Edel Grace

Programmer, Developer, Enthusiast

Anime

Kuzu no Honkai: On Using Others

Jul 5, 2017 | Comments

Disclaimer: There is spoilers for the entire anime and (presumably) manga. Mentions of mature themes such as sexual content is also included.

Now that classes have ended and I’m unemployed, I am taking it a little bit slow with my free time. I recently started on working a new afghan square for the month of July and watching various movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime. I stumbled across Kuzu no Honkai and while the synopsis made me skeptical, I decided to give it a shot.

Kuzu no Honkai is about two high schoolers. Mugi and Hanabi, who are in love with their teachers. It’s obvious they have zero chance with their love interests because they are interested in each other. Instead, they use each other to fill the void that their teachers wouldn’t be able to provide for them.

This made me think that it would be your stereotypical student-teacher love square anime. Somehow, the first episode hooked me in. I was caught off guard by how explicit Mugi and Hanabi’s relationship is portrayed. One of their first scenes together is them making out passionately at the side of their school after witnessing their teachers flirting with each other.

The first thing that came to my mind was the similarity with the movie, In the Mood for Love, where the main characters, Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow, pretend to be each other’s spouses because their spouses are cheating on them with each other. However, the similarities end there. Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow initially partake in this role play because they want to understand how an affair between their spouses could have possibly happened. Mugi and Hanabi just want to live in a little fantasy where their feelings are reciprocated by their love interests.

It’s clear to the both of them that they are using each other for their own selfish desires, giving each other what their teachers couldn’t. In fact, it’s mutually agreed upon. However, they aren’t the only ones who are using others for their own benefit.

Mugi’s object of affection, Akane, also uses others. Her identity is based upon being promiscuous and living off the desire of men and envy of women. Each fling she has makes her feel alive but they never really make an impact on her where it matters most. She uses these men to simply fulfill her own sense of worth and cement her role that she had made for herself. In the end, these men fill up a void in her but never to the brim.

Akane even goes to the length of playing with Hanabi’s emotions through seducing Kanai, Hanabi’s love interest. It’s even revealed that Akane had been calculating towards this since the first episode.

Mugi isn’t faultless either for he spends a day in a hotel with the woman he lost his virginity to. Since Hanabi is a virgin, he was not comfortable going any further with her. However, he was still craving that lust he has from their interactions and as a result, he turns to another woman. After that, he even accepts a date with a childhood friend that is desperately in love with him but who he doesn’t care for on the same level.

On the other hand, Hanabi also strays from her relationship with Mugi when he starts being distant and denies consummating their relationship. She turns to her friend Ecchan and although Hanabi is mostly straight, she gives into her desires and sleeps with Ecchan. Her reasoning is that since her relationship with Mugi had no real meaning, that this too would have no meaning either. Although Hanabi doesn’t see her love interest in Ecchan, she still uses Ecchan when she is craving the physical intimacy that Mugi doesn’t give her.

The feeling is reciprocal between Hanabi and Ecchan. Ecchan knows in her heart that Hanabi would never return her feelings of love but she takes advantage of Hanabi’s vulnerability to achieve her own selfish desires. In these moments between the two of them, Ecchan can pretend that their sexual relationship is a substitute for Hanabi loving her.

Ecchan isn’t the only one Hanabi tries to fool around with. Hanabi attempts to seduce one of Akane’s lovers in an attempt to mimic Akane but she ultimately fails. Hanabi mistakenly realizes that this is because Akane has such high self worth which makes people drawn to her.

In fact, this is something that all these characters have in common with each other. Affairs usually come out from a feeling of insecurity, which each of these characters suffer from. Akane is insecure in her own self worth and turns to others to determine and reaffirm it for her in the form of sexual attention. Hanabi, Mugi, and Ecchan use each other to satisfy their longings for others. They all seek external validation when they cannot validate themselves.

Surprisingly, the only character in the series that realizes this before all of them (and even then, I’m not quite sure the realization dawns upon them all), is Mugi’s childhood friend Noriko. When she comes to terms that Mugi cannot reciprocate her feelings, she turns inward to herself and is determined to make her own self happy. The reason why this is so surprising is because her entire identity revolves around Mugi for pretty much her entire life. She is painted as a fragile doll who has had her share fair of manipulation but she still manages to move on with her life after rejection.

The line that Noriko says in the above picture: “It means that the danish you get at the school store yourself can still taste good” initially confused me. It could be because of the awkward and wordy translation but basically what Noriko is saying is that you could still find enjoyment in other things even when faced with rejection.

This serves as a counterpoint against Digibro’s criticism in that these kids only seem to have their love lives going for them. I won’t deny that it’s true (Hanabi has no friends outside of the people she’s sleeping with, Akane catches men partly out of boredom, and Mugi and Ecchan don’t seem to do much either). However, this is exactly why their love lives became such a big deal and why it felt like the world was ending to them. They had nothing else sustaining them other than their relationships. Their quest for external validation was fruitless and they never felt any more whole than when they began. In the end, Hanabi did seem to come to this conclusion to her own after becoming involved in school activities and talking to more girls in her class, but I’m unsure if the rest of the cast did.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this anime. The animation was gorgeous, I appreciated the voice acting, and I liked how the ending was a tad bit unconventional, even if a little bit ridiculous (yeah, I’m looking at you Kanai). That said, this anime isn’t for everyone. It can be dramatic to the extreme, not relatable for everyone, and the sex scenes might be a tad too much for some. I’m a highly sympathetic person but also empathetic towards some of these characters. For me, it was a good experience that I felt like I needed. 810!

Link Dump #2

Aug 6, 2014 | Comments

I only have one link today, that’s the blog Altair & Vega.

Altair & Vega is an extremely insightful blog that delves deep into the narrative and art of many popular anime and manga titles. They have a group of multiple authors and while their posts aren’t regular, when they do show up on my news feed, it’s a great treat.

I forget how I originally got to this site. I probably stumbled upon it through the post on the anime Hyouka, “And You Don’t Doubt Your Own?” Satoshi Fukube, A Character Study. Despite the fact that it makes a very problematic and most likely false claim saying that Fukube is in love/obsessed with Oreki, it is an incredibly interesting read. Speculating on someone’s sexuality is something that should never be okay. In most contexts, it implies the use of applying harmful stereotypes that only further perpetuates them. Thankfully, this article steers clear of this. Instead, it focuses on the behaviour of the characters in the relationship and how the medium portrays these behaviours.

The analysis of Fukube and Oreki’s friendship is great in itself, but it’s the conclusion that rubs me the wrong way. There seems to be a trend towards assuming that a deep and meaningful friendship suggests that one of the parties sees the other as more than “just a friend.” In reality, that is not the case. One can be in a shallow and superficial relationship and harbour romantic feelings towards the other person. However, I think the main culprit here is (other than the fact that people love their shipping1) the fact that Oreki and Fukube are both middle school boys. Very rarely do we see friendships between two boys in media where the relationship scratches more than the surface. Two boys sharing their feelings on life and insecurities instead of playing basketball or doing laps around the neighbourhood? Nah, they must be gay.

While this accusation is pretty harsh, I don’t necessarily accuse nor blame Altair & Vega for it. In fact, I’m extremely glad they wrote this article. As I said before, the analysis of their relationship is superb. They point out specific artistic choices that allude to a certain aspect to their characters I could have never come up with myself (mainly, the shot of Fukube shrouded in darkness while he and Oreki are discussing a “rose coloured” life blew my mind).

Another article I love to read over and over again is Paradise Kiss and the Art of Self Deprecation. Paradise Kiss is a manga and anime that is very near and dear to my heart. Across my many sites, I love to say that Ai Yazawa is one of my favourite mangaka(s?) in the entire industry and I love each and every one of her works. Yazawa has a talent for tapping into the teenaged girl psyche (which doesn’t sound that hard but, ugh, she does it so well). I saw myself in Yukari and I sympathized with from start to finish. But like… The Art of Self Deprecation. This article nails it perfectly. Just read it for yourself.

  • Especially gay anime shipping.  
  • Random Tumblr Posts #1

    Jun 3, 2014 | Comments

    Ugh I write SO MUCH on Tumblr even though I have a blog sitting here just waiting to be used. I’m sorry. I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.

    • I had a dream where I literally just lived out my entire day, down to sitting in lecture being bored and taking notes.

      You don’t even know how disappointed I am when I woke up knowing that I had to do it all over again.

    • I’m using emacs via SSH for my CS assignment and the backspace key doesn’t mean backspace, the del key means backspace AND I KEEP HITTING BACKSPACE. I’m so frustrated. I don’t want to change the settings either because what if I do something I shouldn’t do because I’m on my university’s servers.

    • Sometimes I like to think that my faith in humanity is so strong that I can leave my stuff anywhere at the university without asking anyone to watch it but I just really don’t want to talk to people.

    • so I just listened to DIR EN GREY’s new single. Sustain the Untruth. Hmm. I think it will grow on me. I like the intro and outro (dat bass), the synth, and all that typical Kyo vocals (he sounds so sinister, wow, I’m not surprised though). The chorus sounds a bit out of place to me. Overall it’s okay but I think it’s kinda anticlimatic.

      BUT OMG. RUTEN NO TOU ACOUSTIC VERSION. That’s some godly music right there. But back to STU. the music video is also kinda lack lustre. How did the deg shoutbox put it? Kyo is like a zombie mary magdalene I don’t understand.

    • Yesterday I was mailing stuff (now three months ago) and there’s this guy at the mall who works at the knives store and he has a sweet mohawk. I was sitting nearby putting stamps on envelopes and an old lady asked him if she could touch his hair. it was kinda cute but at the same time I wonder if he was annoyed but he sounded really cheerful so I guess not?

    • The best thing about Lindsay having a tumblr though is when she reblogs posts about Michael or about her and Michael and kinda fangirls over it. She’s like living the ultimate fangirl dream like, “You see the person in this post? I’m getting married to this guy.”

    • I feel so happy for recognizing Rie Fu’s voice but it’s only because she sang in really fluent English. Hourou Musuko is the sweetest anime I have ever watched. Yeah, it’s a slice of life school anime but I really love how it treated the LGBTQ issues. It all seems so perfect though. If only more people facing those issues received the support the characters did. And if only people reacted the way the characters did. Wow, so sweet.1

  • I TOTALLY reccommend this series if you have nothing else better to do.  
  • Calgary Expo 2014

    Apr 27, 2014 | Comments

    **WARNING: This post contains over 30 pictures. Open if you dare! An ableism trigger warning as well (possible slur).

    ALSO: If you see your picture here and would like credit or for me to take it down, please leave a comment.**

    This was my second year going to my local con. Last year I went all three days but this year I just went one day. It was a lot of fun but also soooo exhausting!

    It was typical weather for my city: snowing. Ugh. Gross. I got there earlier than I wanted, so I had to wait in line. In the snow. Thankfully, I wasn’t waiting for too long! The line was so much faster than last year. Instead of walking around the building to the front entrance, they just let us in through the back doors. Less time waiting outside and less time spent walking outside is fine with me. The line itself was also a lot more organized. They split up the line into more lines instead of making arbitrary groups as the line moved. It was a lot more faster that way. Thank goodness!

    I went with two friends of mine and their friends. It was a lot of fun! My friend, P, dressed up as Petra from the anime Shingeki no Kyojin. She was the only one who cosplayed. She didn’t get a lot of people asking for pictures and she actually enjoyed it that way. I think it’s because not a lot of people who go to the con don’t pay much attention to anime. But she looked super cool anyway!

    P as Petra

    P as Petra, eating her Twizzler thingy.

    We parted ways soon after, and Petra and I went (semi-window) shopping! For two hours. I mostly did the shopping, haha. But I also took a lot of pictures. There were a lot of awesome cosplays, and ahhh. They were all really awesome.

    Aria

    Aria from the video game series Mass Effect. Her cosplay was so badass. I loved it. Her pose was just perfect.
    Commander Shepard(s)

    A male paragon and female renegade Commander Shepard cosplay from Mass Effect. I absolutely love this! Although, I have to say that the Shep close to my heart is female paragon Shep.
    Commander Shepard (again)

    Another Commander Shepard cosplayer. I had to chase down this guy and I called after him saying, "Exuse me, Commander Shepard!" and I felt a little bit like Emily Wong (a journalist in the game). It was surreal. Also it took forever for me to focus the camera and I giggled out of awkwardness (I should have explained myself, I hope he didn't think I was laughing at him...). That poor guy had to stand there for like a minute. Whoops.
    Levi

    Levi from Shingeki no Kyojin. This is Ven, a popular cosplayer and artist, especially on Tumblr. P told me a lot about him before but she totally did not want to say anything to him at all, and she actually knows about him. He was totally cool and all my pictures of him turned out blurry. It looked in focus to me in the window thingy, I'm sorry.
    Levi

    Another Levi. This time, cleaning Levi! Man, the makeup was SPOT ON. Absolutely loved it!
    MCR

    Gerard and Mikey Way from My Chemical Romance. Omg. I saw the Gerard cosplayer while at the food trucks but he had food in his hands and I didn't want to bother asking him for a picture. But then I found him and he was with a Mikey. Oh. My. Goodness. My junior high self is so happy. I love how they cosplayed MCR!
    Mako

    Mako from the anime Kill La Kill. The cosplayer was Alexa. My friend, M, was doing a wacky pose with them. I absolutely loved their cosplay. Fight club president!
    Mako (again)

    A solo picture with Mako. They are SOOOO cute.
    Kanaya

    Kanaya from the webcomic series Homestuck. She was so cute!
    Homestucks

    A very large group of Homestucks that I found. They were all really cute. I didn't bother getting a 100% proper picture because there were just so many of them!
    Sailor Neptune, Yoruichi, and Sailor Uranus

    Sailor Neptune, Yoruichi (from Bleach), and Sailor Uranus. I definitely sneaked this photo in. Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus are definitely in my top three for favourite ships, EVER. And Yoruichi is like my favourite character in Bleach (no, it's not because her outfit is orange and because she's a cat... Or is it?).
    Yang from RWBY

    A really cute Yang cosplayer from the web animated series RWBY. She was really sweet and I felt really bad because she was alone and carrying a lot of stuff.
    Blake

    Blake from RWBY. This girl is so tall! I approached her and she didn't notice me at first, when I said "Excuse me." And when she heard me the second time she was a bit startled and was like "Oh!" She was sooo cute.
    Matt

    Matt from the anime Digimon. Matt was like my #1 childhood crush when I was a little girl. This guy did it pretty well. He has the digivice and everything! The wig was a bit off but dude, no one can do Matt's hair like Matt.
    Jessica Rabbit

    Jessica Rabbit. What a classic. This girl was so sweet and so gorgeous. Aweh, I get all mushy inside just thinking about her reaction to me calling her gorgeous.
    Halo

    Halo dudes from Halo. I don't play this game (PlayStation all the way), but I love any cosplay with armor. I also love this picture because the dude on the left is looking forward and it's like the dude on the right is just like "Bro, what are you looking at?"
    Borderlands

    A Pyscho enemy character from Borderlands. This guy was cool. His eyes were glowing and everything. I think I saw him last year too, and maybe at Otafest at well. But dang, that detail. He looks like he basically stepped out of the game!

    In the middle of the day, a friend and I went to get a photo op with the lovely Jessica Nigri, a cosplayer and Internet celebrity. She also does a voice in the RWBY animated series. She was super cute and super pretty! We got to get her to sign our photo with her, and her agent didn’t let us pay for it. What an awesome dude. He was as upbeat and cool as she was! Probably one of the highlights of my day.

    Also, in the picture, you can see that I’m all buddy buddy with Nigri but my friend is really far away from her. It’s now a running joke that he and her are… Close. Haha.

    After that, we wandered and shopped a little bit more. We ended the day with attempting to get into a panel but it was really packed so we didn’t get in. Which was okay with me because I was about ready to pass out! And so we parted ways and went home.

    Onto the merchandise… I spent exactly $100 dollars, including food and not including transit and coat check. My brother asked me to buy something Rooster Teeth (not happening as they are the only ones who sell their stuff and they’re based in Texas so… Yeah…) or League of Legends. The only LoL thing I found was really basic messenger bags and they were like $40. Sorry brother, you aren’t getting that… But I did end up buying him a Grunt POP! figure. My brother looooves the Krogans from Mass Effect and the Grunt figure was so adorable that I knew he’d love it! When we opened up the box, my brother immediately when “Aweeh, he’s so cute.” The figures are so tiny, he fit in my freakishly small hand! So. Cute. I really wanted to find a Garrus figure but was unable to do so. I think they’re really popular because the Garrus figure is even cuter than the Grunt one, and because Garrus is like THE most loved character in Mass Effect.

    I also bought some Homestuck merchandise. I debated getting a Scalemate plushie, but opted for the art instead. The calendar has been on my wish list ever since it came out. While I wasn’t particularly found of the tarot cards, it was such a deal to get them. I don’t regret it at all. I have a love for “predicting” things (I don’t take it too seriously though) and with the gorgeous art and the cards, I think I’ll have a lot of fun with them. I also kinda feel like Cardcaptor Sakura. I need to buy those (Clow Cards) next…

    Merch

    From left to right: Snow White POP! Figure, Grunt (Mass Effect) POP! Figure, Commander Shepard (Mass Effect) POP! Figure, Ratonhnhaké:ton (Assassin's Creed 3) action figure, Homestuck 2014 Calendar, Homestuck Tarot Cards, signed print of our photo with Jessica Nigri.

    Lastly, there were a lot of cosplays that I wasn’t able to take pictures of or didn’t see. A moment of silence for these amazing cosplays: Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura, Satsuki and Ryuko from Kill La Kill, my friend cosplaying Blake from RWBY, Ruby and Weiss from RWBY, dude wearing a “People Like Grapes” shirt, girl wearing a “Free Edgar 2014” sign, Kaworu and Shinji from Evangelion, countless Connors and Ezios and Edwards from Assassin’s Creed, and Trickster Jane from Homestuck. I’m sure there are more but I just can’t think of them at the moment. I also wanted to meet Westy from the Mikecast but it’s pretty much impossible to randomly bump into a specific person who is not cosplaying.

    I saw cool people and I bought cool things. Overall, it was a pretty rad day.

    I Started to Play TCGs Again

    Apr 3, 2014 | Comments

    Since I gave up Tumblr for Lent, I realized how much free time I had on my hands without Tumblr. I decided, why not get back into TCGs? And so I did.

    TCG stands for “Trading Card Game.” There are TCGs around the Internet that you can join as long as you yourself have a bit of space on the Internet. The goal of the game is basically to collect all the cards that are available in the game. They aren’t like the strategy TCGs where players duel against each other (in other words, it’s not like Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh!). However, you can trade cards with other players. To get cards, you have to play games like hangman, tic-tac-toe, etc. Some TCGs get really creative with the games but not all TCGs do.

    I don’t know what the appeal of TCGs are. I don’t even know how I got into TCGs in the first place!

    The very first TCG I joined was called Very Beauty. The link is dead now and has been dead for quite a while. The site went on hiatus around the summer of 2012. It focused on Japanese music and entertainment. I mostly joined it for the music aspect. The cards I collected mostly were of rockers, haha. DIR EN GREY and L’Arc~en~Ciel, were of course, my main priorities! Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to master any decks while I was a part of that TCG.

    Looking back on it now, I’m not a huge fan of the card templates. It was so confusing as there were two different sizes for the cards. It made it easier to distinguish the different card types but at the same time, it looked like clutter! Below are some of the cards, that I managed to snag before the site closed down. The first one is of hide from X JAPAN, the second is of the music video LEECH by The Gazette, and lastly, is the beautiful Acchan from Perfume!

    xjapan07 leech15 perfume03

    However, my favourite TCG is Rapture. This TCG is themed around boy pairings in animanga and video games. I’m actually not a huge fan of boy pairings, to be honest. It’s weird, I know! The only two boy pairings that I ship are Oreki and Fukube from Hyouka and Kaworu and Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion. But I joined this TCG anwyay. I just love the card templates! Rapture is definitely one of the prettiest TCGs out there right now.

    Also, I’m actually pretty decent with this TCG! I’ve already mastered a couple of decks already. In fact, I think this is the only TCG where I have actually mastered any decks. Currently though, I’m working to master the Kaworu x Shinji deck. I just recently finished Evangelion, so that’s a fairly recent ship of mine.

    But like, look at these cards… So pretty! Featuring Xanxus x Superbia Squalo from Katekyo Hitman REBORN!, Kaworu x Shinji from NGE, and Houtarou x Satoshi from Hyouka.

    varia03 pilots15 contrast02

    However, right now I’m waiting on a Japanese music TCG. There’s a couple that are inactive, which makes me sad! There are A LOT of Korean pop music TCGs floating around. I joined one of them. I don’t even listen to that much K-Pop. Needless to say, I’m mostly just collecting 2NE1, BIG BANG, AOA, Younha, and BoA decks right now. I also collect decks that have cute short haired girls in them. K-Pop girls are really cute, okay?

    About

    A photo of me

    My name is Edel Grace Altares. My programming interests include full stack development and back end development. My languages of choice are Python and Java. Outside of programming I enjoy crocheting, video games, cats, historical fiction, and reading.

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