With the Raiders vs. the Chiefs in the background…

So Utada Hikaru (aka Hikki) came out with another album (Fantôme) in September and somehow I didn’t know. I mean… why didn’t I know–uhm–why were my children not informed..? Naw. I ain’t gonna even lie. I love her music. Heart Station was banging. So many good songs. I absolutely love Niji-iro Basu. Everybody feels the same… And Sakura Nagashi… (not Natasha iPhone autocorrect)…

That Sakura Nagashi tho?


Everybody finds love… in the end. 
Yes, I love Utada. J-Pop. I am in love with Ikue Asazaki and my daughters sing and hum to Chatmonchy’s Somaruyo… and fall asleep to the Yoshida Brothers “Cherry Blossoms in Winter.”

And then Crunchyroll and Funimation decided to partner and give me some quality Subs…? 


Ok. Shougeki no Soma. See. Where was I? Why didn’t I know about this weird, thoughtful, and well-researched manga/anime? That is one of the most original yet classic manga stories I’ve ever encountered. Like Naruto meets Iron Chef meets High School. In a word: potpourri. 

Finally got to see Cowboy Bebop again. And then Crunchyroll added Dragonball Super… which will spur a conversation that will explain why Naruto has become my favorite mainstream manga/anime series of all time. 

That Naruto filler was terrible tho. I mean why did they put so much filler in the anime? Kishimoto had finished the manga a while back. I mean TV Tokyo is trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip. The penultimate battle with Kaguya and the final battle between Uzumaki and Uchiha was constantly frustrated by making uncessary digressions (although a few episodes were hype). It took way too long and made the final battle between Naruto and Sasuke almost anticlimactic. Almost. The source material was so exceptional that even the anime couldn’t mess it up once they finally got there. But man, that filler was not the bizness. In fact, it was on a Chapter 11 tip. 

Naruto really hit the philosophical underpinnings of the epistemologies that undergird the cosmovisions of many East Asian cultures. Trying to balance yin and yang. Those epistemologies admit that dualisms can and often do conflict, but–and this but is all the difference–BUT dualisms are overcome by harmonizing them, not by obliterating them or creating a hierarchy between them… that is not to say that this epistemology leads to equal and harmonious treatment in real life situations or social arrangements… 

wait… this was supposed to be free of that kind of reflection… my bad. 

I started watching Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash and was reminded of Log Horizon and Sword Art Online… which reminds me…. New seasons, please!!!!! 

I know. I got otaku tendencies. But uhm…

(A Fresh Prince post is definitely needed)

Here’s what I’m trying to articulate. At some point, art, philosophy, religion, music, and animation from Japan began to weave an indispensable garment for me that I wear to this day. I’m thankful. I don’t claim to be an expert on Japanese culture and I am not imperial enough to claim that my love for these various cultural productions make me “a part of” Japanese culture. But I’m thankful for religious, philosophical, and artitstic production that makes me think more critically about the world I love and live in. Even as I struggle with some of the things I don’t like–like the portrayal of women. 

This semester has been long. Ain’t been able to watch football like I normally do. I’ve worn the hats of teacher, preacher, dad, and husband and rarely have the time to breathe. But, I have to remind myself that the world is bigger than my corner of life and America is not the world. There are other songs and stories out there. 

And from the time my dad introduced me to SGI to the time I watched my first bootlegged DBZ VHS tape and happened to stumble upon Akira one night as a kid… from the mundane to the extraordinary and back again… I’ve been influenced, strengthened, and inspired by our Pacific neighbor. 

There’s a lot of real stuff going on in the world. There’s a lot to think about and attend to. But, I’m also convinced that if we are serious all the time, that if we cannot sing songs of joy and frivolity as well as songs of lament and protest–then we’ve lost the harmony that makes us human. 

So I guess there’s more going on in this post than I realized. 

Faith, hope, and love…

© 2016 M. J. Sales

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