Category Archives: Alex Watches

The Garden of Words: A Masterpiece, But Did It Have to Be a Love Story?

garden of words

The Garden of Words came out in 2013, and for four straight years my Tumblr dash has been scattered with gifs celebrating the beautiful scenery and animation in the film. But apart from how pretty it was, I didn’t actually know anything about the plot of this iconic movie, so when I saw it on AnimeLab, I decided to dive in and investigate. Sure enough, it’s an absolutely gorgeous film that should 100% be celebrated as an achievement in animation, atmosphere, and visual storytelling about the way human lives connect. It was kind of spoiled for me by an unexpected case of compulsory heterosexuality, but hey, you can’t have everything…

Head to Lady Geek Girl for the full post!

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Adventures in Asian Drama: My Little Lover

My Little Lover Chiyomi pocket sized

Wording is everything when making wishes. The last thing you want to do is get caught up in some weird business due to some tiny technicality… which is exactly what happens to high schooler Chiyomi when she, distraught with the stress of her current life, longs for the simplicity of childhood and wishes to be “little again”. Lo and behold, when she wakes up she’s only 15cm tall.

As I’ve said before, if there’s one thing that can rope me into an otherwise unremarkable YA romance it’s a fun and interesting supernatural element (or it not being straight. Ideally, both!). The tale of a relatable-yet-flighty teen girl being in love with her now-distant childhood friend has been told approximately a squillion times, but the magical shrinkage? That was enough to catch my eye and give it a bit of pep and intrigue. Unfortunately, My Little Lover doesn’t carry itself too strongly on the merit of its magic element or its character relationships, and while there are certainly some good points in this show I… kind of only made myself finish watching it because I got more than halfway through and knew it could make a blog post. So here that blog post is! Click on through for frustrating teenagers, cool grandmas, and hilarious and bizarre sexy saxophone music. Continue reading

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Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions: A Silly Yet Heartbreaking Story About the Power of Geekdom

Love Chunibyo and Other Delusions

It’s a universal fact that everyone is at least a little bit embarrassed by what they did when they were thirteen. Was it a misguided and poetic emo phase? An overzealous leap into fandom, including indulgent fanfic or fanart? An all-consuming desire to be seen as mature in your tastes that ended up just making you look pretentious? Whatever it is, despite how much this passion consumed you at the time, you’d be happy if no one ever brought it up ever again—that’s how much it makes you cringe.

There’s a Japanese word for this: chunibyo, loosely translating to “eighth-grader syndrome”, the stage of life where a sense of self-importance and newfound independence combines with passion, imagination, and a desire to be seen as special, whether that manifests as a pretentious geek phase or believing you have magic powers. It’s this phenomenon that is the core of Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions—a show that begins as a wacky comedy about high school embarrassment and ends up punching you (or at least, this reviewer) in the gut with a poignant story about grief and growing up.

Head to Lady Geek Girl and Friends for the full post!

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The Bittersweet Taste of Orange

2017-04-09

If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? “It will get better”? “Don’t stress too much about fitting in”? “Yes, what you’re feeling is love, and that’s okay”? “The future is awful and sad and I want you to work tirelessly to make sure you don’t end up a regret-stricken wreck like me”? Orange takes this last approach, and the result is a series that I have a barrel full of mixed feelings about.

Spoilers and content warning for suicide ahead.

On the first day of the new school year, protagonist Naho finds a strange letter addressed to her, which was apparently sent from herself, ten years in the future. Naho is confused and dubious that such a thing can be real, but then the events the letter describes start coming true: the letter tells her that a new student, a boy named Kakeru, will be joining their class that day, and he’ll sit next to Naho. Naho’s friends will attempt to be welcoming and invite the new kid to hang out once school is over, but, the letter warns, they should absolutely not do that. Not that day, at least.

Naho soon realizes that the letters are full of specific advice from her future self, chiefly about things that Future Naho regrets and wants to change. These mostly concern Kakeru, since, as Naho is shocked to find out, ten years in the future Kakeru is no longer alive. In Future Naho’s world, Kakeru died—in an accident later discovered to be suicide—when he was seventeen, and she’s sending these letters back in time to try and stop that from happening.

Head to Lady Geek Girl and Friends for the full review!

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A Magical Girl Education: Sailor Moon

SailorMoon-KeyArt-Horizontal

It occurred to me while outlining my article about the dark and gritty reboot of the magical girl genre that I’ve spent more time reading meta, analysis, and personal pieces about the iconic power of Sailor Moon than actually watching the show itself. While I know a lot about it, I’ve never seen all of it first hand—at least, not in order, and certainly not in its original undubbed and uncut form.

I caught the occasional episode on TV when I was a kid and was kind of intrigued but never entirely won over (thanks to that whole “it’s obviously for girls And That’s Bad” mentality), and years later, borrowed and rewatched to near memorising the DVDs from CP… the only trouble there being that CP only owned volume 1, 2, and 8. Anime DVDs seem expensive to me now, but they were practically diamonds to our fourteen-year-old selves, and a pain to hunt down as well. Skipping straight to volume 8 dumped me in season two with no context, but we all just sort of rolled with it at the time. It was fun, that was the most important thing.

A few months ago, in the midst of editing and completing said dark magical girl article, my right arm flared up with what was probably RSI. Given time off work (hooray!) but effectively forbidden to type (the horror!), I sat down and dived into Sailor Moon season one. Animelab, as a tie-in with the remastered re-release, was hosting 89 of the episodes for gloriously free, legal streaming. I, of course, wiped my brow and said “Wow, 89 is a lot! But I can commit!” before being told that 89 is only the first two seasons. I have a lot to learn, as you can see. Continue reading

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Sense8ional: A Sense8 Review (Repost)

sense-8-cast-2

[This review was originally posted on Popgates. It is being re-posted here on a reader’s request, since Popgates has discontinued its pop culture column and thus deleted the original post.

And hey, just in time for season two…]

What do…

A troubled Icelandic DJ trying to get by in London

A San Francisco hacktivist celebrating Pride with her girlfriend

An action-movie-loving bus driver from Nairobi

A German safecracker trying to get out of his mobster family’s shadow

A closeted melodrama actor living in Mexico City

A Korean businesswoman/part-time martial artist trying to keep her family company afloat

An Indian scientist preparing to marry a man she’s not in love with

And a Chicago cop with a heart of gold and parental issues

…have in common?

Well, nothing much at all, until they all witness the suicide of a mysterious, almost angelic woman in white. From that moment on, they start noticing strange things: they can taste what someone else is eating on the other side of the world, hear the thoughts and emotions of people they’ve never met, and master skills they’ve never even tried to learn. They’re a cluster of Sensates, spread across the globe but linked by a psychic connection. Continue reading

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ToraDora! Wrap Up Post

toradora_screenshot_0046

So, ToraDora! A show about coming of age, love, heartbreak, and a bird that swears.

Overall, I enjoyed rewatching this beautiful beastie a lot—it struck the right balance between being nostalgic and impressing me afresh, and it was nice to know that for the most part it’s still as fun and engaging as it was when I first watched it in early high school and it lodged itself in my brain. I’d like to thank everyone who read along each week, and leave you with a few final assorted thoughts and retrospectives… Continue reading

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