If someone told me back then that the kitten I had just adopted not only would survive the first several rough months in my care (I was a student and lived in the dorms, an environment less than ideal for a pet), but would be with me for 15 years — I wouldn’t have believed that. Yet, here we are =) I’m still not sure if I got the date right but anyway, we decided that October 12th is the day! So yeah, our cat is already 15. And doing surprisingly well, considering everything he’s been through: that year in a room regularly filled with drunk students, moving between apartments and, the last but not least, a flight across the Atlantic. He’s had an eventful life so far eh? =)

Uramichi Onii-san

“Life Lessons with Uramichi Onii-san” is a piece of art. It’s an amazing anime, simultaneously funny and depressing, that stresses out in every single episode that yeah, it’s difficult to be an adult =) Aggretsuko (the original web anime) became so popular because it depicted the ugly realities of office life fairly accurately. Uramichi continues on with this trend and demonstrates that even such a glamorous job as a host of a TV show for kids actually is tough and unrewarding. He has to deal with dumb co-workers, absolutely moronic directors and writers, keep up with with kids parents’ demands — you name it. “What do you, kids, have that us, adults, don’t? Freedom. Heart. Hope.” There’s no hope for Uramichi-san, Utano-san or Iketeru-san but they’re going to do their best nonetheless, because that’s what adults do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m describing this anime as if it’s all doom and gloom, but actually it’s not. It’s actually hilarious =) Yes, you can say that the punchline every time is pretty much the same — either something something painful happens to Uramichi or he has to patiently explain to the kids why life sucks. And yes, it’s funny. It’s an anime to remember and re-watch, it’s perfect for screenshots, gifs and quotations. Little birdy that shows up in Uramichi-san’s dreams every night. Wonderful inu. Bonjour-man. A summer music video filmed in the middle of winter. A winter music video that’s being shot… right, in summer, when even decorations are melting. The main hero’s attempts at drawing, whether it’s about his parents or magical girls. Utano-san’s enka singing. Iketeru-san absent-mindedness in form of an onigiri. And these are just memes! There are also awkward dialogues and yeah, a lot of pain. Everything as I like =)

This TV show, ironically aired on Mondays, became the highlight of the summer season for me and, oh boy, I do hope we’ll get another season, it totally deserves it. “Uramichi Onii-san” might remind of “Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei”, Aggretsuko or WataMote (oh, that was a depressing one!) a little, yet it’s something fresh and absolutely worth checking out.

I learned that “Blood In Blood Out” was initially recorded with Rob Dukes’ vocals and it’s possible to find the rough mixes of some of these songs. Not gonna lie, after having listened to them I’m kind of disappointed that eventually the album came out with Zetro’s singing. Rob Dukes may sound pretty standard (why this is a minus is beyond me), but I definitely prefer his much more aggressive style.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon S

I’m not entirely sure that the second season of this KyoAni anime about Kobayashi and her dragon-maid was needed. Yeah, after what happened in 2019 the studio had to rebound and demonstrate that they still could create shows living up to the fans’ expectations, but why choose this title? The first season of Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon was not bad, but we shouldn’t forget that it spent half of its time introducing new characters and, in general, was focused pretty much on being a slice-of-life show =) Will it be interesting to watch another 12 episodes of cute nothingness? Seems that the authors were asking themselves the same question and the answer was to add more. More characters! Backstory for everyone! You thought that Lucoa’s breasts were pretty questionable? For sure people want bigger ones!

All these, supposedly, exciting new additions turned out to be not that hmm exciting (Araragi-kun, you need to work on your vocabulary). I didn’t give a damn about the new dragon — yes, she was responsible for one good joke faking to be offended by a guy staring at you-know-what-parts of her body — but other than that she was a quite boring character. All the dramas, all the backstories in the second season are shallow. Maybe I should’ve enjoyed scenes when Kobayashi-san is being Very Smart and giving Valuable Life Suggestions? I don’t know, by the end of the season I got kind of tired of the title character.

Frankly, the only bright spot in this anime is Kanna. Maybe because unlike the rest of the dragons she doesn’t have to ask Serious Questions about her life (I think I’m going overboard with the capital letters but c’mon, I should make sure that everyone understands that we’re talking about Serious Things and not just, you know, serious thingies) and just enjoys being with Tohru and Kobayashi. Episodes with Kanna are warm, cute and unmistakably KyoAni-like.

I’m glad that Kyoto Animation is back in TV-show business but I hope the next time they’ll release something closer to the anime that made so many people follow them closely. K-On, Lucky Star, Nichijou, Hyouka, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu were awesome and I want to believe that we’ll be able to add new names to this list.

To commemorate the fact that since next week a lot of people in Ontario are becoming second-class citizens let’s remember how we got to this point.

When all that Covid situation started we were told to do several things and the curve would be flattened in a matter of weeks (I think we had the same famous “two weeks to flatten the curve” here but not 100% sure): wash our hands often, keep that arbitrarily chosen distance 6ft and stay home if possible. Amazingly, I’d say that hands-washing so far has been the most helpful advice — not because it helps with this virus particularly but it’s a good habit in general. A bit later some stores started installing plexiglass panels and introduced a surprisingly reasonable policy, which of course got scrapped very quickly — that seniors had their own shopping hours. Then we got our first lockdown, which ended in the beginning of summer if memory serves me well. The indoor mask mandate was announced after that, apparently because such a highly advanced technological device as a piece of cloth over the face had not been known to mankind and not because masks had never worked against a respiratory disease before.

A bit later, in the beginning of fall, masks were declared the tool to save humanity, there were claims that they were as effective as any (potential) vaccine could be and anyone who’s ignorant enough to say that it might be not entirely correct deserved swift punishment. I heard conversations when people were happily describing that someone got thrown from the bus and punched a few times because he didn’t wear a mask. The keyword is happily. “He totally deserved it and had it coming and I’d punch this bastard myself a few times”. Yeah, okay. Despite having Very Effective™ masks and Very Effective™ social distancing we had another lockdown later that fall. I have to mention that all that was happening with zero big gatherings: festivals, sports or music events.

I think around the time of the second lockdown we also were introduced to an amazing Color Zone Scheme, which was supposed to provide a plan for transitioning from one package of restrictions to another but in practice it could totally be “okay, you’re in yellow zon… oh, hold on, panic-panic-panic — no, you’re in grey — lockdown zone!” Then Ontario got a short break from lockdowns only to go on a lockdown again later. The last day before that latest lockdown we went to a pub we used to go to once in a while, and everyone who worked there were furious because they honestly had no idea what might happen the next day. This pub is closed now by the way, that lockdown turned out to be the last straw =)

This time around the vaccines were declared the key to lift the third, spring lockdown. I think the original target was 70 or 75% vaccinated to get rid of most of restrictions. Amazingly enough, the plan never mentioned lifting all the restrictions entirely. Then it was a series of “take the first vaccine available, they all are miraculous -> well no, except this one, this one is not good -> this one is actually not good either -> you can mix the vaccines… probably -> you have to take the vaccine and show the proof if asked and we’re not sure yet but maybe if 90% of you peasants are vaccinated something good might happen”. I’m still genuinely confused who vaccine passports are supposed to protect from whom and why some people think that declaring a significant number of fellow Ontarians unclean subhumans might be a good idea but what do I know.

So yeah, these 18 months have been pretty fascinating. We made a huge progress from washing hands to normalizing the idea that people are nothing more than vessels with disease. Effectively, now we have: social distancing (unless you’re on a plane or something), indoor masking, capacity limits and vaccine passports. Simultaneously. As Exodus sang in their recent single “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.

On the weekend all of a sudden took a ride down to local DriveTest and took up the n00b’s driver license test. I’d been putting this off for years and probably shouldn’t have, because the sooner you start the entire process the faster you’ll obtain a usable license (the process of getting one in Canada pretty much assumes that you’re a 16-year old, so this first, G1, license doesn’t allow you to drive on your own for a year — you have to be accompanied by your parents an experienced driver). Yeah, it’s possible to transfer your previous experience but still, it isn’t a very straightforward process, comparing to a simple exchange citizens of, let’s say, UK can do. The procedure of getting a G1 license is pretty simple: you get there, wait in a line outside, wait in a line inside moving like a kindergartener from one circle to another, take a vision test, get a picture of you taken, pay and inside the room with computers you go. The test itself is relatively easy: 2 blocks of questions, 40 total, you’re allowed to make 4 mistakes in every block. I ended up with 4 total because for the love of Aidios I couldn’t remember how much time I’d have to spend in jail if I disobeyed a police officer and such =)

The same day we also went to a cinema and checked out “Free Guy”. The movie is hit and miss — pretty much everything that’s happening inside the game is nice and fun, but the real-world characters, their dialogues and interactions are horrible. Not to mentioned atrocious moments like “We can’t delete her account!” or “Oh no, I don’t know how to stop an AI from functioning!” God damn, it’s an insult to anyone who’s remotely familiar with games and game development. Ryan Reynolds is a watered-down version of Deadpool here again, fine by me but some people might find him annoying. Now probably need to gird up my loins and finally watch Evangelion 3.0+1.0 — doesn’t seem that we’re going to get it in theaters so Amazon Prime it is.

I took a break from “To Your Eternity” after the first arc had finished because… Well, not entirely sure why, just didn’t feel like watching it. A month later returned to this anime and it rewarded me with a bit cheesy but amazing dialogue, that would become a classic of romance anime if “To Your Eternity” was one =)

Oddtaxi

As it often happens, when you expect nothing from an anime it may turn out to be pretty great. My level of expectations regarding Oddtaxi was somewhat between “garbage, will drop after the first episode” and “meh, I need to watch something this season”. I am happy to have been proven wrong =) I was hooked during the first episode and this anime became my personal favorite this spring season.

Oddtaxi, despite having several plot lines, offers a surprisingly coherent story. If I had to compare this anime to something Durarara would be my first choice. Yeah, there’s definitely a lack of headless bikers and supernatural in general, unless you consider Shirakawa-san’s ability to show up in the right place in the right time abnormal, but the urban setting and the way the writing works, with many seemingly chaotic, small and unrelated pieces eventually revealing the big picture, were similar to the famous anime set in Ikeburuko. I love finished stories, I love when they make sense and Oddtaxi is a complete anime, whatever meaning of the word “complete” you’d use (even though there’s a kinda sorta cliffhanger in the end). It even explains why all the characters are depicted as animals, which was an unexpected but very nice touch!

However, the main reason this anime is great is its main character, Odokawa. He’s an unusual protagonist: cynical yet often depressed taxi driver. Thanks to his attitude all his dialogues are pure gold, whether he’s talking to a guy who wants to become a video-blogger (my word, kids these days…) or a criminal at large. For me these conversations were the thing to wait for every week =) The rest of the cast is decent is well, whether we’re talking about a capoeira master Shirokawa, constantly rapping Yano, comedy duo Homosapiens or ridiculous Daimon brothers. I’m going to say a scary thing — I don’t think Oddtaxi has any bad characters.

What else to say — a good plot and good characters make a good anime, who would’ve thought =) I enjoyed Oddtaxi a lot and wouldn’t mind watching it again one day, something that I rarely think about shows.