Kou Mabuchi and Touma Kikuchi – Because no one should have to choose!

tumblr_inline_mj4whzqT6z1qz4rgp

Today I started a review of ‘Ao Haru Ride’, one of my favourite anime and manga series to date because it is just so darned adorable!

One of the reasons I have loved this series so much is Futaba, the heroine, herself. She just can’t seem to catch a break and she’s always making mistakes but she has a lot of fire in her and a lot of determination, exactly the kind of protagonist I love! The other reason I love this story is these two.

Kou Mabuchi 

175475download (2)Kou is handsome, masculine and complicated. He’s confident and capable but has become lazy and he is good with people and honest but is hiding himself away because his experience shows that caring for things makes life complicated. Kou is a tease and he can be mean and bad tempered but he also has the most adorable blushing face and is a romantic at heart, really. He can’t hide his soft side and helps those in need but he does so with a nonchalent air, trying to keep everyone at arm’s length. He’s built walls around himself but I love watching Futaba and the others tear them down one by one in some of the most comical ways. Super Cute!

imagestumblr_n61kc5wmRv1s9aisro2_r1_500images (1) large ao_haru_ride_35__another_chance_by_narutorenegado01-d7st82e images (2) images (3)

Touma Kikuchi 

download (3) kikuchi_touma_love_____by_mika_by_micasnow-d775o9j

Touma and Kou are very different, whilst Kou’s painful past has left him unable to reach out for what he wants and unable to accept his own feelings, Touma goes after what he wants with all of his might. The thing I adored the most about Touma was his honesty and his boldness, even if he did blush ridiculously afterwards. Touma is the epitome of youth and when he falls down, though it hurts, he gets himself back up again and carries on with a miraculous determination.

images (6)images (5)images (4)ao_haru_ride__kikuchi_touma_by_narutorenegado01-d7vmpqc

28th January 2015 – What I’m listening to!

28th January 2015 – What I’m listening to! 

KIK_Site2014_Carousel-Images_on-tour-nowThings have been a little intense lately and it has been a while since I got the chance to do a ‘What I’m Listening To!’ segment but today I am particularly excited about my choices and I am feeling the urge to share!

For the days, weeks or months where things go from bad to worse I think it is important to inject a little bit of passion, emotion and escapism into your life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I say I want to escape what I am looking for is something raw and emotional that I can throw myself into. I want to be overcome with the urge to thrash around hilariously, paying no heed to how ridiculous I might look and I want to sing along at such a volume that my throat bleeds and I lose my voice. There are any number of bands and any number of artists who can incite this kind of reaction in me but today I have pinpointed three fantastic albums which are helping me relieve the tension of a life that really shouldn’t be this complicated!

First up for acclaim is the beautiful, modern grunge-y blues band from Bath, ‘Kill it Kid’. I discovered this band from an EP a few years ago and fell completely and irrevocably in love with the unique voice of the male vocalist and guitarist, Chris Turpin. A voice this breath-takingly powerful needs to be heard to be believed and when accompanied by the hauntingly beautiful voice of the pianist Stephanie Ward, big guitars, awesome bass and phenomenal drumming, it becomes almost too much to handle. Every time I hear Kill It Kid the world seems to just fade away and I get goosebumps down my spine. Having been lucky enough to see them live and meet them in person I feel like I am personally invested in their success and I highly recommend everyone checks them out and prepares to be blown away!download

Artist: Kill it Kid 

Accompanying Kill it Kid on my ‘love-list’ today is the soundtrack from an anime so full of the joys of teenage angst, excitement and stupidity that I couldn’t help but warm to its craziness, ‘Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad’. A few weeks ago my partner and I demolished all 26 episodes of Beck in one sit-in and I have been addicted the soundtrack ever since! The music of Beck is raw, emotional and in some places nonsensical. Chiba wails into the mic like his life depends on it, Koyuki sweeps everyone off of their feet with his heartfelt rendition of ‘Face’ and Taira’s bass translates beautifully from screen to ear. I loved every moment of the series and I love this album just as much if not more! Check out my review of Beck:Mongolian Chop Squad here!

beck

Artist: Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad 

Finally, with Beck ringing in my ears, I have rediscovered a love which I had long ago forgotten, Nirvana. My partner is a massive Nirvana fan, he even has a Kurt Cobain tattoo so we do listen to them often and I have always had an appreciation for Kurt’s voice and the sort of recklessness of their music, however it is only in the last few days that I have realised just how much I love this music and just how good listening to it makes me feel. There are many things that music can do for a person, it can enlighten you, calm you down, get you excited there is literally no emotion that music can not inspire. Nirvana for me inspires a sense of freedom and encourages me to break away and remember who I am. I love it!

Nirvana-5

Artist: Nirvana 

So now that I have bored you with senseless babble, please enjoy these YouTube clips with some of the best of today’s ear candy 🙂

 Kill it Kid – I’ll Be The First

Kill it Kid – Caroline

Beck: Mongolian Chop Squard – Brainstorm (English Dub version)

Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad – By Her (English dub version)

Nirvana – Negative Creep (live)

Nirvana – Rape Me (Live)

Love Letter from Thief X –Atsumu Kashiwabara – Season 1 Main Story Review –Voltage Inc

Love Letter from Thief X –Atsumu Kashiwabara – Season 1 Main Story Review –Voltage Inc

The Fortune Telling-Obsessed Slacker BossIMG_0661

Who’d have thought that behind those glasses and that douche-bag beard there would be an amazing man who can overcome any obstacle and capture any heart? Despite is protestations that he is just an old man; Atsumu is very self-assured and confident in himself. Once a master thief and now the boss of the Black Foxes he takes care of the boys as though they are his own siblings. Protective, caring and secretly reliable, Atsumu paints the perfect picture of an older man who is worldly, capable and comfortable in his own skin.

‘Love Letter from Thief X’ is the readers chance to live the life of our MC, a young curator for a local museum, who gets tangled up, for better or worse, with a group of modern day Robin Hoods known as ‘The Black Foxes’.  Intent on recovering works of art from criminals and returning them to their rightful owners, this good-looking group of men ask the MC for her help to save a masterpiece created by her great-grandfather, the Japanese Leonardo Da Vinci. This otome game produced by Voltage inc, is available for IOS an Android users to enjoy and is one of the longest running games by Voltage.

IMG_0663Atsumu doesn’t usually go out on field assignments; instead he uses his contacts and Intel to track down information on important artwork. He has friends in high places with the police, the government and other organisations and uses his connections to help the Black Foxes with their missions.

When the MC chooses to stay with ‘Boss’ it just sort of made sense. He manages the ‘Black Foxes and their missions from afar, so in theory she should be safe, plus he has spare rooms above LRN for her to stay in and a place for her to work. I’m a fan of the older voltage man because there is something very soothing about being taken care of by someone who has seen it and done it all before, with this being the case both the MC and I felt very comfortable with him from the start.

I have to say that there is one thing that bothered me about the relationship between the MC and Atsumu and that was just how long she called him ‘Boss’! I would have liked to have seen them become more familiar with each other as their relationship became more friendly but in the end it isn’t until they confess their feelings for one another that she finally loosens up enough to use his actual name and even then she takes some convincing.

Obviously when you play these games, as an English person, there is a slight cultural variance that you have to adjust to and I am used to the MC and the protagonist calling each other by their last names for much of the story. In fact, I have really come to enjoy that moment when the characters change how they address each other as it is romantic and embarrassing and the MC has the opportunity to act a little coy; plus there is something incredibly sensual about an MC using her partner’s name for the first time during an intimate moment! I have always enjoyed this about  Voltage stories, but in this case, the MC isn’t using his surname or even a nickname but is instead using a title as a form of address pretty much for start to finish. Come on, girl! Use some initiative, ‘Atsumu’ has a really lovely ring to it and I am sure he’d love to hear it in the voice of the woman he loves.

Anyway, honorifics and manners aside, Atsumu uses good-natured teasing and his charms to make the MCIMG_0664 feel comfortable and happy but there is something behind his cheerful disposition which the MC can’t quite put her finger on. Though he acts as though he is not interested and banters light-heartedly with the Black Foxes while they are on their missions he is actually paying very close attention to everything that is happening and remains on standby should they need him. The moment the situation looks like it is straying from plan, Atsumu is on his feet and rushing in to save his childhood friends, on top of this he proves to be surprisingly resourceful and energetic in the face of danger. Atsumu has a love of fortune-telling which suits his frivolous personality but he actually uses this love of the unknown to make decisions quickly, trusting his instincts and freeing his mind up to focus on a plan.  Atsumu is wisely uses his playful, cheerful side to bolster the morale of the Black Foxes whilst he watches over them like a parent would, protecting them from the dangers of their missions, the world at large and most of all the pain in his heart.

As the story goes on you begin to realise that Atsumu’s cheerfulness is not much more than a mask and that there is a deeper sadness underneath which he is protecting himself and the others from. Why did Atsumu stop being a thief in the first place? And why does he cry alone? Continue reading

Love Letter from Thief X – Kenshi Inagaki – Season 1 Main Story Review –Voltage Inc

Love Letter from Thief X – Kenshi Inagaki – Season 1 Main Story Review –Voltage Inc

The Bright and Resourceful SniperIMG_0630

Kenshi was my surprise favourite Black Fox. Where the others have painful pasts whichcause personality defects Kenshi doesn’t allow his past to change who he is at all, he’s honest, straight-forward and simply a good guy. The biggest obstacle that the MC faces in her relationship with Kenshi is the ‘friend-zone’ and when they fall for one another there is no stopping them, if you remove the danger and stealing, this story would make for the perfect rom-com.

In case you don’t already know ‘Love Letter from Thief X’ is a Voltage Inc. otome game for IOS and Android users which centres around the story of the MC, a young curator for a museum, whose life is turned upside down and inside out when she gets tangled up with a group of good-looking, Robin Hood style thieves. Intent on recovering stolen artwork from criminals and returning them to their rightful owners, can the Black Foxes really be considered bad people? The MC agrees to help them recover her great-grandfather’s greatest masterpiece and discovers some interesting things about herself along the way.

IMG_0632Agreeing to help out, the MC has to choose a member of the Black Foxes to take care of her and, in my opinion; Kenshi seems like the most obvious choice. He has a very open face and a welcoming smile plus he has this whole ‘big brother’ vibe which would make anyone feel safe regardless of their circumstances. Though the MC isn’t aware of this at first she is actually in grave danger, in order not to worry her and to keep her safe Kenshi invites her to stay at his home, a popular traditional Japanese gourmet restaurant with live-in staff. She begins working there until she can return to her own job.

The relationship between the MC and Kenshi starts off completely platonic, they get on like a house on fire because Kenshi very deliberately sees the MC as one of the guys. It’s not that he is against the idea of falling in love or that he isn’t comfortable around women but Kenshi feels that a relationship would prove fruitless as there is a whole part of his life that he wouldn’t be able to reveal to a potential partner. As time wears on Kenshi’s attitude towards the MC changes as he naturally begins to see her as a woman and someone he can share the whole of himself with.

When I say that Kenshi is a good guy I mean he is the ultimate good guy. He may be a thief and an expert sniper but he is also a firefighter who joined the force following in his father’s footsteps. He lost his father to the flames and now works hard in his stead to support his mother and to protect what his father worked so hard to give them. Supportive, thoughtful and adored by everyone, what’s not to love.  As if his attitude to his family and his boyish charms weren’t enough there is something else about Kenshi that really made my heart melt and that was his support of a local home for orphaned children which was set up by his best friend from school. I love a man who is good with kids and the fact that Kenshi donates all of the proceeds from his missions with the Black Foxes to this orphanage anonymously from a Swiss bank account makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Such a sweetie! Continue reading

Love Letter from Thief X – Hiro Sarashina – Season 1 Main Story Review –Voltage Inc

Love Letter from Thief X – Hiro Sarashina – Season 1 Main Story Review –Voltage Inc

The Flirtatious Master of Disguise with a Wicked StreakIMG_0618

A lot happens very quickly in Hiro’s story. Anyone who has read my reviews before will probably have heard me complain in the past that a story seems rushed and are probably anticipating that I would have the same response to Hiro based on the speed at which his story moved; however this is not the case. Hiro, himself, is a whirlwind; he jumps from mood to mood as he likes, whenever he likes and without a moment’s notice and he drags the MC along for the ride. Of course the story moves fast, because Hiro moves fast and of course the story seems chaotic because Hiro is having a whale of the time making it so.

Just in case you don’t already know, ‘Love Letter from Thief X’ is an otome game for IOS and Android users which centres around the events following the MC’s first run in with ‘The Black Foxes’ a notorious group of Robin Hood style thieves who recover stolen artwork from criminals so that it can be returned to its rightful owner. The MC, a curator at a local museum, is the great-granddaughter of a famous Japanese artist known as ‘the Japanese Leonardo Di Vinci’ and the Black Foxes have been paying particular attention to saving her great-grandfather’s greatest creation from the many criminals looking to acquire it. When she hears of their plan the MC agrees to help and finds herself in their care.

IMG_0621The youngest of the Black Foxes and something of a playboy, Hiro is probably the most messed up of them all in terms of understanding his own relationships. His parents have a marriage of convenience and they frequently flout their vows very publically subjecting their children to a parade of lovers and barely ever staying home. Never having experienced a normal home life and never having witnessed real love, Hiro and his twin sister Seiko have spent their childhoods staying away from home in an attempt to avoid becoming pawns in their parent’s game of one-up-man-ship.

A genius with an IQ of 180 and a real talent for art, appraisal and reading people, Hiro quickly learnt that he could easily make people fall in love with him and use them for his own ends. Flirtatious and very confident, he is able to read what people want to hear from him and uses his good looks and natural persuasiveness to acquire many ‘Little Kittens’ who help him acquire the information he needs to help his friends, the Black Foxes.

Continue reading

My Little Monster – Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – Anime Review

My Little Monster – Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – Anime Review

436195ea68fac351fb559f27577bbfd21349099929_fullI’ve wanted to write about ‘Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun’ or ‘My Little Monster’ for a while now. It’s one of those anime series that took me completely by surprise and blew me away with its simple but beautiful portrayal of two young people learning about love and friendship with hilarious and heart-warming consequences.

This is a series that I just can’t help but keep going back to. Based on a Japanese manga by the same name ‘Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun’ (literally translating to ‘The Monster Sitting Beside Me’) which was published in Kodansha’s Dessert between 2008 and 2013, the series centres around a girl named Shizuku Mizutani. Shizuku, who has been given the rather unfair nickname of ‘Dry Ice’ by her peers because of her cold and unfriendly demeanour, is an ambitious high schooler who is only interested in her studies and her future. She is asked to deliver some class printouts to a boy who should be her neighbour in class, he was excluded from school on the first day and hasn’t returned since.

minitokyotonarinokaibutcBribed by her teacher with the promise of new reference books, Shizuku agrees to go to the home of Haru Yoshida and give him the printouts, she even agrees to try and convince him to come back to school, however, upon meeting the infamous boy with the violent temper, she finds her whole world turned upside down and ends up on a path which will alter her life and her perception of the world at large. Continue reading

Love Letter From Thief X – Riki Yanase – Season 1 Main Story Review – Voltage Inc

Love Letter From Thief X – Riki Yanase – Season 1 Main Story Review 

The Narcissistic and Confident Leader

IMG_0601Riki’s story is one of the sweetest, saddest and happiest stories I have read, it is also one of the stories with the most love interests in it and the sweetest ending. Riki is kind of bossy, confident and clever. He can be a little mean at times but there is something wonderfully enchanting about him which draws people in, he’s good at seducing women but he never gets attached and he carries so much responsibility and pressure on his shoulders but still manages to take care of the people around him like it is no burden at all. I’ve said the same of a few of the ‘Love Letter from Thief X’ stories but in none of them is there so obvious a difference between what you’re expecting and what you get than with Riki.

In case you don’t already know or haven’t read my other ‘Thief X’ reviews, I’ll start by telling you a little bit about the game. ‘Love Letter from Thief X’ is an otome game/romance simulator created by the talented people at Voltage Inc. As the reader you follow the MC, a young curator at a local museum and the great grand-daughter of a talented and acclaimed artist, as she gets herself caught up with a group of good looking, Robin Hood style thieves. The Black Foxes steal back artwork from criminals who have acquired them through unethical means so that they can be returned to their rightful owners. When the MC hears what the Black Foxes stand for she agrees to help them and, in Riki’s route, places herself in the care of the harsh but fair leader of the group.

IMG_0599So Riki, ever sensible and clever, doesn’t immediately trust the MC and decides to have her stay with him for the time being so that he can be sure she isn’t going to run off and tell the police everything. Though his words are a little harsh and his assertion that he won’t try anything with someone so unsexy is pretty darned insulting, Riki is a real gentleman from the start. He gives up his bed for her and even helps her dry her hair to stop her getting a cold leaving the MC feeling somewhat confused and unsure what to make of him.

Behind his confident and self-assured personality, Riki has suffered a lot through his childhood at the hands of his ambitious father. Trapped in a life of politics in order to secure his sister’s medical care, Riki truly believes that it is not a good idea for him to fall in love as he will undoubtedly have to adhere to his father’s wishes and marry into a family which will benefit his position politically. With his family’s status and his father’s reputation rested firmly on his shoulders and his sister’s chances of survival hinging on his cooperation Riki has already given up on his own chances of happiness. When the MC and I found out about this both of our hearts broke for him; Ibuki, his sister just wants to see him happy but he won’t allow himself to let go. Continue reading

Love Letter from Thief X – Takuto Hirukawa – Season 1 Main Story Review – Voltage Inc

Love Letter from Thief X – Takuto Hirukawa – Season 1 Main Story Review

The Genius Hacker and Engineer

IMG_0588Love Letter from Thief X is easily one of my favourite Voltage apps so far because the story telling is just on another level! The characters are well-rounded and the relationships develop in a slow, natural way which is exactly what I am looking for when I read these romances. When I first discovered this game all six of the original characters had already been released; Takuto, Kenshi, Hiro, Riki, Atsumu and Tatsuro. Takuto’s main story was actually one of the last that I played because I was initially concerned that he was maybe a little too mean for my tastes however after his appearance in Riki’s story I found that I couldn’t resist and I am so glad that I did because he is perfection!

Having recently been treated to three new Thief X characters, I was hit with the urge to re-read some of my favourite stories from the Black Foxes and I decided to start with Takuto, the secretly shy genius who captured my heart.

Just in case you’re not already acquainted with it, ‘Love Letter from Thief X’ is an otome game from Voltage Inc. for IOS and Android which follows the story of the MC, a young curator at a local museum, who finds herself mixed up with a group of good looking art thieves. The Black Foxes are described as modern day Robin Hoods, stealing illegally acquired artwork from powerful criminals and returning them to their rightful owners. When she discovers that they’re looking for her great-grandfather’s greatest masterpiece she agrees to help them and finds herself a curator by day and thief by night.

IMG_0591I have found it difficult to write this review because, I just love everything about this man! You really have to read the story to fully understand Takuto, and I highly recommend that everyone does so, but I will try to explain just why I love him so much. I suppose the thing that really makes this story what it is, is the complete U-turn in Takuto’s attitude and the softening of his heart. To begin with Takuto was exactly what I expected, everything that comes out of his mouth is harsh, a little rude and combined with a terrifying glare that would make anyone uncomfortable and leaves the MC unsure of whether she should stand up to him or avoid him altogether. It becomes apparent, however, from pretty early on that there is actually a gentler side to Takuto.

Quietly considerate, Takuto is observant and gentlemanly in a ‘no frills’ sort of way. Though he complains constantly about having to ‘babysit’ the MC he still picks up on the smallest, most imperceptible changes in her mood. He holds her when she is upset, takes her for lunch when he suspects there is something bothering her and listens to what she has to say, taking on board her requests and dealing with them fairly despite his poor attitude. It soon becomes clear that Takuto, having been virtually alone for 20 years, doesn’t quite know how to rely on people. Continue reading

My experience – Being Female at Conventions

My experience – Being Female at Conventions

This blog post is something I have been meaning to write for a while but every time I start it turns into a rant of ridiculous proportions that would not be fun for anyone to read so I have decided to come at this from a different angle. Instead of talking about the painfully obvious sexism which emanates from every corner of conventions and makes me feel a little dead inside, I am going to talk about my own personal experiences (both, the good and the bad) and the ways in which I am using Another Earth Collectables to try and create at least a little more comfort at conventions for women like me who just want to proudly let their Geek Flag Fly!

My partner, Jack, and I started Another Earth Collectables in 2014 because we love all things geeky; comics, graphic novels, figures and statues, you name and we were buying it (or at the very least starring at it lovingly from a safe distance wondering when we were going to win the lottery). As regular patrons of comic shops, both locally and nationally, and regular convention attendees we had experienced a lot of different kinds of service in our quest to see the coolest things.

Now don’t get me wrong, not all of our experiences were bad. I didn’t always find myself being watched suspiciously as I walked around a shop and we didn’t always feel like we weren’t in with the retailer so we most certainly weren’t welcome. However, the number of times that we were made to feel this way began to make me personally question whether I could really keep attending these events or shopping in these stores without losing my temper and landing myself with a ban for life. With this in mind we began to wonder if it was possible to create an environment where people could feel happy and at home with a company who love the products as much as they do, thus Another Earth was born.

Since creating Another Earth our convention attendance has almost doubled and we have been travelling all over the South of England filling my Tardis-like car with Funko POPs and comics and setting up camp wherever necessary. On our travels we have come across loads of different people and have learnt a lot about world of conventions but the most important lesson I have learned is how to just let things slide. I’d like to say that everything is now just ‘water off a duck’s back’ but that would be far too optimistic, at the very least now I am able to laugh derisively every time I am asked to name the Doctors in order (seriously) or asked if I am buying a gift for my boyfriend (ARGH!) rather than getting upset and irritated.

Anyway, here are a few of my stories. I hope you enjoy reading them and I’d love to hear some of yours 🙂 Continue reading