Hikari

The first digital sketch I made.

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I call her ‘Hikari’

My tablet is a hand-me-down iPad from my niece. At first, I had an aversion towards it because it’s an Apple product. I realized I can sketch on it though, and be able to make digital visual art for the first time; so I set out to find an app that would allow me to do just that. I decided to look for something with a very simple interface (because I’m just a beginner and not aspiring to become a professional digital artist), and came up with Tayasui Sketches.

Hikari is the first decent sketch I made with that app and I’m quite proud of her. I may have exaggerated on the sleeve, but I just love drawing kimono sleeves that way. The lantern is the best I can do at the time too, and I know it’s generally a rough sketch. Nevertheless, I think I made her well.

Why now???

Mal’s internship/employment blues.

Companies contacting me to be their intern when I’m already interning for a company are like those people who express their attraction towards you when you’re already in a committed relationship.

Though it’s four cities away, I’m fine with my current employment.

Top 9 Anime Recommendations

Because I love the number 9!

I intended to write the “anime recommendations” entry the day after I did the “manga recommendations”, but I’ve been too caught up in college enrollment and certain events that I lost time to do this.

Anyway, most of the manga I listed previously are horror and psychological. When watching anime though, I’m less restricted to one or some genre. You can say my anime exposure is more diverse, hence you couldn’t expect this list to be filled with dark themes just like the manga list!

Let’s begin!

9) Kaleido Star

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Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Comedy, Drama
Number of episodes: 51
Status: Finished
Plot: Sora Naegino is a talented young acrobat who has always dreamed of performing on the Kaleido Stage. She travels all the way from Japan to the USA to audition for the stage. However, she realizes that performing with the Kaleido Stage is not as simple as she thought; let alone becoming the star of the stage.
Malory’s Note: I’ve watched this as a child, but I could only remember snippets of it. Three years ago, I was able to get a copy of this anime so I can watch it all over again. I happened to be undergoing one of the most stressful periods in my university life by the time I got around to watching this. With Kaleido Star’s very motivational theme about never giving up on one’s dreams, I was able to get through that difficult time.

8) Osomatsu-san

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Genre: Comedy, Parody
Number of Episodes: 25
Status: Finished
Plot: The Matsuno sixtuplets are back and they’re more troublesome than they were during the Showa era.
Malory’s Note: This anime is batshit crazy and absolutely hilarious. As an only child, this summarizes the reason why I hate being an only child and why I love being so.

7) Aoi Bungaku

17471lGenre:  Drama, Historical,Psychological, Seinen, Thriller
Number of Episodes: 12
Status: Finished
Plot: The series consists of adaptations of six modern classics of Japanese literature: Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku) & Run, Melos! (Hashire, Melos!), Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro, Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s Hell Screen (Jigoku Hen) & The Spider’s Thread (Kumo no Ito), and Ango Sakaguchi’s In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita). [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: This could also serve as a recommendation list for Japanese literary pieces. Its art and animation might be reminiscent of ‘Death Note’, but the portrayal of the literary pieces previously mentioned is darker and more twisted than that.

6) Casshern Sins

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Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Adventure, Psychological, Drama
Number of Episodes: 24
Status: Finished
Plot: Set in the post-apocalyptic world wherein humans and cyborgs are struggling to coexist, Casshern Sins follows an amnesiac Casshern. Casshern woke up without any memory of his past, but many beings know him and are set out to kill or devour him.
Malory’s Note: This series has my favorite opening song! Also, I love how this was able to portray an existentialist theme in a post-apocalyptic world mainly populated by robots.

5) Steins;Gate

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Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller
Number of Episodes: 24
Status: FInished
Plot: The self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintarou Okabe rents out a room in a rickety old building in Akihabara, where he indulges himself in his hobby of inventing prospective “future gadgets” with fellow lab members: Mayuri Shiina, his air-headed childhood friend, and Hashida Itaru, a perverted hacker nicknamed “Daru.” The three pass the time by tinkering with their most promising contraption yet, a machine dubbed the “Phone Microwave,” which performs the strange function of morphing bananas into piles of green gel. [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: Time-travel is one of my favorite sci-fi themes, especially when it entails trying to change the past. With this anime, one can be exposed to the different theories of time and recall the “John Titor” story from sixteen years ago.

4) Sket Dance

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Genre: Shounen, School, Comedy
Number of Episodes: 77
Status: Finished
Plot: At Kaimei High School, the Living Assistance Club (aka the Sket Brigade) was organized to help students with problems big or small. Most of the time, though, they hang out in their club room, bored, with only a few trivial problems floating in every once in a while. In spite of this, they still throw all their energy into solving these worries. [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: Just like Kaleido Star, this anime motivates me. Aside from the laughs,you’d also get feels and be able to relate deeper with the protagonists of Sket Dance.

3) Trigun

20310Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-fi
Number of Episodes: 26
Status: Finished
Plot: Vash the Stampede has a humongous bounty on his head. He is said to destroy entire cities for fun and causes trouble wherever he goes. But when two insurance agents attempt to sell him insurance, they get caught up with Vash’s escapades and realize that this “villain” is much more than what the posters say he is.
Malory’s Note: I may have listed a couple of anime here as my source of motivation, but Trigun provides me with inspiration. Vash’s steadfast morals and outlook in life are things I wish I too can have. Not to mention Masaya Onosaka is my favorite seiyuu.

2) Mushishi [including Mushishi Zoku Sho]

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Genre: Historical, Supernatural, Fantasy, Seinen
Number of episodes: 36
Status: Finished
Plot: Mushi is the most basic form of life and takes on different manifestations. They exist aimlessly. They just exist. Ginko is a mushi-master who goes after rumors of occurrences that can be tied to Mushi in order to understand these creatures, which can also lead to understanding life and existence itself.
Malory’s Note: My favorite manga! The animation makes it all the more beautiful, but it cannot match Urushibara Yuki’s nature art in the manga.

Of course, my favorite anime…

1) Monster

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Genre: Psychological, Seinen, Mystery, Drama, Thriller
Number of Episodes: 74
Status: Finished
Plot: Dr. Kenzou Tenma is a renowned brain surgeon of Japanese descent working in Europe. Highly lauded by his peers as one of the great young minds that will revolutionize the field, he is blessed with a beautiful fiancée and is on the cusp of a big promotion in the hospital he works at. But all of that is about to change with a grave dilemma that Kenzou faces one night—whether to save the life of a small boy or that of the town’s mayor. [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: As I’ve mentioned in my manga recommendations, this anime has a deep impact on me. This series is just so compelling. The soundtrack, the animation and just all of it draws you into a sinister series of events which are likely to happen. Also, watch out for the ending songs; they’re superb!

That ends my list for now. Should I want to recommend more, I might make another list in the future!

Top 9 Manga Recommendations

Why 9? Because that’s my favorite number.

For someone who has a very unreliable internet connection, reading manga is more preferable than watching anime. I’m too conscious of my disc space on my computer, so I rarely download anime or even manga. Most of the time, I just read or stream online and depend on my friends for soft copies.

Some anime and manga fans out there would say they generally prefer anime over manga or manga over anime, but that’s not my case. For me, each provides a unique set of experiences. For one, I like watching anime because, well, it’s animated. Things have color and they move and I can hear them too. Nevertheless, I like reading manga because it leaves a lot to the imagination. The colors, voices, sounds and movements are all up for you to make up, hence your experience would be a more personalized one.

In this post, I’m sharing with you my favorite manga, but it’s really up to you whether you read them or not. You can take your pick too! I promise to minimize the spoilers. And don’t worry, I’ll be posting my anime recommendations next. So anyway, here goes!

9) ‘Level E’ (Story & Art by Yoshihiro Togashi) 

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Genre: Sci-fi, Comedy, Adventure
Number of Chapters: 16
Status: Finished
Plot: Extraterrestrials are all over Earth and we just don’t notice them. Level E follows a genius alien prince who has arrived on our planet but only uses his brilliant mind to cause trouble for his own amusement.
Malory’s Note: If you’re looking for laughs and fantastic art style, you’d definitely love Level E! From the artist who made Yuu Yuu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter, I say Level E is quite a pleasantly unexpected piece. It also made me think that I should try to be patient with annoying people because they might be aliens who are not yet fully acquainted with human culture.

8) ‘Leviathan’ (Story by Otsuka Eiji, Art by Kinutani Yuu)

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Genre: Seinen, Supernatural, Horror
Number of chapters: 70
Status: Finished
Plot: Samizo Kohei returns from the dead with an apocalyptic prophecy. He sets up an unlicensed clinic in Shinjuku where he works as a “psychic surgeon”, allowing him to interact with and aid the supernatural creatures and phenomena of Shinjuku. However, nobody is quite sure if Kohei has returned to prevent the apocalypse or initiate it.
Malory’s Note: Engaging story and astounding art style. I’m a total sucker for Otsuka Eiji’s works. It’s not the kind of horror story that makes you scared to sleep at night. Instead, it keeps you up with thoughts that its story would make you ponder on.

7) ‘Sakamoto desu ga?’ (Art & Story by Sano Nami)

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Genre: Seinen, School, Comedy
Number of chapters: 27
Status: Finished
Plot: High school student Sakamoto is the definition of perfection. Good looks, intelligence, athleticism, kindness—he has it all! Everywhere he goes, all the ladies love him and all the boys are mad with jealousy. No amount of tricks or traps can ensnare Sakamoto as he evades and outmaneuvers his critics with ease; not even a male model can stand against his cool and collected demeanor as he glides through life with grace and elegance. Whatever situation he’s in, Sakamoto will overcome anything in absolute perfection. [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: It has a very unique and refreshing story and I just love how the delinquents aren’t antagonized here. It’s like saying there’s good in everybody and you just have to bring it out!

6) ‘Uzumaki’ (Art & Story by Junji Ito)

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Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
Number of chapters: 19
Status: Finished
Plot: Kirie Goshima and her boyfriend, Shuichi Saito, realize that their town is cursed with the spiral pattern. It manifests itself in many ways and eventually drives people into madness. As the curse worsens, Kirie and Shuichi find themselves being drawn closer to the source of the curse.
Malory’s Note: My favorite Junji Ito manga so far. The series starts with a couple of youths in a stable and strong romantic relationship, and merely goes on to show how ordinary each life has been ruined by the spiral pattern. I liken its effect to that of the movie ‘The Number 23’ wherein you’d come to notice the number 23 a lot; in a similar way, ‘Uzumaki’ made me very conscious of spiral patterns.

5) ‘Me and the Devil Blues’ (Art & Story by Hiramoto Akira)

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Genre: Historical, Psychological horror, Supernatural
Number of chapters: 34
Status: Ongoing
Plot: Loosely-based on the life of blues musician Robert Johnson, this manga follows the life of RJ in the 1930’s American South. RJ sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the devil to teach him to play the blues.
Malory’s Note: This manga features a lot of aspects of American life which are rarely portrayed in Japanese comics like lynching and racial discrimination in the US. The art style is as riveting as the storytelling. When reading it, I sometimes forget that I’m reading manga and not Western comics!

4) ‘Pet Shop of Horrors’ (Art & Story by Matsuri Akino)

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Genre: Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Fantasy, Comedy, Josei
Number of chapters: 41
Status: Finished
Plot: A smoke-filled alley in Chinatown harbors Count D’s Pet Shop. The pets sold here aren’t your everyday variety and the Count prides himself on selling Love and Dreams in the form of magical creatures that come with an exclusive contract. But buyers beware. If the contract is broken the Count cannot be held accountable for whatever may happen. A fascinating and macabre look into the very soul of human nature.[lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: It’s mainly episodic but some aspects of the story have continuity. Though dark, Pet Shop of Horrors is also elegant and beautiful with bursts of comic reliefs. One may also pick up valuable life lessons from reading this manga.

3) ‘Monster’ by Naoki Urasawa

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Genre: Psychological, Seinen, Mystery, Drama
Number of chapters: 162
Status: Finished
Plot: Dr. Kenzou Tenma is a renowned brain surgeon of Japanese descent working in Europe. Highly lauded by his peers as one of the great young minds that will revolutionize the field, he is blessed with a beautiful fiancée and is on the cusp of a big promotion in the hospital he works at. But all of that is about to change with a grave dilemma that Kenzou faces one night—whether to save the life of a small boy or that of the town’s mayor. [lifted from myanimelist.net]
Malory’s Note: ‘Monster’ changed my life–or rather–changed my view on life. I came to fully embrace nihilism through this masterpiece. Which is also the reason why you should make sure kids below 18 aren’t exposed to this. Its impact is too intense. I could have listed this as #1 if I did not prefer the anime adaptation.

2) ‘Shoukoku no Altair’ (Art & Story by Katou Kotono)

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Genre: Historical, Action, Adventure, Drama, Shounen
Number of chapters: 80+
Status: Ongoing
Plot: Mahmut is a young Pasha serving on the general’s council of Türkiye. The clouds of war are gathering over his country. With Türkiye’s council split between the warmongers and the pacifists, Mahmut begins his quest to keep the peace at any cost. As he finds himself deeper and deeper in the politics of the ancient world, new enemies and allies surface. [lifted from mangafox.me]
Malory’s Note: I’ve never encountered a manga that delves as deeply into historical political maneuvers and military strategy as Shoukoku no Altair. It’s very loosely-based on the events that led up to the Fall of Constantinople. It’s a “what-if” in history. Also, engrossing details of the art match that of the story. I sometimes forget to breathe when I read this!

Now here’s my favorite manga…

1) ‘Mushishi’ (Art & Story by Urushibara Yuki)

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Genre: Historical, Supernatural, Fantasy, Seinen
Number of chapters: 50
Status: Finished
Plot: Mushi is the most basic form of life and takes on different manifestations. They exist aimlessly. They just exist. Ginko is a mushi-master who goes after rumors of occurrences that can be tied to Mushi in order to understand these creatures, which can also lead to understanding life and existence itself.
Malory’s Note: Well, if ‘Monster’ made me nihilistic, ‘Mushishi’ made me an existentialist. It has a captivating story and the art is just beautiful. I like describing this manga as something that feels like home–like you belong. Also, the nature art is dazzling. Everything about ‘Mushishi’ is just beautiful!

Well, that ends my list of recommendations! I hope you get around to reading them and when you do, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! Malory out~

Der Erlkönig

Reading and watching “Sakamoto Desu Ga” made me check out this operatic song by Franz Schubert entitled ‘Erlkönig’. It’s based on Goethe’s poem ‘Der Erlkönig’ in which a boy, whilst riding through the night with his father, was being enticed by a supernatural creature called “Erlkönig” (or “elf-king” in English) and this eventually led to the boy’s death.

I was just idling away in my tablet’s sketching app when I thought “hey, why not try making a night elf with androgynous features?” So bam here you go! When I finished making this, ‘Erlkönig’ came to mind and I ended up writing “Der Erlkönig” on it.

“Der Erlkönig” made with Tayasui Sketches

Here’s the song, Erlkönig by Franz Schubert.

Malory as Ryuu Sasakura!! [drink mixing 2]

Malory makes another drink…and fails.

Hey there! I’m back with another ‘Bartender’ manga-inspired act. This time, I made “Claret Lemonade”! It’s a red wine-based drink made with syrup and fresh lemon juice. Here’s the recipe according to drinksmixer.com:

4 oz red wine
1 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a wine goblet over ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel, and serve.

As what I’ve said in my previous post, I’m not a pro at all. I do not have bartending equipment and even the proper glasses, so I really had to make do with what we have at home. Here are the stuff I’ve prepared to make “Claret Lemonade”:

 

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Mixing container, lemon, red wine and measuring cup with syrup.

I thought we had enough syrup at home, but it was barely half an ounce so I had to hastily make my own syrup. It was a failure and was too sticky!

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It’s almost solid!

But I did it anyway…

  • I poured 4oz of red wine into the mixing container;
  • I squeezed 3/4 ounce of lemon juice into a smaller measuring up and poured it into the mixing container;
  • Poured the syrup in the measuring cup into the mixing container;
  • Took four cubes of ice from our freezer and put ’em into the mixing container; and
  • SHOOK ‘EM ALL IN THAT GODDAMNED CONTAINER! AAAAAGH!!!
  • Then I poured ’em all into the glass I have and
  • Sliced a lemon wheel for the glass

Here’s my “Claret Lemonade”!

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Left: before I took a sip for taste|Right: after I took a sip for taste
The taste? It was refreshing and silky albeit significantly sour. It could have definitely been better if only I didn’t mess up with the syrup.
LESSON: Malory shall not attempt making homemade syrup again. Also, HASTE MAKES WASTE!
Removing the syrup from the stuff I used will be hell. *cries*