What Have I Been Up To? November Books, Movies and more — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

Seems like only a few weeks ago I wrote about October. . . Sigh time flies by. I won’t have as many movies on this list because I’m currently doing a marathon of classic movies. But I have been reading a lot of books lately and other series so that will be fun to talk […]

What Have I Been Up To? November Books, Movies and more — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

Sorry I’ve been writing on my other blog a lot more lately. Anyhow, have fun reading my newest post on what I’ve been watching and reading.

Month of Classic Movies: Day 2, Faust (1926) 9/10 — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

The demon Mephisto wagers with God that he can corrupt a mortal man’s soul. IMBD Synopsis Maybe I’m a little biased, but I really enjoyed this movie! I studied German Expressionist filmmaking for my senior thesis in college and never got to see this classic film directed by F.W. Murnau. If you are curious about […]

Month of Classic Movies: Day 2, Faust (1926) 9/10 — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

Thanks for reading my posts! Feel free to take a look at this article from my other blog!

Month of Classic Movies: Day 1, The 39 Steps 7/10 — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

Image via Doctormacro.com A man in London tries to help a counter-espionage Agent. But when the Agent is killed, and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to save himself and stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information. Synopsis via IMBD Here’s how this scale works. I’ll […]

Month of Classic Movies: Day 1, The 39 Steps 7/10 — From the Perspective of an Old Soul

I usually don’t do movie review on this website, but feel free to check out my other blog for upcoming movie reviews on Classic Films.

What Have I Been Up To?

My apologies for disappearing all of the sudden from the writing scene! I’ve had a lot of things going on lately but am here to report the wonderous doings of my mind and life! I haven’t been reading too many new books, but have still had time to revisit some old books/series I love and find a few new movies and shows I’ve added to my favorites.

For those interested, here are some things I’ve been getting involved with lately I think you’ll find interesting.

I Found a New Job

First and foremost, I’ve been missing mostly because I suddenly got a teaching job at a charter school The International School at Mesa Del Sol in Albuquerque, NM. Part of you are probably thinking, “Wait. . . I thought you hated teaching Aubrey?” The other half of you are probably wondering what I actually am teaching.

To answer the first question, yes, I hated teaching before I went on my mission. I love to study, write, and talk about things that interest me. I discovered, however, how heartbreaking it can be teaching these things to kids who belittled and attacked what I loved. So I decided I didn’t want to go through that again.

Recently, however, I’ve been really concerned with the direction education in the United States is going. I wondered what I could do in response and realized I had the education and talent to teach in public schools. Turns out I wasn’t using these two things as much as I should have.

Therefore, I found a great opportunity to get a teaching certificate and stretch myself as an individual mentally and intellectually. I am currently teaching Russian language and cultural studies. To middle schoolers. Mmm hmm. It’s been quite an adventure these past two months! This is partially because I had to build the program from nothing in only a few days.

What have I been reading?

Firstly, let’s talk about the plethora of Russian fairytales I’ve studied the past few weeks! Let me tell you, they don’t disappoint. Before I started teaching my class, I vaguely knew about some of them because of one of my favorite series, The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden.

Some of the best I’ve had the pleasure of exploring in my six classes are “The Frog Princess”, “Ivan Tsaravitch, the Firebird and the Grey Wolf,” “Koschei the Deathless”, and “Vasilisa the Beautiful”. If you have read Arden’s fantasy series before, you will definitely enjoy going through these and other fairytales.

The Charlie Bone Series

I don’t know why, but when I go through stressful periods of change in my life I like to go back and read this series through. I find it intensely satisfying to read stories that have their heroes face evil and malicious intent but come out conquerors despite everything against them.

What I’ve always liked about Nimmo’s titular series is how she weaves in elements of fantasy with the Arts. Someone once asked me which book series I would enjoy falling into. I’d say this would definitely be the winner. Even if Bloors Academy starts off as a terrible school, I would have loved to have lived in their old city witnessing the world’s magic come to life.

Blissful Land

“Khang Zhipa is a 13-year-old doctor’s apprentice living in a mountain village in 18th-century Tibet. One day, when he gets back from collecting medicinal herbs, he finds a bride-to-be and her wedding party will be resting at his home for the night. The bride’s name is Moshi Rati and it turns out she’s actually Khang Zhipa’s fiancée from another land, here to stay! Enjoy this heartwarming slice-of-life tale woven by a kind-hearted boy and his mysterious bride.”

This delightful series came very unexpectedly a few weeks ago. I don’t know very much about Tibet’s history, but this series made it’s people and their culture come to life for me. Some might think this story is slow, or uninteresting. I disagree. I liked it’s easy-going nature and lack of toxic drama. If you like more historical manga, but don’t like excessive violence or drama this is the series for you.

I loved it for its breathtaking art, knowledge of ancient medicinal practices, and for taking its time to mindfully portray such a gorgeous culture.

What have I been watching?

So far, I’ve seen two new movies and one new series. (Like I said, I haven’t really been going out of my way lately to see new things.)

I usually don’t go see movies in theaters. No because I don’t love movies! I’m just picky. And busy. But I went to the theater with my family and watched this new adventure drama. It’s wasn’t the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, but it was fun, had cool effects and some nice twists to it. If anything I thought it was a Hodge podge of The African Queen (1951) with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and The Mummy (1999).

I will say, I like how the movie poster is sort of reminiscent of old adventure films from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Shang-Chi was a very thought-provoking watch for me. I wouldn’t say the plot was revolutionary. It was quite predictable. But I liked the heroes journey Shang went through as he learned to balance the good he learned from his mother and the bad he inherited from his father. I’m a sucker for good marital arts in films, and this movie DOES NOT disappoint in that aspect.

I also thought his father’s story arc was deeper than it initially seemed. I wondered a lot about how we become biproducts of our ancestors and carry with us connections with these family members beyond this life. I also thought a lot about ENERGY in and outside the body and how we can learn to control it through meditative movement.

All in all, I would watch this again if someone pulled it up.

Yeah. . . for some reason I keep re-watching episodes from this show. Part of it’s funny, part of its gross, while another part tries to have philosophical moments mixed in with ridiculous editing and character designs. I still don’t know how I quite feel about this show. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out.

At first glance, this story seems like another rip off of snow white. It’s not. It’s more a story about two people from different worlds learning to live, grow, and love together. I remember reading this as a manga series about six years ago and loving its characters and story. I hesitated to watch the anime because. . . romance manga usually aren’t well voiced or animated.

Now, Snow White with the Red Hair is now officially one of my new favorite anime.

However, studio BONES did the animation and they went ALL OUT. The backgrounds are gorgeous and the fight scenes are well choreographed and paced. The story also flows very well and doesn’t feel too campy or corny.

What really sold me on this show was the English voice actors FUNIMATION chose. They did a phenomenal job working with the great character animators. The facial expressions and personality this show gave to the characters in this story blew me away!

I also think this is now one of my favorite love stories. Zen and Shiriyuki respect each other and love each other and their passions. They have goals and a vision for what their futures hold. They seen beyond self gratification and entitlement, common elements in forbidden loves stories, to how their relationship can and will effect each other and others around them.

All in all, I would definately check it out if you have the time!

Over the Garden Wall has yet again caught my interest

Over the Garden Wall always seems to pique my interest around this time of year. I start thinking about it’s curious episodes and hidden meanings. Then I start looking through YouTube essays, fan art, and Etsy merchants for ways to feed my passion for this series’ story and characters.

Here are a few cool finds from the last week or so!

I like this one because it went into depth about the literary and artistic Gothic themes interwoven throughout the episodes.
This was just an all-around good analysis of the series.

Hydro Flask stickers! You can guarantee I’ve bought these two.

I also found this amazing merchant BeneathTheLeaf who makes charm bracelets for a lot of different shows and stories including (DRUM ROLL PLEASE) Over the Garden Wall! I want to have one custom made for me. I think it is the coolest thing! Check out other items she has! She has a lot of variety and does custom designs.

I’ve also been perusing fanart! Because I’m a NERD. An art nerd.

There you have it! Everything here is basically what I’ve been looking through, studying and trying to understand lately. Once October comes around, well, I’ll have A LOT more to talk about. Until then, enjoy the rest of September!

So, What Have I Been Up To? Books, Yoga, Anime and more!

The time has gone by so fast! I’ve read a lot of things, watched some interesting shows, and even found some promising new series. I’ve also finished and started some stimulating projects! Now, I know there a lot of book lovers who come by and read my posts. I’ve definitely read a lot of things, but honestly my brain and attention have been ALL OVER THE PLACE.

So, this isn’t a book update. Its an everything update! Hope all who come here find something they can identify with.

Let’s get started!

For Yoga Lovers

Co-creators of Boho Beautiful Yoga Mark and Juliana Spicoluk

I found a new YouTube Yoga channel to follow! Boho Beautiful Yoga is run by spouses Mark and Juliana. Their YouTube videos are generally no longer than 30 minutes. They now have an on-demand streaming service you can download to your phone called Boho Beautiful On-Demand where you can take special courses or use longer training videos.

Their styles vary between Pilates, Ashtanga, and Yin-Yang Yoga. What I like to do is go over their videos to find new ways to teach certain sequences.

I’ve also been regularly going to Yoga Dose, which specializes in longer, strength building videos. Cici is one of their teachers who I personally know from my yoga studio in Provo, Utah. She is a great teacher who will definitely give you a great mental and physical workout.

What Books Have I Been Reading?

I have several favorite discoveries since last March!

Christian McKay Heidicker‘s Scary Stories for Young Foxes (2019)

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.

When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Overview via Goodreads

What I loved about this story is the format. Even though the storyteller seemed to only be telling a story, it felt too real to be fiction. Somehow, through its beautiful prose I felt myself fall under its spell from the first page. It made me reminisce about my childhood and how invested I became in the characters’ stories and longed for happy endings.

This story portrayed how even when faced with horrible evil and danger, the characters overcame them and continued to survive. It is also very honest. It doesn’t sugarcoat things. I wouldn’t recommend this story for really young readers but would definitely give it to kids 12+ to read.

Arlem HawksGeorgana’s Secret (2021)

1811, HMS Deborah

Georgana Woodall dreams of freedom—freedom from her past and freedom from her secret. She has been living on her father’s ship for years, disguised as a cabin boy named “George.” But hiding her true self is becoming more difficult, and she yearns to break free of her life on the sea.

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the boy under his wing.

Georgana quickly loses her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care, but needing to maintain her disguise as a cabin boy, she is convinced nothing can come of her affection.

Overview via Goodreads

I love sweet, Regency Era based love stories. What I enjoyed most about this novel is how it talked about gender-based boundaries, abuse, depression, and (of course) love. Lately, I’ve been drawn to characters who display great compassion in harsh circumstances and don’t let hate override doing good. I also paid special attention to how Dominic and Georgana faced losing sight of their identity.

If you like sweet romances, this is a definite read for you. It is also very clean (which I appreciate) without overlooking realistic problems which inevitably come up in life.

Image via Potterboy.com

Ben Behunin‘s Pleasantly Ruby (2020)

Two weeks into her five month stint at the farm on Harmony Hill, Genevieve Patterson, will be the first to admit she may have overlooked a few important details for the article she was sent here to write. The keys of joy, shared and understood by Pops and Ruby, as well as many of the townsfolk—and the even the neighboring Amish community—are insightful and compelling. Thanks to Matt and Greg, Genevieve’s appreciation for the deeper meaning of these uncommon keys continues to grow, causing her to question the meaning of her previous life in the city. An exploration of these keys and the personal application of them promises joy and liberty, but Genevieve must decide for herself how and if the keys will influence her future. An Amish invitation, a new Niederbipp tradition, Protopian aspirations, and a Sunday homily will all weigh in to tip the scales—but in which direction?

Overview via Goodreads

First off, Ben Behunin is one of my favorite authors. Second off, he isn’t really a writer by trade. First and foremost he is a potter and artist. From a literary viewpoint, I’d say his books are rough around the edges. From a spiritual viewpoint, I believe this and his other books carry some of the most important truths we can apply to our lives. This book isn’t really about campers learning how to get married. It’s about people learning what truly invites joy into their lives.

If you are interested in this book or others he’s written, Please check out his website Potterboy.com! His Remembering Isaac series is still one of my favorite reads to take with me on morning walks!

Any New Manga/Manhwa?

Roctis Tray’s Atelier on the Sunflower Hill (2019-?)

After discovering a hidden chamber inside her uncle’s house, Evangeline Griffon accidentally awakens an ancient being who calls himself Vernon. Bind by the contract, Eva unwillingly accepts Vernon being her guardian as she starts her new life in the countryside.

Overview via Webtoon.com

Vernon is now one of my new favorite characters! (Well, I also really like Evangeline.) I have a soft spot in my heart for gentle, compassionate people. This Manhwa (?) delves a lot in how to positively face trauma, negative emotions, and how to embrace love into your life. I can’t talk about it too much without ruining this story, but it was one of my favorite new finds in a long time.

The art is simplified, but over time the author gets better at character and background artwork. Warning though: Webtoon.com bumped Atelier to originals so it may take awhile for it to finish.

Morishita, Suu‘s Yubisaki to Renren (A Sign of Affection) (2019-?)

Yuki is a hearing-impaired university student whose world has been shrouded with silence since birth. She has lived in the same place her whole life, and rarely interacts with others save for her best friend, Rin. During her commute one day, she meets the silver-haired and multilingual Itsuomi, a mutual friend of Rin. Unlike most, Itsuomi is unwavering when he learns of Yuki’s impairment; this, along with his experiences abroad, fascinates and touches her. After they part, her fondness of him starts to grow. A new world begins to open for both Yuki and Itsuomi as they learn about each other’s different lives.

Overview via Myanimelist

I can’t get enough of this light-hearted little love story. I’ve always been fascinated by sign language and watching Yuki interact with her world is just wonderful. I’m a big fan of the anime movie Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) (2018), so finding this manga was a lovely treat for me.

This romance is incredibly healthy and realistic. There isn’t a lot of drama, Itsuomi is VERY respectful of Yuki and her personality, and their relationship progresses slowly. Neither gives up their dreams or values for the other. They find each other and grow a little closer in every chapter.

If your preferences, especially for love stories, are more mellow and light-hearted this is the story for you! You can actually purchase the manga volumes on Amazon.com already.

Oh! Morishita’s art style and covers are GORGEOUS. I’m a big fan now!

Doruru’s Koekoi (2020-?)

Finding an adequate overview of this series was hard, so I’ll do it myself. 🙂 This story centers around a girl Yuiko, who is scared to go to school after being sick for a long while, and her unexpected relationship with her class president Matsubara who calls her to see how she is doing.

Once she decides to go back to school so she can meet him, she sees him and is shocked to see he always wears a paper bag over his head. Though it’s confusing, she can’t shake how calm and kind his voice had been when he called her. Their friendship/ romance(?) takes flight from that moment forward.

What I like about this story is how it emphasizes the source of genuine human emotion. It focuses on how Yuiko, Matsubara, and other characters struggle to convey their feelings. Reading this made me realize how superficial relationships can be if they are solely based on what we SEE. It makes me believe a person’s heart can be conveyed solely through their voice and actions.

Now, if you want to read this, you’ll need to get an app called Pocket Comics. You can collect daily tickets so you can read one chapter a day or choose to spend money on coins so you can read more.

Snapshot from It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (2020)

What Have I Been Watching?

I haven’t seen any new movies lately (It’s so sad I know!) but I’ve found a few really good shows.

It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (2020)

Moon Gang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun), is a caretaker working at a psychiatric ward who does not even bother to believe in love. He seems to be carrying all the weight and pain in life, and devotes himself only to looking after his disabled older brother.

Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji), is a children’s book writer who is clueless about love. She is popular among all age groups, yet very antisocial and indifferent to others.[2]

An extraordinary road to emotional healing opens up for an antisocial children’s book writer and a selfless psych ward caretaker when they cross paths.

Overview via DramaWiki

Wow. I usually watch Korean dramas to laugh at them. (Because they try to be anime, but can’t because. . . they’re live action.) It’s Okay stole my heart in the first episode. It’s expertly paced, incredibly raw, and addresses various mental issues without tearing down those who struggle with them.

I also really enjoyed how. . . off the beaten oath the children’s book author could be. She definitely walked to the beat of her own drum. I loved the characters, their stories, and the deeply poignant children’s stories showcased throughout the show. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave it at that.

Watch it on Netflix.

Kinema Citrus‘s Made in Abyss (2017)

The Abyss—a gaping chasm stretching down into the depths of the earth, filled with mysterious creatures and relics from a time long past. How did it come to be? What lies at the bottom? Countless brave individuals, known as Divers, have sought to solve these mysteries of the Abyss, fearlessly descending into its darkest realms. The best and bravest of the Divers, the White Whistles, are hailed as legends by those who remain on the surface.

Riko, daughter of the missing White Whistle Lyza the Annihilator, aspires to become like her mother and explore the furthest reaches of the Abyss. However, just a novice Red Whistle herself, she is only permitted to roam its most upper layer. Even so, Riko has a chance encounter with a mysterious robot with the appearance of an ordinary young boy. She comes to name him Reg, and he has no recollection of the events preceding his discovery. Certain that the technology to create Reg must come from deep within the Abyss, the two decide to venture forth into the chasm to recover his memories and see the bottom of the great pit with their own eyes. However, they know not of the harsh reality that is the true existence of the Abyss.

Overview via Myanimelist

Made in Abyss has been on my bucket list for SOOOOOO LONG. I finally got around to watching it with my brother and it was a satisfyingly dissatisfied experience. I realized the show isn’t over. . . and thought well drat. I have to wait to find out what happens!

Let me do a shout out for what I loved without spoiling anything.

1.The Animation– The backgrounds had such beautiful depth and coloring! Character animation was also crisp and captivating to follow. It also blended fantasy and reality through its visuals wonderfully!

2. The Characters– Usually in these types of stories the characters have one or maybe two dimensions to them. It is not so in this show! Plus, their motivations and personalities transform as they go through their experiences.

3. The Mystery- I couldn’t figure it out. That is a sign of a great mystery show. It gave me enough to satisfy some of my curiosity but left enough unsaid so I’ll definitely come back for more later.

This show is not for the faint of heart. It has, like the Abyss itself, a dark underbelly with grisly imagery. I had to turn away many times because I couldn’t stomach some of the scenes. But this means Made in Abyss is for sure a story with an important message.

ufotable‘s Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2016-?)

Ever since the death of his father, the burden of supporting the family has fallen upon Tanjirou Kamado’s shoulders. Though living impoverished on a remote mountain, the Kamado family are able to enjoy a relatively peaceful and happy life. One day, Tanjirou decides to go down to the local village to make a little money selling charcoal. On his way back, night falls, forcing Tanjirou to take shelter in the house of a strange man, who warns him of the existence of flesh-eating demons that lurk in the woods at night.

When he finally arrives back home the next day, he is met with a horrifying sight—his whole family has been slaughtered. Worse still, the sole survivor is his sister Nezuko, who has been turned into a bloodthirsty demon. Consumed by rage and hatred, Tanjirou swears to avenge his family and stay by his only remaining sibling. Alongside the mysterious group calling themselves the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjirou will do whatever it takes to slay the demons and protect the remnants of his beloved sister’s humanity.

Overview via Myanimelist

Once upon a time, I watched Demon Slayer‘s first episode and vowed never to see the show. That was a shortsighted decision. I’ve seen about 10 episodes now and am in awe of how beautifully crafted this anime is! The story doesn’t waste time with filler and fluff. The animation is purposeful and so gorgeous it leaves me spellbound. the characters develop and change in ways that don’t scream at the audience. Their motivations are simply complex and a joy to watch unfold.

I could gush about how in love I am with the show now but. . . I won’t. You should go check it out for yourself! However, this is another show not for the faint of heart. The reason the first episode turned me off the first time I saw it is because of how traumatizing the story is. Tanjirou and his family endure so much grief. Also, the demons are EVIL. Some of them will make your teeth curl.

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I’ve been exploring these past few months! Hopefully, I’ll add to this list as the year goes by.

Happy hunting for books, yoga teachers, anime, manga, and the like!

Koi to Yobu Kimochi Warui: The line between romantic and disturbing relationships.

People fall in love in the most mysterious of ways. This statement seems to be especially true for the affluent genius playboy Ryou Amakusa. When he nearly falls off the stairs one rainy morning, a girl named Ichika Arima saves him. As if by fate, Ryou encounters Ichika again later that night; she happens to be the best friend of his little sister, Rio.

Wanting to “thank” her, Ryou attempts to woo Ichika by employing his usual flirtatious tactics only to be immediately shot down, his target creeped out by his behavior. Rather than being discouraged, Ryou instead becomes more enthralled by her, and he begins to do everything he can to steal Ichika’s heart despite receiving disgusted reactions each time. However, as time passes by, will Ichika remain repulsed by Ryou’s creepy yet dedicated advances?

Myanimelist Synopsis

Nomad animation studios released Koi to Yobu or Koimoi April 2021 as a romantic comedy between an adult business man Ryou and a high school girl Ichika. I’ve read plenty of age-gap shoujo romance before. There is a wrong way and a right way to handle these types of stories, just like any other type of relationship.

I first read Koi to Yobu Ni Wa about four or so years ago when there were only 6 or so chapters out. I felt, like the main girl character Ichika, Ryou was creepy but not a bad person. I didn’t think much about the story until I saw a few months ago, by some miracle, there was an anime.

I couldn’t believe anyone would want to animate this story. Not because I hated it or anything. I didn’t think it had much substance or merit. It was a forgettable, strange romance.

What I wondered is what kind of romance Koimoi is trying to be and how audiences should react to it.

Abuse and Lust are NOT Love

Some age-gap romances sugar-coat alarming relationships by making an abuser beautiful and misunderstood. These types of characters exhibit abusive and manipulative tactics to seduce a younger person. Usually, this is painted romantically by writers and directors and, oftentimes, the younger person “changes” or changes for the abuser, abandoning their morals and dreams. It’s Beauty and the Beast‘s toxic, wily twin. 

One example is Naomi Novik‘s novel Uprooted (2015). In my review of the book I surmised,

The central relationship between the ‘dragon’ and heroine Agnieszka is one of the worst examples of toxic attraction I’ve been unfortunate enough to read.

Let me clear, how the Dragon treats Agnieszka is horrendous. He was constantly angry and annoyed at her for no reason. He verbally abuses her from the moment he meets her, calling her an astonishing amount of cruel names. He physically abuses her in his lessons during sudden spurts of anger. He mocks how she looks, calling her ‘horse-faced’ and ‘dirty,’ and makes her change her appearance to conform to his tastes. When Agnieszka defends herself when a prince attempts to rape her, he screams at her, asserting her virtue is not worth the price of an angered prince. 

I could talk about the moments he works her till she is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted, or the many times she breaks down in tears because of things he’s said or done to her. I could also talk about how terrified she was in the first half of the book because she thought he would rape her. He never apologizes. He barely gets better. Not to mention, he starts a sexual relationship with her near the end of the book when he is almost 130 years older than her. This relationship is acceptable because he looks young and handsome. . .

The real issue is some readers buy that this is a romantic and healthy love story. It’s not. It’s incredibly dangerous. Those who have suffered through abusive situations similar to those illustrated in this book wouldn’t find this story so sensational.

Taken from March Book Madness! Day 2, Naomi Novik’s Uprooted (2015) 2/5 (Emphasis added)

There are many other examples I could name like Vladimir Nabokov‘s novel Lolita or director Christophe Gans‘s film La Belle et la Bête (2014). It is easy to “fall in love” with these type of stories because they contain just enough backstory to help you empathize with twisted individuals. In other words, viewers and readers rationalize toxic behavior because the character suffered.

On paper it seems to work out great. In real life, it never does.

Respect and Sacrifice in Age-Gap Romances Make All the Difference

The main difference between corrosive and healthy age-gap romances are the characters’ intentions. In every great romance I’ve read where the main characters had a larger age gap, their relationship was defined by respect and sacrifice.

Take for example Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet by Yamamori, Mika. Akatsuki and Fumi have a twelve-year age gap between them. They live in the same house together for almost two years. There is no parental supervision whatsoever. Usually, this becomes the breeding ground for unhealthy relationships. Yet, Yamamori didn’t take that approach.

Just because they were in love didn’t mean their relationship had to or should have been primarily sexual. Akatsuki tells Fumi several times he would respect her age and wait for her to grow older. Once Fumi’s father comes back, Akatsuki explains to him that he and Fumi have feelings for each other. They wait five or so years and marry. Their relationship was grounded in respect and sacrifice.

The same can be said about Kouchi, Kaede‘s manga Love So Life. Matsunaga and Shiharu had a 9-year age gap. Both fell in love with the other. Though there were many times where he could have given in to his feelings or used her feelings to his advantage, he respected her age and waited till she was in college before they started a relationship. What was truly remarkable about this story was how they not only respected and sacrificed for each other, but they also respected their own feelings.

So What Type of Romance is Koimoi?

Koimoi should feel really romantic, but it doesn’t. It feels incomplete. It wants to be a heart-warming romantic story between a good natured high school girl and and misguided adult, but it comes across as immature and confusing at times. That doesn’t mean it portrays a toxic relationship.

I’ve thought a lot about this story these past few months. I finally figured out why. I was curious to know what type of person Ryou REALLY was, and the depth and scope of his intentions. I wanted to see if his relationship with Ichika would be any different from his previous flings.

I paid attention and waited to see if this story would surprise me.

Ryou-san Acted Like a Middle Schooler with a Crush. Not a Pedophile

The whole time I watched the show, It never occurred to me Ryou had bad intentions. I wondered why, I mean. . . he wanted to take the toothpick Ichika used as souvenir. Then it hit me. He had never actually experienced being in love with someone before. So, he reacted and pushed himself on her through phone calls and gifts to try and figure out why he was feeling the way he was.

Watching Ryou shower Ichika with gifts and attention brought back memories from middle school, when I was young and didn’t understand how to properly convey my feelings. That said, Middle Schoolers are rarely the best examples of how to maintain a good relationship. It’s not okay to force your feelings on someone or ignore them when they tell you they are not interested.

In all his encounters with Ichika after their first initial conversation, he never made sexual overtures at her. Not once. He changed for the better, albeit in a strange and immature way.

Do I think this romance is disturbing? No. Ryou respected Ichika and her decisions. In fact, there even comes a point where he truly starts to understand how she could potentially suffer being in a relationship with him. His feelings were genuine, yet immature. All in all, I think their relationship needed a better foundation. They needed moments to develop trust and know more about each other.

What about Ichika’s Feelings?

Ichika’s feelings mattered. Just because Ryou was in love with her, didn’t mean she should feel obligated to accept him. That’s not how love works. She saw him change and in due course developed feelings for him. She didn’t ask him to get rid of his bad habits. He just did. And his feelings were sincere and evolved throughout their “courtship”.

I believe it was his sincerity that won her over. She could tell he was serious, even though she had little confidence in herself because of her age and looks.

I wasn’t necessarily rooting for her to fall in love with him. Honestly, if she had fallen for her classmate Tamaru instead it would have been fine. But I didn’t mind seeing her finally accept and reflect Ryou feelings. I needed more substantial evidence of her feelings.

I just wonder if she should have fallen in love with Ryou. Even if he was not a bad person, that doesn’t mean she needed, for the sake of a story, to like him back. Again, it’s not bad that she fell for him. It’s just. . . she could have done ANYTHING. The story didn’t give her time to blossom in different ways.

I Still Have SO Many Unanswered Questions

The story had a lot of plot-holes regarding the characters and their motivations.

I had countless other questions:

What happened in Ryou and Ichika’s relationship? Did they get married? How did they get there?

Were Ryou and his father able to resolve their differences? How did they even develop such a harsh relationship? Did Ryou rebel or was his father simply too strict on him?

What happened to Tamaru and Arie? Were they just random love interests to progress the story?

Why did Ichika fall in love with Ryou? What was it about him?

What is the main message this story is trying to convey? etc. . . . etc. . . . . etc. . .

Though it felt like the story had resolved itself, I still had the most questions and misconceptions about Ryou as a character. Ryou had a really strenuous relationship with his father which caused him to detach and not seek meaningful relationships. But there was no time dedicated to this part of his character.

I didn’t feel like he went LOOKING for ways to rebel. He just accepted trouble when it came to him. For example, whenever it showed women fawning all over him he looked completely detached, like he couldn’t care less if they slept with him or not. It was as if he was stuck in the Doldrums, falling in and out of bad relationships because he didn’t have the will to fight it.

However, this was all speculation on my part. The author and the show never talked about this. If they had explored this part of his character, I think it would have given readers and the audience more clarity concerning his character and development.

This Could Be a Revolutionary Story in the Hands of a Better Storyteller

With all its missing pieces, Koimoi feels incomplete. Not only that, but the animation in the show was clunky and lazy.

People are complicated. That is why I kept watching this show. I had a feeling it was different than people said it was. I also wanted to see if the storytellers could evolve this type of romance in ways I’d never seen before. If they did that, the characters and their relationships could BLOSSOM.

But that didn’t happen, unfortunately. I’m still confused and wondering why the original author wrote this story.

In the future, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more English chapters. Perhaps the anime is a watered down version of the manga.

My Score for the Anime:

Animation: 6/10

Story: 7/10

Characters: 6/10

Overall Score: 6.3/10