February 2022 It’s in the blood. Happy Valentines day!

A Blood bento!

This month we bring you quite a different bento. Since it is Valentines Day this month we focus on love and a bit of blood. Why blood? Think about it, when we see someone we like, blood rushes to our cheeks and we blush, when we love someone, we can feel it in our heart, soul, and blood. Donating blood is an act of love for someone we don’t know. (Blood has another function in anime, just think of those nosebleeds! Right Sanji-san?) We also talk about the love the Japanese have for alcohol and have romantic AMVs. We look at 5 medical anime and our anime challenge this month is a classic medical anime. And to top it off we have weird and wonderful content that is Only in Japan and our usual news insert. We also have a guest writer this month, Retara who hails all the way from Japan and he wrote our Kawaii Kulture article about blood. We are YOUR monthly anime and Japanese culture source, enjoy the bento, Itadakimasu!!

News

Arifureta Light Novels to end in its next volume

Arifureta – From Commonplace to World’s Strongest author Ryo Shirakome stated in the 12th volume of the light novel series that the series is ending in its next volume. Its prequel series Arifureta Zero ended in December with its sixth novel and also teased that the main novel series is reaching its climax. The original light novel series launched in June 2015 under the OVERLAP Bunko label, with illustrations by Takayaki.

In the series 17-year-old otaku Hajime Nagumo’s life is turned sideways when he and his class are summoned to a fantasy world. They each get the hero’s treatment and get tasked with saving mankind from extinction. All Hajime’s classmates get super sugoi powers but he only gets one ability, causing him to be bullied and laughed at by his classmates. This series inspired an anime that premiered in July 2019 and its second season premiered this year on January 13th.

Four Japanese Manga publishers sue Cloudflare

Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kadokawa are deadset to sue Cloudflare on account that they believe the internet-grooming firm facilitates piracy of their wares. The four Manga companies dominate the Japanese manga market. Allegedly one of the largest pirate manga sites was contracted with Cloudflare, its Japan server is used to deliver these pirated mangas. The pirate site receives approximately 300 million hits a month and delivers pirated versions of around 4,000 titles which include popular titles like ‘Attack on Titan’ and ‘One Piece.

In light of this, the four manga publishing companies believe Cloudflare facilitates piracy by providing its services to sites like these that share unlicensed Manga. They now seek combined damages totalling about 400 million yen. Sadly piracy sites are popping up frequently, not giving a morsel of remorse for the damages they are doing to publishers and mangaka. Services like Cloudflare need to set in motion plans for piracy sites like these to be stopped.

I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level will return!

The popular anime based on Kisetsu Morita’s light novel I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (Slime Taoshite 300-nen, Shiranai Uchi ni Level Max ni Nattemashita) received the green light for a second season in January. This was announced on the anime’s official website. The first season was released in Japan on April 10th, 2021 and was directed by Hobukage Kimura at REVOROOT.

The series tells us the story of an ordinary office lady that dies from overwork and get ‘isekai’d’ to another world. She decides to live a slow life because of her dying from overworking, as an immortal witch, with the figure of a 17-year-old living in the mountains. She makes money by killing slimes to acquire magic stones which she sells at the guild in the village. But one day everything changes, and no spoilers, you have to see what happens!!

Shadows House returns with second season in July

On April 11, 2021, a creepy anime was aired in Japan that had many glued to their screens, Shadows House. In a vast mansion, faceless nobles dwell served by living dolls. These dolls spend most of their time cleaning up soot, which is endlessly emitted by their mysterious masters. Our story follows the relationship between Emilyko, a living doll, and her shadow master Kate. Emilyko, like other dolls, has a duty to clean the room of her master who continues to emit soot that dirties her living space. It was creepy.

The staff of the series announced that in July we will be treated with a second season and a lot of cast members will be returning: Akari Kitō as Kate, Yū Sasahara as Emilico, Ayane Sakura as Louise / Lou, Kōdai Sakai as John / Shaun and Reiji Kawashima as Patrick / Ricky. The manga the series is based on launched in Weekly Young Jump in September 2018 and its ninth volume was published last year in November.

Skeleton Knight in Another World to premiere in April

Light novel fanatiks will jump for joy as Skeleton Knight in Another World (Gaikotsu Kishi-sama, Tadaima Isekai e Odekakechū), a popular light novel that has now been adapted into an anime series and is to premiere in April. Katsumi Ono (Girly Air Force, Senki Zesshō Symphogear sequels) is directing the anime at Studio KAI and HORNETS, and Takeshi Kikuchi (Night Wizard The Animation) is supervising the series scripts. Tōru Imanishi (Girly Air Force) is designing the characters and artists eba and Tsubasa Ito (Iwa-Kakeru! -Sport Climbing Girls-) are composing the music.

Seven Seas Entertainment who is publishing the light novel series and its manga adaptation in English describes the story:

One day, a gamer played video games until he fell asleep…and when he woke up, he found himself in the game world–as a skeleton! Equipped with the powerful weapons and armor of his avatar but stuck with its frightening skeletal appearance, Arc has to find a place for himself in this new, fantastical land. All his hopes for a quiet life are dashed when he crosses paths with a beautiful elven warrior, setting him on a journey full of conflict and adventure.

Ennki Hakari launched the novels on the Shōsetsuka ni Narō (Let’s be Novelists) website in October 2014, and Overlap published the first volume with illustrations by KeG in June 2015. The series now has 1.5 million copies (in print and digital) in circulation.

Only in Japan

Girl running with toast blamed for rice consumption's decline

Niigata Prefecture. The prefectural government notice a decline in rice consumption and someone must be blamed. Suddenly one member jumps up. “Sirs, remember in all those anime series girls just grab a slice of toast and run to school preventing being late? We should blame those girls! They are influencing our youths to leave rice out of their breakfast diets.” That is probably how the Niigata prefectural government decided to try to promote the regions rice products with a new video that shows a girl running not with a piece of toast to school, but with rice.

Will this video succeed to make rice king in Niigata Prefecture? We hope their campaign to bring new life to the rice industry works!

Monkeys operate crane games

Some people believe they suck at crane games but what if monkeys can operate them and win prizes? Only in Japan, we can find the answer, as the monkeys inside the monkey habitat at Nagasaki Bio Park will demonstrate to us!

Link of the month

We are fanatik about anime, so fanatik that we even turn to anime games, manga and light novels to get that extra fix in. For those of us who turn to games as our fix, we found a great article that lists the 20 best anime games of 2021. These games include action-adventure, point-and-click, visual novels, fighting games and even turn-based RPGs. Whatever genre of game you indulge in you may find it on the list.

Top 20 Best Anime Games of 2021

Kawaii Kulture: BLOOD

Why do we have such a fascination with blood? Some are scared by it, some are grossed out by it, and others still are drawn to it. We donate it, we give it to those in need, and some even eat it. So why not look a little at blood in other cultures, and yes by other cultures I’m referring to Japan. So, where do we normally find blood (outside of the body of course)? We find it in art, culture, and food. So let’s look at those three parts.

Blood in Culture

So this is a little bit of an interesting one for me as culture and art often overlap. Blood in Japanese culture is a little bit more interesting as they have something called “ketsueki-gata 血液型 or けつえきがた) which is basically “blood type personalities”. This became popular after some publications were written in the 1970s by Nomi Masahiko. Thought the idea comes from way back when (think Aristotle).

This has become an incredibly popular idea especially in Japan and Korea, where everything from work ethics to relationships is seen through its lenses. Now I’m not going to go into detail about every type (this isn’t a blood type personality blog post after all) but I’ll quickly give the main attribute ascribed to each type.

  • A = Kind

  • B = Passionate

  • AB = Peculiar

  • O = Optimistic

Blood type personality is such a popular idea that you can even get “etsuekigata O-mamori” (血液型お守り) or Blood Type Amulets from shrines. Unfortunately, there is often a darker side to popular ideas and such is the same with this. There is a term called “bura-hara” which is short for “blood harassment” where people (from kids on the playground to professionals in the workplace) are harassed or discriminated against because of their blood type. Now, this is very rare but still worth noting. Remember kiddies, everything in moderation and don’t bully others.

Blood in art

Like I said culture and art are closely linked, and blood type and anime is exactly the same. There is a popular anime series here in Japan that just handles the interaction between the different blood types. Yes, I’m talking of “Ketsuekigata-kun!” and if you want to know more about blood type personalities then I’d recommend watching it at least once.

Another anime that many know is “Cells at Work” and while it is fun, it is not truly the anime most would associate with blood. No that would be “Blood: the last vampire”, this specific anime movie also has a manga, a Light Novel, a videogame, and a live-action version.

Cells At Work

Blood: the last vampire

And while most of the battle type animes have blood aplenty, it’s in the cooking and food-related ones where we get a closer look at another part of the Japanese views on blood, though it would be the mangas and Light novels that truly give you the peek at it.

Blood in Food

Anyone coming from a western background would know that there is a plethora of food with blood in it, and even in many Asian countries that is true. Yes, I said many, because Japan is not one of those. It is actually very rare that blood is used in any cooking in Japan.

Great care is taken when handling food, and everything from cattle to fish are bled to remove the blood from the animal. Now, why is that? Strangely it is not a religious requirement like in some areas, this is purely down to the Japanese people being extremely sensitive to certain smells, and blood is one of those.

The best tuna in the world according to Japanese people is one that was caught and bled correctly so that there aren’t any extra smells. This is the same with many other types of meat as well, so even venison and wild boars are called “stinky” if the meat is not bled correctly. This makes it an amazing experience eating here as the care in preparation is extremely high.

Yet here too is where a dark side can come in. Now I know what you are thinking: A dark side to blood in food? Well yes, there is a very dark side that luckily has faded far into the dark corners of the past. There used to be a very disturbing trend where it was believed that giving your crush cookies made with a couple of drops of your blood will work as some type of magic charm. This might have come from the idea that someone not used to cooking might accidentally cut their fingers if they are not careful. I trust I don’t have to tell you not to do this, as this is unsanitary, cruel, and possibly illegal in many areas.

Thank you to our guest writer Retara for this article on Blood.

Japanese Food: Drinks the Japanese Love

It is quite evident that Japanese citizens love alcohol. Over the years we have seen videos and articles about vending machines selling alcohol, heard about izakaya which are small bars in shopping areas and saw people drinking alcohol like beer and sake in anime like Bleach, Naruto and Isekai Izakaya – Koto Aitheria no Izakaya Nobu is a reverse isekai all about drinking. The Japanese love alcohol and since this bento is all about the love we are doing a deeper dive into the world of Japan and its love for alcohol.

Let us first dispel an interesting misunderstanding about the word alcohol in Japan. In Japan the word sake () refers to ANY alcoholic drink, while the beverage we know in the west as sake is actually termed as nihonshu (日本酒; meaning ‘Japanese alcoholic drink‘). Served hot, cold or even room temperature this drink has a diverse taste and there is a way to drink it for all. According to our Japanese correspondent Retara, when foreigners ask for sake at a bar and the bartender does not know foreigners, the bartender might serve the foreigners whisky or beer instead of nihonshu, whereas if a bartender is clued up on Westerners misconception of the word, he will knowingly serve them the ‘sake‘ or nihonshu they expect. Don’t worry if you call nihonshu by the name sake outside of Japan, since ‘sake’ means ‘alcohol’ in Japanese you are due to that technicality not wrong.

Nihonshu is a drink at the very heart of the Japanese drinking culture, it is a strong, tasty rice wine that is made by fermenting rice with water (the type of rice and water place an important role as well), yeast and koji (a type of mold). The drink is generally about 15% in alcohol strength.

Beer is also one of the most popular drinks in Japan, but it may not be the beer we are used to. The portion sizes are different. You can get beer in medium (200 – 300ml) or large (500 – 700ml) which is different from a pint or half-pint and sometimes you can also get beer in a pitcher to share.

Sochu (焼酎) is not a beverage well-known outside of Japan but is quite popular in the country. Unlike nihonshu which is fermented or brewed, shochu is distilled. The most common form of shochu comes from distilling potatoes but they are also made from sugar cane, rice, buckwheat, barley and other starchy ingredients. It is usually served mixed with water and ice, fruit juice and sparkling water, or oolong tea and is stronger than nihonshu.

Umeshu(梅酒) is made of Japanese plums (ume), sugar, and shochu or nihonshu. Its sweet, fruity, juice-like flavour and aroma can appeal to those who normally dislike alcohol. It may be a weak sweet plum wine and is served usually in small glasses. It is commonly made at home but can also easily be found anywhere alcohol is sold, served on the rocks, mixed with soda, or as an umeshu sawa (umeshu sour).

Chuhai (チューハイ) (shortened from “shochu highball”) are fruit-flavoured alcoholic drinks with an alcohol content between three and eight percent, but if you buy it at a konbini it can be stronger so make sure to check the alcohol content. It comes in a lot of different flavours like lemon, ume, peach, grapefruit and lime or even in seasonal flavours.

Whisky is not just from Scotland and Ireland, lads and lassies, whisky has been produced in Japan since the 1920s and they have been winning awards too. Their whisky is produced in the same way that the Scots produce theirs, except that some of their whisky is matured in Japanese Mizunara oak.

These are just some examples of alcohol in Japan and there are many others to find and explore in Japan. Kanpai, minna!

How to Order Sake in Japanese. At Izakaya, Bar, Restaurant, Hotel & Accommodation

5 Things You Should Avoid When Drinking SAKE (Nihonshu)

Top Five medical anime recommendations

This month we look at medical anime, some are about doctors, some about healers and apothecaries, while some are about what happens inside the body, we have quite an eclectic list of medical anime for you to choose from!

Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayukihime)

Black Jack

Shin no Nakama ja Nai to Yuusha no Party wo Oidasareta node, Henkyou de Slow Life suru Koto ni Shimashita (Banished from the Hero's Party I Decided to Live a Quiet Life)

Cells at Work!

Monster Girl Doctor (Monster Musume no Oisha-san)

February anime challenge - Black Jack

Our challenge this month is the medical anime, Black Jack. A young boy, born into a happy family, loses his family in a horrible accident. Facing certain death, he survives countless hours of surgery and goes through long, torturous rehabilitation. Orphaned and disfigured, the boy vows to become a surgeon, because of the kind old doctor who stood by him through every operation.

Years later, the miracle worker Black Jack is born. A doctor of unfathomable skill that performs the impossible on the operating table. A doctor who charges his patients’ unbelievable fees. And do these surgeries without a license.

People turn to Black Jack, the doctor when they have no hope left. Even animals like a killer whale… yes a killer whale…. Well, he likes dealing with medical cases not very well known, which can be strange, dangerous, or not known at all… He rarely gets recognition; often curing the poor and destitute for free, or teaching the arrogant a lesson in humility. He is actually the good guy anti-hero type because he’s is a modern-day Robin Hood with a scalpel, that charges his rich patients’ enormous fees, that really hurts their pockets, but treats the poor for free.

There are many Black Jack OVAs and movies but this month we focus on the first 12 episodes of the Black Jack anime which ran from 2004 t0 2006 which is an adaptation of the manga. The full series is 61 episodes long.

AMV of the month: Love!

We decided to go mushy and dedicate this month’s AMVs to love since as the romantics say, love makes the world go round. First up we have ‘Love Me Like You Do’ by Ellie Goulding with scenes of Naruto and Hinata from the Naruto animes. Please also check out Elle Goulding’s official video of the song and leave her a like! Secondly we have an ode to one of the most well-loved rock artists that passed away. We’re sharing Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) with scenes from Cowboy Bebop the anime. Check out Meatloaf’s original video of the song as well and leave a like in remembrance of his awesome talent!

Love Me Like You Do

Anything For Love

Birthday of the month: Edward Elric (Full Metal Alchemist)

On February 3, 1899 in his world a hero was born, who lived through terrible hardships, Edward Elric. Through the arcane science of alchemy, he and his brother tried to resurrect their dead mother. But something went wrong, and the resurrection failed, extracting a high price from the brothers. Edward lost his entire right arm and part of his left leg and his little brother Alphonse nearly dies but is plucked from death as Edward desperately fused his brother’s soul to a suit of armour with alchemy before passing out. Alphonse took his body to their adoptive family, Winry and Pinako Rockbell who happens to be prosthetic (called automail in this world) experts, who fitted Edward with automail limbs. They set out on a journey, after recovering and learning more about alchemy at a special academy, to become State Alchemists, which will help Edward to do research as he aims to get their bodies back through alchemical means.

Edward Elric is the type of hero whose origins is born in blood, but somehow he keeps being a good person, his story is dark yet a heroic light comes from within, perhaps his childlike and innocent brother Alphone is the secret to that. The love he and his brother has for each other makes Edward from Full Metal Alchemist the perfect birthday boy to celebrate this month in the birthday of the month.