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Mon,  25th Aug 2014,  23:48
Japan Trip 2014, Part 1 - Arrival, Tokyo
Three months ago today, I was on my way back from Heathrow airport following a two week sojourn in Japan. I hadn't planned to visit this year, but my sister, who had been wanting to return to Japan for some time, presented me with the trip in the guise of a birthday present - the condition being that I had to accompany her. So we booked hotels, put together an itinerary and off we went.
The timing of the trip wasn't ideal, at least as far as my boss was concerned. He had forgotten about my holiday until my colleague decided to tender his resignation a few weeks before my departure, and suddenly realising that he would have no staff, my boss promptly went into a panic. The company managed, with some help from an ex-employee who was fortuitously temporarily available, but the circumstances meant that things were rather chaotic upon my return and it has taken until now for me to find the time to record the details of my adventure properly.
Still, it's nice to look back after several months and relive the memories. I think I appreciate them more doing this now, in this period of relative quiet, than I would have done if I had been recording them soon after the event.
The itinerary that we followed took us from Tokyo to Hiroshima, and then back to Tokyo via Osaka, Kyoto and Nikko. I will be breaking my recollections over several posts, roughly covering one area in each, starting with today's: our outbound journey and our first couple of days in Tokyo.
 
Our route across Honshuu
 
For anyone interested in the photographic aspects of these posts, most of the photos were captured using my phone, a HTC One S, and my sister's camera, an Olympus E-PM1 (with the bundled 14-42mm lens). Additional photos, mainly the multiple exposure shots, were captured with a CHDK-modded Canon PowerShot A570 IS.
 
Saturday, 10th May 2014
We were booked on Virgin flights VS900 (out) and VS901 (return), the same flights I took on my trip to Japan in 2012. This is a great-circle route between London Heathrow and Tokyo Narita and seems to offer the best value for money between these two ports. It's also quite conveniently timed; the outbound flight leaves late enough to allow a fairly leisurely start and arrives early enough the following morning that the first day isn't completely wasted - as long as one can keep the exhaustion at bay.
As much as I like flying, passing through Heathrow's terminal 3 is a joyless affair, the narrow windows and whitewashed walls of the gate areas in particular having all the aesthetics of a doctor's waiting room. My sister and I briefly escaped to the No. 1 Traveller lounge (thanks boss) while we waited for our gate number to be called.
 
No. 1 Traveller lounge, Heathrow terminal 3
No. 1 Traveller lounge, Heathrow terminal 3
 
We filled up on the simple lounge buffet and many cups of tea before making our way to the gate. Our outbound flight was aboard Soul Sister (G-VBLU), a 2006 Airbus A346. The flight was virtually full; while it may have made for a slightly less comfortable flight, it was nice to see an indication that the route still makes money for Virgin and so is unlikely, at least in the near future, to face the same fate that Virgin's UK-Australia route did only a few days before our departure.
 
Crossing the Swedish coast
Crossing the Swedish coast
 
The route took us North over Scandinavia, then in an arc over Russia (and a little bit of China). Dinner was served as we crossed the Russian border, at around 3pm UK time. As we had only eaten our buffet brunch a few hours earlier, we weren't really ready for another meal, but it broke up the monotony of the flight. We both opted for coconut and lime chicken curry, which was followed by key lime pie (not pictured); there was a bit of a lime theme to the meal.
 
Lime-themed dinner
Lime-themed dinner
 
Since we were travelling in late spring, even though we technically flew through the night, we were far enough North that the sun never set; it merely skimmed the horizon for an hour or so before slowly climbing again.
 
Sunsetrise somewhere over Siberia
Sunsetrise somewhere over Siberia
 
Our route, more or less following the day-night terminator
Our route, more or less following the day-night terminator
 
Sunday, 11th May 2014
Breakfast arrived as we neared the Russian coast. Neither of us had been able to get much sleep so it was going to be a long day. We couldn't really have asked for better weather as we crossed Japan's Northern coast though; the early morning haze over the Sea of Japan transformed into blue sky, giving us a great view of the rugged landscape as we flew South towards Tokyo.
 
Farewell Russia
Farewell Russia
 
Hello Japan - Awashima, North of Niigata
Hello Japan - Awashima, North of Niigata
 
Part of the Iide mountain range
Part of the Iide mountain range
 
More of Honshuu's mountainous terrain
More of Honshuu's mountainous terrain
 
We swung out over the coast and approached Narita from the South. Despite the sun, there was still quite a lot of haze at lower levels that obscured the Tokyo skyline.
 
Approaching Narita airport, looking towards Tokyo Bay
Approaching Narita airport, looking towards Tokyo Bay
 
Passage through Narita airport was fast and easy, at least for me. While borders are a very real obstacle to people in many areas of the world, normal, law-abiding citizens/subjects of developed countries rarely give much thought to the act of crossing from one country into another any more. The vast majority of visitors to Japanese shores fall into this category, waltzing through immigration without a second thought, which is why some of them get caught out.
Different countries have very different laws and regulations where medicines and narcotics are concerned. Possession of what might be an off-the-shelf medicine in one country might earn you several years behind bars in another. Countries within Europe and North America tend to share roughly similar views and regulations, in part due to necessity; there is so much free movement within these regions that it would be nearly impossible to enforce or police regulations governing commercial medicines if they were all completely different.
And so many people from these areas head to Japan, a developed, westernised nation, without even considering that a bottle of pills that their doctor prescribed could ruin their holiday. But regulations in Japan do differ from those found elsewhere, and Japanese law is particularly strict when it comes to narcotics violations. Not quite poppy seed roll strict, but anyone found to be carrying banned medication without a pre-obtained license can expect to be detained for a number of days or weeks before being deported. Pleading ignorance rarely helps.
Following an accident many years ago, my sister was given regular medication for back pain. About half of the substances on her prescription turned out to be banned in Japan, so in the months leading up to our holiday, many forms and letters travelled back and forth between my sister and various agencies concerned with the import and export (because if you have any left over, you'll need a permit to take medication back out of the country too) of goods. Despite carrying the necessary permits, my sister still spent a good half hour in a private interview room with immigration officials before both she and her medication were allowed to enter the country.
Suitcases reclaimed, we then cleared customs, where a customs official spent another 15 minutes or so going through my sister's paperwork, before heading down to the station. One upside of all these delays was that most of our fellow passengers were long gone, and the queue in the JR office was short enough that we decided to obtain our JR passes at the airport, saving us the job of doing it in Shinjuku later on.
 
Aboard the Narita Express bound for Shinjuku
Aboard the Narita Express bound for Shinjuku
 
Shortly after leaving Narita airport
Shortly after leaving Narita airport
 
The Narita Express whisked us from Narita to Shinjuku in a little over an hour, past the usual rural and urban sights that line the route; even so, with all of the delays at the airport, it was almost 1pm by the time we finally arrived at our hotel. The information displays on the N'EX informed us that Tokyo was forecast to be a toasty 26°C with Osaka expected to reach 29°C later in the week - decidedly warm for the middle of May.
Our first two nights in Japan were spent at the Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku. I'm going to get a little ahead of myself when covering the hotels, pulling thoughts and photos from various points during our stay, in an attempt to form coherent reviews and not just scatter comments here, there and everywhere. We had wanted to begin our holiday based in the West of Tokyo and finish with a base in the East since that was most convenient for the locations that we intended to visit. Ikebukuro and Shinjuku were both good choices for a Western base and my sister, who was in charge of hotels, chose the Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku.
Located only a 5 minute walk (if that) from Shinjuku station, the hotel was very conveniently situated. We had originally intended to drop our bags off before heading out again, leaving check-in until we returned in the evening, but it was late enough in the day that the hotel staff allowed us to check-in early. We had an economy twin room on a plan that included a breakfast buffet. The room was cosy but clean and well appointed. Like all of the hotels that we stayed in, the Sunroute Plaza had in-room Internet access, a fridge, a television and a Washlet. We had nothing to wash at the start of our trip so we didn't take advantage of the coin laundry, a facility missing from a couple of our other hotels.
The breakfast buffet was quite good with something for everyone - cereals, fruit, pastries and both Japanese and Western hot food - although we only ate one meal there.
At around 15,000 Yen per night the Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku shared the joint honour of being the most expensive hotel of our trip with our lodgings in Hiroshima. It's not an expense I could really justify for a longer stay, but since we were only staying two nights it didn't eat into our budget too much and we didn't mind paying a little extra for a convenient location during our first few days when we were trying to cram a lot in.
 
Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku
Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku
 
The hotel lobby
The hotel lobby
 
Our twin room
Our twin room
 
The bathroom
The bathroom
 
Breakfast buffet
Breakfast buffet
 
Slightly refreshed after a brief rest and some sustenance, we set out to do a spot of sightseeing before our energy drained completely. We didn't really get to know Shinjuku itself very well during our stay except for the area between the station and our hotel. We would probably have explored further if we hadn't already allocated our time elsewhere. It served us well as a Tokyo base however.
 
Shinjuku, outside the station
Shinjuku, outside the station
 
The plan for the afternoon/evening was to visit Harajuku (my sister's choice) and Akihabara (my choice). Harajuku was only a short journey to the South, two stops on the Yamanote line, so we did that first.
My sister is not shy when it comes to shoving a camera lens into the faces of people she doesn't know, or snapping away in locations where it is inappropriate to do so. While she was photographing outgoing and flamboyantly dressed Harajuku teenagers and being chased by an irate monk, I was stood some distance away pretending not to know her; I was also appreciating the large Torii at the entrance to Meiji Jinguu, a shrine dedicated to the Meiji Emperor and Empress Shouken and the area's main tourist draw.
 
The entrance to Meiji Jinguu
The entrance to Meiji Jinguu
 
Like many of Tokyo's historic sites, the original complex was largely destroyed during the Second World War. Given its importance, it was one of the first to be rebuilt with construction of the current buildings completed in 1958. Tourists and Tokyoites were out in force, making the most of the agreeable weather and soaking up the laid-back atmosphere of Yoyogi Park and the shrine complex on this warm Sunday afternoon.
 
The path leading from the entrance
The path leading from the entrance
 
Sake barrels, offerings to the enshrined deities
Sake barrels, offerings to the enshrined deities
 
The entrance to the main courtyard
The entrance to the main courtyard
 
In addition to attracting tourists, the shrine serves as a popular wedding venue. We counted four ceremonies going on in various corners of the shrine complex.
 
Inside the main courtyard, looking towards the main shrine building
Inside the main courtyard, looking towards the main shrine building
 
Inside the main courtyard, looking back towards the entrance
Inside the main courtyard, looking back towards the entrance
 
Ema around a tree
Ema around a tree
 
After touring the shrine we left Yoyogi Park and walked along Omotesandou so that my sister could look in a couple of shops. By now it was approaching 5pm. Exhaustion was catching up with us rapidly, and it was unlikely that we would make it to Akihabara before Chuuou-doori reopened. We therefore decided to postpone the Akihabara visit until the second week of the holiday and retired to the hotel for an early night via a convenience store supper.
 
Funassyiland
Funassyiland
 
Harajuku station feels like a small town station in the heart of Tokyo
Harajuku station feels like a small town station in the heart of Tokyo
 
Monday, 12th May 2014
After a good 12 hours in bed, our first full day in Japan began with a hearty buffet breakfast at the hotel. As well as visiting sites, we had a couple of more mundane tasks to accomplish today to prepare for the rest of the holiday. The first began in our hotel room with a repacking of our suitcases. We had each travelled with a large suitcase for the hold and a smaller suitcase for the cabin. The plan was to use the smaller suitcase as a travel bag for the first week, leaving the large suitcase, with extra clothing for the second week, in Tokyo. A redistribution of articles was therefore required, and since we didn't know how tired we would be in the evening, we made sure that our luggage was in order before we set out for the day.
 
Monday morning in Shinjuku
Monday morning in Shinjuku
 
The next task was to book our rail tickets for the remainder of the week. Although our JR passes wouldn't be valid until Tuesday, we could still make bookings for the period that they were valid. Ten Shinkansen tickets in hand (five each), we boarded a train for our first real destination of the day: The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.
 
Outside Mitaka station
Outside Mitaka station
 
Although only a few minutes away from Shinjuku on a direct train, Mitaka feels far removed from the centre of Tokyo. The hustle and bustle of the big city is largely replaced by a sense of sedate suburbia; an ideal location for an attraction that requires ease of access but also a quiet setting. The Ghibli Museum has never really been on my "must see" list, but I have an interest in all things animation, the works of Studio Ghibli included. An opportunity to visit without taking me too far out of my way hadn't really presented itself in the past, but if it had, I wouldn't have turned it down. Since it was at the top of my sister's list of places to visit, this would be the trip I would finally get to see what all the fuss was about.
Like JR passes, foreign visitors should note that tickets to the Ghibli museum must be bought in advance. We placed an order for two museum tickets through JTB on the day that they went on sale as our itinerary didn't allow a lot of flexibility with dates, especially since the museum was not open during the second week of our visit. Luckily we had no problem getting tickets for the date that we had requested.
The walk to Inokashira Park beside the waterway was quite pleasant. Distance markers at regular intervals pointed us in the right direction.
 
Still some way to go
Still some way to go
 
We took a rather indirect route through the park as it looked more interesting than the road, approaching the museum from the rear before circling around to the main entrance.
 
The Ghibli Museum
The Ghibli Museum
 
Tickets, please
Tickets, please
 
The museum is quite well camouflaged
The museum is quite well camouflaged
 
It's interesting comparing Wikipedia's file photo of the museum, taken in 2004 shortly after the museum opened, with the photo above taken 10 years later. It's starting to look much more like something out of a Ghibli feature now that the plants have grown up. Anyway, we made our way inside and set about exploring.
The Ghibli Museum is a difficult premise as it has to offer something to fans of all ages. Although there is perhaps more that it could feature, I think that by and large it succeeded. Given the size of the attraction, the number of exhibits will always be quite limited, but I felt that it still justified the very modest entrance fee, providing enough to keep first time visitors occupied for at least a couple of hours. The building itself is as interesting as the exhibits it contains, possessing a magical quality that even Disney's imagineers might be a little envious of. The eccentric architecture and anachronistic items scattered around were the perfect backdrop for the main exhibitions.
My personal favourite was a permanent exhibit on the history and science of animation, and in particular the large 3D zoetrope, Totoro-pyon-pyon, a hit with children and adults alike. Other exhibits such as the studio, or the temporary seasonal exhibition, The Lens At Work, were aimed more at a younger audience. That said, there were still dozens of interesting nuggets to be found in the former for those with the time to look for them.
 
Photography inside the museum is not permitted so enjoy this photo of a wall
Photography inside the museum is not permitted so enjoy this photo of a wall
 
Along with an entrance ticket, every visitor receives a ticket to the Ghibli Saturn Theatre where they can watch a short feature exclusive to the Ghibli museum. The feature being shown on the day of our visit was Hoshi wo Katta Hi. It was short, sweet and very Ghibli.
If there was one thing that I could change in the museum, it would be the gift shop. Visitors appeared to spend as much time in the gift shop as they did in every other exhibit combined. As a result, while the gift shop was large, it was still only around half of the size that it needed to be. By around midday it was no longer possible to even get through the door. Perhaps this is unusual and the museum is just enjoying an unexpectedly successful year.
To escape the gift shop scrum, we made our way to the roof for a photo opportunity with a familiar figure.
 
This calm queue was a pleasant relief after the gift shop
This calm queue was a pleasant relief after the gift shop
 
At least he has a nice garden to tend
At least he has a nice garden to tend
 
A guardian of Laputa, waiting to be needed once again
A guardian of Laputa, waiting to be needed once again
 
Rather than pick up lunch elsewhere, we decided to give the museum's cafe, Mugiwara Boushi, a try since we weren't likely to be visiting again in the near future. One of those now-or-never things. We both had a sandwich with a fresh juice, followed by a generous slice of cake and a hot chocolate to finish. It was quite a bit more expensive than a convenience store sandwich, but both the food and atmosphere were hard to fault.
 
A view over the museum courtyard towards the cafe
A view over the museum courtyard towards the cafe
 
Mugiwara Boushi menu, May 2014 - Mains, desserts
Mugiwara Boushi menu, May 2014 - Mains, dessert
 
Mugiwara Boushi menu, May 2014 - Drinks
Mugiwara Boushi menu, May 2014 - Drinks
 
Peach juice with a straw made of straw
Peach juice with a straw made of straw
 
Cake?
Cake?
 
Cake.
Cake.
 
Fed and watered, we left the Ghibli Museum around 2:30pm and made our way back to Mitaka station. Our remaining destinations for the day were Shibuya and Ikebukuro, both easily accessible from Shinjuku via the Yamanote line. Shibuya first.
 
Shibuya
Shibuya
 
My main reason for visiting Shibuya was to make a start on my shopping list, having failed to do so in Akihabara the day before. My sister's main reason for visiting Shibuya was to see Hachiko's statue. Since that lies right outside the station's Hachiko exit, we did that first.
 
Hachiko mural
Hachiko mural
 
Hachiko statue
Hachiko statue
 
Respects paid, we made our way over the famous crossing and grabbed a quick drink from Starbucks before hitting the shops. The first floor seating area offered great views of the crossing for anyone fascinated by the behaviour of crowds.
 
Order
Order
 
Chaos
Chaos
 
On our way to the shops, we encountered a man with a lot of cats. He was very popular although his cats looked like they'd had enough of all the attention.
 
A man and his cats
A man and his cats
 
Can we go home now?
Can we go home now?
 
I spent most of my time in Animate and Mandarake. It wasn't a very successful shopping trip; I only managed to get five CDs, and only three of those were on my shopping list. Still, it was a start.
 
Shibuya, night edition
Shibuya, night edition
 
It was dark by the time we emerged from Mandarake's bunker and the area was in the middle of switching from daytime shopping mode to evening nightlife mode. We hopped back on the Yamanote line and travelled North to our final destination of the day, Ikebukuro.
 
Sunshine 60 Street, Ikebukuro
Sunshine 60 Street, Ikebukuro
 
Book Off was about the only shop of interest still open in Ikebukuro by the time we got there. After a quick lap of the CD floor, we headed to the Sunshine 60 observatory. I visited the observatory briefly during daylight hours back in 2012. I had hoped to find the time to try my hand at night time photography from the observation deck, but there was just too much to do and I ended up spending my time elsewhere instead. This time I had managed to get into the observatory after dark, the weather was mostly accommodating, and I had even brought my camera. The Tokyo skyline after dark did not disappoint and I even managed to come away with a few interesting photos, although an earlier shower had left some annoying water droplets on the windows resulting in smudges in the photographs.
 
Looking down on Ikebukuro - 7 exposures, tone-mapped
Looking down on Ikebukuro - 7 exposures, tone-mapped
 
From Tokyo Skytree to Tokyo Tower - Single exposure
From Tokyo Skytree to Tokyo Tower - Single exposure
 
Towards the bay - 7 exposures, tone-mapped
Towards the bay - 7 exposures, tone-mapped
 
Tokyo Skytree viewed from Sunshine 60 - Single exposure
Tokyo Skytree viewed from Sunshine 60 - Single exposure
 
It was past 11pm by the time we finally made it back to the hotel. Family Mart was the only real dinner option, so we ate lightly, dialled in a wake-up call for our early start, and then headed to bed, glad that we had taken the time to pack our bags earlier in the day.
Coming up next: Hiroshima and Miyajima.
-= SoZ =-
Fri,  15th Nov 2013,  23:50
The end of Summer
I realised the other week that I had forgotten to write my post-C84 blog update. I'm taking odd days off work at the moment to use up my outstanding holiday allowance for the year, so I have a little more time for things like blogging.
Doujinshi first. My latest haul, largely courtesy of Otaku Republic, arrived not long after Comiket 84. Somehow it's even less varied than the last, being exclusively limited to books of a single pairing from a single series.
 
杏さやパラダイス
 
Bell's Brand's You Can't Catch Me 6 was the last book I was after in the YCCM series; I was able to track down a small stock at MelonBooks and Otaku Republic did the rest. Bell's Brand was one of many circles this year cramming previous works into anthologies, and the new You Can't Catch Me React combines the original six books with a little additional content to create a beautiful, full-colour A4 tome. During my MelonBooks search, I also came across a React preview book that I wasn't aware existed; it was cheap so I added it to the order.
Yawaragi Bin was another circle that leapt aboard the anthology train, publishing a 300+ page B6 book that collected together all of their Madoka Magica releases to date. It may not be quite as flashy as the anthology that Bell's Brand put out, but it's still very well done. Yawaragi Bin also released a brand new book, Ame Nochi Hare.
Rounding out the books are two slightly less wholesome titles: Energia's Atashitachi no Jigosenkyo, released in an amazing-looking event-only set with one of the Yawaragi Bin books above, and Aka no Etude's Sweet & Spicy Summer. Aka no Etude had also prepared an anthology earlier in the year, re-released at C84, which is the book I was really after, but it proved to be terribly elusive. So I took Kyouko and Sayaka's summer antics as a consolation prize.
 
Caught in the Touhou trap
 
With one exception, the second part of my summer CD haul is worryingly Touhou-themed. For my folk fix, I picked up Floating Cloud's C84 album, Nersery (sic) Stories, along with an older 2010 album, Touhou Irish. While EastNewSound's Mindless Act and Rewind Amnesia satisfied my desire for something with a more solid beat, Tutti's new Touhou Film Music Selection album pleased my ears with soaring symphonic scores.
The remaining four Touhou CDs were purely impulse buys. Innocent Key's Touhou Jump was simply too silly not to buy. Phoenix Project's F:Scarlet ~ Innocence and (deep breath) Emiru no Aishita Tsukiyo no Daisan Gensoukyoku wo's first album, Sabaki no Gouka ~ Nageki no Fine, were both picked up based on samples; the former is upbeat and very much in the style of the original Touhou music, while the latter is vocal and vaguely gothic. Completing the Touhou line-up is the Koumajou Densetsu II: Stranger's Requiem soundtrack - the soundtrack to a game inspired by another game and its music.
The last CD, and the only one not connected to danmaku-flinging girls, is Canoue's second album, Saihate no Tou, a collection of fantasy-themed vocal and instrumental pieces.
Unrelated to Comiket, the Kickstarter crowd-funding platform has become much more worthy of attention over the past 12 months, hosting a number of projects of interest.
 
Kick Heart
 
Kick Heart was the first major project on the platform from an established Japanese animation studio, and its success encouraged others to follow. I backed the project in October last year and related goodies arrived at around the same time as my C84 purchases.
 
Little Witch Academia
 
While not technically part of their Little Witch Academia 2 Kickstarter campaign, Studio Trigger released a nice Blu-ray, soundtrack and book set for the original Little Witch Academia OVA just in time for Comiket 84. The subtle brown of the hardback disc wallet, housing the movie (plus around an hour of extras) and soundtrack on separate discs, masks a blinding fuchsia interior. I would have taken a photo of it, but it's just so intense that it lies far outside the sRGB colourspace and no photo could ever hope to do it justice. The accompanying book contains all sorts of interesting gems, from staff and cast interviews to an early draft of the script, along with the usual character design sketches. While the book is purely in Japanese, international orders also receive the black book pictured above, which contains an English language translation of all of the textual content in the main book. The page numbers used in the main book are referenced in the translated text so that those with no Japanese ability can still easily match translated text with any associated illustrations in the original book.
-= SoZ =-
Wed,  28th Aug 2013,  23:46
Sunshine 60 time-lapse
While catching up on the Crunchyroll news feed earlier, I came across an article on a time-lapse photographer based in Tokyo. One of his recent projects is a tilt-shift time-lapse of the Ikebukuro area taken from the observation deck of the Sunshine 60 building.
 
 
If I lived in the vicinity of the Sunshine 60 building, it's the kind of thing I'd love to try my hand at. Sadly my brief visit to the observation deck last year didn't allow me much time to experiment or capture scenes at different times of the day, although I'm still reasonably happy with how my DoF-manipulated photo of my hotel turned out, especially as it was taken with a camera phone and not a fancy DSLR with the proper tilt-shift attachments.
The same photographer also has an interesting time-lapse video taken at Haneda Airport if airport ground movements are your thing.
-= SoZ =-
Tue,  6th Aug 2013,  07:14
Late July arrivals
I had only just collected a sizeable pile of items from kind friends who had returned with bits and pieces for me from Japan when, part-way through last week, orders from YesAsia and Otaku Republic turned up on the same day. I was therefore quite looking forward to the weekend so that I could look through it all.
 
Doujinshi
 
There is a noticeable theme running through my new doujinshi acquisitions. The five Madoka Magica doujinshi with a KyoSaya focus are Bell's Brand's You Can't Catch Me 1 & 2, Bakadomo's Tsure ga Neko ni Narimashite, Yawaragi Bin's Kimi ga Wakarukara and Zawameki Jumbo's Hajimete no Koto. Shinba Oolong Cha's Full Alliance Final looks a little out of place.
 
Everything else
 
Released at the start of July, the 5th volume of Centaur no Nayami was the book that prompted my YesAsia order in the first place. Accompanying it were two volumes of Time of Eve; I was in a Time of Eve mood following the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign, so I thought I would give them a go. Unfortunately YesAsia were out of the second volume and I didn't want to delay the rest of my order, so I decided to pick it up next time. From what I have read so far, I would have to say that the story is told more effectively in its original, animated form, but the manga does provide a few additional insights into the characters and the world they inhabit. Rumi Shimokaze's (or Emi Fukasaku's if you prefer) Koubai no Procyon was a pure impulse buy.
The two albums are IOSYS' third "Grimoire" best-of compilation and Tutti Sound's Ayakashi Gakki, part of the Touhou Film Music Selection series. The games are Lost Colors and the May 2013 re-release of Sora no Fudousan, both old PC adventure games from Jitenshasougyou.
Two Blu-ray discs complete my new acquisitions. The first is the Saturday performance from Animelo Summer Live 2012 that I was lucky enough to see in person last year; now I can relive the concert and actually see the artists performing rather than rows of heads! The second is Makoto Shinkai's latest feature, Kotonoha no Niwa / The Garden of Words, that I shall save for a special day.
With Comiket 84 only a few days away, I expect that this won't be the last order I'll be placing this Summer.
-= SoZ =-
Tue,  4th Jun 2013,  21:16
More shinies
My next box of treats arrived at the weekend, but I was away from home and so had to wait until this morning to lay my hands on it.
 
More new shiny things
 
Today's box brought me a CD and two books. I'll start with the CD, みきとP's first commercial album 僕は初音ミクとキスをした, featuring the title track and a few others that have been quite popular recently. The release also includes one of seven limited rubber straps (I received the いーあるふぁんくらぶ one which I was quite pleased about) and one of four "mouse pad memos", a curious thing that is both too small to use as a mouse pad and too cluttered with illustrations to be a terribly useful memo pad. Still, it was a nice thought.
Tonari no Seki-kun 4 is the latest volume in one of the series that I started collecting during my most recent visit to Japan. Soon to be animated, the series chronicles the daily classroom life of Yokoi and the exploits of her silent neighbour as he attempts to find ever more creative ways to pass the hours. It is silly, but fun. The first three chapters are available to read online.
Shoujo Wakusei by Mami Kashiwabara (Sora no Manimani) rounds out today's haul. This book collects four short stories that were published in Yuri Hime magazine and reads a bit like a more dramatic, girls love coloured version of Shinobu Inokuma's Salad Days - which I also liked, so no issue there. Lots to keep me busy!
-= SoZ =-
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