Roses in the Midst of Scorching Heat (Appreciation for Female Characters on Sports Anime, Pt. 1)

Most of the sports anime out there are shounen and most of the characters are bishounen. Thus, these anime series are well-loved by fujoshi fans. Even I myself have moments who ship these adorable guys with adorable friendships. I just loved the friendship (bromance, if you call it) during my earlier days with anime though. (Ah, innocence.) Most of my period of growing up is spent watching shoujo anime series, however, and I still love certain shoujo series, so I can’t help but still pay attention to the few female characters on these sports anime shows. I think they are less appreciated, especially that they don’t really have that much character development.

Here, I’m going to give them some appreciation. Or at least those which are on the series that I’ve watched or am currently following. I still envy them for being around a lot of bishounen, though.


 

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Kanzaki Miki (Yowamushi Pedal)

Miki is the manager of the Sohoku Bicycle Riding club. Even before entering the school, she already knew about the team members because of her older brother who was a previous member of the club. She is as passionate as the riders when it comes to bicycles, always supporting the team especially during official races. She’s seen attending to bicycle shop they own, too. Miki is also one of the first people who believed in Onoda. She is responsible for the race between Iwaizumi and Onoda as well as the one who got gears for Onoda’s mommy bike so that he will be able to use it for some racing. Ever since, she’s always been rooting for him. I kinda ship her with Iwaizumi, though, as they were childhood friends. (Kinda like AomineSatsuki.)

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Takasaki Natsu (Baby Steps)

Natsu is a well-known, skillful tennis player who supports and motivates Maruo in his quest to the professional tennis world. Actually, knowing her became Maruo’s stepping stone to the world of tennis. Not surprisingly, Maruo supports and motivates her. Actually, he came to like her. (Spoiler [highlight to read]: And they became lovers eventually. I love their relationship with each other because they are the type of couple who don’t obsess over each other. They’re living their own lives, pursuing their own dreams while supporting  each other. They have a healthy relationship!) She may be that typical popular, talented, bubbly girl, but she isn’t irritating. She is honest with her feelings. Natsu also strives hard to improve her skills to be a pro, so she never cut corners even during practice. (Actually, all of them are like that.) I really need to catch up to the latest chapters of the manga to know what’s happening with her (as well as the others) now.

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Kiyoko Shimizu (Haikyuu!!)

Karasuno High School’s volleyball club manager. She is quiet, hardworking, supportive, reliable, and is well-liked by the team members. She’s so loved, even, that Tanaka and Nishinoya has some sort of fan club for her along with Nekoma’s ace, Taketora. Oh, and Kiyoko’s so pretty that she attracts attention and makes other teams envious of Karasuno. She was actually a track-and-field athlete, specifically of hurdle sprint. However, she had an injury which put an end to her sports career. Now, she is doing great as the team’s manager, giving her all to support the team. I love how she has a good relationship with everybody, even Kageyama, and how she’s the reason why Asahi changed his way of tying his hair. (Though I personally prefer his bun over that headband.) She’ll surely be missed once she graduates.

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Mashiba Kumi (Hajime no Ippo)

She is Mashiba’s younger sister and Ippo’s love interest. Kumi has become good friends with Ippo’s friends. Even if she didn’t understand the dedication of the boxers for the sport, she still continued to support her brother, and soon after, Ippo and his friends as well. I love the scenes when she’s flustered around Ippo, but I enjoy more the ones when his older brother is involved. It’s just so funny to see Ippo bear with her brother just to be with her.

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Aida Riko (Kuroko no Basuke)

Riko is Seirin High’s basketball club coach. Yes, still a student but already coaches a team full of adrenaline! Young though she may be, her experience from when she was a child while her dad was still coaching basketball teams helped her gain credibility as well as ability to coach the whole team. Like how the main players have a supernatural ability, she also possesses the ability to know the body statistics of someone just by seeing their naked form. (Because of her, there’s some free fan service.) She knows how to lead the team for them to be stronger and she also has good judgment during games. She has awful cooking skill, though. And a creepy but good coach of a father. Oh, but I love her relationship with Junpei. Those two are adorable!

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Takashima Rei (Diamond no Ace)

Rei-chan, as Miyuki calls her, is Seido High’s assistant director who also acts as a scout for baseball players from middle schools. She is a good judge of character and talent. She is responsible for scouting Miyuki (she’s one of the two reasons why he entered Seido!), Chris (though it’s just implied), beloved Eijun, and Tetsu’s younger brother Masashi. I bet she’s responsible for a lot more others playing there, too. She also cares a lot for them. She was seen frustrated when she realized that there was something wrong with Miyuki, but she had no means to know all that happens in the dugout. Now that I think about it, it could be a noona romance between those two. With like, 11 years age gap?


These 6 characters for now. There are more of them to come!

Two Worlds Before One’s Eyes

The anime I’m talking about here in the post is an anime with its 6th season ongoing now. After watching the first season, I don’t understand why this isn’t that much recommended by any of my friends. Sighs. Anyway, I’m talking about Natsume Yuujinchou.


Natsume Yuujinchou, or Natsume’s Book of Friends, is a Japanese fantasy manga series by Midorikawa Yuki (Hotarubi no Mori e). It was adapted into anime and became part of the Summer 2008 lineup.

28859lNatsume Takashi has the ability to see spirits, which he has long kept secret. However, once he inherits a strange book that belonged to his deceased grandmother, Reiko, he discovers the reason why spirits surround him. Containing the names of these spirits, a binding contract was formed between the spirits and the owner of the book. Now, Natsume is determined to free the spirits and dissolve the contracts. With the help of a spirit cat, his days are filled trying to return the names to these spirits.

(Source: ANN)

That summary captures what this series is all about. Except that it’s not really “once he inherits a strange book” because that phrase implies that he has yet to have it when the yuujinchou has actually been with him for a long time; it’s just that he didn’t really pay much regard to it.

Anyhow, this series has an episodic format. Each episode, Natsume deals with different youkai who come to him either to get the book or to ask for his help. Though there are a lot of anime series out there which have people fighting youkai, this one does not belong to that list. He may have to “deal with” one or two every once in a while, but it’s not action-packed. I actually find this anime somehow relaxing. (Gives me feels very much like Aria The Animation and Kimi to Boku.)

Each of these youkai have their own stories — some sad, some heartwarming, some entertaining — which causes the changes in Natsume’s perspective of things. For me, each one of these youkai are memorable. Their backstories are touching, so much so that I found myself tearing up a lot of times. Or maybe I’m really just a crybaby. My favorite youkai are Hotaru (2nd row 4th column), Hinoe (3R 1C), Tsubame (3R 3C), Kogitsune (3R 4C), and Tsuyukami (1R 3C).

In addition to the stories of the different youkai, Natsume’s past also elicit heartbreaking feels. He had to move from one house of some people somehow related to him to another until he ended up with the couple that he lives with now. He was bullied, so he grew up alone. It’s amazing how he didn’t end up depressed after all those. Just those facts makes me want to hug him and protect him and tell him that I love him. But this is not just the story of him with youkai, but also of him growing up to meet the right people (and creatures?) that will be important to him.

The times when Natsume brings back a youkai’s name is something I looked forward to because Natsume gets to know and to understand his grandmother Reiko in addition to getting to know the youkai’s backstory. By the end of this season, though, there are still a lot of mystery surrounding her, as well as Natsume’s parents, that it’s obvious that the following seasons are a must-watch to answer questions about them. Nevertheless, since I loved the series, I found myself not minding the fact that there are 4 more seasons after. In fact, I’m so excited to see more of his interactions with youkai and other people.

86cc9f5e5ef0967e81dbbd52b41dedbaOh, and one other thing I enjoy here is Natsume and Madara’s interactions. Madara’s just so adorable as that maneki neko-looking cat! How he insists that he doesn’t care about Natsume getting eaten or what and yet still going after him to protect him is just so lovely.

Anyway, the series has a good soundtrack. It makes good use of them, too. The OP, “Issei no Sei (一斉の声; Simultaneous Voice)” by Kita Shuuhei, has quite a slow opening sequence, with Natsume slowing getting near the screen and moving clouds as backdrop. He closes his eyes then a woman with backs turned back to the screen showing. As he opens his eyes again, the woman is gone and the pace of the song picks up, showing different people with almost every beat. I especially like the part when different youkai are showed.

Meanwhile, the ED,”Natsu Yuuzora (夏夕空; Summer Evening Sky)” by Atari Kousuke, is a very relaxing song sang with only string instruments (guitars?). The sequence has a not-so-detailed, simple art with colors that look like they are painted by watercolors (which reminded me of the art for Ghibli’s Princess Kaguya). It features a long shot of Natsume lying down on grass then Madara eventually goes to sit beside him. There’s only one scene when a close up of Natsume’s face was shown above the long shot view. By the end of the sequence, I liked how it showed Touko calling out to Natsume (possibly for dinner?) and he and Madara goes to walk with her.

Natsume Yuujinchou is animated by Brain’s Base (Durarara!!, Kuragehime, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun). The designs are simple yet pleasing to the eyes. I love the colors chosen for each one of them. (Sometimes, though, I feel sad when I look at Natsume because he reminds me of Gin, Hotarubi no Mori e‘s MC.)

Daiya no A Act II: New Roster Prediction

I was inspired by audriel89’s analysis, so I thought of writing about my thoughts of who may be included in the summer roster. The jersey numbers have been revoked so there’s so much to choose from, but the Golden Week showed pretty much some clues on who may be included in the list.

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Miyuki Kazuya — Well, he’s admittedly the best catcher among all the others. He proved himself to be a reliable 4th batter. Plus, he’s the captain, so there’s just no way we won’t see him get that number 2 jersey. (Plot armor. Haha.)

Ono Hiroshi — He has always been an official reserve catcher. He forms a good battery with all the pitchers as well. I actually don’t remember him catching for Furuya on an official game, but he recently mentioned on chapter 77 that he failed to be effective during the Meiji Jingu tournament. If anything bad happens to Miyuki (of course, I’m not wishing for this), I think he’s the best choice to be the substitute.

Okumura Koushuu — With the plays he showed during the intra-squad game between 1st years and 3rd years and the two games during the Golden Week (which they both won), I think he already proved himself to be a capable catcher as well as a good hitter. Miyuki noted that he is able to communicate well with the pitcher. Ochiai also said that he has good leadership skills that is able to make even the older members follow him. If I’m going to be honest, I think he’s better than Ono skill-wise, but it’s just that Ono has been trusted by the other members for a longer time. Anyhow, I bet Okumura is going to be the future Miyuki. And honestly, here’s to hoping that he will be able to experience having fun during the official games on summer. And he has to get the acknowledgment he wants from Miyuki before he retires!

Yui Kaoru — We really haven’t seen him play a game as a catcher, but he’s a good batter (I think he’s better than Masashi now) and, as noted by Ochiai, a good runner, so it will be good to have him on the first string. If Sawamura only had one hit during the time he relieved while he had a battery with Yui during the recent Golden Week game, I think he’s pretty capable, too. Seeing that he had difficulties catching Furuya’s fastballs while Furuya felt that it was easy to pitch to Okumura, I think Furuya will prefer to form a battery with Okumura over him, though. Unless he will be able to change his impression to him in the short time left.

Sawamura Eijun — With his notable pitching during the Golden Week against Hakuryuu, there’s just no way he will not be included in the roster! And here’s to my hopes that he will finally get that number 1 jersey! He may be lacking to be the Ace before, but now, he’s certainly up for it. He deserves to get the position. The difficult circumstances he was able to overcome molded him into the kind of pitcher he is now — able to calmly pitch even with runners on base or in pinch (started when he was in junior high), to make different pickoff patterns (thanks to Chris for actually teaching him to pickoff), to coordinate with Miyuki to oust a stealing runner, to effectively pitch low and away (again, thanks to Chris helping him while he had yips) combined with his high inside, and to throw different pitches through varying grips (hey, thanks to Ochiai for this). What’s more, he’s always trusted his team mates as he has been expressing always through his catchphrase and the different appeals he make for them. Plus, he’s always seeking to improve himself, always being hard on himself despite the positive performances he show. I think what he only needs now is to be fully trusted by his team mates. I have no doubts about him getting better in batting because what he’s set his eyes on, he always pursue and make happen.

Kawakami Norifumi — He is becoming even more reliable now, what with his getting better throwing his sinker. In the recent update, I think he’s become even more determined to snatch the Ace number. Honestly, I wouldn’t have problem if he’ll get it because I think he’ll be like Tanba back in the day. But I still want Eijun to be the Ace because Miyuki. I’d really love to see him shine during one of the upcoming games because his last performance during the Spring tournament didn’t end well. He just deserves to pitch to a game where he will be satisfied before he retires!

Kawashima Kengo — I have no idea what types of pitches he throw but he seems to be quite good, based on the stats of the Golden Week games. Miyuki was glad that he was added as a pitcher, too, so his performance should be helpful for the first string.

Furuya Satoru — As of chapter 77, Ono already confronted Furuya with one of his problems. In the 1.5 months, I think he will be able to pick himself up again and get better (prolly straightening out his view of his teammates and improving his control and all), but I’m really just biased toward Eijun that I don’t want him to get the Ace number. But I still like Furuya. Anyhow, he’s such a good batter that it’ll be a shame if he won’t be chosen to be part of the roster. Oh, and if he’ll be able to control better his pitches, I think he’ll be a much scarier left fielder, especially since he has a good shoulder/throwing arm already.

Maezono Kenta — His performance as a batter has become more stable now. I think him being on the 5-hole isn’t bad at all. That lineup of them (Kuramochi, Haruichi, Shirasu, Miyuki, Maezono) is aggressive and powerful, though, of course, it may change based on their opponents. People were waiting for his comeback during their last game with Ichidai Sankou, so I think he better give the audience what they want and go smack all the pitches out of the park!

Kominato Haruichi — Ever since the start of the series, having him on the plate already gives me that assurance that he’s just not letting anything pass by easily. He’s improved so much even with his combination with Kuramochi. I’m so excited to see him giving the pitchers a hard time with that wood bat of his!

Okumura_and_Seto_Seto Takuma — He’s been moved up on the second string and is always seen on base, even if the first time (during the game with the 3rd years) he got through perseverance, he was still able to get on base. He puts pressure on the pitcher while on base. His presence is very much like Kuramochi who pitchers dislike to get on base. The way they smile are similar, too! I think it’ll be scary to see him and Kuramochi both on base.

Kuramochi Youichi — Of course, he’s the team’s vanguard! Whether he gets on base or not affects the result of the play. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be the leadoff batter again. I wonder if we’ll actually see him being admired by the audience because of switch-hitting. I know he gets on base more when batting left, but he’s sticking to switch-hitting because it’s cool for him, so I hope he gets recognition for that. Oh, and his combination with Haruichi is one of the things I’m most excited about, too! I’m looking forward to seeing them delivering difficult plays.

Takatsu Hiroomi — His position is a shortstop like Kuramochi, but he hasn’t been seen playing the part. All that we’ve seen of him is his batting skills and he was successful in appealing to the coaches as he was moved up to the first string. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him, though. I hope Terajima-sensei shows more of his personality, not just his attitude toward baseball.

Kanemaru Shinji — He has been proving himself worthy to play the third baseman. And props to him for performing well as a batter when he was first given the opportunity as a pinch hitter. Ever since then, he is gradually improving himself. But I think he still has to practice more batting. I don’t know why but I’m hoping that he’s one of those who will be able to hit off Mei. Anyhow, I think his performance during defense is good enough.

Shirasu Kenjiro — I love it whenever he shows his throwing skills. It’s just lovely to see him throw to the plate to get the runner out. He is even more reliable now than before, especially that he hits more now when he’s at bat.

Toujou Hideaki — Toujou used to be a pitcher (but he still volunteers to be a practice pitcher) in junior high and he still hasn’t given up to be one. It is possible that he may join the group of pitchers for first string once the current third years graduate, but for now, he is a reliable center fielder and batter.

Asou Takeru — Asou seems like a good observer. He was able to catch a ball a batter sent to an irregular spot. (I’m not 100% sure about this because Seki mentioned it at the dugout, too, so they might have been discussing about it while they were watching the game.)

Yuuki Masashi — For now, he has to improve his fielding skills which are very much like EIjun’s and Furuya’s when they were still first years. With his determination, I think he will be able to get better in the short time left. During the time he batted at the game with Ichidai Sankou, he struck out because of the lack of strategy. I think he better improve with that, too.

The next two are really some more wild guesses.

Yamaguchi Ken — He is able to hit long, much like Maezono, though Maezono really just improved so much more than him. Nevertheless, he plays well with the other third years which are on the previous list of roster and while on the Golden Week practice matches.

Seki Naomichi — I think this is more like because I’m quite biased toward him compared to the other less-focused-on third years, but I will really miss his “naa?” if he won’t be in the roster. Anyway, I don’t remember much of his plays, but I think he’s skilled enough to be given the number 13 jersey before. Oh, and he’s the other bunt master aside from Eijun! 


Some more thoughts about the other players:

Kijima Rei — He plays second baseman like Haruichi and like him, looks up to Ryosuke. I think he is quite good, though the most memorable scene I remember of him is when he was the first base coach during the game against Yakushi before. I actually want him to be in the roster, too.

Mimura Ryota — Like Kijima, the most memorable scene of him for me is when he acted as the third base coach for the game against Yakushi. I liked his judgment which made them be able to score another run. He’s apparently a center fielder like Toujou, though.

Kuki Youhei — He’s been moved up to the second string along with Seto, Okumura, and Kagami. I think he still has a lot more to learn, though. I’m glad to know that he’s somehow like Sawamura who never shows much concern even with runners on base.

Kagami Kouta — It is noted that his presence is somewhat like Shirasu’s. There’s not much scene with him, though. If he’s even better than Yamaguchi and Seki in batting as well as fielding, I think he will be chosen.

Asada Hirofumi — I have so much hopes for dear Asada. For now, he is like Sawamura during the start of Act I when he wasn’t chosen to be part of the first string. For Asada, he couldn’t even move up the second string. But I just know he boasts of a lot of potentials. Very much like Sawamura, he just needs to gradually improve one step at a time.

Daiya no Ace: Seido High (Ichinen Trio)

This post has been on the drafts gathering virtual dusts for months now. Currently, Act II already has 76 chapters. My view about certain things changed because of the development in the story and because of some realizations, so I had to heavily edit the original post. This led me to the decision to make this a series of posts. Anyway, I want to say some things for each one of them, so this would have been a looong post had I not cut it to different parts.


Seido High School

From this school comes the protagonists of the series. A lot of happenings are shown on their training grounds and in the dorm and cafeteria. From Act I to Act II, the first string had six different sets of members so far.

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Some of the first set of regulars. From L to R: Miyuki, Sawamura, Furuya, Haruichi, Masuko, Tanba, Chris, Ryosuke, Masuko, Kuramochi, Isashiki, Tetsu

In this post, though, I’d like to talk about the Ichinen Trio.


Sawamura Eijun is the main protagonist of the story. The story starts with him being scouted to enter this school and as he enter here, he finds himself facing many trials, realizing that the path to his goal — to be the ace of the team — is not easy. Everything that he has to go through is a step building up to him being a more reliable pitcher.

He is known for his strong will, which allows him to pursue what his eyes set on doing, as well as his hardworking nature. He has the capability to positively influence the people around him. His usual energy is sometimes a bit annoying, but most of the time energizing. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that his energy causes the atmosphere to change. He is also adorable! He is adorable when he runs as practice and bunts and gets on base and pitches (I love his catchphrase and his habit of inhaling-exhaling lots to calm down) and gets serious… HE IS JUST SO PRECIOUS AND LOVEABLE!

nickiforov_tumblr1I feel so bad thinking that he doesn’t get what he deserve. Sawamura is a comic relief in a lot circumstances. He is heard shouting from the dugout or from the bullpen during the times he isn’t on the mound. Those are instances which may make the fans love him even more, but that still do not erase the fact that many times, he is shunned to the side. He is a comic relief to show that ‘hey, the MC’s still here!’. Then again, perhaps this is Terajima-sensei’s way of showing the step by step growth of Sawamura. Every time Sawamura gets on the mound, he is different. 

I do love it when the other characters are not only one-dimensional, when they are given backstories and all, but I was frustrated because I also wanted to see more of him because he is a lot more fun and interesting pitcher. I enjoyed watching the times whenever he is sent on the mound to pitch because those are also the times when all the other members get more screen time. (He pitches to contact, so…) His reliance on his team mates makes him shine.

In the recent manga updates, he is getting more and more recognition and I hope Terajima-sensei won’t suddenly drop the mood again.

8d506e1d12f8df480c33040540043b6fAnyway, another pitcher who shares the spotlight is Furuya Satoru. On the same year as Sawamura, he is a pitcher who pitches powerful fastballs that make him gain lots of attention. He is Sawamura’s main rival for being the ‘Ace’. Being tall and dark-haired, at first he reminded me of Kageyama (Haikyuu!!) and Imaizumi (Yowamushi Pedal), but eventually I realized that his character is completely different from them. Furuya may be naturally gifted, but he is not loud. In contrast, he does not talk much but is straightforward whenever he speaks and he expresses what he wants, though more intensely through his body aura (which I actually find adorable). He can be a bit of an oddball as well. (His “stamina roll” is adorable. Haha.)

A lot of people have an issue about his hogging the spotlight from Sawamura and I admit that it did irk me whenever the show seemed to rub in my face that he is ‘better’. Yes, from the start, it has been made clear that he is more capable of playing both offense and defense than Sawamura. His fast and heavy pitches are also more capable to do three for three’s, but he is also still lacking in different aspects. Stamina and control (thus his “staminaroll”) still has to be developed. Moreover, he is still inconsistent. Whenever he is doing good, he can be untouchable, but whenever he isn’t, he can also be so bad.

It frustrates me that Furuya is overpraised when Sawamura usually gets the ‘unbelievable!’ looks from people (not saying all but majority of the people), constantly hearing that he just got lucky or the like. As if they didn’t see that he is capable of good plays. Sawamura may not be as good as Furuya in batting (he’s good at bunts, though) but he can be reliable as well. Let me make this clear, though: I do not hate/dislike Furuya. Maybe if Furuya were a more interesting character and had an evident superior ability than Sawamura, I wouldn’t mind the hype his team mates, the coaches, reporters, and other people are giving him. (Then again, maybe that 153 km/h pitch is that seemingly impossible for high schoolers.)

I’m looking forward to his character development. The only time I think I saw him improve is around the start of Act II. With the recent chapters, I’m still not sure if he’s undergoing an improvement or a regress.

9a447d41dbe83b25356ce38df3a9992bLast but certainly not the least, Kominato Haruichi. He’s well-known as Harucchi as that is the name given him by Sawamura. It’s a running gag how Sawamura calls him “Haruo”, “Lucky Boy”, and other names, whenever he’s up to bat. At the start, he was just a pinch hitter, but he eventually became the second baseman. He admires his brother and desires to be acknowledged by him. (I love their relationship!) I love how he sticks with wooden bats despite circumstances that says he should stop. My favorite moments are when his eye is shown whenever he bats (well, this is much more frequent now on Act II) and when he raises his hand while blushing after hitting a ball and taking a base.

The rant I have regarding him is about the OP, ED, and posters that have him in the company of Sawamura and Furuya. Yes, he is a good support and player, but I never got the feel that he is as important as them as those OP and ED make it seem. I was so disappointed when I realized that he isn’t really that much of a main protagonist as compared to the the previous two and Miyuki.

With the way things are in the manga, I’m excited to see how he will show his growth as a player. After all, he surely does not want to lose to the other two.


And these are the three lovely boys. They are the Ichinen Trio but they aren’t first years anymore, though. And mentioning this makes me emotional because I’m reminded that it means Miyuki, Kuramochi, and some others are graduating soon!

Extravagant Challenge!

Nowadays, I feel like there is an increasing number of drama adaptations of manga series though even before, a lot are existing. Some of the most popular ones — Hana Yori Dango and Itazura na Kiss, just to name two — are even adapted in China, Taiwan, and Korea, too. (Kanojo wa Uso o Aishisugiteru has its Korean drama adaptation ongoing this season.) Now, I’d like to talk about the drama adaptation of one of my favorite manga series — Skip Beat!


Skip Beat! is a shoujo manga by Nakamura Yoshiki. It is published by Hakusensha in the Hana to Yume magazine. The anime adaptation of the series was part of the Fall 2008 lineup. This drama adaptation, which is also known by the title Extravagant Challenge or Glamorous Challenge, aired from December 18, 2011 to April 1, 2012 with 15 episodes.

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Gong Xi sacrificed her life to support her boyfriend, Bu Puo Shang, so he could become a successful singer. One day, Shang suddenly breaks up with Gong Xi, leaving her with nothing, and Gong Xi vows revenge. She decides to delve into the entertainment world and become even more successful than Shang to get back at him. Gong Xi therein meets Dun He Lian, another actor in her agency, who helps motivate her to become a top entertainer. (Source: dramawiki)

I actually just read that summary. It claims that Shang (Sho) is Gong Xi’s boyfriend when all the time I’ve been watching this, it doesn’t look that way. Gong Xi (Kyoko) just foolishly loves him so much, just as in the original source. But if that summary came from an official source, then I cannot argue with it, can I?

gongxi1Anyway, the plot is still the same with some tweaks here and there. I’ve got to give it to the writers for the effort to stick close to the material. They included even some of the ridiculous scenes (the turtle scene, anyone?) which add to the comedic side of the drama. Though I admit that I cringe at some of the exaggerated scenes because of the acting. Kyoko’s demon’s are even included, but I wish they gave more effort animating them.

The ending is left open, inviting questions, but I guess it’s because the manga was (and still is) ongoing, However, I think it’s wrapped up much nicely that it does not feel irritating that we are left to think what could happen. (Or at least for me?)

Ivy Chen portrayed Gong Xi. I think her acting is decent, though she had some expressions which looked unnatural… or quite not right. But I guess that is all because of the way things are shown in the story is really exaggerated. That’s easily adaptable in animation, but it will always be a challenge when adapted for live actions.

Live_action_relationship_chartChoi Siwon acted as Dun He Lian while Lee Donghae acted as Bu Puo Shang. When I watched this back in 2012, I had not much expectations from them. I do love them, but I only saw them as singers and dancers of Super Junior. I was surprised when I finally got to see their acting. Their acting isn’t mind-blowing or jaw-dropping, but they were acting all right. Though Siwon didn’t show a menacing or scary enough Lian, at least showed varied emotions. (He’s so much commendable now, though. He’s such a loveable dork in She Was Pretty!) Donghae, with all his adorableness, showed a truly likable Shang because of his portrayal, though I thought he didn’t have that much air of pride as he should have had. Anyway, it’s such a bummer that their voices were dubbed.

Bianca Bai played as Jiang Nan Qin (Moko). I think she played the character well. I loved seeing her character interact with Gong Xi because the actresses look natural together. They are adorable!

I also loved how King Chin portrayed Mr. Du (Yashiro), Dun He Lian’s manager. I think I loved the character more because of him. He’s perkier than in the manga and anime. I enjoyed his teasing Ren here more than in the anime.

Luo Li (played by Allen Chao) has less impact here, but I appreciate the effort of showing the quirkiness of the President. Meanwhile, I commend Wu Zhao Xian who acted as Maria. She isn’t as bratty as the Maria in the original source, but she’s just as sweetheart as that one. The other actors and actresses’ acting range from poor to good.

What made my head scratch out of all the characters is the two random characters (guards?) who are just for laughs, flat characters which the drama could survive without. Oh well…

sbcreditsI love all the songs in this drama. The opening song, “S.O.L.O.” performed by Super Junior-M, is catchy gives a good vibe, exactly like a good beginning. The ending song, entitled “That’s Love” and is sang by Donghae and Henry (SuJu-M), gives me a nostalgic feeling, just the right emotion I feel whenever something is coming to a close. The other insert songs and some instrumentals are placed just at the right moments to enhance the feels of the scenes and I love listening to each one of them.

In all honesty, I couldn’t remember how many times I’ve re-watched this series already. I think I’ve been re-watching this every year since 2012. Anyway, each episode is around 1 hour so I guess it’s not really that wise to re-watch, but I do it whenever I’m in a drama slump.

This drama is fun to watch, especially if one is able to disregard the exaggerations and some poor animation and acting. Recommended to Siwon and Donghae’s fans, too. Oh, and to some fans of the series who don’t mind live actions.

Extra! Extra! Extra!

86061180vx1Before this drama came about, a lot of drama happened in the back scene. On the start of the year 2008, there was already news about this drama. Ariel Lin, Jerry Yan, and Joe Cheng were casted to be Gong Xi, Lian, and Shang, but problems arose. Disagreements, financial problems, and, finally, schedule conflicts. In a span of 3 years, these happened, so the three originally chosen actors dropped out of the scene one by one. Ariel was so close to doing it with Siwon and Donghae (who were then finally casted), but when the production for this drama was to start, it happened to be in conflict with In Time With You (well, at least she rocked that with Chen Bolin) which she already signed up for. (Wu Chun was close to being involved with the drama to play as Lian, too, but problems happened.)

Considering that this drama was aired 2011, I don’t think Ariel would fit Gong Xi, anyway, because the character is just 21 years old. (What a gap with Ariel’s character age in ITWY. Haha!) I think she would still pass for the role had the original plan on 2008 was pushed through, but then it wasn’t. So we got what is currently available. And it isn’t all bad. I just wonder what it would have been like had the original cast wasn’t changed.

Anyway, I wonder if there aren’t any plans for a Japanese adaptation of this one, though I’d love a second season of the anime more. I’d love to see the Dark Moon arc as well as Beagle animated! (Especially Beagle!)

Now Playing: Yakusoku no Basho e

As my roommate and I were watching Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, my roommate suddenly asked me a question, “When you were little, did you ever dream of becoming like them?” She was not referring to Kim Bok Joo and her fellow weightlifters. She asked that as the gymnastics club was shown, with the girls stretching their legs and body so much.

My answer is, of course, no. “Of course” because I know myself. When I was younger, I tried doing splits and different tumblings, but I was just not cut out for those things. I’m just not flexible. So, even if I admired gymnasts, I didn’t dream of becoming one.

Speaking of gymnastics, I always remember this one particular anime from my childhood years — Kaleido Star. It is a shoujo anime about finding out, pursuing, and realizing one’s dreams. I will never get tired of re-watching it once in a while because it inspires me to persevere in whatever I am aiming for.

Now, I loved all of its songs, the OPs in particular, but what I favor the most is Yakusoku no Basho e (lit. To The Promised Place). It’s the 2nd opening theme sang by Yonekura Chihiro.

The dream that everyone is seeking for
is out there for sure. Somewhere out there.
Until the day my wish is answered, I won’t be alone.

I may have been defeated,
but my feelings are still overflowing like this.
You said, “Do it till the very end!”, right?
I’m sure I found strength in that.

Anytime, impossible tasks are set before me,
always running around in circles.
But, you’re the only one that stayed by my side…

The dream that everyone is seeking for
is out there for sure. Somewhere out there.
Until the day my wish is answered, I won’t be alone!

Yes growin’ up. Yes, time for jump!

The setting sun and the wind we saw that day,
even now, my heart hasn’t given it closure.

Actually, I understood why, but I didn’t say it.
You’re the only one that always stayed by my side…

The dream that everyone is seeking for
is out there for sure. Somewhere out there.
I want to believe that something will start from here.

I still see the light, so I continue onwards to the promised place.
Until the day my wish is answered, I won’t be alone.

The tiny blue sky in our eyes, widen.
The most, the best smile. Yes, smile.

The dream that everyone is seeking for
is out there for sure. We can walk to it.
I want to believe that something will start from here.

I still see the light, so I continue onwards to the promised place.
Until the day my wish is answered, I won’t be alone!

Yes, growin’ up. Yes, time for jump!

(source: animelyrics)

It’s great to know that you’re not alone in the journey that you’re taking. Everybody has their own paths to take, but to know that there is someone or some people who support them is a great boost for confidence. It gives people strength and determination to continue what they are doing.

I think this OP speaks a lot about Naegino Sora, the protagonist of the series. The family and friends surrounding gives a lot of aid whenever she has setbacks.

Oh, how I miss this anime. I would love to see another anime about acrobatics! Especially what with the kind of animation they could do these days. I’m sure it would be pretty. Kaleido Star was released on 2003 and I think its animation is fairly decent. But the stunts would probably look more astounding if done today.

The Journey of the Gyroball Pitcher

This post contains some tidbits of spoilers.


Baseball is a sport that I had the fortune to become familiar with just around the end of last year (thanks Daiya no A!). A bunch of Japanese shows I’ve watched had instances when they mention the said sport though, especially the word “Koshien”, which refers to the Nationals for high school baseball teams. It is a big deal for each player to be able to play in a national competition, no matter what sport it may be, because it could determine one’s future as a professional player.

Now, enter this certain classic anime series about someone who dreams for something greater than just nationals; he dreams to compete with players from different parts of the world.

major-anime-sports-anime-29419640-1024-786

Major is a series written by Takuya Mitsuda which was published by Shogakukan on Weekly Shonen Sunday. It has an anime adaptation which ran for 6 seasons plus a movie and 2 OVAs. It is a story about Honda Goro’s journey to accomplish his dream of joining the Major League. The six seasons cover his growth from childhood to adulthood as he pursue his dream.

It is a good mix of drama, friendship, comedy, and sports. Each season shows Goro facing different challenges and it is interesting to see how he overcomes each of them.

Given the nature of baseball, it is quite expected that it has a large ensemble of cast. Each season introduces a new set of characters. What it does great, though, is that it does not forget the characters from the previous season/s. Each character which became important on a season may play a different role on the next. This helps us monitor their growth and development. It is also interesting to see how a rival before becomes a team mate and vice versa.

Though the supporting characters share the limelight to show their own growth, there is no arguing about how this show centers on Goro.

823701Goro is a passionate baseball player and is willing to do anything to make his dream to be a Major Leaguer come true. He never gives up and does all that he can to succeed. He plays as a pitcher, though the story does not really make it a big deal whether he is the ace or not. (But he just naturally is one.) Goro is certainly proud, arrogant, and hot-tempered, which makes some times unbearable for me to watch.

Honestly, even if I support and commend his pursuit of his dream, Goro isn’t exactly my favorite character. A lot of times I wanted to smack him on the head for being stubborn and arrogant. And he’s too overpowered for my liking. But I’ve got to admit that he is capable and independent. My favorite side of him is his being a good brother.

Out of all the characters, here are my favorite ones:

acea1aeda5bc085631c9ee1b589cbd92Toshiya Sato. I loved his character development the most. Plus puberty did things right for him. Not only is he good-looking, he is smart, too! He plays as a catcher and makes good calls. He is a good batter as well. He has his own share of dramatic backstory and how things developed for him just makes you glad for him. He is a good friend as well as rival of Goro. The two inspires each other to grow stronger.

Hoshino Momoko. Goro’s kindergarten teacher who is with him from that period of his life onwards. She takes on the role of Goro’s mother and supports him on his endeavors. She clearly loved Shigeharu, Goro’s dad, but she was able to handle and balance things out even with what happened later on.

Komori Daisuke. He has one of the remarkable character developments. His passion for baseball grew as the seasons come and go. He is a reliable catcher, team mate, and friend, especially to Goro. Knowing Goro ever since Little League, he knows and trusts him a lot. I like how he (and the others) show support to his friend.

Shimizu Kaoru. The only woman aside from Momoko who has been with Goro since his childhood years. She was his classmate who became his first team mate. I admire her for her dedication to softball and her understanding and patience for the man she loves. I just got a bit irritated with her during the time she visited him abroad.

835771Joe Gibson. He plays a big role on Goro’s life as he is the person responsible for Goro’s changed life. He is a major driving force for Goro to continue improving his baseball. At first, he came as an arrogant person to me, but as the series shows more of him, I grew to love him. He is true to his word. His passion for baseball is so strong and powerful.

Some bishounen who I liked here aside from Toshi are the following:

Shimizu Taiga. He is Kaoru’s younger brother who is a competent player but lacks motivation. He tries to hide whenever he is serious, though. He has a sharp tongue which at times help but at times just seriously annoying. He grew as an adorable, responsible young man, albeit still annoying at times.

Mayumura Ken. He was an ace pitcher for Kaido High School and became Goro’s rival as he pitches gyroballs like Goro. How his personal life turned out in the end surprised me because there were no hints about it, though that makes it more open for headcanons.

Jeff Keane. Though he can be a bit cold, he still expresses his concern in his own way, which isn’t usually words, as he speaks less than the others. He is an introvert so he does not usually mingle with his team mates, but he’s able to lead them all well. I loved that minor development that they showed of him by the end of their season.

Each character has a charm of their own, but there are those which are more memorable than others. In the same way, a season may be more likeable than the others. Personally, my favorite season is the first season. Though it has a lot more drama compared to others, it works as a good foundation for Goro’s growth. I really appreciate how team play is shown here as well.

The first three seasons are animated by Studio Hibari but SynergySP took over the fourth season onwards. (I think the season 4 is the least likeable season because there are not much interesting stuff that happened.) Since the first season aired on 2002 while the sixth on 2008, it is evident how the animation improved, though still not Production I.G. level. It is enough to emphasize how different the pitches are, however.

I understand why this anime is a recommended one especially for the sports anime fans. I guess it takes patience to appreciate the series, however, because I don’t think everyone wants to watch a bunch of little kids with lots of drama. I appreciated this more when I managed to watch all of the seasons plus the OVAs because I got to see the whole picture, how Goro and everyone else changed as they grew older.

Pursuing one’s dream is not new in sports anime. What Major reminded me more than this is that we can all aim high. Aim high, but never forget that that means that the obstacles are high, too. We can overcome them if we really will ourselves to work hard and even harder to do so.