Life is a stern teacher. And some of the hardest lessons life can give come in the form of missed opportunities.

All right, enough with the melodramatic lead-ups. Here’s the dirt on what happened just a short while ago.

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Close encounters of the K-ON! kind


When I saw K-ON!‘s complete opening sequence for the first time, my eyes latched onto the very brief scene capped above.

I’ve seen that place before, I thought.

Rifling through the photographs I took during my stay in Kyoto earlier this month, I found the evidence to back up my sudden realisation.


The place in question?


The famous Meiji-era brick aqueduct located on the grounds of Kyoto’s Nanzen-ji temple complex.

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A balm for weary eyes: Amano Kozue’s Alpha (artbook review alert)


Hop on over to Wolf Hurricane and read my new review of Alpha – a hardbound artbook featuring the work of ARIA manga author and illustrator Amano Kozue.

Note: This is one of the three artbooks mentioned in my 06 April post describing the stuff I purchased from Akihabara. Reviews of the other two artbooks will also be published on Wolf Hurricane.

Methinks Kagami doth protest too much


Prithee, good sirrah, take heed of these glad tidings which unto thine ears I hasten to bear.

I learned, a little too late to take part in the festivities, that yesterday was Talk Like Shakespeare Day. (It still is, depending on one’s time zone.) We’ve had unofficial observances of this kind before – remember International Talk Like a Pirate Day? – but another calendar-filler can’t do any harm, especially when the person on the other end of the conversation doesn’t realise that “clamperton” is an insult.

And if you’ve got loads of time on your hands, waste some of it by editing a softsub or two to make your favourite anime characters spout Elizabethanisms like the Bard himself. (Got no softsubs? Try scrubbing out and rewriting manga dialogue bubbles.) Hearing – or rather reading – Kyon reprimand Haruhi with a fancy “What hath thee wrought!” would be a refreshing change from the usual.

Now if thou wouldst kindly give me leave, I must hie me off to pare down mine growing anime backlog, for in sooth it shall not by itself be watchéd. And if thou wilt not, then I say thou art cupshot and fie on thee, shandy rapscallion!

Exeunt omnes.

Japan 2009: Day 2 Report, Part 2 (25 March)


A note to the readership:  I’ve started publishing all of my new travel-related posts in a separate blog, Within Striking Distance. You’re more than welcome to drop by over there and see where I’ve been jetting off to lately. (^_^)

Note: Click here to read Part 1 of this report. Click here to access a customised Google Maps chart on which the walking routes described in the report have been marked.

Our next stop: the East Garden of the Imperial Palace and the ruins of Japan’s largest castle.

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Read manga for free in Manila – and we’re not talking bootlegs

A couple of weeks ago, the Japan Foundation (Manila) announced that its library has recently acquired a collection of Japanese manga in English. They’ve had a sizeable selection of raw manga for ages but this is the first time (to my knowledge) that translated volumes will make an appearance on their shelves.

I haven’t had the chance to pop in for a look so I can’t say anything about the collection’s size and contents, but this may turn out to be a much-needed boon for manga enthusiasts in the Manila area. (EDIT: I paid them a visit; check the update below for details.) Given the state the global economy’s in these days, it could be hard for some to part with the cash needed for a fresh manga volume whenever new releases hit the bookshops. For those who can still afford to splurge but are unwilling to risk resources on a series that may turn out to be a dud, the library’s free-access collection creates a welcome opportunity to review prospective reads before investing.

The Japan Foundation (Manila) Library is located on the ground floor of the Pacific Star Building, Buendia corner Makati Avenue, Makati City. (It’s near the back entrance of the building, just behind the reception desk.) Members can borrow books – I’m not sure if this privilege extends to the manga collection, though – while non-members can read them on-site but can’t check them out. More details are available here.

UPDATE (16 April 2009): I visited the library earlier today and gave their English manga collection a once-over. Not very large, but respectable – over a dozen series including some big names like Naruto, Death Note, Case Closed, One Piece, Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile, Monster, etc. All of them bear “Room Use Only” tags so they can’t be borrowed for home reading, but that’s fine because the main reading area can seat a small crowd and there’s even a couch on a large tatami mat (shoes off!) to one side. I’ve already identified a few interesting titles and I plan to visit the place at least once a week to dip into those series.

One other thing: the library is hosting a course/seminar so their opening hours have been temporarily modified. Between 13 April and 13 May, the public can use the facilities from 1PM to 6PM on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays and from 10AM to 6PM (regular hours) on Tuesdays/Thursdays.

Mapping one’s footsteps

I’ve got a number of real-life concerns to grapple with this week, so the next installment in the series of reports chronicling my recent trip to Japan won’t appear for a while. In the meantime, I’d like to share a little side project I’ve just started using Google Maps: an annotated cartographic record of nearly every walk and train journey I took during my twelve-day visit to the Land of Raw Fish on Rice.

Day 2’s walking tour of the Imperial Palace – which was the subject of this report – has already been plotted. Whenever time allows, I’ll trace out more of my travels starting with walking tours and saving the longest train journeys for last. Ideally, I’d like to plot each phase of the trip as accurately as possible, down to the side of the street I was walking on and the precise station exit I used, but to save time I intend to trace out very long journeys (such as the shinkansen ride between Tokyo and Kyoto) by simply drawing a straight line between the point of departure and the final destination.

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