Seirei No Moribito - Instant Classic?

Last night the second episode of Serei no Moribito aired on Adult Swim, and so far I am liking it so much! The stories take place in ancient Japan, contain captivating, historically-relevant plots and are set amidst a visual feast of *beautifully* drawn characters and scenery. That's a great recipe for a truly wonderful anime series in my opinion. I already know I am going to love keeping up with this story and will never want to miss a single episode. My regular readers all know about how I was/am obsessed with Death Note, and how I cannot get enough of Code Geass, but this series really has something special, it seems. It's an instant classic I think.


Tokyo Life - Ueno Intersection

This is a short video I made last year while hanging out in Ueno, Tokyo (上野,東京). I recorded it with my Canon IXY Digitial 700 in video mode. Music by Atom™: "Being Human Boring" from his release on his Rather Interesting label - "Son of a Glitch."



Hello Everyone! みなさんこんにちわ!I haven't been able to keep up with my blog recently because I've been so incredibly busy planning my wedding. I have a little bit of time tonight so I wanted to tell you about another one of my favourite singers. Her name is Miwa Satou (佐藤美和) but she goes by her nickname Chara-- which came from the Japanese slang word charachara ("scatterbrained"). She was born in Saitama on 13 January 1968 and got a very early start with music-- composing songs and playing instruments while just a primary school student, quickly becoming quite skilled in a wide variety of different musical arts. Even though she is most well-known for her unique and endearing singing voice, she considers herself a musician above all else.

In 1991 she released her debut single "Heaven," quickly followed by her first full-length release, "Sweet." Less than a year later, she released her second full length album "Soul Kiss," keeping a prolific pace with "Violet Blue" and "Happy Toy" coming out during the 20 months that followed.

After taking some time off to become a mother, Chara re-emerged in 1996 as one of the main characters in Iwai Shunji's film, "Swallowtail Butterfly." The next year (1997) she released her album "Junior Sweet" which sold over a million copies that year in Japan alone!

During the years following, until 2008, Chara expanded her musical career into different directions, working with many other famous performers including Great 3 (appearing on releases "Caligula" and "Strange Fruits"), Yuki from Judy and Mary (releasing the single Chara + Yuki), James Iha from the Smashing Pumpkins and then launching an all-girl j-rock group called Mean Machine, featuring herself, Ito Ayumi, Chiwaki Mayumi, Yukarie and Yuki. While working on all of this, she continued her own solo career releasing several more singles and full-length CDs. Two months ago, Chara released her most recent full-length CD, Honey.

Chara's voice is best described as ranging from soft, child-like whispers to powerful, emotional expressions. Her unique style allows her to satisfy J-pop fans as well as ongaku otakus in search of something new and different. I would highly recommend her music-- she's delightful!

Please enjoy this live performance video of her hit song, "Yasashi Kimochi" (やさしい気持ち).

Chara's website


Kitajima-san sugoi na!!!

In Beijing, the gold medal and the new world record for the 100 m Breast Stroke goes to Kitajima Kōsuke (北島 康介) !! Kitajima-san became famous around the world after winning the gold medals in Athens in 2004 for the 100 m and 200 m breast stroke. This year he came back not only to uphold his title, but also to break the world record in the process, becoming the first person to ever finish the 100 m in under 59 seconds (58.91 s). Additionally, Kitajima-san's victory includes the anticipated defeat of his challenger, the American breast stroke swimmer, Brendan Hansen. It was an incredible day in Beijing! What an awesome performance-- very exciting to see!


Heroine of the Black Knights

I'm pleased to introduce Kallen Stadtfeld (カレン・シュタットフェルト) whom we know for her important supporting role in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. Born as Kōzuki Karen (紅月カレン) into a prestigious family to a Britannian father and a Japanese mother, she was naturally setup into a position of success.

Kallen leads a double-life living publicly as a successful yet docile and tame Britannian student at Ashford Academy, and secretly as a strong and forceful agent of Lelouch Lamperouge's anti-Britannian resistance group, the Black Knights. In the Code Geass stories, Kallen represents the struggle between Britannia and Japan (or "Area 11" as it was named by the Britannians). She, herself, has both Britannian and Japanese culture in her history and in her everyday life follows Britannian tradition while simultaneous fighting to tear it down from the inside out. Her character adds sophisticated elements of depth and complexity to this modern and very unusual twist on the classic good vs. evil story.

Kallen arrived her by way of the Alpha Omega company, looking fantastic in her Ashford Academy uniform. I hope you will like her as much as I do!


Chicago's hidden treasure-- amazing Vietnamese food!

What can I say about New Saigon restaurant in Chicago's Uptown? The food is absolutely *awesome*! My fiancee and I had the shrimp and pork spring rolls (the 4th appetizer on the menu) and they were perfect-- fresh, crisp and tasty, and the shrimp was not at all overcooked-- very, very good. I had the Ca Thó Tô - the catfish hotpot and this was so-o-o delicious! The pieces of fish were extremely fresh and just melted in my mouth. The spicy, brothy sauce inside the clay hotpot was very comforting and perfectly complementary to the fish. I am so happy I ordered it. To drink, I had cà phê sữa đá (vietnamese iced coffee), and I enjoyed it so much because it was very strong and had just the right amount of sweetness (didn't taste like coffee-flavoured candy like the iced coffee at the thai and vietnamese restaurants in the white-boy neighbourhoods). My fiancee had a shrimp and marinated beef over rice dish (I don't remember the name). This was also super good. I really enjoyed how the beef was so tender and juicy, and how it wasn't drowned in sauce.

The restaurant seems to be pretty popular, I'd say. There are not many tables (maybe 10?) and although it almost relatively empty when we arrived (18:30 on a Friday), there were no tables available at all when we left. Many of the customers who came in greeted the owner by name. I can understand why this is-- the owner is SO nice and so friendly. My fiancee and I both felt really welcome and comfortable.

I heard about this restaurant on yelp.com, and there are a couple of not-so-good reviews on there-- many focusing on the unimpressive interior decor, complete with silk flowers and kitschy vietnamese trinkets, christmas and halloween decorations and a Michael Jackson poster. This does not bother me one tiny bit, though, and in fact it's exactly what I had hoped for. Indeed, if your prefer the fancy-schmancy, city night-life type of restaurant, you probably won't like this, but then again you probably don't find authentic, east asian home cooking all that important either!

This restaurant won't get my 5-star rating because that is reserved for only the world's finest. I will not hesitate to patronise this establishment again in the future, however, and I will definitely recommend it to all my friends. Non-pretentious, nice people and wonderful food! Terrific.

New Saigon - 5000 N. Broadway (Broadway and Argyle) Chicago, IL 60640 - (773) 334-3322