Ballroom e Youkoso Anime and Manga Spoilers

Damn those necks.

Okay, so with Ballroom e Youkoso my arguably most anticipated anime of the year was released and we’re 5 episodes in and far enough to say something of substance.

First of all, I love the art direction. I know, the necks are a little bit too long, but overall I think it looks absolutely gorgeous and the animation quality is pretty nice. I was hoping for fully animated dances in the same way Yuri on Ice fully animated the figure scating programms, but that’s very unusual for anime, so I guess I kind of knew this wouldn’t happen? It’s still a tiny bit disappointing, though.

They make use of freeze frames quite a bit and while that’s not unusual in anime at all, the manga does such an amazing job of capturing the movement and power of dancing, I actually think the anime looks a little bit too static sometimes. I’ve seen much worse, don’t get me wrong, something in me just screams: “This is not right.” when the manga is creating better movement with still images than it’s animated counterpart. It’s still good! I just think it could be better.

It’s been such a long time that I’ve seen the start of the story, it made me realize a lot of stuff and it’s really funny seeing all the new people react to the characters, who you know will not be what they seem to be when they are introduced, but first things first.

I noticed I’m really missing Chii-chan so much, not just because she’s one of my favorite characters and I totally ship her with Tatara, but also because she’s giving Tatara a real challenge and brings out his worse. She makes him suffer, she makes him question his ablilities, but she also makes him move forward the absolute most. Right now in these first 5 episodes, everything came so easy to Tatara, he’s basically been given everything on a silver tablet with the best wishes from the Chef so far and it will continue this way until Chii-chan arrives and messes with everything Tatara thought he knew.

Tatara is a total beginner and yes he first struggles a bit with the Waltz, but he gets his lessons for free, he is taught by literally the best dancer in Japan, he gets his suit for free, he gets to dance with two very experienced and advanced girls to learn from and has the ability to learn extreamly fast by seeing and remembering basically everything about dancing. Explaining doesn’t work very well for him, but seeing it does.

I really didn’t notice it that much when I was reading the manga, but Tatara is very priviledged – and has the balls to try and go after Shizuku as a partner, because he has a crush on her, even though she’s partnered with Hyodo. I don’t want to sound too mean, because he’s still training a lot, even at home, but I stand by my words, he has it very easy at the start and it takes until Chii-chan arrived that he’s actually forced to struggle for real for the first time.

I guess having it easy at the beginning makes up for all the struggle he has to go through with Chii-chan, because once it starts, it’s not going to stop. Tatara learns to suffer and is forced to face his weak spots, but creates something very unique together with Chii-chan. In a way, Chii-chan is the 3rd experienced & advanced girl he gets to pair up with, but she’s his first real partner and unlike Mako and Shizuku, Chii-chan has a whole damn lot of learning to do herself, because she always danced the male part and never the female part. So, you end up with a beginner who doesn’t know how to lead and an advanced dancer who doesn’t know how not to lead. Perfect combination for trouble. Awesome.

It’s actually even more awesome that in recent chapters they’ve started to discover a way to work together and bring out both their strenghts in their dance. I hope they can move forward from being the dysfunctional couple in desync to being a real unity, because in the rare moments they were, they were freaking unstoppable. They complement each other so well, there’s no way I want to see Tatara leave her for Shizuku at one point. If that’s ever going to happen, I’m dropping this manga, Tatara and Chii-chan absolutely need to stay together.

Talking about staying together, I love Hyodo and episode 4 made me realize again just why. This manga/anime has a great talent and that is: introducing an antagonist as some evil guy, that ends up in a friendly rivalry with the main protagonist. It happend with Hyodo, who’s some kind of mentor/elder brother to Tatara in manga right now and it also happend with Gaju. It’s so funny seeing all the people watching the anime complaining over Hyodo, wishing he would break up with Shizuku for Tatara’s sake and now they’re upset about Gaju “snatching Shizuku away” from Tarara being the mean guy… when it fact they all have their partners, they all will stay with their partners, Tatara will get his own partner and they will all become pretty good friends.

They are still rivals, but I love that they’re friends at the same time in a very healthy way. They do shenaningans, they mess up, they tease each other, but everything is on friendly terms and they rely onto each other when needed, too. In case of Hyodo, these could very well be his first actual frindships and Gaju? I mean, he’s even messing with Tatara in school all the time, they’re partners in crime.

In shounen, and Ballroom e Youkoso is a shounen, you usually have the main protagonist and his close ring of friends, his nakama. In case of Tatara, his “nakama” are his rivals, wich is kind of cool to be honest. I’d be interesting to see if Masami joins this ring of friends/rivals as well. So far, he tried his best not to and be the long wolf. He’s a very different type of guy and I think he might always stay more reserved, but I think he could very well become friends with the rest of the group.

And by the way, Akira is pretty ingenius as a comic relieve. She’s not just funny in the way she interacts with Chii-chan, there’s a very serious background to all of this and I hope to see more of her. Not because she’s gay for Chii-chan, remember I ship TataraxChii-chan, but because of her great dynamic with Chii-chan.

Before I finish this, I need to get this out of my system: You don’t teach Slow Foxtrott to a beginner. You… don’t. It’s too hard, even the basic steps are long and complicated, it’s a dance for advanced dancers and nothing Tatara should learn after Waltz as his first dance ever.

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Sing (movie 2016)

I missed quite a lot of movies in theatres lately and now that they’re slowly being released on Blu-Ray/DVD, I’m finally catching up. My latest additions are “Moana” and “Sing”.

sing011I had fun. It’s just very unfortunate for Sing that I watched Moana first. Do’t get me wrong, it’s a nice movie, it’s fun, has some pretty unique and enjoyable characters, but it’s not a “must see”. While Moana is not Disney’s greatest movie ever, it’s at least one of their better recent ones, that’s for sure. It’s not flawless and while the budget clearly shows (like, seriously, that’s got to be arguably the most beautiful animated movie I’ve ever seen), it has some shortcommings. This is criticism on a very high level, though. Still… I support Zootopia for winning the best animated movie Oscar, it really was the best animated movie of 2016.

Either way, back to sing: The plot is pretty thin. This wouldn’t really be much of a problem, if the characters were strong… which they aren’t. And here’s the problem I have with the movie: the characters don’t interact. You have this cast of awesome and interesting personalities and they’re just there for the sake of being there. All of them come with their own sets of problems, which all of them more or less solve by the end. They solve these problems by themselves, because they sing.

The singers in the show barely talk to each other outside of their respective groups. Even Buster Moon doesn’t really talk to them that much, he basically chooses them, chooses their songs and dresses, puts them into rehearsal rooms to practice and that’s it. The first and last time you see them interact is when they’re building the “outdoor theatre” together. Buster and Meena are the clostest, because Buster lets her work behind the scenes instead of sing, so he has to pay attention to her and teach her how stuff works.

I personally feel the main problem is, the movie tried to do too much at the same time. I personally cared the most about Johnny and his storyline, but that would’ve easily been enough to fill the entire movie and then there’s all the other characters, too. Frankly speaking, there’s simply not enough time to give each character the time they deserve for growth and developments to solve theie own problems in a satisfying way. Instead, I guess they focussed on Butster Moon and indended to have this story revolve around him, but his story is the least interesting. I mean, yeah, he loves his theatre and he doesn’t want to loose it, because of his dad, but when it comes to it it’s a money problem first and foremost. The other characters have emotional hurdles to take. Well, except Mike, Mike is an asshole and only cares about money and reputation.

Meena is very shy and needs to overcome her natural timid nature in order to follow her dream of being a musician. Ash needs to free herself of her boyfriend, who’s stopping and constricting her own artistic talent, but she catched him cheating on her and has to deal with a broken heart. Johnny… well, poor boy has a criminal as a father, who wants him to join the gang and doesn’t acknowledge Johnny’s interest in music. Rosita is the burned out mom of too many kids and not enough support from her husband who needs her personal life to kick off in order to be happy again.

All of this ^ sounds more interesting than the Koala with money problems. Here’s two l3vQZEUEKUvbvsFsAdifferent approaches: a) reduce the backstory of the singers, because their backstories don’t matter that much anyway, to properly build Buster Moon into a likable character with an actual emotionally connectable problem and that would most likely include giving more backstory to Buster and his father. Take your time to build emotions and don’t just throw stuff at out faces and expect us to care. Does anyone really cares about Buster? I don’t even think so, in the movie itself it was said all of Busters shows were flops, so it’s HIS fault he’s in this situation anyway and he expects these singers to get him out of it. Besides, he’s committing crime along the way, stealing electricity and water and illegally employ these squids.

b) reduce the backstory of everyone expect one of the singers and explore him or her properly and include the other caracters present into his or her healing process.

This movie tried to do everything at the same time and that’s just too much. It’s still fun, the music is great, but I never connected with the characters as much as I expected I would. Unfortunately, Meena seems to be the one from the artists who’s the “main” and for me she was the least interesting one, because she had the most trivial problem. Yes, being timid is not a piece of cake and getting over your fears is very hard and challenging and I’m not trying tot alk that down, but she had such a picture perfect life besides that. It’s like… girl, you have a way better life than any of your competitiors, why should I root for you over them? You will get your next chance, your family will catch you if you fall and help you come back. Rosita doesn’t have anyone like that, she will just fall deeper into depression. Johnny might end up in freaking prison as a criminal. Meena is basically the princess of the group.

It doesn’t really help much her song in the show was my least favorite. It’s not the song itself, Stevie Woner’s original version is awesome, I just don’t like Meena’s cover and I was glad when it was over. The other characters did a much better job covering/presenting their songs, in my opinion. I mean, have you listend to the orinal version of “Don’t you worry ’bout a thing”? It’s Latin-ish with lot’s of piano inviting you to dance Chachacha (if I’m not entirely mistaken, you can dance a Chacha to this), it’s a feel good song. Meena’s version doesn’t do it any justice. I loved her sining Halleluja so much more, why couldn’t she have sung something like that? Or … at least some kind of ballad, instead of latin? I don’t think it was the right song for her.

sourceBy the way, I loved Gunther. He was so cool. He was flat as a board in terms of characterization, but he was the comic relief and he was doing a great job being just that. They tried to give all these characters background and problems and failed to explore them properly and it’s the one character with no background whatsoever and barely and charcter to him, that I love the most. The things he was supposed to do, he was doing  extreamly well and that was: being funny and helping Rosita to loosen up. That’s all, but he did his job and he did it good.

Enough rambling. It was okay. Visuals were good, not quite as amazing as Moana, but good. Thin plot, interesting characters that don’t interact and (for the most part) pretty good music. It’s mild entertainment, but not a must-see.

Yuri on Ice ep 8

This blogpost will mainly focus on the main couple, because contratry to the big majority of the fandom, I think it did Victuuri amazing justice as a couple and did not lack, like many other people believe.

Finally, the follow up after the infamous episode 7 has arrived and the fandom… was initially mostly disappointed. Or let’s say the yaoi fans in the community were severly disappointed. I saw this comming so much, I can’t even tell you how amused I am. And a tiny bit mad, because I’ve read many comments with complains about “lack of Victuuri”, when, in fact, this episode was full of Victuuri. BL fans were going into this episode with the question how they were going to make this episode even gayer than last. The real question was, however, how Victor’s and Yuri’s relationship will continue now.

I think we need a little excursus into the world of Boys Love. Anime is an industry, that means, it wants money by entertaining you. In other words: anime will give you what you want to get your money.That’s why in so many cases movies, TV-series, even games and books, they play it save rather than trying something new. The BL fandom is obsessed with sexual love. Form my experience, there’s a lot more stories about glorified rape out there than actual healthy and functioning relationships, which is why I absolutely detest genre standards and bestsellers like Jujou Romantica and ususally try to find stories like Seven Days, but these are much rarer.

Now, we have Yuri on Ice, which is not yaoi. People were confused and asking who the seme and the uke is, because Yuri was acting rather bold in the tie-scene, but they always forget: Yuri on Ice is not yaoi, it does NOT live off sexual love. It purposely avoids common BL genre standards. It’s a sportsanime that happens to feature a same sex couple and it treats it’s main couple just like that: a normal couple that happens to be of the same sex. Of course we all know there’s a lot of different kinds of couples and heterosexual as well as homosexual couple comes in many diffrent varieties. Everyone will agree that the kind of relationships we’re presented in pornography are not normal, because relationships are not just about sex. Sex is part of a relationship (not all, though), but it’s not all of the relationship.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, a lot of BL fans think these super-sexualized relationships build on physical intercourse and a lot f times build on rape, are normal and not jut for this genre, but for same sex couples in general, because that’s primarily what media is presenting us on a daily basis and they’re doing this, because the fans want it that way.

Yuri on Ice goes a different route and I can only laugh at the people being disappointed nobody cared about the kiss, because there is nothing to care about, but the kiss had a huge impact nonetheless. Many fans were angry this episode was not gay enough, but I say, it was even gayer than the last. There was no big build up, no overcome-by-emotions driven kiss and no big drama, but that was aleady impiled in the last episode, when Victor pointed out he was going back to Russia was Yuri’s Coach. Victor was already doing damage limitation and he was continously doing it thoughout episode 8.

Epsiode 8 had much more of these little Victuuri highlights and no big drama and the reason is very simple: Victor and Yuri are now in a relationship. Even though the anime didn’t show it, a few weeks of time has passed between these  episodes and Yuri and Victor sorted out their relationship in that time, therefore there’s no reason to talk about the kiss from ep 7 anymore. Contrary to most stereotypical BL relationships with very distinctive roles, Victor and Yuri are both very equal, now that Yuri is comming out of his shell more and more. Victor still seems to be the overall more active and dominating part, but he encourages Yuri to be more bold and loved Yuri taking control.

I just absolutely loved how Yuri has 100% more selfesteem now. I was always under the impression Yuri didn’t like competitions, but this was the first time he truly enjoyed himself at a competition. He looked like someone lifted a huge weight off his chest. He has no problems with competitions whatsoever, he just crumbles under pressure a lot, he can’t deal with big expectations that well, but he learned to have faith in himself and there’s someone who’s supporting him no matter what, so the entire situation seemed to be much more stress-free for Yuri – even though he had entire Russia against him for stealing “their” Victor away from the ice. Instead of cracking under the pressue, he tackled it head it and that’s a HUGE leap of character development for Yuri.

Thoughout the entire episode Victor and Yuri were having a damn lot of fun and this good time, laughing, giggling, doing silly stuff like kissing Yuri’s skates after a successful short program, was a wonderful portayal of their relationship. Unlike most of BL media that primarily focusses on the sexual part of the relationship, Yuri on Ice focusses on the carefree and fun part of a relationship. You know, when most people who’re about to marry say they’re going to marry “their best friend”, it’s just like that. Of course you are intimate and you get into arguments and you get embarrased every once in a while, but being in a relationship should mean there’s a lot of fun on a daily basis and you’re having a good time with your partner. Yuri and Victor were having a damn good time with eath other, they’re truly enjoying their current relationship status and it’s obviously still in early stages, but it looks 100% healthy and normal.

I said somewhere Victor was going damage limitation and what I mean with that is also one of the reasons we probably didn’t see much more smexy stuff. Victor, even though he can behave like a silly child, is the more experienced person when it comes to relatioships and I think it’s a safe bet to say he’s experienced with same sex relationships as well and understands what that means. As sad as it is, homosexual relationsips are still very much frowned upon by many people all over the world. Russia in particular is not the most gay friendly country either. After the kiss, Victor immediately said he was going back to Russia as Yuri’s coach. When he kissed Yuri’s skates, the announcer said Victor was overwhelmed with pride and joy and nobody seems to be having second thoughts after Victor kissed Yuri live on television just a few mere weeks ago. That’s not normal, my friends.

What I thought was very interesting, was when Victor was asked if he wanted to skate against Yuri in a competition. Victor smiled and changed the subject to Yurio immediately. My theory is that he’s probably very conflicted. As a profressional first rate figure skater, he would probably love to compete against Yuri, after he’s gotten rid of his problems now. If Victor goes back to figure skating, he’s going back to Yakov, that’s save to say. For Victor, Yakov is the only coach, he said it numerous times and has nothing but respect for the man. The problem: without Victor as his coach, Yuri would probably retire from competitions. I can’t see him going back to Celestino and I can’t see him going to train under Yakov either. In other words, I’m 95% sure, for Victor going back into competitions would mean seperating from Yuri (even if Yuri, by some miracle, decides to train under another coach and continues) and Victor doesn’t want that.

He can’t tell the media all this stuff, though: “Oh, I would love to, but I don’t want to leave my boyfriend whom I’m madly in love with.” That’s a bad idea, especially in Russia. Victor knows that, he’s been into this business long enough and he knows the media and his home country well enough. That’s why I think Victor is trying to lessen the damage of their freshly-in-love-couple-behavior much more than Yuri, who happily goes along with everything Victor does without a second thought.

Yuri on Ice ep7

The love is real! All on board the hype train! Let the ship sail!

yuri____on_ice_folder_icon_by_holiekay-daezsjt

by HolieKay @deviantart

Damn, this episode was awesome. Ever since the first ep, Yuri on Ice was my favorite anime of the season. It’s just gloriously gay and walks the perfect line between making fun of itself and being serious. When Yuri broke into tears in episode 7, it was very well executed with a red nose, eyes, shaky voice and everything. It had such a big impact, we all knew he was going to break down after Victor dared he would quit if Yuri didn’t make the podium, but he was still surprisingly good at standing up for himself and telling Victor his place. It was still very much in character, though. On the other hand… Chris? He’s just insane: dat ass, dat routine, dat comming.

There’s so much to love and laugh about this anime, even if you’re not into BL. If you’re

yaoi-on-ice

Feel the love!

into BL, your dreams probably came true this episode. People can argue with me it wasn’t a kiss, I stand by my word it was a damn fucking real kiss. Period. Honestly, after having Victor sleep on him and hug him naked, I’m pretty sure a simple hug wouldn’t surprise Yuri as much as it did. Also: that lip close up. It was gorgeous!

And please, give me a minute to adore Yuris costume for his free program. I think it suits him so much more than the one he’s wearing for his short program (well, it was originally from Victor and designed to suit him, so…). With all the weird guys skating around, Yuri is simple, not too flashy, elegant and classy. Just like his music reflects on his person, his costume does, too! It all goes together so damn well, he looks stunning in it.

While I’m absolutely in love with Yuri and Victor, how they showed both of them have still

yaoi-on-ice-2b

Yuri standing up after his attempt at the quadruple flip

a lot to learn, but great potential, I’m a bit disappointed Yuri didn’t win. Yeah, he messed up 3 of his jumps, but only fell once, overrotated once and touched the ice once. He still got points for all three of his messed up jumps and he increased his technical difficulty with the quadruple flip right at the end of the programm, even if it was messed up – it had enough rotations at least. Furthermore, all of his other elements were flawless and his step sequence was amazing. He was surprinsingly clam, had a great expression and still had a 20 points lead over Phichit from his flawless short program.

Phichit skated great, but not flawless and had a much lower technical difficulty. Unfortunately we didn’t see the technical difficulty from Phichit and Yuri… or Yuris overall points. Therefore, we can’t really judge the outcome that good, but point in case: with Yuris higher difficulty, 20 point lead from the short programm and flawless free programm aside from his messed up 3 jumps, I still expected Yuri to win over Phichit. If I remember correctly Yuzuru Hanyu broke the world record with a messed up jump (that just shows a) how damn awesome he is and b) how crazy difficult his routines are) in his free programm and was 38 points ahead of second place. I think it was entirely possible for Yuri to win over Phichit.

So, why did Yuri lose? My guess: plot convenience. The declared goal is winning the Grand

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Yuri 2nd – Phichit 1st – Chris 3rd

Prix final and we still need some room for improvement, hence why Yuri didn’t skate his free routine flawless even once yet. He already nailed his short program, but he has a long way to go for his free progam, espically since he now added the quadruple flip and he still needs to land it, let alone nail it. I think the quadruple flip could be the deciding factor, the one thing that makes the difference, if he lands it well. This is where we need to go from now. Yuri probably has the potential to break the world record with his current routines, if done flawless from a technical point of view and a good presentation and this may just be where we’re heading for the final episode of this anime.

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Yuzuru Hanyu nailing the quadruple toe loop at Sotchi 2014 Winter Olympics – the element Yuri was supposed to perform as the final jump of his program.

 

Eurovision Song Contest 2016

Slowly but surely, we getting closer to the ESC 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. Most of the participating songs have been selected and you will find them on youtube. Time to take a look and be happy about Australia returning.

I said it last year and I will say it again: I’m all in for having Australia as a regular participant. The kangaroos are super awesome people and very hyped. And they send actually good acts. The second year in a row. I’m impressed.

And you know what I’m even more imnpressed by? There’s actuially a good amount of songs I really like. There’s real solid pop, songs you can listen to without feeling ashamed. Wow, what happend? Is it Australia’s influence? I don’t really care, but I think it’s actual competion this year with a good amount of legimately strong songs and that makes it worth it for the music every once in a while. Cool.

My personal favorits are Armenia, Ireland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Russia and Australia. But worry not, we do have our annual weird acts as well and funny enough, Germany is one of them. I try to see the bright side: it can’t get worse than last year. XD