something you have never done before, it can be life-changing. The first time I reached out to my ancestors as an adult and made that connection was an experience that, for me, helped to begin healing so many wounds left from my complex family situation and my separation from my first home, as well as leaving me with a lot to ponder.

🌸 If you are mindful of being appropriative or intrusive, a lot of it is common sense. However, it can be difficult when you come across things that are controversial within that religion or culture, or that you’re not sure you agree with. For example, the idea that the imperial family of Japan are descended from the sun goddess is one that I decline to entertain. Personally and politically, I reject all ideas of superiority/distinction by birthright, meaning emperors and monarchs on the whole I disagree with all by themselves, even if they are purely ceremonial. (The Japanese idea of the Emperor being descended from Amaterasu is more nuanced than western conceptions of divine rulers, btw, but my political leanings are radically leftwards.) As a non-Japanese person, how you navigate these things is down to you. I mean, you don’t have to navigate them at all, probably, but it feels worth mentioning. Just be mindful that you’re not mouthing off about things you don’t have the fully realised context of, or being straight-up rude about it. I fully respect viewpoints that differ from mine in this regard, and you can too.

🌸 I am currently based in the UK. Say a spiritualist native to here goes to a river near my house and offers a prayer to a river spirit, which she calls a nymph, and I go to the same river and offer a prayer to a river spirit, which I call a kami. Our prayers and offerings may be different, our belief systems may be different, but what’s to say that we’re not really speaking to the same thing? I believe that there are kami and similar spirits here, just like there are in Japan. Perhaps they’re just used to a different set of traditions, or manifest in different ways. If you practise shinto, please never disrespect or ‘compete’ with other religious and spiritual beliefs in its name. It is antithetical to its core beliefs.

This is incredibly long already… so I think I’ll leave it there! But hopefully this will act as some food for thought for you and might even have helped. Please feel free to ask any more specific questions, although as these answers may have made clear, my path is quite different to a lot of people’s conception of “official” shinto and I continue to veer further into the philosophical wilderness every day…

All the best with your spiritual journey!


Aokigahara Forest, aka “Suicide Forest”; “The forest is a popular place for suicide, reportedly the most popular in Japan. Statistics vary, but what is documented is that during the period leading up to 1988, about 100 suicides occurred there every year.”

hetalia lost in a grocery store
  • America: stupid shit and vinessss
  • Canada: everyone bumps into him
  • France: drama queen all over the floor
  • England: attempting to cope
  • Russia: tall enough to see the exit
  • China: he is so old people stop to help him
  • Italy: bargaining with god to send germany
  • Germany: figures it out in .2 sec/ uses his gps with varied results
  • Japan: apologizing to everyone, can you help him
  • Romano: the tomatoes have accepted him into their society
  • Prussia: scaring all the other shoppers
  • Austria: happens all the time, calls germany
  • Sweden: it is impossible for him to get lost

So this was an interview I found on YouTube that took place from last year’s Tokyo Pride Parade. It’s somewhat of an enlightening watch, to be honest, and I think it shows a relatively nice accuracy as to how the LGBT community is in Japan.

As far as my expectations go when I first watched it, it was as realistic as it could be. In the end, everyone’s experience of living as part of the LGBT community in Japan varies; some are open-minded about it, some are tolerating, some are unfortunately homophobic and the like.

The reason I tagged this as OnS though is that I think it kind of relates to Mikayuu and the possibility of it being canon. After all, media content, even anime, is often affected by and related to society’s ever-changing climate. It’s nice to know that for what it’s worth, it looks like Japan is headed towards the right direction; albeit at a really slow pace, but not too bad either.

Apparently there is a series that Takaya Kagami has done before where a character was canonically gay, but the author did a cop out towards the end. While I don’t know if Kagami-sensei will go towards a similar route for OnS, watching this video and seeing the general attitude from at least a couple of people, I’d like to think that, until I’m proven wrong, I can give him the benefit of the doubt and say he does know; what he’s doing when it comes to portraying Mika’s and Yuu’s relationship.

Will he make it canon? Probably not. But at the same time, I’d like to think that he knows exactly what vibes he’s giving out to his fans for Mikayuu, and that even if he doesn’t make it canon, neither will he take away what we already have. ^^

anonymous asked:

Hello, Just to say (as there wasn't enough room in the last box) I would be very grateful for your insight as it is for a design dissertation I am writing, so i would be very grateful for any feedback you could give me!! I really hope that i hear from you, it would be very much appreciated, thank you for your time :)

Ok, here are the questions and answers this person asked.

1. What factors most effect the visuals of games? (new technological advancements, social expectations,cultural input, current/past events,films, budget etc) 

The #1 factor is the art director for the team. The art director sets the vision for the visuals of the game, and that informs everything. Things like technology, social expectations, etc. are all taken into consideration and constraints (along with things like the target ESRB rating, the target audience, and so on), but it ultimately falls to the team leadership to decide what the aesthetic of the game will look like. Some art directors push for the more realistic type, while others prefer a more stylized approach. Some are huge fans of cinema and cinematic techniques, and others are much more utilitarian in approach. It really depends on the decisions of the art director (and executive producer).

2. Which countries are your biggest buyers and do they effect the visual art within your games you produce? 

North America consume a lot of video games and is generally our primary market due to proximity and ease of entry. Asia is quite varied - Japan buys a lot of games too, but they are more constrained culturally than the Americans are so they are more reticent to buy certain kinds of games (or any Microsoft console). China is an absolutely enormous gaming market, but they primarily play PC and mobile games instead of game consoles. Europe is collectively the third largest traditional market, but that’s amortized across many multiple countries.

The art style can be informed by the nation we’re releasing in. Sometimes we need to localize based on specific cultural cues, or we’re constrained by local laws affecting what we are allowed to display. One of the largest emerging markets in the world is China, and their government is very strict about what can and cannot be shown in a game (e.g. no exposed bones, corpses only in certain conditions, etc.). However, that’s just requirements that we usually make and adjust after the fact, rather than affecting the vision that is used from the beginning to inform the game’s visuals.

3.How do you find the visual depiction of women in games, do you find them to be too orientated toward the male market? and do you find them to be overly sexualised? 

Games are widely varied in terms of media and depictions. While oversexualization has been a persistent problem in general (to the detriment of many otherwise-fine games), things are improving. You can always find problem examples in games without much trouble, but it’s becoming easier and easier to find alternative games that just aren’t as sexualized. The progress might not be coming as fast as some would like, but it is definitely noticeable. The publishers have certainly noticed it - diversity in representation and less pandering have actually translated to more money being earned, so you should expect the general trend to continue. However, there will always be a market for the sexy, so smart money would bet on there always being at least some developers who will develop for that audience.

4.Will the revisit of retro, pixel style games last or fade?

The pixel aesthetic won’t really go away as long as there are people who will pay for games with that visual style. I don’t expect it to be the primary style for any AAA games, but it’s very popular among indie devs and very conducive to getting started.